More For Your Money: Walthamstow Village, E17

Street market society

Walthamstow Village's E17 postcode is a bit deceptive. Such East London icons as Stratford and West Ham are considerably south of the village, which is on the same latitude as the distinctly north-London areas of Tottenham and East Finchley. It is also further north than Golders Green.

Walthamstow Village's E17 postcode is a bit deceptive. Such East London icons as Stratford and West Ham are considerably south of the village, which is on the same latitude as the distinctly north-London areas of Tottenham and East Finchley. It is also further north than Golders Green.

Walthamstow Village is also a separate entity from the town of the same name. The latter is a relatively modern area containing the underground station, shopping parades and houses, many of which were built in the mid to latter half of the last century.

The Village is a small area just east of the town centre that, with a cluster of three very old historic houses and a high concentration of period houses on narrow pathways. In architecture and ambience, it has less in common with Bethnal Green than with Wimbledon Village and Hampstead. It is, however, a lot cheaper. Postcodes do have their uses.

When Raymond Swingler moved to the Village 15 years ago, he was literally in the dark. "When the basement flat I was renting in Islington was sold, I had to move. One Saturday evening I was a guest at a party in Walthamstow Village, which I wasn't familiar with at all. Another guest told me of a nearby derelict factory for sale, and we walked over to see it. I was most struck by the sense of peace and quiet. On Monday I bought it."

Over time he started appreciating where he had landed. "My original idea was to refurbish the factory and sell it on, but as I worked on it, I realised it was a good area in which to live. The only noise is from animals and birds, and it is a typical rural English village of a long time ago." Swingler, who is the president of the Walthamstow Village Residents Association, kept the ground floor for himself and sold the other two flats ( www.walthamstow-village.net).

Walthamstow Village's boundaries are hard to pin down. "To me it comprises two adjacent conservation areas," says Swingler, a widower with grown children. "One is the old village from St Mary's Church to Orford Road, and the other is the Orford Road conservation area. There are three old historic houses, artisans' houses, no tower blocks, and only a few local authority properties. Orford Road has a retail parade with excellent shops."

Swingler says that travel to the City or the West End takes no more than 30 minutes, whether overland or by underground. "Many young professionals and families are moving here because it is significantly cheaper than areas with similar properties and amenities. If Village prices are too high, they buy as near to it as they can to be near the restaurants and shops on Orford Road."

What can I buy?

"Starting from £190,000 up to £250,000 are two-bed houses, Victorian to new builds. Three-bed houses range from £240,000 to £380,000. Church Path has original two-up two-down cottages and a few three-bed houses, and Beulah Road has houses and flat conversions," says Elvin Benjamin of Spicerhaart estate agents. "Outside the Village, two-bed houses are £20,000 cheaper, and three-bed houses can be as much as £50,000 cheaper."

Who is buying here?

"We get many young families from areas like Islington, Finsbury Park, Hackney and Stoke Newington who need more room, find the Village attractive and want good rail links," says Benjamin.

How's the transport?

Walthamstow Central is the last stop on the Victoria Line and is also on WAGN's suburban line to Liverpool Street Station. Queens Road station offers half-hourly service on Silverlink's Barking-Gospel Oak Line. Buses serve London City Airport.

What about shopping?

Walthamstow boasts Europe's longest street market, with more than 400 stalls. The shopping parades in the village have several large supermarkets, and Orford Road has a number of popular restaurant and pubs. A church bought the town's only cinema, and a local group, the McGuffin Society, is lobbying to get it reinstated as a movie house. Money also changes hands at the historic dog track.

How do you rate the schools?

Some of the local primary and secondary schools have excellent results, well above the national average, and Walthamstow Girls' School has an open-air theatre. Elvin Benjamin adds that there is a Montessori school and several private nurseries. Some of the inner-city state schools, however, have typical inner-city results.

Any fresh air around here?

Plenty of it in the enormous Epping Forest, one edge of which is a short walk from Walthamstow Village. Lloyd Park to the north also has spacious playing fields and other facilities, including an aviary, and is also the location of the William Morris Gallery. Morris (1834-1896), the artist, designer and writer, lived in the grand property, which was then known as the Water House, for eight years beginning in 1848. The chapel at Forest School nearby has stained-glass windows created by Morris.

And two for the pub quiz?

1. Which boy band is associated with Walthamstow? (hint: the name appears elsewhere in this column) Answer: E17.

2. What is Walthamstow's industrial claim to fame? Answer: the Bremer, Britain's first car with an internal combustion engine, was produced in Walthamstow in the 1890s.

Spicerhaart, 020-8520 6731

W J Meade, 020-8520 1322

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