Vestry House Museum

Image of the brick built museum and garden with sundial
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Situated in the heart of Walthamstow, Vestry House Museum presents the fascinating history of Waltham Forest.

The Museum is housed in an eighteenth century workhouse, built in 1730. In the nineteenth century the house was used as a police station and one of the old police cells can still be seen. After various uses, the building was converted to a museum in 1930. The award-winning garden is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

The Museum is in the attractive conservation area of Walthamstow Village which has many fine historic buildings and is well worth a visit.

Venue Type:

Museum, Library, Archive

Opening hours

Wednesday - Sunday 10.00 - 17.00
Group booking welcome on Tuesdays by prior arrangement (10:00-17:00)

Closed: Good Friday, Christmas Day

Admission charges

Admission is free

The Museum now serves as a centre for the collection, preservation and interpretation of the past and present story of the people of Waltham Forest, where visitors can learn about the long and fascinating history of the changing local community. As well as having a large social history collection of objects, the Museum holds approximately 80,000 historic photographs of the Borough, is the home for the Local Studies Library and also houses the Borough Archives.

Collection details

Archaeology, Architecture, Archives, Costume and Textiles, Fine Art, Industry, Land Transport, Law and Order, Personalities, Photography, Science and Technology, Social History, Toys and Hobbies, Trade and Commerce

Key artists and exhibits

  • The Museum holds displays on the development of local industry, the history of costume, the history of local policing and Victorian and Edwardian domestic life in Waltham Forest. One particularly unusual exhibit is the Bremer car. Built locally by a young engineer, Frederick Bremer, between 1892 and 1894, it is one of the earliest motor cars built in Britain and is certainly the first car made in London.
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
A vestry meeting

The Workhouse. Life on the edge in 18th Century Walthamstow

  • 19 September 2015 — 17 January 2016 *on now

Between 1730 and 1841 the building, which now houses Waltham Forest’s local history museum, was a parish workhouse. Conditions were harsh and it was a place of last resort for many. Yet for the unemployed, sick, elderly, pregnant or orphaned children who lived there, it provided a place of refuge when there was nowhere else to turn.

The Workhouse: Life on the Edge in 18th Century Walthamstow opens up the borough archives to uncover what daily life was like for the poor and destitute who ended up in Walthamstow’s workhouse, as well as those who tried to help them.

Suitable for

  • Any age




Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Illustration of a Christmas Pudding

Vestry's Victorian Christmas

  • 8 December 2015 4:30-10pm

This popular festive event returns for both children and adults. Visit a traditional Father Christmas in a magical grotto, make Christmas crafts, stir the pudding and enjoy mulled wine and mince pies. There will also be stalls run by local designers - the perfect place to pick up a Christmas gift!

Suitable for

  • Any age


Free, drop in. (Santa's gifts £3.50 per child).


Child making decorations

Family Activity: Deck the Halls

  • 13 December 2015 1:30-4pm

Make festive garlands and sparkly tree decorations to create a special Victorian feel for your Christmas celebrations. With E17 designer Carolyn Abbott.

Suitable for

  • 0-4
  • 7-10
  • 5-6
  • 11-13


Free, drop in event for families.

Vestry House Museum
Vestry Road
Greater London
E17 9NH




020 8496 4391

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.