Vestry House Museum

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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.

Motive / Motif: Artists commemorate the Suffragettes

  • 24 January — 6 June 2019 *on now

To mark the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, Vestry House presents an exhibition of embroidered handkerchiefs designed by 20 contemporary artists, including Rachel Whiteread, Mona Hatoum and Sarah Lucas.

The starting point for the exhibition was a piece of cloth embroidered in 1912 by Suffragettes imprisoned at Holloway Prison. Most of the 78 women who embroidered their signatures participated in demonstrations organised by the Women’s Social & Political Union. They were denied the status of political prisoners and many were force-fed.

The contemporary handkerchiefs are presented alongside the historic cloth embroidered with the names of seventy-eight Suffragettes, courtesy of The Women’s Library Collection at LSE. The exhibition also included photographs and information about each of the Suffragettes through an AV installation prepared by London College of Fashion, UAL.

Exhibition organised by London College of Fashion, UAL.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Bees pollinating flowers

Swarm: artists respond to the pollinator crisis

  • 14 June 2019 — 26 January 2020

Bees are in serious decline in the UK and across the world. Other pollinators such as hoverflies, moths and butterflies are also in trouble – since 2000 British butterflies have declined by 58% and over 75% of Europe’s insect population has been lost in the last 30 years. The biggest single threat to pollinating insects is intensive farming: its vast monocultures have shrunk pollinators’ foraging habitats, while heavy reliance on pesticides has a devastating impact on their health. Meanwhile, home and garden stores sell a wide range of pesticides for use by amateur gardeners that are toxic to bees.

In Swarm artists Anna Alcock, Hannah Ford, Miyuki Kasahara, Alke Schmidt and Sandie Sutton respond to this crisis with new work that draws on the latest research into the causes of the alarming decline of pollinators. Featuring painting, printmaking, textiles, sculpture and installation, the exhibition is both a call to arms and a celebration of these wondrous and hard-working insects that are so vital to our food security. With Swarm, the artists share with us their enthusiasm for our pollinating insects and aim to inspire us to protect them.

Part of the E17 Art Trail 2019

Suitable for

  • Any age




Vestry House Museum
Vestry Road
Greater London
E17 9NH

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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.