I’m just going to say this really quickly, like the verbal equivalent of ripping off a plaster. I like Walthamstow Village. There, I’ve said it, there’s no going back now so why stop. I like the restaurants, we had our wedding reception in La Ruga so I always look on it with fondness. I like the old church with its grave yard full of ivy covered grave stones and monuments. I like the Ancient House and Vestry museum, and the glimpse of the past that corner of Walthamstow gives us. And of course, I like the pubs. Yes, I like Walthamstow Village, but sometimes it seems that liking the Village has become an offence, a taboo subject we shouldn’t really mention. Even the name seems to whip people up in to a frenzy, The Village, they’ll say with a huff, The Village was invented by estate agents. Any attention pointed at the Village will only serve to fan the flames, and that’s what happened this week. Time Out published an article about Orford Road, it contained a fair few inaccuracies, but what really ground our collective gears was that once again, the spot light was on the Village, or at least that small part of it between The Queens Arms and the Ancient House. The article was read, and a verdict was delivered, there is so much more to Walthamstow than Orford Road.
If you have read my blog before, you will no doubt know that I am a bit of a floaty drifty thing. I meander around Walthamstow visiting every corner, looking at every nook and cranny, and I have a great time doing it. Hoe Street, St James Street, Blackhorse Lane, the mile long market and the mighty marsh, the list is endless. Each area offers something slightly different to its neighbour, and although different, each area has something in common, they are all part of the whole, a patch in the quilt that makes Walthamstow special. For me, the Village is another one of those patches, no more or less important than the rest of E17, but a part of it, and a part to be celebrated as much as the rest. Lets not forget that the Village was once the beating administrative heart of Walthamstow, the old town hall still stands on Orford Road. And despite what people may tell you, it was a village long before estate agents arrived. It was one of the original manors that made up Wilcumestou, which became Walthamstow Toni (named after the lord of the manor) and then simply Walthamstow. It is the place that gave our home its name.
When I first moved here, Orford Road was probably the main destination in Walthamstow. If you wanted to go out for a meal, or take someone to a nice pub, choices were pretty limited, so many of us gravitated to the Village for nights out. Over the years more restaurants opened, the Spar won a prize for best village shop on the planet (or something like that) and before long we even had a cheese shop. Some would say the village has vanished up its own middle class back side, but if it has, it was us that pushed it there. We all wanted somewhere nice to eat, and pubs to drink in that didn’t have sticky carpets, the Village was really the first bit of E17 to give us that. We turned Orford Road in to what it is now by demanding change. And if that change is out of control, let’s not forget that it was us who fanned the flames.
It is a bit annoying when publications like Time Out repeatedly focus on the Village. And if you believe Kirsty and Phil on Location, Location, Location, there is nothing outside of the Village boundaries, just tumble weed and a post apocalyptic Mad Max like landscape. Those of us living here know the truth, there is so much more to E17 than Orford Road. There’s lots more to see and do and experience, but that doesn’t make Orford Road a bad place. So yes, I like the Village, because I like Walthamstow, and the village is just another thread in the tapestry that makes up my home.