Welcome to

Waltham Abbey Historical Society


WAHS was founded in 1953 to research the history and genealogy of the ancient market town of Waltham Abbey in Essex, England. People far and wide have become members over the years, and together we learn new things about our town and its people all the time. We have borne many success stories over the last half-century:


·   Extensive archaeology has rewritten the history of the town and its parish church, spanning a period of over two thousand years. We have discovered that several churches stood on the same spot since the 7th century. We are currently researching the architecture of its western facade.

·   Through continued campaigning, we played a large part in saving the heart of the town centre, with historic buildings dating as far back as the 14th century, from a sweeping ‘modernisation’ scheme in the 1970s.

·   Our members established and ran a local museum for many years. It was adopted by Epping Forest District Council in 1981, when WAHS gifted its collections to what is now Epping Forest District Museum. The museum itself, partly a medieval timber-framed house, was recently greatly enhanced with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant.

·   We continue to acquire historic items and documents, and our archive collection now includes books, maps, photos, prints, and a wide range of ephemera, all of which powerfully document the rich heritage of Waltham Abbey. Some of our members are actively involved in researching and cataloguing our archives.


We regularly hold themed exhibitions of old photographs and documents from our collections at local events such as King Harold Day. We maintain our love of archaeology by working closely with local groups, including Enfield Archaeological Society and West Essex Archaeological Group. We continue to monitor local property developments and planning policies which could affect the town's distinctive character.



We organise a series of lectures on the third Fridays of September to May, at the Baptist Church, Paradise Road, Waltham Abbey EN9 1RL, 8-10pm with a refreshment break. Anyone is welcome to come; members are free and we invite a £1 donation from non-members.


Friday 20th September 2019:

Fortitude and Fancy:

Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, two of HenryVIII’s most important wives

Revd Nicholas Henderson

Friday 18th October 2019:

A Local Family. A Century and more of the Symondsons in Upshire and Loughton

Carole Symondson

and Chris Pond

Friday 15th November 2019:

The New River:

400 Years of History

Richard Thomas

Friday 20th December 2019:

Christmas Meeting:

Members and Mince Pies


Friday 17th January 2020:

Moorfields: England’s First Public Park

Dr David Marsh

Friday 21st February 2020:

Essex Guilds and Guildhalls

Anne Padfield

Friday 20th March 2020:

Puddephat Memorial Lecture:

The West Facade of Waltham Abbey Church

Lawrence Greenall

and Steve Miller

Friday 17th April 2020:

Presidential Address & Annual General Meeting


Friday 15th May 2020:

Sir Frederick Gibberd and his Gardens

A speaker from the

Gibberd Gardens Trust


PARKING: the large Corn Mill Car Park is behind the Town Hall (its entrance is to the side of Muhinur restaurant, Greenyard, EN9 1RD) – free in the evenings. The Baptist church is a 2-minute walk from the car park exit, heading due east through an archway in a 1960s block of flats.



We have published dozens of titles since our earliest days, and our latest title, King Harold's Memorial, was launched very appropriately at last October's Commemoration of King Harold.


Society publications are available at our lecture meetings.  Orders can also be placed using our contact email and postal addresses (below). Please add £2.00 per order for postage and packing. Listed here is a selection of our recent titles, including reprints of rare oldies:



Format, Edition


Abbey House, Waltham Abbey, a thesis by Rosemary Hunt, with an article by Peter Huggins (on the manor house & gardens built by Edward Denny 1590-1600, in the Abbey Gardens)

A4, 40pp, 2013


The Burial of Harold at Waltham, by William Winters FRHS (1892)

A5, 24pp, 2016


The Church at Waltham in Pictures

A5, 24pp, 2016


The Church at Waltham: an archaeological and historical review, by Peter Huggins

A4, 44pp, 2015


A Church Saved for the People and the Nation: The 1960-65 Restoration of the Parish Church of the Holy Cross and St Lawrence, Waltham Abbey, by Grenville Weltch

To be published in Spring 2019

Copped Hall in its Heyday, by Raymond Cassidy (photographs taken 1906-1917)

A4 landscape, 24pp, 2015


Copped Hall: a short history, by Raymond Cassidy

A5, 24pp, 2017


The Diary of an ARP Warden 1939-1945 (Chief Warden, Waltham Holy Cross, Essex)

A4, 2009


An historical tour of the Lady Chapel and Crypt of the parish church of Waltham Holy Cross and St. Lawrence, Waltham Abbey, Essex, by Grenville Weltch

A4, 128pp, 2016


The History of the Ancient Town and once famous Abbey of Waltham in the County Of Essex, John Farmer  (1735)

A4, 104pp, 2016


King Harold's Memorial, by Grenville Weltch (the memorial can be seen outside the east end of the church)

A5, 20pp, 2017


King Harold’s Statue, by Grenville Weltch, with a biography of the sculptor Elizabeth Muntz by Lawrence Greenall  (the statue can be seen in the niche of the south-west buttress of the church)

A5, 52pp, 2016


The Legend of the Miraculous Cross (a 12th century account by a Canon of Waltham)

A5, 2002


Lifetimes of Achievement, by Grenville Weltch (notes on the people commemorated in WA Church’s memorials)

A5, 60pp, 2012


The Memorial Inscriptions in the parish church of the Holy Cross and Saint Lawrence at Waltham Abbey, by Dr. K. N. Bascombe and G. Weltch

A4, 80pp, 2013


Old Waltham in Pictures, by Dr. K. N. Bascombe

A5, 28pp, 2013


Waltham Holy Cross parish registers name index, 19th Century (4 vols: A-C, D-K, L-R, S-Z)

A4, 36-44pp each, 2016

£3.00 each

A Walk Round Waltham Abbey (a visitor’s guide to the town’s historic buildings and locations)

A5, 24pp, 2016


Waltham Abbey  Church, its Restoration 1859-1860 and its History, by William Burges (1859-60)

A5, 48pp, 2017


The Worthies of Waltham: a history of the town of Waltham Abbey, Essex, through the lives of its people; Vol. 1: to the Dissolution of the Abbey, 1540

A5, 40pp, 2011


The Worthies of Waltham... Vol. 2: from the Dissolution to the end of the 17th Century

A5, 36pp, 1978




We welcome queries relating to the history and genealogy of our town. We provide this service free for our members plus reasonable photocopying/postage expenses. Please note that membership is required if anything more detailed than a brief response is anticipated, but if you are not sure about this, ask us anyway and we will advise you how we can help.



Members of WAHS are entitled to free admission to our lectures, receive a copy of our newsletter three times a year, can submit research enquires, and can book places on our excursions for themselves and invited guests. Membership is renewable each January, at that month's lecture or by post.

·   Individuals: £12.00

·   Two or more people at the same address, sharing one newsletter: £15.00

·   Full-time students (proof of status required): £1.00


If you would like to join, please use our contact details below.


Contact WAHS

General, membership and research queries, and publication orders, can be sent to us at wa_hist_soc [at] yahoo.co.uk, or to our postal address below. Please make any cheques out to Waltham Abbey Historical Society.


Waltham Abbey Historical Society,
c/o Waltham Abbey Library,
37 Sun Street,
Waltham Abbey,
Essex EN9 1EL.