William Morris, the designer, poet, artisan and social activist came to Walthamstow long before the breweries, Europe’s longest street market (a mile for all statisticians) and the hipsters arrived. To prove this, the William Morris Gallery was his teenage home between 1834 and 1856. The Edward Lloyd publishing house moved in shortly afterwards from 1857 to 1885.
The William Morris Gallery, located at the entrance to Lloyd Park, is pretty grand in its own right, and the creaky floorboards make you feel like you are wandering through an inhabited house to this day. These famous, symmetrical wallpaper designs and the stories behind them can be seen everywhere. The establishment of Morris & Co. (known as “The Firm” before the royal family) in 1875 and the shop at 449 Oxford Street are synonymous with good taste, high quality materials and high standards of craftsmanship. Upstairs at the William Morris Gallery is more about the Arts & Crafts movement that was led by the man himself and fellow designer John Ruskin from the 1880s to World War I.
A short walk or bus ride from Walthamstow Central on the north end of the Victoria Line makes this a nice escape from the city center. Think of the ornate Victoria & Albert Museum in a two-story single family home. Refreshment is available either in the light and airy garden café on site or in the recently renovated The Bell Pub nearby.