William Morris, the designer, poet, craftsman and social activist, came to Walthamstow long before the breweries, the longest street market in Europe (a mile long for all the statisticians) and the hipsters arrived. To prove it, the William Morris Gallery was his home as a teenager between 1834 and 1856, with the publisher Edward Lloyd moving in just afterwards from 1857 to 1885.
The William Morris Gallery, located at the entrance of Lloyd Park, is rather grand as homes go and the creaky floorboards make you feel as if you are wandering through a lived-in house to this day. Those famous, symmetrical wallpaper designs and the stories behind them are on display everywhere; the founding of Morris & Co. (nicknamed ‘the Firm’ before the Royal Family) in 1875 and its store at 449 Oxford Street being a byword for good taste with the quality materials used along with the high standards of craftsmanship. Upstairs at the William Morris Gallery is more about the Arts & Crafts Movement led by the man himself and fellow designer John Ruskin from the 1880s up to World War 1.
A short walk or bus ride away from Walthamstow Central at the northern end of the Victoria Line makes this a nice escape from the centre of town. Think of the artsy, crafty Victoria & Albert Museum in a two-floor family home. Refreshment comes in the form of either the bright and airy onsite garden café or the recently refurbished The Bell pub also nearby.