Waltham Abbey, traditional market town steeped in royal connections

Waltham Abbey is a traditional market town steeped in history with Royal connections and an impressive church and abbey grounds at its centre. Its connections to King Harold, who founded the monastery and is reputedly buried in its grounds, are celebrated every year alongside a calendar of other festivals and events. Visitors are spoilt for choice with nearby attractions including the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Copped Hall, Lee Valley Park Farms and the Olympic White Water Centre. Part of the Epping Forest district, the town is surrounded on all sides by accessible countryside including nature reserves, parks and forest where a range of activities and attractions are available for all to enjoy.

Waltham Abbey is a traditional market town steeped in history. King Harold founded the abbey and is reputably buried in its gardens now enjoyed by the public. Surrounded by accessible park land and Epping Forest, nearby attractions include the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Copped Hall and the Olympic White Water Centre.


Explore Waltham Abbey

Picture of the Epping Forest District Council tourism logo.
Visit the Epping Forest District website

Waltham Abbey is a unique and traditional market town with 16th century timber-framed buildings and a fine 'Art Nouveau' Town Hall. It has associations with Royalty including King Harold, Henry II and Henry VIII and its market charter was granted by Richard the Lionheart. The impressive Waltham Abbey Church and gardens remind visitors of the monastic centre founded by King Harold who is reputedly buried in the grounds. The town is also home to the Epping Forest District Museum.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills are a short walk from the town centre and a great place for families to explore the history of gunpowder and rockets. Also nearby, Copped Hall has historical connections with the first performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Under restoration, this fine mid-18th Century mansion and its extensive gardens are open to the public.

Waltham Abbey sits alongside the Lee Valley Country Park with Gunpowder Park and Epping Forest on its doorstep. The surrounding countryside contains important habitat for birds and dragonflies and families will enjoy Lee Valley Park Farm offering a chance to learn about animals and enjoy a tractor and trailer ride. For those with more active interests, the Olympic White Water Centre sits just on the edge of town and the surrounding countryside offers fantastic opportunities for walking, cycling and horse riding.

Highlights of the area

Two children holding a yellow fishing net are holding it over the pond trying to catch something.

A hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. It stretches 26 miles along the leafy banks of the River Lee. Enjoy a picnic, hop on a bike, explore the countryside, take a boat trip along the river, discover wondrous wildlife or enjoy one of the many family events throughout the year.

A group of people in a raft hurdling down the white water course. The are all looking excited.

Experience the ultimate white water rafting adventure as you tackle the same rapids as Team GB during the London 2012 Canoe Slalom events. The centre also runs other water activities as well as canoeing and kayaking sessions on the flat water lake and white water courses.

Picture of a man experimenting with flammable material!

This spectacular 170-acre location is is a must, not just for history buffs and science enthusiasts but it's brilliant for the whole family. Special events include Spitfire flypast, award-winning secret history exhibition, tranquil wildlife walks, guided land train tours and rocket science gallery.

More highlights

Picture of a little boy ready to kiss two goats that are sticking their heads out of the pen.

Let the kids go wild. There’s so much to see and do one visit is never enough! Meet the farm animals, visit the cows at the dairy farm, ride mini tractors, dig in ‘The Pit’, go wild in the Bundle Barn soft play area and jump for joy on the bouncing pillow.

Picture of a little girl hugging a horse.

Redwings is the UK's largest horse sanctuary caring for rescued animals. Ada Cole Memorial Stables is a rescue centre established in memory of an amazing lady who campaigned for animal welfare. You can meet more than 50 rescued horses, ponies, donkeys and mules at the site.

Stay somewhere special

As a guest at the Waltham Abbey Marriott Hotel, you’ll find stylish guest rooms, thoughtful amenities as well as flexible event spaces. Enjoy their leisure club, which offers an indoor pool, gym and steam room. For dining, the Cast Iron Restaurant features delicious seasonal cuisine served in a brasserie-style setting. Host your corporate or social event with them and discover their light-filled venues and expert planning services.