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Waltham Abbey ChurchWaltham Abbey
Highbridge Street
Waltham Abbey
Essex EN9 1DG
TfL Fare Zone 6
 
 
 
Waltham Abbey Church is the local church for the parish of Waltham Abbey village and its local name is the ‘Church of Holy Cross and St. Lawrence’. Visitors are welcome to inspect the church and attend services.
 
The church is all that remains of a very famous Anglo-Saxon Foundation. In the churchyard are two stones marking the spot where it is thought the body of King Harold II is buried. Harold was the last Saxon King of England and was killed in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, during the Norman Conquest.
 
King Harold Day
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Every October the King Harold Day Society organises a medieval festival in the Abbey Gardens to commemorate the King’s links with Waltham Abbey. Check the website - Web: King Harold Day Society  to find the date of the event.
 
Waltham Abbey had been a very powerful and rich Monastic Foundation until 1540 when it was stripped of its Abbot and Canons during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The destruction of the monastic buildings stopped at the abbey church which was then offered to the townspeople.
 
The Abbey Church
Luckily, we have been left with a church mostly dating from 1120. The Lady Chapel and Undercroft were built in the 14th century and the tower in 1556 using materials from the demolished monastery.
 
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The inside of the church is magnificent. The grandeur of the old Abbey is reflected in the huge Norman piers in the nave and the zigzag decoration. A delightful feature is the many small stone faces carved by the original stonemasons. There is also a fine 15th century ‘Doom’ painting. The highly decorative painted ceiling was erected c.1860.
 
History
In the early 11th century Essex was ruled by the Viking King Canute. Around 1030, a member of the royal court, known as Tovi the Proud, brought a miraculous black stone crucifix from his estate in Somerset (it may have been a fragment of the 'true cross').
 
A wooden church was built to house the relic and the district became known as Waltham Holy Cross. The relic was believed to have healing powers and pilgrims flocked to Waltham Holy Cross making the town very prosperous.
 
In 1050 Harold Godwinson, Earl of Essex (later King Harold II) prayed before the cross and was cured of a paralysis. In thanks for this miracle Harold rebuilt the church as a College of Secular Canons. Edward the Confessor consecrated the church in 1060, five years before Westminster Abbey.
 
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It is believed that King Harold’s body was brought back to be buried behind the abbey’s High Altar after the Battle of Hastings. The approximate site is marked by two stones in the churchyard, just to the east of the present building.
 
In 1177 King Henry II came to Waltham Abbey as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. He re-founded the Abbey as an Augustinian Foundation with double the number of Canons and an Abbot who had a seat in Parliament.
 
The Abbey became a favourite spot for royalty and politicians to stay and hunt deer in Waltham Forest (later to become Epping Forest). This frivolity all stopped in 1540 with the dissolution of the monastic foundation.
 
Plan Your Visit 
Visitors are always welcome to attend services and to view the church. Service times are listed on the Abbey  Web: Services at the Abbey
 
Opening Hours
Open all year subject to additional services and music recitals.
Go to the church website for information Web: Waltham Abbey Church - Visiting
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1992 767 897
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
To plan your journey whilst in London, use the Transport for London 'Journey Planner'.
 
- By Underground
Loughton Station     Central Line towards Epping
 
At Loughton take Arriva bus company bus No 250 to Waltham Abbey.
Check the Arriva website:  Web:  Arriva Bus Co Waltham Abbey  
 
- By Mainline Rail, Bus and Car
The Abbey Church has excellent ‘Getting There’ information on their website: Web:  Waltham Abbey Church 'Getting There'