I've heard forks drop to plates at dinner parties at the mere mention of the fact I live in East London. The horror! A deathly silence descends, until I comfort everyone with the fact I only live four tube stops above Highbury. Islington is just about tolerable for West Londoners. London is such a tribal place, rife with postcode snobbery. It's not easy blazing a trail away from friends and old haunts, not because I wanted to, the budget just didn't allow. I am one of the lucky ones, having made it onto the property ladder, there is nothing to complain about. My usual reply is " you don't need a passport and it's the last stop on the Victoria line", no excuses. For someone so constricted by financial resources, I had a hefty list of criteria for an area. Whole weekends were spent stomping my way round the entire of South East London. My hairdresser had long been extolling the virtues of Walthamstow village, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Initial impressions on exiting the tube were depressing. I battled my way through money wiring outposts and Cottage Chicken shops to the village. Thunderbolts and lightening....... it was love at first sight when I saw the Ancient House. A 15th century timber framed building, sitting opposite St Mary's church built in the 12th century and an original Victorian Penfold postbox. Designated a conservation area in 1967, it had the feel of Old Hampstead in a distinctly East London setting. You can't own the Ancient House ( built in 1435), you can only rent part of it as it has been divided into four flats. We have become nation obsessed by the value of rising house prices over recent years. But perhaps we've forgotten that a home should be a retreat you can't put a price on, an Englishman's home is his castle and all that. Moreover, what a unique experience it would be to live in this historic building. Though rumour has it, you might perish during the winter months if you are a cold mortal like myself. "The Ancient House" is an affectionate nickname coined by locals, it would have been known as a Hall in its day. Fullers builders, a local firm specialising in period restorations have lovingly restored the building twice. Once in 1934, in memory of William George Fuller after his death, then again in 2001. A one way traffic system has also been enforced in front of the house to help preserve it. Lucky that the ice cream van can still squeeze through with the Cornettos! The church has such a special vantage point, as you can see below. The benches by the grave yard are always full of people having a chatter whilst fondly gazing at the house. If ever there was an illustration of how bricks and mortar can inspire great affection, this is it. So X marks the spot, I bought a flat that suited my needs, as close as possible to this little corner of zone 3 (even I had a wobble over leaving zone 2). I try to walk past it every day, largely to stick my head in the sand and pretend Cottage Chicken doesn't exist, but mostly because it makes me very happy. So perhaps my pictures will win you round to the idea of at least visiting E17, you never know Brian Harvey might even make an appearance!
A Victorian Penfold postbox installed between 1866-1879.
This glass panel reveals the original wattle and daub structure on the East side of the house.
A shop front installed in the 19th century.