The secret treasures in the forest of LondonNovember 26, 2018
Can London’s visitors get beyond Southbank, Westminster and the Royal Parks? Which tourist still gets to see the real life in the British capital, which because of the horrendous cost of living is always further from the center? For example, in Waltham Forest, where many migrants and so-called simple people live, but where now settle more and more artists. Why the district from January 2019 the first Borough of Culture London will be.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan can kill several birds with one stone: The musicians, painters, museums in Waltham Forest are in focus for twelve months and can give the multicultural district a new image.
68 percent of the population there are not British or Irish descent. Above all, Romanians, Poles and Pakistanis have settled in recent decades because of the relatively cheap housing in Waltham Forest. So far, this district has been making headlines especially by stabbing and gang crime, from now on it should show that there are still undiscovered alternative quarters in London, and perhaps it also succeeds in luring tourists from the chronically congested inner city to the outskirts of the city.
Especially since Waltham Forest, as the name says, offers something special in which the neighborhoods in hip London East can not compete: it is much greener than other parts of the metropolis. “Welcome to the Forest” is the name of the cultural festival that will open the one-year party in early January. In addition to parks and greenery, there is also plenty of water in the north of London. The neighborhood is nestled on the River Lea, which, coming from the Chiltern Hills, flows into the Thames and surrounds a huge Wetland Center, an urban nature park.
The culture year should advertise
“I can ride my bike along the river right into the center of Europe’s largest city,” enthuses Sam Jones, who has lived in Waltham Forest for four years. He usually hosts jazz and world music concerts in the otherwise little-visited churches here.
Now he is in a trendy furnished corner shop, which is now called “One Hoe Street” and will be a permanent destination for visitors and also for the people from Waltham Forest itself during the Culture Year. With well-funded funding programs, the community wants to specifically promote local artists. “The cultural year should above all reflect the cultural diversity of our neighborhood. Not dictated from above, but at eye level, “says Jones.
It is exactly this principle that would have pleased a local, considered one of the great English artists of the 19th century, whose wallpaper designs are still popular today. William Morris was born in Waltham Forest in 1834, when it was actually still a village in the countryside.
“I do not want art only for the few, just as I do not want education or freedom only for the few,” wrote the socialist-turned son from a financially blessed home. His gaudy motives full of exotic birds and flowers can be seen in the William Morris Gallery in the heart of Waltham Forest.
The pieces of jewelry want to be discovered
Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, once lived in the stately manor house, which is now a public park. It stands out between long rows of typical English terraced houses, some of which are quite run down.
Granted, you have to search a bit in this rather unpretentious (urban) forest to find the jewelry. Such as the pompous, built in the 1930s town hall. Or the crooked Tudor houses from the 16th century, crouching in the shadow of St. Mary’s Church.
And of course the Walthamstow Market on the main street, with one kilometer one of the longest markets in Europe. By 2019, a few more people will jostle when art and music festivals lure the whole world into London’s forest from January
(Program and Backgrounds: www.wfculture19.co.uk),