The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.583767, -0.013701

10 Annotations

First Reading

Pauline  •  Link

A village in Essex some 6 miles from London, south of Epping forest and just east of the R. Lea. Prosperous in 1660 and within the radius for the country houses of well-to-do Londoners such as Batten and Penn.

L&M Companion

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Walthamstow is bordered to the north by Chingford, south by Leyton and Leytonstone, east by the southern reaches of Epping Forest at Woodford and west by Tottenham and the River Lea valley. Leyton High Road, Hoe Street, Chingford Road, Chingford Mount (passing south-north through Walthamstow and its neighbouring towns) form part of an ancient route from London to Waltham Abbey.…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

For Pepys to reach Walthamstow, he would have left the City through Bishopsgate, leading to Shoreditch, where there were many coaching inns for people travelling north.

Today it is possible to walk from Walthamstow to Shoreditch along the ancient Black Path. The route of this primeval footpath is visible in maps of the East End, as if someone had taken a crayon and scrawled a diagonal line across the grid of the modern street plan. There is no formal map of the Black Path, but anyone with a sense of direction can follow it.

The Black Path extends beyond Walthamstow, tracing a trajectory between Shoreditch Church and the crossing of the River Lea at Clapton.

Sometimes called the Porter’s Way, it was the route cattle were driven to Smithfield and the path used by smallholders taking produce to Spitalfields Market.

Sometimes it's called the Templars’ Way, as it links the 13th century St. Augustine’s Tower on land once owned by Knights Templar in Hackney with the Priory of St. John in Clerkenwell where they had their headquarters.

No-one knows how old the Black Path is or why it has this name, but it crossed open country long before roads existed. These days the path is black because of asphalt.

Start your hike at The Bell Inn and following the winding road through Walthamstow to the market. A tavern by this name has stood at Bell Corner for centuries and the street that leads southwest from it (once known as Green Leaf Lane) reveals its ancient origin by the curves that trace the contours of the land.

Today Walthamstow Market extends for a mile down the High Street to St. James', gradually sloping down towards the marshes.
Turn left onto St. James Street before following Station Road, and then weave southwest through late 19th century terraces to emerge at the level of the Walthamstow Marshes.

Now walk along Markhouse Avenue which leads into Argall Industrial Estate, traversed by a narrow footpath enclosed with high steel fences on each side.

Cross an old railway bridge and a broad tributary of the River Lea onto the Leyton Marshes. Horses graze here, and the dense blackthorn hedge which lines the footpath provides a bucolic background to the ancient footpath through a rural landscape.

Cross the Lea Bridge and you're back in the East End, of which the River Lea is its eastern boundary. The position of this crossing – once a ford, then a ferry and finally a bridge – defines the route of the Black Path, tracing a line due southwest from here.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Take the diagonal path bisecting the lawn of Millfields and walked up Powerscroft Road to the heart of Hackney at St. Augustine’s Tower (built in 1292 and a major landmark).
This is the chaotic crossroads where many routes meet at the top of Mare Street. Instead walk past the Town Hall and picked up the quiet footpath next to the museum known as Hackney Grove.
This byway emerges onto London Fields.

The drovers used to graze their cattle, sheep and geese overnight on this common land before setting off at dawn for Smithfield Market, a practice recalled today by the names of Sheep Lane and the Cat & Mutton pub.

The curve of Broadway Market leads through Goldsmith’s Row down to Columbia Road.
From the west end of Columbia Road walk along Virginia Road on the northern side of the Boundary Estate to arrive at Shoreditch Church.

To follow ancient pathways further, go west along Old Street towards Bath, north up the Kingsland Road to York, east along the Roman Road towards Colchester or south down Bishopsgate to the City of London.

For millennia, the Black Path was the only route people could use between Walthamstow and Shoreditch. Presumably Pepys went this way when it was still mostly rural.

For pictures see…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Sir William Batten’s country house: “The Rectory Manor House, Church Hill, Walthamstow, Essex.”
Later Sir William Penn buys a house not far away at Wanstead.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.