Waltham Abbey’s claim to fame is that it’s reputedly the burial place of King Harold II, the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings who was beaten by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It was also the last abbey in England to be dissolved by Henry VIII during the reformation. At the heart of this market town in Essex is Waltham Abbey Church, which occupies a site that has housed a church since the 7th century.
The present-day stone church was largely built in the 12th century and inside it is much the same as many other churches in the UK, although it does have a splendid patterned ceiling and the chancel features some attractive stained glass windows.
The grounds of the church, however, are more interesting than most with the ruins of the abbey to explore, a pretty rose garden and the remnants of an old bloomery forge. Most exciting of all for a history geek like myself is the stone memorial (below) that commemorates Harold II’s alleged final resting place.