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The Vestry and its Cage
The location of the Vestry workhouse and prisoners Cage.
Vestry House, a two storey building of brown stock brick, was constructed in 1730 by order of the Vestry. This body, 'a meeting of all ratepayers in vestry assembled', had been responsible for many aspects of local government since the sixteenth century, and originally met in the church of St. Mary the Virgin at Church End.
The Vestry's responsibilities were both ecclesiastical and secular, and included providing for the poor with the rates collected from local householders.
When the Metropolitan Police 'took possession of the district' in 1840 they applied to occupy the 1756 extension of the building, and from 1841 until 1870 it served as their police station. One of the cells can still he seen in its original state complete with graffiti written on the walls by those who were locked up inside it!
In 1870 the police were transferred to a new station in Lea Bridge Road and their old premises were taken over by the Walthamstow Volunteers for use as an armoury. In 1891 they in turn moved out to a new drill hall in Church Hill Road, and the 'old armoury' as it now came to be called was then used by a local builder for the next forty years.
Nowadays the Vestry meets only once a year for the election of churchwardens.
Outside the entrance to the modern day museum is where the Old Watch House or Cage used to be, for the accommodation of prisoners overnight. It was erected in 1765 and removed in 1912.