Peter Smith takes over at Waltham Abbey

“I was attracted to Waltham Abbey by the exciting diversity of the benefice, by the history of worship at the Abbey over 950 years and by the fact that so much good work is already going on here,” says the new rector Peter Smith.

He is the successor to the abbots of Waltham and has also been speaking about “reawakening the Abbey’s tradition as a place of pilgrimage”.

The abbey is indeed a wonderful Lea Valley landmark with its associations with King Canute, King Harold of Battle of Hastings fame and Henry II’s penance for the murder of St Thomas Becket. Its bells are Tennyson’s ‘wild bells’.

Fr Smith, with a background in church music, is no doubt delighted to find that it was at Waltham Abbey that the carol Hark, the Herald Angel Sings was first sung to its now familiar Mendelssohn tune.

Even if you are not stopping off at Waltham Abbey when on the Lea Valley Walk it is worth going up on to the road just to look east at the direct view of the tower and west door.

See page 89 to 91.

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