The Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St Lawrence is the parish church of the town of Waltham Abbey, Essex, England. It has been a place of worship since the 7th century.
The present building dates mainly from the early 12th century and is an example of Norman architecture. To the east of the existing church are traces of an enormous eastward enlargement of the building, begun following the re-foundation of the abbey in 1177.
The Holy Cross, a precious relic made of black marble or flint attracted many pilgrims and the Abbey became a popular place for overnight stays for kings and other notables hunting in Waltham Forest.
Henry VIII was a frequent visitor and is said to have had a house or lodge at Romeland, adjacent to the abbey. During their summer progress of 1532, Henry and Queen Anne Boleyn stayed at Waltham Abbey for five days.
In the Late Middle Ages, Waltham was one of the largest church buildings in England; in 1540 was the last religious community to be closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The monastic buildings and those parts of the church east of the crossing were demolished at the dissolution, and the Norman crossing tower and transepts collapsed in 1553.
The present-day church consists of the nave of the Norman abbey church, the 14th-century lady chapel and west wall, and a 16th-century west tower, added after the dissolution.
Harold Godwinson, the last Saxon King of England is said to be buried in the grounds of the Abbey Church. Find out more