They say first appearances can be deceptive, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to Walthamstow’s former town hall. CARL BROWN reports

FROM the outside, 14b Orford Road looks just like an ordinary public building.

But step inside, and you soon realise the former town hall is actually quite extraordinary.

It has been turned into the main UK temple by followers of I-Kuan Tao and one of the rooms is now lavishly decorated with 1,722 golden-painted buddhas, which line the walls from floor to ceiling.

They aim to symbolise truth and the temple is a haven of peace and tranquility, set amid the hustle and bustle of east London.

I Kuan-Tao originated in China and now has two million followers in more than 80 countries.

Newcomers receive a blessing from Master Wang, during which they receive the Three Treasures – “powerful tools” to help people with their own spiritual cultivation.

But unlike other faiths, I-Kuan Tao (which means the pervasive truth) allows members to continue following their current religion, and is not a religion itself. Master Wang said the new site was chosen because of the building’s “special atmosphere”.

He added: “When we were looking for a place I sensed that this building and area had a great energy, it is a very peaceful place.”

Saturday sessions are given in Mandarin, and Sunday sessions are in English. Call 020 7998 1922.