Thames Ditton Island

Thames Ditton Regatta

Thames Ditton Island

Left Bank channel for small boats only
Thames Ditton Island Website

Thames Ditton Village

Thames Ditton Church, 1817
Thames Ditton Church, 1817

1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall

[Coming downstream] Having passed the confluence of the Mole with the Thames, our boat sweeps by the palace gardens, and we glide swiftly along between the Home Park and the pretty village of Thames Ditton. Once again we find ourselves amidst a flotilla of punts, and great is the amount of serious fishing we observe to be going on. On our right some small willow-bearing islands attract notice, and we learn that these are spots famous in the history of Thames picnic parties — so famous. indeed, that during the summer season they vie with Bushy Park itself as scenes of much happy and harmless enjoyment of this description. We pass the islands, and land on the Surrey bank of the river, with the view of improving our acquaintance with Ditton.
In the Domesday Book it is stated that "Wadard holds of the Bishop (of Bayeux) Ditone, in the hundred of Kingstone"; and it included the rich manors of Cleygate and Weston — the former belonging to the abbots of Westminster, the latter to the nuns of Barking. The church is "of remote origin, but has been greatly altered at different times, and enlarged by additional erections". It contains some remarkable tombs and brasses, most of them of a late period.

1896: Thames Ditton, Francis Frith -

1896: Thames Ditton, Francis Frith

1955: Thames Ditton, Francis Frith -

1955: Thames Ditton, Francis Frith
1955: Thames Ditton, Francis Frith

Dittons Skiff & Punting Club

Record Rows by Dittons Skiff & Punting Club
River Thames crew record
1988 Fastest time to row 186 miles of the River Thames from Lechlade to Southend Pier ~ 39hrs 27mins
This was by Three Men in a Boat (no dog) in a racing double skiff, the crew sculling in rotation; they beat the previous record by over 24 hours.
24 hours non-stop rowing
1994 Longest distance rowed in 24hrs ~ 141.26 miles.
This was in the Club IV sculler skiff ‘Sandy’ with a six-man crew who were on board at all times. They completed 17 trips from Hampton Court to Teddington and back…VERY boring! They beat the distance set by an Australian racing VIII by over 4 miles.
English Channel crew record
1996 Fastest time to row the 22 miles of the English Channel ~ 2 hrs 42 minutes 20 seconds.
This was in a Watermans’ Cutter rigged for six scullers with a cox. The crew beat the previous record by 53 minutes (the return crew also beat the previous record!)
London to Paris crew record
1999 Fastest time to row the 480 miles London to Paris ~ 106hrs 14 minutes 54 seconds.
Once again in a Cutter rigged for six scullers but with a squad of 15 rotating 3hrs on 3hrs off. The elapsed time includes 12hrs waiting in Dover for a storm to blow itself out. The crews then ‘raced’ up the non-tidal River Seine doing timed pieces after over 300 miles sculling.
River Thames crew record
2004 Fastest time to row 186 mile of the River Thames from Lechlade to Southend Pier ~ 30hrs 57 mins 33 seconds.
This was in the TTBS IV sculled Shallop ‘Sgian Dubh’ once again with a six man crew on board at all times ~ they were successful where 25 other crews had failed over the past 10 years taking 5 hrs off the record time.
River Thames single handed record
2005 Fastest time to single scull 165 miles of the River Thames from Lechlade to Gravesend ~ 43hrs 40 minutes
This was in a single racing skiff (supported by over 60 people) beating the previous record by 16 hours.

Albany Reach

Above Thames Ditton Island

River Mole (& Ember)

Left bank below Hampton Court Bridge

Edmund Spencer -

Mole that like a Mousling mole doth make His way still underground, till the Thames he overtake.

Robert Bloomfield -

Where the Mole still glides, dwells peace, and peace is wealth to me.

1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall

The first object that attracts our notice is the junction of the "silent Mole" with the waters of the Thames. This tributary, itself produced by the union of a numerous series of small streams and brooks, some of which rise in Sussex, and others in Surrey, assumes the importance of a river near Reigate, in the latter county, from whence its course lies in a north-westerly direction. Winding amidst the lovely scenery of central Surrey, the Mole flows on past Dorking, Leatherhead, and Cobham; and then, taking its leave of bold hills and rich woods and ancestral mansions, it hastens through the flat region of the Moulseys towards the Thames. Much has been written, both in poetry and prose, upon the Mole, and many are the landscapes that other artists besides Witherington have painted near its tranquil waters. As late as the times of the lordly builder of Hampton Court, known as the "Emlay", this river has both changed its name and acquired its celebrity, from the singular circumstances that attend its career in the neighbourhood of Box Hill and Norbury Park, Here the bed of the stream is composed of a very porous earth, in which, at some little depth below the surface, many cavernous hollows are supposed to have been formed. In ordinary seasons the supply of water is sufficient, as well to fill these hidden recesses as to maintain the stream itself at its ordinary level; not so, however, in any time of drought; then the stream fails, and for some distance the channel is dry, with the exception of here and there a standing pool. Near the bridge at Thorncroft the ground again becomes solid, and here accordingly the exhausted river rises in a strong spring, and resumes its original condition. As will be readily supposed, this singular interruption to the course of the Mole gave rise, at early periods, to a variety of marvellous legends. Old Camden does not fail to give his version of the wonder, and, according to him, the Mole at Box Hill absolutely leaves the surface of the earth for a while in order to traverse a dark and subterraneous channel, arched out for its reception, and for some hidden purpose, by the great engineer, Nature. We may add, that at Wey-pool, in the "porous" region, the river has hollowed out a basin about thirty feet in diameter, in which the curious process of its absorption may be observed.


On the banks of the Mole there is yet a remnant of Wolsey's palace, "his palace of Esher-Place", to which he retired after "losing the favour" of King Henry, who had despoiled him of all his possessions, leaving him nothing — compelling him to beg from the monks at Leicester Abbey even

A little earth for charity!

William Wainfleet, who held the see of Winchester from 1447 to 1486, built a stately mansion of red brick on the borders of the Mole, and it became the episcopal residence. It was repaired and partially rebuilt by "the o'er-great cardinal"; and of this erection the gatehouse yet remains, a striking object on the banks of the pleasant river.
Milton speaks of the

Sullen Mole that runeth underneath;

Pope of the

Sullen Mole that hides his diving flood

And Drayton pictures the Thames hastening to soft dalliance with the Mole, — when he is reproved by his parents, Thame and Isis, who desire him, in preference, to mate with the Medway —

But Thames would hardly on: oft turning back, to show
From his much-loved Mole how loth he was to go.