1881: George Leslie -
The reach from Boulter's Lock to Hedsor [i.e. Cookham] Lock is generally allowed to be the most beautiful of any on the river; it certainly is a very stately and noble bit of scenery. There are three eyots, which divide the river in the middle of the reach into four streams, the most charming and romantic of which is the one on the Cliveden side.
White Brook or Widbrook
Left (west) bank. This stream may be reversible. It is planned as an outflow, the upstream end of the Maidenhead Waterways, PHASE 2 of the Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group plans. See York Cut (below Monkey Island, the downstream end) for details.
Left (west) bank, traditional site of a battle between the Saxons and the Danes. Modern maps mark a Tumulus near here.
Right (east) bank
Here the Cliveden Hotel guests, having been met by launch in Maidenhead are transferred to cars for the steep climb up to Cliveden House
Lovely boats for hire at a price from here.
Seven Gable Cottage
Right (east) bank, with a walk sloping slightly away from the river up to Cliveden House (Hotel)
1799: Picturesque Views on the Thames by Samuel Ireland has this view. It has obviously altered much since!
A Little below this [Cliveden] house, at the foot of Cliefden Wood,
rises Cliefden spring, which by an easy descent forms a small, yet beautiful cascade,
that gently murmuring over its gravelly bed, empties itself into the river Thames.
To this charming retreat, (by permission of the Earl of Inchiquin, to whom it belongs) social parties frequently repair to take their repast beneath its cooling shade.
In one of these convivial meetings the following lines were given by the author of this work as an impromptu on the spot; let the occasion plead their appology.
Secure from summer's sultry ray.
Haste hither swains, and with you bring.
Your lasses debonnaire and gay,
To taste of Cliefden's cooling spring.
Here bowering shades to love invite.
And realize the poet's dream;
Here Thames allures the ravished sight,
While murmuring glides cool Cliefden's stream.
Gay Ovid of his nymphs may write.
With quill fresh plucked from fancy's wing,
Yet here from nature I'll indite.
The charms of Cliefden's cooling spring.
Let Horace too his nectar boast,
And be the juicy grape his theme,
Yet here in beverage cool I'll toast .
The nymph of Cliefden's cooling stream.
Nor will I scorn young Bacchus' aid,
While she is here for whom I sing;
He shall beneath this fragrant shade.
Infuse his grape in Cliefden's spring,
If here the sigh of love prevails,
The dart of envy finds no sting;
Old Thames will smile, and tell no tales.
Of what is done at Cliefden's spring.
1839: The Sporting Magazine, Maidenhead Regatta took place just three weeks after the first Henley Regatta -
The inhabitants of Maidenhead, following in the wake of the spirited denizens of Henley-on-Thames, and the Reaches of Taplow and Clifden being eminently calculated for a similar experiment, clubbed the needful, and provided two Silver Cups, one of 50g[uinea]s. and a second of 25g[uinea]s., to be rowed for on the 4th of July, the first by amateur crews in eight-oared cutters, and the second by four-oared boats, open to residents in the towns of Windsor, Eton, Maidenhead, Marlow, Henley, and Reading.
The former, [ie the Eights competition] unfortunately, was "no go", for thongh it was anticipated that the Etonians would have contended with the Leander, the only boat entered, the time passed sub silentio, and the disappointment not only to the Club, who had sent their boat up the previous day, but to numerous amateurs from London and from all the towns and villages surrounding the scene of action, was excessive. The Stewards too were dreadfully chagrined, as they had made every arrangement to gratify the numerous visitors congregated on the occasion.
The [Eton] Collegians are never backward in accepting any matches of prowess and skill with the oar or the bat; but in this instance it was understood that the Governor (Dr. Hawtrey) had put his veto on their engaging in a "public Match". In this dilemma, with only one entry and there must have been two to constitute a start the Stewards did all in their power to lessen the disappointment; and although the "Great Match" was not forthcoming, several minor ones were got up for the nonce, and all passed off with greater zest than might under such circumstances have been anticipated.
For the 2 ½ gs. Cup, three boats contested the Lady of the Lake of Maidenhead, the Star of Maidenhead, and the Albion of Henley.
For the first heat, the Lady and the Star rowed, starting near Formosa Island, down stream to near Boulter's Lock, rather more than a mile and a half. It was all Lombard-street to a China orange, the Lady going a-head at starting, which she kept to the finish, and arrived at the goal 200 yards in advance of her opponent.
The Star afterwards tried her strength with the Albion, and was again beaten.
Then came the "tug of war" between the two winning boats; and this made ample amends for the two previous bouts. It was contested oar for oar; but the Lady getting entangled in the weeds in "the Gulls", the Albion went a-head, and, though severely pressed by her antagonist, maintained first place to the finish.
For a prize of 5 sov[reign]s., five scullers contested won by T. Gurney, of Eton, J. Haverley, of that ilk, second.
A prize of 5 sovs. for an oars-match was the next object of interest, and five boats appeared to start; but when it was known that Charles Campbell of Lambeth, the Champion of the River, and his brother George, who ranks first-rate among the light-weights (having gone up with a liberal patron of the London River), had resolved to have a shy, two boats rather sulkily withdrew from competition.
The Campbells, soon after starting, went a-head, and their opponents had not the shadow of a chance; H. Goatley of London and F. Gurney of Eton second, and received 2 sovs.; R. Brades and J. Haverley, of Eton, last.
A Match between eight punters terminated the sports, the Stewards expressing their determination " to do better" next year.
1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall
We are now approaching that part of the Thames which supplies its
most abundant beauties — of mingled wood and water, hill and valley,
shrubby heights and richly cultivated fields. The river here closes in,
or seems to do so; for although in reality wide, it is narrowed to the
eye by the steep hills which rise from the banks on either side, clothed
in varied foliage from the base to the summit. Those who accuse our
great island river of insipidity, who, if they concede its claims to beauty,
deny its pretensions to grandeur, will do well to visit the scenery
between Hedsor and Maidenhead — to row beneath the thick woods of
Taplow and Cliefden[sic], and, looking up, they will have no difficulty in
imagining themselves in one of the grandest and richest, in picturesque
attractions, of our English lakes; indeed, they will require only the near
and distant mountains to fancy themselves under the heights of Glena, in
Well may we rejoice to scan the charms of our glorious river, and ask the aid of Poetry and Art to give them fame and power. But the painter will fail here, he may select graceful nooks, and a thousand objects will, singly or in groups, present themselves as fitting subjects for his pencil; but he cannot convey to the eye and mind a just idea of the mingled grandeur and beauty of this delicious locality; while the poet will find only themes which have been, ever and everywhere, the chosen and the favoured of his order.
1860: A Handbook for Travellers in Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire -
Cliefden (Duchess of Sutherland), to which "the river
here owes its chief loveliness ; and
whether we view the valley of the
Thames from it, or float leisurely
along the stream and regard it as
the principal object, we shall alike
find enough to delight the eye and
kindle the imagination. The towing
path lies along the Berkshire side
of the river, and Cliefden, which is
on the opposite side, is a magnificent
object from it; but the rambler
should by all means here take a
boat, and there are two or three
places near Maidenhead at which
one can be hired, and row gently
along, if he would see this part in
all its varied beauty.
Cliefden runs along the summit of a lofty ridge which overhangs the river. The outline of this ridge is broken in the most agreeable way; the steep bank is clothed with luxuriant foliage, forming a hanging wood of great beauty, on parts bare, so as to increase the gracefulness of the foliage by the contrast; and the whole bank has run into easy flowing curves at the bidding of the noble stream which washes its base. A few islands deck this part of the river, and occasionally little tongues of land run out into it, or a tree overhangs it, helping to give vigour to the foreground of the rich landscape."
These exquisite woods abound in magnificent primeval yew trees, which hang from the chalk cliffs, their twisted roots exposed to the air, and cling and cluster round the winding walks and steep narrow staircases which lead in every direction to the heights above.
The wild clematis hangs in luxuriant wreaths from the tops of the highest trees, and in their shade the Atropa Belladonna and other rare plants grow luxuriantly.
In the cliff are many small caves, once inhabited by robbers, in one of which a worthless tradition tells that the Princess Elizabeth took refuge from Mary.
Near the waterside a spring rises in a rocky basin and falls into the river, near which the Duke of Buckingham built a picturesque cottage for the benefit of visitors.
The views from the summit are beautiful, "unequalled along the Thames, except by that from the north terrace of Windsor".
1881 George Leslie, "Our River" -
Mr. Calderon made his studies for his picture of the lovers in a boat, entitled "Sighing his Soul into his Lady's Face", from the banks of the Cliveden woods; this picture has found its way back to the river again, for it now belongs to Mr. Schwabe, and hangs in his house at Hambledon.
"Sighing his soul into his lady's face" by PHILIP HERMOGENES CALDERON
See also monochrome version
1885: The Royal Thames -
All the trees of England seem to have congregated on this bank:
there are hazel and maple and thorn;
there are ash and oak, and beech and elm;
there are chestnut and sycamore,
and, especially at the upper end, the brighter tints of the deciduous trees,
and of the broad-leaved evergreens, are dappled by the sombre hues of Scotch firs,
with their ruddy trunks, and of ancient yews ...
Down by the river's brink what a wealth of beauty is often to be found; the waterside plants grow strong and free, pink willow-herb and purple loosestrife, yellow fleabane and St John's Wort, with numbers more which it is needless to mention; while the bank above is green in summer with many a herb, and bright in spring with many a flower.
No trim shrubbery this on the Cliefden steeps; nature is left to wanton at will - nay, even to struggle for existence. Ivy and briony and wild bine festoon and sometimes half smother the trees, while the traveller's joy creeps and clings in masses so profuse that from afar it seems to flicker like grey lights among the green shadows.
1889: Jerome K Jerome-
... that grand reach beyond Boulter's and Cookham locks -
1889: Jerome K Jerome [I decided to show this as poetry] -
Cliveden Woods still wore their dainty dress of spring,
and rose up, from the water's edge,
in one long harmony of blended shades of fairy green.
In its unbroken loveliness
this is, perhaps, the sweetest stretch of all the river,
and lingeringly we slowly drew our little boat away from its deep peace.
1891: The Stream of Pleasure, Joseph & Elizabeth Robins Pennell -
Along the beautiful stretch between Marlow and Cookham, beneath the steep wooded
slopes of Cliefden - where here and there the cedars and beeches leave a space to
show the great house of the Duke of Westminster rising far above - up near the backwaters
winding between sedge and willow,
one to a mill, [ie Left bank side of Formosa Island? ]
another to a row of eel-butts [ie Hedsor Water, the old course bypassed by Cookham Lock ]
the name of the smaller boats was legion. Among them was every possible kind of row-boat, and there were punts, some with one some with two at the pole, dinghies, sail-boats, even a gondola and two sandolas, and canoes with single paddle, canoes with double paddles, and one at least with an entire family on their knees paddling as if from the wilds of America or Africa. On the Thames it seems as if no man were too old, no child too young, to take a paddle, a pole, or a scull. In one boat you find a grey-haired grandfather, in the next a little girl in short frocks and big sun-bonnet.
Lantern Slide (1883-1908) - River Scene at Cleveden
Pictures by W.C.Hughes. Thanks to Pat Furley, research by Dr Wilson.
1886: Julia Isham Taylor, Down the Thames -
The scenery along this stretch has the peculiar
refined elegance of the most delicate engravings. The swans that float upon the stream
emphasize the air of ancestral sentiment and aristocratic pleasuring.
One has the feeling that the whole thing is
an illustration and that there must be slightly old-fashioned rhetoric in
excellent print on the opposite page.
It has the reputation at the present day as a watery lovers' lane.
1891: Boating Life on the Upper Thames, F Campbell Moller M.D. -
... under the willows on the Bucks side of the river you can always, for a consideration, get a pot of tea or hot water from one of the keepers' cottages on the Duke of Westminster's extensive place, Cliveden, the mansion of which rises, a beautiful pile, beyond the hanging woods, on one of the rolling hills of the back country.
1901: The Thames Illustrated by John Leland -
It will be observed by the explorer of the Thames, as a characteristic feature of the scenery, due to the configuration of the hills, that there is often a steep and wooded declivity on one side and a space of meadow, with distant scenery on the other. In a general way it is the fashion of rivers either to flow through valleys with hills on either hand, or to crawl sluggishly across a plain. This is not the way of the Thames. We may see at Cliveden, at Marlow, and at Newnham that the river seeks the shelter of the wooded heights, from whose umbrageous slopes you look to the open country that lies before, and there at the foot, as Spenser says -
The crystal Thames, wont to slide
In silver channel, down along the lee.
[ I would list the places where this characteristic scene is found, of the hill on the one side and the meadow on the other, rather
Richmond; Runnymede and Coopers Hill, Windsor, Cliveden, Quarry Woods below Marlow, Hurley, Henley - Remenham Hill and Park Place and on into Hennerton Backwater, Hardwick above Mapledurham Lock, Hartswood, Clifton Hampden and Nuneham.
And coming to list them realise that they are indeed the most beautiful reaches of the Thames. ]
John Leland continued -
We emerge, then, from the densely wooded surroundings of Boulter's Lock, leaving behind us the long sylvan space of Glen Island,
with the beautiful house of Sir Roger Palmer upon it, to traverse the splendid reach that lies along the foot of Cliveden Wood.
This is a superb length of the Thames, dear, for its pictorial charms, alike to oarsmen, anglers and artists, affording unfailing delight, whether we pull along the stream or linger by the romantic shore.
Up above us, the stately mansion of Cliveden crowns the crest ...
1906: G.E.Mitton -
Above the river, on the east, rise the
cliff-like heights of Clieveden, wooded to their summits, and seen
magnificently by reason of the curve at the end of the reach, which gives their
full sweep at one glance. The cliff rises to a height of 140 feet, but the
thickness of the trees, and their own height towering above, make it look much
higher. The trees are of all kinds, oak and beech, chestnut and ash, and many a
dark evergreen; while here and there a Lombardy poplar shoots up like a
straight line, and the wild clematis throws its shawls of greenery from tree to
tree, giving the whole the appearance of a tropical forest. Seen in early
spring, when the tender green of the beeches and the bursting gummy buds of the
horse-chestnut are shedding a veil over the fretwork of twig and bough, they
are glorious enough; but in autumn, when orange and russet break out in all
directions, they are, perhaps, more imposing. River people do not, as a rule,
see them at their best, for before that touch of frost has come which sends a
flame of crimson over the maples, and heightens the orange of the beeches, the
fairweather boatsman has fled to his fireside.
At one point we catch a glimpse of Clieveden itself, standing high and facing downstream.
1909: "The Parthenon By Way Of Papendrecht" by Francis Hopkinson Smith
...on Sundays and holidays then my white umbrella would loom up as large as a circus tent,
the usual crowd surging about its doors.
As you cannot see London for the people, so you cannot see the river for boats on these days - all sorts of boats - wherries, tubs, launches, racing crafts, shells, punts - everything that can be poled, pulled, or wobbled, and in each one the invariable combination - a man, a girl, and a dog - a dog, a girl, and a man.
This has been going on for ages, and will to the end of time.
Stanley Spencer: (see Cookham) -
You can't walk by the river at Cliveden Reach and not believe in God.
1951: W J Brown (foreword to Sweet Themmes) -
There is the great house of Cliveden on the hillside, and the curving stretch of river below where all one not-to-be-forgotten night, I lay in a punt listening to the nightingales, and reckoned all about as holy ground, and had no envy of the lords and ladies in the great house above.
Left (west) bank, mill stream outflow
On that stream Formosa Place is on the Left bank and Formosa Court on the Right
Left (west) bank
1875: My Lady Ferry, Henry Taunt -
My Lady Ferry, Henry Taunt, 1875
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT1831
1885: Cliveden Ferry, Heny Taunt -
Cliveden Ferry, Heny Taunt, 1885
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT2080
Lantern Slide (1883-1908) - The Ferry, Cleveden
Pictures by W.C.Hughes. Thanks to Pat Furley, research by Dr Wilson.
Left (west) bank weir Stream, immediately below Lock Cut
Cookham Lock Cut
Left (west) bank
Straight on is Hedsor Water, the weir stream from Odney Weir