Slipway is on the left bank below Cookham Bridge & Ferry Inn. By road turn into Odney Lane then left into Ferry Lane
(note that the bridge road to the north of Cookham is also labelled 'Ferry Lane' -
this is because there were probably two ferries here - a ferry right across which was replaced by the bridge -
and a ferry for the towpath which went to the towpath on the left of the lockcut as seen from Cookham.
Cookham in OS Berkshire 1876 1:2,500
Try not to block slipway access when parking!
Left bank immediately below Cookham Bridge, 01628 525123
1881:George Leslie, "Our River" -
The three river courses and the lock canal all join again at Cookham, and pass united through the bridge.
Going downstream through Cookham Bridge your are faced with four streams:
1) To the left is the weir stream which immediately comes to Odney Weir and beyond it Hedsor Water.
2) Then comes the navigation route, the lock cut to Cookham Lock
3) Then comes a weir stream with a new protective barrier of steel piles and 'Nelson lines'
4) And finally Lulle Brook, a Mill Stream with a short beautiful section for unpowered boats only. It is crossed by two bridges which are the only access to Formosa Island -
Bridges over Lulle Brook, Cookham
1811: The Thames -
Here the stream, which is of a considerable breadth, loses itself, as it were,
among the islands which divide it.
The view embraces no very distant object, but those which compose it are of great individual beauty, and from their contrasted shapes and character, collectively, compose a most delightful picture.
The Thames branches off into three different channels, forming several islands, one of which contains fifty-six acres, and is a scene of various agriculture, but sufficiently embowered to give large masses of foliage ; the others are covered with the alders and the osier, and enrich the bottom. ...
On the left is a large level mead of common pasturage, enlivened by herds of cattle, and the uplands of Buckinghamshire rising beyond it; nor is the ferry boat, which is continually crossing from Cookham to it, to be forgotten as an enlivening object of the scene.
[Downstream], are the waving grounds of Hedsor, the seat of Lord Boston, which nature tumbled about when she was in one of her gayest humours, and produce a fine display of sylvan beauty.
On the summit, from a grove of beeches, rises the mansion of the family, and crowns that feature of the prospect.
1901: The Thames Illustrated by John Leland -
At the old village of Cookham these [four] streams are conjoined. The village is not yet spoiled.
The geese still waddle down the street, and the rustics gossip at the doorways of the cottages that line the way.
In former times the highwaymen made their harvest here, in Cookham Bushes, and it is recorded that the Vicar of Hurley received greater emoluments in consideration of the fact that his way lay through that dangerous spot, where his pockets were liable to be relieved of their contents.
There is an inn in the village with the very quaint sign of "Bel and the Dragon".
1909: "The Parthenon By Way Of Papendrecht" by Francis Hopkinson Smith
And, ... best of all, lovely Cookham. Here the river, crazy with delight, seems to lose its head and goes meandering about, poking its nose up backwaters, creeping across meadows, flooding limpid shallows, mirroring oaks and willows upside down, surging up as if to sweep away a velvet-shorn lawn, only to pour itself - its united self - into an open-mouthed lock, and so on to a saner life in a level stretch beyond. If you want a map giving these vagaries, spill a cup of tea and follow its big and little puddles with their connecting rivulets: ten chances to one it will come out right.
1873: Advertisement -
Adverts in Henry Taunt's New Thames map, 1873
1875: Cookham Ferry Inn, Henry Taunt -
Cookham Ferry Inn, Henry Taunt, 1875
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT01966
1885: Cookham Ferry, Henry Taunt -
Cookham Ferry, Henry Taunt, 1885
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT03614
A FLOWERY BANK NEAR COOKHAM. From a photograph by E. Seeley.
1909: " The Parthenon By Way Of Papendrecht" by Francis Hopkinson Smith
It was mine host of the Ferry Inn at Cookham who was calling, and at the top of his voice - and a big-chested voice it was - the sound leaping into crescendo as the object of his search remained hidden. Then he turned to me:
"He's somewheres 'round the boat house - you can't miss him - there's too much of him!"
"Are ye wantin' me, sor?" came another shout as I rounded the squat building stuffed with boats - literally so - bottom, top, and sides.
"Yes - are you the boatman?"
"I am, sor ... Is it a punt ye're lookin' for?" ...
"Yes - and a man to pole it and look after me while I paint. ... You can pole me out to where I want to work; bring me my lunch when you have yours, and come for me at night. ...
"And it's a punt ye want? - Yes, sor - come and pick it out."
After that it was plain sailing - or punting. ... And it was early and late too (there were few visitors that month); down by the Weir below the lock as far as Cliveden; up the backwater to the Mill - William stretched beside me while I worked, or pulling back and forth when a cool bottle - beer, of course - or a kettle and an alcohol lamp would add to my comfort.
Nestled on the banks of the River Thames we provide the perfect setting to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Our characterful building is filled with cosy corners, comfy armchairs, open log fires and boasts a unique dining room. Chef's freshly prepared menus and our carefully selected wines, ales and lagers are served daily from lunch right through until dinner.
So, if it is a special occasion or you just fancy relaxing with some great food & drink we will be happy to help. Simply give us a call on 01628 525 123 or pop in and see one of the team.
1906: G.E.Mitton -
From Cookham Bridge we can see the gaily covered lawn of the hotel, where a perfect flotilla of craft is anchored, while the owners have tea or more cooling drinks;
1881: George Leslie, "Our River" -
The stream down to the mill on the Cookham side is worth going down; it is very picturesque when it comes to an open common, with geese generally on it, and the distant magnificent range of the Cliveden Woods forming a fine background.
1885: Long Article on Cookham by Margaret Bertha Wright, Lippincott's Magazine.
Cookham Ferry Inn, Mortimer Menpes, 1906
1906: G.E.Mitton -
The hotel at Cookham is right down on the water's edge, and from its lawn a charming view is gained of the main stream breaking into its many channels, with the wooded island of Formosa in the middle.
2003: The Ferry Inn was a Harvester -
Cookham Ferry Inn and Slip, Left Bank 2003
2006: The Ferry Inn then became an Italian Restaurant and bar -
Cookham Ferry Inn and Slip, Left Bank 2006
2017: Now, I think, simply "The Ferry" -
Cookham, The Ferry, Left Bank 2017
1881: The artist George Leslie R.A. associated
Cookham with another artist, Frederick Walker.
1881: George Leslie, "Our River" -
THE days I spent at Maidenhead will always remain endeared to my
memory, on account of many of them having been passed in the enjoyment of the
society of my friend, the late Frederick Walker.
On my first year's visit at Mrs. Copeland's, Walker's mother had taken a little cottage at Cookham; it was situated about half way up the main street, on the right-hand side as you go up from the river to the railway station; to this cottage, Walker himself came frequently.
black and white version of Fred Walker's "Rainy Day at Cookham"
A brother of his, who was consumptive, passed a
considerable portion of his time there;
he was very fond of fishing, and Walker bought a small
punt, which they both used for that purpose.
Walker could throw a fly extremely well,
and caught many a Chubb under the willow boughs.
At Cookham he painted one or two of his prettiest water-colour drawings; the "Geese coming up the Village Street", and "The Ferry at Marlow", amongst others.
And it was between here and Marlow that he painted his celebrated picture of "The Bathers"; he worked by fits and starts, and would frequently go down to the river in the late autumn, or even winter, for some detail he wanted.
I have a little pen-and-ink sketch, which came from him on one of these late autumn campaigns; it is called by him "The Hurley Bird", and represents him in gaiters working away at his picture, which is propped up with a boat-hook. In the foreground is his boat. -
Fred Walker, 1840 - 1875, memorial in Cookham Church
I never pass Cookham without visiting Walker's grave, and when in
the lock, look up on the sloping bank on which he and I had lain one lovely
Sunday afternoon in the happiest and laziest of moods, basking in the warm sun.
Cookham, with the exception of the bridge, has altered very little, and the village street which Walker painted with the geese coming down, and the inhabitants popping their heads out on either side, is just the same. The village inn, with the quaint sign of "Bel and the Dragon", is up this street, very near the little cottage occupied by Walker's mother; the small inn by the river is generally in great request, being first-rate in every respect. I was lucky enough to get the little front bed-room there, on October evening, the view from which in the morning was most lovely; the mist curling up from the water, and the autumn sun lighting up the Cliveden beeches radiant in golden glory.
Poor Walker's grave is a very humble one; it is on the right of the path leading up to the church door. On a recent visit I met a curious old countryman lingering near the grave, who seemed to know quite well who Walker was, though he had never seen him. It appeared that the man was a sort of amateur artist himself, and he showed me a number of views of the neighbourhood that he had drawn in a sketch book; the interests he took in Walker was entirely that of a brother brush.
Strange that Cookham should now be associated with yet another artist - another Royal Academician, Sir Stanley Spencer, who lived in the village until his death in 1959 and who used the village scenery as the background to many of his paintings. The Stanley Spencer Gallery in the High Street is open at certain times throughout the year and contains many interesting items.
Stanley Spencer with his picture 'Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta'
This painting was part of a series. Spencer had worked on the picture for nearly four
years, sitting as was his habit, on a stool perched on top of a trestle table.
This great unfinished painting started as 60 chalk drawings in 1953. Spencer
completed one piece before moving on to the next, working with small brushes,
his nose almost touching the canvas. Right up to the end of his life, Spencer
had no hesitation in showing Christ in modern terms and in everyday
circumstances. Spencer put Bible scenes into modern dress and transferred them
from Jerusalem to Cookham's High Street, where he was born.
Barbara Wells Sarudy has a blog about them:
Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta, Stanley Spencer (1955 unfinished)
In this series, done at the end of his life, Stanley Spencer remembers his childhood joy at the Cookham Regatta, where rich and poor gathered to celebrate. Class differences were important to Spencer in this series. Here Christ is envisioned preaching to those gathered for the regatta from his punt, an old horse-ferry barge no longer used in Cookham, when Spencer painted this. Spencer wrote in a letter of the contrast between the simple image of Christ and "the stalwart, prosperous, white-trousered proprietor of the Hotel" surveying the profitable scene from his lawn. Spencer believed that most folks, rich and poor, are redeemable, and he preferred to paint them in an imagined redeemed state. Transformed by the universality of Christ's message, most people in these paintings, whatever their social class, are passing into a state of drowsy, true, and total happiness because of the promise of The Last Day.
Christ Preaching at the Cookham Regatta Conversation between Punts, Stanley Spencer
Stanley Spencer wrote of the ladies in the punts, "They are nearly all middle-class ladies and all either asleep or nearly so.
They have had a tiring day dismissing servants, and they are all going bye-byes under a shared blanket.
Ah, then my Puck magic gets to work. The Christ-talk o'ercrows all these bothersome things and they sleep their way
into this critical no-servant-dismissing joy and peace. I don't love them in their hoity-toity-ness.
I love them because I know this is not them at all and that they are just as lovable as the servants they dismiss,
and that's saying a lot! Bringing them to the Regatta, I so to speak ensnare them and bring them to my joy,
which in this painting is Christ's joy.
"This all expresses to me the fact that I want all to know that what they wish for will be received. That if the Regatta is voluptuous, then let it be so. The Christ talk is that their joy may be full. If it is carnal wishes, they will be fulfilled. If it is sexual desires or picture-making inspiration that is to be satisfied, then Christ will heave the capstan round. All will be met. Everything will be fulfilled in the symbol of the Regatta. The complete worshipfulness and lovableness of everything to do with love is meant in this Regatta scene. In that marvellous atmosphere nothing can go wrong."
Christ Preaching at the Cookham Regatta, Dinner on the Hotel Lawn, Stanley Spencer, 1957
Christ Preaching at the Cookham Regatta, Meeting between Punts, Stanley Spencer, 1953
Christ Preaching at the Cookham Regatta, Girls listening, Stanley Spencer, 1953
Christ Preaching at the Cookham Regatta, Listening from punts, Stanley Spencer, 1954
Anonymous lines written On The Death Of Sir Stanley Spencer CBE, RA
Listen to 'Here, in the beauty ...'
Here, in the beauty of this River Village,
God gave a man some vision of His Light,
He saw the Glory, and, within his Parish,
Sought to interpret it for our delight.
In simple faith, this fortunate Immortal
Nurtured his talent, exercised his art,
Touching the cold grey canvasses with beauty,
Borne on his brush the pictures in his heart.
See with your own small eyes, his world around you,
Walk through his lanes and sit beneath his trees.
Can you see Christ, as he did, in a boater?
Can you hear God, as he did, in the breeze?
See how the man, one of a million soldiers,
Paints them in dearest detail on his walls,
Shows us the mire and misery of battle,
Echoes the empty brag of bugle calls.
Thousands have seen and walked the humble gardens,
The leafy lanes, and river paths he trod.
The places in which everyone sees beauty,
Are where he painted Mary, and saw God.
We must be glad that he has seen things for us,
Revealed his memories, and portrayed his mind.
Those whom he knew rejoice because they knew him,
And mourn all anonymous mankind.
And this is not the only poem to see Christ on the Thames:
Francis Thompson, 1859-1907
Listen to 'O world invisible ...'
O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!
Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air -
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumour of thee there?
Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars! -
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beat at our own clay shuttered doors.
The angels keep their ancient places;-
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
'Tis ye, 'tis your estranged faces,
That miss the many-splendoured thing.
But when so sad thou canst not sadder
Cry - and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder
Pitched between heaven and Charing Cross
Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry - clinging heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water,
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!