Bolney Islands: Ferry Eyot & Poplar Eyot

[ Manually propelled small boats can use Hennerton Backwater instead of this section ]

1881: George Leslie went up Hennerton Backwater

The main stream has in the meantime been left quite neglected, as we have been passing up the little backwater. 

Ferry Eyot - Site of Bolney Ferry

1775:  A rope ferry at Beggar’s Hole  (Beggar’s Hall – one of the halls of Harpsden House demolished before 1800)
1835:  Ferryman’'s shed repaired
1868:  Mr. Rhodes asked that -

the old house at Beggar’s Hole Ferry be removed.  It was a great eyesore and has not been used for years.

[ They sold it to him for £2 and told him to remove it himself! ]

1881:  George Leslie -

The islands off Bolney Court are a very pretty cluster;  I call them islands, because they have grass and trees on them – eyots proper I should say, were those covered with osiers.  Mr. Vicat Cole had last year in the Academy Exhibition a very beautiful picture from the Bolney Islands, the truth of which I recognized in an instant;  these islands my children christened “"The Balmy Isles of Rumtifoo”", from the Bab Ballad, partly because we there found warm sheltered corners for lunch or tea. 

[ The Bab Ballads were nonsense poems by W S Gilbert containing several references to the Isles of Rumtifoo, where a colonial Bishop went native and partook of the local delicacy (Scalps in Rum - there being no other sauce). ]

1886: Bolney Ferry, Joseph Ashby-Sterry
Listen to 'Bolney Ferry'

The way was long, the sun was high,
The Minstrel was fatigued and dry !
From Wargrave he came walking down,
In hope to soon reach Henley town;
And at the “Lion” find repast,
To slake his thirst and break his fast.
Alas ! there’'s neither punt nor wherry
To take him over Bolney Ferry !
 
He gazes to the left and right –
No craft is anywhere in sight,
Except the horse-boat he espied
Secure upon the other side;
No skiff he finds to stem the swirl,
No ferryman, nor boy, nor girl !
He sits and sings there “Hey down derry!”
But can’'t get over Bolney Ferry !
 
No ferry-girl? Indeed I’'m wrong,
For she, - the subject of my song –
So dainty, dimpled, young, and fair,
Is coolly sketching over there.
She gazes, stops, then seems to guess
The reason of the Bard’'s distress.
A brindled bull-dog she calls “Jerry”
Comes with her over Bolney Ferry !
 
She pulls, and then she pulls again,
With shapely hands, the rusty chain;
She smiles, and, with a softened frown,
She bids her faithful dog lie down.
As she approaches near the shore
She shows her dimples more and more.
Her short white teeth, lips like a cherry
Unpouting show, at Bolney Ferry !
 
With joy he steps aboard the boat,
The Rhymer’'s rescued and afloat !
She chirps and chatters, and the twain
Together pull the rusty chain:
He sighs to think each quaint clink-clank
But brings him nearer to the bank !
His heart is sad, her laugh is merry,
And so they part at Bolney Ferry !
 
The Minstrel sitting down to dine
To retrospection doth incline;
“A faultless figure, watchet eyes
As sweet as early summer skies !
What pretty hands, what subtle grace,
And what a winsome little face !”
In Mrs. Williams'’ driest sherry
He toasts the lass of Bolney Ferry !

[ Note that this was, apparently, a chain ferry, if Joseph Ashby-Sterry is to be believed - and he is generally reliable - except, of course, where women were concerned.
Mrs. Williams was, I think, the landlady of the Red Lion at Henley. ]

Island near Park Place, from Picturesque Views of the Thames, Havell -

Bolney Islands, Havell
Island near Park Place, Havell

A heavily loaded barge being towed by two horses. Note the mast which lifts the tow line over obstructions (and other boats), the man in the bows with a pole to fend off as necessary, the dog to deal with rats, and the punt towed astern. They are going downstream approaching the place where the towpath changes from the Left bank to the Right at Bolney Ferry. I wonder if they could manage that without detaching the horses as they were taken over the horse ferry?

A Canoe Canzonet, Bolney Backwater, July, J. Ashby-Sterry -

The leaves scarce rustled in the trees,
And faintly blew the summer breeze;
A damsel drifted slowly down,
Aboard her ship to Henley town;
And as the white sail passed along,
A punted Poet sang this song !
 
In your canoe, love, when you are going,
With white sail flowing and merry song;
In your canoe, love, with ripples gleaming
And sunshine beaming, you drift along !
While you are dreaming, or idly singing,
Your sweet voice ringing, when skies are blue:
In summer days, love, on water-ways, love,
You like to laze, love, - in your canoe !
 
In your canoe, love, I’'d be a tripper,
If you were skipper and I were mate;
In your canoe, love, where sedges shiver
And willows quiver, we’'d navigate !
Upon the river, you’'d ne'’er be lonely,
For, if you had only room for two,
I’'d pass my leisure with greatest pleasure
With you, my treasure, - in your canoe !
 
In your canoe, love, when breezes sigh light,
In tender twilight, we’'d drift away;
In your canoe, love, light as a feather,
Were we together – what should I say?
In sunny weather, were Fates propitious,
A tale delicious I’'d tell to you !
In quiet spots, love, forget-me-nots, love,
We’'d gather lots, love, - in your canoe !

1881: Leslie George -

On several of the eyots about here, and below Marsh and Hambledon Locks, the beautiful summer snowflake can be found in May, a doubtful native according to the books, but often seen in gardens;  it is a sort of polyanthus snowdrop, and a bunch of them looks very pretty.