Cover image

Charles Harper

Cover image



London: CHAPMAN & HALL, Ltd. 1910


Occasionally Charles Harper came out with bigotted anti-Catholic opinions for which I apologise. They are not my opinions!


Cirencester - Source of the Thames - Kemble - Ashton Keynes - Cricklade - St. Augustine's Well
Castle Eaton - Kempsford - By the Thames and Severn Canal to Inglesham Round House
- Lechlade - Fairford - Eaton Hastings Weir - Kelmscott - Radcot Bridge
Great Faringdon - Buckland - Bampton-in-the-Bush - Cote - Shifford
Harvests of the Thames: Willows, Osiers, Rushes
New Bridge, The Oldest on the Thames - Standlake - Gaunt's House - Northmoor - Stanton Harcourt - Besselsleigh
Cumnor, and the Tragedy of Amy Robsart
Wytham - The Old Road - Binsey and the Oratory of St. Frideswide - the Vanished Village of Seacourt - Godstow and "Fair Rosamond"
- Medley - Folly Bridge
Iffley, and the Way Thither - Nuneham, in Storm and in Sunshine
Sutton Courtney - Long Wittenham - Little Wittenham - Clifton Hampden - Day's Lock and Sinodun<
Dorchester - Benson
Wallingford - Goring
Streatley - Basildon - Pangbourne - Mapledurham - Purley


Henley - The Bridge And Its Keystone-Masks - Remenham - Hambleden - Medmenham Abbey And The "Hell Fire Club" - Hurley - Bisham
Great Marlow - Cookham - Cliveden And Its Owners - Maidenhead
Bray And Its Famous Vicar - Jesus Hospital
Ockwells Manor-House - Dorney Court - Boveney - Burnham Abbey
Clewer - Windsor - Eton And Its Collegians - Datchet - Langley And The Kederminsters
Datchet - Runnymede - Wraysbury - Horton And Its Milton Associations - Staines Moor - Stanwell - Laleham And Matthew Arnold - Littleton - Chertsey - Weybridge - Shepperton
Coway Stakes - Walton-On-Thames - The River And The Water Companies - Sunbury - Teddington - Twickenham
Isleworth - Brentford And Cæsar’S Crossing Of The Thames
Strand-On-The-Green - Kew - Chiswick - Mortlake - Barnes
Putney - Fulham Bridge - Fulham


With rushes fenced, with swaying osiers crowned,
Old Thames from out the western country hies;
By daisy-dappled meads his course is found,
Bearing upon his breast brave argosies
Of stately lilies. Poets loved to praise
The stream whose tide doth calmly flow along,
And this the echo of their tuneful lays:
"Sweet Themmes, runne softly till I ende my song."

Past town and village, cot and lonely farm,
His silver stream with murm'ring music goes;
Singing glad anthems, full of drowsy charm;
Sweet songs of praise, unheeded not by those
Who know his banks full well, who often love
To roam his course, his marge to pace along,
While Spenser's line re-echoes as we rove:
"Sweet Themmes, runne softly till I ende my song."


The Thames we all know intimately, for the river was discovered by the holiday-maker in the 'seventies of the nineteenth century; but we do not all know the villages of the Thames Valley, and it was partly to satisfy a long-cherished curiosity on this point, and partly to make holiday in some of the little-known nooks yet remaining, that this tour was undertaken.

To one who lives, or exists, or resides - the reader is invited to choose his own epithet - beside the lower Thames, there must needs at times come a longing to know that upper stream whence these mighty waters originate, to find that fount where "Father Thames" starts forth in hesitating, infantile fashion; to seek that spot where the stream, instead of flowing, merely trickles. To such an one there comes, with every recurrent spring, the longing to penetrate to the Beyond, away past where the towns and villages, the water-works and breweries cluster thickly beside the river-banks; above the town of Reading, the Biscuit Town, and town of sauce and seeds; beyond the fashionable summer scene of Henley Regatta, and past the city of Oxford, to the Upper River and its unconventionalised life.

When spring comes and wakes the meadows with delight, and the osiers and the rushes again feel life stirring in their dank roots, the old schoolboy feeling of curiosity, of mystery, of a desire for exploration, springs anew. You walk down, it may be, to some slipway or draw-dock by Richmond or Teddington, or wander along those shores contemplating the high-water-marks left by the late winter floods, which not even the elaborate locking of the river seems able to prevent; and observing the curious line of refuse of every description brought down by the waters, and now left, high and dry, a matted mass of broken rushes, water weeds, twigs, string and the like, marvel at the wealth of corks that displays itself there. Children have been known to make expedition towards the distant hills, seeking that place where the rainbow touches the ground; for the sly old legend tells us that on the spot where the glorious bow meets the earth there lies buried a crock of gold. An equally speculative quest would be to fare forth and seek the Place whence the Corks Come. There (not for children, but for "grown-ups") should be, you think, the Land of Heart's Desire.

There are, I take it, three chief things that the world of men most ardently wishes for. An unregenerate man's first desires are to wealth, to a woman, and to a drink; or, in the words attributed to Martin Luther:

Who loves not woman, wine, and song,
He is a fool his whole life long;

and the valley of the Thames, from Oxford to Richmond, would seem, by the evidence of these millions of corks of all kinds, to be a place flowing with champagne, light wines, all kinds of mineral waters, and bottled beers.

Corks, rubber rings from broken mineral-water bottles, and big bungs that hint of two-or three-gallon jars, abound; these last telling in no uncertain manner of the magnificent thirsts inspired among anglers who sit in punts all day long, and do nothing but keep an eye on the float, and maintain the glass circulating.

A thirsty person wandering by these bestrewn towing-paths must sigh to think of the exquisite drinks that have gone before, leaving in this multitude of corks the only evidence of their evanescent existence. Shall we not seek it, this land of the foaming champagne, that comes creaming to the brim of the generous glass; shall we not hope to locate those shores, far or near, where the bottled Bass, poured into the ready tumbler, tantalises the parched would-be drinker of it in the all-too-slowly-subsiding mass of froth that lies between him and his expectant palate? Shall we not, at least if we be of "temperance" leanings, quaff the cool and refreshing "stone-bottle" ginger-beer; or, failing that, the skimpy and deleterious "mineral-water" "lemonade" that is chiefly compounded of sugar and carbonic-acid gas, and blows painfully and at high-pressure through the titivated nostrils? Shall we not - - but hold there! Waiter, bring me - what shall it be? - an iced stone-bottle ginger!

That was the brave time, the golden age of the river, when, rather more than a generation ago, the discovery of the Thames as a holiday haunt was first made. The fine rapture of those early tourists, who, deserting the traditional seaside lounge for a cruise down along the placid bosom of the Thames, from Lechlade to Oxford, and from Oxford to Richmond, were (something after the Ancient Mariner sort) the first to burst into these hitherto unknown reaches, can never be recaptured. The bloom has been brushed from off the peach by the rude hands of crowds of later visitors. The waterside inns, once so simple under their heavy beetling eaves of thatch, are now modish, instead of modest; and Swiss and German waiters, clothed in deplorable reach-me-down dress-suits and lamentable English of the Whitechapel-atte-Bowe variety, have replaced the neat-handed - if heavy-footed - Phyllises, who were almost in the likeness of those who waited upon old Izaak Walton, two centuries and a quarter ago.

To-day, along the margin of the Thames below Oxford, some expectant mercenary awaits at every slipway and landing-place the arrival of the frequent row-boat and the plenteous and easily-earned tip; and the lawns of riparian villas on either hand exhibit a monotonous repetition of "No Landing-Place," "Private," and "Trespassers Prosecuted" notices; while side-channels are not infrequently marked "Private Backwater."

All the villages immediately giving upon the stream have suffered an equally marked change, and have become uncharacteristic of their old selves, and converted[5] into the likeness of no other villages in this our England, in these our times. There is, for example, a kind of theatrical prettiness and pettiness about Whitchurch, over against Pangbourne; and instead of looking upon it as a real, living three-hundred-and-sixty-five-days-in-the-year kind of place, you are apt to think of what a pretty "set" it makes; and, doing so, to speak of its bearings in other than the usual geographical terms of east and west, north and south; and to refer to them, indeed, after the fashion of the stage, as "P." or "O.P." sides.

But if we find at Whitchurch a meticulous neatness, a compact and small-scale prettiness eminently theatrical, what shall we say of its neighbour, Pangbourne, on the Berkshire bank of the river? That is of the other modern riverain type: an old village spoiled by the expansion that comes of being situated on a beautiful reach of the Thames, and with a railway station in its very midst. Detestable so-styled "villas," and that kind of shops you find nowhere else than in these Thames-side spots, have wrought Pangbourne into something new and strange; and motor-cars have put the final touch of sacrilege upon it.

Perhaps you would like to know of what type the typical Thames-side village shop may be, nowadays? Nothing easier than to draw its portrait in few words. It is, to begin with, inevitably a "Stores," and is obviously stocked with the first object of supplying boating-parties and campers with the necessaries of life, as understood by campers and boating-parties. As tinned provisions take a prominent place in those holiday commissariats, it follows that the shop-windows are almost completely furnished with supplies of tinned everything, festering in the sun. For the rest, you have cheap camp-kettles, spirit-stoves, tin enamelled cups and saucers, and the like utensils, hammocks and lounge-chairs.

Thus the modern riverside village is unpleasing to those who like to see places retain their old natural appearance, and dislike the modern fate that has given it a spurious activity in a boating-season of three months, with a deadly-dull off-season of nine other months every year. We may make shift to not actively dislike these sophisticated places in summer, but let us not, if we value our peace of mind, seek to know them in winter; when the sloppy street is empty, even of dogs and cats; when rain patters like small-shot on the roof of the inevitable tin-tabernacle that supplements the over-restored, and spoiled, parish church; and when the roar of the swollen weir fills the air with a thudding reverberance. Pah!

The villas, the "maisonettes," are empty: the gardens draggle-tailed; the "Nest" is "To Let"; the "Moorings" "To be Sold"; and a general air of "has been" pervades the place, with a desolating feeling that "will again be" is impossible.

But let us put these things behind us, and come to the river itself; to the foaming weir under the lowering sky, where such a head of water comes hurrying down that no summer frequenter of the river can ever see. There is no dead, hopeless season in nature; for although the trees may be bare, and the groves dismantled, the wintry woods have their own beauty, and even in mid-winter give promise of better times.

But along the uppermost Thames, from Thames Head to Lechlade and Oxford, the waterside villages are still very much what they have always been. All through the year they live their own life. Not there do the villas rise redundant, nor the old inns masquerade as hotels, nor chorus-girls inhabit at weekends, in imitative simplicity. A voyage along the thirty-two miles of narrow, winding river from Lechlade to Oxford has no incidents more exciting than the shooting of a weir, or the watching of a moor-hen and her brood.

Below Oxford, we have but to adventure some little way to right or left of the stream, and there, in the byways (for main roads do not often approach the higher reaches of the river), the unaltered villages abound.


The Source of the Thames

The head-spring of the Thames is, in summer, not so easy a place to find. It rises on the borders of Wilts and Gloucestershire, and has been marked down and written about sufficiently often; but the exact spot is quested for with difficulty, and when the traveller has found it, he is, after all, not sure of his find, for the place is supplied, in these latter days, with no recognisable landmark, and even the road-men and the infrequent wayfarers along that ancient way, the Akeman Street, which runs close by, appear uncertain. That it is "over there, somewhere," is the most exact information the enquirer is likely, at a venture, to obtain.

There are excellent reasons for this distressing incertitude. The winter reason is that Trewsbury Mead, the great flat meadow in which Thames Head is situated, is so water-logged that it is often a morass, and not infrequently a lake. In summer, on the other hand, the spot is so parched, partly on account of the season, but much more by reason of the pumping-works in the immediate neighbourhood, that not only the Thames Head spring is quite dry, but the bed of the infant Thames itself is generally dry for the first two miles of its course.


Thames Head is situated three miles south-west of Cirencester, that beautiful old stone-built town whose name we are traditionally told to pronounce "Ciceter," just as Shakespeare wrote it. That was the old popular way, before the folks of the surrounding country could read or write, and knew no better; but to-day, when "education" is the birthright of all, though culture be the acquisition of few, they are the rustic-folk - the "lower orders" - who say "Cirencester," as my lords and gentlemen and ladies were wont to do; while nowadays the upper circles refer to "Ciceter." It is a curious reversal. If you say, in these times, "Cirencester," you, in so doing, proclaim yourself, socially, an outsider, fit only to feed out of the same trough as those creatures who pronounce "Marjoribanks," "Cholmondeley," or "Wemyss" as spelled. We all know - or ought - that "Marshbanks," "Chumley," and "Weems" are your only ways, if you would be socially saved. These are the last resorts of those who have no other distinction to mark them out from the common herd: just a verbal inflection, combined, possibly, with a method of hand-shaking. To what straits we are reduced, in these democratic times, to express our superiority!

There is another way to the pronunciation of "Cirencester," lately come into favour with provincials of this neighbourhood. It is a method of the simplest: merely the adoption of the clipped way common to the local milestones, which tell the tale of so many miles to "Ciren."

The noblest thing in Cirencester is the beautiful old church, which rises in its midst, beside the remarkably broad High Street, with much of that scale and stateliness we commonly associate with a cathedral. It is one of the noblest works of the Perpendicular period, when architects grew aspiring, but did not always succeed in building artistically as well as big. Here the two aims have been achieved. But a third desideratum, that of building securely, was not originally included, it would appear, for one of the most astonishing things about this structure is the great masonry strut which would be called a "shore" if it were only in timber, and is so clearly for utility, and absolutely unbeautiful and unarchitectural, that to style it a buttress would be to disparage the exquisite adornments that buttresses at their best are capable of being. This great crutch for a noble tower in danger of falling so soon as it was built, nearly five hundred years ago, is, however, justified of its existence, for the lofty belfry yet stands securely. The ingenious way in which the supporting masonry is built diagonally through the west wall of the south aisle, down to the ground, compels admiration for the engineering skill displayed.


The great three-storeyed porch, by far the largest porch, and certainly the most singular, in England, built in advance of the south aisle, and looking proudly upon the street, would seem to have been built for the convenience of the many priests who served the large number of chantries established from time to time in the church. It is a very late and very beautiful Perpendicular work. Not long after its completion the greasy rascals were sent packing, in the life-giving Reformation that saved the nation. It for long afterwards served as the Town Hall, but was commonly known as "the Vice" - a strange survival and corruption of "parvise."

The interior of the church discloses a nave-arcade of very lofty and graceful proportions; a work probably as completely satisfactory as anything in this country. And there is very much else to study here. There are monuments, worn and battered, to knights and dames, wine-merchants, wool-merchants, grocers, and other old tradesmen of the town. Among them may be noticed the brass to Reginald Spycer, 1442, with his four wives - Reginald in the middle, and the four ladies beside him, two and two. A late example is that of Philip Marner, 1587, representing him full-length, robed, with staff in one hand and a flower in the other. A dog sits beside him. In the upper left-hand is a pair of shears, indicating that he was a clothier. The rhymed inscription says: -

In Lent by will a sermon he devised,
And yerely Precher with a noble prised.
Seven Nobles he did geue ye poore for to defend,
and 80 li to xvi men did lend,
In Cicester, Burford, Abington, and Tetburie,
ever to be to them a stocke Yerly.

In a glazed frame is preserved an ancient blue velvet pulpit-cloth, given in 1478 by Ralph Parsons, a priest, whose cope it had been.

The Thames and severn canal

The road that runs, white and broad, in a straight[14] undeviating line, from Cirencester to Thames Head, and so on at last, after many miles, to Bath - the "Akemanceaster" that has given the Akeman Street its name - comes in three miles to a stone bridge spanning a canal. This is "Thames Head Bridge," and the canal is the Thames and Severn Canal, which, beginning at Inglesham, just above Lechlade, ends at Stroud. The length of this water-way is thirty miles. The works were begun in 1783 and completed in 1789.

The object of the Thames and Severn Canal, which joins the Stroudwater Canal, and reaches the Severn at Framilode, was to provide a commercial water-way between the highest point of the navigable Thames, near Lechlade, and the Bristol Channel. Its course lies along some very high ground just beyond Thames Head, going westward, and in all there are forty-four locks, rising 241 ft. 3 in. There is also a remarkable piece of engineering in the Sapperton Tunnel, through which the canal takes its course. The tunnel is fifteen feet wide, and is driven through Sapperton Hill at a point 250 feet beneath its summit.

It follows that of necessity a canal, so elevated above the surrounding country, must be provided with water by artificial means, and a supply is provided by a pumping-station close at hand to Thames Head Bridge. This raises water to the extent of three million gallons a day: hence the dried-up character of the Thames Head spring, except in winter, and the usual summer phenomenon of the infant Thames being quite innocent of water for a distance of two miles from its source. Of late years the Great Western Railway, which has a station at Kemble, a mile and a half away, has erected a still larger and more powerful pumping-station, for the purpose of supplying water for its own needs at Swindon, fourteen miles distant.

The Akeman Street here divides Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. If we descend from the Thames Head Canal bridge and follow the towing-path in a westerly direction, into Gloucestershire, for half a mile, we come, by scrambling down the canal-bank to the meadow below, to the source of the river, and at the same time to the destruction of a cherished imageion. Picturesque old histories of the Thames have made us familiar with Thames Head, and have shown us dainty vignettes of that spring. One such I have before me as I write these words. It shows a rustic well, overhung by graceful trees, with a little country-girl in homely pinafore dipping a foot in the water as it gushes forth. We need expect no such scene nowadays. The well is buried under fallen masses of the dull, ochre-coloured earth of Trewsbury Mead, and all we see is a rough, dry hollow, overhung by trees which refuse to live up to the grace suggested by the old imagetrations. We need not wonder any more why so few people know Thames Head, or why the spot is unmarked. It is merely a memory, and Peacock's charming verse has long ceased to be applicable: -

Let fancy lead from Trewsbury Mead,
With hazel fringed, and copsewood deep;
Where scarcely seen, through brilliant green,
Thy infant waters softly creep.

But although the pumping-stations so greedily suck up all the available moisture in summer, the spring is said often to burst out in winter, three feet high; and at such times it is only necessary to drive a walking-stick anywhere into the turf of this meadow for a little fount to spring up from the hole thus drilled.

Isis and Thamesis

The river thus originated is known alternatively as the "Isis," and in the writings of old pedantic antiquaries retains that alternative name until Oxford is passed and Dorchester reached; where, according to such authorities, in the confluence of the Isis and the Thame, the "Thame-Isis," becomes the "Tamesis," or Thames. To the Oxford boating-man, however, the streams below and above Oxford are respectively the Lower and the Upper River, and "Isis" is reserved for the title of a University magazine, or the name of a boating-club.

"Isis" is, of course, a Latinised form of "Ouse," which in its turn is a modified form of the Celtic "uisc," for water, and gives us such other river-names as Usk, Axe, Exe, and Wye; while we find it hidden again in the names of Kirkby Wiske, in Yorkshire, and in that of "whisky," deriving from "usquebaugh."

The time when the Upper Thames was first called "Isis" is uncertain. The name is certainly a Latinised form of "Ouse"; but the Romans do not appear to have so styled it. Julius Cæsar, in his Commentaries, speaks only of "Tamesis"; and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 905, mentions only the "Thames." We do not, in fact, read of anything like "Isis" until 1359, when a monk of Chester, Ranulphus Higden, wrote in his Polychronicon a passage which, rendered into English from his Latin original, runs thus: "Tamisa seems to be composed from the names of two rivers, the Ysa, or Usa, and the Thama. The Thama, running by Dorchester, falls into the Ysa; thence the whole river, from its source to the eastern sea, is called Thamisa." A much later writer, Leland, I think, says, in that rarefied, detached way we expect in old writers, "The common people call it the 'Thames', but scholars call it the 'Isis'."

The name of "Thames" is equally Celtic with that of the Latinised "Isis," nor is it the only Thames in the country, for the river Tamar, dividing Devon and Cornwall; the Teme, in Shropshire and Herefordshire; and the Tame, in Staffordshire, are each closely allied in name.

The Source: Thames Head or Seven Springs?

The generally-accepted source of the Thames at Thames Head has by no means gone undisputed, and a rival exists at Seven Springs, three miles south-east of Cheltenham. This spot is the source of the river Churn, which, falling into the Thames at Cricklade, after a course of sixteen or seventeen miles, takes the stream some ten miles farther up-country than that which issues from Thames Head. Thus we have the singular paradox, that the Churn, this first tributary of the Thames, is considerably longer than the parent stream. This is a problem that would have desolated the logical mind of Euclid, and it has worried geographers and writers of books for uncounted years. No matter how diligently we may seek to track this heresy to its lair - to its original propagation - we shall inevitably be foiled; nor indeed (as in the case of rival religious dogmas) shall we ever be able to definitely settle which of the two is the heresy, and which the true faith. If we rely upon the canon that the source of any river is that point which is situated farthest from its mouth, and then refer to the maps, there can be no doubt whatever that the Churn is the true Thames, and that the Seven Springs source is its head-spring. It is an unavoidable conclusion, like it or like it not; and if we take the trouble to visit Seven Springs, we shall discover that some one has been concerned to mark the spot prominently with the same belief, in the inscription set up there on a wall going down into the pool: -

Hic tuus,
O Tamesine Pater,
Septemgeminus fons.

Here flows, O Father Thames,
Thy sevenfold source.

We can only assume, in the difficulty with which we are thus faced, that the original error, of placing Thames Head at Trewsbury Mead, and naming the stream which issues from Seven Springs the "Churn," arose in those very remote times, before even the Romans came to Britain, when surveying and map-making were unknown and relative distances were uncertain. That the river Churn bore its present name even at the period when the Romans descended upon Britain is an assured thing, for the Romans named Corinium - the present "Cirencester" - from its situation on the Churn. The existing form of the place-name is of Saxon origin, and is really "Churnchester" - the "castle on the Churn."


Near Kemble.

Kemble Junction, the railway station that dominates this neighbourhood, marks where the little four-mile branch of the Great Western Railway goes off to Cirencester from the line to Stroud and Gloucester. There is no likely expectation that Cirencester will begin to grow and to lose its old-world character while it remains, as now, at the loose end of this little single-track branch railway; and the hunting-men of this Vale of White Horse district remain quite unconcerned and unafraid of developments. This country, between Cirencester, Cricklade and Lechlade, is a hunting country and an agricultural country, and long centuries ago it lost to Leeds and Bradford, and other like centres, the clothing industry for which this Cotswold district was in mediæval times and after famed. Thus Kemble Junction is by no means a junction of the Swindon or the Clapham Junction type, and is rather a peaceful than a bustling place.

The village itself stands on rising ground above this district of springs. Even though it be more remarkable for its stone walls than for anything else, it is a not unpleasing village, for in a neighbourhood such as this, where laminated stone is easily dug out from a few feet below the level of the soil, we expect dry stone walling and stone-built houses; and certainly the hard stony effect is softened by the plentiful trees of the place. The Early English church, with tall spire, 120 feet high, has been so thoroughly "restored," and swept and garnished, and so plentifully endued with plaster, that architects with a love of antiquity, and all antiquaries, looking upon it, can scarce refrain from tears. Inside the church is a curious monument -

Dedicated to the memory of Beatrice and Edward,
the deare wife and son of Mr. Richard Pitt,
both interred within these walls,
shee the 26th day of Aprill 1650,
hee the 29th day of March 1656
who { Conflicted } in ye Church { militant
were buried materiall
Do reigne triumphant.
She died i' th' noone, he in the morne, of Age,
yet virtue (though not yeres) fil'd their lives' page.

Posuit maritus mæstissimus paterque plorans.

We shall probably not be wrong in regarding this as one of the ultra-Puritan families of that Puritan age.

Just below Kemble, on the way to the hamlet of Ewen, the course of the Thames is in summer hardly to be distinguished in the meadows through which it runs. Grass covers it, in common with the meadows themselves; only the grass is of a ranker and coarser kind, and largely admixed with docks. The dry-walling of one of these meadows shows the winter direction of the stream clearly enough, in the row of holes left in building the wall for the water to pass through.



Ewen, standing by the roadside, is remarkable only for its rustic cottages, but they are particularly beautiful in their old unstudied way; heavily thatched, and surrounded with old-fashioned gardens. The Thames begins to flow, or to trickle, regularly at Upper Somerford Mill, whose water-wheel, immense in proportion to the little stream, is picturesquely sheltered under wide-spreading trees. The village of Somerford Keynes lies close at hand.

Ashton Keynes


The way between [Ewen] and Ashton Keynes passes over rough common-land, and enters Ashton Keynes romantically, past the great church, and along a fine avenue of elms beside the manor-house, emerging at what, until a few years ago, was Ashton Keynes Mill. The elm avenue of Ashton Keynes is other than we should expect, if we come to the place primed with a knowledge of what the "Keynes" in the place-name signifies. Those elms should be oaks, for "Keynes" derives from the ancient Norman word for an oak-tree; in later French, "chênaie." Hence also the name of Horsted Keynes, in Sussex.


Upper Somerford Mill.

All the old mills that once made the Thames additionally picturesque are disappearing. Some go up in flame and smoke, like Iffley Mill, below Oxford, painted and sketched by a thousand artists, and described by a hundred writers of books and descriptive articles, to whose lasting sorrow it was destroyed by fire in 1907. Shiplake Mill met a similar fate a little earlier, and modern milling conditions forbid their ever being rebuilt. Ashton Keynes Mill became disestablished, as a mill, because it could no longer compete with the modern steam-roller flour-mills, that nowadays grind flour much more expeditiously and cheaply than the old water-driven mills. But the old mill-house stands, little altered. It is built substantially, of stone, and has old peaked gables and casemented windows, and so, when its ancient commercial career came at last to an end, its own picturesqueness, and its strikingly beautiful setting, appealed irresistibly to some appreciative person seeking an old English home; with the result that it has been converted into a very charming private residence.

Little need be said about Ashton Keynes church, for it is of very late Gothic, and plentifully uninteresting; but the village itself is a delight. It is the queen of Upper Thames villages, with a picture at every turn. Here the Thames flows quietly down one side of the village street, and at the beginning of that rural, cottage-bordered, tree-shaded highway is the first bridge across the river; an ancient Gothic bridge, with a slipway beside it, where the horses are brought down to wash their legs in summer. Beside the bridge stand the remains of one of the three fifteenth-century wayside crosses which once gave Ashton Keynes a peculiarly sanctified look. The ruins of all three are still here, - smashed originally during the seventeenth-century troubles in which King, Church, Parliament and Puritans contended violently together; and further damaged by the mischievous pranks of many generations of village children.

Ashton Keynes Mill.

There are many little bridges spanning the Thames at Ashton Keynes, for the stream washes the old stone garden-walls of a long line of cottages, and the entrance to each cottage necessitates a bridge of stone, of brick, or of timber. Stonecrop, candytuft, wallflowers, arabis, snapdragon, and many other semi-wild plants grow in the crevices of these old walls, and drape them all the summer with an unimaginable mantle of beauty; and where the cottages end, and the highway becomes a straight flat road, making for Cricklade, a modern country residence has been built, with the walls of it going down in the same way into the water, and the wild flowers encouraged in the like fashion to inhabit there. A contemplative person might pass a pleasant time at Ashton Keynes, where there is a homely inn, but none of those unamusing "amusements" which serve to render places of holiday resort unendurable. For those not very numerous persons who are satisfied with their own company Ashton Keynes affords decided attractions. No one ever goes there, for it is on the road to Nowhere in Particular, and not even the motor-car is a very familiar sight. Thus the ruminative stranger will have his privacy respected; unless indeed he happens to be either an artist or a photographer, when he is certain to be surrounded by a dense crowd of children, who seem to become instinctively aware of an open sketch-book or a camera at hand, and surround the owners of them in most embarrassing fashion. The artist is the more fortunate of the two, for it is only an easily-satisfied curiosity to see what he is doing which attracts these unwelcome attentions; while the unfortunate photographer is pestered with requests to be "took," and worried to extremity of despair by hordes of fleeting children obscuring his camera's field of vision, or posing grotesquely and in most damaging fashion in his choicest foregrounds.

Below Ashton Keynes the Thames is joined by the little Swillbrook, and crossed at the confluence by the small, three-arched masonry Oaklade Bridge. A mile or so below this is Water Hay Bridge, a typical "county" bridge, whose frame of iron girders and railings, painted white, ill assorts with the luxuriance of swaying reeds and thickly-clustered alders that here enshrouds the stream.

The Infant Thames, Ashton keynes

We read in old accounts of the Thames that it was navigable for barges as far as this point, and "Water Hay" may possibly be a corruption of Water Hythe, indicating a wharf. It is in this connection to be noted that the Cricklade and Ashton Keynes road crosses here, and that however unlikely it may now seem that the stream could ever have been navigable to this spot for such heavy craft as barges, it must always be borne in mind that, in the many general causes that have led to the shrinkage of rivers throughout the country, and here in especial in the pumping away of the head-spring of the Thames, the stream cannot now closely compare with its old self of a hundred and fifty years ago. We may therefore very well believe those old writers who speak of the Thames[30] being navigable to this point, and imagine, readily enough, a rude wharf where goods were landed, and left for Ashton Keynes and surrounding villages, in days when even the few roads of the present time either did not exist at all, or were so bad that haulage along them was almost impossible, by reason either of the mud, or of the water that very often flooded them.

Between this and the little town of Cricklade the stream winds continually, but the road goes straight over Water Hay Bridge and makes direct for the townlet, three miles distant. The navigation of these first few miles of the Thames was long ago considered to be so irretrievably a thing of the past, that it was permitted the constructors of the North Wilts Canal, in crossing the stream, one mile above Cricklade, to build a brick bridge or aqueduct so low-pitched across it that the crown of the arch scarcely appears above water, and effectually stops any attempt to get even a canoe through.


The approach to Cricklade from the west by road is a noble introduction to the town. It is a small town, of entirely agricultural character, yet it has been a place of importance in its day; and although that day has long passed, its two churches of St. Sampson and St. Mary prove it to have been once considerable. Cricklade, indeed, standing on the Ermine Way, the Roman road that led from Spinæ to Corinium - or in modern terms, from Speen by Newbury to Cirencester - could not have been other than important. The invading Danes, making their way up the Thames Valley in A.D. 905, and again in 1016, found it worth while plundering, and it has from very early times been a market-town.
It prospered in a quiet way until the opening of the Thames and Severn Canal, in 1789, for it was, after the ancient wharf at Water Hay had been abandoned, at the head of the Thames navigation; but when the canal came past, outside the northern end of the town, the water-borne traffic halted here no more, and Cricklade was, in a minor-tragical way, ruined.
Nor have railways served ever to redress the injustice. The Great Western comes no nearer than the small wayside station of Purton, four miles distant, and although the Midland and South-Western Junction Railway comes to Cricklade, and has a station here, the railway management - judging from the fact of its providing only one train a day each way, at inconvenient hours - would much rather you did not use it, you know, if you don't mind.
And the Cricklade people do not use it, and go the four miles to Purton, instead. We have, therefore, not the slightest prospect of Cricklade ever growing. It is quite in keeping with the rural look of the one long broad street of Cricklade, bordered by houses that are, for the most part, of cottage-like appearance, that it has for centuries been known as the "Peasant Borough": the technical territorial "township" including no fewer than fifty-one surrounding parishes. That it should have been, until the passing of an early Reform Act, also a Parliamentary borough, returning members to Parliament, does not of itself seem remarkable, knowing as we do that places like Gatton and Old Sarum, with no inhabitants at all, shared the same privilege. Cricklade, however, lost its representation through long-continued and shameless bribery.

Here, in the long silent streets of Cricklade, the stranger is noted curiously in summer, the local season being in winter; for this is now a hunting-centre of the divided Vale of White Horse country, and the hounds are kennelled here.

Cricklade, we are told, is properly "cerriglád": an ancient British expression signifying a "stony ford"; but is it not, even more properly, "Cerrig-let," i.e. the stony place where the river Churn has its outlet to the Thames? We have several places in England in which "cerrig" is hidden under various corruptions: notably Crick, in Northamptonshire, and numerous places named Creech, in widely-sundered districts; while in Wales we find Cerrig-y-Druidion in the north, and Crickhowell in the south. In Scotland the word is commonly rendered "Craig."


But old writers who flourished before the science of place-names had come into existence generally guessed at the meaning of the names of those places of which they wrote; and extremely bad guesses they almost always made. Their way with "Cricklade" is a shocking example of a "reach-me-down" ready-made meaning, supplying a barbarous misfit. Cricklade, if you please, is, according to these seekers after truth who are content to pick up the first obvious lie that rests in their path, or to seize the first absurdity that suggests itself, is "Greeklade," the site of a forgotten Greek university established here even before the coming of the Romans. Forgotten! yes: that university is easily forgotten which had never any existence; but this derivation served its day, and was generally accepted. Thus we find the poet Drayton content to write in his Polyolbion:

Greeklade, whose great name yet vaunts that learned tongue,
Where to Great Britain first the sacred muses sung.

But Drayton erred only where others had erred for some seven or eight hundred years; for indeed the absurd legend derives from the name of "Greek-islade," given to the town in the time of Alfred the Great.

St. Sampson's, the chief church of Cricklade, stands by the road as you enter from the direction of Ashton Keynes; its tall, curiously-panelled tower framed beautifully in the view by a noble group of hedgerow elms. This odd dedication puzzles most people, and in truth St. Sampson, or "Samson," without the "p," is a remote and obscure personage who flourished in the sixth century, and is thought to have died A.D. 560. He appears to have been a Breton who fled his country, and in after-years returned to Brittany and became Bishop of Dôl. Two other churches are dedicated to him: South Hill, by Launceston, and Golant, near Lostwithiel, in Cornwall; while the island of Samson, in the Scilly Isles, owes its name to this source. Milton Abbey, in Dorsetshire, was formerly quadruply dedicated to SS. Mary, Michael, Samson, and Bradwalladr; while there still exists a St. Sampson's church in the City of York. But that owes its name to another fellow - an early Archbishop of York; so early, indeed, that he is not generally included among the primates. He, strangely enough, appears to have been contemporary with, and a friend of, the other Sampson.


This church of St. Sampson at Cricklade does the saint especial honour, for it is a much more than usually fine cruciform building, greatly superior to the usual parish type. It presents, in general, an exterior view of Perpendicular character, even though, on closer examination, the architectural expert may discover very considerable Early English and Decorated portions. The central tower is its great feature, for you not only see it from afar, but on a closer view it is found to be so strikingly individual that even those persons unusually well-versed in these things are puzzled to find anywhere its fellow. The detailed imagetration of it in this book will render unnecessary any lengthy description; and will at the same time reveal the noble quality of its sturdy pinnacles and the exquisitely effective character of the deep panelling that covers the upper stage and mounts into the angle-turrets. It is a finely massive, robust design, to which the elegant light pierced parapet adds a contrasting note of airy grace. In the detailed view of this tower an empty niche will be seen, which probably once held a statue of the eponymous saint of this church. On the side of the tower not shown a keen eye may observe a pair of scissors sculptured at a considerable height from the ground: an indication, doubtless, that the tower, rebuilt in its present form, owed its existence to the benefaction of one of those wealthy clothiers who in the fifteenth century attained in the Cotswold and surrounding districts to their highest degree of prosperity, and gave liberally of their wealth to the rebuilding of churches, the founding of almshouses, and other good deeds, and have left numerous records of their existence in the fine monumental brasses of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, ensigned with their merchants'-marks or the emblems of their trade - the wool-pack and the shears, in place of the heraldic achievements of nobler persons.
The interior of this charming church is even more noble than the impressive exterior bids us expect. It is at once massive, and well-lighted, and graceful: the climax of its beauty found beneath the central tower, where the piers and arches and finely-ribbed vaulting go soaring up to form a handsome lantern, set about with many shields, sculptured with the arms of Edward the Confessor, of the diocese of Salisbury, and of the Dudleys, Earls of Warwick. Prominent here among these cognizances we shall find the intertwined sickles of the extinct, but once wealthy and powerful, Hungerford family, whose ancient badge is found plentifully all over Wiltshire, and frequently in Somerset. It is a Sir Walter Hungerford of the mid-fifteenth century who is here the subject of allusion in this shield, for he gave the presentation of the living of St. Sampson's, together with the manor of Abington Court, to the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury, for the express purpose of maintaining the Hungerford Chantry in Salisbury Cathedral, and to assist in keeping in repair the Cathedral campanile.
many changes have befallen since then: the Church has been reformed, and chantries are no longer possible; but the ancient, beautiful, and interesting detached campanile of Salisbury Cathedral was in existence until nearly the close of the eighteenth century, when it was wantonly destroyed by Wyatt in the course of the disastrous "restorations" in which the Dean and Chapter, charged particularly to maintain the campanile, placidly betrayed their trust, and calmly saw it levelled with the ground. To-day the presentation belongs to the Dean and Chapter of Bristol.

A curious feature of the exterior of St. Sampson's is the flying angle-buttress to the south-east, supporting a Perpendicular south-east chapel built very clumsily on to the already-existing Decorated chancel. The illustration clearly shows the awkward way in which the addition abuts upon the older building, partly blocking up a very fine window. The addition was obviously not built with good foundations, as the necessity for further adding the flying buttress, and the subsidence still evident in the distinctly out-of-plumb lines of the chapel, still show. The date of the buttress is still visible, carved on the stonework: "Anno Domini 1569."

The tall canopied cross now standing in the churchyard was originally in the street, but was removed hither to preserve it from the injury it was there likely to suffer; and in its stead we find an object of a very different character, and warranted to withstand the ill-usage of many generations of mischievous children: nothing less than a Russian, or other, gun. The school-buildings immediately in the rear of the cross are the successors of those founded and endowed in 1652 by one Robert Jenner, goldsmith, of London.


Another similar cross is to be seen in the little[45] churchyard of the curious old church of St. Mary at the other, the northern, extremity of the town, and immediately looking on to the street. St. Mary's is altogether different in appearance from the noble, upstanding church of St. Sampson, but none the less interesting on that account. It is a huddled-together old building, with a squat tower, or remains of a tower, and altogether on a miniature scale. Queer little dormer windows start out of its broadly-sloping roofs, and they and the south porch are things of delight in the picturesque way. The interior is an affair of very slender Late Perpendicular nave piers and arcade, contrasting with a stern, sturdy Norman chancel-arch.

Proceeding still northward beyond this point, the Thames is seen, here reinforced by its confluence with the river Churn; and if we care further to proceed a few yards, the Thames and Severn Canal will be found.

A strange belief exists among the people of Cricklade, to the effect that any native of the town possesses, as his or her birthright, the privilege of selling anything without a licence in the streets, not only of Cricklade, but of any other town in England and Wales. This belief, although unsupported by any evidence, has been handed down from time immemorial. It would be curious if any native-born inhabitant of Cricklade were to test this by selling any articles in (say) the streets of London, without first providing himself with a hawker's licence, so that this traditionary right could be proved still effective, or otherwise. The privilege is said to have been conferred by some unspecified king, in acknowledgment of Cricklade having given shelter to his Queen "when in distress."

In this connection we may profitably turn to the old farm-house, once a manor-house, in Cricklade, by the banks of the Thames, called "Abington Court," once the property, as we have already seen, of the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury. This is said to have been formerly a Royal hunting-box, and tradition further tells us that Charles the Second was the last monarch to use it. History does not tell us of any Queen in distress at Cricklade, nor of any Queen ever here; but kings have ever been accustomed to maintain many queens (so, without offence, in these pure pages, to call them) from the time of Solomon and David, throughout the ages, and until modern times. It is a kingly privilege, not often allowed to lapse; and it is quite within the bounds of possibility that there was at some time one of these uncertificated consorts at Abington Court, and that here she gave birth to a child, and that this particular (or shall we say, this not very particular?) king thereupon celebrated the occasion by conferring the curious privilege already discussed.

There is something in this ancient house which seems to support the theory: a substantial something in the shape of a large and elaborately-carved old oaken four-poster bedstead, fine enough to have been used by such distinguished personages. No one knows how it came here, but here it remains, and goes with the property. Tenants may come and go, but the bedstead, left by the last royal occupant, stays.

An exceptionally interesting spot exists at a distance of a mile-and-a-half to the north of Cricklade town, in the neighbourhood of Latton and Down Ampney. You will not easily discover this interesting spot, because no map marks it, no guide-book tells of it, and only very few among the older generation of the rural agricultural labourers cherish any recollection of it. The younger folk know nothing whatever of this historic landmark, which is so insignificant and elusive a thing that one might readily be in the same field with it, and yet not see it. It is the pure and never-failing spring of St. Augustine's Well, once famed in all the country round about; either by that name, or by the alternative title of the "Lertoll Well," or stream. This pure and cooling fount was long credited with medicinal virtues, less because of any properties in the water itself than because it was blessed by Saint Augustine. For it was to these parts that Augustine came, somewhere about thirteen hundred and twenty years ago, for his conference with the dignitaries of the native British Church. Augustine, accredited by the Pope, Gregory the Great, to England, on a mission to reconvert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, in addition sought to reconcile the early British Church, which had continued to survive in Wales, with the Church of Rome; and to that end he arranged a conference on or near this spot, beyond the then boundary of Saxon England, in the territory of the British clan known as the Hwiccas. Had Augustine been a different manner of man, the proposals he had to offer for a fusion of the Churches would probably have been entertained; but although long since canonised, he was really very little of a saint, and by no means the eager missioner he is generally represented. He came to England, in the first instance, only because he was sent, very much against his inclination, by his spiritual head, whom he dared not disobey; and his haughty, intolerant temper brought these ideas of unity to naught. At the place of meeting was an oak-tree, for many centuries afterwards known as "St. Augustine's Oak," but long since utterly decayed and vanished away. It is said to have been felled about 1825, and the site of it is supposed to be a small group of farm-buildings, rebuilt in modern times, known as the "Oak Barn." The British clergy had heard unfavourably of Augustine's domineering spirit, and went with suspicion to meet him. They had agreed, however, when they proceeded to this oak, which must have been a notable landmark, that if he received them standing, they would listen favourably to his proposals; but if he sat when they presented themselves, thus receiving them as inferiors, they would refuse to discuss the question of unity.
Augustine received them sitting, and the conference broke up. He is said to have performed miracles here, at this meeting, and to have touched the eyes of the blind with the water of the Lertoll stream, so that their sight was restored; but none of these prodigies availed with those slighted native clergy.

It is remarkable, however, that an obscure tradition lingers among the peasantry of the neighbourhood to this day, to the effect that the water of this stream is "good for the eyes". You will not find this tradition in books; it is just a belief handed down from father to son in the course of some forty generations.


The spring is situated in a meadow to the north of the Cricklade and Maisey Hampton road, and bubbles up and runs unheeded away, in these material, sceptical times; but those days are not far removed when the peasantry of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire resorted to it, for cure of their ailments, and filled bottles with the treasured water, for home use.



A mile or so below Cricklade, the river Ray flows into the Thames, from the direction of Swindon. Opposite, on the left bank, stands Eisey Chapel, on its little knoll amid the meadows. It is the place of worship of the hamlet of Eisey, a little collection of cottages removed out of sight from the river; and is just a small rustic Perpendicular building, with a bell-cote.

Water Eaton and Castle Eaton

Water Eaton, which is not on the water, and Castle Eaton, which does not possess a castle, come next, both deriving the name from ea = "water"; the first named of the two therefore given its name twice over. The "water" of Water Eaton refers perhaps to the old manor-house, rather than the church, the manor-house being in sight of the stream. The prefix to the name must have been added in Saxon times, when the Romanised British were driven out and the descriptive nature of the name "Eaton" forgotten. Although not spelled in the same way as Eton by Windsor, the two mean precisely the same, and have fellows in very many other "Eatons" throughout England.

Water Eaton manor-house, of heavy Georgian architecture and dull red brick, with characteristically prim rows of heavily-sashed windows, is unimaginative but decorous.

Although Castle Eaton has now no castle, and not even the discoverable site of one, here was formerly situated a stronghold of the Zouches. It is a very quiet village, of a purely agricultural type, and generally littered with straw and fragments of hay.

Here the Thames was until quite recent years crossed by a most delightful old bridge, that looked like the ruins of some very ancient structure whose arches had been broken down and the remaining piers crossed by a makeshift affair of white-painted timber. "Makeshift" is perhaps hardly the word to be properly used here, for it seems to indicate a temporary contrivance; and this bridge, if not designed in keeping with the huge, sturdy, shapeless stone and rubble piers, was at any rate sufficiently substantial to have existed for many generations, and to have lasted for many yet to come.


Alas that we should have to write of all this in the past tense! But it is so. Twenty years ago, when the present writer paid his first visit to Castle Eaton, the old bridge was all that has just been described - and more; for no pen may write, nor tongue tell, of the beauty of that old, time-worn yet not decrepit, bridge, that carried across the Thames a road of no great traffic, and would have continued still safely to carry it for an indefinite period. It was one of the expected delights of revisiting the Upper Thames, to renew acquaintance with this bridge, sketched years before;


and it was with a bitter but unavailing regret and a futile anger that, coming to the well-remembered spot, it was seen to have been wantonly demolished, and its place taken by a hideous, low-pitched iron girder bridge, worthy only of a railway company; and so little likely to be permanent that it is observed to be already breaking into rusty scales and scabs beneath its hideous red paint. The ancient elms that once formed a gracious background to the old bridge stand as of old beside the river bank; but the old bridge itself lies, a heap of stones that the destroyers were too lazy to remove, close by, on the spot on which they were first flung. No description, it has been said, can hope to convey the beauty of Castle Eaton Bridge, for the old stone piers were hung with wild growths, and spangled and stained with mosses and lichens. A sketch of one end of it may serve; but it once formed the subject of a painting by Ernest Waterlow, and in that medium at least, its hoary charm has been preserved. Let a photograph of its existing successor be here the all-too-shameful evidence of the wicked ways of the Thames Conservancy with this once delightful spot in particular, and with such spots in general. We cannot frame to use language too strong for a crime so heinous against the picturesque.

Let us recapitulate the facts, and draw the indictment more exactly against that sinning body. We shall thus ventilate a righteous indignation, and help to create a healthy public feeling against all such damnable doings, by whomsoever done. We are, of necessity, in this country of change and of an increasing population, faced with a continuous defacement of places ancient, beautiful and historic; and it behoves us to use our utmost efforts to preserve what we have left. What, then, shall we say of such absolutely unnecessary outrages as this? Shall we not revile the whole body responsible, from the Board and the Secretary down to the chief engineer and the staff of underlings who did the deed? The Thames Conservancy, in fact, has been a most diligent destroyer of the beauty of the river; slaving early and late and overtime in that devil's work, but remaining supremely idle where the encroachments of private persons, or the uglifications by waterworks companies, and modern mill-and factory-builders are concerned. It is the Thames Conservancy that has repaired the banks of the river and has reinforced the walls of its weirs and lock-cuts, with hideous bags and barrels of concrete, that retain their bag-and-barrel shape for all time, and so render miles of riverside sordid in the extreme. We simply cannot afford these ways with the river.


The church of Castle Eaton is in a modest way a remarkable building. It is a moderate-sized Early English structure, chiefly notable for retaining its original stone sanctus-bell turret on the roof. The interior discloses nave and chancel only, with a shallow elementary north aisle, built out from the original building, and supported upon two wooden pillars on stone bases. This extension - a half-hearted addition - was itself made several centuries ago, apparently for the purpose of affording additional seating accommodation at some period when the population had increased. But it has greatly shrunken since then; and in these times when the towns have superior attractions for all wage-earners, it still continues to shrink.


A very curious old oak post, some seven feet high, and carved with a spiral pattern, stands at the end of one of the pews, and seems to mark what must have been the old manorial pew; bearing as it does on its ornamental head a shield of arms, dated 1704, probably that of some bygone local family. The whole affair looks remarkably like a part of some old four-poster bedstead, but it may be one of the supports of a former western gallery. A half-length fresco figure of the Virgin - the church being dedicated to St. Mary - is to be seen on one of the walls, and a very large, and apparently fine, brass of a knight was once in the church. But this has been at some time destroyed, and the stone indent itself is now to be found, flung out of the building and used as a paving-stone, outside the west door.

Road, river, and canal now all make for the village of Kempsford, which does not derive its name from some ancient, prehistoric Kemp, but from "Chenemeresford," said to signify "the ford on the great boundary"; that is to say, the river. And Kempsford is situated in Gloucestershire, here divided from Wiltshire by the Thames, which forms the natural frontier of many counties along its course, from Thames Head to the sea.


We shall find the best way from Castle Eaton to Kempsford, little more than a mile distant, to be across the meadows and to the towing-path of the Canal, here and onward to its beginning at Inglesham, a very beautiful stretch of water-way; overhung, as it is, by noble trees in places, and rich in rushes and water-lilies. When the Gloucestershire and other County Councils, together with the local Rural District Councils, procured an Act of Parliament for taking over this neglected waterway, great hopes were entertained of reviving an undertaking which had never been remarkable for its financial success, and it was fondly hoped thereby to break the "monopoly" held by the railway. A trust was formed in 1895 by those public bodies interested, and it was agreed to guarantee £600 annually for thirty years for repairing and working the canal. The Great Western Railway was thus rid of an incubus, and the ratepayers of these various districts find themselves saddled with an utterly unremunerative expenditure that no commercial firm would have had the folly to assume. For not only were the repairs of Sapperton Tunnel exceedingly costly, and the general overhauling of the canal expensive, but no traffic worth the mention has been induced to come this way. Those squanderers of public money were heedless of the facts of modern business, and forgot to consider that in these latter days time is more than ever the essence of the contract in worldly affairs. Less able than ever, therefore, are canals to compete with railways. So once more, after a fugitive period of activity, we see the Thames and Severn Canal returning to its old neglected condition.



Kempsford church-tower is prominent across the meadows, and we find it to be a notable and interesting church, and the village a place of aristocratic appearance, where humble cottages are few and the manor-house imposing. This is as it should be in a place with its history: the manor having once belonged to Edward the Confessor, who gave it to Harold. William the Conqueror conferred it upon one of his knights, and in the course of the centuries the property came to Henry, Duke of Lancaster, whose son-in-law, John o' Gaunt, Shakespeare's "time-honoured Lancaster," once resided here, greatly favouring this one of his many manors, of which the number scattered all over England was so great that it would have been distressingly hard work for him to visit them each and all in the course of a year.
The only son of Henry, first Duke of Lancaster, was drowned here, and his sorrowing father is said never again to have resided at Kempsford. On the north door of the church is nailed a horseshoe, in allusion, it is said, to one cast by his horse on his departure, and immediately nailed up here by the inhabitants. It is, indeed, often said to be the original shoe, but that is an absurdity. A curious other horseshoe legend and observance is to be noted at the town of Lancaster, John o' Gaunt's ancient palatine seat. There, where the two principal thoroughfares of the town cross, is "Horseshoe Corner," so named from the horseshoe let into the roadway, and renewed in every seven years; in memory, says tradition, of a shoe cast there by his horse.

Kempsford church consists of a long and lofty aisleless nave, with tall central tower. The nave is Norman, with Norman doorways and Perpendicular windows, and very beautiful, gorgeous, and impressive.

The ancient manor-house, frequently styled "the Palace," came at last into the possession of the Hanger family, Earls of Coleraine, one of whom wantonly destroyed it.

The Thames and the Thames and Severn Canal, running almost side by side at Kempsford, now abruptly part company again, and meet only three-and-a-half miles farther on, at Inglesham. The canal is the more easily followed, since the windings of the Thames in those miles add certainly another mile and a half to the distance, and are to be followed only with extreme difficulty by canoe, or afoot through many fields. Hannington Bridge, crossing it nearly a mile and a half below Kempsford, is the first bridge of any importance, and is a solid, stolid modern masonry building, eminently practical and unimaginative, serving to carry the road from Highworth to Fairford across. The remains of an old weir on the way give pause to the exploring canoeist at most seasons; and a small tributary, the river Cole, hailing from Berkshire, is seen on approaching Inglesham.

Inglesham Church


There are no churches in these surroundings more interesting than the humble little building at Inglesham, one mile from Lechlade, in an almost solitary situation. It is quite a rustic church, chiefly in that best period of gothic architecture, Early English, and it is so far removed from restoration, or even adequate care, that it is almost falling to pieces. Damp and neglect have wrought much havoc here, and the zealous concern of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings, by preventing any large scheme of repair, seems not unlikely to result, at no distant date, in the entire dissolution of the structure.

Inglesham Round house


The meeting of the canal and river at Inglesham Round House is marked picturesquely by the grey round tower of the Round House itself, and by a row of tall poplars. The Round House is nothing but a glorified lock-keeper's house, situated beside this, the first lock, where the canal sets forth on its way toward Stroud and the Severn. A mile farther downstream lies the town of Lechlade, across the lovely level meadows, with the tall spire of its church glinting whitely in the sun. It is an exquisite view, and so alluring that you are in haste to make acquaintance with Lechlade itself, that promises so romantically. But let us not hurry. Rather that distant view than Lechlade at close quarters; for although it is in very truth an inoffensive town, it is also sufficiently true to remark that it is dulness incarnate, and that this mile-long glimpse will be found the better part.
At Inglesham Round House there are plentiful facilities wherewith to refresh the body and to employ the uncultivated mind; for the lock-keeper's domain includes a number of apologetic sheds and shanties devised for the benefit of picnic-parties; and anything eatable or drinkable likely to be called for by parties on picnic, or boating, or merely padding the hoof, is obtainable, together with the mechanical music of melodeons or other such appliances that will serve you with pennyworths of minstrelsy, as more or less appropriate sauce. Here also is a greatly-patronised camping-ground, generally plentifully occupied with tents in favourable summers. The river Coln here also flows into the Thames from Fairford.
It is a pretty spot, with its hunchbacked lock-bridge, and the not unhandsome modern foot-and tow-bridge that spans the Thames, helping to compose a picture. It is the Ultima Thule of the Oxford man's "Upper River"; the farthest point to which it is generally navigable for small boats.


Passing Inglesham Round House, and proceeding over the foot-bridge to the right bank of the Thames, toward Lechlade, we enter Berkshire; crossing over the stone single-span Lechlade bridge into the town and into Gloucestershire.
The town of Lechlade takes its name from the little river Leach which rises at Northleach, fourteen miles in a north-westerly direction, and gives its name to Northleach, East Leach Turville, and East Leach Martin. Although Lechlade - i.e. "Leach-let," the outlet of the Leach - thus obtains its name, that little river flows into the Thames at a considerable distance away, two and a half miles below the town, at Kelmscott.

[Actually just below The Trout at St John's Bridge!]

The disastrous persons who derived "Cricklade" from "Greeklade," and invented a university of Greek professors there, made "Lechlade" a rival seat of learning, where Latin was taught, and gave its original name as "Latinlade." Fuller tells us how this imaginary university - in which he seems to have believed - ended by migrating to Oxford. He is quite poetic about it.
"The muses," he says, "swam down the shores of the river Isis, to be twenty miles nearer to the rising sun."
Other, and equally weariful, persons made Lechlade, "Leeches-lake," the home of the College of Physicians ("leeches") relegated to this obscure town - which, of course, it never was.

It is now hardly conceivable that once upon a time there was a considerable traffic in cheese upon the upper Thames, between Cricklade, Lechlade, Oxford, and London; but such was the case. This was formerly a great cheese-producing district, as it might well be now; and, as roads were bad everywhere and railways were not yet, the only method was to load the cheeses on barges, and so float down-stream.

Lechlade is very well on week-days, in the quiet way of all such decayed townlets, but on Sundays it is not to be recommended. Dulness stalks its streets almost visibly, and the only sounds are the argumentative tones of the preacher in the Wesleyan chapel (a building with black doors and gilded mouldings, after the fashion of a jeweller's shop) at one end of the street, whose raucous voice can be distinctly heard at the other: not unlike that of a man quarrelling outside a public-house.
But the fates preserve us from a Sunday at Lechlade! It is fully sufficient to skim through the place at such a time, and make for some other that does not so completely figure the empty life. A village is not dull, because it has no pretensions to being a town - and country life is never dull. But at Lechlade the position is so desperate on Sunday that, for sheer emptiness of other incident, a large proportion of the population flock the half-mile that stretches between the town and the railway-station, and hang, deeply interested, upon the bridge, to witness the Sunday evening train depart. It is a curious spectacle, and one that carries the mind of a reminiscent reader back to stories of marooned castaways on desert isles, gazing hopelessly upon the departing ship that has left them to solitude and despair. That must needs be a place of an extreme Sabbath emptiness where the grown-up inhabitants are impelled, by way of enlivening the weary evening, to walk half a mile to witness what seems an incident so commonplace to the inhabitants of places whose pulses beat more robustly.


The "pratie pyramis of stone," as Leland styles the spire of Lechlade church, is almost the only architectural feature of the townlet, if we except a few mildly-pretty stone-built houses of Tudor gables and mullioned windows; among which may be included the "Swan" inn. None of these are included in the accompanying view of the church, which, although graceful without, and promising interest within, has been miserably treated, and swept clear of anything of note. A few curious carvings are to be noted on the lower stage of the tower exterior, including a singular bearded and capped profile head and a hand grasping a scimitar. Although well done, they look like the idle sport of some irresponsible person or persons, and do not appear to have any particular meaning or local application.


The architecture of the building is of no great interest to archæologists, being of somewhat late Perpendicular date, but a charming example of tabernacle-work may be noted on one of the piers of the nave-arcade, adjacent to the font. On the gable of the nave, at the east end, is a figure of St. Lawrence, to whom the church is dedicated. He holds a gridiron, the symbol of his martyrdom, in one hand, and the book in the other.


Fairford is the centre of attraction in this district.
It lies away north-west, four miles distant, at the end of the little railway from Lechlade, on the river Coln.
The Gloucestershire Coln has its name spelled without a final "e" (for what reason no man knoweth), and gives a title of distinction to a group of villages - Coln St. Denis, Coln Rogers, and Coln St. Aldwin's - that are famed for their beauty.
But Fairford has superior claims to notice, chiefly for the celebrated stained-glass windows of its church.


"Fair-ford" may or may not derive its name from its picturesque situation, but the beauty of the ancient ford of the Coln, now and for long past crossed by a bridge, might well warrant an assumption that the name arose from an æsthetic appreciation of the scenery. Exactly what it is like to-day may be seen by the view shown here, with its noble church placed finely above the meadows.
Fairford is a village that was once a town, prosperous in the far-off days when the wool-growers and the cloth-workers of the Cotswolds made fortunes in their trades and founded families that came in time to a dignified haven in the peerage; and at last declined and died out, or have rejuvenated themselves with American marriages and the dollars incidental thereto. This old process of founding families by way of successful trading we may still see at work, in our own times, under our own intimate observation, encouraged by the institutions of primogeniture and a House of Lords, two most powerful incentives to success.
Fairford nowadays stands aside from all these activities. Its day is done, and except on those occasions when the motor-omnibus between Lechlade and Cirencester plods through, and on the weekly market-day, there is no stir in the place at all.
Its fine church and the famous windows alone bring strangers here. The church is due to the munificence of the Tame family. John Tame, merchant, of London, purchased the manor in 1498, and died twenty-seven years later. He must have been a typical "new man," with plenty yet to spare of the abounding energy that had made his wealth in London, for it was he who began, and nearly completed, the rebuilding of Fairford church. We may well picture him, in our imagination, hopeful of founding a family, as many other successful traders of that expansive age had already done, or were doing. His immediate descendants, however, failed him, and the name is extinct. It was his son, John, who completed the church, and died in 1534. Monumental brasses to the memory of these Tames, and of the third and last, Sir Edmund Tame, are seen here, but their greatest monument is the church itself, a beautiful example of the last developments of Perpendicular architecture, in which the coarsened mouldings, here and there noticeable, the curiously-set pinnacles of the tower, and the character of the grotesques carved on the exterior, alone hint of that new leaven in matters architectural and spiritual, the Renascence, that was presently to overthrow ancient architecture and much else.

But the wonderful windows, twenty-eight in all, the finest and largest set of old stained-glass windows in England, are our chief concern at Fairford.
The question as to the foreign or English workmanship of these windows has always been in dispute; unnecessarily, it would appear to the present writer. They are, for the most of them, obviously of Flemish origin; and a late discovery would seem to have at last settled the point. In the west window of the south aisle will be observed an executioner with a sword, on which is a monogram A. An ape also appears in the window, for no very obvious reason, except that it affords material for a pun; a form of humour greatly favoured by the old craftsmen, as all conversant with ancient churches well know. The monogram and the ape point to the glass being the work of Aeps, a Flemish worker in this sort at the period of the Fairford church-building.
The large figures of the prophets and apostles which fill the windows of the aisles are so unmistakably Flemish that there should never have been the least doubt about them. If there were any room for incertitude, it would be in respect of the great west window, the most remarkable of the series, which appears to disclose no foreign element; but, as it in all other respects obviously belongs to the general scheme, it may perhaps be called Flemish, in common with the others.


A legend long current, accounting for these windows, says that John Tame, asked to pilot a vessel containing them from Nuremberg to Rome, turned his course to England instead, and in fact stole the windows. Now, however fantastic this story, it probably contains this much of truth, that it hands down a foreign origin; but that this glass was acquired in any chance way is altogether unlikely, for it bears every sign of having been designed for this church, and for the exact position and size of the windows it occupies. The designs have been ascribed by some to Albrecht Dü rer, and an old manuscript goes so far as to relate a visit paid by Vandyck to Fairford, when he said the drawing was Dü rer's work. This, however, would seem to be impossible, as Dü rer was but twenty-three years of age when Fairford church was in course of building.
The great west window affords the chief interest, illustrating as it does the Last Judgment. The upper half, above the dividing transom, displays the company of the blest, assembled round the central figure of Christ in majesty, with St. John Baptist on His right hand, and the Virgin on the left. Three half-circles, somewhat resembling rainbows, surround these figures; the first a deep red band, filled with representations of the seraphim; the second, yellow, with figures of the apostles; the third, blue, filled with the cherubim. Angels fill the outer spaces, quiring before the Throne. These be the glorious surroundings of the good, the constant, and the true.
The Doom, occupying the lower portion of the window, is a striking example of imagination applied to the subject of retribution for sin. The Devil and his infernal host and the flames of Hell were evidently very real to those who pictured these scenes of torment, and to those who first looked upon them, and they could certainly never have thought it possible a time would come when people would either laugh at these ideas of a real personal Devil with attendant fiends, or look upon them as curiosities; certainly without any fear or awe.


Here, in all the grotesque drawing and vivid colouring of which that age was capable, we see the rewards of wickedness. St. Michael the Archangel, in the centre, is shown, holding the scales of justice, wherein the souls of the dead are being weighed. On the left[82] of him is St. Peter, with his key, standing at the gates of Paradise; while on the right are seen the dead rising from their graves, and the flames of Hell, a little subdued by the weathering of the centuries, awaiting them. In the lower right-hand corner is a representation of the Devil himself, with a head like a cottage loaf, in the very opening of his own especial region, holding the red-hot bars, and grinning out between them. Curious auxiliary devils are shown, actively engaged in carrying the dead to torment; among them the remarkable group imagetrated here. The tall scaly devil on the right, carrying one of the damned on his back, is a blue fiend; the other, displayed in the act of lashing a woman just rising from her grave, is a strawberry-coloured devil, covered with pips, and glaring with eyes of flame.
Other fiends in green, in red, and in yellow, are pursuing shrieking souls, or, having caught them, are seen flinging them into pits of fire. Some of these places of torment are shown neatly enclosed in masonry, like blast-furnaces. Another fiend, imagetrated here, regarding a woman clasping her knees, seems to be rather of an apologetic, gentlemanly type. It is his business to be a tormentor, but he looks genuinely sorry for it.


The other windows are of distinctly inferior interest, displaying as they do mostly saints, but some of the smaller lights repay close attention. In them you see the persecutors of the Church, set forth with every horrific detail of innate malignity; while, hovering over a representation of the Crucifixion is seen a batlike devil, awaiting the last breath of the impenitent thief, to secure his escaping soul.

These remarkable windows owe their preservation to the care taken of them by William Oldisworth of Fairford, during the Puritan upheaval, probably with the aid of Lady Verney, wife of Sir Thomas Verney, lord of the manor. She was daughter and heiress of Sir Edmund, the last of the Tames, and interested, of course, in seeing that the gifts of her ancestors were in safe keeping. The glass was, accordingly, carefully removed and buried in Fairford Park. There it remained until the restoration of order, when it was exhumed and replaced. A tall classic column stands as a monument to this singular history.


Boat Hire at Lechlade

It is not always so easy a matter as you might suppose to hire a boat at Lechlade for the thirty-two miles' voyage to Oxford; which, after all, is not only the best way of seeing the Thames, but the Thames Valley villages also. Unless considerable notice is given, especially if it be the week before Bank Holiday, the boat-proprietor is extremely chary of letting his craft out of sight, and it becomes a matter of favour and delicate negotiation to secure a boat, even though you tender good value in coin of the realm for its hire. The proprietor's point of view is that it is all very well for pleasuring folk to drop easily down to Oxford with the stream in two days, but it remains for him, or one of his men, to get it back against stream; not so easy a matter, even though the stream be gentle. In fact, the demand for boats for the trip is not sufficiently large for special arrangements for cartage back by road to be made; and that familiar summer sight anywhere between Richmond and Oxford, a slowly-progressing van, laden with boats, rolling along the intervening miles of highway, is not visible here. But, although the hiring is, as already said, somewhat difficult, the explorer has at least the satisfaction of finding the Upper River secluded and unspoiled.

Immediately below Lechlade begins that long and ever-increasing series of locks by which the Thames Conservancy has converted the river into an astounding succession of toll-gates; with this result, that you are not long out of sight of one lock before another comes in view; while lock-cuts in addition grow longer, as well as more numerous, and tend to make the river in many places very formal. But, at any rate, the true river-course, leading to the weirs, or often round by what are now backwaters, is by contrast, and by disuse, rendered often a very paradise of wild, untended life.

St John's Lock

The first lock of the forty-two locks on the Thames is that of St. John's, which, like Lechlade Bridge, often styled "St. John's Bridge," takes its name from the Priory of St. John the Baptist that once stood hard by. The Priory was a Hospice as well, and was charged with the care of travellers who came this way. As part of their charge the Black Canons who formed the establishment built the original bridge across the Thames here.

St John's Bridge (Lechlade Bridge) and The Trout Inn

St. John's Bridge, like some carefully-restored old dowager, by no means looks its age, but all those who care to know are credibly informed that "This bridge, though often repaired and altered on the upper part, is the original structure of great antiquity, having existed prior to the reign of Henry III." The "Trout" inn, formerly the "St. John Baptist's Head," stands beside a backwater, on the site of the Priory that was disestablished so long ago as 1473.

& Buscot Lock

At St. John's Lock the lock-keeper not only hands you the first of the many threepenny pink tickets that are painfully familiar to those who cruise upon the Thames, but another in addition, for Buscot Lock, one-mile-and-a-quarter onward, where the poor, impoverished (or, perhaps more likely, the mean, parsimonious) Conservancy cannot, or at least does not, maintain a resident lock-keeper; with the result that you have the choice of working your own way through, or of leaving the job to the official hands of the keeper at St. John's, who in the latter event cycles the distance. But in any case you pay your threepence for each lock.


The Thames from this point becomes singularly lonely. Few roads cross it, and the villages are small and infrequent, and are rarely to be seen from a boat. The ideal method of exploration is to take a bicycle on the boat and to lay it across the bows, where it is out of the way and yet easily within reach when wanted. Then, at some convenient point, where a road or path comes down to the river, and places likely to be of interest are but a mile, or two or three miles, distant, it is your easiest method to have out the machine and explore swiftly and with ease, among little-visited ways.
Buscot, however, on the Berkshire shore, is so close at hand that its church may easily be seen from the boat and visited by the mere effort of pulling to the bank under the hoary willows, and stepping into the meadow beside whose buttercup-spangled grass it stands.
Buscot - formerly Burwardscott, then corrupted into Burscott, and finally into the present rendering - is a place of some note, artistically and agriculturally, for the little parish church has an east window by Burne-Jones, representing the Good Shepherd, instead of the usual ecclesiastical-furnishers' impossible stained-glass saints. We may perhaps, without offence, congratulate ourselves and all concerned that those stained-glass freaks are, and must ever have been, impossibilities. They have the most unprepossessing countenances, of an impossibly holy type, and generally the vilest taste in coloured robes; while of the Burne-Jones saints we can at least say that, although commonly eight feet high in proportion to their heads, and generally of a consumptive type, they are at least recognisably like human beings. And a saint, you know, was originally, before he or she was given his or her halo and other extraordinary attachments, merely a more than usually good person of just ordinary physical attributes. I don't think anyone will have the hardihood to deny that. One other prime curiosity the church of Buscot possesses: a very highly enriched pulpit of wood, with panels painted in various religious subjects, by or after artists of the Italian School. A panel representing the Annunciation is more remarkable than ever was intended, for among the attendant Wise Men from the East is shown a negro with black head and arms and white legs! "Can the Ethiopian change his skin?" Partially, it should seem.

Buscot Manor House

Buscot manor-house is as notable for containing the Burne-Jones "Briar Rose" sequence of paintings illustrating the ancient legend of the Sleeping Beauty, as the owner is for his successful shire-horse breeding. It is not often that the love of art and keen interest in shire horses are shared equally by one man, as they are by Sir Alexander Henderson, of Buscot, who is at once the owner of the finest Burne-Jones pictures and the breeder of "Buscot Harold," champion of three successive London Shire Horse Shows.
It is interesting to know that Buscot manor-house, standing in its park on the ridge above the river, on the way to Faringdon, was built from the stones of the demolished palace at Kempsford, even though we may see only an eighteenth-century solidity and comfort, rather than any hint of beauty or history in the re-edified stones.

Eaton Footbridge

Hart's Weir, or Eaton Weir, as the Conservancy elects rather to style it, is but a mile-and-a-quarter below Buscot, and is one of the few old-fashioned weirs, fitted with paddles and rymers, of which a few are removed for the passage of a boat, that now remain.
Beside it stands the "Anchor" inn, with not another house in sight, and the little church of Eaton Hastings - it would be an affectation to speak of the village, unless a few scattered cottages may so be named - two miles away, by the riverside, but so hidden that its existence is not suspected by passing oarsmen.
It is amusing to observe the blank puzzlement that overspreads the faces, and governs the actions, of those occupants of boats from Lechlade who, coming for the first time to this unfamiliar type of weir and lock combined, helplessly steer from one side of the river to the other, in search of the familiar lock-cut and lock-gates, and, failing to find them (as well they may, for such things do not exist here), at last landing and enquiring for them at the inn.
Eaton Weir is one of the last now left of the old weirs that served the turn of the river in days of old, and they are therefore now so uncommon that none need feel ashamed of coming unexpectedly for the first time to one, and not comprehending the situation. But those who are taken by surprise here and cannot understand why they can find no way through, do, it is evident by leisured observation, feel a kind of shame at being so completely "sold."
Eaton Weir, and others of its kind, are, in fact, complete barriers across the river, affording a check to all craft until four or five of the paddles are pulled up.
The construction is simple, consisting of a sill, generally a heavy beam of wood, laid across the bed of the river, with a similar beam crossing immediately over it, from bank to bank. These form the framework of the weir, which is completed by a number of stout supports going perpendicularly down at intervals from upper beam to lower, and by a continuous row of "paddles" set between them. The "paddles" are, roughly speaking, in the shape of shovels, but much longer in the handle and bigger in the blade. It is obvious that when all the paddles are down in their places the head of water must be considerably raised above the weir, although a volume of water pours through all the while.
To admit the passage of a boat, the weir-keeper draws up four paddles or more, and then, if the craft be going down-stream, it is guided by the steersman carefully to the weir, and deftly allowed to be shot through by the force of the waterfall thus created in the opening. A little mild excitement generally accompanies this "shooting the rapids," even though the fall be only about eighteen inches to two feet when the paddles are first drawn, and reduced to almost nothing if you wait a few minutes while the head of accumulated water runs itself away.
The Thames Conservancy will have its dues, and whether it be a lock or a weir you pass, you render threepence for a small boat, and receive a pink ticket in return.


And so one comes to Kelmscott, which owes its name to some Saxon thane, just as Buscot derives from some dim ancient Burward. But of that[94] Kenelm whose "cot" this was, history says no more than it does of Burward. If we adventure into the hinterland at the back of Bampton - whose full name is Bampton-in-the-Bush - we shall find two other "cots," or "cotts," Alvescott, and Kencot - and there is Cote (which is merely "cot" spelled in another way, and unappropriated to any personal name) further down-stream behind Shifford.
At Kelmscott the river Leach comes really to its "lade," or outflow; its "let," or outlet: a similar word being used at Oaklade ("uisk-lade," or water outlet), where the Swillbrook joins the Thames, and at Cricklade, where the Churn falls in.

[Not on modern maps it doesn't! There is a stream marked "drain" joining from that direction - but its tiny compared with the much larger river that joins at St Johns]

In the words of the presiding genius of the place, the late William Morris, Socialist, poet, decorative-artist, demagogue, literary man, and master-printer, this is
"a reach of the river where on the side of the towing-path is a highish bank with a thick whispering bed of reeds before it, and on the other side a higher bank, clothed with willows that dip into the stream, and crowned by ancient elm-trees."
Very true. It is also a beautiful and sequestered spot; and although now, since the death of William Morris in 1896, become a much-talked-of new literary shrine, few are those who trouble its ancient peace.
The village lies near the banks of the Thames, with a rough, unkempt piece of common opposite the old Elizabethan, stone, gabled manor-house that was for some years the home of Morris and of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Nothing but the upper windows of the old house can be glimpsed from the road, for a very high wall effectually guards its seclusion.


Morris loved the place with an intense love, and brought back to the house much of its old ways, with much else of his own, in artistic "Morris tapestries" and other hangings, such as were designed by him and Burne-Jones, made at Merton by Wimbledon, and sold at the establishment of Morris & Co. in Oxford Street. We do not commonly look upon Socialists as anything but discontented artisans and weekly wage-earners in general; but Morris performed his share of street-corner spouting with such, and yet dreamed golden dreams of the World Beautiful, and did much to make it so. But, at the same time, his lovely wares in wall-papers, in hangings and carpets, in furniture and stained-glass, were of the most expensive kind that none of those "have nots" could by any means possess. The famous Morris books, too, produced at the Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, were of those prices that only plutocrats could afford, and were produced strictly after the individualistic and anti-Socialistic theory of "limited edition."
The only new house in Kelmscott village is one built to preserve the memory of this man who wrought such beautiful things and preached doctrines so impossible; and on the front of it is a very ornate tablet, bearing a portrait-medallion. The work is, however, in such low relief and so elaborated that it is difficult to be clearly distinguished.
Away through the scattered village, and out at the other end, stands the little decayed parish church of St. George: decrepit and surrounded in most melancholy fashion by spindly overhanging lime-trees. The place oppresses the stranger, even on summer days, with gloom, which is increased as he walks up the dank little pathway to the south porch, among the serried graves of a numerous local family, each one within his concrete bed. The quite plain headstone to William Morris is close by.
There is no feeling of this melancholy in the account written by Morris, in his 'News from Nowhere', of a village church; but which was evidently a description of this:

"We went into the church, which was a simple little building with one aisle divided from the nave by three round arches, a chancel, and a rather roomy transept for so small a building, the windows mostly of the graceful Oxfordshire fourteenth-century type. There was no modern architectural decoration on it; it looked indeed as if none had been attempted since the Puritans whitewashed the mediaeval saints and histories on the wall."


The building is chiefly of Early English date, consisting of nave, chancel, rudimentary north aisle of a makeshift character, and north and south transepts and clerestory. There is a rough tub-font. Some traces of ancient colouring are found on the round-headed arches of the nave-arcade; while the accompanying illustration will show that the sculptured capitals of the columns are of great, if simple beauty, and doubtless studied in the long ago from the water-plants of the Thames.

Nothing can equal the calm delights of those still, hushed hot days of early summer on these reaches of the upper Thames, when the tall sweet grasses of the meadows by which we float are ripening to the scythes of the reapers, and before the birds have quite finished their wild torrent of springtime mating song. Here, with the boat drawn up beside some tall sheaf of growing rushes, we may listen to the twittering distant song of the skylark, flying, an almost invisible speck, high up in the intensely blue sky; and may see the water-rat swimming across the stream. Cows gaze with a mild curiosity from the banks, under the welcome shade of the willows, or recline, with a certain lumpish dignity, among the buttercups and daisies. The fragrance of spring is yet in the land, and that man who, lazing here, lights a cigarette, and so imports an alien fragrance, offends against his environment.

Faringdon Clump


So we shall come, after many intervals and halts by reedy shores where the waterlilies grow, to Radcot Bridge; the meads spreading wide on either hand, and the great imposing landmark of Faringdon Clump for always prominent in the view on the right: now, with the continued extravagant loopings of the river, far ahead, now abreast of us, and again in the rear; so that it becomes difficult to believe this elusive landmark really one and the same hill.
Beneath Faringdon Clump lies the little town of Great Faringdon, great only in its quietude, somewhat broken, it is true, in these latter days by motor-cars, that, rushing along the ridgeway road on which it is situated, indecently disturb its slumbrous dignity.
Faringdon Clump is emphatically the landmark of this district, even as Wittenham Clumps are the geographical pointers of a wide district between Oxford and Wallingford. Many people know it as "Faringdon Folly." The height of Faringdon Hill itself, on which the clump of Scotch firs called "the Folly" is situated, is about 500 feet, and Faringdon town, although beneath it, is not itself by any means in the levels, as those who, cycling to it from the Thames at Radcot Bridge, shall easily find, as they come laboriously up the ascending gradients.

Grafton Lock

But, before we reach Radcot Bridge, the newly-built Grafton Lock has to be passed through. It is situated in a grassy solitude, and takes its name from an insignificant hamlet quite remote from the river. At Grafton Lock, indeed, the lock-keeper's wife and daughter, who between them take our threepence and work the lock-gates, are pleased to see the infrequent stranger, and to exchange the news, and receive well-earned compliments on the beauty of the lock-garden.

Radcot Bridge and The Swan Inn


Now comes Radcot Bridge, neighboured and overhung by a wealth of trees; tall, slim, spiring poplars, and others that spread boldly out. Radcot Bridge is your only possible halting-place hereabouts for the night; for here is the waterside "Swan" inn, with its lawn sloping down to the river, its landing-steps and boathouse: and Faringdon and its inns are three miles distant. Thither, however, you must needs fare, if so be the "Swan" is full.
The single-span, round-arched bridge through which one comes in these times is not the real original bridge, nor is the present course of the Thames at this point the real original river. This is a new cut, made in 1787, to improve the navigation, then still considered to be of considerable commercial importance. The old course of the river flows sluggishly to the right-hand, and is not now practicable for boats. Here still stands the ancient gothic bridge, with its three pointed arches and the base and socket of what was once a cross on the eastern parapet. This bridge and the causeway built to it, across the meadows, once formed a more important means of communication than now, for the road across the Thames from Faringdon led northwards to Burford, and so by degrees into the Midlands. Its strategic value has been at least twice imagetrated. The bridge itself dates from about 1300, and was on December 20th, 1387, the scene of a sharp action in which Henry, Earl of Derby, met and defeated Robert de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, favourite of Richard the Second. Many of de Vere's men were drowned here on that December day, and their commander himself narrowly escaped, by swimming across the river, half clad in his armour. His force seems to have been taken completely by surprise. The "Henry, Earl of Derby" of this affair was he who twelve years later, 1399, at last succeeded in deposing Richard, and reigning in his stead, as Henry the Fourth.
The second occasion of Radcot's figuring in martial annals was a skirmish in the long course of the Great Rebellion, when Faringdon House, up yonder, three miles away in the town, was held for the King, and the bridge was occupied as an outpost. Cromwell's men appear to have driven the outpost in, with some loss.
But, before an end is made with Radcot Bridge, let us note the little-known fact that it was hence, in those seventeenth-century times, when roads were little better than muddy tracks across the fields are now, that much of the stone employed by Wren in the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral was brought to London. The old quarries whence this stone came have been closed now for two hundred years, but the site of them is still to be found at a spot to this day known as "Kit's Quarries," near Burford, eight miles north of Radcot Bridge. I have written about Christopher Kempster - the "Kit" of those quarries - in another place,
(See "The Oxford, Gloucester, and Milford Haven Road", vol. i., pp. 263, 266-269)
and have shown that he was firstly clerk of works and master-mason in the employment of Sir Christopher Wren for many years, not only in the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral, but also in the general rebuilding of the City of London churches. Retiring from those positions, he bought the quarries, and thenceforward dealt largely in the stone with which he had once built.
The stone was conveyed from near Burford, along eight miles of bad roads, and here at Radcot Bridge, on the old course of the river, before the new channel was cut, was loaded, into barges, and so found its way to London.

It will be well to explore into the level Oxfordshire hinterland behind Radcot Bridge. There we shall, in the course of two miles, find the untidy village of Clanfield, which straggles lengthily on either side of the grassy edges of a stream three parts dry in summer, and thus revealing to the disgusted wayfarer rich and varied deposits of unconsidered village refuse - in the way of battered tins and old boots embedded in the ooze. Thistles, nettles, and scrubby weeds bedevil the grass that might so easily be made beautiful.
But there are evidences that Clanfield is awakening to better things. A "Village Institute" has arisen amid these rank undesirables, and tentative clippings, sweepings, and garnishings may be noticed. The church and churchyard are, fittingly enough, in the forefront of these improvements.


It is a charming village church of moderate size, built in the Perpendicular period, and dedicated to St. Stephen, as those well versed in saintly symbols may readily perceive on approaching, by a glance at the curious figure of the saint himself, boldly sculptured on the tower. He bears in his right hand a little heap of what look like apples, but are intended to represent stones, in allusion to the manner of his martyrdom, by being stoned to death. On the west side of the tower is a tablet to the memory of James Joy and Robert Cross, killed by lightning when at work side by side in the fields, August 9th, 1845. Over the south door is an ancient sundial, cut into the masonry, and screened from casual observation by the porch, which is thus seen to be a later addition.



Great Faringdon

Great Faringdon, on the right, or Berkshire, side of the river, is well worth visiting. Technically a town, its inhabitants would probably feel injured by any one styling it a village; but there are towns and towns; and Faringdon, although it perhaps may not be styled "decayed," is at any rate unprogressive. There be those among us who are so constituted that they mislike the word "progress," and are repelled by any place they hear to be "progressive." This is entirely due to the recent connotation of "progress." Modern men have seen so much of the futile striving and competition, the shameless advertising, and the sordid things that stand for "progress" in these days, that they look with yearning upon those spots that are said to be "unprogressive," and ardently wish their lives might be lived therein, instead of being merely existed where the struggle for survival is waged with ever-increasing severity.
Great Faringdon - how humorously that epithet sounds to a Londoner! - is unprogressive in the best of these senses. You do not find, on approaching it, the ragged slummy selvedges that fringe the towns where commerce thrives so abundantly, where the rich grow daily richer, and the poor daily more abjectly and helplessly impoverished. No matter from what direction you approach Faringdon, along none of the five entrances to the town do you see mean suburbs spreading grimly into the shamed fields, nor plentiful notice-boards declaring "This eligible land" to be "ripe for building". Faringdon's expansive days are done, and no man can see the likelihood of their return, for, although the town is situated on such a network of highways that travellers by road can scarce get about the neighbourhood without going through it, the great days of the road are passed, and the motor-car is not going to bring them back in that old sense. The last blow was delivered at the chances of Faringdon's expansion when the main line of the Great Western Railway was carried four miles to the south, past Uffington, whence a small branch line comes, to serve the town, and stops here.

Faringdon is an historic place, but its history ceased to be a living thing at so remote a period that it seems, to many who do not trouble to come to close quarters with it, to be a very dryasdust history indeed. It is largely the history of the Saxon kings, to many of whom Faringdon was a favourite place of residence. But of all these times, and of later royal visits, no tangible record is left; and the Faringdon of to-day is just an ancient market-town that contrives to live quietly on the needs of the surrounding agricultural population. In a rapidly-changing England, this town is one of a few that, made to stand aside from the ways of modern trade, remain very much what they have been during the last two centuries. The last incidents that ever stirred the pulses here were election contests, and the last issues in the larger sort that disturbed town and district were fought out so long ago as the middle of the seventeenth century, in the attack and defence of Faringdon in the Great Rebellion. Then the Royalists held the town and Faringdon House, the seat of the Pye family, behind the church. The Pyes had been in possession of the property only some twenty-three years when the troubles broke out, having purchased it in 1622. They were then on the popular side, Sir Robert Pye, indeed, having married the sister of John Hampden, the patriot, who lost his life at Chalgrove Field. Greatly to his mortification, the Royalists had seized and garrisoned his mansion, and it fell to his lot to besiege it. The elder of the two sons of this Sir Robert was that Hampden Pye, born in 1647, who is the subject of the Ingoldsby Legend of "Hamilton Tighe," "a sobriquet interfering neither with rhyme nor rhythm," as the author justly claims. The legend of Hampden Pye, which Barham thus versified, was one once current in Faringdon and Uffington, and the surrounding district; and told how he, the eldest son, heir to the family estates, contracted what his family regarded as an undesirable marriage, and how he was hounded on to join the naval expedition to Vigo, under the command of Sir George Rooke, in 1702. His own mother is said to have been chiefly instrumental in this, and to have been among those who secured his being placed prominently in the post of danger, so that he might be got rid of. One of the earliest shots in action carried off the head of Hampden Pye, who was by no means the reckless youngster we might at first suppose, for a comparison of dates shows him to have been fifty-five years of age at the time.

It was believed in Faringdon that always afterwards, when his mother went out in her carriage, the spectre of her son stood at the door with his head under his arm, handed her in, and took his seat opposite. He grew even more troublesome after her death, but was at last "laid" for a hundred years in a small pond near the house by an eminent divine skilled in dealing with refractory ghosts. "The period," continues Barham, writing in 1832, "lapsed a few years ago, and the people are now very shy of passing the said pond after dark." And now the best part of another century has fled; but in the meanwhile the ghost of Hampden Pye appears to have been quiescent.

But the most famous of the Pyes was that Henry James Pye, born here in 1745, who was descended from Edmund, the younger brother of the unfortunate Hampden, and was not only a typical county gentleman, and sometime a member of Parliament, but became also, in 1790, Poet Laureate. The appointment was one of Pitt's political jobs, and given as a reward for support in Parliament. Pye effected a change in the old-time payment of poets-laureate in kind by the annual gift of a tierce of Canary wine, and accepted an annual £27 instead.
He was, in addition, a police magistrate at Westminster; and was as excellent on the bench as he was execrable in verse. When the office of Poet Laureate comes under discussion, Pye in the eighteenth century, and Alfred Austin in the present era, are inevitably bracketed together, for the purpose of showing to what depths of inanity a Poet Laureate can descend. But both these laurelled bards have been unjustly handled. To deliberately select the inferior versifier of the age and to make him Laureate is of itself a doubtful official service to a man; and then for critics to maliciously pick out his most feeble efforts by which to judge him and hold him up to contempt is cruel. It is something as though we were to appraise Tennyson by the Skipping Rope (which is worse than any of Pye's futilities) and to leave Maud altogether out of account. Pye's idea of poetry was at any rate a part of the habit of thought current at the time, and of the same order of flowery compliment as that of Thomson, who wrote The Seasons: although infinitely inferior in execution. Topographical description, interlarded with generous praise of his country-gentlemen neighbours, whose seats dotted the country he described: that was largely Pye's idea of poetry; and not a vicious, if on the other hand not an inspired, view.
Pye was not a man favoured by fortune. When his father died, he found himself heir indeed to the family estates, but they were encumbered with debts to the amount of £50,000; and soon afterwards the house was burned down. He sold the estates about 1785, from sheer inability to make head against his financial embarrassments; and Faringdon knew the Pyes no more.

But Faringdon Clump, already mentioned, was planted by him before the family connection was thus severed, and still flourishes; while his poetry lies dead and forgotten by the world at large. His other chief work was the pulling down of that Faringdon House which had been besieged by his ancestor, and replacing it by a new residence.

Faringdon Church

The large parish church, with curiously squat central tower, suffered greatly during those warlike operations of 1645-6. The spire, with which the tower was at that time surmounted, was destroyed, as also was the south transept; since rebuilt. Numerous monuments and brasses are to be found in this extensive Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular building. Prominent among these monuments is the fine alabaster altar-tomb of Sir Henry Unton, 1596, in the Unton Chapel. It was placed here by his widow, Dame Dorothy Unton, whose own effigy, in a kneeling attitude, was at the feet of that of her husband, until tactless "restorers" effected a very injudicious separation, and not only took her away from her husband, but out of the Unton Chapel, and placed her in that of the Pyes.
Sir Henry Unton was both a warrior and a diplomat. He had earned his knighthood at the siege of Zutphen, where his kinsman, Sir Philip Sidney, met his death. Afterwards he became Ambassador to France. It was while in Paris that he sent to the young Duke of Guise, who had spoken slightingly of Queen Elizabeth, a bitter challenge to a duel: -

"Forasmuch as in the lodging of Lord Dumayne, and in public elsewhere, impudently and indiscreetly and overboldly, you spoke badly of that Sovereign whose sacred person I in this country represent: to maintain both by word and weapon - her honour (which never was called in question among people of honour and virtue) - I say you have most wickedly lied; and you shall do nothing else than lie whensoever you shall dare to taxe her honour. Moreover, that her sacred person (being one of the most complete and virtuous Princesses that lives in the world) ought not to be evil spoken of by the tongue of such a perfidious Traytor to her Law and Country as you are; and hereupon I do defy and challenge your person to mine with such manner of arms as you shall like or choose, be it on horseback or on foot. Nor would I have you think that there is any inequality between us, I being issued of as great a race and noble house in all respects as yourself. So ... I will maintain my words, and the lie which I have given, and which you should not endure if you have any courage at all in you. If you consent not to meet me hereupon, I will hold you, and cause you to be held, for the errantest coward and most slanderous slave that exists in France. I expect your answer."
The Duc de Guise did not accept this offensive challenge, although thrice repeated.

Built into the exterior east wall of the chancel is an unconventional monument. This is a cannon-ball, underneath which we read that it is "Sacred to the memory of John Buckley, formerly surgeon in His Majesty's Navy, who in an engagement with the French squadron off the coast of Portugal, Aug. 17, 1759, had his leg shot off by the above ball."

In the middle of Faringdon's steeply-descending street, here suddenly growing very narrow, is the old town-hall and market-house, supported on stone pillars, after a pattern familiar throughout Berkshire and other counties, and formerly open on the ground floor. A modern Fire Station now, however, fully occupies one end, and an old-fashioned lock-up, with barred and bolt-studded door, part of the other. On the stone pillar beside that prison door there is still to be seen a fragment of the hand-pillory, or iron wristlet, by which petty offenders were formerly secured until they had purged their offending.


Radcot Lock and Old man's Bridge

Returning now to Radcot Bridge, and the boat which is waiting all this while to convey us on our downward voyage, we pass on to Radcot Lock, a mile down, and under "Old Man's Bridge"; or rather the successor of an old wooden bridge that went by that name, and is now replaced by a smarter, white-painted bridge of like material, of which type there are several others between this and Oxford.


The landscape is here very open: the Berkshire hills situated at some considerable distance off, on the right, while the flat Oxfordshire plain, on the left, is lost in infinity. Here, on the way to Rushey Lock, are many backwaters, so screened by the tall growths of midsummer rushes and by the drooping branches of the willows, now made heavy by fully-grown foliage, and further masked by dense masses of water-lilies, that their existence is scarcely suspected.

Tadpole Bridge

And thus we come to Tadpole Bridge, of which the very best to be said is that it is an eminently useful, and quite inoffensive stone structure of one arch, perhaps nearly a century old. We shall find, proceeding down the Thames, that all too often it is difficult to award even such negative praise as this to the bridges that cross the river.
Here Tadpole Bridge carries an excellent road across to Buckland, two miles on the right, in Berkshire; and two miles to the left, to Bampton, in Oxfordshire.


We will first see what Buckland may be like. It is soon obvious that it occupies a site on the ridge of hills running between Oxford and Faringdon; for its square church-tower presently becomes prominent on the skyline.
Buckland was for many generations, and until the present time of writing, in possession of the Throckmorton family, but now the extravagances of bygone baroneted Throckmortons, and the mortgage-charges they recklessly heaped up, have overtaken the present generation, and Buckland has at last been sold into other hands.
The great church of Buckland, largely Norman and Early English, is neighboured by a modern Roman Catholic church. The old church contains some monuments of these long-descended Throckmortons, and others to their predecessors, the Yate family, among them that of a seventeenth-century baronet and his lady, Sir Edward Yate and Lady Katherine, who would appear, between them, according to their epitaph, to have held all the virtues in fee-simple:

In this black marble that each sex may finde
White and faire presidents to guide the minde,
Men, Women, know, remember
Both liv'd lively examples of conjugal,
Paternal, maternal, and religious vertue.
The Baronet particularly honoured for
Morall, economical and prudential merit.
The ladie reverenced for
Sanctimonious zeal, humble and constant patience,
Abundant charitie, and admirable justice.
Their daughter Elizabeth (who died a mayde,
her parents lyving)
Belovede, admired for
Devoute, chaste, modest and discrete
demeanour and fervent Charitie.
Reader!    Depart!    Imitate!

So the ancient tradition of the "bad Baronet" has its exception here, at any rate. But what shall we say of the lady whose "sanctimonious zeal" is the subject of such confident allusion? Only this: that there are two different meanings to "sanctimonious", and that we must give her the benefit of the best of them. Referring to dictionaries we find that to be sanctimonious is either to be holy, or to be "hypocritically pious or devout", like Shakespeare's "sanctimonious pirate". Unfortunately for the posthumous fame of the doubtless altogether estimable lady, there is but one connotation of that expression nowadays, and it is not the flattering one.
The stately stone eighteenth-century mansion of the Throckmortons, with widespreading wings, ending in pavilions looking more than a thought too airy for this cold climate of ours, was the work of the Woods, to whom much of the architectural dignity of the city of Bath is due.
There are (or we must now say there were) curious relics in this grand house of the Roman Catholic Throckmortons. They included a chemise of that precious "martyr," Mary, Queen of Scots, whom we know from the pages of history to have been one of the most wicked women that ever lived, and who was justly - but belatedly - beheaded; and a gold medal of Charles the First, another "martyr."
Here, too, is, or was, the famous coat made for Sir John Throckmorton in 1811. Curious prints of the making of this celebrated article of attire, brought into being as the subject of a wager, are still sometimes to be met with. The fashioning of it was a hey-presto! kind of business. From the shearing of the sheep, all through the many processes of treating the wool, weaving the cloth, and making the coat, to the wearing of that coat for dinner at Newbury, the total time occupied was but thirteen hours and twenty minutes!


The way to Bampton from Tadpole Bridge is uneventful and unfrequented. This district was long notorious for its entire lack of roads, and we may read in old histories, "There was no stoned road of any kind leading from Bampton to the neighbouring towns and villages, and travellers were in the habit of striking across the common and finding their way to Witney, Burford, Oxford, or any other place as best they could."
From these circumstances Bampton was known as "Bampton-in-the-Bush," and appears of speculative interest; but Bampton-in-the-Bush has long since lost the greater part of its name; and now that the roads in these parts of Oxfordshire are no better and no worse than those to be found elsewhere in this county, and now the scrub-woods and widespreading common-lands that once overspread the locality have given place to flat and uninteresting fields, it is "Bampton" only; and a very dull place at that.
Its church is the principal feature - and a very beautiful and unusual feature - of Bampton. The tall stone spire is visible for miles across the level landscape. It is largely a Transitional-Norman and Early English church, and cruciform, with central tower and north and south transepts. The broach-spire is supported at the angles by graceful flying buttresses, from which rise shafts, each of these four shafts bearing the stone effigy of an apostle. The effect of these figures, standing out boldly against the sky, is very striking and unusual.
In the porch the otherwise unremarkable tablet to Thomas Euston, who died in 1685, proceeds to record the death of "Mary, his only wife," in 1699. No polygamist he, at any rate!
The exceptional size and beauty of Bampton church are greatly due to the peculiar ecclesiastical history of Bampton, which until 1845 rejoiced, or ought to have rejoiced, in the possession of no fewer than three vicars for this one church; and, what is more extraordinary still, these three clergymen had each a vicarage, standing respectively north, south, and east of the church. To complete this holy fence, so to speak around it, on the west side was situated the Deanery, now a farmhouse, where the Deans of Exeter once resided when taking their summer holidays. The origin of this remarkable arrangement is due to Leofric, first Bishop of Exeter, a native of Bampton, who, having endowed the church, presented the living to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter; with the stipulation that all vicars presented must have already served in the diocese of Exeter. The three vicars were styled "Portionists," each taking four months' duty in the year. This curious arrangement came to an end in 1845, when the parish was divided into Bampton, Bampton Aston, and Bampton Lew, each with its vicar, and either of the two newly-constituted parishes, it may be added, with its fearsome would-be Gothic church of that not sufficiently instructed period.


No one ever reads architectural descriptions, and so let it suffice to say that the interior of Bampton church is very well worth seeing; notably for its fine Saxon and Transitional-Norman chancel-arch. The monuments include one with a mutilated stone effigy of George Tompson, dated 1603. It could never have been a good example of the sculptor's art; and time and unsympathetic hands have conspired to reduce it to something the appearance of an almost shapeless log, but the rhymed epitaph, cast in characteristic early seventeenth-century form, has a certain prettiness of imagination:

Heavne hath my sovle in happiest ioye and blisse;
Earthe hath my earthe, whear bodie tomed is.
Poore have my store, for ever to their vse;
Frendes have my name, to keepe withovt abvse.
Heaven, earth, poore, frendes, of me have had their parte,
And this in lief was chefest ioye of harte."



There stands in the flat country between Bampton and Northmoor, amid the level meadows, washed, and not infrequently severely flooded, by the Charney Brook, by the Windrush, and by many mazy rills, the picturesque old mansion, now a farmhouse of a superior residential type, of Cote. It was built in the reign of James the First, between the years 1608 and 1612, by one Thomas Horde, and was originally surrounded by a moat. Alterations, apparently undertaken in 1704, the date of the fine wrought ironwork of the old gates secluding it from the road, abolished the moat; but a squat tower at one end of the grey, many-gabled mansion still discloses the old ideas of defence. It was at one time some twenty feet higher. At that period, when Thomas Horde built his house at Cote, times were, in fact, still unsettled, and one never knew into what dangers one might be drawn. The very year when he began building was the year of the Gunpowder Plot; and when such things could be, a man did well to stand upon the defensive.


Beyond Cote, towards the river, lies Shifford, secluded and rarely visited. The old church of Shifford fell down in 1772, and a new building took its place. This was removed in 1863.
Shifford is traditionally the scene of a Parliament, or Witanagemot, held here by Alfred the Great about A.D. 890:
"There sate at Shifford many thanes, many bishops, and many learned men, wise earls, and awful knights: there was Earl Elfrick, very learned in the law; and Alfred, England's herdsman, England's darling; he was king of England; he taught them that could hear him how they should live."
There still remain, in the meadows by Shifford, traces of earthworks and the stump of an ancient cross, sufficiently proving that this was indeed anciently a place of considerable importance. But commerce with the world of affairs no longer stirs the pulses of Shifford, or the neighbourhood of it, and the Thames steals softly along, between tall palisades, as it were, of rushes, and past the sentinel willows, with only an occasional farmstead in sight; farms where one might almost suppose the farmers to consume their own produce, so remote from all methods of conveying it away do they seem to be.



The willows, pollarded or left to their natural growth, that form, as it were, a continuous guard of honour along many miles of the upper course of the Thames, and overhang with a wild luxuriance its mazy backwaters, are indeed a guard to those banks in more than fanciful phrase. Their tangled roots clutch them in many-fingered embrace and support them in times of flood, and their gnarled and fantastic trunks serve the useful office at such times (when the meadows are under water and resemble inland lakes) of exactly delimiting the course of the stream, where the current runs deep and strong, and dangerous. Willows we always associate with a watery situation, and their habit is indeed better suited to low-lying meadows and to river-courses than to places high and dry. The great demands the willow makes upon water place it in the forefront as a drainer of marshy soil: and thus not only beside the Thames, but along rivers in general, and in the fens and on Sedgemoor, where the energies of hundreds of years past have been directed towards expelling the water, it is a familiar feature of the landscape. We also inevitably associate the willow, and especially that drooping variety, of the pendant boughs and leaves, known as the "weeping willow," with melancholy, and, from Shakespeare to W. S. Gilbert, it is associated with unrequited love. The spot where Ophelia met her death is thus described in Shakespeare:

There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook,
That shows his hoar leaves on the glassy stream."

The expression "hoar leaves" refers to the under side of the willow-leaf, of a whitish or silvery hue, not unlike hoar-frost; prominently seen when a strong wind ruffles the branches.


The love-lorn among the characters in the operas written by Sir W. S. Gilbert plentifully carry on the old tradition, and from Archibald Grosvenor ("The All-Right") and Patience, in the duet "Hey, Willow-waly O!" to Teresa, in The Mountebanks, who sings, "Willow, willow, where's my love?" they frequently apostrophise this tearful tree. Nay, even in the Bab Ballads we read of a troubadour whose refrain was "Willow, willow, o'er the lea," and who maintained it with such pertinacity that it is at last rightly described as "his aggravating willow."
No one can pretend that a freshly-pollarded willow is a beautiful object, as it stands up, naked, by the riverside, shorn of all its branches, and resembling nothing but some rude gigantic club with fist-like, knuckly head, whence those branches have been ruthlessly cut away. Even after two or three seasons, when those branches have been allowed to grow again and to present a more or less mop-like head of foliage, the pollarded willows look whimsically like so many Shockheaded Peters, after the style of the familiar Struwelpeter German toy-book. Not beautiful, and not perhaps ugly, they are the grotesque comedians of the riverside scenery.
The willow is what scientists and arboriculturists might - and possibly do - style an "economic" tree; that is to say, it has commercially useful features. Its bark is an excellent medicine for ague, and useful for tanning, although oak-bark is better. The ancient Britons wove their light boats, their "coracles," from willow-wands, and cricket-bats are now made from its wood. Thus descriptive writers upon cricket-matches, thinking to be picturesque, are frequently found using the vicious phrase "wielders of the willow," when in fact they mean batsmen. Many varieties of coarse baskets are now manufactured from willow branches. Hence the assiduous pollarding of the willow about once every seventh year, in the middle of winter.
Even the familiar osiers of the Thames have some of these economic uses, and the osiers themselves are a variety of willow.

"By the rushy fringéd bank,
Where grows the willow and the osier dank,"

says Milton, illustrating, in his Comus, the almost inevitable companionship of these leafy cousins.

If we wished most strikingly and picturesquely to describe the difference between an osier and a willow, we should say that an osier was a willow without a trunk. The osiers grow in beds, as a dense array of upright rods, and, to the uninitiated, there is but one kind of osier, but experts are said to be able to distinguish three hundred varieties. Experts are wondrous folk. Strange to say, although we associate osiers with watery flats and soggy patches of ground, the "hams," or "holts," as the osier-beds are generally styled, must, if it is desired to grow a good crop, by no means be saturated with water. To successfully form an osier-plantation, the land must be well trenched or otherwise drained of all stagnant or surplus water. Basket-willows refuse to thrive in land that is awash, and they require the sustenance of good manure. Weeds, too, hinder their growth, and they are susceptible to attacks from fly.

All these particulars doubtless come as surprising information to those whose life on the Thames consists merely of rowing, sailing, or camping. If they notice the numerous osier-beds at all, it is only to wonder idly at the dense thickets of tall straight rods they form; and it is but rarely suspected, either that they are carefully planted and tended, or that the crop of rods is both valuable and precarious.

An osier-bed is formed by planting cuttings of some six inches in length. Like cuttings from its big brother, the willow, they strike easily, and soon form vigorous plants. Indeed, in the case of green poles and posts made of willow, many worthy housewives have frequently been astonished at finding the posts they use for hanging out the domestic washing budding lustily and becoming healthy trees.
An osier-rod of one year's growth is ripe for cutting, and cutting proceeds every year, from the established stool: the season's growth being, according to the variety, and to circumstances, anything from ten to fifteen feet.
Osier-growing is a considerable industry, and, with due care and ordinary good fortune, very profitable; for there is not at present a sufficiency grown in England to satisfy the demand, and we thus import largely from France, Belgium, and Holland. But, as shown already, the osier requires to be properly tended, and has its enemies. Prominent among these is the water-rat, whose destructive habits, in gnawing through the base of half-grown rods, are very costly to growers.
The rods are cut in autumn or winter, and are then sorted into four sizes, known as "Luke," "Threepenny," "Middleborough," and "Great." Of these, "Luke" is the smallest. They are done up for sale in "bolts," i.e. bundles, forty inches round.
To prepare osier-rods for basket-weaving, they are stacked upright in shallow trenches filled with water, their butt-ends immersed from six to eight inches; and thus they are left until spring, when, with the rising of the sap, they begin to throw out buds. When April at last is merging into May, the rods have already burst into leaf and begun forming roots. Then is the opening of the rod-strippers' season; for at this juncture the bark is most easily separated from the rods. Rod-stripping is one of the few surviving primitive rustic industries, carried on, according to the mildness, or otherwise, of the spring, in the open air, or in rustic sheds. This is pre-eminently an occupation for women and children, and generally forms a picturesque scene, not remotely unlike a gipsy encampment. The immemorial instrument used in peeling or stripping the rods is a "break," formed of two pieces of iron or steel mounted side by side on a wooden post, about waist-high, somewhat resembling an exaggerated tuning-fork, or a "Jew's harp." The rods are drawn through the springy embraces of this contrivance, which thus cleanly strips away the bark, and leaves the rod a pure white wand. For the protection of more than usually delicate rods from being bruised, the breaks are occasionally faced with india-rubber.
The whereabouts of a busy group of osier-peelers are readily discovered from some little distance, for the operation of drawing the rods through the breaks is accompanied by a sharp metallic "ping"; a chorus of these sounds in several keys carrying a long way across the still meadows. And if not by sound, certainly by sense of smell is the group of busy workers to be located, for the stripped osiers, or rather, the peelings from them, give forth a strongly aromatic and pungent odour.
The peeled rods are then carefully dried and stored away. They form the material for white baskets, or for baskets that are to be dyed. The rods from which yellow or brown baskets are to be made are treated differently, being peeled in hot water, or in steam; this method - known as "peeling buff" - bringing out the juices of the rods and staining the surface, according to the variety of osier, buff, brown, or yellow.

The ancient method of keeping count of the number of bolts stripped by each worker was identical with that employed in the hop-gardens, and is still frequently used. This is by "tally." Computation by tally is one of the most ancient - perhaps the most ancient - means of reckoning known, and preceded the use of arithmetic. It consists of taking a short stick of some soft wood, splitting it into equal halves, and cutting notches along it. This method of keeping count is simplicity itself, and absolutely beyond possibility of fraud or error. The method employed was, and is, to give each worker half of the split tally stick; the other half being kept by the foreman. In osier-stripping, upon a bolt, or bundle, of rods being finished, the foreman takes the worker's half of the tally, and, fitting it to the half he carries, cuts a notch; and so on with each successive bolt. The point is that the notches of these two halves must of necessity agree, or "tally."
The tally system of accounts lasted until a very late period in those most conservative of institutions, Government offices, and it was the accidental flare-up of a great mass of old Exchequer tallies that destroyed the old Houses of Parliament at Westminster, in 1834.

The rushes, too, that grow so luxuriantly beside the waters of the upper Thames have some economic value, and form a very bulky harvest. The usual frequenters of the Thames, who see nothing of the river in spring, autumn, or winter, think of the rushes only as those tall sword-like blades of living green that keep guard along so many miles of meadows; but the Thames in April shows a very different complexion of affairs. Then the rush has merely begun to show its sword-point above the water; and does not attain its full height until June. It is in flower during July and August; and in that last month comes the harvest. It is perhaps rather risky harvesting, and is accomplished from a punt. The rush-cutter comes to his work armed with a reaping-hook fixed to the end of a long pole, so that he is enabled to reach deep down below the surface of the water, where the rushes spring from their roots.
The cut rushes are spread out in the meadows, to dry, for two or three weeks; and, being so largely charged with water, diminish remarkably in the process of drying; a freshly-cut shock of sixty-eight inches' girth shrinking to a bolt of forty inches. A bolt of this size is generally sold for one shilling. Dried rushes are used for making light baskets, and often for thatching; but in olden times one of the principal uses for them was the strewing of floors in the home, for those were the days before the introduction of carpets. The peculiarly sweet scent of the dried rush made it especially welcome for this purpose, and a fresh supply of rushes was thought the right of every new guest. But the rush-strewn floors of those ancient domestic interiors had their own peculiar dangers and nastinesses, if the sweeping and the renewing were not frequent; for the dogs of the household generally lived and slept in the house, and it was the usual practice for guests at table to fling them bones and unappetising pieces of fat, which therefore often lurked unsuspected for the unwary heel among the rushes; often enough only belatedly revealing their presence to the nose.



New Bridge, The Maybush and the Rose Revived

The Oxfordshire side of the river continues as flat as ever, to New Bridge, which, rising greyly from amid the sedges, commands extensive views, less by reason of its own height, which is nothing to speak of, than by the lowness of these level lands. New Bridge, which carries the Abingdon and Witney road across - it is not a greatly-frequented road - is the oldest bridge existing on the river. The traveller who has spent much time in exploring in the highways and byways of England is not surprised at this paradox, and has indeed met with so many Newtowns and Newports, Newmarkets, New Inns, New Colleges, and the like that are demonstrably of a hoary antiquity, and older than most other towns, markets, inns, and colleges, that he really expects a New Bridge to be at least five centuries gone in newness. And this bridge was built c. 1260, by the monks of a neighbouring monastery, which itself has wholly disappeared, while their old pont remains as sturdy as ever.


It is a queer, seven-arched building, just as Leland wrote of it in the time of Henry the Eighth,
"lying in low meadows, often overflowed with rage of rain."
At the Berkshire end is the "Maybush" inn, and on the Oxfordshire side is the "Rose", in friendly rivalry; but where the trade comes from, in this lonely situation, to keep them both going, is a mystery. The customers can be but few, but what magnificent thirsts they must possess!

The River Windrush

At New Bridge the river Windrush falls into the Thames, from its source in the Cotswolds, thirty miles away, after passing through Witney, and by some very beautiful scenes. It is the "nitrous Windrush" of Drayton's verse: those supposed nitric qualities of its waters having originally led to the establishment of Witney's blanket-making industry.


That the flat, low-lying lands here were in former times under water seems sufficiently evident in the name of Standlake, a village a mile-and-a-half distant from New Bridge. A British village, discovered in 1857, near by, may have been one of those lake-villages in which, for security, our remote ancestors dwelt. The church of Standlake has a quaint semi-detached octangular tower, crowned with a spire.

Gaunt's House

[ North of Standlake Road between Standlake & Northmoor]

There are some curious and interesting places to be found in these flat, unfrequented lands. Proceeding towards Northmoor, ever and again crossing tributary rills of the Windrush, the moated manor-house, now a farm, of "Gaunt's House" lies secluded amid meadows. It takes its name from one John Gaunt, who originally built it about 1440, but there is nothing nearly so old here to-day. The place has its own little niche in history, for in the seventeenth century, at the outbreak of the Civil War, it was the property of that Dr. Samuel Fell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, who was the subject of the famous undergraduate rhyme -

The reason why I cannot tell,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

The Doctor was a Royalist, and his moated house here was held for that side in 1644. After a stubborn defence by its garrison of fifty men, who kept a besieging force of eight hundred at bay for three days, it surrendered on May 31, 1645. The house, greatly injured in this warlike passage, was rebuilt in 1669 by Dr. John Fell, who also was Dean of Christ Church. It is not a picturesque house, and seems to have been greatly modernised about the beginning of the nineteenth century. The woodwork of one of the doors is, however, curiously pierced, as though for musketry defence.
But, although the house itself is commonplace, the broad moat, brimming full of water, is beautiful, and in summer-time is so covered with waterlilies that the water itself is not to be seen. Let those who think this the language of exaggeration go and see for themselves.
An old bridge, replacing a former drawbridge, gives access to the house, through two tall gateposts surmounted by worn stone heraldic effigies, blunted by time out of all recognisable likeness; not only to anything in nature, but even to anything in heraldry. Here, serving to keep the wooden gateway open, is an iron cannon-ball found in the moat, which, according to an inscription on the wall, was cleared in 1883.



Northmoor village, near at hand, has an interesting church of the Early English period, and a charming and unspoiled Jacobean mansion adjoining, which has the appearance of never having been altered since the first building of it.
Oddly placed by the road between mansion and church, is a delightful old timbered pigeon-house, which seems to be contemporary with the old residence.
At the west end of the church a quaintly balustered bell-loft bears the following inscription, obviously considered (by those who inscribed it) to be poetry:

Richard Lydall: Gave a new Bell,
And Built This Bell Loft Free:
And Then He Said: Before He Dyed,
Let Ringers Pray For Me. 1701.

Which was very wrong of him, a Protestant, living under the reformed religion.

The inner sides of the aisle-window splays here at Northmoor exhibit that peculiarity already noticed in several churches of the upper Thames Valley: a more or less decorative treatment of the inner arch. Here the special treatment is confined to a corbelling-out of the archway; but this is effected in a quaint manner: the corbel on one side being provided with a kind of vaulting-shaft. Here, as elsewhere along, or near, the course of the Thames, the strong influence of the river upon the imagination and work of the old architectural sculptors is distinctly to be noted: the capitals of the shafts being carved with representations of aquatic plants.

Stanton Harcourt

But the chief attraction, in all these parts adjacent, is of course the village of Stanton Harcourt, and that it is so, you who penetrate to it, along the level roads, cannot fail easily to perceive, if not by evidence of many sightseers making for it, then, at any rate, in the numerous notices displayed offering accommodation for tea-parties. Stanton Harcourt is beautiful, alike in its old-world rustic village of thatched, unpretending cottages, screened by noble elms from rude blasts, and in the romantic and unusual group formed by the ancient church-tower and the towers of the old manor-house. Approaching, it is as though the church had two towers, for the chief one of the manor-house is very like its ecclesiastical neighbour.
Stanton Harcourt must have derived the first part of its name from some stone road, but the road is obscure, and an absurd local legend, almost too childishly-ridiculous to be repeated, tells us that it arose from the brave deeds of a former Harcourt, who, in that conveniently vague period, "ages ago," was fighting desperately in some unnamed battle, and was enjoined by his chief to fight on.
"Stand to un, Harcourt," he exclaimed;
and Harcourt feats of arms in "standing to un" accordingly won the day. A curious thing may be noted: that the stones called the "Devil's Quoits," near the village, are themselves thought to be relics of a battle fought in A.D. 614, between the Saxons and the British; long before there were any Harcourts in the land.


The Harcourts first came into possession of Stanton over seven hundred years ago. It was in 1125 that the second Queen of Henry the First gave the property to one Millicent de Camville, whose daughter married Richard de Harcourt, thus the first of a long line of that family, which really ended with the mother of Edward Vernon, who assumed his mother's maiden name, and died in 1847, as Archbishop of York. The later and present Harcourts are therefore really Vernons.
The ancient and beautiful manor-house of Stanton Harcourt, a group of buildings forming a quadrangle, was built about the middle of the fifteenth century, with a rebuilt gatehouse tower of a century later, the work of a Simon Harcourt of that period. The house was occupied until 1688; and then, with the death of Sir Philip Harcourt, it fell upon evil times, for his widow deserted the place. Nuneham Courtney, which, in the course of these pages, we shall visit, below Oxford, had been purchased in 1710 by a later Simon Harcourt, and to it the family seat was removed, and the manor-house at Stanton allowed still further to fall into decay. Seventy years later the buildings, by that time mostly ruinous, were demolished, with the exception of the gatehouse, one of the towers of the mansion, and the curious and interesting ancient kitchen, which has only one fellow to it in England: the well-known and remarkable Abbot's Kitchen at Glastonbury.
This Stanton Harcourt kitchen, standing now beside quiet lawns, and overgrown with creepers and ivy, has long lost any association with cookery, and looks particularly ecclesiastical, except perhaps for the rampant griffin, holding a vane, which crowns the tall pyramidal tiled roof, and wears rather a devilish expression. He is a formidable griffin, too, measuring eight feet high.


To properly impress the reader, or the beholder, with this kitchen, it is necessary to give its dimensions. It has a total height of seventy-two feet, made up of thirty-nine feet of the wall, twenty-five feet roof, and the eight feet, as aforesaid, of that banner-bearing monster.
There are no chimneys. The fires were made against the walls, which are three feet thick; the smoke from them escaping through wooden louvres, or shutters, above. According to the direction from which the wind blew, these louvres were shut to on one or other of the four sides. The mechanical ingenuity of the age was at a low level, and was not able to contrive means by which these ventilators could be opened or shut from within; so we find a turret staircase leading up to the roof, around which runs an open-air passage for access to the louvres.

Alexander Pope, residing in the neighbouring old tower during three summers, "translating" Horace, and writing fantastic letters in the meanwhile to his friend, the Duke of Buckingham, exercised his fancy on this kitchen, and found it to resemble the forge of Vulcan, the cave of Polyphemus, and the Temple of Moloch:
"The horror of it has made such an impression upon the country people that they believe the witches keep their Sabbath here, and that once a year the Devil treats them with infernal venison, viz. a toasted tiger, stuffed with tenpenny nails."
But all, according to him, was decrepit at Stanton Harcourt: -
"Its very rats are grey. I pray the roof may not fall upon them, as they are too infirm to seek other lodgings."
It is the nature of rats to be grey; but we need not seek to deprive Pope of his point. The place was haunted, too, by the ghost of one "Lady Frances," and we hear
"some prying maids of the family report that they have seen a lady in a fardingale through the keyhole; but the matter is hushed up, and the servants are forbidden to talk of it."

"Pope's Tower" is in three floors. On the ground-floor is the domestic chapel, roofed in fan-vaulting. You enter it by an ante-chapel with a wooden ceiling in blue, spangled with gilt stars: a gorgeous, but tarnished firmament. The upper room, known as "Pope's Study," was occupied by him during two hard-working summers, and he celebrated the completion of his task by inscribing on a pane of red glass in one of the windows, "In the year 1718 Alexander Pope finished here the fifth volume of Homer." The glass has been removed, and is now at Nuneham.
I have already placed the word "translating" in quotation-marks, to indicate the fact that Pope's claim to have rendered Homer's Iliad from the Greek into English verse was a mere pretence. He was no Greek scholar, and fobbed off upon his publisher and upon confiding subscribers his metrical version of translations by more scholarly persons. He grew rich upon the fraud, and still enjoys a reputation among the uncritical for a classical learning he did not possess.
The church, standing close at hand, has a central tower, of which the lower stage is clearly seen to be Early English. On this an upper stage has been reared. The junction of the two is prominently marked by the upper stage being boldly set back; producing a striking sense of massiveness.


The chancel-screen, west of the crossing of north and south transepts, is of exceptional interest, as perhaps the earliest such screen remaining in this country unaltered. The hinges and the lock and bolt of the door are in perfect order, and as good as ever they were, although now nearly seven hundred years old. The screen is of the Early English period, simple and pure in its every detail. A little more care for this relic would have resulted in the organ and the choristers' seats being placed at less close quarters. The lock of the door is original, and so are the several curiously-patterned holes pierced through the lower part of the screen.
The altar-tomb in the north wall of the chancel, said to be that of Isabel de Camville, is very short, and its architectural details are of a hundred years' later date than her death, leading to the supposition that this is rather an Easter sepulchre than a tomb. The sculptured emblems of the Passion support this view. On the south side is the tomb, with effigy, of Maud, daughter of Lord Grey, of Rotherfield Greys. She died, wife of Sir Thomas Harcourt, 1394. In the Harcourt Chapel, locked, and the key kept at Nuneham, many of that family lie; prominent among them Sir Robert Harcourt, and Margaret his wife, 1471; both effigies wearing the order of the Garter, the lady represented with it above the elbow of her left arm. She is one of the three dames known to be so decorated in monumental effigy: the others being the Duchess of Suffolk, at Ewelme, and Margaret Camoys, at Trotton, Sussex. There were some sixty ladies admitted to the Order between 1376 and 1488: the last of them the Lady Margaret Tudor, mother of Henry the Seventh. Since that time, the only women Companions have been reigning Sovereigns or Queens-consort.
Here, among the Harcourts, is an altar-tomb to that Archbishop of York who was not, as already shown, really a Harcourt, but a Vernon; and a life-sized marble effigy of William, third Earl Harcourt, Field-Marshal, and G.C.B., who died 1830.

On the south side of the church an unassuming tablet records the tragic fate which befel

John Hewet and Sarah Drew,
an industrious young man and
virtuous maiden of this parish,
contracted in marriage,
who, being with many others at harvest,
were both in one moment killed
by lightning, on the last day of July,

Beneath are some lines written by Pope:

Think not by rigorous judgment seized,
A pair so faithful could expire;
Victims so pure Heaven saw, well-pleas'd,
And snatch'd them in celestial fire.

Live well, and fear no sudden fate;
When God calls virtue to the grave,
Alike, 'tis justice, soon or late,
Mercy alike to kill or save.

Virtue unmov'd can hear the call,
And face the flash that melts the ball."

[ See ]


The Berkshire side of the river, from New Bridge downwards, now demands some notice. There, instead of the unbroken flatness that continues through Oxfordshire as far as the city of Oxford itself, you have a lofty ridge more or less closely continuing to follow the course of the stream. A fine highway runs along the ridge, with pleasant and interesting villages upon, or near it. There may be found Longworth, and Appleton; and there, too, Besselsleigh.


We can scarcely call Besselsleigh retired, for it stands directly upon this fine, broad, and well-frequented road that leads out of Oxford, on to Faringdon and only students of maps know what many towns further west. The motors come swishing along it at some very fine turns of speed, for there is none to say them nay. Such travellers never notice Besselsleigh, for the modern mansion stands well hidden within its park, and of the old house that once almost fronted the high road there is absolutely nothing left but two of the stone entrance gateposts, and those in a more or less wrecked condition. Those travellers may indeed notice the church, but even that is doubtful, for it is a very little and a very humble church, and although its little churchyard gives upon the road, it is so enshrouded by large trees and small trees that its very existence may not be suspected by quick-moving traffic.
The trees here are indeed noble, and form a splendid aisle of living green: elms, oaks, and Scotch pines intermingled. The church, rather barn-like, has an Early English double bell-cote at its west end. Of the Besils who gave this place its name in 1350 history has but a moderate amount to say. They married the estate, so to speak, with an heiress, last of the family that had hitherto held it; and in the course of time it passed from them in like manner: the heiress-general of the Besils marrying a Fettiplace. And nowadays for even a Fettiplace one may seek in vain, for that family, once so numerously spread over Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Gloucestershire, is itself extinct. But Besselsleigh did not pass from them in that accustomed manner, for they sold it to the Lenthalls in 1634, and it is still held by the same race.
"At this Legh," says Leland, "be very fayre pastures and woodes; the Blessels hathe been lords of it syns the time of Edward the First. The Blessels cam out of Provence in Fraunce, and were men of activitye in feates of armes, as it appearith in the monuments at Legh; how he faught in lystes with a strange knyghte that challengd hym, at the whiche deade the kynge and quene at that tyme of England were present. The Blessels were countyed to have pocessyons of four hundred marks by the yere."

Sir Peter Besils seems to have been the worthiest member of this family, for he not only gave freely of stone to the building of Burford Bridge at Abingdon, and of Culham Bridge, close by, but left £600 by his will of 1424 for the purpose of making amends for any wrong he or his ancestors may have done any man. If his executors did not spend that sum in this manner, presumably because they could find no aggrieved persons, then they were to construct roads with it.
Mr. Speaker Lenthall, to whom Besselsleigh was sold in 1630, repaired the little church, and here later members of that family are buried. But none of them have attained to the fame of Mr. Speaker, who died in 1662, and lies buried in Burford church. He was a long-headed and tactful man, and, as such, one well calculated to hold his own in troubled and uncertain times, by care not to give offence to either of the contending parties. He was member of Parliament for Woodstock, and was elected Speaker in the Long Parliament.
King Charles, at that critical moment in parliamentary history when his Majesty went down to the House in person, for the purpose of arresting the five members who had courageously withstood his will, asked Lenthall if he saw any of these five present, and he replied, with marvellous resourcefulness at so strained a juncture: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here; and humbly beg your Majesty's pardon that I cannot give any other answer than this to what your Majesty is pleased to demand of me." Lenthall was one of the few prominent men of that time who were able to enrich themselves. While most were ruined in those long-drawn troubles, he snatched profits out of them, became extensively rich, and died owner of many manors. These are the goodly rewards of a moderator; but history gives no favourable verdict upon such.



One comes more readily to Cumnor by road, but more picturesquely by river, from Bablockhythe, whence a byway leads steeply up to that famous place. Cumnor is indeed of such fame that, although one must needs allow it to be a hill-top - certainly not a valley - village, yet to omit it from these pages would surely be unpardonable. At Bablockhythe remains the last of the old river ferries, capable of taking a wheeled conveyance across; and capable, too, of giving an unwary oarsman or punter a very nasty check with its rope, permanently stretched athwart the stream.
There is some very noble, still, quiet scenery at, and just above and below, Bablockhythe, where the water runs with a deep and silent stealthiness, and the bushy poplars and pendant weeping willows are reflected with such startling faithfulness that the reflection in the water beneath looks more solid - much more real - than the foliage above. It is an imageion of the weirdest kind.
In one or other of the quiet backwaters between this and Oxford there may be found, by those who care to seek, the curious aquatic plant known as the "water-soldier." Botanists of course know it by another, and a horrific, name: to them it is "stratiotes aloides." But to those few rustic folk who know at all of its existence - and it is not a common affair - it is the "water-soldier." It does not, however, convey any military impression to the ordinary beholder, being just a plumed bunch of leaves which in summer-time is found floating on the surface; coming up from its autumn, winter, and spring home below, in the river-mud, and growing long suckers, resembling strawberry runners, each of them with a youthful "soldier" - or recruit, shall we say - at its end. These form leaves, and each one produces a white flower. When these flowers fade the "water-soldier" and its outposts of young sink again to the river-bed, and there rest until summer comes again, when the process is repeated.

But what of Cumnor? It looks boldly down upon the Thames Valley from a conspicuous wooded ridge. It is a village picturesque alike in itself and in its romantic history, traditions, and legends. Figure to yourself a place of scattered rustic cottages, not yet touched to commonplace by that shrinkage of distances caused by the rapidity and frequency of modern methods of travel which have brought expansions, rebuilding, and general modernisings in their train; with an ancient and stately church rustically overhung with trees quite in the old Birket Foster and first-half-of-the-nineteenth-century convention. That is Cumnor to-day.


In Domesday Book the place appears as "Comenore," but we hear of it in Anglo-Saxon times as "Colmonora"; and it is supposed to have obtained the first part of its name from one St. Colman, or Cuman, a seventh-century Gaelic saint. The termination, "ora," doubtless refers to the shores of the Thames; not, however, nearer than a mile and a half, and at a considerably lower level.
Cumnor had, apparently, an early church, replaced by the existing fine Transitional Norman and Early English cruciform building, not yet ravaged by the "restorer." Cumnor Place, built about 1350, as a sanatorium for Abingdon monastery, after the fearful experiences of the "Black Death" pestilence, stood very closely adjoining the picturesque churchyard, on its south side, and, after several changes of owners, and at last sunk to the condition of a roofless ruin, was finally demolished in 1811, and its stones used in the rebuilding of the church at Wytham.
There is much of interest belonging to Cumnor church, from the battered old altar-tomb in the churchyard, with barely legible inscription, to Lieutenant William Godfrey, "who faithfully served King Charles ye I. from Edgehill Fight to ye end of ye unhappy wars," down to the curious epitaph on the exterior east wall, upon "Christian, the wife of Henry Hutt":

Could exemplary Worth, or Virtue Save
One happier Woman had escap'd the Grave.
From every Vice, and female Error free,
She was in fact, what Woman ought to be.
Envy'd no Queens, but pitied all their Cares,
Expecting Crowns less troublesome than theirs.

This paragon of virtue, worth, and contentment with her station in life died in 1740, aged 31.

A real startler awaits the stranger who enters unsuspectingly into Cumnor church. This is none other than a singularly vivid likeness of Queen Elizabeth, done in stone and standing on a pedestal in the north aisle. The pale effigy, standing there in the subdued light of the church, is calculated to stir the nerves of the most stolid. The statue, a singularly fine one, represents the Queen in the costume of the period, made familiar in many statues and paintings. She is standing, and holds the orb and sceptre, symbols of sovereignty. This work of art has a history of some curious interest. It was originally set up in the grounds of Cumnor Place by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in honour of his great patroness. Perhaps it is due to this origin that the statue represents the Queen so pleasingly. Zucchero, in his painting of her, and the many other sculptors who plied their chisels on this inspiring theme, never produced anything to vie with this in combined charm and dignity. Elsewhere you perceive "great Eliza" - in spite of courtly efforts to idealise her - rendered not a little uncouthly. Majesty, with more than a dash of vinegar, and plain evidences of the termagant, are characteristics of the most of Queen Elizabeth's portraits in marble, stone, and paint; but here she is rendered in terms of grace.


Upon the decay of Cumnor Place the statue was removed to Dean Court, and thence to a height above the village of Ferry Hinksey, in 1779. From that solitude it was taken to Wytham Abbey, and eventually forgotten; being found, broken to pieces, in an out-house. It was finally removed, restored, and placed here, in Cumnor Church, in 1888, on a pedestal detailing these circumstances.
An unusual, and welcome, feature of this church is the series of engravings, reproductions of seventeenth-century correspondence, and notes upon the history of the village, for the information of the cultured visitor. Here you may read something of the grim associations of the vanished Cumnor Place, and learn, in a chronological table drawn up by the vicar, to what tune the centuries have jogged along in this rural parish. That chronology ends with this remarkable thought, this astonishing intellectual effort:
"1893. The Future is not yet!"
It never is.
Brasses, now placed upon the walls, commemorate the virtues and the benefactions of various persons, including "Katherin, sometyme the wyffe of Henry Staverton, who dyed a good Christian the xxvth day of December in ye yere of our lorde God, 1557." It is perhaps even more important to have lived a good Christian; but, apart from such counsel of perfection, the inscription is a significant change from those piteous pre-Reformation invocations for mercy, and appeals for prayers, that were the commonplaces of all monumental inscriptions only a few years earlier.
James Welsh, who died in 1612, and Margery, who departed three years later, each leaving £5 in charity, are celebrated in verse, beginning:

"The body of James Welsh lyeth buryed here,
Who left this mortall life at fourscore yeare."

In the south transept, dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury, lie two Abbots of Abingdon, one of them probably William de Comenore, who died in 1333. Latest of all the monuments here is that of Sir William Wilson Hunter, an Indian official, who died in 1900, aged 59.
But the chief interest centres in the fine canopied tomb of grey marble, on the north side of the chancel, to Anthony Forster and his wife: Forster, that "Tony Fire-the-Faggot" of Sir Walter Scott's unhistorical "historical" romance of Kenilworth, in which he is held up to execration as a villain of the most varied villanies; a time-server and hypocrite: "Here you, Tony Fire-the-Faggot, papist, puritan, hypocrite, miser, profligate, devil, compounded of all men's sins, bow down and reverence him who has brought into thy house the very mammon thou worshippest."
This horrid portraiture of the man is an overdrawn picture. No need to paint the devil blacker than he really is; and although the evidence available tends to attach the stigma of "murderer" to him, it does not by any means follow that he practised all the meannesses and petty vices with which he is charged.
On the other hand, those whitewashers of smirched reputations who have long been so actively and unprofitably employed in cleansing historical characters under a cloud, have overstepped the mark in loudly declaring their belief in his innocence of all charges brought against him.
The name of Anthony Forster, in fiction and in fact, is closely connected with the famous tragedy of Cumnor Place and Amy Robsart, which still, after three hundred and fifty years, exercises the minds of historians, and arouses controversies; and seems likely ever to do so.

We have already referred to the house as a grange belonging to the Abbots of Abingdon. It came into the private possession of Thomas Pentecost, alias Rowland, the last of them, by deed of gift from Henry the Eighth in 1538. The Abbot, in consideration of his having peaceably and willingly surrendered the Abbey and all its belongings to the King, was given Cumnor Place for his life; but as he died the following year, he derived little benefit from the compact. Seven years later, October 8th, 1546, the King conferred Cumnor Place, with the manor of Cumnor, and greater tithes, upon his physician, George Owen, in consideration of some lands at Oxford, including the site of Rewley Abbey; and a cash payment of £310 12s. 9d. William Owen, son of this George, married in 1558 one of the Fettiplace family, his father then settling upon him the Cumnor property. William Owen, however, elected to live elsewhere, and let Cumnor Place to Anthony Forster.
Who, then, was this Anthony Forster? He was the friend and factor of a very great man in those times: a man by no means great from force of character, but from sheer opportunism, good luck, and the favour of a comely person: none other, indeed, than Lord Robert Dudley, later to become, by the ennobling hands of Queen Elizabeth, Earl of Leicester. Around the reputation of Dudley there lurk too many sinister stories for us to lightly dismiss any charge brought against him or his agents. He was suspected of having put many persons away by the means of poison: a method very fashionable in that age of the Renaissance and widespread neo-pagan culture; and that he was an ambitious man to whose ambition no bounds of prudence or conscience were set is generally acknowledged by historians. He was by no means alone in this, but was typical of his age, an age great in refinements, culture, and wealth; great in arms, and no less notable in its tortuous policies, national and domestic; and in its lies and manifold duplicities.



The early prospects of Lord Robert Dudley, as third son of the Duke of Northumberland, were perhaps not particularly brilliant, and as a young man of eighteen or nineteen years he had in 1550 married Amy, daughter and heiress of Sir John Robsart, of Stanfield Hall, Norfolk. That was in the reign of Edward the Sixth, the young King himself being present at the wedding. There is no reason against the assumption that this was a love-match; but there is every reason to assume that in after-years, when his ambitions were kindled, it was bitterly regretted by Dudley, who, in the changes that had befallen with the successive deaths of Edward the Sixth and of Queen Mary, and with the accession of Queen Elizabeth, had become not only a courtier, but a royal favourite, looked upon with amorous glances by that great Queen herself, whose subtle character has defied the analysis of historians. Queen Elizabeth's lovers, looked upon with favour, were not few, but Dudley was pre-eminent among them, and presumed, and was allowed to presume, more than any others. The Queen continually enriched him with grants of land and with the monopoly of the export of wool and other commodities, until he became extraordinarily wealthy, and able to maintain a magnificence remarkable even for that period. The loves of Dudley and his Queen afforded gossip for not only the Court, but for the nation at large, and a forthcoming marriage was looked upon as so sure a thing that the Spanish Ambassador found it possible to write home to his sovereign, referring to Dudley as "the King that is to be." And all this while, we are to bear in mind, Dudley's wife, Lady Robert Dudley (the "Amy Robsart" of the looming tragedy) was alive! What was that meek woman doing while such well-founded gossip was heard in every corner of the land? She was travelling and visiting in many different parts of the country, and doing so in considerable state.
Among the relics of her to be seen, framed on the walls of Cumnor Church, is the facsimile of a letter from her to her husband, dated 1557, displaying nothing but perfect confidence and trust, which she might do, well enough, and yet find her trust misplaced. Or, possibly, those letters were cast in a conventional form, and hid a breaking heart.
But, although Dudley and his wife had for some years lived apart, and although he was notoriously a false and faithless man, whose varied gallantries were the talk of the time, there was not yet, in 1557, any question of getting rid of her, and no great and dazzling ambition made him or his agents contemplate a crime. Queen Mary yet ruled and it was not until the following year that she died, and was succeeded by her sister, Elizabeth. No sooner, however, did Elizabeth become Queen than Dudley appeared as the most favoured courtier. That he was to become King-Consort none doubted, and it is singular to consider that, in all the records of that time, the fact of his being already married appeared to offer no bar to that contemplated union. Continuously, from the Queen's accession, these circumstantial rumours spread, and it is beyond the bounds of credibility that Lady Dudley should not have been made perfectly well acquainted with them in the course of the two years in which they were current. Lady Dudley - why historians and others continue to write of her after her marriage by her maiden name of Amy Robsart is not clear - had been accustomed to visit a Mr. Hyde, a kinsman of Dudley's, at Denchworth, near Abingdon; and it does not, therefore, appear extraordinary that when Anthony Forster, her husband's steward, took Cumnor Place on lease, in 1559, she should elect to visit there: the more especially so if there were any truth in the rumour that she was ill at that time, for Cumnor, as we have already seen, was supposed to be a particularly healthy spot.
But it is by no means so sure that she was at all unwell. It is one of the most damning evidences of foul play in this famous case that rumours were current for some time before the murder, or the accident, whichever it was, to the effect that she was suffering from cancer and was sure to die shortly, and that this gossip was contradicted at the time. Among those who gave the lie to it was the Spanish Ambassador, writing to the Duchess of Parma. "They," he said, "are thinking of destroying Lord Robert's wife." Who "they" were we can only conjecture. "They have given out that she is ill; but she is not ill at all; she is very well, and is taking care not to be poisoned."
Is it at all reconcilable with the theory of accident that a person whose continued existence stood in the way of so ambitious a man as Dudley, and of whom it was so freely said that she was dying, when she was known to be well, and whose life was said to be in danger from violence or poison, should in fact meet her end so immediately and mysteriously? No modern coroner's jury would return a verdict of accidental death under such suspicious circumstances.

What are the known facts? Lady Dudley was residing at Cumnor Place in September 1560, and the extraordinary cloud of suggestions, innuendoes, and suspicions current everywhere must have reached her ears. She must have been superhuman not to have been miserably affected by these doings of her husband, who, at the time when the tragedy happened, was with the Queen at Windsor; and she was, as we have seen suggested, probably in fear of being secretly poisoned. On Sunday, September 8th, the day of Abingdon Fair, her servants all went to Abingdon, by her express desire, according to one account. But, at any rate, they did all go, leaving in the house alone, it would seem, Lady Dudley, Mrs. Hyde, and Mrs. Odingsell, Mr. Hyde's sister. The three ladies were that evening playing a game popular at that time, known as "tables," when suddenly Lady Dudley arose and left the room, being almost immediately afterwards found dead at the foot of a staircase by the servants returning from the Fair; having apparently fallen and broken her neck.
Where was Forster at this time? The records are silent, and do not tell of any man about the place. The views of Dudley himself and his dependents were that the affair was purely an accident. Alternatively, it was suggested by some that it was suicide.
But Dudley's conduct on receipt of vague news of tragedy at Cumnor was suspicious. It would be supposed that the first act of an innocent man would be to hurry off from Windsor to the scene of this happening, to learn at first hand what had befallen his wife; but Dudley was content to send Sir Thomas Blount, a confidential gentleman in his train, to ride over and make inquiries. On the way Blount met a messenger from Cumnor, proceeding to Windsor with the detailed news. Next day, at Cumnor, Blount, examining the lady's maid, extracted from her the admission that Lady Dudley had been frequently heard to pray for delivery from desperation. He eagerly seized upon this as indicating suicide, but the maid immediately checked him with, "No, good Mr. Blount, do not so judge of my words. If you should so gather, I should be sorry I said so much."
What "desperation" might mean is uncertain: it is a strange choice of a word; but it has been thought that the unhappy woman, knowing she was in danger of being murdered, thus prayed to be protected from the desperate resolves against her life.
Blount, writing to Dudley, acquainted him with the feelings of the neighbourhood about the affair, by which it is sufficiently evident that this happening was already regarded as a serious thing for Dudley. To this Dudley replied, directing that the strictest inquiry should be made; that an inquest should be held immediately, and "the discreetest and most substantial men should be chosen for the jury." But surely, the question of an inquest and the choice of a jury were the affairs of others than himself, and an inquest would have been held in any case, whether he liked it or not; and so his directions to that end are mere unmeaning words. He further begged of Blount "as he loved him and desired his quietness, to use all devices and means for learning of the truth without respect to living persons"; and especially desired him not to dissemble, but to tell him, faithfully, "whether it happened by evil chance, or villainy."
He was evidently seriously alarmed for himself; but we look in vain for any expression of sorrow at his wife's lamentable end. All he was concerned with was "the talk which the wicked world will use": talk for which his own conduct for long past had given the fullest occasion.

Blount had halted at Abingdon on his journey, and only reached Cumnor on September 11th. Already, as might have been supposed, the coroner had summoned his jury. They were, in Blount's opinion, "as wise and able men, being but countrymen, as ever I saw." They deliberated long and searchingly, and Blount wrote again, on the 13th, that they were very active; "whether equity is the cause, or malice [i.e. suspicion, let us note] against Forster, I know not." He further said that they were very secret, but he could not hear that they had found any presumption of evil. He thought, however, they would be sorry (these wise and able men - for countrymen) if they failed. Obviously Blount had been trying to pump the jury as to their finding. Dudley himself, writing to Blount, said the foreman of the jury had communicated with him to the effect that although the inquiry was not yet concluded, for anything they could learn to the contrary, it was a very misfortune. So Dudley himself had been trafficking with the jury, a thing that would in modern times afford very strong presumption of guilt.
If we put faith in Dudley's own protestations, we must, however, find him innocent. Yet is it possible to have this faith?
After hearing to that effect from the foreman he wrote to Blount, saying that after the jury had rendered their verdict, he could only wish there would be a second inquiry. He wished Arthur Robsart, the dead woman's brother, and Appleyard, her half-brother, to be present. Never at any time, in all these scenes, was Dudley himself present. It is uncertain whether a second jury was summoned, or whether the sittings of the first were extended; but it is certain that an inquiry was still in progress on September 27th, and that this resulted at last in a verdict of accidental death.

But the affair cast an indelible stain upon Dudley's reputation, and although the question of his marrying the Queen was not dropped, and was ardently debated from time to time, his wife, being dead, proved a more insuperable obstacle than she had been while living. The dark suspicions, if not of his actual complicity, at least of Forster's having contrived the tragedy in his master's supposed interest, would not be allayed. Everywhere mutterings were heard, and the Queen did not dare marry one under such a cloud.
Lady Dudley was buried in great state in the church of St. Mary, Oxford, and even there the grisly accusation of assassination came up, in Dr. Babington, the preacher, chaplain to Dudley himself, thrice making a slip of the tongue; desiring the prayers of the congregation for the lady "so pitifully murdered," instead of "slain." This incident serves sufficiently to show what was in men's minds.
In 1566, seven years after the tragedy, Appleyard was brought before the Privy Council for having declared that he had not been satisfied with the jury's verdict, but for Dudley's sake had covered the murder of his sister. He was intimidated, and fully apologised, for Dudley had become all-powerful; and he was made to explain his words as "malice," and to beg pardon for them; but an apology extracted by such means does not carry great weight. Years afterwards Cecil could find it possible to say that Dudley was "infamed by his wife's death," and so infamed he still remains, whether we find it by direct participation or by the deeds of his too-subservient agents.
We must here come to the conclusion that Dudley was not himself guilty; but that Forster certainly was. That conclusion can, indeed, hardly be avoided. The country side thought so, and it is not sufficient for apologists to point to his gentility and his culture, and to exclaim that such an one would be incapable of such a crime. Whenever did honourable descent or cultivated tastes prevent a man from bearing a villain's part? The view that because Forster was a gentleman, and interested in the arts, he was incapable of crime is the conventional view of people who are not satisfied that a villain is a villain unless he wears a scowl and other distinguishing signs.
It has been remarked that Forster would not in after-years have been chosen Member of Parliament for Abingdon and would not have been given University and other honours if he had been what suspicion made him. But would he not? Dudley could have procured all these things, and more, for his faithful man, even as he was in a position to secure most things for himself.

The year following the tragedy of Cumnor Place, Forster purchased the freehold of it; Owen probably being unwilling any longer to hold a house with such dark associations. And here he lived the remainder of his life, dying in 1572. In those twelve years he almost wholly rebuilt Cumnor Place, which he left by will to Dudley, who had, in the meanwhile, become Earl of Leicester. If the Earl accepted this gift, he was to pay £1,200 to Forster's heirs.
The Earl did accept, but sold the property soon after. It is not to be supposed that he would care to be any longer associated with the ill-omened place. By this sale Cumnor passed to the Norris family, ancestors of the Earls of Abingdon, who still own it.
The entry of Forster's funeral at Cumnor is to the effect that "A. F., gentleman," was buried on November 10th; and it has been thought curious that the word "gentleman" takes the place of some other word first written and then erased: whether the first was uncomplimentary, or merely the Latin word miles, as sometimes suggested, is now of course beyond the wit of man to discover.
Those who visit Cumnor with this pitiful story in their recollection, and are disappointed at finding Cumnor Place no longer in existence, will find in the Purbeck marble monument to Forster an interesting relic, bringing them into touch with these long-vanished personages; but they will find no support of the charges brought against him. Nor could such support be in any way expected; but in the long Latin eulogistic verses engraved in brass under the brass effigies of himself, his wife, and their three children, we find him credited with an astonishing variety of virtues and accomplishments. He was, it seems, distinguished for his skill in music, languages, and horticulture, and was charitable, benevolent, and full of religious faith. The brass portraiture,[184] too (which, after all, is not necessarily a portrait), represents him as a man of singularly open countenance.
Apart from the personal association, the tomb is interesting as combining late Gothic and Renaissance decoration.
It has already been said that Cumnor Place is a mansion of the past, and that it was finally demolished by a former Earl of Abingdon in 1811. An amusing story is told, to the effect that when the popularity of Scott's Kenilworth aroused a keen interest in Cumnor, the Earl undertook to drive some guests over to see the house, forgetting that he had, several years earlier, given orders for it to be demolished. The disappointment of himself and his friends on arriving at Cumnor was very keen.
Cumnor Place was never more than a modest country residence, and bore no resemblance to Scott's description; nor had it the imposing towers described in Mickle's ballad, which concludes with -

Full many a traveller oft hath sigh'd,
And pensive wept the Countess' fall,
As wand'ring onward they've espied
The haunted towers of Cumnor Hall."

It stood to the south of the church, and was in its last years a ruinous malthouse, finally converted into labourers' cottages. The stones of it were removed chiefly for the building of Wytham church; and there, at the entrance to the churchyard, an archway remains to this day, bearing the inscription by the pietistic Forster:
"Verbum Domini Janva vitae."
It only remains to once more remark that Scott's novel, Kenilworth, enshrining many of these things, is full of the grossest perversions of known facts, and not for one moment to be relied upon, historically. Raleigh figures in it, and in its pages is knighted by Queen Elizabeth, in 1560; but he was only eight years of age at the time. Lady Dudley is represented as the Countess of Leicester; but she met her tragic end three years before Dudley was created Earl. She is also made to figure in the grand festivities at Kenilworth, although she had been dead fifteen years when these great doings took place. There was no "Black Bear" inn at Cumnor at that time; nor could there reasonably have been such a sign, for Dudley, whose device it was, did not then own property at Cumnor, and was not directly associated with the village. The Richard Varney, co-villain with Forster in the story, was derived by Scott from Ashmole's gossipy Antiquities of Berkshire, and is not to be readily identified.



The river makes a great semicircular bend, as between New Bridge and Oxford, so that although but six miles between the two, measured in a straight line on the map, it is fifteen miles by water. Cumnor stands roughly in the middle of the projecting part of Berkshire enclosed within this bend, and Wytham almost at the farthest northward fling of it, just below where Eynsham Bridge (otherwise styled Swinford Bridge) carries the great highway from Oxford across the Thames towards Witney and Gloucester. Eynsham, a quaint old village, is one mile distant.



Wytham, amid the deep woodlands, on its bold hill-top in the bight of the river, is a sequestered place, the site of the mansion called Wytham Abbey, seat of the Earls of Abingdon. "Abbey" is a fanciful term, as applied here, for no religious house ever stood upon the site, and the existing buildings arose in the sixteenth century, at the bidding of one of the Harcourts, who then owned the property. How it eventually came through several hands and at last by marriage into the Bertie family, Earls of Abingdon, is not, I imagine, a matter of general interest. Wytham village, lying beneath that lordly seat, is one of the most charming villages in Berkshire, which is saying a good deal in the commendatory sort. It is, and has long been, famed for its strawberry-growing, and was once even recommended by the faculty to invalids for a "strawberry cure." I cannot imagine the ailment for which the eating of strawberries is a likely remedy, but a pleasanter "cure" could hardly be invented.

Wytham Woods

Wytham woods crest Beacon Hill, and in them the pheasants are plentiful. This is the equivalent of saying that there is no right of way. But anciently the road from Oxford to Eynsham, and on to Witney and Gloucester, ran across this hill: a plaguey bad road, a very beast of a road. The track of it may still be followed (by permission sought and obtained from Lord Abingdon, let me hasten to add) steeply and roughly up through these sylvan surroundings, and as roughly and as steeply down again, to Eynsham Bridge, which was built in 1799 by a former Earl, to replace the ford by which all wayfarers up to that time were obliged to cross the river. It is still a toll-bridge for vehicles, levying the modest sum of one halfpenny for cycles, and sixpence for motor-cars. The arduous road from Oxford across the hill was abandoned about the same time, when the existing so-called "Seven Bridges Road," leading along the levels to Eynsham Bridge, was reconstructed.
There is a great deal of interest wrapped up in that old road. It left Oxford on much the same line as now, but was neither drained nor embanked, and proceeded for some distance from the city along swampy ground, so that travellers upon it from Oxford to Eynsham were made to feed full of varied discomforts. Proceeding through Botley, often at the peril of their lives from floods, they then bore away to the right, for Wytham, passing through the village of Seacourt on the way. From Wytham, mounting and descending the hazardous track over Beacon Hill, at the imminent danger of their necks, they then came to the peril of the ford; and having haply passed over this in safety, felt that risks from natural causes were over. There remained only the bandits of an early period, and the highwaymen of a later to give them pause.


As for Binsey, it is merely an insignificant hamlet situated at a very dead-end of traffic. You shall find it readily enough by proceeding from the "Perch" inn, beside the river, just above Medley Weir; but it is quite other guesswork seeking it from Wytham, for no way exists where formerly an ancient path ran, and a channel cut from the Thames winds a prohibitive course through the flat meadows.
Binsey, indeed, stands on an island in olden times called Thorney, where St. Frideswide, that celebrated Oxford saint, first built her oratory, the name of the isle being then, we are told, changed to "Binsey": absurdly said to signify the "isle of prayer." Here she also founded the well of St. Margaret, miraculously springing forth in answer to her prayer, as springs were wont to do in the eighth century. They have long since refused to do the like. It is perhaps not remarkable that Binsey and this famous well in after-years became, and long remained, the objects of pilgrimage. The halt and the lame, the epileptic and the otherwise afflicted, flocked to Binsey and were cured, hanging up their crutches in the oratory and festooning it with their discarded bandages: and incidentally leaving solid gifts of money behind, greatly to the gain of the monastery of St. Frideswide, in Oxford, to which Binsey belonged from 1132 until the end of such things, four hundred years later.


The crowds of pilgrims who came out of Oxford, making for the oratory and well of St. Frideswide, turned off at the vanished village of Seacourt.
Few places have perished so utterly as this long-lost habitation of men, styled at various times "Sekecourt," "Seuecurde," and "Sechworth"; for all we shall now discover of it is a farm so named. But Seacourt was for many centuries a considerable place. Not only did it lie directly upon the then highway to the west, but it was the pilgrims' lodging-place, and for the accommodation of such it is recorded to have possessed no fewer than twenty-four inns. With the successive blows of the dissolution of the monasteries, when pilgrimages ceased out of the land, and then when the road itself was diverted, Seacourt's doom befel. It subsided into ruin, and became the abode of foxes and wild-fowl; and presently the very stones of it were carted away.

The self-satisfied attitude of Binsey folk in summer, and the woe-begone, dreary, flooded-out experiences of the same people in winter are amusingly contrasted in traditional sayings, current in these parts. Thus, in summer, a villager, asked where he lives, is supposed to say, "Binsey; where d'ye think?" but in winter he will reply, disconsolately, "Binsey, Lord help us!" And it needs only a week or so of rain in one of our tearful summers for the low-lying meadows to be flooded, completely islanding the place in the midst of something resembling an inland sea.


In modern times the holy well has been found at the west end of Binsey church and restored, as the inscription records: "St. Margaret's spring, granted, as it is told us, to the prayers of St. Frideswide, long polluted and choked up, was restored to use by T. J. Prout, student of Christ Church, the vicar, in the year of redemption, 1874." The well may be holy, but the water again in these days looks provocative of typhoid.

Godstow Nunnery

Between Wytham and Binsey, and directly upon the river, is a very much better known place than either; to wit, Godstow. "Fair Rosamond" and Godstow have employed the morbidly-sentimental pens of uncounted scribblers. It is easy to be either sentimental or morbid, and of the easiest to be morbidly-sentimental over unworthy subjects: hence the exploitation in this wise of "Fair Rosamond."
Godstow Nunnery, it seems, was founded by Edith, an ex-chère amie of Henry the First, and wife of the second Robert D'Oilgi, or D'Oyley, lord of Oxford. The buildings were consecrated with great state by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1138. There is little need here to dwell upon the history of the nunnery, which in general is sufficiently dull; and Godstow is, in fact, interesting only on account of that highly improper person known in romantic history as "Fair Rosamond," who was educated here. The name of Rosamond, if we may believe Dryden, who, as a poet, is perhaps not to be altogether relied upon as an authority, was really Jane. It might have been worse. However:

Jane Clifford was her name, as books aver,
Fair Rosamond was but her nom de guerre."

That she was daughter of Walter, Baron Clifford, of Hay, in Wales, is historically certain; but much else relating to her is merely picturesque legend. She appears to have been born about 1150, and was educated in this then newly-built nunnery. Here, in some unexplained way, she attracted the attention of the King, Henry the Second, and became his mistress, greatly to the jealous rage of his Queen, Eleanor of Poitou, the divorced consort of the King of France, who by many was held to be no better. This association of the King and of Rosamond seems to have lasted about four years.
Legends tell variously how Queen Eleanor burst in upon a secret bower in which the King had hidden her at Woodstock, and gave her the choice of death by dagger or poison, and how she chose the bowl rather than the steel, drank of it and so died; but these are unhistorical. All that seems fairly certain is that a break in her relations with Henry occurred, and that she retired to Godstow and died there, some four years later, about 1176.
A great mass of legend has accumulated around these bare outlines of her story, and poets have freely employed their imagination upon her. With remarkable unanimity, they assume Rosamond to have been a blonde:

Her locks of curléd hair
Outshone the golden ore;
Her skin with whiteness may compare
With the fine lily-flower;
Her breasts are lovely to behold,
Like to the driven snow.

That she had two children seems to be established, but that they were, as often stated, William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, and Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, has been disputed.
Rosamond, we are told, was for sake of her wit and beauty received back by the nuns of Godstow with alacrity. Doubtless she told them many strange tales of the wicked world, for who better qualified to know? Her body was buried before the high altar. King John, according to Lambarde, raised a gorgeous monument to her, inscribed,

Hic jacet in tumba, Rosa Mundi, non Rosa Munda,
Non redolet, sed olet, quae redolere solet.

Speed paraphrased this as follows:

This tomb doth here enclose the world's most beauteous Rose,
Rose, passing sweet erewhile, now nought but odour vile.

A few years later, Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, paying a round of pastoral visits in his diocese, in which Oxford was then included, coming to Godstow, saw this gorgeous monument and asked what great and good person it was, then, who lay here. It was, said the nuns, the tomb of Rosamond, sometime mistress of Henry the Second, who for love of her had done much good to that church. Thereupon the saintly and scandalised Bishop declared that the "hearse of a harlot was not a fit spectacle for a quire of virgins to contemplate, nor was the front of God's altar a proper station for it"; and he directed that she should be removed and buried outside, "lest Christian religion should grow in contempt."
Leland, diligent antiquary, tells us that in after-years Rosamond's tomb was here, inscribed "Tumba Rosamundæ," and that her bones had been found, enclosed in lead, "and within that closed in leather; when it was opened there was a very swete smell came out of it." Time thus gave the lie to that fearful old epitaph of King John's day.

The nunnery of Godstow when dissolved in the[196] reign of Henry the Eighth contained eighteen nuns, and its annual income was £274; a considerable sum as prices then ruled. The property was granted to that Dr. Owen who at the same time secured Cumnor, and the domestic buildings became a secular residence. This was held during the Civil War by Colonel Walter, and was taken by Fairfax in May 1646, and burned.
All we see nowadays of Godstow nunnery is a small building, ruined and roofless, apparently of no very great antiquity, for besides the Perpendicular window there are no other evidences of Gothic architecture, the two other windows being merely flat-headed Elizabethan insertions.
Efforts have been made from time to time to discover the remains of Rosamond. Two stone coffins were dug up about 1800, and in one of them were the bones of a young woman. On the supposition that this was the sarcophagus of Rosamond, a once well-known antiquary and citizen of Oxford, Alderman Fletcher, appropriated it, and conceived the eccentric idea of being buried therein; and when his time came, in 1826, he was accordingly laid in it, in the church of Yarnton, a few miles distant.
An uncommon plant, said to have been introduced from foreign parts by the nuns, still grows freely in these meadows by the grey ruins. It is known to botanists as Aristolochia clematitis, but to ordinary country folk as "birthwort" and was used in confinement cases. You may identify it by its heart-shaped leaf and bold yellow flower.

Medley Footbridge

The charm of the river fades away after passing Medley Lock and nearing Oxford, and suffers a change into the commercial ragged edges and untidy squalid purlieus of a great city.
We may read in old dry-as-dust authors how "Medley" derives from "Middleway" - this being midway between Godstow and Oxford - but we need not (indeed, we had better not) put any faith in that derivation. Also, according to those same authorities, it was a scene of great resort for "divers pleasures." Of what those diversified pleasures chiefly consisted we must judge rather from the verses of George Withers than from the grudging phrase of Dryasdust, who, forgetful of his own youth, gives us no details. But let George Withers himself inform us:

In summer-time to Medley
My love and I would goe,
The boatmen there stood ready
My love and I to rowe;
For creame there would we call,
For cakes, for pruines too;
But now, alas! sh'as left me,
Falero, lero, loo.

Let nothing be said of the river between Medley and Folly Bridge. What should one say of gas-works in these pages, or of other evidences that we are not living in ancient times, and that the city of Oxford is a populous place, and up-to-date in all respects except that of its University?

Folly Bridge

Folly Bridge serves to mark the limits of the Upper and the Lower river, as well as its prime purpose of carrying the road to Abingdon across the stream; and it stands in the minds of many for the enterprising and industrious Salter, whose steamboats and whose row-boats are centred thereby.
The real original name of Folly Bridge, dating back to Norman times, is "Grand Pont," that is to say, Great Bridge; great according to the ideas of those times. Even so lately as 1844, when the first Great Western railway-station was opened near this point, the bridge was still well known by its old name, in addition to the other, for the station was called after it, "Grandpont"; but, in the years that have passed since then, the name of "Folly Bridge" alone has survived, and you might expend the whole of a day asking for it by its original style, and not find any one who knows it.
In the middle of the old bridge stood an ancient tower known traditionally as "Friar Bacon's Study," where that learned man had been accustomed to take astronomical observations. It straddled across the roadway and formed, in fact, one of the gateways of the city. A strange saying was current of this tower, to the effect that when a man of greater learning than Bacon passed under it, the tower would fall. It never did fall, but was pulled down by the city corporation, as an obstruction to the road, in 1779. Years before that date, it had been let to a person named Welcome, who not only repaired it, but built another storey. The citizens of Oxford then called it "Welcome's Folly."
The bridge was rebuilt between the years 1825 and 1827; but, although Welcome is forgotten, his supposed folly still, as we perceive, gives the place a name. There can be no doubt that, to many uninquiring people, the name of the bridge seems to be a satire on the pleasure-seeking life of those so-called scholars, the University men, to whom boating and the "bumping" races are more than all the wisdom of the schools.

Oxford Rowing

Below Folly Bridge begins that long line of glorified house-boats, headquarters of the various college boating-clubs, known as the "University Barges," stationary along the left bank of the river, by Christ Church meadows. The ethics of bumping or being bumped, and the sporting politics of the Torpids or the Eights are subjects by themselves, and not to be discussed here.
What, strangers ask, are Torpids? The name suggests a boa-constrictor dined to repletion, and reduced to a state of torpidity; it is, however, merely the survival of an old Oxford nickname for the less active among boating men, who, roused by it, and adopting it, took to racing among themselves, as a separate class. The extinct "sloggers" on the river Cam at Cambridge, derived similarly, from the taunt of "slow-goer."
The racecourse of these clubs is between Folly Bridge and Iffley: scenically a dull stretch of river, however exciting it may be from the aquatic sportsmen's point of view. And if the river between Oxford and Iffley be dull, what shall we say of the road thither?



The way from Oxford by road to Iffley is a terrible two miles of "residential" suburbia. So soon as the pilgrim has come out of Oxford, over Magdalen Bridge, and, taking the right-hand fork of roads, has passed St. Clements, he has entered upon the villa-lined Iffley road, in which the houses are numbered to over nine hundred. I hope I am neither a Prig nor a Superior Person, but I fully confess I should not like to live - or to "reside," if you will have it so - in a house numbered well on into the hundreds. I do not, broadly speaking, envy our grandfathers of sixty or seventy years ago, for they are dead and we are among the living, but they had at least this advantage, among, of course, many serious disadvantages that we fortunately do not experience - that their towns (always excepting London) had no suburbs. Our ancestors of not so very long ago stepped out of their ancient streets and found themselves at once in the country. We have, commonly, at the threshold of every town, miles of undistinguished modern streets, commonplace, unhistorical, depressing. But, at any rate, there are no tramways, electric or other, along the Iffley road, and that is something to be thankful for, viewed from the æsthetic standpoint, although it may leave something to be desired on the score of convenience.


The best way to reach Iffley is undoubtedly by water. The Thames, from Folly Bridge to Iffley Lock, is not, it is true, at its best, but it, at any rate, retains something of the genius of locality, which a suburban road does not, and anything should be preferable to that road.

Iffley Mill

But, alas! Iffley Mill, once the glory of the river at this point, is at the moment of writing, a blackened heap of ruins, and it is not expected that it will be rebuilt. Even if it be, that will not be the Iffley Mill beloved of artists these many generations past. Thus ends the old manorial mill that has existed, in one form or another, on this spot, since the Norman conquest, and probably earlier still, for the place is mentioned in Anglo-Saxon charters dated 945 A.D., in which it is styled "Giftelei." It is said that "Iffley" has been spelled in eighty different ways, and Iffley Mill has probably been sketched, painted, and photographed as many thousand times; and, that being so, we will leave the mill, for once, unillustrated.

Iffley Church


Enthusiastic local writers have often claimed for Iffley church that it is the finest Norman country parish church in England. It is not really quite that, but it is certainly among the finest. It is a large building, of late Norman architecture, built about 1170, when the gaunt, grim early Norman style had developed into something which, although not less massive, was more ornate and decorative. It is a church without aisles. The West front is imposing, and particularly rich, exhibiting a deeply-recessed door, with circular window above, and three windows above that. The circular window is a restoration, of some fifty years ago, of the original, destroyed in the eighteenth century and replaced by a larger, with the object, sufficiently laudable in itself, but archæologically lamentable, of admitting more light. The highly-enriched doorway, with characteristic beak, cable, and chevron devices, is protected by a bold hood-mould, finely sculptured with the signs of the zodiac. The low, square central tower is unaltered, but most of the windows in the body of the church have been remodelled at different periods in the long history of Gothic architecture. The chancel, originally apsidal, was lengthened about 1270, in the Early English style. The chancel-arch is curiously carved, and the roof is massively groined in stone. The ancient black marble font is as old as the building itself, and may be compared with a somewhat similar, but more elaborate, series in Winchester Cathedral, East Meon church, and St. Michael's, Southampton. On the north side of Iffley church is an enormous, widespreading yew, probably as old as the church itself, and still healthy. Beside it stands a restored churchyard cross.


Among the deprived ministers at the time of the Commonwealth was Charles Forbench, vicar of Iffley, who was imprisoned for persisting in reading the Book of Common Prayer when its use was forbidden by the Parliament. "If," said he, "I must not read it, I am resolved I will say it by heart, in spite of all the rogues in England." This was a very fine spirit of resistance against tyranny, and we must all resist tyranny, from whatsoever quarter it proceeds; but it may otherwise be doubted if the Book of Common Prayer is, or ever was, worth fighting for, or whether prayers said by rote - which is really what Forbench meant when he said "by heart" - are the kind of supplications that win to the Throne of Grace. For my own part, had I been one of those Parliamentary Commissioners, I suspect I would have made Forbench take a meal off the Book of Common Prayer, as he was so fond of it; but it would not be a very nourishing meal, physically, or spiritually I take leave to say./p>


Nuneham - every one knows Nuneham; for, by favour of the Harcourts, who own the place, it has for many years past been a popular spot for rustic teas. I raise my hat, or cap, as the case may be, to the Harcourts, past and present - to the memory of Sir William, that doughty political protagonist, and voluminous letter-writer to The Times over the signature of "Historicus," who, although quite capable of leading a party, chose to be merely the trusty lieutenant of the windiest political wind-bag of any and every age; and to the present Mr. Lewis Harcourt, for the access they have permitted, and still extend, to their lovely domain. Every one, I say, knows Nuneham, for does not Salter, who runs his comfortable steamboats between Oxford and Richmond, drop passengers here, on the banks, and does he not call and pick them up again at the close of the day, conveying them from Oxford and back at the cost of one shilling? Yea; thousands have made that trip; and, given a fine day, there is, experto crede, not any trip more delightful. But if the day turn tearful, then Nuneham is the very last place to which any one who is not a fish or a duck would wish to go. Do I not know the misery of it at such times: the landing on the wet, clayey bank, under the trees of the glorious woods, which shed great spattering drops of rain on one; the half-mile walk, or rather, butter-slide, by the woodland track, to that picturesque thatched cottage in the lovely backwater, where the cottagers in fine weather supply open-air teas to these pilgrims, and in wet weather do the like; refusing, much to the said pilgrims' disgust, to give them the much-needed shelter in their own dry and comfortable quarters; with the result that those unhappy persons grow cold and shivery and develop colds in their heads, and entertain savage thoughts of Nuneham? Truly, no more miserable experience is possible than that of sitting in one of the picturesquely-thatched arbours by the waterside, and dallying over a lukewarm tea, awaiting the hour for the up-river steamer's arrival, while the moisture-laden wind comes searchingly in at the open front. And it does not make matters better to know that those disobliging cottagers are, all the while, crouching over their own roaring wood-log fires.


But let us dwell no longer upon these harrowing experiences. It does not always rain at Nuneham - but only when we want to go there. Then it rains all day. But when the sun shines, Nuneham is the ideal place for an idle day, and those draughty arbours the most exquisite of nooks. From them you look out upon a river scene that closely resembles some stage "set." The trees, right and left, or, to speak in stage conventional language - on Prompt and Off-prompt sides - hang in that almost impossibly picturesque way we expect in the first act of a melodrama of the old Adelphi or Drury Lane type. You know the kind of thing; or, if you do not, go to Nuneham and see it. Anyway, take my word for it that this is sheerly competitive with the stage. Beneath these trees, whose other side, you are quite convinced, is merely canvas and framework, are the usual conventional rocks, on one of which the villain will presently sit and gloat over the impending fall of the hero. And swans come lazily paddling up to the rush-fringed margin of the river; and, really, all you miss is the limelight.
But if this scene seems to have been bodily taken from the stage, the queer timber bridge that here crosses the backwater gives quite another aspect to the place. Looking upon it for the first time, it appears in the likeness of some old friend whom, for the moment, you cannot exactly place; and then at last you have it. It closely resembles that bridge on the time-honoured Willow-pattern Plate, with which Oriental china has long familiarised us. If only we had the pagoda to one side, and the queer little figures, carrying their yet more queer little bundles, crossing it, the scene would be conventionally complete. To emphasise and properly accentuate these remarks, I include a view, taken by that amiable photographic friend and companion to whom the most of the pictures in this book are due. I have not dared to publish a view of the bridge looking upstream, for that and Iffley Mill are absolutely the two most hackneyed views of the river in existence. Instead, therefore, we are here looking downstream.
Nuneham is a curious combination of the ugly and the beautiful. The great mansion, ugliness incarnate, is surrounded by lovely and stately gardens, created about 1765 by the masterful Earl Harcourt, typical among the great landowners of that age. There is something not a little awesome about the megalomaniacal methods of those great ones of that period, who had such autocratic wills, so much money, and such unquestioned power. Earl Harcourt, in common with many others of his class and of his period, could not endure that the village and the church of Nuneham should be within sight of his windows, and so he abolished both, causing a new village to arise fringing the London road, and a new church, which stands as an indictment of the then prevailing want of taste, being in the likeness of a Greek temple, to be built in the woods at the back of the mansion. It is dated 1764. Here lies Sir William Harcourt, who died in 1904.


I will not be so gross as to attempt a description of the loveliness of the natural beauties of Nuneham, or of the views from it: only let it be said that the view from the grassy knoll on which stands the old Carfax conduit, brought from Oxford, is exquisite, commanding, as it does, distant peeps of Oxford in one direction, and of Abingdon in another, with lovely stretches of meadowlands, woods, and water, in between. There is, it may well be supposed, no more beautiful fountain in England than this old conduit from the four cross-roads in the centre of Oxford; but the expansion of population and the increase of traffic have ever banished the beautiful, and thus this fine Renascence building, given to the city of Oxford by Otho Nicholson in 1610, was, so early as 1787, removed as an inscription upon it states, "to enlarge the High Street." The University, the inscription goes on to state, then presented it to George Simon, Earl Harcourt. If it were worth accepting, it certainly was also worth keeping, and that the University could thus give it away reflects no credit upon that body. The repetitive "O. N." observed upon the conduit stands for the initials of Otho Nicholson.



Abingdon, some three miles distant, now claims attention; and a good deal of leisured attention is its due. That pleasant and quietly-prosperous old town is one of those fortunate places that have achieved the happy middle course between growth and decay, and thus are not ringed about with squalid, unhistorical, modern additions. Its population remains at about 6,500, and therefore it is not, although possessing from of old a Mayor and Corporation, a town at all in the modern sense. Thus shall I shift to excuse myself for including it in these pages. In these days of great populations we can scarce begin to think of a place of fewer than ten thousand inhabitants, as a "town" at all.
The origin of Abingdon, whose very name is said to mean "the Abbey town," was purely ecclesiastical, for it came into existence as a dependency of the great Abbey founded here in the seventh century. Legends, indeed, tell us of an earlier Abingdon, called "Leavechesham," in early British times, and make it even then an important religious centre and a favourite residence of the kings of Wessex, but they - the legends and the kings alike - are of the vaguest.


Leland, in the time of Henry the Eighth, wrote of the town: "It standeth by clothing," and it did so in more than one sense, for it not only made cloth, but a great deal of traffic between London and Gloucester, Stroud, Cirencester, and other great West of England clothing centres, came this way, and had done so ever since the building of Abingdon (or Burford, i.e. Boroughford) bridge and the bridge at Culham Hithe in 1416, had opened a convenient route this way. The town owed little to the Abbey, for the proud mitred abbots, who here ruled one of the wealthiest religious houses in England, and sat in Parliament in respect of it, were not concerned with such common people as tradesfolk, and did not by any means encourage settlers. They trafficked only with the great, and aimed at keeping Abingdon select. From quite early times they had adopted this attitude: perhaps ever since William the Conqueror had entrusted to the monastery the education of his son Henry, afterwards Henry the First - an education so superior that, by reason of it, Henry the First lives in history as "Beauclerc."
It was a highly-prosperous Abbey, and smelt to heaven with pride, and had a very bad reputation for tyrannical dealings with those who had managed to settle here. The Abbot refused to allow the people to establish a market, and in 1327 the enmity thus caused broke out into riot. From Oxford there came the Mayor and a number of scholars, to help the people of Abingdon in their quarrel, and part of the Abbey was burnt, its archives destroyed, and the monks driven out. But this was a sorry, and merely a temporary, victory; for the Abbot procured powerful assistance and regained his place, and twelve of the rioters were hanged.
The scandalous arrogance and state of the Abbots of Abingdon aroused the wrath of Langland, a monk himself, but one of liberal views, who some few years later wrote that prophetic work, The Vision of Piers Plowman, in which the downfall of this great Abbey is directly and specifically foretold:

Eke ther shal come a kyng,
And confesse yow religiouses,
And bete you as the Bible telleth
For brekynge of your rule.
And thanne shal the abbot of Abyngdone,
And al his issue for evere,
Have a knok of a kyng,
And incurable the wounde.

When the Abbey was suppressed in 1538, its annual income was £1,876 10s. 9d., equal to about £34,000, present [1910] value.

With the disappearance of the Abbey, the town of Abingdon grew, and continued to prosper by clothing and by agriculture until the opening of the railway era. When the Great Western Railway was originally planned, in 1833, it was intended to take it through Abingdon, instead of six miles south, as at present, and to make this, instead of Didcot, the junction for Oxford. But Abingdon was strongly opposed to the project, and procured the diversion of the line, and so it remains to this day an exceedingly awkward place to reach or to leave, by a small branch railway. It has thus lost, commercially, to an incalculable degree, but in other ways - in the preservation of beauty and antiquity - has gained, equally beyond compute.


An architect might find some stimulating ideas communicated to him by the quaint and refined detail observable in many of the old houses. There is, among other curious houses near the Market House, the "King's Head and Bell," in an odd classic convention.
Of the great Abbey church nothing is left. The townsfolk had such long-standing and bitter grievances against the Abbey that they must have rejoiced exceedingly when the fat and lazy monks were at last cast out upon the world; and they seem to have revelled in destruction. The Abbey precincts are now largely built over; but, such as they are to-day, they may be found by proceeding out of the Market Place, past St. Nicholas' church, and through the Abbey gateway, now used as part of the Town Hall, and restored, but once serving as a debtors' prison.
Here a mutilated and greatly time-worn Early English building will be found, with a vaulted crypt, and two rooms above. To this has been given the (probably erroneous) name of the "Prior's House." Its curiously stout Early English chimney, with lancet-headed openings, under queer little gables, is a landmark not easily missed. The successor of the original Abbey Mill is itself very picturesque. Adjoining is the long, two-storeyed building often styled the "Infirmary," and sometimes the "Guest House"; perhaps having partaken of both uses. It can only have been used for humble guests, or patients, for it is merely a rough-and-ready wooden building, rather barn-like, divided into dormitories.



The charming little Norman and Perpendicular church of St. Nicholas has been very severely dealt with by "restoring" hands, but its quaintness and charm appear indestructible.
An especially peculiar feature of the altogether unconventional West front is seen in the curious little flat-headed window under a gable roof to the north side of the tower, giving a curiously semi-domestic appearance to the church. The windows light a staircase turret, which is perhaps the remaining part of some priest's residence formerly attached to the church.


But, far or near, the chief feature of Abingdon is St. Helen's church, whose tall and graceful spire has the peculiar feature of being built in two quite distinctly different angles: the lower stage much less acute than the upper. It is what architects call an "entasis." A band of ornament marks the junction of the two stages. This spire is of the Perpendicular period, built upon an Early English tower. The rest of this exceptionally large and beautiful church, which has the peculiarity of being provided with a nave and four aisles, is Perpendicular. It should be noted that what are now the two extra aisles were originally built by the town guilds, as chapels. The five aisles form a noble vista, looking across the church. They are named, from north to south, Jesus Aisle, Our Lady's, St. Helen's, St. Catharine's, and Holy Cross. The great breadth of the church originated a local saying, by which either of alternative courses of any action, supposed to have little to choose between them, may often be heard referred to as "That's as broad as it's long, like St. Helen's church."
Brasses and monuments of Abingdon's old merchants and benefactors are numerous: among them this curious inscription to Richard Curtaine, 1643:

Our curtaine in this lower press
Rests folded up in Natur's dress;
His dust perfumes this urn, and he
This towne with liberalitie."

Here, too, is the tomb of John Roysse, citizen of London, and mercer, who founded here "Roysse's Free School," and died in 1571. The slab covering his tomb came from his London garden.


The town is singularly rich in old and interesting almshouses, the churchyard being enclosed on three sides by various charitable foundations of this kind. Of these the oldest and most remarkable is the almshouse founded about 1442 by the Guild of Holy Cross, and refounded after the Reformation, in 1553, as Christ's Hospital, by Sir John Mason, an Abingdon worthy who rose from the humblest beginnings to be Ambassador to the French Court, and Chancellor of the University of Oxford. The chief feature of Christ's Hospital, as regards its front, is the long half-timber cloister, with no fewer than one hundred and sixty little openings in the woodwork, looking out to the churchyard. A picturesque porch projects midway, and from the steep roof rises a quaint lantern, crowned with cupola and vane. Old black-letter and other texts and paintings cover the walls of the cloister. Under the lantern is the hall, or council-chamber, an old-world room with a noble stone-mullioned bay window looking out upon the almshouse gardens in the rear. In this window are set forth the arms of benefactors towards the institution, and their portraits further adorn the walls, together with a curious contemporary account of the buildings of Abingdon and Culham Hithe bridges. As the value of endowments increased, so the buildings of Christ's Hospital have been from time to time added to; and in addition there are Twitty's and Tomkins's almshouses. A gable-end of Christ's Hospital abuts upon St. Helen's Quay, on the river-side, with inscriptions curiously painted under protecting canopies:
God openeth His hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness; be we therefore followers of God as dear children. 1674
If one of thy Brethren among you be poore within any of thy Gates in thy land which the Lord God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor Brother. 1674.
Abingdon is full of noble old buildings, both of a public and a private character, and prominent among them must be reckoned the imposing Market House. There is nothing else quite like it, in style or in dignity, in England, and it is not too much to say that it would, by itself, ennoble any town. It was built 1678-84, and followed in plan the old conventional lines of such buildings: i.e. an open, arcaded ground floor, supporting an upper storey; but in design it is one of the purest examples of revived classic architecture in the land. The upper storey in this case was intended for use as a sessions-house.


The design has been variously attributed to Inigo Jones, to Webb, his successor in business, or to Sir Christopher Wren, without any other evidence than that it partakes of the known style of all these. But Inigo Jones died in 1652, and Webb in 1674, and so they are both out of the question. There are at the present time in private possession at Abingdon a few old documents, preserved by merest chance, which abundantly prove who built the Market House, if not precisely who designed it. They detail payments made to Christopher Kempster, whom we have met earlier in these pages. He was, or at this time had been, clerk-of-works and master-mason to Wren, in his rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral and the City churches, and afterwards retired to Burford, where he owned quarries. He would have been forty-eight years of age at the time when this Market House was begun. Unless we are prepared to assume him a transcendental clerk-of-works and a very Phœbus of a master-mason, it seems scarce likely that he designed, as well as built, this exceptionally fine structure; and the inference therefore to be drawn is that he induced Wren to sketch out the design and built to it, either with or without the supervision of that great architect.




A group of rustic villages nestles undisturbed by any press of traffic on the right, or Berkshire, bank of the river: Drayton, Sutton Courtney, and Appleford; with Steventon and Milton away back in the hinterland, all very charming, and wholly unaltered. At Steventon are to be found the most delightful old cottages. There are no better in Berkshire. This is a sweeping statement, but true. The proof of it lies partly in visiting that coy spot: coy, because the said cottages lie off the high road along the by-lane known as Steventon Causeway.
One might say much about Sutton Courtney, the "south town" of the Courtneys, who owned it in the long ago, with Nuneham Courtney, to the north of it. Here is an "Abbey," but it is in private occupation as a residence, and is not a show-house; and very much the same may be added of the old manor-house and its "Court House," adjoining the church. The "Abbey" was really a place to which the brethren of the Abbey of Abingdon might occasionally retire for rest and for health's sake.


The manor of Sutton Courtney finally passed[237] from the family in the sixteenth century, when Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, was attainted and his property seized. The old manor-house, built around a courtyard, still retains its ancient hall, with minstrels' gallery. The so-called "Court House," in the grounds, is a late Norman building, with lancet windows, and is thought by competent authorities to be the hall of justice of the original manor-house.
There is much quiet charm in Sutton Courtney, and much interest: the charm and interest of long existence, with changes only brought about by slow effluxion of time. I suppose there is little new about Sutton Courtney except the young chestnut-trees that line the grassy way to the church; always excepting the last few puling infants that have been carried that way to be christened. The church itself is an example of gradual change, yet of the continuity that marks this dear ancestral God's own country of Old England, in which we are unworthy co-partners. It is of all periods, from Norman to Perpendicular; its last development seen in the south porch, rendered in red brick, in strong contrast with the stone of the rest of the building. The porch is by courtesy Perpendicular, but is rather in the domestic Gothic style than of ecclesiastical type, and looks remarkably as though some one had found a small house and brought it to the church and left it to be called for. There is a particularly charming little late Norman belfry window, with interlacing arches, well worth notice, and a row of grotesquely-sculptured corbels of the same period, with an odd variety of sick and sorry expressions. On the same face of the tower is a prettily-decorated sun-dial.
The pulpit, with quaint sounding-board above and the fine Transitional Norman arch next it, form a charming picture. It is easily obvious that this enriched arch, now forming that of the easternmost bay of the south aisle, was formerly the chancel arch, before the church was rebuilt on a larger scale than the original structure; for although the arch itself has found a new situation, the columns on either side of it have been used again to support the newer and broader chancel-opening.



Two curious black-and-white frescoes, at the west end of the north and south aisles respectively, are worth notice. They represent the administration of the Andrews Charity, by which six poor widows, and as many men, were given clothes, a penny loaf each on Sundays, and on three certain days yearly, money to buy meat. They were, unhappily, obliged to listen to a sermon preached on Corpus Christi day, on the goodness of Andrews and the humility and thankfulness proper to bedesmen and receivers of doles. The frescoes represent the old men and the old women receiving the clothes, which they appear to be doing in a somewhat tentative and timorous, not to say condescending, manner, at the hands of one who looks like a ferocious beadle, or suchlike functionary.

Sutton Bridge

There is a bridge at Sutton Courtney where toll is still demanded. It is variously "Sutton" bridge or "Culham" bridge: this last name productive of some confusion with the bridge at Culham ford (or Culham Hithe) between Dorchester and Abingdon.

Appleford railway Bridge

From Culham and Sutton Courtney one comes by river in a mile under the ugly Great Western Railway bridge at Appleford,

Long Wittenham

and then in another mile to the lovely winding backwater on which Long Wittenham is situated. Although now a backwater, it is the real original course of the river, and the straight waterway on the left, through which all the traffic passes on to Clifton Lock, is a formal cut, made for convenience, and for shortening the distance. Long Wittenham, by reason of this circumstance, is nowadays not only on a river backwater, but also, owing to the main roads passing it at a considerable distance away, on a backwater of life as well; and those who seek to reach it by road will find that the way is not only long, but circuitous and puzzling; while to those who may essay to leave it by a specious short-cut for Appleford, the only advice to be offered, if they ride bicycles, is "don't!" especially as no reasonable person, having once seen Appleford, which consists of a railway crossing and a few cottages, and a rebuilt church, ever wants to go there again.
The picturesque and interesting church of Long Wittenham, partaking of all periods of Gothic architecture, has two especial claims to notice. The first is in the Early English leaden font, one of the twenty-nine leaden fonts known to exist in England. The lower part of it is arcaded, the arches filled with effigies of bishops; the upper part decorated at irregular intervals with curious whorl devices. The Jacobean wooden carved font-cover also is not without interest.
The second of these special features is a curious piscina in the shallow south transept of early fourteenth-century date, combining with the purpose of a holy-water stoup that of a monument to the founder of the church. This takes the form of a miniature recumbent effigy, two feet in length, of an armed knight, cross-legged, and with drawn sword in hand and shield on arm. Two angels, sculptured in low relief, crown the arch. A third claim that Long Wittenham church may well make upon the lovers of things venerable and beautiful is the very fine old timber porch, romantically weathered. The accompanying illustration displays this to excellent advantage, and also emphatically discloses the massive character of the timbering, seen especially in the verge-or barge-boards, consisting of but two separate pieces, of great thickness. It is a truly worshipful piece of craftsmanship.



Long Wittenham may well be called long. From the ancient cross at one end of it, past the church, it goes on and on in a single street, and finally loses itself indeterminately between making on the one hand for Clifton Hampden, and on the other for the vast hedgeless fields across which lies the way to Little Wittenham, one mile distant. Those widespreading fields of this district are a distinct and remarkable feature of this countryside. Whether they be pasture, or corn, or turnip fields, they give a sense of largeness and strangeness to the traveller in these parts, accustomed only to the little five- or six-acre enclosures of other neighbourhoods. Here vast fifty-acre expanses of wheat or swedes go in swooping undulations over the hillsides, and you rarely see the boundaries of them. These peculiarities of Berkshire agricultural conditions certainly make for economical farming, with less space wasted upon unproductive hedges; and they certainly also make for picturesqueness here, where the great double hill of Sinodun rises boldly in roughly pyramidal shape from the lower levels.

Wittenham Clumps

There are huge prehistoric earthworks on the summit of Sinodun: vast concentric circumvallations and fosses reared by long-forgotten folk, the vastness of whose defensible works gives, almost like an arithmetical exercise, the measure of their fears. Who were those who slaved so strenuously at this fortification, and who those others against whose expected onslaught they made such preparations? Archæologists have their theories, indeed, but no one knows. Really, from all available evidence, it would appear that Sinodun was fortified from the very earliest times, and that each conquering race which settled in Britain, and in turn decayed in manhood and the arts of war, and so gave opportunity for a newer conquest at the hands of uncultured but virile barbarians, in turn occupied this hill-top and were attacked and slain in it, in those pitiless battles of extermination that were the usual features of the world's youth.
Sinodun and its fellow-hill are in these times crested with plantations of trees, known far and near as "Wittenham Clumps"; and there is a third clump, a minimus infant brother, or poor relation, kind of clump, on a lesser eminence, not unremotely reminiscent of Landseer's picture, "Dignity and Impudence."
The traveller across Didcot downs, the boating-man on the Thames - all, in fact, who come within view of them - are obsessed by Wittenham Clumps, which dominate all views, and from the river, at any rate, are always appearing in the most unexpected quarters. Even the traveller by railway remarks them. Such an one, journeying along the Great Western main-line and gazing from the carriage-windows, sees those black blotches of trees on the hill-tops come whirling into view, and thinks of them in relation to his journey, with the mental note, "Now we are near Didcot."


Sinodun and the clumps look nowhere more impressive than along the road between Culham and Wallingford, where they form not so much the boldly-isolated hills and tufts they appear to be from the river, as the culmination of the gradually-rising downlands. In the lap of the downs, just before they rise to these crests, are situated some ranges of farm-buildings in the open, hedgeless fields, and there you see the cattle-byres and the ricks looking small against the huge scale of their surroundings in this shivery setting. It is Anglo-Saxon Berkshire you see here, in all essentials, not the twentieth-century Berkshire typified by Reading; and more of a piece with White Horse Hill than with that bustling and thriving and increasing town.
The stranger who comes to Long Wittenham thinks, on first seeing its retired aspect, that if ever he wished to seclude himself from the world, it is to Long Wittenham he would go; but he has only to proceed to Little Wittenham for him at once to look upon Long Wittenham as, by force of contrast, a metropolitan centre. As the larger place is with a peculiar fitness styled "long," so yet in a more appropriate manner is the smaller called "little." It appears to consist solely of a church, a vicarage, and a farm.
Little, or Abbot's, Wittenham, the manor having once belonged to Abingdon Abbey, is not merely little. It is also remote. Not a remoteness of great mileage, but the quite equal detachment of being situated on a road that leads to anywhere at all only by rustic and winding ways. It sits peacefully and slumberously at the very foot of Sinodun, enfolded amid delightful hedgerow elms, "the world forgetting, and by the world forgot." Not always was Little Wittenham so retired from all rumours of the outer world, for here was situated, from the sixteenth century until 1800, when it was demolished, the manor-house of the Dunch family, who moved not obscurely in the society of their time. The Dunches finally died out in 1719, and now all that is left of them are some musty pedigrees in county histories, the mounds and trenches to the north of the church, where their mansion stood, and some tombs and brasses in the church itself, which was rebuilt, except the tower, in 1863. It is a tall, slim tower, picturesquely weatherworn, but not exceptionally remarkable, unless we take note of its small turret-window in the shape of an ace of spades (not an ace of clubs, as my late friend, Mr. J. E. Vincent, says in his Highways and Byways in Berkshire). Local legend tells us that this represents the ace with which the builder of the tower won a fortune; but it is really nothing more than a cross-slit window, mutilated in its upper half into that shape.


Clifton Hampden

Clifton Hampden, lying between the Wittenhams, is on the Oxfordshire side of the river. If there were ever a competition as to which is the prettiest village on the Thames below Oxford, surely Clifton Hampden would be bracketed with Sonning for first place. There is this chief difference between the two; that Sonning is a considerable village and Clifton a small one. They are alike in that they both possess a bridge, but different again in the fact that while Sonning bridge is of the eighteenth century, and with only its quaintness to recommend it, the bridge at Clifton is a beautiful building of the nineteenth, in the mediæval style, one of the most successful on the river, and only lacking the element of age.

There is, sooth to say, no village at Clifton Hampden; just a bridge, a church, the lovely old thatched Barley Mow Inn, and a few scattered cottages, generally, in the summer months, with an artist in front of each, rendering it in the medium of water or of oil, upon paper or canvas. And the grassy banks come down to the river delightfully, and over on the Oxfordshire side rises the charming little Transitional Norman and Decorated church upon the abrupt sandstone bluff or cliff that gives Clifton its name. One may linger away contented afternoons here, perhaps with a book, perhaps watching from the bridge the minnows or the dace, or with amusement noting the evolutions of the flotillas of ducks and ducklings that come and go in company, like miniature navies. To see a duck dip down and stand on its head in the water is to watch a humorous feat: possibly, according to the observations of some naturalists, to witness a tragedy, for it would seem that the ferocious pike have not infrequently been known to seize by the head a duck so gymnastically exercising, and thus to make an end of it.
The quality of Clifton Hampden church is shown, as to its exterior, by the accompanying illustration; which also discloses the steep steps leading up to it, and the elaborate churchyard cross - all works of 1907. The Hampdens, who once owned the manor, have no memorials here, and the greatly-restored condition of the church is due to the Hucks-Gibbs family. The Transitional Norman south nave-arcade, with round-headed arches, simply sculptured capitals, and enormous bases to the columns, is entirely delightful: the plain painted north arcade, without capitals, poor and mean by comparison. In the church was once an ancient leaden font, of the Dorchester and Long Wittenham type, but this was sold for old metal by a vicar who thought it ugly!


Sinodun Hill, whose aspects and history have already been remarked upon, groups grandly as one drops down river to Day's Lock, as perhaps the illustration may serve to indicate. The original Day who, ages ago, conferred his name upon the lock is forgotten, but at any rate the proprietary style of the lock's name and of those of one or two others reminds people who know anything about the history of the river of those times before the coming of the Thames Conservancy, when the stream and the towing-paths along it were regarded very much as the private property of the landowners whose fields ran down to their water-course. We read much of the mediæval robber-barons of the Rhine, and their fellows in this country were those riparian property-owners, who made up for the lack of ferocity which characterised their continental counterparts by a cunning assumption of legality, very much more difficult to dispose of than sheer brute force. Much of the history of the Thames is concerned with actions in courts of law to assert or to contest these rights, real or assumed. So early as 1624 an Act of Parliament providing for the better navigation of the Thames referred incidentally to the "Exactions of the Occupiers of Locks and Weirs upon the River of Thames Westward," and set out to do away with them; but that was a long business, and for many a year afterwards Day, of Day's Lock, and Boulter, of Boulter's Lock, and their brethren, owned, or rented from landowners, the locks still named after them, and charged just what they pleased for traffic passing through.
Beyond Day's Lock comes Dorchester, i.e. Dwr chester, the fortress on the water. Plenty of water here, at any rate, to give point to the place-name, for at this spot the Thame, meandering along through oozy meadows, joins the Thames. It cannot be said, by any exactness of imagery, to "fall" into it; to use that well-worn expression beloved by the writers of geography primers.




Dorchester, Oxon, has not the slightest resemblance to Dorchester, Dorset: the two have little in common save their name, which might well have been much more than duplicated, seeing how many must have been the camps and fortresses upon various waters. Fortunately, with the result of saving us from the confusion of dozens of Dorchesters, our very remote ancestors were possessed of sufficient resourcefulness to enable them to fit distinctive names to those places.
The great days of Dorchester are done, and the place is so quiet and slumberous, although on a high road, that the first part of the place-name might almost be held to derive from the French verb dormer, to sleep. The one street, long and somewhat picturesque, the fine stone open-balustraded bridge across the Thame, and the church: in that inventory you have an outline of Dorchester.

Dorchester Abbey


The great parish church that was once an Abbey church, the successor of an early Cathedral, although an architectural and archæological feature of great interest, does not form so striking a picture as it should; for the building is long and low, with level, unbroken roof-line, and an ineffective tower at the west end; and it displays its inordinate length prominently to the road.


The cathedral that once stood here was that of the great bishopric of Dorchester, founded in A.D. 635 by Birinus, who had been sent by the Pope, Honorius, the year before, to preach Christianity to the Saxons. The see of Dorchester lasted, with some intermissions, until 1086, and comprised the greater part of England, including what are now the bishoprics of Winchester, Salisbury, Exeter, Bath and Wells, Lichfield, Hereford, Worcester, and Oxford.
A few traces remain of that abandoned Saxon cathedral, but they are such that only expert archæologists can point them out; and of the Early English Abbey church begun by the Augustine monks to whom it had then been granted, in 1140, the nave alone is left. The nave in an ordinary building would be an important item, but the Abbey church of Dorchester is an extraordinary structure, and of such a plan that the architectural features of its nave cannot well be very striking. The building was originally without aisles. It adjoined the Abbey cloisters, which were situated on the north side, and consequently the north wall of the nave has few openings. The choir was rebuilt grandly, in the Decorated style, about 1330; and at a slightly earlier date a north aisle had been added to it, circa 1280. In 1300 a south-choir aisle was built, and twenty years later, a south-nave aisle. To this was added the Perpendicular porch. The tower was constructed about 1680, in a debased manner.
Thus the northern wall, from end to end, is largely blank, and the architectural graces of the building are reserved chiefly for the south aspect. The remarkable east end is built upon ground abruptly sloping to the east, and is, moreover, closely set about with trees.
The choir is the most notable portion, containing finely-carved stone sedilia, with small spherical triangular windows at the back, filled with twelfth- and fourteenth-century stained glass, setting forth the story of St. Birinus. The arrangement of these sedilia and the shape and design of these windows, profusely decorated with the "ball-flower" ornament, form probably an unique architectural composition. The great east window, for beauty easily in the front rank among elaborately-designed windows, is as remarkable as it is beautiful, being intricately traceried in its entire length, instead of, in the usual way, plainly mullioned for two-thirds of its height, with the enrichment confined to the head. The surpassing beauty of this design is perhaps even thrown into more prominent relief by the stark ugliness of the bare stone pillar dividing it in half. It seems probable that in olden times this was filled with a Crucifixion. The presence of this undesirable feature is a structural necessity. It is, in fact, a buttress, necessitated by the sharp fall in the ground outside. There is no excuse, however, for the stupidity which has caused some hangings to be erected at the back of the altar, by which a portion of the window is obscured.


But certainly the most extraordinary and interesting of windows is that on the north side of the choir, immediately adjoining the east window. It is the famous "Jesse Window," of which the centre mullion represents the genealogical tree of Jesse, whose figure, in a reclining posture, is seen below. From the centre mullion spring branches at regular intervals on either side, worked decoratively in stone. Twenty-seven little figures, also carved in stone, represent the various personages of the House of David, and sixteen others are in stained glass. The exterior of this remarkable window is extraordinarily mean and thin, and gives no hint of the beauty of the interior.
Some altar-tombs and brasses remain, sadly mutilated, and the west end of the church is more or less of a stone-heap, where many fragments of the building are preserved. The chapel at the east end of the south choir-aisle was rebuilt by Sir Gilbert Scott. The work was largely a conjectural reconstruction, a type of undertaking Scott above all things delighted to engage upon, generally with results far from satisfactory; but in this case it is an unquestioned artistic success. It may, however, be observed that the constructional part of it is poor, for it is bodily subsiding into the deep gully that runs past the east end; and must soon be underpinned, or heavily buttressed, if it is not to fall into ruin.
The Norman font is of lead; a very fine example, exhibiting, within arcading, seated figures of the twelve apostles, in high relief. Another leaden font, greatly resembling that at Wittenham, is at Warborough, two miles distant.


Benson Lock

Between Dorchester and Wallingford, whether we proceed by the Oxfordshire side of the river or the Berkshire, we are in a level district of many springs, to which the place-names of the villages numerously bear witness. Thus in Berkshire there are the two conjoined delightful villages of Brightwell and Sotwell, where a little rill goes rippling by, until early summer dries it up. The name "Brightwell" thus speaks for itself. Sotwell, I presume, means "sweet well." And in Oxfordshire, beyond the scope of these pages, is another Brightwell, with the family name of "Salome" added to it; while the name of Ewelme, a beautiful and historic village near by, means simply "wells." Just beyond Wallingford, too, is Mongewell. The river runs between, with the beautiful stone bridge of Shillingford, and the water-side village of Benson on the way: Benson, by common consent lopped of much of its name, being really "Bensington." So unanimously has the locality agreed upon the shorter form, and for such a length of time, that even map-makers have adopted it. Of the clan of Bensings, whose chief settlement this was, we can know nothing; and the later conflicts between the Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, in which Bensington changed hands with great frequency, until Mercia at length assimilated it, are such far-off, remote doings that it is perhaps a little difficult to take even a languid interest in them. Even the old coaching days seem remote, although large and imposing specimens of English coaching hostelries stand in the crooked street of Benson, a little dazed by motor-cars and the noise and the stink of them, wondering whither have gone the mails and the stages of yore.




And so we come, past the pretty Oxfordshire hamlet of Preston Crowmarsh, into the good old Berkshire town of Wallingford.
Wallingford town has been thrust aside by modern circumstances and altogether deposed from its ancient importance. If we look at large maps, and thereby see how several great roads here converge and cross the Thames, the reason of this former importance will be at once manifest, and likewise the existence of the great castle of Wallingford will be explained. Wallingford derives its name from "Wealinga-ford," a Saxon term by which the ford of the Wealings - that is to say the British, or the Welsh, whom the Saxons were gradually displacing - was meant.
How they held the fort here in those dim times before the Norman came and built his great stone castle - and before even the Saxon came - we may perhaps see in the remarkable earthworks that still form three sides of a square enclosure: the river itself forming the natural defence of the fourth side. No stranger whose eye lights upon those ancient dykes in the Kine Croft can fail to notice them, nor help speculating for what purpose they were made. No facts are, or will ever be, available; but it does not require much penetration to reconstruct the needs of that primeval community protected within these earthworks, not in themselves a sufficient protection, but easily defensible in that age when they formed - as they doubtless did - the foundation for a wooden stockade.
At that time, when William the Conqueror had descended upon England and fought the battle of Hastings, there lived and ruled in Wallingford a Saxon thane, by name Wygod, who, noting the caution which forbade the Conqueror to advance directly upon London and caused him to make a circuitous march, invited him to cross the Thames here, which he accordingly did, at this place receiving the homage of the chief Saxon notables. Was Wygod, then, a traitor, or was he merely a level-headed opportunist who saw that all was lost, and sought to moderate strife by wise action? We are not in full possession of the facts, and therefore cannot tell whether to praise or blame him. But the results show that he did well: did, perhaps, better than he knew at the time of doing; for he thus - and also in giving his daughter Edith in marriage to Robert D'Oyley, one of the Conqueror's knights - helped in the great work of bringing about the settlement of the realm and the eventual merging of the Norman and the Anglo-Saxon races. And by so much those who fell at Hastings, fighting for their country, had died in vain.
It was not very long before the great castle of Wallingford was put to proof as a fortress, for it played an important part in the wars between the Empress Maud and King Stephen. The Empress, sorely beset in the castle of Oxford, escaped thence through the snow of one December night, covered with a sheet; and by favour of that covering entirely escaped observation, and came safely to Wallingford, whither she was followed after an interval by Stephen, who built a castle at Crowmarsh, on the Oxfordshire side of the river, to keep her in check. She then escaped to Gloucester, while her trusty partisan, Brian Fitzcount, held out for years: until, indeed, Stephen was wearied, with the result that the long civil war was at last concluded by the treaty of Wallingford, effecting the compromise by which Stephen was to reign for his life, and Henry, son of the Empress Maud, was to succeed him: which, in the fulness of time, he accordingly did; and reigned, and misgoverned sometimes, and at others governed well, as Henry the Second, in a truly Norman way, for thirty-five years.


Wallingford was in after-centuries frequently a royal residence; chiefly, it is true, for royal widows and other such extinct volcanoes, Have Beens, and back-numbers; but by the sixteenth century the castle appears to have become dilapidated. Leland, for example, declared it in his time "sore yn ruine"; but Camden, coming after him, said its size and magnificence were amazing to him, as a young man. "My fer-ends, what is ter-ewth?" as Chadband despairingly asked. Perhaps Leland's capacity for amazement was less than that owned by Camden. After Leland's time, it must surely have been repaired; or how else could the sixty-five days' siege have been withstood by the gallant Royalist governor, Blagge, in 1646? I pause for a reply, without, however, in the least expecting one. Six years later, the cautious Parliament caused this stronghold to be blown up, and now all we can see are some rude fragments of walls in the large and beautiful grounds of a private residence, courteously opened on summer afternoons.
Its curious privileges also mark the antiquity of Wallingford. Among them is the nine o'clock curfew, instead of at eight o'clock: said to have been granted as a special favour by William the Conqueror, in recognition of his friendly reception here. The curfew-bell still sounds from the tower of St. Mary-le-More every evening at nine o'clock.
The native-born burghers of Wallingford had the immemorial right (perhaps they have it now, for what it may be worth) of claiming, when tried for a first offence against the criminal law, that, instead of being put to death, they should have their eyes put out and be otherwise mutilated. Those lenient, soft-hearted, sentimental ways of dealing with crime have ever been the curse of the country! At Wallingford, Thomas Tusser, author of Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry, who was born about 1524 and died 1580, began his career as a chorister in the castle chapel, and appears to have had a sorry time of it here, according to his reminiscent verses:

What robes, how bare, what college fare!
What bread, how stale, what penny ale!
Then, Wallingford, how wert thou abhor'd
Of seely boys!"

Reason sufficient, it would seem, by those eloquent lines!

There were of old fourteen churches in Wallingford; but the town suffered so greatly in the plague of 1343, and then from the Black Death, that the population dwindled away to almost nothing, and most of the churches fell into ruin, so that three only remain: St. Mary-the-More, St. Leonard, and St. Peter's; and even those were greatly battered during the siege. The last named is that whose fantastic white masonry steeple is prominently seen from the river. It was built, together with the body of the church, in 1769. In its churchyard lies Sir William Blackstone (died 1780), Lord Chief Justice, and author of the most famous Commentaries since Julius Caesar. But Blackstone's work is of quite another kind than that of the "noblest Roman of them all." It is, of course, a work of legal erudition.


St. Mary-the-More, whose name carries with it allusion to another St. Mary's - St. Mary-the-Less, united with St. Peter, so long ago as 1374, is in the market-place, grouping finely with the curious seventeenth-century Town Hall that stands supported on an open arcade, affording space for the market. It is so fine and so entirely satisfactory a Town Hall, and so imbued with architectural grace and distinction, that no one will be in the least surprised to see it some day improved off the face of the earth, in the usual manner of provincial authorities with such. The prominent gallery above was, and is, used for proclaiming public events, from the accession of a Sovereign down to the result of a municipal election.
For the rest, Wallingford is a quiet town, with a workhouse and the gasworks as the chief architectural features of one end; and a very fine stone bridge of fourteen arches, rebuilt in 1809, at the other. Some solid, comfortable-looking seventeenth- and eighteenth-century residences somewhat ennoble the quiet streets, and the George Inn is picturesque.

Crowmarsh Gifford

Crowmarsh Gifford is a little village on the Oxfordshire side of the river.

Newnham Murren

Newnham Murren stands beside a steep and exquisitely-wooded road that leads on past Mongewell, where it loses that lovely woodland character and goes undulating over chalky switchbacks to come eventually to North Stoke, South Stoke, and Goring.


Mongewell church stands in a beautifully-wooded park, on a lawn-like expanse close to the river bank. It has, unfortunately, been entirely rebuilt. Shute Barrington, Bishop-Palatine of Durham, who possessed a country residence here, and died in London in 1826, aged ninety-three, is buried in the building.

North Stoke and South Stoke

North Stoke is just the matter of a few farms and a rustic church, but South Stoke is a considerable village, lying between the river and the Great Western Railway on its way from Goring to Cholsey. It is, perhaps, a thought too much obsessed by the railway, for the embankment of it, not at all masked by trees, looks starkly down upon village street and church. Here, too, the church has been restored and rendered uninteresting, except for its old wrought-iron hour-glass stand.


And so we come into Goring, and to its strangely-named inn, the "Miller of Mansfield"; its sign, painted by Marcus Stone, R.A., with a scene from the old legend, and a quotation from it; "Here," quoth the Miller, "goode fellowe, I drink to thee." The sign is strangely out of its geographical setting, for the neighbourhood of Mansfield, in Nottinghamshire, is a far cry from Goring. The legend tells how Henry the Second, lost while hunting in Sherwood Forest, sought shelter of the miller, who gave him half a bed with his son Richard, and fed him well on venison; "only," said he, "you must not let the King know I poach it." The King (always according to the legend) gave the miller a pension of a thousand marks yearly, for life. His name, it appears, was Job Cockle, and the King created him "Sir John," and made him ranger of the forest; and perhaps, on the well-proved principle of "set a thief to catch a thief," he served well to preserve the royal game.



Goring ("Garinges" in Domesday), whose name means "the meadow on the edge," or margin - i.e. on the shores of the Thames - is a Thames-side village improved utterly out of its olden country style. It is still a village, just as one may truly say that a commoner created a peer is still a man; but it is a village almost wholly composed of stylish up-river residences; and those few shops, a hotel or two, and a scanty sprinkling of cottages that exist here, do so only by way of ministering to the villa-residents. It is extremely difficult to come to the river banks here, except at the picturesque bridge that joins Goring with Streatley, on the opposite shore, for every piece of land and every access are jealously guarded, and there are not a few rights-of-way that may be observed by the observant to be artfully masked with hedges and screened by gates, or even decorated with lying "Private Road," and "Trespassers will be Prosecuted" notices. The stranger who desires to wander at will is well-advised to disregard all such. The same new tale is told from the river, for boating-parties nowadays proceed up-stream or down between endless notices displayed on inviting riverside lawns and at seductive side-channels, to the effect that this, that, and the other are "Private"; "No Landing," or "Private Backwater," and the like.
Amid all these modern developments, the ancient Norman parish church of St. Thomas à Becket stands, not so greatly altered. Even tyros in the understanding of architecture can tell at a glance that its tower is of that period, and some heavy cylindrical columns within proclaim the same age; but the "Norman" semicircular apse is a modern rebuilding of the original, destroyed long ago.
The evident ancient importance, ecclesiastically, of Goring is due to the existence of an Augustinian convent here, from the time of Henry the Second; but its secular importance was of far remoter date, for this was the place where that immemorial British track, the Icknield Way, crossed the Thames, on its course from Icklingham, the capital of the Iceni, out of Suffolk and through Essex, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire, to climb the Berkshire downs, and so continuing into the West of England. The Romans found Goring as useful a strategic point as did those early British peoples; and must, if the evidences of coins, and foundations of buildings, and mosaic pavements discovered here are worth anything, have made it almost as favourite a residence in the more settled years of their occupation of Britain as it is in our own era. Streatley, on the Berkshire bank, in its name, the "street meadow," alludes to the passing through it of this ancient street, or road.
There are a few unimportant brasses and other memorials to the Whistler and other families in Goring church. Among these is a Latin inscription to "Helinor and Margaret Whistler," which is rendered into English thus:
"This Helinor Whistler, a pious, beautiful, and modest virgin, lies with her sister Margaret in the tomb. These, whom love and one spirit united, are enshrined together in bronze by their only brother. She was wont to weep ever, seldom to smile; for a season, vows, prayers, and tears were her meat and drink. She seemed to outlive her two sisters in actual existence, yet to them it was as if she were dead, though living; and after they were ashes she, fed by the fear of God, did not touch bread and drink for seven years. The vows and prayers of the poor of Goring and the neighbourhood and the muse of Oxford forbid her to die; and, being dead, she still lives."
Fortunately for the gaiety of nations, we may say with conviction that this remarkable person is exceptional.

Goring was the scene of a sad happening in 1674, by which "about" sixty persons were drowned. This is related in a scarce pamphlet of the time, called:

Sad and Deplorable News
OXford-sheir & BArk-sheir
being a lamentable and true
of the drowning of about sixty persons,
Men, Women, and Children,
in the lock near Goring in Oxfordsheir
as they were passing by water
from Goring-Feast to Stately in Barksheir.

Readers, this story is both strange and true,
And for your good presented unto you.
Be careful of your life all sin to fly,
Lest you by death be taken suddenly.
When he is sent on you arrest to make
No fees, nor Bail, can purchase your escape.

London: Printed for R. Vaughan in the Little Old Bailey. 1674.

a punctual account of a most true and unparalleled Disaster which happened at Goring Lock, going to Stately on Monday the 6th of this instant July 1674 about 7 aclock at night, where about 50 or 60 persons, of Men, Women, and Children, with one Mare crossing the water together in a boat from Oxfordsheir to Barksheir by the watermen's imprudently rowing too neer the shore of the Lock they were by the force of the water drawn down the Lock, where their boat being presently overwhelmed they were all turned into the Pool except fourteen or fifteen (who had been all there at the Feast at Goring) were all unfortunately drowned, and to show how vain all human aid is when Destiny interposes, this happened in the view of hundreds of people, then met at the same feast, near this fatal Lock, who found the exercise of their pastime disturbed, and their Jollity dashed by this mournful Disaster, of which they were helpless - but I hope not fruitless - spectators.

This calamity so impressed the pamphleteer that he drew from it the conclusion the end of the world was at hand; but he appears to have been quite as eager to sell his pamphlet as though the world were good enough to last all his time. That is over two hundred and thirty years ago, and the old globe still spins in space.

Goring Streatley Bridge, Streatley Mill and the Swan Inn

The white-painted wooden toll-bridge that carries the road across the river to Streatley gives the wayfarer the best views. From it you see to greatest advantage the foaming weir, the green backwaters, and the mill. Let us cross this bridge to Streatley, avoiding the fearful hill that leads past the hamlet of Gathampton, circuitously up to Goring Heath, and then alarmingly down to Whitchurch.
Streatley we shall find much smaller and simpler than Goring. There, to one side of the bridge, is the mill, with the neatest of lawns, decorated with brilliant flowers, giving upon the water; while on the other is the waterside Swan inn, greatly resembling some ancient private residence, also with its lawns and with a full supply of the easiest chairs, wherein to do that most difficult of things - nothing.




Beside the long rustic street of Streatley is the restored - nay, the rebuilt - church, with a new font and almost everything else new. The old font has been walled into the masonry at the junction of nave and chancel.
The street goes mounting towards the broad high road that runs closely neighbouring the river on this Berkshire side, between Wallingford and Reading. Between this and Wallingford we have only the two villages of Moulsford and Cholsey, and they lack interest. Cholsey is the "Celsea" of Domesday.
Boating-men know Moulsford only as that place where the old waterside inn, the Beetle and Wedge, is situated. The queer sign has puzzled many town dwellers, but it presents no difficulties to country folk, for a "beetle" is well known to them as a heavy wooden mallet, used in splitting timber, and the "wedge" is the iron wedge inserted in the timber and struck by the "beetle." The inn has, like most other Thames-side inns, been largely added to and altered; but old frequenters of the river have ardent memories of it and their morning "rum-and-milk."
Does any one in these latter days take that old traditional Thames-side morning drink, "rum-and-milk," that once most favoured of all up-river restoratives? Have we not, in "those dear dead days beyond recall," as we lay in our more or less lavender-scented beds in some old-world waterside hostelry, been awakened by the clink of a trayful of glasses and heard a knock at the door, with the call, "Your rum-and-milk, sir"?
We had not ordered rum-and-milk at that untimeous hour, but as this was obviously the proper thing to be done, the custom of the country, so to say, we drank that strange drink - rather a heady and heavy drink, without question - and were promptly sent off to sleep again by it.
The charms of Streatley and of Streatley Hill have been sung by Mr. Ashby-Sterry, who is a kind of picnic and banjo poet-laureate of the Thames as it was in those famous riverside years, the 'eighties, when the charms of the river had not long since been discovered, and commercialism had not yet begun its reign: the years when Molloy and Cotsford Dick, and Marzials had just entered upon their song-writing and composing. Mr. Ashby-Sterry is not a Tennyson, but one cherishes an endearing picture of him, clothed in boating-flannels and a "blazer," laurelled - if one may express it so - with bulrushes, and discovered seated in company with some cooling tipple, gently but firmly declining to perform any physical exertion: least of all that involved in climbing Streatley Hill, which is indeed a "breather." Perhaps he is not even a little bit like that, really; but his writings are responsible for such a mental picture:

I'm told that you
Should mount the Hill and see the view;
And gaze and wonder, if you'd do
Its merits most completely:
The air is clear, the day is fine,
The prospect is, I know, divine -
But most distinctly I decline
To climb the Hill at Streatley!"


But to have done with all this, and to make our way to Basildon, which, although it is divided into Upper and Lower, is in the total of those parts but a small place. I do not know (nor apparently does any one else) from what Basil or Basileus - what leader of men - Basildon takes its name. That, like so much else, is lost among unrecorded things, but the world knows a something else more immediately to the point; and that is the fact that Charles Morrison of Basildon Park died in the early part of 1909, worth about six millions and three-quarters sterling. The estate was later sworn for probate at the remarkable figure of £6,666,666; an extraordinary array of numerals, almost exactly the Number of the Beast, "six hundred threescore and six," mentioned in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation, multiplied by ten thousand.
The ornate gates of the noble demesne of Basildon Park look upon the road, and are very florid, with stone gate-piers surmounted by urns filled to overflowing with stony representations of most of the kindly fruits of the earth, and upheld by cupids. Basildon church, with a farm or two and the parsonage, lies down near the river in a tongue of meadow-land so cut off by the river on its north side and the railway on the south that it is, in effect, much more remote than many places hundreds of miles away. The high-road, like the railway, cuts across the base of this piece of land; and as only a narrow lane runs through it and simply ends at the church, there is no inducement for the ordinary wayfarer to venture this way. Strangers are rare down by that nook where Basildon church stands, almost hidden by trees, and I should not be surprised to learn that the few people who live there mark those days as special, and keep them in memory, when they chance to see a strange face. There are many remote corners along the shores of the winding Thames, but none more secluded than this of Basildon.


It is a small church that serves for the place, and the body of it appears to have been wholly rebuilt of late years. The tower, an eighteenth-century red-brick affair, is an almost exact counterpart, on a smaller scale, of the tower of Pangbourne church. Beside the massive polished granite tomb of the Morrisons stands a sculptured group of two boys represented as bathers standing on a rushy river-bank. This is the pathetic memorial of Ernest and Edward Deverell, aged sixteen and fifteen, who were drowned while bathing in the Thames, June 26, 1886.


The road on to Pangbourne gradually nears the river again, and touches it at what was until some twenty years since one of the loveliest reaches of the Thames, for here the stream is bordered by a long ridge of chalk hill, broken here and there into cliffs that used to shine whitely into the water. Keeley Halswelle painted an exquisite picture of this scene, and it was hung in the Royal Academy; and that is now the only thing left of it, for Shooter's Hill - the name of this ridge - has been purchased by a highly-successful trader in what is satirically known as the "rag trade" (why is it that the drapery trade is so greatly affected by Welshmen?) who has not only set up for something in the way of a country gentleman here, with his ornate house and picture-gallery, and his gardens and hot-houses, but has, in addition, quite in the way of the businessman, made the purchase an investment by scooping out nine or ten sites from those wild riverside chalk-cliffs, and building on them a series of villas, described in the guide-books as "bijou residences." So the quiet, ancient beauty of Pangbourne Reach is now a thing of the past, and instead of the white cliffs, the stream reflects red-brick.


Something has already been said, in the opening pages of this book, respecting the recent spoiling of Pangbourne village by the overbuilding in it: all brought about by the convenience of a main-line railway-station in the very midst of the place; and therefore nothing more may be written. The same remarks apply in degree to Whitchurch, at the other end of the long bridge that here joins the two banks.



There is a dull high road out of Pangbourne, and there is a delightful towing-path, crossing the mouth of the little Pang bourne, and going with a fine view across river to Hardwicke House, amid its beautiful lawns on the Oxfordshire side, and presently to Mapledurham Lock. Hardwicke House has associations with the troubles of Charles the First, and was greatly injured during the fighting about Reading.


Although there is no public ferry at Mapledurham Lock, boats there afford an opportunity of crossing the river; greatly, no doubt, to the chagrin of the Blounts, who own Mapledurham, and have not only distinguished themselves in modern times by seeking the aid of the law-courts to forbid fishing in the river at this point, but have so arranged that there is no inn at Mapledurham, and have placed every conceivable obstacle in the way of any one save themselves enjoying the scene. Notice-boards informing the stranger that this, that, and the other are "Private" start out at unexpected corners; and there is only wanting one touch to make this attitude thorough. The suggestion is hereby offered that, for thoroughly scaring away those insistent persons who do not entirely believe in such notices, there should be added to them, more Americano! "This means YOU."
But there is reason in most things, and the reason for this uncompromising attitude is found, according to rumour, in the nearness of Mapledurham to Reading, which sends out numerous boating-parties at holiday times; and such parties, we all know, are not always discreet, either in word or deed.


The old mill of Mapledurham is, now that Iffley Mill has become a thing of the past, the most picturesque on the Thames. Near by it stands the humble little church, amid tall elms, with monuments of the Blounts and others, secluded from lesser folk in a side chapel. A curious small mural monument, with the representation of a dropped curtain, is to be seen here, to the memory of Captain Adrian Rose, born 1878, died 1908. He served in the Boer War.
The beautiful late Tudor mansion of the exclusive Blounts, built by Sir Michael Blount, Lieutenant of the Tower in 1581, stands a little way back from the river, and turns its front away from it. Like so many Elizabethan manor-houses, its plan is that of an elongated capital letter E, the upper and lower projecting limbs formed by the wings; the middle being the entrance. The view of it at some little distance down the mile-long avenue of stately elms is delightful, whether you see it under the mid-day sun, or by the mellow romantic afterglow of a summer evening. At either time the richness in colour of its old red-brick front, patterned in lozenge shapes by vitrified bricks of a darker hue, is evident. It is a house of some romance. Legends tell that on the death of a Blount, or prophetically before such an event - it is not quite clear which - an elm of the long avenue falls; by which it would seem that the owner of this avenue of many trees, a large proportion of them past their prime and prone (as elms especially are) to fall suddenly and without apparent cause, must sometimes receive a shock to his nerves, especially if he be superstitious; and as the Blounts have ever been Roman Catholics, it seems safe enough to deduce superstition in many of them.
[as editor I feeled compelled to point out a certain bias in the author that I do not share!]
The family have been seated here some four hundred years, and are kin of that Sir Walter Blount who was slain at Shrewsbury fight, in 1403; cut down by Douglas, who mistook him for King Henry. "A gallant knight he was," says Hotspur, pointing out to Douglas his mistake, "his name was Blunt, semblably furnished like the King himself."
As popish recusants, and as Royalists in the civil war, the Blounts have suffered sequestration, and have seen hostile soldiers quartered in their old house, and the Sir Charles Blount of that time was slain in the service of the King at Oxford in 1644.
A literary association illuminates their annals at a later period, the spinster Martha Blount, having been Pope's "Stella" or "Patty," a constant friend and correspondent, and the recipient at the poet's death of his books, his plate, and £1,000. That Pope was not in sympathy with the rural surroundings of Mapledurham seems evident from his lines upon Miss Martha on one occasion returning hither

To plain work, to purling brooks,
Old-fashioned halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks.

But then, that was the approved eighteenth-century way!


A long three miles leads direct from Mapledurham to Reading - a lovely road through woodlands, by way of Caversham; but Caversham spoils it all, at the end: Caversham, the cross-river suburb of Reading, where the new streets impinge upon the fair face of the country, and where the gasworks and the destructors, and suchlike evidences of civilisation abound, and crying children and angry mothers cry and spank. If I were a Blount and owned Mapledurham, I would not journey from it by way of Caversham, that is quite certain! The best way is undoubtedly by river, past delightful Purley; or by the road along the Berkshire bank, through Upper Purley, and past Tilehurst railway station.


Purley might well be thought to lie outside the strife of the wicked world. The "lea" down in which the village lies is so secluded that none others than those who live here, or have business in the place, ever come into it - unless they be stalwart or inquisitive explorers of the calibre - shall it be said? - of the present writer. The "village," of a few rustic cottages, lies down below the high road, between the tall embankment of the Great Western Railway and the river. You may hear the trains numerously rushing by, swishing with a curious sound past the dense trees that fill this little nook and flourish upon the embankment itself, but you cannot well see them: only the arm of a tall signal-post wagging continually between the signal to proceed or to stop. The trains tell the villagers, plainly enough, that there is a busy world; and they can see it, plainly enough, when they go for their weekly marketing to Reading; but the business of it all passes by, out of sight, in the manner typified by those swiftly-moving trains.
There should be no ill in this place; but since they are human beings that live here, and not angels, there has been of late a good deal of trouble, well-known to local people in what was styled by the Berkshire newspapers of 1907-8 "The Purley Scandal."
There need have been no scandal, so far as the outer world was concerned, had it not been for the action of the rector of the parish.
But let a summary of the case, extracted from one of the newspapers, here be given:
A Mrs. Moule had been head mistress of the Purley Church of England school for twelve years, and had conducted it during that time efficiently, with nothing to be urged either against her abilities or her character. But Mrs. Moule had a daughter who loved not wisely but too well. The result was that the girl had to get married hastily. She left the village until the child was born; then she went to stay with her mother for a few days. The rector of the parish - one of those nice, charitable Christian gentlemen with whom our readers are by this time well acquainted - demanded that Mrs. Moule should turn her daughter out of doors for at least six months. The mother refused, her 'conduct' was brought to the notice of the school managers by the holy man aforesaid, and she was dismissed her employment. The Education Committee of the Berks County Council supported the parson and the managers in their monstrous act of injustice, and tried to burke discussion. The whole question was then raised at a special meeting of the Council, when the decision arrived at was 'that this Council expresses a wish that the Education Committee will, should opportunity offer, sanction Mrs. Moule's appointment to a similar post to that which she recently held.'
Here we see in working that truly British love of compromise, which has been aptly defined as a middle course by which neither party is satisfied.
The church of Purley lies quite remote, at the end of the scattered cottages, and through a woodland path. The body of it has been rebuilt, but the red-brick seventeenth-century tower remains, with a sculptured heraldic shield of the Bolingbrokes on its south face.

END OF VOLUME 1: Source to Purley

VOLUME 2: (Reading) to Fulham


Sonning - Hurst, "In The County Of Wilts" - Shottesbrooke - Wargrave

As Reading can by no means be styled a village, seeing that its population numbers over 72,000, the fact of its not being treated of in these pages will perhaps be excused. You cannot rusticate at Reading: the electric tramways, the great commercial premises, and the crowded state of its streets forbid; but Reading, taken frankly as a town and a manufacturing town at that, is not at all a place for censure. The Kennet, however, that flows through it, has here become a very different Kennet from that which sparkles in the Berkshire meads between Hungerford and Kintbury, and has a very dubious and deterrent look where it is received into the Thames.


The flat, open shores at Reading presently give place to the wooded banks approaching Sonning, where the fine trees of Holme Park are reflected in the waters of the lock - the lock that was tended for many years, until his death, about 1889, by a lock-keeper who also kept bees, made beehives, and wrote poetry. Sonning, and its Thames-side "Parade," certainly invite to poetry.
To say there is no Thames-side village prettier, or in any way more delightful, than Sonning is vague praise and also in some ways understates its peculiar attractiveness, which, strange to say, seems to increase, rather than decrease, with the years. It might have been expected that a village but three miles from the great and increasing town of Reading would suffer many indignities from that proximity, and would be infested with such flagrant nuisances as wayside advertisement-hoardings and street-loafers, but these manifestations of the zeitgeist are, happily, entirely absent.


Let us, however, halt for a moment to give a testimonial of character to Reading itself, which is far above the average of great towns in these and many other matters. Loafers and street-hoardings are found there, without doubt - and can we find the modern town of its size where they are not? - but they do not obtrude; and, in short, Reading is, with all its bustle of business, a likeable place.

- and back to Sonning

There are reasons for Sonning remaining unspoiled. They are not altogether sufficient reasons, for they obtain in other once delightful villages similarly situated, which have unhappily been ravaged by modern progress; but here they have by chance sufficed. They are found chiefly in the happy circumstances that Sonning lies three-quarters of a mile off the main-road - off that Bath road, oh! my brethren, that was once so delightful, with its memories of a bypast coaching-age; and is now little better than a race-track for motor-cars, and, by reason of their steel-studded tyres, cursed with a bumpy surface full of pot-holes. Time was when the surface of the Bath road was perfection. Nowadays, no ingenuity of mortal road-surveyors can keep it in repair, for the suction of air caused by pneumatic tyres travelling at great speed tears out the binding material and leaves only loose grit and stones. The Bath road on a fine summer's day has become unendurable by reason of the dust raised in this manner. If you stand a distance away, in the fields, out of sight of the actual road, its course can yet be distinctly traced for a long way by the billows of dust, rising like smoke from it.
Happily, motor-cars do but rarely come into Sonning, although at the turning out of the high road a prominent advertisement of the Bull, the White Hart, or the French Horn - the three hostelries that Sonning can boast - invites them hither.
The other prominent reason for this village being allowed to remain quiet is found in the fact of Twyford, the nearest railway station, being two miles distant.

There are many branching streams of the Thames here, and the hamlet of Sonning Eye, on the Oxfordshire side, takes its name either from this abundance of water, or from the eyots, or islands, formed by these several channels, crossed by various bridges.

Sonning Bridge


Sonning Bridge par excellence is a severely unornamented structure of red brick, obviously built by the very least imaginative of architects, in the eighteenth century. If it were new it would be an offence, but there is now a mellowness of colour in that old red brick, embroidered richly as it is in green and gold by the lichens of nearly two centuries, that gives the old bridge a charm by no means inherent in its originator's design.

Trees, great, noble, upstanding woodland trees, lovingly enclasp Sonning village and form a background for its ancient cottages and fine old mansions, and against the dark green background of them you see on summer afternoons the blue smoke curling up lazily from rustic chimneys. In midst of this the embattled church-tower rises unobtrusively; and indeed the church is so hidden, although it is a large church, that strangers are generally directed to find it by way of the Bull Inn: a rambling old hostelry occupying two sides of a square, and covered in summer with a mantle of roses and creepers. And it must, by the way, not be forgotten that Sonning in general displays a very wealth of flowers for the delight of the stranger.

Sonning Church

I would it were possible to be enthusiastic upon the church, but thorough "restoration," and a marvellously hideous monument to Thomas Rich, Alderman of Gloucester, 1613, and his son, Sir Thomas Rich, Bart., 1667, forbid. There are brasses on the floor of the nave, to Laurence Fyton, 1434, steward of the manor of Sonning, and to William Barber, 1549, bailiff of the same manor; with others.
Here, too, is a monument of Canon Pearson, vicar for over forty years, and reverently spoken of - or is it the monument that is reverenced? - by the caretaker. I have sought greatly to discover something by which the Canon's career may be illustrated in these pages, but, upon my soul, the most notable things available are precisely that he held this excellent living for that long period, and that he sometimes preached before Queen Victoria. These things do not in themselves form a title to reverence.
Something of the distinct stateliness of Sonning is due to the fact that anciently the Bishops of Salisbury were owners of the manor, and before them the Bishops of the Saxon diocese of Dorchester. Their manor-house was in the time of Leland "a fair old house of stone by the Tamise ripe"; but of this desirable residence nothing remains. The Deanery, too, has disappeared, but the fine old stone and brick enclosing-walls of its grounds remain, and there a picturesque modern residence has been built. Those walls, of an immense thickness and solidity, are indeed a sight to see, for the saxifrage and many beautiful flowering plants growing in and upon them.
Sonning itself, being a place so delightful, invites those to whom locality has interest to explore into the country that lies in the rear of it. In a work styled Thames Valley Villages we may go very much where we please, and here the valley broadens out considerably, for it includes, and insensibly merges with, that of the river Loddon, which flows down quite a long way, even from the heights of northern Hampshire. The Loddon, the loveliest tributary of the Thames, flows into it by three mouths, from one mile to two miles and a half below Sonning, and its various loops and channels make the four-mile stretch of country in the rear a particularly moist and water-logged district. Here, crossing the dusty Bath road at Twyford, which takes its name from the ancient double ford of the Loddon at this point, the secluded village of Hurst may be found.



Its name of "Hurst," i.e. a woodland, indicates its situation in what was once the widespreading Windsor Forest. The village lies along gravelly roads, scattered about fragments of village green and a large pond; its church, hidden three-quarters of a mile away, forming, with a country inn and some old almshouses, a curiously isolated group. To see the interesting Norman and Early English church, with red-brick tower, dated 1612, crowned with quaint cupola, is worth some effort; for it contains a very handsome chancel-screen, probably placed here circa 1500. The repainting of it in 1876, under the direction of J. D. Sedding, the architect who then restored the church, is, if indeed in accordance with the traces of the original decoration then found, certainly more curious than beautiful; but it should be seen, if only to show that our ancestors were, after all, not a little barbaric in their schemes of decoration. The hour-glass, with beautiful wrought-iron bracket dated 1636, should be noticed. Behind it, on the wall, is painted "As this Glasse runneth, so Man's Life passeth." A queer memorial brass to Alse Harison, representing the lady in a four-poster bed, is on the north wall. A large grey-and-white marble monument to others of the Harison family includes an epitaph on Philip Harison, who died in 1683. The sorrowing author of it ends ingeniously:

A double dissolution there appears,
He into dust dissolves; she into tears.

Surely a mind capable of such ingenious imagery on such a subject cannot have been wholly downcast.

The old almshouses by the church were founded, as appears on a tablet over the entrance, by one William Barker:

This Hospitall for the
Maintenance of eight poor persons,
Each at 6d. pr diem for euer, was
Erected and Founded in ye year 1664
At the Sole Charge of
William Barker
of Hurst, in the County of
Wilts, Esq.
Who dyed ye 25th of March, 1685
And lies buried in the South
Chancell of this Parish.

Note you that, gentle reader, "the county of Wilts," we being in the midst of Berkshire? A considerable tract of surrounding country is in fact (or was until comparatively recent years) a detached portion of Wiltshire, and was invariably shown so on old maps. Examples of such isolated portions of counties, and even of detached fragments of parishes, are by no means rare: Worcestershire in England and Cromartyshire in Scotland, forming the most notable examples; but the reasons for these things are obscure, and all attempts at explaining them amount to little more than the unsatisfying conclusion that they are thus because - well, because they are, you know! That is the net result of repeated discussions upon the subject in Notes and Queries, in which publication of wholly honorary and unpaid contributions the majority of noters, querists, and writers of replies have during the space of some sixty years past been engaged in chasing their own tails, like so many puppies. The process is amusing enough, but as you end where you began, the net result is no great catch.
Apart from legends and traditions, it would seem that the explanation of the Berkshire districts of Hurst, Twyford, Ruscombe, Whistley Green, and a portion of Wokingham having been accounted in Wiltshire, may be found in the fact, already remarked, that Sonning was a manor of the Bishops of Salisbury. The question appears to have been largely an ecclesiastical affair. The anomaly of a portion of Wiltshire being islanded in Berkshire was, however, ended by Acts of Parliament during the reigns of William the Fourth and Queen Victoria, by which the area concerned was annexed to Berkshire.


Returning from Hurst to Twyford, expeditions to Ruscombe, St. Lawrence Waltham, and Shottesbrooke will amply repay the explorer in these wilds - for wilds they are in the matter of perplexing roads. They are good roads, in so far that they are level, but they would seem to have come into existence on no plan; or, if plan there ever were, a malicious plan, intended to utterly confound and mislead the stranger. But this is no unpleasant district in which to wander awhile.



Ruscombe is notable as the place where William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, died, in 1718. Its church stands solitary in the meadows - a red-brick, eighteenth-century building, as ruddy as a typical beef-eating and port-drinking farmer of Georgian days. The neighbouring St. Lawrence Waltham is entirely delightful. The fine church tower of St. Lawrence, the ancient brick and plaster and timbered Bell Inn, and the old village pound, with an aged elm at each corner of it, composing a rarely-beautiful picture.


The stone spire of Shottesbrooke church is seen, not far off, peering up from among the trees of Shottesbrooke Park, in which it is situated. When we see a stone church spire in Berkshire, where we do not commonly find ancient spires, we are apt to suspect at once a modern church, and our suspicions are generally well-founded; but here is a remarkably fine Decorated building of the mid-fourteenth century (it was built 1337). It stands finely in a noble park for many years belonging to the Vansittart family, and has been well described as "a cathedral in miniature." Its origin appears by tradition to have been due to the unexpected recovery of Sir William Trussell, the then owner of the estate, who had been brought to the verge of death by a long-continued course of drunkenness. He built it by way of thankoffering, and as he would seem to have been intemperate in all he did, he not only built this very large and noble church, but founded a college for five priests. This establishment went the way of all such things, hundreds of years ago, and the great building, standing solitary in the park, except for the vicarage and the manor-house, now astonishes the stranger at its loneliness. He wonders where the village is, and may well continue to wonder, for village there is none.


A versifier in the Ingoldsby manner narrates the building of it by Trussell:

An oath he sware
To his lady fair,
'By the cross on my shield,
A church I'll build,
And therefore the deuce a form
Is so fit as a cruciform;
And the patron saint that I find the aptest
Is that holiest water-saint - John the Baptist.'"

A legend of the building of the spire tells how the architect, completing it by fixing the weathercock, called for wine to drink a health to the King, and, drinking, fell to the ground and was dashed to pieces. The only sound he uttered, says the legend, was "O! O!" and that exclamation was the sole inscription carved upon his tomb, erected upon the spot where he fell. Many have been those pilgrims drawn to Shottesbrooke by this picturesque story, seeking that tomb. Tombstones of any kind are few in Shottesbrooke churchyard, and the only one that can possibly mark the architect's grave is a coped stone on which an expectant and confiding person may indeed faintly trace "O, O"; but as the stone is probably not so old as the fourteenth century, and as it is extremely likely that an expectant person will, if in any way possible, find that which he expects, it would not be well to declare for the genuineness of it. But it is at any rate a very old and cracked and moss-grown stone.
Of a bygone Vansittart, who filled this family living for forty-four years, we read some highly eulogistic things upon a monument near by. Born 1779, he died 1847, "the faithful pastor of an attached flock. Meek, mild, benevolent. In domestic life tender, kind, considerate. In all relations revered, respected, beloved." One is tempted to repeat the unfortunate architect's exclamation, "O! O!"
The church, serving no village, and standing in a park close by the noble country seat of the Vansittarts, is for all practical purposes a manorial chapel. That it has long been used as such is very evident from the many tablets to Vansittarts which line its walls. The remains of the founder's tomb are seen in the north transept, in a long stretch of delicate arcading along the north wall, beautifully wrought in chalk.


A singular effigy to William Throckmorton, Doctor of Laws, "warden of this church," who died in 1535, is on the north side of the chancel. It is of diminutive size, and is what archæologists call an "interrupted effigy," showing only head and breast and feet, the middle being occupied by a brass with Latin inscription.
There are several brasses in the church: the finest of them, a fourteenth-century example in the chancel, very deeply and beautifully cut, representing two men; one with forked beard, a long gown and a sword; the other an ecclesiastic. They stand side by side, and are reputed to represent the founder and his brother, but the inscription has been torn away, together with most of the canopy.
A brass in the north transept to Richard Gill, Sergeant of the "Backhouse" - i.e. the Bakehouse - to Henry the Seventh and Henry the Eighth, describes him as "Bailey of the Seaven Hundreds of Cookeham and Bray in the Forest Division." Near by is a brass to "Thomas Noke, who for his great Age and vertuous Lyfe was reverenced of all Men, and was commonly called Father Noke, created Esquire by King Henry the Eight. He was of Stature high and comly; and for his excellency in Artilery made Yeoman of the Crowne of England which had in his Lyfe three Wives, and by every of them some Fruit and Off-spring, and deceased the 21 of August 1567 in the Yeare of his Age 87, leaving behind him Julyan his last Wife, two of his Brethren, one Sister, one only Son, and two Daughters living."
Thomas Noke is represented with his three wives, while six daughters and four sons are grouped beneath.

River Loddon and St Patrick's Stream

Returning through Twyford to Sonning, the outlet of the Loddon,

The Loddon slow, with verdant alders crowned,

is found in that exquisite backwater, the Patrick Stream, where a picture of surpassing beauty is seen at every turn. By a long, winding course, fringed richly with rushes, and overhung with lovely trees, the Patrick Stream wanders through meadow lands and finally emerges into the Thames again, just below Shiplake Lock. By dint of making this long but delightful détour, and thus avoiding Shiplake Lock, it is possible to do the Thames Conservancy out of one of those many threepences for which it has so insatiable an appetite.


Shiplake, on the Oxfordshire bank, is the place where Tennyson was married, but the church has been largely rebuilt since then. The windows are mostly filled with ancient glass brought from the abbey of St. Bertin, at St. Omer. Shiplake Mill, once a picturesque feature, is now, at this time of writing, a squalid heap of ruins.

Wargrave, the George & Dragon Inn

Wargrave, on the Berkshire side, is said to have once been a market-town, and it is now growing again so rapidly that a town it will soon be once more. Its houses crowd together on the banks, where the George and Dragon Inn stands, giving upon the slipway to the water: all looking out upon the spacious Oxfordshire meadows. The sign of the George and Dragon Inn - a double-sided one - painted by G. D. Leslie, R.A., and J. E. Hodgson, R.A., in 1874, shows St. George on one side, as we are accustomed to see him on the reverse of coins, engaged in slaying the dragon; and on the other, the monster duly slain, the saint is refreshing himself with a noble tankard of ale.


Wargrave church has been restored extensively, and its tower is of red brick, and not ancient; but it forms, for all that, a very charming picture. Here we may see a tablet to the memory of that remarkable prig, Thomas Day, the author of that egregious work for the manufacture of other prigs, Sandford and Merton. He was born about 1748, and died[21] 1789. Of his good and highly moral life there can be no doubt; but moral philosophers are rarely personæ gratæ in a naughty and frivolous world. We fight shy of them, and of all instructive and improving persons, and make light of their works; and if nowadays we read Sandford and Merton at all, it is for the purpose of extracting some satirical amusement from the pompous verbiage of the Reverend Mr. Barlow, and from the respective "wickedness" and goodness of Tommy and the exemplary Harry.
Among Thomas Day's peculiar views was that by a proper method of education (i.e. a method invented by himself) there was scarcely anything that could not be accomplished. He certainly began courageously, about the age of twenty-one, by choosing two girls, each about twelve years of age, whom he proposed to educate after his formula, and then to marry the most suitable of them. He, however, did not carry this plan so far as the marrying of either. It is not clear whom we should congratulate: the girls or their eccentric guardian, who at last met his death from the kick of a horse which resented the entirely novel philosophical principles on which he was training it.
In the churchyard is the grave of Madame Tussaud, of the famous waxworks, and here lies Sir Morell Mackenzie, the surgeon who attended the Emperor Frederick. He died in 1892. Near by is a quite new columbarium for containing the ashes of cremated persons.
A singular bequest left to Wargrave by one[22] Mrs. Sarah Hill is that by which, every year at Easter, the sum of £1 is to be equally divided, in new crown pieces, between two boys and two girls, who qualify for this reward by conduct that must needs meet with the approval of all. The five-shilling pieces are not forthcoming unless the candidates are known never to have been undutiful to their parents, never to swear, never to tell untruths, or steal, break windows, or do "any kind of mischief." The good lady would appear either to have been bent upon finding the Perfectly Good Child, or to have been a saturnine humorist, with a cynical disbelief in these annual distributions ever being made. But they are made; and we can only suppose that the vicar and churchwardens allow themselves just a little charitable latitude in the annual judging. And, you know, after all, is it worth while being so monumentally good for the poor reward of five shillings a year? Consider how much delightful mischief you forgo.

Hennerton Backwater

Hennerton backwater, below Wargrave, is another of the delightful side-streams that are plentiful here, and is now, after a good deal of litigation, pronounced free.


Park Place


The wooded road between Wargrave and Henley skirts it, and is carried over a lovely valley in the grounds of Park Place by a very fine arch of forty-three feet span, built of gigantic rough stones.



Marsh Lock and Henley

Passing Marsh Lock, the town of Henley comes into view, heralded by its tall church tower, with four equal-sized battlemented turrets; a quite unmistakable church tower. The noble five-arched stone bridge here crossing the Thames, built in 1789, at a cost of £10,000, is one of the most completely satisfactory along the whole course of the river. The keystone-masks of the central arch show sculptured faces representing Isis and Thames. Isis appropriately faces up-river, and Thames looks down-stream. These conventionalised heads of a river-god and goddess are really admirable examples of the sculptor's art. They adorn the title-pages of the present volumes, which display Isis with a woman's head, and Father Thames, bearded, with little fishes peeping out of the matted hair, and bulrushes decoratively disposed about his temples. These masks were the work of that very accomplished lady, the Honourable Mrs. Anne Seymour Damer, who at the time when Henley bridge was a-building resided at Park Place. She was cousin to Horace Walpole, for whom she carved an eagle so exquisitely that he wrote under it - enthusiastic cousin as he was - Non Praxiteles sed Anna Damer me fecit. One terrible thing, however, stamps the lady irrevocably as a gifted amateur: she gave her work to the bridge authorities. Most reprehensible! The recipients were duly grateful, as witness the Bridge Minutes. True, they do but acknowledge one mask: "May 6, 1785. Ordered that the thanks of the Commissioners be given to the Honourable Mrs. Damer for the very elegant head of the River Thames which she has cut and presented to them for the Keystone of the centre arch of the bridge."
This conventional head of Father Thames is that made familiar by the eighteenth-century poets, who personified everything possible. It is that Father Thames who

From his oozy bed
... advanced his rev'rend head;
His tresses dropped with dews, and o'er the stream
His shining horns diffused a golden gleam."

Only, as we see, bulrushes here take the place of his "shining horns."
The head of Isis was a portrait of Miss Freeman of Fawley Court.

Henley is, of course, famed, above all else, for its Regatta, established as an annual event since 1839, following upon an Oxford and Cambridge boat-race here in 1837. It is now pre-eminently the function of the river season, whether we consider it from the point of view of sport or fashion. Here every June the best oarsmanship in the world is displayed over this course of one-and-a-quarter miles: indisputably the best for anything up to that distance, for the regatta is now attended by the best oarsmen of the New World as well as of the Old. The regatta is, from a social and hospitable point of view, very much what the Derby is among horseraces; and the house-boat parties and riverside house-parties for the Henley Week dispense much hospitality and champagne. There is yet another side to the regatta: it is, almost equally with Ascot and Goodwood, recognised as an opportunity for the display of fine dresses. The Oxfordshire bank is at such times the most exclusive, and to the Berkshire shores are principally relegated the pushing, struggling crowds of humbler sportsmen and sightseers. But here, where every point is legally open to all, except where private lawns reach down to the river, the real exclusiveness of Goodwood or Ascot is, of course, impossible. Henley town is at such times anything but exclusive, and is thronged to excess. In these later times of motor-cars it is also apt to be a great deal more dusty than ever it used to be. To see Henley in Regatta Week, and again Henley in any other week, affords an astonishing contrast; for at all other times it is, as a town, among the dullest of the dull, and its broad High Street a synonym for emptiness.


I do not propose in this place to enlarge further upon Henley, but to mention Henley at all and not its famous old coaching-inn by the bridge, the Red Lion, has never yet been done; and shall I be the first to make the omission? No! It is a famous old inn, and of enormous size. Every one knows it as the hostelry where Shenstone the poet, about 1750, scratched with a diamond upon a window the celebrated stanza about "the warmest welcome at an inn," but that window-pane has long been lost; and it is really doubtful if the inscription was not rather at another Henley: i.e. Henley-in-Arden. I have fully discussed that question elsewhere, and so will not repeat it in this place.

Mr. Ashby-Sterry is quite right in his description of the Red Lion, standing red-brickily by the bridge:

'Tis a finely-toned, picturesque, sunshiny place,
Recalling a dozen old stories;
With a rare British, good-natured, ruddy-hued face,
Suggesting old wines and old Tories."



Remenham, a mile or so along the Berkshire shore, is typically Berkshire, but with a church still looking starkly new, as the result of "thorough restoration" in 1870. Its semicircular apse, really ancient, does not look it. The tower is of the Henley type, though smaller. Henley church tower, in fact, seems to have set a local fashion in such, for that of Hambleden conforms to the same design.

Regatta Island (Temple island)


Regatta Island, with its effective temple, marks the old starting-point of the races.

Greenlands and W.H.Smith

Hambleden is on the Buckinghamshire side; a pretty village situated about one mile distant from the river along the lovely and retired valley of the Hamble. From it the widow of W. H. Smith, of the newspaper and library and bookstall business of W. H. Smith & Son, and of Greenlands, near Henley, takes her title of Viscountess Hambleden. Liberal, Radical, and Separatist journals were never tired of satirically referring to W. H. Smith, when a member of a Unionist Government, as "Old Morality," deriving that term from the stand he took in the House of Commons upon his "duty to Queen and country." His idea of his duty in those respects was exactly that of an average responsible business man. He had no axe to grind, no job to perpetrate[sic a malapropism for "perpetuate"!]; and that being so, the nickname of "Old Morality" was in effect a great deal more honourable than those satirists ever suspected. They, indeed, conferred upon him a brevet of which any one might well be proud, and incidentally covered themselves with shame, as men to whom a sense of rightness and of duty towards one's sovereign and one's native land was a subject for mirth. But of course these quips and cranks derived from the party notoriously friends of every country save their own.
[Once more cause for an editor to point out bias!]

In the very much restored church of Hambleden, among various tombs, is one in the chancel to Henry, son of the second Lord Sandys, with a quaint inscription, owning some nobility of thought:

Nature cryeth on me so sore,
I cannot, Christ, be too fervent,
Sith he is gone, I have no more,
And yt, O God, I am content.
I believe in the Resurection of Life
To see you again at the last day,
And now, farewell, Elizabeth my wife,
Teach mye children God to obey
But now let us rejoyce in heart
To trymphe never cease
Sith in this life wee only part
To joyce agen in heavenly peace.
Parted to God's mercy, 1540."

The elaborate oak screen under the tower, carved with Renascence designs, is said to have once been part of Cardinal Wolsey's bedstead. It bears the arms of Christ Church and of Corpus Christi, Oxford; and those of Castile, with the rose badge of York.

Medmenham Abbey


At some little distance downstream is Medmenham Abbey. The building, that looks so entirely reverend and worshipful from the opposite shore, is really, in the existing buildings, little enough of the original Abbey that was founded towards the close of the twelfth century by one Hugh de Bolebec. It was never very much of a place, and seems to have been something of a dependency of Bisham Abbey. Just prior to its suppression, Henry the Eighth's commissioners reported that it had merely two monks, with no servants, and little property, but no debts; but, on the other hand, no goods worth more than £1 3s. 8d., "and the house wholly ruinous."
Nothing remains of whatever church there may have been, and the only ancient portions are some fragments of the Abbot's lodgings. The "ruined" tower, the cloisters, and much else are the work of those blasphemous "Franciscans" of the Hell Fire Club who, under the presidency of Francis Dashwood, Lord le Despencer, established themselves here about 1758. There were twelve of these reckless "monks," who, having built the "cloisters," reared the now ivy-mantled tower, and painted their licentious motto, "Fay ce que voudras," over one of the doors, sat down to a series of orgies and debaucheries whose excesses have been perhaps exaggerated by the mystery with which these "monks of Medmenham" chose to veil their doings. Among them were Bubb Dodington, Lord Melcombe, Sir John Dashwood King, John Wilkes, the poet Churchill, and Sir William Stanhope. Paul Whitehead was "secretary" to this precious gang of debauchees.
Devil-worship was said to have been among the impious rites celebrated here; and one of the party seems to have played a particularly horrifying practical joke upon his fellows during the progress of these celebrations. He procured an exceptionally large and hideous monkey and, dressing it in character, let it down the chimney into the room among his friends, who fled in terror, and were for long afterwards convinced that their patron had really come for them. This incident is said to have broken up the fraternity.
The explorer by Thames-side could, until quite recent years, do very much as he liked at Medmenham, and the more or less authentic ruins were open to him; but now they are enclosed within the grounds of a private residence, and a hotel stands beside the ferry.

Medmenham Village


The very small village at the back is to be noted for the highly picturesque grouping of some ancient gabled houses (restored of late) with the little church and a remarkable hill crested by an old red-brick and flint house that looks as though it owned, or ought to own, some romantic story. The hilltop is said to be encircled with the remains of a prehistoric encampment. It is with sorrow that here also one notes the builder's prejudicial activities. Directly in front of the church, and entirely blocking out the view of it, there has been built a recent red-brick villa, with the result that the effective composition illustrated here is almost wholly destroyed.


The lovely grass-lands over against Medmenham are glorious in June, before the hay-harvest. One may walk by them, beside the river, all the way to Hurley. On the left, or Buckinghamshire, bank, the ground rises into chalk-cliffs, surmounted by the great unoccupied house of Danesfield, staringly white, popularly said to contain as many windows as there are days in the year. This is the handiwork of Mr. R. W. Hudson, of "Hudson's Soap."

Hurley, Lady Place

Hurley, to which we now come, is a historic spot. Here, by the waterside, was founded in 1087, by Geoffrey de Mandeville, the Benedictine Priory of Our Lady of Hurley, which remained until 1535, when, in common with other religious houses, it was suppressed by Henry the Eighth. To the Lovelace family came the lands and buildings of this establishment, and here, on the site of it, Sir Richard Lovelace built, with "money gotten with Francis Drake," a splendid mansion which he called Lady Place. His descendant, Richard, Lord Lovelace, was in 1688 one of the somewhat timorous nobles who met secretly to plot the deposition of James the Second. They had not the courage, these pusillanimous wretches, to take the field in arms, as Monmouth and his brave peasants had done, three years earlier, and must needs find cellars to grope in, and then invite over that cold, disliked Dutchman, William of Orange, to do for them what they dared not do for themselves. Macaulay, in his richly-picturesque language, refers to these meetings, but it will be observed that he calls those who met here "daring." They were anything but that.
"This mansion," he says, "built by his ancestors out of the spoils of Spanish galleons from the Indies, rose on the ruins of a house of our Lady in this beautiful valley, through which the Thames, not yet defiled by the precincts of a great capital, rolls under woods of beech, and round the gentle hills of Berks. Beneath the stately saloon, adorned by Italian pencils, was a subterranean vault, in which the bones of ancient monks had sometimes been found. In this dark chamber some zealous and daring opponents of the Government held many midnight conferences during that anxious time when England was impatiently expecting the Protestant wind."
This Lady Place no longer exists, for the great house was demolished in 1836, and the house so-called is of modern build. But the old-time gardens remain, and the refectory; and here is the old circular pigeon-house, with the initials on it, "C.R.," and the date, 1642.
A curious story tells how one of the last occupants of Lady Place was a brother of Admiral Kempenfelt, and that he and the Admiral planted two thorn-trees in the garden, in which he took great pride. One day, returning home, he found that the tree planted by the Admiral had withered away, and he exclaimed: "I feel sure this is an omen that my brother is dead." That evening, August 29, 1782, he received news of the loss of the Royal George.

Hurley church is a long, low building, of nave without aisles, of Norman, or some say earlier, origin. "It was probably ravaged by the Danes towards the close of the ninth century," say the guide-books. This may have been so, but it could hardly have been worse ravaged by them than it was by those who "restored" it in 1852 "at a cost of £1,500," and incidentally also at the cost of all its real interest.


The village of Hurley straggles a long way back from the river, in one scattered, disjointed line of cottages, past the picturesque old Bell Inn, apparently of fifteenth-century date, heavily framed with stout oaken timbers.

Temple Lock, Temple Island and Bisham

Below Hurley, leaving behind the ancient red-brick piers of the old-world gardens of Lady Place, the river opens out to Marlow reach, with Bisham on the right hand, and the tall crocketed spire of Marlow church closing the distant view.
"Bisham" is said to have been originally "Bustleham," but the present form will be preferred by every one. Strangers call it "Bish-am," but for the natives and the people of Marlow the only way is by the elision of the letter h - "Bis-am"; and thus shall you, being duly informed of this shibboleth, infallibly detect the stranger in these parts.
Bisham village is quite invisible from the river, nor need we trouble to seek it, unless it be for climbing up into the lovely and precipitous Quarry Woods, in the rear. To those who knew Bisham when Fred Walker painted his delightful pictures, and among them, some studies of this village street, there comes, when they think of the Bisham that was and the Bisham that is, a fierce but impotent anger. The humble old red-brick cottages remain, it is true, and their gardens bloom as of yore, but what was once the sweet-smelling gravelly street is now a tarred abomination, smelling evilly, and wearing a squalid and disreputable look. This is the result of the coming of the motor-car, for Bisham is on the well-travelled road between High Wycombe, Great Marlow, Twyford, and Reading, and the village has now the unwelcome choice of two evils: to be half-choked with billows of dust, or to coat its roads with tar compositions.
Of what was originally a Preceptory of the Knights Templars, and then an Augustine Priory, and finally a Benedictine Abbey, nothing is left but the Prior's lodgings, now the mansion of the Vansittart-Neales, called "the Abbey."
The parish church stands finely by the waterside, encircled by the trees of the park, and there remains a monastic barn. Such are the few relics of the proud home of monks and priors, enriched during hundreds of years by the benefactions of the wicked, endeavouring by means of such gifts to atone sufficiently for their evil lives, and so escape the damnation that surely awaited them.[!]
Such complete destruction is melancholy indeed, when we consider the great historic personages who were buried here: among them the great Nevill, "Warwick the Kingmaker," slain at last in the course of his tortuous ambitions, in the Battle of Barnet, fought on Easter Day, 1471, and laid at Bisham, hard by his own manor of Marlow.
When the Abbey was finally dissolved, it was granted by Henry the Eighth to Anne of Cleves, his divorced fourth wife, who exchanged it with the Hoby family for a property of theirs in Kent. Here the Princess Elizabeth was resident for three years, during the reign of her half-sister, Mary, really under surveillance; and to that period the greater part of the "Abbey," as we see it now, is to be referred.


Bisham Abbey is, of course, famed above all other things for the story of the wicked Lady Hoby, who so thrashed her son for spoiling his copy-books with blots that he died. A portrait of her, in the dress of a widow, is still in the house, and her ghost is yet said to haunt the place. She was wife of Sir Thomas Hoby, Ambassador to France, who died in 1566, aged 36. The elaborate altar-tomb in Bisham church to him, and to his half-brother, Sir Philip, with effigies of the two knights, is worth seeing; and the rhymed epitaph written by her worth reading. The early death of the Ambassador, in Paris, was not without suspicion of poison. The sculptured figures of hawks at the feet of the brothers are "hobby"-hawks, a punning allusion to the family name.
Lady Hoby was a grief-stricken widow, and supplicated Heaven, rather quaintly, to "give me back my husband, Thomas," or that being beyond possibility, to "give me another like Thomas." She captured another, eight years later, when she married John, Lord Russell; but whether Heaven had thus given her one up to sample we are only left idly to conjecture. At any rate she outlived him too, by many years, and elected to be buried beside her Thomas. An elaborate monument to this fearsome lady discloses her in a wonderful coif, surmounted by a coronet. Before and behind her kneeling figure are the praying effigies of her children. It is recorded that she was particularly interested in mortuary observances, and that she even found it possible to be absorbed, as she lay dying, at the age of 81, in her own funeral rites; corresponding with Sir William Dethick as to precisely the number of mourners and heralds that were her due.
A little monument to two children in Bisham church is the subject of a very old legend to the effect that Queen Elizabeth was their mother! More scandal about Queen Elizabeth!
Bisham passed from the Hobys in 1768 to a family of Mills, who assumed the name; but in 1780 it again changed hands and was sold to the Vansittarts, of whom Sir H. J. Vansittart-Neale is the present representative. The old belief in disaster befalling families who hold property taken from the Church has been curiously warranted here from time to time, in the untimely death of eldest sons or direct heirs, and here indeed, upon entering Bisham church, the stranger is startled by the white marble life-size effigy confronting him of a kneeling boy, in a Norfolk jacket-suit; an inscription declaring it to represent George Kenneth Vansittart-Neale, who died in 1904, aged fourteen.





Marlow town is well within sight from Bisham. It is very much more picturesque at a distance than it is found to be when arrived near at hand; and the graceful stone spire of its church is found to be really a portion of a very clumsy would-be Gothic building erected in the Batty-Langley style, about 1835. A fine old Norman and later building was destroyed to make way for this; and now the present church is in course of being replaced, in sections, by another, as the funds to that end come in. An interesting monument in the draughty lobby of the present building commemorates Sir Myles Hobart, of Harleyford, who, when Member of Parliament for Marlow, in 1628, distinguished himself by his sturdy opposition to the King's illegal demands; and with his own hands, on a memorable occasion, locked the door of the House of Commons, to secure the debate on tonnage and poundage from interruption. For this he suffered three years' imprisonment.
The monument, shamefully "skied" on the wall of this lobby, was removed from the old church. Hobart met his death in 1652 by accident, the four horses in his carriage running away down Holborn Hill, and upsetting it. A curious little sculpture on the lower part of the monument represents this happening, and shows one of the wheels broken. The monument is further interesting as having been erected by Parliament; the first to be voted of any of a now lengthy series.


In the vestry, leading out of this lobby, among a number of old prints hung round the walls, is an old painting of a naked boy, with bow and arrow, his skin spotted all over, leopard-like, with brown spots. This represents the once-famous "Spotted Negro Boy," a supposed native of the Caribbean Islands, who formed a very attractive feature of Richardson's Show in the first decade of the nineteenth century. We shall probably not be far wrong in suspecting Mr. William Richardson of a Barnum-like piece of showman humbug in putting this child forward as a "Negro Boy." The boy, one cannot help thinking, was sufficiently English, but was a freak, suffering from that dreadful skin disease, ichthyosis serpentina. He lies buried in the churchyard.


There are a few literary associations in Marlow town, and by journeying from the riverside and along the lengthy High Street, to where that curious building, the old Crown Hotel, stands, facing down the long thoroughfare, you may come presently to the houses that enshrine them. Turning here to the left you are in West Street, otherwise the Henley road, and passing the oddly named "Quoiting Square," there in the quaintly pretty old Albion House next door to the old Grammar School, lived Shelley in 1817. A tablet on the coping, like a tombstone, records the fact. He divided his time between writing the Revolt of Islam, and in visiting the then degraded, poverty-stricken lower orders of the town and talking nonsense to them. As no report of his conversations survives, we can only wonder if they were as bad as the turgid nonsense of that poem. Does any one nowadays ever read the Revolt of Islam, or know why Islam did it, or if, in so doing, it succeeded? In short, it will take a great deal of argument to convince the world that Shelley was not the Complete Prig of his age, and in truth the house is much more delightful and interesting for itself than for this association. In Shelley's time it was very much larger than now, and comprised the two or three other small houses which have been divided from it.
At "Beechwood" lived Smedley, author of Frank Fairleigh and Valentine Vox, and on the Oxford road resided G. P. R. James, romantic novelist, whose romances were said, by the satirists of his methods, generally to commence with some such formula as -
"As the shades of evening were falling upon Deadman's Heath, three horsemen might have been observed," etc.

Marlow Weir, Marlow Suspension Bridge and the puppy pie

Marlow Weir is, to oarsmen not intimately acquainted with this stretch of the river, the most dangerous on the Thames, so it behoves all to give the weir-stream a wide berth in setting out again from Marlow Bridge;
that suspension-bridge, built in 1831, which, like the neighbouring church, looks its best at a considerable distance.
River-gossipers will never let die that old satirical query, "Who ate puppy-pie under Marlow Bridge?" the taunt being directed, according to tradition, against the bargees of long ago, who, accustomed to raid the larder of a waterside hotel at Marlow, were punished admirably by the landlord, who, having drowned a litter of puppies, caused them to be baked in a large pie, and the pie to be placed where it could not fail to attract the attention of the raiders, who stole it, and consumed it with much satisfaction, under the bridge.

Bourne End

Two miles below Marlow, past Spade Oak ferry, is Bourne End, on the Buckinghamshire side; a modern collection of villas clustered around a delightful backwater known as Abbotsbrook, and by the outlet of the river Wye - the "bourne" which ends here and gives rise to the place-name. It comes down from Wycombe, to which also it gives a name, and Loudwater.


Cookham now comes into view, on the Berkshire shore. Here the village is grouped around a village green; rather a sophisticated green in these days, and combed down and brushed up smartly since those times when Fred Walker began his career. Then the geese and ducks roamed about that open space, and in the unspoiled village; and old gaffers in smock-frocks and wonderful beaver-hats with naps on them as thick as Turkey carpets sat about on benches in front of old inns, and smoked extravagantly long churchwarden-pipes. The old gaffers have long since gone, and the Bel and the Dragon Inn has become a hotel, and Walker is dead and already an Old Master. You may see his grave in the churchyard, and read there how he died, aged thirty-five, in 1875. There is, in addition, a portrait-medallion within the church itself, which gives him a half-drunken, half-idiotic expression that one hopes did not really belong to him.


Behind the organ a curious mural monument to Sir Isaac Pocock, Bart., dated 1810, represents the baronet "suddenly called from this world to a better state, whilst on the Thames near his own house." He is seen in a punt, being caught while falling by a personage intended to represent an angel, in tempestuous petticoats, while a puntsman engaged in poling the craft looks on, in very natural surprise.


From Cookham, where the lock is set amid wooded scenery, the transition to Cliveden is easy.



Clieveden, Cliefden, Cliveden - you may suit individual taste and fancy in the manner of spelling - looks grandly from the Buckinghamshire heights down on to the Berkshire levels of Cookham and Ray Mead. Perhaps the most beautiful view of all is from Cookham Lock.

(Ray Mead)

Ray Mead, that was until twenty years ago just a mead - a beautiful stretch of grass-meadows - is now the name of a long line of villas with pretty frontages and gardens, but deplorable names - "Frou-Frou," "Sans Souci," and the like - and inhabited, often enough, as one might suppose by the Frou-frous of musical comedy and their admirers.

Cliveden House

Cliveden, sometime "bower of wanton Shrewsbury and of love," and now residence of the highly respectable and remarkably wealthy Mr. William Waldorf Astor, looks in lordly fashion upon such. With the proceeds of his New York rent-roll that Europeanised American in 1890 purchased the historic place from the first Duke of Westminster, and has resided here and at other of his English seats ever since. Those who are conversant with American newspapers are familiar with the scream every now and again raised against this and other examples of American money being taken and spent abroad. The spectacle of that bird of prey raging because of the dollars riven from it is amusing, but the situation may become internationally serious yet, for when some great financial crisis arises in the United States and money is scarce, it is quite to be expected that the question of the absentee landlords will become acute, and talk of super-taxing and expropriation be heard. I believe this particular Astor is now a naturalised Englishman, and I don't suppose him to be the only one. Suppose, then, that the Government of the United States at some future time seized the property of such, how would the international situation shape?
Cliveden, when it was thus sold, had not been long in the hands of the Grosvenor family; having been, a generation earlier, the property of the Duke of Sutherland, for whom the present Italianate mansion was built by Sir Charles Barry in 1851, following upon a fire which had destroyed the older house, for the second time in the history of the place. The original fire was in 1795. In the mansion then destroyed the air of "Rule, Britannia," had first been played in 1740, as an incidental song in Thomson's masque of Alfred, the music composed by Dr. Arne.

Boulter's Lock

Boulter's Lock, the water-approach to Maidenhead, is the busiest lock on the Thames, and now busier on Sundays than on any other day. How astonishingly times have changed on the river may be judged from an experience of the late Mr. Albert Ricardo, who died at the close of 1908, aged eighty-eight. He lived at Ray Mead all his long life, and was ever keen on boating. When he was a comparatively young man, he brought his skiff round to the lock one Sunday. His was the only boat there, and he was addressed in no measured terms by a man who indignantly asked him if he knew what day it was, and telling him, in very plain language, his opinion of a person who used the river on Sunday. Since then a wave of High Churchism and irreligion (the two things are really the same)
[Editor notes bias ...]
has submerged the observance of the Sabbath, and aforetime respectable persons play golf on the Lord's Day.

A quaint incident, one, doubtless, of many, comes to me here, in considering Boulter's Lock, out of the dim recesses of bygone reading.
Says Mr. G. D. Leslie, R.A., in his entertaining book, Our River:
"I came through the lock once simultaneously with H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge. He was steering the boat he was in, and I am sorry to say I incurred his displeasure by accidentally touching his rudder with my punt's nose."
Oh dear!
He does not tell us what H.R.H. said on this historic occasion; but a knowledge of the Royal Duke's fiery temper and of his ready and picturesque way of expressing it leads the present writer to imagine that his remarks were of a nature likely to have been hurtful to the self-respect of the Royal Academician. But it is something - is it not? - to be able to record, thus delicately, by implication, that one has been vigorously cursed by a Royal Duke. Not to all of us has come such an honour!


And now we come to Maidenhead town, a town of 12,980 persons, and yet a place that was, not so very long ago, merely in the parishes of Cookham and Bray. (It was created a separate civil parish only in 1894.) Its growth, originally due to its situation on that old coaching highway, the Bath road (which is here carried across the river by that fine stone structure, Maidenhead Bridge, built in 1772, to replace an ancient building of timber), has been further brought about by the modern vogue of the river, and by the convenience of a railway station close at hand.
"Maidenhead" is, according to some views, the "mydden hythe," the "middle wharf" between Windsor and Marlow. Camden assures us that the name derived from "St. Ursula," one of the eleven thousand virgins murdered at Cologne. But St. Ursula and the eleven thousand maiden martyrs, who are said to have been shot to death with arrows, are as entirely mythical as Sarah Gamp's "Mrs. Harris."
But there is plenty choice in the origin of this place-name. There are those who plump for "magh-dun-hythe," the wharf under the great hill (of Cliveden). The place is found under quite another name in Domesday Book. There it is "Elenstone," or "Ellington." It is first styled "Maydehuth" in 1248; and it has been thought that the name is equivalent to "new wharf"; the wharf, or its successor, mentioned by Leland in 1538 as the "grete warfeage of tymbre and fierwood."
We need not, perhaps, expend further space upon the town of Maidenhead, for it is almost entirely modern. Its fine stone bridge has already been mentioned, and another, and a very different, type of bridge, a quarter of a mile below it, now demands attention.

Maidenhead Railway Bridge

Maidenhead Railway Bridge, completed in 1839, one of those greatly daring works for which the Great Western Railway's original engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was famous, is the astonishment of all who behold it. Crossing the river in two spans, each of 128 feet, the great elliptical brick arches are the largest brickwork arches in the world, and of such flatness that it seems scarcely possible they can sustain their own weight, even without the heavy burden of trains running across. Maidenhead Railway Bridge astonishes me infinitely more than the great bridge across the Forth, or any other engineering feats. Yet sixty years have passed, and the bridge not only stands as firmly as ever, but nowadays sustains the weight of trains and engines more than twice as heavy as those originally in vogue. Moreover, in the doubling of the line, found necessary in 1892, the confidence of the Company was shown by their building an exact replica of Brunel's existing bridge, side by side with it. Yet the original contractor had been so alarmed that he earnestly begged Brunel to allow him to relinquish the contract, and although the engineer proved to him, scientifically, that it must stand, he went in fear that when the wooden centreing was removed the arches would collapse. A great storm actually blew down the centreing before it was proposed to remove it, but the bridge stood, and has stood ever since, quite safely. It cost, in 1839, £37,000 to build.



Beyond this astonishing achievement comes the delightful village of Bray, whose name is thought to be a corruption of Bibracte, an obscure Roman station. Bray is scenically associated with the eight - or are they ten? - tall poplars that stand in a formal row, all of one size, and each equidistant from the other, and form a prominent feature in the view as you approach, upstream or down; and with the weird shapes of the eel-bucks that occupy a position by the Berkshire bank. Composing a pretty view with them comes the square, embattled church-tower, together with some feathery waterside trees - and always those stark sentinel poplars in the background. You see them from almost every quarter, a long way off; and even from the railway, as the Great Western trains sweep onwards, towards Maidenhead Bridge, they come rushing into sight, and you say - and you observe that the glances of other passengers say also - "There's Bray!"


Bray is, of course traditionally, the home of that famous accommodating vicar who, reproached with his readiness to change his principles, replied: "Not so; my principle is unaltered: to live and die Vicar of Bray."
Every one knows the rollicking song that sets forth, with a musical economy of some five notes, the determination of that notorious person, despite all changes and chances, to keep his comfortable living, but not every one knows the facts about him and that familiar ballad.
Fuller says: "He had seen some martyrs burnt (two miles off) at Windsor, and found this fire too hot for his tender temper"; and further says, respecting his guiding principle in life - to remain Vicar of Bray - "Such are many nowadays, who, though they cannot turn the wind, will turn their mills and set them so that wheresoever it bloweth, their grist shall certainly be grinded."
The reputation of being that vicar has been flung upon Simon Alleyn, or Aleyn, which were, no doubt, the contemporary ways of trying to spell "Allen," who appears to have derived from a family settled at Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and, graduating at Oxford in 1539, to have been instituted to the living of Bray in 1551, upon the death of William Staverton, vicar before him. Two years later he became also vicar of Cookham. In 1559 he was made Canon of Windsor, and held all three offices until his death in June 1565.


If we inquire into the history of Church and State between 1551 and 1565, we shall not find that the period covered by those fifteen years was remarkable for so many great religious changes. The changes were great, indeed, but not numerous. Edward the Sixth was living, and the Reformed Church established, when Aleyn first became vicar, who, when the young King died and the reactionary reign of Mary began, doubtless "became a Roman"; but there is no doubt that many others did the like at that time.
When Queen Mary died, in 1558, Aleyn naturally conformed to the Protestant religion, then re-established: and, as we see, died comparatively early in the reign of Elizabeth, while that religion was yet undisputed. There was thus, supposing him to have been originally instituted as a Protestant, only one violation of conscience necessary to his retaining his post: a small matter! As he could scarcely have been more than about twenty years of age when he graduated, it is seen at once that when he died, in 1565, he was comparatively young - some forty-six years of age. By his will, he directed that he should be buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor; and as there is no reason to suppose that his wishes in that respect were wantonly disregarded, it follows that the small monumental brass, now without an inscription, here, in the church of Bray, cannot mark his resting-place. It has, indeed, been identified as to the memory of Thomas Little, his successor, who died so soon afterwards as 1567.

The injustice, therefore, done to Simon Aleyn by identifying him with the song, the "Vicar of Bray," is obvious; for there were very many men, born at an earlier date than he, and living to a much greater age, who certainly did change their official beliefs, for professional purposes, several times, between 1534, when the Reformation was accomplished, and the reign of Elizabeth. There would have been more scope for such a tergiversating person in the reigns of Charles the Second, James the Second, William the Third, Queen Anne, and George the First - in all of which it would have been easily possible for a not very long-lived clergyman to flourish - than in Aleyn's time; and the ballad in its present form distinctly specifies that period, long after Aleyn was dead. But the ascription to Bray at all can clearly be proved a late one, for the original words, traced back to 1712, when one Edward Ward published a collection of miscellaneous works in prose and verse, make no mention of any particular place. The verses, eighteen in number, are there entitled, "The Religious Turncoat; or, the Trimming Parson." Among them we find a reference to the troubles under Charles the First, by which it appears that the trimmer's constitutional, as well as religious, opinions were moderated according to circumstances:

"I lov'd no King in Forty-one,
When Prelacy went down,
A cloak and band I then put on
And preached against the Crown.

When Charles returned into the land,
The English Crown's supporter,
I shifted off my cloak and band,
And then became a courtier.
When Royal James began his reign,
And Mass was used in common,
I shifted off my Faith again,
And then became a Roman.

To teach my flock I never missed,
Kings were by God appointed.
And they are damned who dare resist.
Or touch the Lord's anointed..

The familiar refrain was, of course, added later:

"And this is law, I will maintain,
Until my dying day, sir,
That, whatsoever King shall reign,
I'll be the Vicar of Bray, sir..

The air to which the song is set is equally old, but originally belonged to quite another set of verses, called "The Country Garden." It was, later, used with the words of a ballad known as "The Neglected Tar"; but it certainly appeared set to the words of "The Vicar of Bray" in 1778, when it was published in The Vocal Magazine.
Who, then, was he who first associated Bray with the song, and with what warrant? and by what evidence did Fuller advance his statement that Aleyn was the man? The question may well be asked, but no reply need be expected.
It may be worth while in this place to give another, and perhaps an even better, version of the famous ballad, which gives the Vicar a run from the time of Charles the Second to that of George the First; thirty years, at least:

In good King Charles's golden days,
When loyalty had no harm in't,
A zealous High Churchman I was,
And so I got preferment.
To teach my flock I never miss'd,
Kings were by God appointed,
And they are damned who dare resist,
Or touch the Lord's anointed.

When Royal James obtained the throne,
And Popery grew in fashion,
The penal laws I hooted down,
And read the Declaration.
The Church of Rome I found would fit.
Full well my constitution,
And I had been a Jesuit,
But for the Revolution.

When William, our deliverer, came.
To heal the nation's grievance,
Then I turned cat-in-pan again,
And swore to him allegiance.
Old principles I did revoke,
Set conscience at a distance.
Passive resistance was a joke,
A jest was non-resistance.

When glorious Anne became our Queen,
The Church of England's glory,
Another face of things was seen,
And I became a Tory.
Occasional conformists' case -.
I damned such moderation,
And thought the Church in danger was.
By such prevarication.

When George in pudding-time came o'er,
And moderate men looked big, sir,
My principles I changed once more,
And so became a Whig, sir,
And thus preferment I procure.
From our Faith's great Defender,
And almost every day abjure.
The Pope and the Pretender.

The illustrious House of Hanover,
And Protestant Succession,
By these I lustily will swear,
While they can keep possession,
For in my faith and loyalty.
I never once will falter,
But George my King shall ever be -.
Until the times do alter..

Another vicar of Bray distinguished himself in rather a sorry fashion, according to legend, in the time of James the First. He was dining with his curate at the Greyhound, or, by another account, the Bear, at Maidenhead, when there burst in upon them a hungry sportsman, who expressed a wish to join them at table. The vicar agreed, but with a bad grace, but the curate made him welcome, and entertained him well in conversation. When the time came to pay, the vicar let it be seen that, so far as he was concerned, the stranger should settle for his share, but the curate declared he could permit no such thing, and paid the sportsman's score out of his own scanty pocket. Presently, as they stood taking the air at the window, other sportsmen came cantering along the street, and seeing the first, halted, and one, dismounting, dropped upon one knee, and uncovered. It was the King.
The vicar, too late, apologised, but the King, turning to him, said: "Have no fear. You shall always be vicar of Bray, but your curate I will set over you, and make him Canon of Windsor."

One of the queerest and quaintest of entrances conducts to the church, beneath a picturesque old timbered house: charming on both fronts, each greatly differing from the other. There are as many as eight brasses in the church, a fine Early English and Decorated building, somewhat overscraped and renewed in restoration. An early seventeenth-century brass has some delightful lines:

"When Oxford gave thee two degrees in Art,
And Love possessed thee, Master of my Heart,
Thy Colledge Fellowshipp thow leftst for mine,
And novght but death covld seprate me frô thine..

This is without a name, but has been identified as to the memory of Little, Aleyn's successor.

Not so delightful are the self-sufficing lines upon William Goddard, founder of the neighbouring almshouses. Let us hope that, although couched in the first person, he did not write them himself:

f what I was, thov seekst to know.
Theis lynes my character shal showe,
These benifitts that God me lent.
With thanks I tooke and freely spent.
I scorned what playnesse covld not gett,
And next to treason hated debt.
I lovd not those that stird vp strif.
Trve to my freinde, and to my wife.
The latter here by me I have.
We had one Bed and have one grave.
My honesty was such that I.
When death came, feared not to dye..


In the churchyard lies John Payne Collier, the Shakespearean critic, who died in 1883. His funeral was the occasion of a curious mistake in The Standard, of September 21. The newspaper correspondent had written:
"The remains of the late Mr. John Payne Collier were interred yesterday in Bray churchyard, near Maidenhead, in the presence of a large number of spectators."
This became, at the hands of the sub-editor, who had never heard of Collier,
"The Bray Colliery Disaster. The remains of the late John Payne, collier," etc.

Jesus Hospital, founded in the seventeenth century by William Goddard, of the City of London, fishmonger, and Joyce, his wife, for the housing and maintenance of forty poor persons, faces the road outside the village, on the way to Windsor. Fred Walker, in his most famous picture, The Harbour of Refuge, exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1872, took the beautiful courtyard of the Hospital for his subject, but those who are familiar with that lovely painting, now in the National Gallery, will feel a keen disappointment when they find here the original, for the artist added a noble group of statuary to the courtyard which does not, in fact, exist here, and has generally added details which make an already beautiful place still more lovely than it is.
The courtyard is, indeed, in summer a mass of beautiful homely flowers, and all the year round the noble frontage that looks upon the dusty highroad is inspiring. From an alcove over the entrance the statue of William Goddard, in cloak and ruff, looks down gravely upon wayfarers.





In a remote situation, two miles from Bray Wick, and not to be found marked on many maps, is situated the ancient manor-house of Ockwells. The hills and dales on the way to it are of a Devonshire richness of wooded beauty. The manor was, in fact, originally that of "Ockholt," that is to say, "Oak Wood," and oaks are still plenteously represented. Ockholt, as it was then, was granted in 1267 to one Richard de Norreys, styled in the grant "cook" in the household of Eleanor of Provence, Queen of Henry the Third. In respect of his manor, Richard de Norreys paid forty shillings per annum, quit rent; but there is nothing to show what his house was like, the existing range of buildings dating from the time of John Norreys, first Usher of the Chamber to Henry the Sixth, Squire of the Body, Master of the Wardrobe, and otherwise a man of many important offices, eventually knighted for his services. He died in 1467. His grandson was that Sir Henry Norreys who was, with others, executed in 1536, on what appears to have been a false charge of unduly familiar relations with Anne Boleyn. His body rests in the Tower of London, where he met his untimely end, but his head was claimed by his relatives, and buried in the private chapel of Ockwells. The chapel has long since disappeared. The son of this unfortunate man became Baron Norreys of Rycote, and the family thence rose to further honours and riches and left Ockwells for even finer seats. It then came into the hands of the Fettiplaces, and thence changed ownership many times, exactly as old Fuller says of other lands in this county: "The lands of Berkshire are skittish, and apt to cast their owners." The old mansion finally came down to the condition of a farmhouse, and so remained until some fifty years ago, when it was restored and made once more a residence. Since then it has again been carefully overhauled, and is now a wonderfully well-preserved example of a brick-and timber-framed manor-house of the fifteenth century. Oak framing enters largely into the construction, for this was pre-eminently a timber district; and massive doors, much panelling, and even window mullions in oak testify alike to the abundance of that building-material, and to its lasting qualities, far superior, strange though it may seem to say so, to stone. Even such exceptionally exposed woodwork as the highly enriched barge-boards to the gables is still in excellent preservation. With age they have taken on a lovely silver-grey tone, not unlike that of weathered stone itself. In the Great Hall the heraldic glass yet remains, almost perfect, its colours rich and jewel-like, with the oft-repeated Norreys motto, "Faythfully serve."

Dorney Court

It is somewhat singular that another exceptionally interesting old manor-house of like type with that of Ockwells should be found within three miles. This is the beautiful residence of Dorney Court, on the opposite side of the river, in Buckinghamshire. The village of Dorney lies in a very out-of-the-way situation, and in fact, although the distance from Ockwells is so inconsiderable, the route by which you get to it makes it appear more than twice that length. The readiest way is through Maidenhead, and over the bridge to Taplow railway station, and thence along the Bath road in the direction of London for over a mile, when a sign-post will be noticed directing to Dorney on the right hand.



The village is small and scattered, consisting of the Palmer Arms, some cottages and farmsteads; and the little parish church stands in an obscure byway, divided from Dorney Court only by a narrow lane leading nowhither. The church has ever been, and may still be considered, a mere appendage of the Court, as a manorial chapel. Its red-brick tower, apparently of early seventeenth-century date, is added to the west end of a quite humble building, the greatly altered survival of an early Norman structure, whose former existence may easily be deduced from the remains of a small, very plain window built up in the south wall of the chancel with later work in chalk. Entering by a brick archway in the south porch, you find yourself in one of those little rural churches of small pretensions which in their humble way capture the affections much more surely than do many buildings of more aspiring kind. It is a church merely of aisleless nave and chancel, with a chapel - the Garrard Chapel - thrown out on the north side. A great deal of remodelling appears to have taken place in the early part of the seventeenth century, for not only is there the western tower of that period, and the south porch, but the interior was evidently plastered and refitted with pews at the same time. A very quaint and charming western gallery in oak would seem to fix the exact date of these works, for it bears the inscription in fine, boldly cut letters and figures, "Henry Felo, 1634." That date marked a new era at Dorney, for the Garrards, who had for some time past owned the Manor, ended with the death of Sir William Garrard in 1607. His monument and that of his wife and their fifteen children is in the north chapel, and is a strikingly good example of the taste of that period in monumental art, with kneeling effigies of Sir William and his wife facing one another, and the fifteen children beneath, in two rows - the boys on one side, the girls on the other. The mortality among this family would seem to have been very great, for about 1620 Sir James Palmer, afterwards Chancellor of the Garter, married Martha, the sole survivor and heiress, and thus brought Dorney into the Palmer family, in whose hands it still remains. The Palmers themselves were of Wingham, in Kent, and of Angmering and Parham, Sussex, and have numbered many distinguished and remarkable men. Tradition declares them to be of Danish or Viking origin, while a very curious and interesting old illuminated genealogy preserved at Dorney declares that the family name originated in the ancient days of pilgrimage, when the original Palmer "went a-palmering." If that were indeed the case, the old heraldic coat of the house might be expected to exhibit an allusive scallop-shell. But we find no badge of the pilgrim's way-wending on their heraldic shield, which bears instead two fesses charged with three trefoils; a greyhound courant in chief. The crest is a demi-panther argent, generally represented "regardant" spotted azure, with fire issuant from mouth and ears. This terrific beast is shown holding a holly-branch. An odd, but scarcely convincing attempt to account for the greyhound declares it to be "in remembrance, perchance, of their pilgrimage, a dog, that faithful and familiar creature, being a pilgrim's usual companion."

A remarkably large and interesting sampler, worked probably about 1625, has recently come to Dorney under rather curious circumstances. It appears to have been sold so long ago that its very existence was unknown, and it only came to the knowledge of the present representative of the Palmers through a photographic reproduction published in an illustrated paper, illustrating the stock of a dealer in antiques. It was readily identified as an old family possession by reason of the many Palmer shields of arms worked into it. On inquiry being made, a disappointment was experienced. It was found that the sampler had been sold; but in the end the purchaser, seeing that its proper place was in its old home, with much good feeling resold it to Major Palmer.


This beautiful piece of needlework, done in coloured silks, has the unusual feature of presenting, as it were, a kind of Palmer portrait-gallery of that period. In the midst is a shield of the Palmer arms impaling those of Shurley of Isfield, Sussex. This identifies that particular Palmer as Sir Thomas, of Wingham, the second Baronet, who married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir John Shurley, and succeeded his grandfather in the title 1625. That baronetcy became extinct in 1838
There are eight needlework portraits of men in this sampler, obviously Palmers, since each holds a shield of the family arms; and evidently portraits, because each one is clearly distinguished from the others in age, costume, and features, and the first is easily to be identified by the wounded right arm he bears in a sling. Among those other quaintly attired men, who yet are made to seem so very real to us, one notices a figure with a tilting-lance, another, in the lower range, holding a weapon probably intended to represent the axe carried by the honourable corps of gentlemen pensioners in attendance upon the Sovereign; while the last carries a bunch of keys, in allusion to some official position. The sampler appears to have been carried out of the Palmer family by the marriages in the eighteenth century of the two daughters and heiresses of a Sir Thomas Palmer with an Earl of Winchilsea and his brother.
But to revert to the figure with the wounded arm. This personage was Sir Henry Palmer, Knight, second of the famous triplet sons of Sir Edward Palmer, of the Angmering family, who were born in 1487, according to tradition, on three successive Sundays. This remarkable parturition is still famous at Angmering, where the rustics readily point out the identical house, now divided into cottages, near the Decoy. It was this Henry who established the Wingham line that ascended from knighthood to a baronetcy and became extinct in 1838, having in the meanwhile thrown off a branch now represented at Dorney. Let us take the triplet brothers in their proper sequence. John, the eldest, who inherited Angmering, came to a bad end. He was much at the dangerous Court of Henry the Eighth, and was particularly intimate with that monarch, not only playing cards continually with him, but always winning. A careful courtier in those times did well to lose occasionally. It was not well to be always winning from the Eighth Henry, and that fierce Tudor did in fact hang him on some pretext.
Henry Palmer, the second brother, was a distinguished soldier, and Master of the Ordnance. He received a shot-wound in the arm at Guisnes, of which he eventually died, at Wingham, in 1559. The sampler clearly shows this wounded soldier, with his arm bound up, and supporting himself with a stick. The third brother, Thomas, died on Tower Hill, by the headsman's axe, as an adherent of the Lady Jane Grey. He suffered with the Duke of Northumberland and Sir John Gates, and chroniclers tell how the unhappy trio quarrelled to the last as to whose was the responsibility for the failure of that rising. But Palmer made the boldest exit of all, declaring with his last breath on the scaffold that he died a Protestant.


Sir James Palmer, Chancellor of the Garter, who married the heiress of Sir William Garrard, and thus founded the Palmer family of Dorney, was a younger son of the Wingham Palmers. He died in 1657, and was succeeded by his son, Sir Roger, created Earl of Castlemaine, who died 1705, without acknowledged children, and left the property to his nephew, Charles, from whom the present family are descended.

Dorney Court is a picturesque mansion, chiefly of the period of Henry the Seventh. It was once much larger, as appears from old drawings preserved in the house, in which it is shown as groups of buildings surrounding two large courts and one smaller. The construction is largely of oak framing filled with brick nogging, disposed sometimes in herring-bone fashion, and in other places in ordinary courses. There are no elaborate and beautiful verge-boards to the gables, such as those extremely fine examples seen at Ockwells, but, if a distinction may be drawn between the two houses, Dorney Court is especially attractive in the fine pictures it gives from almost every point of view. It forms a strikingly picturesque composition seen from the north-east, a grouping in which the great gable of the entrance-front and its two remarkable flaunting chimneys come well with the three equal-sized gables of the north front, the church-tower rising in its proper association in the background, emphasising the ancient manorial connection.
A good deal of work has recently been undertaken, in the direction of correcting the tasteless alterations made at some time in the eighteenth century, when sashed windows here and there replaced the original leaded lights. The plan adopted has been that of acquiring such old oak timbering as could be picked up from houses demolished in neighbourhoods near and far, and of setting it up in the reconstructed doors and windows. If it may be permitted to speak of the interior, it can at any rate be well said that it does by no means belie the exterior view. The panelled and raftered rooms are in thorough keeping, and the hall, neglected for generations, has been brought back to something of its ancient appearance. From those walls the panelling had disappeared, but it has now been replaced with some genuine old work of the same period, acquired by fortunate chance at Faversham in Kent, from an old mansion in course of demolition. The hall greatly resembles that of Ockwells; but whatever heraldic glass may have been here has long vanished, leaving no trace. Here, among the many family portraits, hangs a fine example of a helmet brought from the church, an unusually good piece of funeral armour, removed from the church to prevent its rusting away. The family portraits include some Lelys, Knellers, and Jamesons, and a number of early-eighteenth-century pastel portraits, many of them displaying a facial characteristic of the Palmers, constant through the successive generations: that of a somewhat unusually long nose.

The seventeenth-century sampler hangs on the panelling.

It is one of the greatest charms of our long-settled English social order, that we have in this England of ours a not inconsiderable number of ancient homes that have been "home" to one family throughout the changes and chances of centuries, and in Dorney Court we see such a house. Here, on the old woodwork, are painted the heraldic shields of the Palmers, with their greyhound courant conspicuous, and the devices of the families with whom they have intermarried.
An interesting incident in fruit-growing history belonging to Dorney Court is alluded to in the model on a gigantic scale of a pineapple, shown in the hall. It recalls the fact that the first pineapple grown in England was produced here in the reign of Charles the Second by the Dorney Court gardener. A panel-picture at Ham House, the seat of the Earl of Dysart, near Richmond, illustrates this first English-grown pineapple being presented to the King in the gardens of either Ham or Hampton Court, by Rose, the royal gardener. The rendering of the architecture in the picture makes it uncertain which of the two places is intended. It will be observed by the illustration that there has been a great improvement in the art of growing hot-house pineapples since that time, for it is a very small specimen that is being offered to the King.
Foremost among the thirty or more portraits at Dorney are the two large Lelys hanging in the hall, representing Roger Palmer, Baron Limerick, and Earl of Castlemaine, and his wife Barbara, the beautiful and notorious Barbara Villiers. They are half-lengths. She is curiously shown, holding what looks like the model of a church-steeple in her left hand. Lely intended it for a castle, and thus is seen to be guilty of painting an Anglo-French pun; "Castlemain." The beautiful Barbara is better known in history as "Barbara Villiers," her maiden name, and by the title of Duchess of Cleveland. Born in 1641, she married Palmer in 1659. He was shortly afterwards raised to the peerage. There were no children of this marriage, for it was very shortly afterwards that Lady Castlemaine began that extraordinary career of vice which has made her name eminent among even the notorious beauties of Charles the Second's scandalous Court. The first of her seven children was a daughter, Anne, born in May 1661, and at first acknowledged by Palmer, although Lady Castlemaine had undoubtedly been mistress of Charles the Second since May 1660. There are three portraits of Anne Palmer, or Anne Palmer Fitzroy, as she was afterwards known, at Dorney, the earliest of them exhibiting a romantic hilly landscape for background, with a beacon or fire-cresset along the winding road, such as were placed on the more obscure ways in those times for the guidance of travellers. She married in 1675 Thomas Lennard, Lord Dacre and Earl of Sussex.

From the painting at Ham House.

Castlemaine, shortly after the birth of this putative daughter, became a pervert[sic] to the Roman Catholic religion,
[Editorial conscience does not allow that! Please read "convert"]
and his wife, seizing upon this as a pretext, finally left him and lived openly as the King's mistress. Several of her children were acknowledged by Charles, and two of them were created dukes, her second son, Henry Fitzroy, becoming Duke of Grafton, her third, George, Duke of Northumberland. She was, with an astounding display of cynical humour, in 1670 created Baroness Nonsuch, "in consideration of her own personal virtues," and Duchess of Cleveland; and as Duke of Cleveland her eldest son succeeded her. Thus, with Barbara, with Nell Gwynne, and others, Charles the Second abundantly recruited the ducal order and other ranks of the peerage; thus giving point to the Duke of Buckingham's joke. The King had been addressed at Court as the "father of his people."
"Of a good many of them", observed Buckingham behind his hand.
The Earl of Castlemaine lived to see a good many changes. It was not necessary in those times to live to a great age to witness many revolutions and counter-revolutions. He was committed to the Tower shortly after the accession of William the Third, and remained a prisoner there from February 1689 until February 10, 1690. He died in 1705.

Burnham Abbey


A little to the north of Dorney, between it and the Bath road, are the remains of Burnham Abbey, a house for Benedictine nuns founded in 1265 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and titular King of the Romans, brother of Edward the Third. There were an abbess and nine nuns when the establishment was surrendered to Henry the Eighth's Commissioners. The ruins are now amid the rickyards and agricultural setting of the Abbey Farm, and although the church has wholly disappeared, the remains of the chapter-house and the domestic buildings form an exquisite picture, untouched by any busybodying "tidying-up" activities. The seeker after the picturesque, who finds historical evidences destroyed by well-meaning "restorers"; the artist, who generally discovers the artistic negligence of his foregrounds abolished in favour of neatly kept flower-beds and gravel paths and the feeling of ruin and decay thus utterly disregarded, will be rejoiced here, and will find the ruins still put to farming uses, just as Girtin and Turner and the other roaming artists of a hundred years ago were accustomed to find the castles and abbeys of their day. There is more pure æsthetic delight in such scenes as this, left in their natural decay and put to the uses to which they in the logical order of things descended, than in the same place swept and garnished to be made a show. The Lady Chapel and the refectory are stables, where the cart-horses shelter and form a picture so exactly like Morland's stable interiors that the place might well have been a model for him. Every detail is complete in the Morland way, even to the old stable-lantern hanging on a post. Much of the ruined buildings is of the Early English period, and the horses come and go through pointed doorways. Gracious trees richly surround and overhang the scene.






Between Dorney and Eton stretches an out-of-the-way corner of land devoted chiefly to potato-fields and allotments bordering the river. Here stands Boveney church, or "Buvveney," as it is locally styled, a small building so altered at different periods as to be quite without interest. The river glides past, between the alders, that dark, strong current the subject of allusion by Praed in his "School and Schoolfellows":

Kind Mater smiles again to me,
As bright as when we parted.
I seem again the frank, the free,
Stout-limbed and simple-hearted.
Pursuing every idle dream,
And shunning every warning.
With no hard work but Boveney stream,
No chill except Long Morning..

A circle of tall elms closely surrounding the church casts a perpetual shade upon the building; Windsor Castle looking down from the opposite shore in feudal majesty upon it and the humble activities of these level fields.


That majestic pile indeed overlooks some remarkably mean surroundings which on close acquaintance derogate strangely from its dignity. Thus, resuming the road on the Berkshire side, from Bray to Windsor, the long, straight, uninteresting miles lead directly to Clewer, a village of disreputable appearance, now, to all intents, a Windsor slum; and what was a rustic churchyard has become something more in the likeness of a cemetery. In the roads, strewn with rubbish and broken glass, dirty children play.
Besides an inscription to "ye vertuous Mrs. Lucie Hobson, 1657," who was, we learn, "a treu lover of a Godly and a Powerful ministry" - i.e. probably of a preacher who could bang the pulpit and punish the cushions - there is little of interest in Clewer church, with the one exception of a curious little brass plate, inscribed,

He that liethe vnder this ston.
Shott with a hvndred men him selfe alone.
This is trew that I doe say.
The matche was shott in ovld felde at Bray.
I will tell yov before yov go henc.
That his name was Martine Expence..

Local history tells us nothing of this hero, who apparently did not really shoot himself, as the inscription states, but seems at some period to have won a particularly hard archery contest, which was ever after his title to fame in this locality.

From Clewer the pilgrim of the roads mounts into Windsor by way of grim and grimy slums, and therefore those who would come to Windsor had by far the better do so by water, from which the slums look picturesque.

The view of Windsor, indeed, from the windings of the Thames (Windsor is the Saxon "Windlesora," the winding shore) is one of the half-dozen most supremely grand and beautiful views in England.

Of Windsor, in Berkshire, and Eton, in Bucks, joined by a bridge that here spans the Thames, I here propose to say little or nothing. To treat of them at all would, within the scope of this book, be inadequate, and to deal with them according to their importance would demand a separate volume. Moreover, to write of them with an airy assurance requires not a little expert local knowledge of the kind to be expected only of those who have made them places of long residence or study.


There was once a man who falsely claimed to have been educated at Eton, and was stumped first ball. They asked him if he knew the Cobbler. "Yes," he said, "I know the old fellow very well." Is it an unconscious invention of my very own, or did he further proceed to say that he had often helped the old fellow when he was in low water? At any rate, 'twill serve; and will doubtless divert those who know the "old fellow" in question, whom no one could aid under those circumstances, except perhaps the Clerk of the Weather and the lock-keepers above and below, who, between them, might serve him sufficiently well. Not to further mystify readers overseas, who know not Eton, let it at once be said that the "Cobbler" is an island; and that the famous person who claimed to have known him must be placed in association with the pretended traveller who knew the Dardanelles intimately, had dined with them often, and had found them jolly good fellows.

[ The editor repeats he is not responsible for bigotted opinions! ]

Eton has for centuries been the public school of all others, where the sons of landed and of moneyed men have been educated into the belief that they and theirs stand for England, whereas, if it were not for the great optimistic, cheerfully hard-working middle-class folk, who found businesses, and employ the lower orders on the one hand, while on the other they pay rents to the landowning and governing classes, there would not be any England for them to misgovern, you know.
Eton is now so crowded with the sons of wealthy foreigners and German and other [----], learning to be Englishmen (if that be in any way possible), that it is now something of a distinction not to have been educated there, nor to have learned the "Eton slouch," nor the charming Eton belief that the alumni brought up under "her Henry's holy shade" are thus fitted by Heaven and opportunity, working in unison, to rule the nation. It is a belief somewhat rudely treated in this, our day, when the world is no longer necessarily the oyster of the eldest sons of peers and landowners. And in these times, when it is said that Eton boys funk one another and fights under the wall are more or less "low," it is no longer possible that Etonians shall have the leadership in future stricken fields - leadership in finance, possibly, seeing how [-------] this once purely English foundation is becoming; but in leadership when the giving and receiving of hard knocks is toward; no!
I would, however, this were the worst that is said of Eton College in these degenerate times. That it is not, The Eton College Chronicle itself bears witness. Attention is there called to a custom of "ragging" shops, now become prevalent among the young gentlemen. This, we learn, is carried to such an extent that they will pocket articles found lying about and walk off with them, "for fun." One of the most "humorous" of these incidents was the disappearance of cricket balls to the value of nearly £1. The assistants at the shop where this mysterious disappearance occurred had to make good the loss; so it will readily be perceived how completely humorous the incident must have been from the point of view of those who had to replace the goods. Were these practices prevalent in such low-class educational establishments as Board Schools, a worse term than "ragging," it may be suspected, would be given them.


Two miles in the rear of Datchet is Langley, a small and very scattered village which, although unimportant in itself, has a station on the Great Western Railway. The full name of it, rarely used, is Langley Marish, which is variously said to mean "Marshy Langley," "Langley Mary's," from the dedication of the church to the Virgin Mary, or to derive from the Manor having been held for a short period in the reign of Edward the First by one Christiana de Mariscis.
Few would give a second glance to the humble little church, with its red-brick tower of typically seventeenth-century type, and with other portions of the exterior quite horribly stuccoed; but to pass it by would be to miss a great deal, for it contains a most curious family pew and parish library.


This library, originally containing between 500 and 600 volumes, was given by Sir John Kedermister, or Kederminster, under his will of 1631, to "the town" of Langley Marish. The worthy knight was also builder of one of the two groups of almshouses for four inmates, who were appointed joint custodians of the books. An ancient deed, reciting the gift, says: "The said Sir John Kedermister prepared a convenient place for a library, adjoining to the west end of the said chapel, and intended to furnish the same with books of divinity, as well for the perpetual benefit of the vicar and curate of the parish of Langley as for all other ministers and preachers of God's Word that would resort thither to make use of the books therein."
The Kederminsters first settled at Langley in the middle of the sixteenth century, when one John Kederminster, who appears to have been a kinsman of Richard Kydermynster, Abbot of Winchcombe, became ranger of the then royal park of Langley and "master of the games" to Henry the Eighth. He died at the comparatively early age of thirty-eight, in 1558, leaving two sons and three daughters. His son Edmund was father of the John Kederminster who founded the library and initiated other works here. He also was ranger of Langley Park, and was knighted by James the First in 1609, who also conferred upon him the Manor of Langley.


This was a short-lived family, and Sir John died in 1634, a deeply pious but much stricken man, who had lived to see his children, except one daughter, predecease him, and his hopes thus disappointed of the Kederminster name being continued.
As lord of the manor of Langley, and a knight, Sir John Kederminster obviously felt it behoved him to establish himself in considerable state, in the church as well as at his mansion. He therefore secured a faculty granting him the right to construct an "Ile or Chappell"; otherwise, as we may see to this day, a private family pew, in the south aisle, and a parish library to the west of it.
This family pew is perhaps the most curious remaining in England, alike for its construction and for the instructive light it throws upon the lofty social heights from which a lord of a manor looked upon lesser mortals. We have royal pews in St. George's Chapel at Windsor and elsewhere; but their exclusiveness is not greater than this of the Kederminsters, which is singularly like that of the latticed casements familiar to all who have visited Cairo and other Oriental towns. Yet it is obvious that there was a vein of humility running through Sir John Kederminster's apparent arrogance; though a rather thin vein, perhaps. Thus he wrote, for the stone closing the family vault under his pew: "A true Man to God, his King, and Friends, prayeth all future Ages to suffer these obscure Memorials of his Wife, Children and Kindred to remain in this Place undisturbed."
The pew remains in its original condition, looking into the church from the south aisle through very closely-latticed wooden screen-work, elaborately painted, and crested with an open-work finial bearing the arms of the Kederminsters and their connections. The worshippers within were quite invisible to the congregation, but could themselves see and hear everything. Within the pew, the wall-decoration, in Renascence designs, includes many panels painted with the all-seeing eye of God, with the words "Deus videt" inscribed on the pupil. This scheme of decoration is continued over the ceiling.
A passage leads out of this singular pew to the library, on the western side. This is an entirely charming square room, constructed in what was formerly the west porch. It is lined throughout with bookcases with closed cupboard doors, all richly painted in characteristic Jacobean Renascence cartouche and strapwork designs, with the exception of those next the ceiling, which are landscapes of Windsor and its neighbourhood. The inner side of one of the cupboard doors has a portrait of the pious donor: the corresponding door once displayed a likeness of his wife, but it has been obliterated. An elaborate fireplace has a fine overmantel with large central cartouche, semée with the Kederminster arms: two chevronels between three bezants, marshalled with those of their allied families. The original Jacobean table still stands in the centre of the room, with the old tall-backed chairs, too decrepit now for use.


Kederminster strictly enjoined the most careful precautions for the due care of the books, of which an old catalogue dated 1638, engrossed on vellum, and framed, still hangs on the wall. One, at least, of his four bedesmen (who are now women) was to be present when they were in use:
"The said four poor persons should have a key of the said library, which they should for ever keep locked up in the iron chest under all their four keys, unless when any minister or preacher of God's Word, or other known person, should desire to use the said library, or to study, or to make use of any books in the same, and then the said four poor people, or one of them at the least, should from time to time - unless the heirs of Sir John Kedermister, being then and there present, should otherwise direct - attend within the door of the said library, and not depart from thence during all the time that any person should remain therein, and should all that while keep the key of the said door fastened with a chain unto one of their girdles, and should also take special care that no books be lent or purloined out of the said library, but that every book be duly placed in their room, and that the room should be kept clean; and that if at any time any money or reward be given to the said poor people for their attendance in the library as aforesaid, the same should be to the only use of such of those poor people as should at that time then and there attend."
Clearly, this care has not been always exercised, for the books are now reduced to some three hundred, and those that are left have suffered greatly from damp and rough handling. The books are chiefly cumbrous tomes, heavy in more than one sense, and mostly works on seventeenth-century religious controversies.
Although this library has for long past been either forgotten or regarded merely as a curiosity, there was once a time when the books in it were well used, as would appear from the notes made on the end-papers of a Hebrew and Latin Bible, printed at the office of Christopher Plantin, in Antwerp, 1584. It was one J. C. Werndly, vicar of Wraysbury from 1690 to 1724, who made these notes, and he seems to have been indeed a diligent reader. Thus he wrote:
1701/2 Jan. the 17. I began again the Reading of this Hebrew Bible (w? is the sixth time of reading it) may the Spirit of Holiness help me and graciously Enable me to peruse it again to the Glory of God, and to the sanctification of my sinful and im'ortal soul. Amen, Lord Jesus, Amen.
The last record of his reading appears thus:
1701. xxxiii. 8??? the 3rd. I finished the ?alms again by the mercy of my Sav?.
The numerals for "thirty-three" appear to indicate his thirty-third reading.

The almshouses on the north side of the churchyard, their front facing the sun, are pleasant with old-fashioned gardens. They were built by Henry Seymour, who in 1669 purchased the Kederminster estates from the son of Sir John Kederminster's daughter and heiress, who had married Sir John Parsons, sometime Lord Mayor of London. Thus, in less than forty years the Kederminster hopes faded away and the property passed into the hands of strangers.




Datchet, Old Windsor, the Bells of Ousely

By Datchet meads and the continuously flat shores of Runnymede, the river runs somewhat tamely, after the scenic climax of Windsor.
The Datchet of Shakespearean fame it is, of course, hopeless to find. There is nothing Shakespearean in the prettily rebuilt village with suburban villas and railway level-crossing; and the ditch that used to be identified with that into which Falstaff was flung,
"glowing hot, like a horseshoe, hissing hot",
has been covered over.
At Old Windsor, the site of Edward the Confessor's original palace, the little churchyard contains the tomb of Perdita Robinson, one of George the Fourth's fair and foolish friends;
and down by the riverside stands the old rustic inn, the Bells of Ouseley, whose sign puzzles ninety-nine of every hundred who behold it. Writers of books upon the Thames either carefully avoid doing more than mentioning the sign, or else frankly add that they do not understand what it means, or where Ouseley is - and small blame to them, for there is not any place so-called. What is meant is "Oseney," the vanished abbey of that name outside Oxford, whose bells were of a peculiar fame in that day.


Runnymede is, of course, an exceptionally interesting stretch of meadow-land, for it was here, "in prato quod vocatur Runnymede inter Windelsorum et Stanes," that at last the barons brought King John to book, and it was on what is now called "Magna Charta Island," on the Bucks side, that the King signed the Great Charter, June 15, 1215.
There are many disputed etymologies of "Runnymede," including "running-mead," a scene of horseraces; and "rune-mead," the meadow of council; but the name doubtless really derived from "rhine" a Saxon word that did duty for anything from a great river to a ditch. Compare the river Rhine and the dykes or drains of Sedgemoor, still known as "rhines." The meadows on either side of the Thames here have always been low-lying, water-logged, and full of rills.
The army of the Barons had encamped, five days before the signing of this great palladium of liberty, on one side of the river, and the numerically smaller supporters of the King on the other, the island being selected as neutral ground.
The island is occupied by a modern picturesque cottage in a Gothic convention, standing amid trim lawns and weeping willows, near the camp-shedded shore, its gracefulness entirely out of key with those rude times. A little cottage contains a large stone with an inscription bidding it to be remembered that here that epoch-making document was executed, and further, that George Simon Harcourt, Esq., lord of the manor, erected this building in memory of the great event. It is an excellent example of a small modern person seeking to wring a modicum of recognition out of great historic personages and events.
Adjoining this famous isle is Ankerwyke, where are some few remains, in the form of shapeless walls, of a Benedictine nunnery, founded late in the twelfth century;



and behind that is a village with the very Saxon name of Wyrardisbury: long centuries ago pronounced "Wraysbury," and now spelled so. We hear nothing of the Saxon landowner, Wyrard, who gave his name to the place, but Domesday Book tells us that one Robert Gernon held the manor after the Conquest. "Gernon," in the Norman-French of that age, meant "Whisker," a name which would seem to have displeased Robert's eldest son, for he assumed that of Montfitchet, from an Essex manor of which he became possessed.
The river Colne flows in many channels here, crossed by substantial and not unpicturesque white-painted timber bridges, with here and there a secluded mill.
Wraysbury church, restored out of all interest, stands in a situation where few strangers would find it, unless they were very determined in the quest, through a farmyard; and having found it, you wonder why you took the trouble incidental to the doing so. But that is just the inquisitive explorer's fortune, and he must by no means allow himself, by drawing blank here and there, to be dissuaded from seeking out other byways. But stay! there is some interest at Wraysbury. Outside the church is the many-tableted vault of a branch of the Harcourt family, and among the names here you shall read that of Philip, "youngest brother of Simon, Viscount Harcourt, sometime Lord High Chancellor of Great Britian" (sic). Thus, you perceive, that although not the rose, Philip found some satisfaction in kinship with it, and doubtless lived and died happily in the glow of glory radiating from that ennobled elder brother.


There are brasses lurking unsuspected under the carpeting of this unpromising church; notably a very small and curious example on the south side of the chancel, protected beneath a square of carpet about the size of a pocket-handkerchief. It represents a boy in the costume worn by Eton scholars in the sixteenth century. The inscription runs:
Here lyeth John Stonor, the sone of Water Stonor squyer, that departed this worlde ye 29 day of August in ye yeare of our Lorde 1512.
This Walter Stonor - or "Water" as the inscription has it - squire of Wraysbury, was afterwards Lieutenant of the Tower of London, and was knighted in 1545. He died in 1550.

Horton and John Milton

Horton, beyond Wraysbury, and even more secluded, is at once a charming and an interesting place: a village made up of old mansions and old cottages, all scattered widely amid large grounds and pretty gardens. The church, too, is fine, chiefly of Norman and Early English work, with a tower built in chequers of flint and stone; a fine timber fifteenth-century north porch, and an exceptionally good and lavishly-enriched Norman doorway.
Horton has a literary as well as a picturesque and an architectural interest, for it is closely associated with Milton, who resided here as a young man. Milton's father had retired in his seventieth year, with a not inconsiderable fortune, derived from his business as a scrivener; that is to say, the profession of a public notary, to which was added the making of contracts and the negotiation of loans. He had left the cares and the money-making at Bread Street for the quiet joys of a country life, and had settled at Horton, a place perhaps even then not more remote from the world than now.
Hither, on leaving Christ's College, Cambridge, came his son, John, rather a disappointing son at this period, a son who had disregarded the dearest wish of his parents' hearts, that he should enter the Church; and proposed, instead, to lead the intellectual life of study and meditation. We may quite easily suspect that this would seem, to the hard-headed man of business, used to placing money out to usury, and to naturally look in every direction for an increase, for some tangible result of pains taken and capital expended, a singularly barren prospect. It might even have appeared to him the ideal of a lazy, feckless disposition. But the ex-scrivener and his wife hid their disappointment as best they could, and suffered their son to take his own course. They were, after all, wealthy enough for him to do without a lucrative profession.
Therefore, for a period of nearly six years - from July 1632 to April 1638, to be exact - the poet lived with his parents and his books at Horton, occupying the time from his twenty-fourth to his thirtieth year with study and music.
Here he composed the companion-poems, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, a portion of a masque entitled Arcades, the complete masque of Comus, and Lycidas, a long, sweetly-sorrowing poem to the memory of a friend and fellow-colleger at Cambridge, one Edward King, who had lost his life by shipwreck in August 1637, on crossing to Ireland.
In April 1637 his mother died. We may still see on the floor of the chancel in Horton church the plain blue stone slab simply inscribed:
"Here lyeth the body of Sara Milton, the wife of John Milton, who died the 3rd of April 1637."


In 1638 Milton left Horton, accompanied by a man-servant, for a long term of continental travel, and Horton ceased to be further associated with him. It would be vain to seek, nowadays, for the Milton home here, for the house at Horton, where his parents and himself and his younger brother Christopher lived, was demolished in 1798.


The town of Staines, supposed to be the site of the Roman station of Ad Pontes, and to derive its present name from its position on the Roman road to the west - that is to say on the stones, or the stone-paved road - stands at the meeting of Middlesex and Bucks. It is also the western limit of the Metropolitan Police District, and a stone standing in a riverside meadow above the bridge, known as "London Stone," properly and officially "the City Stone," until modern times marked the limits of the City of London's river jurisdiction. Staines was also a place of importance in the coaching age, for it stood upon the greatly travelled Exeter road. To-day it is, in spite of those varied claims to notice, an uninteresting place.

Staines Moor

The neighbourhood of Staines is one of many waters. They divide Middlesex and Bucks in the many branches and confluent channels of the Colne, and they permeate those widespreading levels westward of what was once Hounslow Heath known broadly as Staines Moor. This watery landscape, now so beautiful, was once, doubtless, a very dreary waste. All moors and heaths carry with them, in their very name, the stigma of dreariness, just as when Goldsmith wrote. The name of a heath could only be associated with footpads and highwaymen, and to style a scene in a play "Crackskull Common" seemed a natural and appropriate touch. This ill association of commons long ago became a thing of the past, but we still couple the title of a "moor" with undesirable places, generally of an extreme sterility and associated in the mind's eye with inclement weather of the worst type. The sun never shines on moors, except perhaps so fiercely as to shrivel you up. On moors no winds blow but tempests, probably from the north or east, and the only rains known there are cold deluges. A moor is, in short, by force of a time-honoured tradition not yet quite outworn, a place good to keep away from; or, being by ill-luck upon it, to be left behind at the earliest possible moment.
Whatever Staines Moor may once have been, it no longer resembles those inimical wilds. It is, in fact, a corner of Middlesex endued with much beauty of a quiet, pastoral kind.


In midst of it and its pleasant grasslands and fine trees with brooks and glancing waters everywhere, and here and there a water-mill, is Stanwell. At Stanwell the many noble elms of these parts are more closely grouped together and grow to a greater nobility, and at the very outskirts of the village is a finely-wooded park - that of Stanwell Place. The especially fine water-bearing quality of those surroundings is notable in the scenery of that park, and has led of late years to the building of an immense reservoir, now controlled by the Water Board. It is unfortunate that it should have been thought necessary to form this reservoir on a higher level than that of the surrounding country, and thus to hide it behind a huge embankment like that of a railway, for the artificial lake so constructed is rather much of an eyesore. It might, if built upon the level, have proved an additional beauty in the landscape.
Stanwell is situated in the Hundred of Spelthorne, an ancient Anglo-Saxon division of Middlesex. It is still a Petty Sessional division, but no man knows where the ancient thorn-tree stood that marked the meeting-place of our remote forefathers - that "Spele-Thorn," or Speech Thorn, where the open-air folk-moot was held.
It is a pleasant village, with a very large church, whose tall, shingled spire rises amid luxuriant elms. Near by is a seventeenth-century schoolhouse with a tablet inscribed:
This House and this Free Schoole were founded at the charge of the Right Honourable Thomas, Lord Kynvett, Baron of Escricke, and the Lady Elizabeth his wife. Endowed with a perpetuall revennew of Twenty Pound Land. By the yeare. 1624.
A stately monument in the singular taste of that time to Knyvett and his lady is found in the church. Against black marble columns are drawn back stony curtains, disclosing the worthy couple kneeling and facing one another across a prayer-desk, with the steadfast glare of two strange cats on a debatable roof-top. At the same time, although the taste is not that in favour to-day, the workmanship is very fine. It is the work of the famous sculptor, Nicholas Stone, who, it is recorded, received £215 for it.
In the churchyard is a very elaborate tomb, all scroll, boldly-flung volutes, and cherubs gazing stolidly into infinity, recording the extraordinarily many virtues of a person whose name one promptly forgets. It is melancholy to reflect that only in the centuries that are past was it possible to write such epitaphs, and that such supermen in goodness no longer exist. Or is it not rather that we have in our times a better sense of proportion in these mortuary praises?
The manor of Stanwell was granted to the then Sir Thomas Kynvett by James the First, in 1608. It had been a Crown property since 1543, when Henry the Eighth took it, in his autocratic way, from the owner, Lord Windsor. The story is told by Dugdale, who relates how the King sent a message to Lord Windsor that he would dine with him at Stanwell. A magnificent entertainment was accordingly prepared, and the King was fully honoured. We may therefore perhaps imagine the disgust and alarm with which His Majesty's host heard him declare that he liked the place so well that he was determined to have it; though not, he graciously added, without a beneficial exchange.
Lord Windsor made answer that he hoped His Highness was not in earnest, since Stanwell had been the seat of his ancestors for many generations. The King, with a stern countenance, replied that it must be; commanding him, on his allegiance, to repair to the Attorney-General and settle the business without delay. When he presently did so, the Attorney-General showed him a conveyance already prepared, of Bordesley Abbey in Worcestershire, in exchange for Stanwell, with all its lands and appurtenances.
"Being constrained," concludes Dugdale, "through dread of the King's displeasure, to accept of the exchange, he conveyed this manor to His Majesty, being commanded to quit Stanwell immediately, though he had laid in his Christmas provision for keeping his wonted hospitality there, saying that they should not find it bare Stanwell." But the deed of exchange, still in existence in the Record Office, is dated nearly three months later, March 14, 1543.


Two and three-quarter miles below the now commonplace town of Staines, and past Penton Hook lock, the village of Laleham stands beside the river, on the Middlesex side, in a secluded district, avoided alike by railways and by main roads. Laleham - in Domesday Book "Leleham" - has altered little for centuries past, and although quite recently the park of Osmanthorpe, by the riverside, has been cut up and built upon, the building speculation does not appear to have been very successful.
The old church, barbarously interfered with, as most Thames Valley churches within some twenty miles of London were, in the eighteenth century, has suffered only in respect of its tower, rebuilt in monumentally heavy style, in red brick; and a dense growth of ivy now kindly mantles it, from ground to coping. It is a picturesque church, with queer little dormer windows in the roof, and the interior shows it to be much more ancient than the casual passer-by would suppose; heavy Norman pillars and capitals with billet mouldings proving it to date from some period in the twelfth century. It was, in fact, the mother-church of the district, and Staines and Ashford were mere chapelries to it, and so they remained, in ecclesiastical government, until the middle of the nineteenth century.
There is little in the way of interesting monuments in the church, except that of George Perrott, which is perhaps mildly amusing. He died 1780, "Honourable Baron of H.M. Court of Exchequer." By his decease, we learn, "the Revenue lost a most able Assessor of its legal rights." The coat-of-arms of this able personage shows three pears, in the old heraldic punning way, for "Perrott," but the joke was not pressed to its conclusion, for they are shown as quite sound pears.
Laleham is notable for its literary associations, for here lived Dr. Arnold for some years, before he became headmaster of Rugby; and here was born, in 1822, Matthew Arnold, who, dying in 1888, lies buried in the churchyard.
Here, too, is the tomb of Field-Marshal George Charles Bingham, third Earl of Lucan, who also died in 1888. He was in command of the Heavy Brigade in the Crimea. It was entirely due to the personal animosities of the Earls of Lucan and Cardigan, and of Captain Nolan, that the mistake leading to the sacrifice of the Light Brigade at Balaclava was made.



The quiet of Laleham was sadly disturbed some years ago, when there descended upon the village that extraordinary person - a curious compound of mystic and humbug, who called himself "Father Ignatius." With some seven or eight of his "monks," he established himself at Priory Cottage. Here they so outraged the feelings of the neighbourhood with their fantastic proceedings in the back-garden, in which they had established a "Mount of Olives," and other blasphemous mockeries, that the place was on the verge of riot, and the aid of a strong force of police had to be secured to restore order.


Another charming village, more charming and even much more secluded than Laleham, is Littleton, not quite two miles distant, across these flat fields of Middlesex. It is well named "little," for it consists of only a little church, a fine park and manor-house beside a pretty stream, and some scattered rustic houses. Nothing in the way of a village street, or shop, or inn, is to be discovered, and the place is delightfully retired amid well-wooded byways, all roads to anywhere avoiding it by some two miles.


The Early English church has been provided with an Early Georgian red-brick tower, of a peculiarly monstrous type, and in skeleton, roofless form.


The interior of the church is so plentifully hung with old regimental colours that it looks almost like a garrison chapel. There are twenty-four in all, chiefly old colours of the Grenadier Guards, and were placed here in 1855 by their commandant, General Wood, who had served in the Peninsular War, and afterwards resided at the adjoining Littleton Park.
A tiny window, little, if at all, larger than a pocket-handkerchief, is filled with stained glass, representing a fallen, or sleeping, shepherd, with a lion looking upon a dead sheep and the rest of the flock running away. An inscription says:
"This panel was designed by Sir John Millais, R.A., and presented to Littleton church by Effie, Lady Millais, 1898."


Returning from this détour, Chertsey - Anglo-Saxon "Cearta's ey," or island - next claims our attention. It is a town, and a dull one, duller now that suburban London has influenced it. Of the great Abbey - one of the greatest in the land - that once stood here, nothing is left except a few moss-grown stones and bases of pillars, situated in the garden of a villa that occupies part of the site. Excavations of the ground in years gone by disclosed the size and disposition of the Abbey church and the monastery buildings, and a few relics were then found, including some remarkably fine encaustic tiles, now to be seen in the Architectural Museum at Westminster. That is all Fate and Time have left. It is an extraordinarily complete disappearance. Stukeley, a diligent antiquary, writing in 1752, was himself astonished at it:
"So total a dissolution I scarcely ever saw. Of that noble and splendid pile, which took up four acres of ground, and looked like a town, nothing remains. Human bones of abbots, monks, and great personages, who were buried in great numbers in the church, were spread thick all over the garden, so that one might pick up handfulls of bits of bone at a time everywhere among the garden-stuff."
A fragment of precinct-wall is left, and the "Abbey Mill" of to-day is the direct descendant of that which occupied the same site in the old times, while the cut originally made by the monks to feed it still flows from near Penton Hook to the Thames again, near by, under the old name of the "Abbey River."


Weybridge, two miles below Chertsey, is a place of which it is difficult to write with enthusiasm in pages devoted to villages. It is no longer a village, and yet not a town; and is, indeed, like most of the places to which we shall henceforward come, a suburban district.
What constitutes such? The answer is that it largely depends upon the distance from London. Here we are some twenty miles from town, and by reason of that fact, and all it means, the suburban residences are expensive and imposing, and stand, many of them, in their own somewhat extensive grounds. Thus, the original village and village green, to which these developments of modern times have been added, remain not altogether spoiled, and come as a pleasant surprise to that explorer who first makes acquaintance with Weybridge from the direction of the railway station, from which a typically conventional straight suburban road leads, lengthily and formally.
On the village green stands a memorial column to a former Duchess of York, who died in 1820, at Oatlands Park, near by, and has another monument in the church. The column is intrinsically much more interesting for itself than as a monument to a duchess whom every one has long since forgotten, for it is nothing less than the original pillar set up at Seven Dials in London, about 1694, and thrown down in 1773. It remained, neglected and in fragments, in a builder's yard, until it was purchased for its present use, and removed hither in 1822.
Anothermemorial of that forgotten duchess is found in Weybridge church, a great modern building, built in 1848, and enlarged in 1864, with an additional south aisle. It stands on the site of an older church, is remarkable rather for size than excellence, and contains some really terrible stained glass. The sculptured memorial to the Duchess is by Chantery, but it is not a very good example of his work. She is represented kneeling, with her coronet flung behind. This, and other memorials removed from the older building, are all huddled together in the tower. Among them is a truly dreadful brass, representing three skeletons - among the very worst products of a diseased imagination to be found in the length and breadth of the land. It ought to be destroyed; and it really seems as though some one had entertained the idea, for the head of one of the figures has disappeared.

The river winds extravagantly at Weybridge, where it receives the waters of the river Wey and the Bourne, and is full of islands and backwaters.



Some way downstream, and on the Middlesex shore, is little Shepperton, one of the most secluded places imaginable, consisting of a church, a neighbouring inn - the King's Head - and some old-fashioned country residences. It forms a pretty scene. In the churchyard there will be found a stone with some verses, to
Margaret Love Peacock, Born 1823, Died 1826, one of the children of Thomas Love Peacock who lived many years at Lower Halliford, and died there, 1866.




There are some very pleasant places on this Middlesex side of the river: Shepperton Green and Lower Halliford notable among them; Lower Halliford fringing the river bank most picturesquely and rustically.





Between this and Walton is the place known as "Cowey, or Coway, Stakes," traditionally the spot where Julius Cæsar in 54 B.C. crossed the Thames, in his second invasion of Britain. Cæsar himself, in his Commentaries, writing, as was his manner, in the first[sic] person, says:
"Cæsar being aware of their plans, led his army to the Thames, to the boundary of the Catuvellauni. The river was passable on foot only at one place, and that with difficulty. When he arrived there he observed a large force of the enemy drawn up on the opposite bank. The bank also was defended with sharpened stakes fixed outwards, and similar stakes were placed under water and concealed by the river. Having learnt these particulars from the captives and deserters, Cæsar sent forward the cavalry, and immediately ordered the legions to follow. But the soldiers went at such a pace and in such a rush, though only their heads were above water, that the enemy could not withstand the charge of the legions and cavalry, and they left the bank and took to flight."
Many of these ancient stakes have been found, during the centuries that have passed - the last of them about 1838 - and they have been for many years the theme of long antiquarian discussions. Formed of young oak trees, "as large as a man's thigh," each about six feet in length, and shod with iron, their long existence under water had made them almost as hard as that iron, and as black as ebony.
It was Camden, writing early in the seventeenth century, who first identified Coway Stakes as the scene of Cæsar's crossing, for Bede, writing in the eighth century and describing the stakes in the river, mentions no place. They were said by Bede to be shod with lead and to be "fixed immovably in the bed of the river." Camden was quite certain that here he had found the famous passage by Cæsar's legionaries, and expressed himself positively: "It is impossible I should be mistaken in the place."
But later investigators are found to be more than a little inclined to dispute Camden's conclusions; and it is certain that whatever may now be the possibilities of fording the Thames hereabouts, between Walton and Halliford or Shepperton, and however deep the river may now be elsewhere, this could not, as Camden supposes, have been the only possible ford. In Cæsar's time - it is a truism, of course, to say it - there were no locks or weirs, and the Thames, instead of being what it is now, really to a great degree canalised, flowed in a broader, shallower flood along most of its course, spreading out here and there into wide-stretching marshes, through which, however difficult the crossing, the actual depth of water would tend to be small. But in any case, arguments for or against Coway Stakes must needs be urged with diffidence, for the windings of the Thames must necessarily have changed much in two thousand years.
There are not now any of the stakes remaining here, but the disposition of them in the bed of the river has been fully put upon record. They were situated where the stream makes a very pronounced bend to the south, a quarter of a mile above Walton Bridge, and were placed in a diagonal position across it, not lining the banks, as might have been expected. But whether this disposition of them was original, or due to one of the many changes of direction the river has undergone, it would be impossible to say. It seems certain that in the level lands between Chertsey, Weybridge, and Walton the present course of the Thames is not identical with that anciently traced, and that the river has cut out for itself between Shepperton and Walton a way considerably to the north. There still exists a lake, very long and very narrow, in the grounds of Oatlands Park, between Weybridge and Walton, which is reputed to be a part of the olden course of the Thames. It has been pointed out, as a proof of these changes, that there are in this neighbourhood several instances of detached portions of parishes, situated, contrary from expectation, on opposite sides of the river. Thus Chertsey and Walton, both in Surrey, own respectively fourteen and eight acres in Middlesex. Laleham, in Middlesex, possesses twenty-two acres in Surrey, and Shepperton twenty-one acres. Eighteen of these more particularly concern this discussion, since they are part of the ancient grazing-ground of Coway Sale. The name "Coway" has been assumed by some, having reference to the ford, or supposed ford, at Coway Stakes, to be a corruption of "causeway," while others find in it, according to the spelling they adopt, Cowey = Cow Island, or Coway = Cow Way. The supporters of the last-named form are those who refuse to recognise this place as the true site of Cæsar's crossing. They point out - ignoring the diagonal course of a ford at this point, heading down river, instead of straight across - that the placing of the stakes more resembled the remains of an ancient weir or wooden bridge than the defences described by Cæsar, and say, further, that their being shod with lead or iron is a proof that they formed part of some deliberately constructed work and not a hastily thrown up defence. The position of the stakes, four feet apart and in a double row, with a passage of nine feet between, has given rise to an ingenious speculation that they formed an aid to fording the river, both for passengers and cattle, instead of being designed as an obstruction. This, then, according to that view, was the Cow Way, principally devoted to the convenience of the cattle belonging to Shepperton, to go and return between that place and the detached grazing-grounds of Coway Sale on the Surrey side of the river.

But that there has been fighting hereabouts is evident enough in the name of a portion of the grounds of Shepperton Manor House, known from time immemorial as "War Close." At the time when Coway Stakes were driven into the bed of the river, to form a safe passage for the cows, or in the futile hope of withstanding the advance of the masterful Romans, the river must have spread like some broad lagoon over the surrounding meadows, and would have been much more shallow than now. Walton Bridge, in its great length, much of it devoted to crossing those low-lying meadows, gives point to this contention.



The village of Walton-on-Thames is at the end of its tether as a village, and the only interesting things in it are its church, and what is known as the "Old Manor House." Dark yews form a fine setting to the old church, whose tower of flint and rubble, with repairs effected in brick, survives untouched by the restorer of recent years. The interior, although greatly suburbanised, discloses some as yet unspoiled Transitional-Norman portions. Here, in the stonework near the pulpit, is cut the famous non-committal verse ascribed to Queen Elizabeth, on the sacramental bread-and-wine:

Christ was the worde and spake it.
He took the bread and brake it.
And what the Worde doth make it,
That I believe and take it.

Here is preserved a scold's, or gossip's, bridle, otherwise "the branks," an old English instrument of punishment and repression for a scolding or gossiping woman. On it is, or was, the inscription,

Chester presents Walton with a bridle.
To curb women's tongues that talk too idle.

The instrument is now so rusted that it is difficult, if not impossible, to trace the words. The date of it, and who this Chester was, are not known; but legend has long told that he was a gentleman who lost a valuable estate in the neighbourhood through the malevolence and irresponsibility of a lying woman.
The bridle, originally of bright steel, was made to pass over the head, and round it, and is provided with a flat piece of metal, two inches in length and one in breadth, for insertion in the mouth, the effect being to press the tongue down and to prevent speech. It is duly provided with hinges and a padlock. For many years it hung by a chain in the vestry, and thus became injured and rusted; but in 1884 it was enclosed in an oaken, glass-fronted cabinet; so its further preservation is assured.


On a board suspended against the chancel wall are four small brasses of the Selwyn family, showing John Selwyn and his wife Susan, and their eleven children. He was keeper of the royal park of Oatlands, and died in 1587. On one of them, Selwyn himself, is represented mounted on a stag and in the act of plunging a hunting-knife through the animal's neck. This traditionally represents an actual occurrence. It seems that when Queen Elizabeth was once hunting at Oatlands, a stag stood at bay and made as if to attack her; whereupon Selwyn jumped from his horse on to the stag's back, and killed it in the manner shown.
Several elaborate monuments are to be seen here, including that of Richard Boyle, Viscount Shannon, who died in 1740. The life-size statues of himself and his wife are by Roubiliac.
The "Old Manor House" has of late years been rescued from its former condition of slum tenements. It stands off some bylanes, where there is a good deal of poor cottage property, and was long subdivided into small dwellings. A long, low building of timber, lath, and plaster, it dates back to the time of Henry the Eighth, and was then probably the residence of the keeper, or ranger, of Oatlands Park; and perhaps the residence one time of that John Selwyn of whose notable deed mention has just been made. In after-years it was associated with Ashley Park, and in Cromwell's time was occupied by Bradshaw, President of the Council, and one of the signatories of Charles the First's death-warrant. If one were to credit the old rustic legends and tales of wonder, this would be a historic spot indeed; for the old Surrey peasantry firmly believed that Bradshaw not only lived here, and was a party to the King's execution, but that he executed him with his own hands, on the premises, and buried him under the flooring. English history, it will be perceived, written from the rustic point of view, should be entertaining.




Leaving Walton behind, the Thames Valley is seen to have become the prey of those many water companies which some few years since were all merged into the Metropolitan Water Board. Between them and the spread of London, the once beautiful scenery of the reaches of the Thames has in long stretches been completely spoiled. Not sheer necessity, only bestial stupidity, has caused this truly lamentable condition of affairs. With the immense modern growth of the metropolis, it is specially desirable that the beauty of the river at its gates should have been jealously safeguarded, but it has been given over to those true spoilers, the waterworks engineer and the speculative builder; and the interesting and beautiful old-world villages and forgotten corners that survive do but increase the regret felt for those others that have been wantonly extinguished.
The Surrey side of the river between Walton and Molesey has been made monotonously formal with the embankments of great reservoirs; and it is only when Molesey Lock is reached that their depressing society is shaken off.

Molesey Lock


On the Middlesex-side, that part of Sunbury where the bizarre semi-Byzantine modern church of the place stands is the only unspoiled spot until Hampton Court comes in sight, and between the two we have perhaps the very worst exhibition of those outrages of which the water companies have been guilty. There, on either side of the road, a long, unlovely line of engine-houses and pumping-stations stretches; but hideous though> it may be from the road, it is worse when seen from the river. There is always an entirely gratuitous ugliness in a water company's engine-houses, and these examples are not by any means exceptions; being built in a kind of yellow-white brick, with a long series of chimneys and water-towers that have already been proved insufficiently tall and have each in consequence been lengthened with what look like exaggerated twin stove-pipes. It is a distressing and unlovely paradox that the buildings and precincts of waterworks are invariably dry and husky, gritty and coaly places, and these bring no variation to that rule. The roads are blackened with coal-dust, the chimneys belch black smoke, and the poor little strips of grounds that run beside the river, with lawns, and some few anæmic trees, seem parched up. The Thames Ditton and Surbiton front of the river is in the same manner defiled with engine-houses and intakes, with coal-wharves and filter-beds, and with nearly half a mile of ugly retaining-wall. The especial pity of all these things is that they were not at all necessary where they are. They would have been just as efficient if placed in some position out of sight, away from the river bank, and could so have been placed, with a small expenditure for additional piping, instead of being the eyesore they are.

Thames Ditton

The village of Thames Ditton still keeps its rustic church, with curious old font, and the Swan by the waterside stands very much as it did when Theodore Hook wrote enthusiastic verses about it;


but Surbiton, and Kingston, Hampton Court, Teddington, and Twickenham - what shall we make of these, now that electric tramways have girded them about with steel?
Only by the actual riverside is Nature left very much to herself, and there, where the water roars over the weir of Teddington, you do find the river unspoiled.


But it is only necessary to walk a few steps back from the river, into Teddington village that was, and is, alas! no longer - for a sadness to take possession of you. There you see not only a surburbanised village, but even perceive the original suburbanisation (an ugly word for an ugly process) of about 1870 to be now down upon its luck, in the spectacle of the villas of that date offered numerously to be let, with few takers. What is the reason of this? you ask. Electric tramways. They are the reason. Also, if you do but explore farther inland, you shall find more reasons, in the discovery that Teddington is now quite a busy town, and therefore offers no longer that charm of comparative seclusion it possessed when those villas of the seventies were built.
But there are yet other reasons, chief among them the very bulky and imposing one of the modern parish church of St. Alban, which rises like some great braggart bully, and utterly dwarfs the poor old parish church opposite, now degraded to the condition of a mortuary chapel, or the like, and doubtless to be demolished so soon as ever public opinion is found to be in an indifferent mood. It is not a beautiful old church, being indeed an Early Georgian affair of red brick, but it is representative of a period, and, with the Peg Woffington almshouses near by, is all that remains of old Teddington.
The neighbourhood of the great new church, built handsomely in stone, in a Frenchified variant of that First Pointed style we are accustomed to name "Early English," is sufficient to frighten away any would-be resident, for it is as large as many a cathedral, and will be larger yet, when foolish people are found to subscribe toward the completion of its tower. If all this stood for religion instead of merely for religiosity - a very different thing - there would be nothing to say; but when we perceive the clergy, all over the country, striving for funds towards heaping up of stone and brick and mortar, all intended towards the end of aggrandising their own discredited order, and of again bringing about the imprisonment of men's consciences, we can only imagine that the devil laughs and the Saviour grieves. Meanwhile, the great unfinished building dominates the place, and its long unbroken roof helps to spoil the view up-river, nearly two miles away.


If we may call Teddington a town, then, by comparison, Twickenham, adjoining it, is a metropolis. All this Middlesex side of the river is, in fact, spoiled, but the river itself, and the lawns and parks fringing it, are, happily, little affected, and none, wandering along the towing-paths, would suspect the existence of those great populations on the other side of quite a narrow belt of trees. The only inkling of them is when the wind sets from the streets and brings the strains of a piano-organ, the cries of the hawkers, or the squeaking of tramcar-wheels against curves, yelling like damned souls in torment.

The older part of Twickenham centres about the church, one of those pagan eighteenth-century boxes of red and yellow and grey brick that are so familiar along these outer fringes of London. The old church sank into ruin in 1713, but the tower of it remains.
In the churchwardens' accounts of some two hundred years ago we gain some diverting glimpses of an older Twickenham. Thus, in 1698, we find,
"Item: Paid old Tomlins for fetching home the church-gates, being thrown into ye Thames in ye night by drunkards, 2s. 6d.";
"Item: To Mr. Guisbey, for curing Doll Bannister's nose, 3s."
The old and slummy lanes that here lead down to the waterside are bordered with houses that date back to the time of those entries.


In the church is a monument to Pope, with an epitaph written by himself,
"For one who would not be buried in Westminster Abbey":
the last scornful effort of his bitter spirit. The stone in the floor that marks his actual resting-place is covered over, and many therefore seek his grave in vain. I have, in fact, myself thus vainly sought it; questing in the first instance among the tombs in the churchyard, to the puzzlement of a group of working-men engaged upon a job there.
"What you looking for, guv'nor?" asked one.
"I want to find Pope's grave."
"Don't know the name,"
said he.
"'Ere, Bill" - raising his voice to one of his mates a little way off -
"d'ye know where a bloke named Pope is berried?"
O! horror.
An epitaph upon Kitty Clive, the actress, who died in 1758, may be seen here, among those to other notabilities.

Twickenham Ferry

From the crowded streets of Twickenham let us escape by means of Twickenham Ferry. Crossing the river at this point, Twickenham is seen at its best; for here the gardens of the three or four great mansions that yet remain entirely mask the ravages of late years. But even so, those who have known the scene from of old cannot look upon it altogether without regrets for the noble cedars of the estate known as "Mount Lebanon," among the very finest - perhaps the very finest - in the land, wantonly cut down some few years since.



The most complete oasis in all these developments is Petersham, on the Surrey side: Petersham, and Ham, and Ham Common. There railways come not, nor tramways. At Petersham are few but old houses and the time-honoured mansions of the great of bygone centuries, inhabited nowadays by the small and futile. So, at any rate, I gather them to be from the sweeping remark made to me some years ago by a man whom I discovered leaning meditatively over a fence, contemplating the view across Petersham meadows.
"Purty place, ain't it?" said he.
"It is indeed," said I.
"Ah!" he resumed, "boy and man, I've lived here forty year. I remember the time when the people as lived here was people. Now there's nobody here worth a damn."
The Duke of Buccleuch lived near by in those halcyon times.
Pleasant hearing, this, for a new-comer who had just taken over a long lease in this region of souls so worthless. This shocking old cynic was - - But no matter; suffice it that he was one who ought to have put it differently.
Yet there are some of the elect, the salt of the earth, who pleasantly savour the lump. Indeed, I live at Petersham myself.

But even here there are woeful changes. Instead of the three inns that formerly graced the village, there are now but two: the Petersham Arms went about fifteen years ago, and now there are but the Dysart Arms and the Fox and Duck. If you want further variety, you must resort to the Fox and Goose, at Ham, or the New Inn, Ham Common. Besides this grievous thing, the landscape is seared by an undesirable novelty, in the shape of a new, very red, red-brick church, which partakes in equal parts of the likeness of a pumping-station and a crematorium. Woodman, spare those trees that grow around it, and Nature, kindly mother, do thou add yet more to their height and size, that we may not, in our going forth and our return, have it, and all it means, constantly before eyes and mind. It has, in addition, lately been furnished with bells, of sorts, that commence early in the morning and wake one untimeously from sleep, often with an air associated with the words of that pagan hymn, "A few more years shall roll." Pagan, I say, because it tells us that when those few years shall have rolled "we shall be with those that rest - Asleep within the tomb.
It is a godless teaching. We shall not be asleep within the tomb. Our poor bodies, yes, but they are not us. In any case, it is not a pleasant reminder, several times a day, that we shall soon be dead. Church-bells, whatever the legal aspect of the case, are in fact licensed nuisances, established without consulting those who have to hear them, and continually rung without any necessity, in spite of indignant protests.


In this rustic spot we have two churches, two inns, one general shop, a decreasing population, and a general post-office which will hold, all at once, if they are not very big people, and if they stand close together, quite six persons. Exactly what it is like, let this illustration show. It will be seen at once, and without any difficulty whatever, that it is a very humble relation indeed of the General Post-Office in St. Martin's-le-Grand.


There are some curious survivals at Petersham, the more curious because they survive at these late times in such comparatively close proximity to London. Adjoining the Fox and Duck Inn - one of the two aforesaid - is a little wooden building that looks like nothing else than an outhouse for gardening tools. It is really an old village lock-up for petty misdemeanants, such as may often be seen in remote rural places. Behind it is another old institution, equally disused, although it is not so very long since a strayed donkey was placed there. It is the village pound for lost and wandering cattle found upon the road and placed in the pound - impounded - until a claimant appears and pays a shilling to the beadle for release. The present condition of the pound is such that no animal placed in it could well be kept there, for the fence is decayed, and all attempts at maintaining the old institution appear to have been given up. A magnificent crop of nettles and thistles now grows within, and would make it an ideal place for any donkey that might chance to be impounded: donkeys being reputedly fonder of them than of any other kind of food.

"Why does a donkey prefer thistles to corn or grass.
Because he's an ass..

Close by this quaint corner the two old curiously gabled Dutch-looking cottages pictured here are seen. The space between them is now merely a yard occupied by the Richmond Corporation for storing carts and road-making materials, but these were once the lodge-gates to the entrance of Petersham Park, in the old times when it was a private estate containing old Petersham Lodge, the mansion of my Lord Harrington, that peer to whom the poet Thomson, of "The Seasons," alluded in his lines on the view from Richmond Hill:

"There let the feasted eye unwearied stray.
Luxurious, there, rove through the pendant wood.
That nodding hang o'er Harrington's retreat..

The view in these pages shows a glimpse of those pendant woods, still flourishing up along the ridge of Richmond Park, but it is now the better part of a hundred years since the Commissioners of Woods and Forests purchased that peer's old estate, demolished the mansion, and added the land as a very beautiful annexe to Richmond Park. The cottages, with their little gardens, are charming, and would be even more so were they red bricks of which they are built, instead of common yellow stock brick.
I have just now remarked that there are at Petersham those who are numbered of the elect. But it must sadly be admitted that not all in the borough of Richmond, in which we have the doubtful honour of being included, are of the opinion that Petersham is inhabited by the children of light and grace. Indeed, the following remarks of a deleterious and poisonous character, lately brought to my notice, convince me that there exists among some misguided folk up yonder an idea that this most delightful of surviving villages within a short distance of London is inhabited wholly, or at least largely, by the mentally afflicted. This desolating and alarming belief was brought home to me by a friend, who hired a conveyance at Richmond station, to be brought down to our idyllic village.
"Where to, sir?" asked the flyman.
exclaimed the driver - this was entirely uncalled-for, you know - "you mean balmy Petersham."
rejoined the unsuspecting stranger, "the air there is good, I suppose."
"I don't mean the hair,"
he was astonished to be told,
"but the people what lives there. Don't you know that they're all balmy on the crumpet - what you call 'off it'?"
My poor friend looked a little astonished at this. I am afraid he is not intimately acquainted with the language of the streets.
"Oh! you know!" continued the man, noticing this air of bewilderment:
"they're dotty, that's what they are."
"You mean non compos mentis,"
rejoined my friend at last, comprehending what was meant, and heroically and waggishly endeavouring to get a bit of his own back, and in turn to mystify this derogatory licensed hackney-driver.
The man, convinced that he had happened upon a "sanguinary German," said:
"Yus, I suppose that's what you call it in your country," and mounted his box, and in silence drove down to this asylum for the "balmy."


It should be said that we in Petersham, who live quietly and engage in delightful pursuits - such as writing books, flower-growing, and criticising our neighbours - do by no means endorse this opinion of our surroundings. As we are of the elect, so also are we exceptionally sane, even among the level-headed. But there is a reason to be found in most things, even in the remarks above quoted. That reason is sought and discovered in the fact that our village is unique: the only place within its easy radius from London in which the surroundings are unspoiled, the air pure, and the means of communication with the great neighbouring roaring world primitive and not readily at command. The nearest railway station is a mile and a quarter away, and such services of omnibuses as have run between Kingston and Richmond, through Petersham, have ever been fugitive and evanescent, and have generally run at intervals of not less than twenty minutes. The peculiar humour or the peculiar tragedy - according to point of view - of these omnibus services is that in fine weather every one wants to walk, and in rain all want to ride; so that in the first case the omnibuses are empty, and in the second cannot cope with the sudden and unlooked-for demand, and one has perforce to walk home and get wet through, or alternatively to wait until the rain ceases.
And during the last remarkable summers there have been occasions when it has rained in torrents, without ceasing, for four days!
My pen, entered upon the woes of the would-be passenger by omnibus, has run away with me, and I must at once disclaim the dawning conclusion that the alleged "balminess" of Petersham is due to rain and the lack of conveyances other than the comparatively expensive flys. Those are not the reasons. Petersham, being entirely rural, even though surrounded by great populations, and yet being near London, it is found by the medical profession to be a convenient district for recommending to patients to whom, for a variety of reasons, it would be inconvenient to go remotely into the provinces. Here, then, qualified somewhat of late years by fleeting irruptions of motor-cars, and by brake-loads of mischievous and bell-ringing children who are brought down from London in summer for school-treats in Petersham Park, invalids may hope to obtain a happy recovery, even though the air, instead of being sharp and bracing, is steamy and languorous. Thus the expression "balmy Petersham," whether used in the literate sense, or in the regular way of slang, if duly analysed, is found to be essentially a proud title to consideration, instead of a term of reproach. The neighbouring village of Ham is a co-partner in these things, perhaps even in a greater degree, for it is equally distant from a railway station, and fringes a wide common whose remotest corners are at all times extremely secluded.
I spoke just now of mischievous and bell-ringing children, but there are others not intentionally mischievous, who are yet, perhaps, apt to be a little wearing to the nerves of quiet folk who live within gardens behind tall wooden fences overhung by flowering shrubs, such as lilac and syringa. These are a great temptation in their flowering season to all kinds of persons who ought to be able to enjoy the sight of them without tearing off branches; but the Goth and the Vandal we have always with us on Bank Holidays and fine Sundays and Saturday afternoons. We expect them, and our expectations are commonly realised. But sorrow's crown of sorrow is reached when, hearing a crash of boards, you rush out and find a dismayed child standing among the ruins of a part of your fence, and explaining that she "didn't mean it, and was only reaching up to pick a bit of syringa for nyture study." And to this the modern attempt to inculcate the study and the love of Nature brings us!


Before reluctantly I leave Petersham, let something be said as to its name. And, firstly, let it be duly borne in mind that we who reside here are perhaps a little concerned that the place-name shall be properly pronounced. Petersham, we like to think, is the real thing, with no sham about it at all. Hence the particularity with which "Peters-ham" is enunciated by the nice in these things; even as the villagers of Bisham, near Marlow, say "Bis-ham," or (the tongue being ever at odds with the letter H) "Bis-sam."
Petersham obtained its name as long ago as those dim Saxon times when the great mitred Abbey of Chertsey was founded and dedicated to St. Peter. In charters of those times the land here is noted as the property of that Abbey, and the place is called "Patriceham" and "Patricesham." In the Cartulary of Merton Abbey, in 1266, it becomes "Petrichesham." It thus would appear fairly conclusive that the name originated with the land becoming the property of St. Peter's Abbey at Chertsey, and in no other way. But none of those who delve deeply into the origins of place-names is ever satisfied with things as they are; and it would now appear that an effort has been made to derive "Petersham" from a supposititious early Saxon landowner, a certain - or as we find no real documentary or other evidence of his existence here, it would be better to say an uncertain - "Beadric," whose "ham" it is thus assumed to have been. This is a heroic attempt to argue from the old original name of the town we now call "Bury St. Edmunds," which was in its beginning "Beadric's-worth." Although the Saxon name of "Beadric" was not uncommon, it is surely something of an effort to drag this East Anglian example out of Suffolk arbitrarily to fit a place in Surrey; even though, in the course of the same argument, in citing the well-known parallel derivation of "Battersea" from the land there having anciently been the property of the Abbey of St. Peter at Westminster, it is found that in the original charter of A.D. 693 the place-name is spelled "Batricesege." This becomes, in a charter of 1067, "Batriceseie" or "Patriceseia."


One somewhat speculative blocked-up lancet window of the Early English period is the remotest thing that remains to Petersham old church; which is, for the rest, chiefly of George the First's time. It is, of course, dedicated to St. Peter. Nowhere do we find the slightest real trace of the ancient cell of Chertsey Abbey which is supposed to have existed here, on the Abbey lands. The curious mass of brickwork along the footpath leading out of River Lane and between the gardens of Church Nursery and the filter-beds of the Richmond waterworks, is commonly said to have been a portion of those ancient ecclesiastical buildings, but no one has ever discovered the slightest hint of church or monastic architecture about that problematical fragment, nor has its purpose been hinted at. The footpath rises sharply between somewhat high walls, and is indeed carried over an arch. The old village folk long knew the spot as "Cockcrow Hill"; but during the last two years, in course of the works undertaken for the neighbouring filter-beds, the brickwork has been patched and the pitch of the lane leading over the arch lowered; so, doubtless, the name of "Cockcrow Hill" will become among the things forgot. If a theory may be entertained where no facts are available, this building was probably a bridge across some long-vanished or diverted stream which at one time flowed from the high ground of what is now Richmond Park, across these level meadows, and so into the Thames.
But if there be indeed no architectural features in this brickwork, there is an almost monastic air of seclusion about the rather grim and very picturesque old seventeenth-century gazebo that stands beside this self-same lane. There is some speculative interest in it, for no one can certainly declare to what this old four-square two-storeyed building of red brick, with the queer peaked roof, belonged. The presumption is that it was at one time a gazebo, or garden-pavilion, attached to the walled garden of Rutland Lodge, adjoining, an early seventeenth-century mansion, the oldest house in Petersham. Presumably, when it was built, its upper windows, some of them long since blocked, had a clear look-out across the unenclosed meadows to the river. The meadows are still there, but a fenced-in garden and an orchard now intervene, and by some unexplainable changes, the building, although at the angle of the walled garden of Rutland Lodge, has no communication with it, and is in fact included within the grounds of Church Nursery and the garden of the modern house called since 1907 "Rosebank," presumably for the usual contradictory reasons that roses have ever been conspicuously absent from that garden, and that the site is a dead level. Much patching and altering has been done at times to the old gazebo, and attempts have been made to convert it into a cottage. Hence the added fireplaces and the chimney, not requisite in a garden summer-house, but indispensable for living in. Otherwise, the lot of the old building has been the common and almost invariable fate of such - neglect, and a surrender to spiders. The cult of the gazebo came in originally with the Renascence from Italy, and as it was not an indigenous, so it was neither a hardy growth in this land of ours, where the sunshine is never oppressively hot for the house, and chills all too often are the portion of the garden-dweller. Thus the numerous, and often highly picturesque, gazebos and pavilions to be found attached to old English gardens are most often seen to be deserted and in the last stages of disrepair. The gallant fight against climatic conditions has had to be abandoned.


Another hopeless fight against overpoweringly adverse conditions ended here in 1907, when the famous Star and Garter Hotel on Richmond Hill was closed. We who make Petersham our home know well that the "Star and Garter" is closed, if only for the reason that, it being situated in the parish, the loss to the local rates incidental to the closing meant a sudden rise of ninepence in the pound. We are thus hoping, without in the least expecting it, that some greatly daring person or corporation will be good enough to take and open it again. This increased demand, added to the hungry re-assessments recently made, and to the other increases, caused by the extravagant proceedings of the Richmond Corporation, which would appear to carry on the business of the town on behalf of the tradesmen instead of the residents, is rendering the neighbourhood an increasingly costly one to live in. Every one would now seem to share the fallacious belief that to live in Richmond one must necessarily be rich. True, one will presently need to be if things continue on the lines of recent developments.
Meanwhile, will no one take the poor old "Star and Garter"? It really seems as if no one would, for at least two unsuccessful attempts have been made to dispose of it at auction. The property was stated by the auctioneer to have cost £140,000. He described it in a phrase which sounds like a quotation, as "a far-famed hostelry, a palace of pleasure on a hill of delight." He also declared the view from it to be "the finest prospect in England, perhaps in the world." But he was not prepared, it seems, to assure the purchaser of a much finer prospect still: that of a dividend from the purchase, and so the result was a bid of only £20,000. The second attempted sale resulted in no bid being made at all.
The "Star and Garter" was ever noted for its high charges, framed to match its lofty situation and the exalted station of many of the guests who of old patronised it. Louis Philippe, King of the French, and Queen Amélie resided there for months at a time, and were frequently visited by Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. The unhappy Napoleon the Third, the ill-starred Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, the equally ill-fated Prince Imperial, and other crowned, or prospectively crowned, heads were the merest every-day frequenters; but the "Star and Garter" long since discovered that there were not enough crowned heads to go round. Nor did the enterprising Christopher Crean, sometime cook to the old Duke of York, who took it and re-opened it after an old-time disastrous interval of five years, in 1809, find that he could secure constant relays of visitors to pay him, as some were stated to have done, half a guinea for the mere privilege of looking out from the windows upon the beauties of the Thames Valley.
It would seem, in conclusion, that the coming of motor-cars has finally rendered the huge "Star and Garter" impossible. Time was when the drive to Richmond was a delightful and leisurely affair, occupying in the coming and the going a considerable part of the day. Motor-cars and taxicabs have rendered it a matter of minutes only, and those who used to lunch or dine at Richmond now do the like, just as luxuriously, and almost as quickly by modern methods of travel, at Brighton, Hastings, or Eastbourne.

I have written much elsewhere of Petersham, in a little book called Rural Nooks round London, and so will now leave the subject for the last Thames-side nooks that can by any means claim to preserve to this day any relics of their old village life. The first of these is Isleworth, in Middlesex.




Isleworth, an ancient and almost forgotten village overlooking the Thames, is not by any manner of means to be confounded with the station of that name, or with the better-known outlying portion of the parish known as Old Isleworth. The reason of this popular ignorance of Isleworth is easily to be found in the pronounced bend of the river by which it stands, the great roads in the neighbourhood going approximately direct, and leaving Isleworth in a very rarely travelled nook, not often penetrated, except by those who have some especial reason for calling at Isleworth itself. It is thus a singularly old-world place, and, strangely enough, it is more often seen from afar, from the towing-path on the Surrey side, than at hand.
The village, however little known it may be to-day, was sufficiently well known to the compilers of Domesday Book, in whose pages it appears in the grotesque spelling, "Ghistelworde." Afterwards it is found written Yhistleworth, Istelworth, Ysselsworth, and at last, before the present formula was found for it, "Thistleworth." A vast deal of contention has raged around the meaning of the place-name, and with such an orthographic choice you could give it almost any meaning you chose; but there can be little question but that it comes from two words, the Celtic uisc for water, and the Saxon worth for village. It is, indeed, distinctly a water-village, for not only does the Thames flow by it, but here the Crane, rising near Northolt, and coming down through Cranford, falls into the Thames, near by a little nameless brook that rises on Norwood Green. It is indeed the confluence of the Crane and the Thames that contributes so largely to the picturesqueness, the somewhat squalid waterside picturesqueness, of Isleworth; for the outlet of the smaller into the larger river is closed by little dock-gates, and the space thus shut in is presided over by the huge, and in themselves unbeautiful, flour mills of Messrs. Samuel Kidd & Sons. There is, however, always a something attractive about flour-mills, let the builders of them build never so prosaically; and here, where the little stream comes sliding out beneath the massive buildings, and where the road passes over the little dock, the sight of the barges coming up, each laden with their thousand or so quarters of wheat for the mills, is found generally interesting, especially to boys sent about some urgent business; the more immediate and pressing the errand, the more attractive the mills; which have their historical interest to the well-read in local story, for they are the successors, on this same spot, of the ancient water-mills of the Abbey of Sion.


Most of the houses at Isleworth are old brick structures, with heavily sashed windows, and the humbler houses and cottages are very much out of repair. There is a look of the passive mood and of the past tense about the place, and you expect (and probably would find if you inquired) holes in the stockings of every other inhabitant, patches on their posteriors, and mere apologies for soles on their footgear; while shocking bad hats are the only wear. The artist who knows what's what will already have perceived that Isleworth is a place likely to have pictorial qualities, and in his supposition he will be quite correct. It would certainly have captivated Whistler. Imagine the parish church on the river-bank, at the end of this rather feckless street of houses;


imagine a very large old inn, the London Apprentice, almost dabbling in the water, and then conceive two large islands, or eyots, or aits, as they may with equal correctitude be called, off-shore, dividing the stream of Thames in two. They are extremely interesting eyots, for they grow to this day abundance of osiers, whose periodical harvesting, for the making of baskets, is a by no means negligible local industry. Lately I walked through Isleworth on the day before Christmas, and there, stepping down between two rows of little tenements forming Tolson's Almhouses, and looking down upon the river from the railed wall at the farther end, could be seen lying six or eight great barges that had come, not from foreign climes, but from the creeks and ports of the Essex and the Kentish coasts, from the Swale, the Medway, the Blackwater, or the Crouch. Each and all of them had at their mastheads a bundle of holly fastened to a spar, in honour of the coming Day. Beyond them rose the ivy-clad tower of the church, and an occasional pallid gleam of sunshine broke upon the river. It was a pretty and a touching scene.


A great deal of very unreliable and really unveracious "history" has been written about the inn, the London Apprentice, said to have been a favourite haunt of highwaymen, among whom our ubiquitous old friend, Dick Turpin, of course figures; but we may disregard such tales. It was once, however, a favourite resort for water-parties from London.
The tower of the church is a really beautiful and sturdy pinnacled stone Gothic building, but the body of the church was rebuilt in 1705, from designs left, so it is said, by Sir Christopher Wren; and it is, within and without, typical of the style then prevalent: that well-known type of exterior of red brick, pierced with tall, factory-like windows, and an interior modelled after a "classic" type, with galleries, and painted and gilded more like a place of amusement than a place of worship.
A few much-worn brasses remain from an older building, notably one to Margaret Dely, a Sister of Sion during the brief revival of the Abbey under Queen Mary.
But the most interesting monument is one of ornate design, in marble, placed in the west entrance lobby, under the tower. This is partly to the memory of Mrs. Ann Tolson, and partly to Dr. Caleb Cotesworth, and narrates, in the course of a very long epitaph, a romantic story. Ann Tolson was the donor of the group of almshouses already mentioned, for six poor men and an equal number of poor women. She married, as the epitaph very minutely tells us, firstly Henry Sisson and then one John Tolson. When he died
"she was reduced to Narrow and Confined Circumstances, and supported herself by keeping School for the Education of Young Ladies, for which She was well Qualified by a Natural Ingenuity. A strict and Regular Education, and mild and gentle Disposition. By the loss of Sight She became unfit for her Employment, and a proper object to receive that Charity, She was Sollicitous to Distribute."
In the midst of these misfortunes, Dr. Caleb Cotesworth, a connection of hers by marriage, died. As the epitaph, with meticulous particularity goes on to report, he "had By a long and Successful practice at London" amassed a fortune of "One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds and upwards." A part he distributed by his will among relatives, "and the residue, One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Pounds and upwards he gave to his Wife.
They both died on the 2nd May, 1741. But she survived and Dying Intestate, her Personal Estate became distributable among her three next Of Kin, one of whom was the above Ann Tolson. With a sense of this Signal Deliverance and unexpected Change from a State of Want, to Riches and Affluence, She forthwith appointed the Sum of Five Thousand Pounds to the establishment of Almshouses for Six men and six women," and then the giddy old thing went and married a third time, although over eighty years of age, one Joseph Dash, merchant, of London. She died, aged 89, in 1750; and this monument, for which she had left £500, for the narration of her interesting story, was soon afterwards duly placed here.

Opposite the monument of this lady is that of Sir Orlando Gee, a factotum of Algernon, Duke of Northumberland and Registrar of the Admiralty, who died in 1705. It is a very fine marble monument, with a half-length portrait effigy of Sir Orlando himself, in the costume and the elaborate wig of his period. He is represented in the act of reading some document unspecified.

The Middlesex shore, when once past Sion Park, now grows thickly cumbered with buildings, and the view of the Surrey side from Middlesex is distinctly preferable to that of Middlesex from Surrey.

Kew gardens

For on the opposite shore stretch the long reaches of Kew Gardens, whose beauties no one, I suppose, has ever yet exhausted; the grounds are so extensive and their contents so varied, so rich and rare.
But, after all, I see, the extent of Kew Gardens is not so great, measured by acreage instead of their riches. I detest mere facts, and love impressions; but here is a fact, for once in a way books of reference give the size of Kew Gardens as some 350 acres only.
The Director and his colleagues in botany and arboriculture look across to the factory chimneys of Brentford with dismay, and write alarming things in annual reports about the effects of the noxious fumes from those chimneys upon the trees and plants of the gardens, so Brentford, we may take it, is a menace, and since the Brentford Gas Company is a highly prosperous and expanding business, and is certainly in the front rank as a fume-producer, the menace we may further suppose to be increasing. The end of these things no man can foresee, but the passing away of Kew Gardens would be a thing too grievous to contemplate.


Brentford, it is true, cannot by any means be styled a village, and it owns indeed the dignity of the county town of Middlesex. Thus it would find no place in these pages, were it not that Brentford sets up as the rival of Coway Stakes near Walton, for the honour of being that historic spot where Julius Cæsar crossed the Thames. It is only of recent years that this claim has been put forward, and until then Coway Stakes scarcely knew a competitor. But at different times during dredging operations in the bed of the river, and in the course of building new wharves and other waterside structures, great numbers of ancient oak stakes have been discovered, extending with intervals, from about four hundred yards below Isleworth ferry down to the upper extremity of Brentford eyot. Near Isleworth ferry they were found in 1881, in a threefold line, interlaced with wattles and boughs, and continue, generally in a single line, at intervals, under the river banks, with advanced rows in the bed of the river, past the places where the river Brent falls into the Thames in two branches. The stakes, that have been numerously extracted in these last thirty years, are in fairly good preservation, and measure in general fifteen inches in circumference.
The criticism, of course, arises here, How could the Britons at such necessarily short notice have executed so extensive a work to impede the passage of the Romans, who came swiftly up from Kent and who could not have been confidently expected at any one point? The stakes extend for about two miles and appear to have been thoroughly and methodically arranged. The wattling, too, is evidence of care and deliberation. Doubts must arise. They may have been already long in existence before Cæsar came, and have been intended for defence against rival tribes; or again, they may not really be so ancient as supposed; and their object merely for the protection of the banks from being eroded by the current.
The name, Brentford, refers of course to a ford across the Brent near its confluence with the Thames, which is broad and deep here; but there was also, doubtless, a ford across the Thames, at this place, for the present depth of the river has been produced in modern times by the industrious dredging works of the Thames Conservancy. But still at low tide between Brentford ferry and Kew bridge the river has normally only three feet depth of water, and in summer sometimes much less. Children can at such times often be seen wading far out into the bed of the stream. There must evidently have been a ford across the Thames here in ancient days, as well as across the Brent, and we know from later historic events that undoubtedly took place here that this junction of rivers was always an important point.
Thus much may be said in support of the modern contention that it was here Cæsar crossed on his way to Verulam, and it may be conceded to those who hold this view that the delta formed by the two outlets of the Brent is curiously named "Old England." It will be found so called on large Ordnance maps, and by that name it has been known from time immemorial.


Much significance may be found in that title in such a place as this. Nothing is known as to the origin of it. It has just come down to us from the old, dim ages of oral tradition, and is now fixed by printed maps. The significance of the name is, however, strangely supported by that of a spot far indeed removed from it, but (if we accept the theory that Brentford is really the scene of Cæsar's crossing) most intimately correlated in history. This second name has also been handed down in like manner out of the misty past. We need not wonder at it. Tradition was everywhere strong in times before the people could read, but their memory has become gradually atrophied since they have become literate, and the wisdom and the legends of our forefathers are fading away. Fortunately, the art of printing, which, in conjunction with the widespread ability to read, has destroyed much oral tradition, has at the same time fixed and perpetuated many floating legends and memories.
This fellow traditional name is "Old England's Hole," the title given by many generations of rustics to a hillock on the summit of Bridge Hill, beside the Dover road between Canterbury and Dover, and adjoining Barham Downs, where Cæsar fought with and defeated the Britons, July 23, 54 B.C. It is a hillock with a crater-like hollow in the crest, and was one of the forts in which the Britons long held out. Cæsar himself, in his Commentaries, describes these forts and the storming of them by his soldiers; and the rustics of the neighbourhood have fixed upon this particular spot, and say in effect "This is Old England's Hole, and here a last stand for freedom was made by your British forefathers."


"Old England," on the banks of Brent and Thames, is partly included within Syon Park and in part extends over the squalid canal outlet and the sidings, docks, and warehouses the Great Western Railway has established here; but the name more particularly attaches to the meadow just within the park. It forms from the Surrey shore a charming picture not at all injured by those commercial activities of docks and railways adjoining: perhaps even gaining by contrast. There the earthy banks of the Thames, in general hereabouts steep and some ten or twelve feet high, are lower and shelve gradually; and in the meadows a noble group of bushy poplars stands behind a few willows that look upon the stream. There are trees, too, in the background, and the spire of the modern church of St Paul, Brentford, forms a not unpleasing feature on the right.

Brentford Ferry

Brentford Ferry, down below "Old England," commands an extensive view down river, towards Kew Bridge and along the northern channel of the Thames, divided here into two channels by the long and narrow Brentford Eyot, thickly grown with grass and underwood, and planted with noble trees. It is acutely pointed out by Mr. Montagu Sharpe that the boundary-line dividing the counties of Middlesex and Surrey is not at this point made to follow the stream midway, as customary elsewhere, but is traced along the northern channel; and he sees in this fact a hint that the original course of the river was along that branch, and assumes that the main stream is of later origin; that the river at some time later than the era of the Romans made this new way for itself.
On the steep bank above Brentford Ferry there was placed in May 1909 a sturdy granite pillar with inscriptions setting forth the historical character of the spot. The events known to have taken place at Brentford, and the crossing here by Cæsar, now boldly assumed, form a very remarkable list, as this copy of those inscriptions will sufficiently show:

54 B.C.
At this ancient fortified ford the British tribesmen under Cassivellaunus bravely opposed Julius Cæsar on his march to Verulamium.

A.D. 780-1
Near by, Offa, King of Mercia, with his Queen, the bishops, and principal officers, held a Council of the Church.

A.D. 1016
Here Edmund Ironside, King of England, drove Cnut and his defeated Danes across the Thames.

A.D. 1642
Close by was fought the Battle of Brentford, between the forces of King Charles I. and the Parliament

A.D. 1909
To commemorate these historical events this stone was erected by the Brentford Council.

This memorial has certainly been placed in a most prominent position, and challenges the attention of the passer-by along the footpath past Kew Gardens, on the opposite shore. As you approach by the ferry-boat, the crazy old stone and brick stairs leading steeply up, beside the broad and easy incline of the shingly ferry-slip, look most imposing, and group well with their surroundings.
Where the old original ford across the Brent was situated no man knows, but perhaps near to its junction with the Thames, at a spot where the waters from the greater tidal river rendered the ford impassable except at the ebb. That was the awkward situation of Old Brentford, and one not for very long to be endured by travellers along the great West of England road that runs through this place. Thus it gave way at a very early period to a new ford, somewhat higher up the Brent; and around it in the course of time rose the town of New Brentford, whose being and name in this manner derived directly from the needs of travellers for a ford passable at all hours. The ford was replaced by a bridge in 1280, and that by later stone bridges, or patchings and enlargements of the original. The present representative of them is a quite recent and commodious iron affair, built over the stone arch: very much more convenient for the traffic, but not at all romantic. New Brentford church stands near by; that of Old Brentford is a good quarter of a mile along the road, back towards London, but there is nothing old or interesting about it, seeing that it was entirely rebuilt a few years ago.

River Brent

The Brent, as it flows through the town, is not easily to be distinguished amid the several canal cuts, where the close-packed barges lie, but it may with some patience be traced at the western end of the broad and retired road called "The Butts," an ancient name significant of a bygone Brentford, very different from the present aspect of the place. "The Butts" is a broad open space, rather than a road, and the houses, old and new, in it are of a superior residential character that would astonish those - and they are far the greater number - who know Brentford only by passing through its narrow and squalid and tramway-infested main street. "The Butts" would appear to have been an ancient practice-ground in archery.
The Brent appears at the extremity, down below a very steep bank, and barges lie in it, on the hither side of a sluice. It goes thenceforward in a pronounced curve, to fall into the docks, and passes by the backs of old houses and some still surviving gardens, with the church-tower of St. Leonard's, New Brentford, peering over old red roofs and clustered gables.

In an old-world town such as this there are many charming village-like corners and strange survivals, when once you have left the main arteries of traffic. Brentford is, of course, a byword for its narrow, congested, squalid High Street, down which the gasworks send a quarter-of-a-mile of stink to greet the inquiring stranger; but it is a very long High Street, and the gasmaking is in Old Brentford; and at the westward end, New Brentford, you are far removed from those noisome activities and among the barges instead. It is largely a bargee population at this end; and the bargee himself, the cut of his beard (when he has one it is generally of the chin-tuft fashion affected by the Pharaohs, as seen by the ancient statues in the British Museum), the style of his clothes, and his manner of living his semi-amphibious life are all interesting. It would need a volume to do justice to the history, the quaintnesses, and the anomalies of Brentford, which, although the "county town" of Middlesex, and thus invested with a greater if more nebulous dignity than London - merely the capital of the Empire - is not even a corporate town. If I wanted to justify myself for including it in a book on villages, I should feel inclined to advance this fact, and to add that, although the traditional "two Kings of Brentford," with only one throne between them, are famous in legend, no one ever heard of a Mayor of Brentford, either in legend or in fact. When it is added that Old Brentford owns all the new things, such as the gasworks, the brewery, and the waterworks, and that the old houses are mostly in New Brentford, the thing is resolved into an engaging and piquant absurdity. It is to be explained, of course, in the fact of Old Brentford being so old that it has had to be renewed.

The very names of Brentford's streets tell a tale of eld. It is only in these immemorially ancient places that such names as "Town Meadow," "The Butts," "The Hollows" "Old Spring Gardens," "New Spring Gardens," "The Ham," "Ferry Lane," or "Half Acre" are met with. They are names that tell of a dead and gone Brentford little suspected by the most of those who pass by. No unpleasing place this waterside town when the "Town Meadow," that is now a slummy close, was really a piece of common land green with grass and doubtless giving pleasantly upon the river. And when Old and New Spring Gardens first acquired their name, perhaps about the age when Herrick wrote his charming poems, or that era when Pepys gossiped, they were no doubt idyllic spots where the springs gushed forth amid shady bowers. To-day they are old-world alleys, with houses declining upon a decrepit age that invites the attention of improving hands. There was an ancient congeries of crooked alleys and small cottage property near the corner of Half Acre known as "Troy Town." It stood hard by where the District Council offices are now placed, but tall hoardings facing the road now disclose the fact that Troy Town is in process of being abolished. The name is curious, but not unique. It is found frequently in England, and seems generally to occur as the name of an old suburb of a much older town; some place of picnicking and merry-making, where there were arbours, and above all, a maze, either cut in the turf or planted in the form of a hedge, like that most glorious of mazes at Hampton Court. Such were the original "Troy Towns"; and whatever once were the clustered alleys in Brentford that were called by that name, certainly they have carried out to the full, and to the last, the mazy, uncharted idea.
But this old suburb of Old Brentford must at an early date have been swallowed up in the growth of New Brentford and at a remote time have lost everything of its original character except its old traditional name. Names, we know, survive when all else has vanished or been utterly changed.


Ferry Lane is one of Brentford's many quaint corners. There is an old inn there, the "Waterman's Arms," and a stately old mansion, "Ferry House." And there is a curious old malthouse, too, which, in the artistic way, simply makes the fortune of Ferry Lane, so piquant are the outlines of its roofs and its two ventilating shafts, like young lighthouses. Buildings of such simple, yet such picturesque lines do not come into existence nowadays.

And so to leave Brentford, with much of its story untold. To tell it were a long business that would lose the sense of proportion which to some degree, let us hope, distinguishes these volumes. So nothing shall be said of those two mysterious "Kings of Brentford" who shared, according to tradition, the throne; nothing, that is, but to note that a brilliant idea has of late occurred to antiquaries, puzzled beyond measure by these indefinite kings. It is now conceived that the legend originally was of the two kings at Brentford, and that so far from sharing one throne happily together, they were Edmund Ironside, the Saxon king, and Canute the invading Dane (or Cnut, as it seems we are expected to style him now), who was severely defeated here by Edmund, and driven out of Brentford across the river.



Kew Bridge

There is a waterside walk from Brentford to Kew Bridge, commanding a full view of that new and solid, perhaps also stolid, structure of stone, opened May 20, 1903. The old bridge was a more satisfactory affair to the eye, although its roadway was steep, rising sharply as it did from either end to an apex over the middle arch. The arches, boldly and beautifully semicircular, were delightful to look upon, not like the flattened-out segmental spans of the new bridge, which have a heavy and ungraceful appearance, looking for all the world as though they had settled heavily in the making upon their haunches and would presently fall, flop, into the river.
Things change, after all, but slowly here. Much has gone of late years, but much is still left. Here, for example, stands a riverside inn the "Oxford and Cambridge," with a delightful little lawn, exquisitely green, behind a low wall that gives upon the towing-path. It has a very rural look, amid urban surroundings, and at the rear you may yet see a range of old malthouses, with cowled ventilators upon their old richly-red tiled roofs, in every way resembling their fellows far down in Kent. But they are to be let or sold, and for long past the side of them giving upon the road has served the purpose of an advertising station; so the end of these things is at hand.


Kew - called on some old maps "Cue" - across the bridge into Surrey, stands grouped around its green, as of old; the curious church, which is half Byzantine and half of the Queen Anne method, presenting an outline so remarkably suggestive of an early type of locomotive engine that one would scarce be surprised to find some day that it had steamed off.

Kew Green is charming, but there is a dirty little slum down by the riverside, with labyrinthine alleys and corners where children make dust-and mud-pies and women in aprons stand at doorways with arms akimbo and gossip. Here is a street of modern cottages with an odd old name: "Westerly Ware."
I do not think Kew can be condemned as being go-ahead and ultra-modern. Time was, somewhere about 1880, when a tramway was laid along the Kew Gardens road from the foot of Kew Bridge into Richmond. It was regarded when new as a very rash and deplorable and innovating thing, and the tinkle of its horse-bells was anything but pleasing to the ears of the wealthy residents of the mostly peculiarly ostentatious villas on the way. But "circumstances alter cases," as the old adage tritely tells us, and now that few provincial towns of any size are without their electric tramways, this little single-line horsed tramway is come to be regarded almost in the nature of a genuine antique. You take your seat upon one of the little cars and wait and wait, and still wait. It is very pleasant and drowsy in summer to wait until the next tram down has left the way clear at one of the occasional sidings, but if you are in a hurry, it is quicker to walk. I do not think any one really wants electric tramways into Richmond, though, no doubt, they will come.
When they do, there will be introduced an altogether undesirable element of hurry into a road that at present veritably exhales leisure. There is a certain æsthetic pleasure in lingering along this road, for although the architecture of those villas is perhaps not the last word in art, their gardens are beautiful and are easily to be seen. Would that Kew Gardens were so readily visible. But the churlish Government department that formerly had the management of the gardens built a high and ugly brick wall the whole length of the road, so only the tree-tops are visible over it, even to travellers on tramcar roofs; and no one has yet had the public spirit to demolish the useless thing and to substitute an iron railing in place of it. One opening, indeed, was made, about 1874, when a charming red-brick building by Eden Nesfield was erected, just inside the grounds, and the peep it gives into Paradise, so to speak, only makes one the more inclined to ask why any of the wall should be allowed to remain.

Strand on the Green


Strand-on-the-Green is the name of the picturesque waterside row of houses of many shapes and sizes that extends along the Middlesex foreshore from Kew Bridge towards Chiswick. It is a kind of home-grown Venice, and sometimes, when the Thames is in flood, its feet are dabbled in the water, and ingenious ways with planks and clay are resorted to for the keeping of the river out of ground floors. But since the Thames has become more and more curbed and regulated, these occasions have grown and are still growing fewer. I do not know where is the "Green" of Strand-on-the-Green, and the "strand" itself that stretches down to the river at low tide from the brick-and-asphalted walk in front of the village, or hamlet - by whichever name we are rightly to entitle the place - is mostly mud, where the rankly-growing grass ceases. Old boats and barges that long since grew beyond any more patching and mending, and were not worth even breaking up, have been left here to lie about, half in mud and half in water, grass growing in them.

Oliver's Ait?

And an island lies in mid-stream; an island on which, for many years past, men may have been observed wheeling barrows to and fro and engaged in other apparently aimless activities that certainly during the last thirty years have had no beginning and no end. It is a picturesque island, with flourishing trees, and it looks a most desirable Robinson Crusoe kind of a place, especially when viewed from the trains, that just here cross the river on an ugly lattice-girder bridge. A timber gantry projects from one side, and things are done with old boilers and launches. Repairs are occasionally made to the banks of this island, and they have at last resulted in making it a very solid and substantial place, faced upstream and down and round about with bags of concrete; so that no conceivable Thames flood that ever was, or can be, could possibly wash it away.

There is half a mile of Strand-on-the-Green. It is a fairly complete and representative community, comprising in its one row of houses those of an almost stately residential class, including Zoffany House, where the painter of that name lived and died at last in 1810; some lesser houses, a number of cottages housing a waterside population, three inns, the "Bull's Head," the "City Barge," and the "Bell and Crown"; and some shops of an obscure kind, such as one might expect to see only in remote villages. A highly-sketchable old malthouse or two and a row of almshouses complete the picture. As to the almshouses, they are going on for the completion of their second century, as a tablet on them declares:
Two of these Houses built by R. Thomas Child, one by M. Soloman Williams, and one by William Abbott, Carpinter, at his own Charge for ye use of ye Poor of Chiswick for Ever, A.D. 1724.
Also the Port of London Authority has an office overlooking the river, and a firm of motor-boat builders has established works here, amid the ancient barges - a curious modern touch.


Strand-on-the-Green is a hamlet of Chiswick, long a delightful retreat of the Dukes of Devonshire, whose stately mansion of Chiswick House in its surrounding park dignified the old village. But when a suburban population grew up around the neighbourhood of that lordly dwelling-house the owners left it. There is an antipathy between dukes and democracy comparable only to oil and water. Even the neighbourhood of a highly-respectable (and highly-rented) suburb renders the air enervating to ducal lungs, even though the ducal purse be inordinately enriched by the ground-rents of it. It seems that when a man becomes a duke the sight of other men's chimney-pots grows unendurable; unless indeed they be the chimney-pots of another duke; and so he is fain to seclude himself in the middle of his biggest park, in the most solitary part of the country he can find. The higher his rank in the peerage, the more cubic feet of air he requires.
What I should like to see - but what no one ever will see - would be a duke graciously continuing to reside in the midst of the suburb that has grown up around him, and to which he owes a good part of his living, and being quite nice to his neighbours. Not only patronising and charitable to the poor, but just as human and accessible as middle-class snobbery would allow him to be.

Grove Park

It cannot be said that the local developments have been at all swift, or more than very moderately successful. For example, as you proceed from Strand-on-the-Green to Chiswick, you come first of all to Grove Park, where there is a railway station of that name which, together with an ornate public-house and a few shops and houses, wears a look as though left in the long ago to be called for, and apparently not wanted. I have known Grove Park for forty years, and it is just the same now as then. "The last place made" was the description of it long ago given me by a railway official there, pleased to see a human being; and although many places have come into existence since then, it still wears that ultimate look.

Turnham Green

In the long ago, when I went to school in the Chiswick high road at Turnham Green, at a boarding-school that occupied an old mansion called "Belmont House," we fronted almost directly opposite Duke's Avenue, which still remained at that date just an avenue of trees, with never a house along the whole length of it, until you came to the noble wrought-iron gates leading into the awful ducal sanctities themselves. One might freely roam along the delightful avenue, but the great iron gates were, it seemed, always jealously shut; and even had they not been, one's vague ideas of a something terrible in unknown ducal shape would have prevented trespass. I have seen not a few dukes since then, and haven't been in the least frightened, strange to say.
Nowadays the needs or the greed, I know not which, of their successive Graces have caused the land along either side of Duke's Avenue to be let for building upon; and although, as already remarked, the trees remain, and are indeed finer than of yore, numerous very nice villas may be found there; a little dank perhaps in autumn and in wet weather generally, when those trees hold much moisture in suspense, but still, quite desirable villas.
The wonderfully fine old wrought-iron gates were really much finer in the artistic way than one ever suspected, as a schoolboy, and they were flanked by rusticated stone piers surmounted by sphinxes. Exactly what they were like you may see any day in London, for they were removed in recent years to Piccadilly, there to ornament the entrance to the Duke's town house, and to render the exterior of that hideous building, if it might be, a thought less hideous. They have had their adventures, having originally formed the chief entrance to Heathfield House, Turnham Green, inhabited about the middle of the eighteenth century by Viscount Dunkerron. A Duke of Devonshire acquired them in 1837.


There were very frequent grand spreads and entertainments of various gorgeous kinds at Chiswick House in the distant days when one went to school at Turnham Green. His late Majesty Edward the Seventh, of blessed memory, occasionally, as Prince of Wales, had Chiswick House in summer-time between 1866 and 1879. He was not perhaps so universally popular then; for those were the days when Sir Charles Dilke was posing as a red-hot Radical, and furious persons of that kidney talked of republics and all that kind of nonsense. But at anyrate, rank and fashion were to be observed flocking to the princely garden-parties here; and very stunning the carriages and the horses, the harness and the liveries looked; and very beautiful, it seemed, the ladies with their sunshades and dainty toilettes. Those were days long before any one could have predicted the present motor-car era, and no one could ever have imagined that the daughters of those daintily attired ones would be content to drive along amid dust and stinks, and to tie up their countenances with wrappings that sometimes look like fly-papers, and at others like dishclouts. And those, too, were the days not only before electric tramways, but also before even horsed trams, along the Chiswick high road; and Turnham Green (the worthy proprietor of our school called it "Chiswick," because it looked better) was a quite rustic place, and the distance of five miles to home in London seemed to one person at least a very far cry.
These be tales of eld, and now Turnham Green is, to all intents and purposes, London, and shops have long been built where the school stood, and that dark high road - upon whose infrequent pedestrians, certain schoolboys, packed off to bed all too early, and not in the least tired, were used to expend all the available soap and other handy missiles, from lofty windows - has become a highway even more than a thought too brilliantly lit at night.


What remains of the park and gardens around Chiswick House now looks sorry enough. The place came into the hands of the Dukes of Devonshire in 1753, when William Cavendish, the fourth duke, who had married the daughter and heiress of the third and last Earl of Burlington, succeeded on that nobleman's death. It was this Earl of Burlington who had created the glories of Chiswick. A princely patron of the arts, especially those of architecture and sculpture, he had brought home with him from his travels in Italy a taste for the grand exotic manner in the building of mansions and the planning of gardens; and built the house here in 1729, after the Palladian model. It has been somewhat altered since, but the general idea remains, and sufficiently proves that the grand manner, learned abroad under summer skies, is not the comfortable manner as evolved by the necessities of a less ardent clime. English architects have been slow to unlearn the classic fallacy, but the home-grown architecture wins in the end, not from any appreciation of the artistic merits or demerits of the many methods, but on the score of sheer comfort or discomfort in living.
The gardens of Chiswick House abounded in formal walks and long vistas, with conventional "ruins" and groups of antique statuary, but most of these are now gone.
Chiswick House, deserted by its owners, became a lunatic asylum, and stands at last more than a little forlorn, with new streets and roads everywhere around its grounds, and a newer suburb with the projected name of "Burlington" arising by piece-meal, instead of being created ad hoc, as the intention originally was. Burlington is an excellent name; substantial people, with good bank balances should surely reside at such. It radiates respectability; no one could be ashamed of it. I can easily imagine confiding tradesfolk giving unlimited credit to residents at Burlington; but it has not yet come into being, and the vast wilderness-like expanse of Duke's Meadows, projecting far southward, like a great cape between two bends of the river, remains a tussocky place of desolation, looking over to Mortlake.
In Burlington Lane, which is an old name, is a new length of villas, "The Cresent," its name so misspelled, and kept so with the valiance of ignorance, uncorrected, for at least five years past.
What remains of the old village of Chiswick lies considerably to the east of all these developments, and beside the river. There, past Hogarth House, where that famous painter lived and worked - now a museum and showplace at sixpence a head, in memory of him - stands old Chiswick church. Restorations and additions have left really very little of the original building, but it wears a very plausible appearance of age. The weather-vane exhibits a figure of St. Nicholas, to whom the church is dedicated, standing in a boat and holding a staff surmounted by a cross.
A strange inscription may be seen on the churchyard wall, at the east end. It seems to tell of a time when Chiswick was a village in every rustic circumstance:

This wall was made at ye charges of
Ye right honourable and Truly pious
Lorde Francis Russell, Earle of Bedford,
out of true zeale and care for ye keeping of this church yarde and
ye wardrobe of godds saints whose
bodies lay theirin buryed from violating by swine and other
prophanation so witnesseth
William Walker V. A.D. 1623.

Rebuilt 1831. Refaced 1884.

No one appears to know who was William Walker the Fifth, and history is equally silent on the subject of the others of that dynasty.

The neighbourhood is now one of remarkably striking contrasts. By the church stands the "Burlington Arms," an old inn claiming a remote origin, early in the fifteenth century, and with obvious honesty, for the ancient oaken timbers remain to bear witness to the fact. It is a quite humble, but cosy, little inn, astonishingly dwarfed by a great towering fortress-like brewery at the back; as though Beer had withdrawn itself into a final stronghold, there to defend itself to the last vat. Opposite the inn and this Bung Castle stands a stately red-brick mansion of early in the eighteenth century, with fine wrought-iron garden-gates. Up the street are other fine old mansions, mingled with squalid streets; and round by the riverside is Chiswick Mall, with other noble houses of the olden times. Osiers are cut even to this day on Chiswick Eyot, the reedy island opposite.
Such are the contrasts of Chiswick, one of the last outposts of rural things in these parts. To find the last we must travel on through the Mall and on to the more sophisticated Mall of Hammersmith; thence proceeding across the bridge and along the Hammersmith Bridge Road to Barnes. That is the very last village.


Near by is Mortlake. No one has ever satisfactorily explained that place-name, nor attempted to define the mortuus lacus - the dead, or stagnant lake - that would seem to have originated it. Nowadays it is rather to a dead level of commonplace that Mortlake is descending, in the surrounding jerry-building activities. All that is left of the old church is the tower, apparently restored in the time of Henry the Eighth, for a tablet on the western face is inscribed "Vivat R.H. 8, 1543."



To speak of Barnes in these days of suburban expansion as a "village" may at the first mention appear to be unduly stretching a point, but although Suburbia spreads for miles in every direction, and although Barnes is completely enfolded by modern developments, the ancient village is still where it used to be. It is true that a frequent service of motor-omnibuses does by no means tend to the preservation of the old-time rural amenities of Barnes, nor do those who remember the Barnes of thirty or forty years ago welcome the sudden irruption of modern shops and flats opposite the old parish church; but very much of old Barnes is left embedded within these twentieth-century innovations; and while Barnes Common remains, it is not likely that the place will decline to the common characterless condition of an ordinary suburb. Of the original Barnes - the "Berne" of Domesday Book - the place owned by the canons of St. Paul's, before the Reformation, nothing, of course, is left; and we may but dimly picture that rural riverside manor, then considered remote from London, with its great spicaria, or barns (the barns that were so much larger, or more numerous, than the usual type that they gave the place its name); but there is a half squalid, half quaint appearance in the narrow, winding streets and lanes that hints, not obscurely, of the eighteenth or even of the seventeenth century. The church, too, although an examination of the interior proves it to have been, in common with most other once rural churches round London, swept almost entirely bare of ancient features, is picturesquely placed, and its sixteenth-century red-brick tower, partly clothed with ivy, looks venerable. There is little of interest within the church, beyond the somewhat curiously-worded epitaph to a former parson, which deserves the tribute of quotation:

Merentissimo Conjugi
Coniux Moerentissima.

To the best of hvsbands Iohn Sqvier
the Late Faithfvll Rector of This Parish;
the only Son to That most strenvovs Propvgnator
of Pietie and loyaltie (both by Preaching and Svffering)
John Sqvier, sometime Vicar of St. Leonards, Shoreditch near London:
Grace Lynch (who bare vnto him one only Davghter)
Consecrated This (such as it is) small Monvment
of Theyr mvtvall Affection.
He was invested in This Care An: 1660 Sept: 2,
He was devested of all Care An: 1662, Jan. 9,

Aged 42 yeares.

The really most sentimentally interesting thing here is something that might well be overlooked by ninety-nine of every hundred whose curiosity prompts them to enter the churchyard; and it is probably so overlooked. This is the not at all striking tomb of one Edward Rose, citizen of London, who died in 1653, and lies buried in the churchyard, against the south wall of the church, by the great yew tree. He left £20 for the purchase of an acre of land, from the rent of which he ordained that his grave should be maintained in decent order, and bequeathed "£5 for making a frame or partition of wood" where he had appointed his burying-place; and further ordered three rose-trees, or more, to be planted there. The bequests were to the minister, churchwardens, and overseers for the time being, so long as they should cause the wooden partition to be kept in repair and the rose-trees preserved or others planted in their places from time to time, as they should decay.
Thus it is that, duly honouring his sentimental fancy, rose-trees are to this day to be seen here, enclosed within a low wooden railing.



Barnes Common

The way from Barnes into Putney is now, when once you have passed the Common, wholly cut up into a suburb of streets originally mean, and at last, by contact with the stern squalors of life in a striving quarter of London town, become little removed above the level of slums. But Barnes Common remains something considerable in the way of an asset, and through it still runs the Beverley Brook along the last mile or two of its nine-miles course from Cheam to its outlet into the Thames at Barnes Elms. I should say it would be a sorry business attempting to fish nowadays in the Beverley Brook; but regrets on that score are the sheerest futilities, and it should rather be a matter for congratulation that the brook has not been piped, and so altogether hidden from the eye of day. One, to be sure, regrets many things within this sphere of change; notably the very considerable slices the London and South-Western Railway has been allowed to appropriate from the very middle of the Common, not only for the purpose of running the line through it, which, it might possibly be argued, was a geographical necessity, but also for the building of its Barnes station there, which was nothing less than a sublime piece of impudence. What is left of Barnes Common is particularly beautiful in the way of towsled gorse and some pretty clumps of silver-birches. On a byroad leading off it into Putney - a route called Mill Hill road - is something very much in the nature of a surprise in these parts, nothing less than an old toll-house; a queer little building picturesquely overhung by bushy poplars. Its unexpected presence here (it must be now the nearest survival of its kind to London) hints that the days when Putney was really a village are not, after all, so long gone by.



Presently we come into Putney, and to the tramway terminus hard by the bridge and under the shadow of the church-tower, whose great sundial warns all and sundry that
"Time and Tide Wait for no Man."
Is it a result of laying to heart this maxim, truism, self-evident proposition, or whatever else you choose to call it, that the tramway-cars and the motor-omnibuses hustle so impatiently round the corners of the bridge?
Those two church-towers, that stand so prominently here on either side of the river and seem to bear one another close company, although divided, as a matter of fact by a quarter of a mile, with the broad river running between, belong to the churches of Putney and Fulham, both now to be regarded as parts of London.
Putney Church, standing with its churchyard actually on the river bank, was almost wholly rebuilt about 1856, the exterior disclosing walls built of what was once white brick, reduced now to a subdued neutral tint. The old tower is left, and some few small and late and much-battered brasses, now preserved on the walls of a little north-eastern chancel chapel, which is a survival from an earlier building, and has a fine, though small, vaulted ceiling.

The usual absurd legends that seek to explain place-names to the ignorant and the credulous are, of course, not lacking here. The names of Putney and Fulham, and their situation directly opposite one another, on the Surrey and the Middlesex sides of the river, both so prominently marked by their church-towers, seem to the popular mind to need some story. The writer on places becomes tired in course of time at meeting those familiar rival "sisters" of legend, who are always found, in these strictly unveracious tales, to have been the competitive builders of the two churches occasionally found in one churchyard, of the twin towers possessed by some few parish churches, and indeed of most buildings which, for no very immediately apparent reason, have been duplicated within sight of one another.
Here, therefore, we learn of two strange sisters of gigantic stature who, in the conveniently vague period of "once upon a time," lived on these opposite banks of the Thames. One is almost ashamed to repeat the stupid tale of their having agreed to build the towers of the respective churches, and having only one hammer between them, being accustomed to throw it across from one to the other when required. When the sister on the Fulham side needed the hammer, she asked the other to throw it over "full home." When it was returned, it was flung with a will, in response to the request "put nigh!" The flinging back and forth with every stone bedded must have been very wearing, and the shouting terrific. At last the hammer got broken, and had it not been for the help of a blacksmith up-river, who promptly mended it, the building must have ceased. Of course you guess where this kindly craftsman lived. Where else than at the place ever after called, in memory of him, "Hammersmith"?

Putney Bridge

The expansion of Putney from the likeness to a country village which it wore until quite recent times well within the memory of many who do not yet call themselves old, dates from the completion of the new and commonplace bridge that spans the river here in five flattened arches, and is seven hundred feet in length, and cost over £240,000. Handbooks and guides of various sorts will tell those who know nothing about it that the old wooden bridge which this replaced in 1886 was "ugly and inconvenient." The inconvenience we may readily enough grant, but no artist who ever knew old Putney Bridge will agree to its having been ugly. Indeed, so picturesque was it, in its maze of timbering, that every one who knew it, and at the same time owned the artistic sense, bitterly regretted its clearing away to give place to the present commonplace, though convenient, stone structure. Old Putney Bridge was the first to span the river between Fulham and Putney, and was originally projected in 1671. The proposal to build a bridge here was in the first stage discussed in Parliament, and there met with such opposition and ridicule that the scheme failed and was not revived until 1722, finally meeting with the approval of the House and receiving the Royal sanction in the early part of 1726. It is well worth while, after that space of time, to recover some of the discussion in 1671 respecting the providing of a bridge in place of the immemorially old ferry. It was not only honest ridicule, but also a good deal of the fear and jealousy felt by "vested interests," that at first prevented a bridge being built here. And what person, or what corporate body, think you, was threatened so seriously by a bridge between Putney and Fulham? The owner of the ferry? the local watermen? my Lord Bishop of London, whose palace was and still is, on yonder bank? None of these were in such near prospect of being overwhelmed; but it would appear that the great, ancient, and prosperous City of London, more than five miles downstream, was in that perilous state, on the mere threatening of a bridge at Putney.

It was a Mr. Jones, representative of the City of London in that honourable House, who caught the Speaker's eye and thus held forth, in mingled appeal, warning, and denunciation:
"It is impossible to contemplate without feelings of the most afflictive nature the probable success of the Bill now before the House. I am sensible that I can hardly do justice by any words of mine to the apprehensions which not only I myself personally feel upon the vital question, but to those which are felt by every individual in the kingdom who has given this very important subject the smallest share of his consideration. I am free to say, Sir, and I say it with the greater freedom, because I know that the erection of a bridge over the river Thames at Putney will not only injure the great and important city which I have the honour to represent, not only jeopardise it, not only destroy its correspondence and commerce, but actually annihilate it altogether."
It might be thought that this ludicrous extravagance of language would have aroused derisive laughter; but no, the House appears to have taken him seriously, for, "Hear, hears" are reported at this stage. Apparently fortified by them, he continued in the same strain:
"I repeat, in all possible seriousness, that it will question the very existence of the metropolis; and I have no hesitation in declaring that, next to pulling down the whole borough of Southwark, nothing can destroy more certainly than building this proposed bridge at Putney. (Hear, hear.) Allow me, Sir, to ask, and I do so with the more confidence because the answer is evident and clear, How will London be supplied with fuel, with grain, or with hay if this bridge is built? All the correspondences westward will be at one blow destroyed. I repeat this fact boldly, because, as I said before, it is incontrovertible. As a member of this honourable House, I should not venture to speak thus authoritatively unless I had the best possible ground to go upon, and I state, without the least fear of contradiction, that the water at Putney is shallow at ebb, and assuming, as I do, that the correspondences of London require free passage at all times, and knowing, as I do, that if a bridge be built there not even the common wherries will be able to pass the river at low water, I do say that I think the Bill one which only tends to promote a wild and silly scheme, likely to advantage a few speculators, but highly unreasonable and unjust in its character and provisions; because independently of the ruin of the City of London, which I consider inevitable in the event of its success, it will effect an entire change in the position and affairs of the watermen - a change which I have no hesitation in saying will most seriously affect the interests of His Majesty's Government, and not only the interests of the Government, but those of the nation at large."
Mr. Jones was followed by a member arguing with almost equal extravagance and vehemence in favour of the proposed bridge. It appeared to him that, if built, it
"could not fail to be of the greatest utility and convenience to the whole British nation."

Then presently arose Sir William Thompson, who considered this project "romantic and visionary." He added,
"If a bridge be built at Putney, London Bridge may as well be pulled down. (Hear, hear!) Yes, Sir, I repeat it - because this bridge, which seems to be a favourite scheme of some honourable gentleman whom I have in my eye - if this bridge be permitted, the rents necessary to the maintenance of London Bridge will be annihilated; and therefore, as I said before, the bridge itself must eventually be annihilated also. But, Sir, this is not all. I speak affectionately of the City of London, and I hope I shall never be forgetful of its interests ('Hear, hear,' from Mr. Jones); but I take up the question on much more liberal principles, and assume a higher ground, and I will maintain it. Sir, London is circumscribed - I mean the City of London. There are walls, gates, and boundaries, the which no man can increase or extend; those limits were set by the wisdom of our ancestors, and God forbid they should be altered. But, Sir, though these landmarks can never be removed - I say, never, for I have no hesitation in stating that when the walls of London shall no longer be visible and Ludgate is demolished, England itself shall be as nothing; yet it is in the power of speculative theorists to delude the minds of the people with visionary projects of increasing the skirts of the City so that it may even join Westminster. When that is the case, Sir, the skirts will be too big for our habits; the head will grow too big for the body, and the members will get too weak to support the constitution. But what of this? say honourable gentlemen; what have we to do to consider the policy of increasing the town while we are only debating a question about Putney Bridge? To which I answer, Look at the effects generally of the important step you are about to sanction: ask me to define those effects particularly, and I will descend to the minutiæ of the mischief you appear prone to commit. Sir, I, like my honourable friend the Member for the City of London, have taken opinions of scientific men, and I declare it to be their positive conviction, and mine, that if the fatal bridge (I can find no other suitable word) be built, not only will quicksands and shelves be created throughout the whole course of the river, but the western barges will be laid up high and dry at Teddington, while not a ship belonging to us will ever get nearer London than Woolwich. Thus, not only your own markets, but your Custom House, will be nullified; and not only the whole mercantile navy of the country be absolutely destroyed, but several west-country bargemen actually thrown out of employ. I declare to God, Sir, that I have no feeling on the subject but that of devotion to my country, and I shall most decidedly oppose the Bill in all its stages."
All this reads sufficiently absurdly nowadays, but it is surpassed in curious interest by the remarks added by a Mr. Boscawen, who, after declaring that, before he had come down to the House he could not understand what possible reason there could be for building a bridge at Putney, went on to say that
"now he had heard the reasons of honourable gentlemen, he was equally at a loss to account for them."
And then, with concentrated satire, he proceeded:
"If there were any advantage derivable from a bridge at Putney, perhaps some gentleman would find that a bridge at Westminster would be a convenience."
It should be remembered here that the first bridge at Westminster was not opened until 1750. Until that date there was not any bridge between London Bridge and Putney. Hence the true inwardness of the sarcasm in Mr. Boscawen's remarks already quoted, and of those now about to be set forth.
Thus he continued:
"Other honourable gentlemen might dream that a bridge from the end of Fleet Market into the fields on the opposite side of the water would be a fine speculation; or who knew but at last it might be proposed to arch over the river altogether and build a couple more bridges; one from the Palace at Somerset House into the Surrey marshes, and another from the front of Guildhall into Southwark (great laughter). Perhaps some honourable gentlemen who are interested in such matters would get up in their places and propose that one or two of these bridges should be built of iron. (Shouts of laughter.) For his part, if this Bill passed, he would move for leave to bring in half a dozen more Bills for building bridges at Chelsea, and at Hammersmith, and at Marble Hall Stairs, and at Brentford, and at fifty other places besides."
Bridges at all those places have long since been built, and, of course, many of them in iron; so the foolishness of one generation becomes the sober commonplace fact of the next.

The bridge thus hotly debated and rejected and at last permitted to be built, was eventually begun in 1729. It was wholly a commercial speculation. The Company interested in it had at the beginning to satisfy the claims of the Duchess Dowager of Marlborough, Lady of the Manor of Wimbledon, and of the Bishop of London, Lord of the Manor of Fulham, for the extinction of their respective rights in the ancient ferry. The Duchess received £364 10s., and the Bishop the meagre amount of £23. The three tenants of the ferry, however, received altogether as much as £8,000; and at the same time the Bridge Act provided for £62 per annum to be paid by the Company, in perpetuity, to the churchwardens of Putney and Fulham; to be divided between the watermen, their widows and children, for the loss of the Sunday ferry.

On November 27, 1729, the bridge was fully opened. The cost was remarkably small. Including Parliamentary expenses and the amounts paid to persons interested in the ferry, it totalled only £23,084 14s. 1d. The old building, narrow, and patched, and crazy-looking, but strong enough to have stood for many more long years, remained to the last in all essentials the bridge of 1729. It had twenty-nine openings, and at the top of the cut-waters of every pier a sanctuary for foot-passengers to step into when wheeled traffic occupied the narrow road. The modest sum of one halfpenny freed the pedestrian, except on Sunday, when the discouragement to gadding about on the Sabbath was a doubled toll. In 1880 the Metropolitan Board of Works purchased the bridge for £58,000, and on June 26 of the same year it was declared free of toll. The last chapter of its long story was concluded on May 29, 1886, when, upon the opening of the new bridge, it was closed.

Putney Bridge is found sometimes referred to as "Fulham" Bridge, but those references are few, and there has never been any general disposition to style it other than the name it bears by common usage. Yet it is as much Fulham Bridge as Putney. The present costly structure, built at such great expense in 1886, is already of insufficient width for conveniently carrying the great press of traffic that now uses it, especially since electric tramways have been laid across. The cynical indifference to the comfort and even the safety of other users of the road often displayed by public bodies and by the engineers who lay tram-rails, is shown markedly here, where the London County Council's lines run for a considerable distance within two feet of the kerb. It is already so evident that the width of the bridge is insufficient that the ordinary observer would not be surprised to find the necessary widening works soon begun.

Fulham Church

Fulham Church was rebuilt in 1881, and only the ancient tower of the former building remains. It is in the Perpendicular style of architecture, of a quite common type, and greatly resembles in general style that of Putney Church, at the other end of the bridge; but is on a much larger scale. It contains a peal of ten bells, of which the Fulham people used to be very proud, but an inordinate fondness for ringing them in crashing peals has destroyed any liking; and, in any case, Fulham of to-day, as a part of London, has lost that sense of individuality which used to take a proud interest in local possessions.
The interior of the church, which has weathered so greatly in the few years of its existence that it resembles an ancient building, is rich in monuments, but at one time possessed many more. The oldest is a lozenge-shaped Flemish brass dated 1529 to one Margaret Svanders, with a curious head-and-shoulders representation of the lady herself;

but the oddest of all the memorials here is that to John, Viscount Mordaunt, including a statue of that nobleman, rather larger than life-size, in white marble. It has now been banished to the tower, from the prominent position it formerly occupied in the south aisle, and is not a little startling, seen suddenly and unexpectedly in a half light. The weird-looking figure is like that of a lunatic policeman standing on a dining-room table in his socks, and pretending to direct the traffic, with a sheet wound partly round his nakedness, and something like a rolling-pin in his hand.
It stands on a raised slab of polished black marble, with a black background throwing it into further relief. This extraordinary effigy was sculptured by Bird, author of the original statue of Queen Anne in front of St. Paul's Cathedral, of which an exact replica by Richard Belt now occupies the same spot.
The mad-policeman idea is due, of course, to the sculptor having chosen to represent that distinguished nobleman as a Roman, with a truncheon, which he is seen to be wielding with a mock-heroic gesture. The truncheon typifies the official position he held as Constable of Windsor Castle.
Lord Mordaunt was a younger son of the first Earl of Peterborough. Born in 1627, he was active among the younger Royalists, and figured at last in the restoration of Charles the Second, who created him Viscount Aviland, a title which seems to have been somewhat thrust into the background. He died of a fever in 1675, and appears to have led an active and an honourable life, which ought to have excused him from this posthumous grotesquery. The whole monument is indeed a prominent example of the fantastic taste of its period, and is set about with marble pedestals bearing epitaph and family genealogy, and sculptured gauntlets and coronets.

A number of very distinguished personages lie in the great churchyard. Prominent among the later monuments, as you enter along Church Row and past the Powell almshouses, is that of the fifth and last Viscount Ranelagh and Baron Jones, who died November 13, 1885, in his seventy-third year. There are still very many who well recollect the distinguished-looking figure of Lord Ranelagh: a tall, slim, bearded man, with his hair brushed in front of his ears in an old-world style, a silk hat rakishly poised at an angle, a tightly buttoned frock-coat, in which always appeared a scarlet geranium, throughout the year, and light-tinted trousers. He gave the general impression of one who had seen life in circles where it is lived rapidly; and to this his broken nose, which he had acquired in thrashing a coal-heaver who had been rude to him in the street, picturesquely contributed. He looked in some degree like a survival from the fast-living age of the Regency, although, as a matter of fact, he was born only when that riotous period was nearly over. The very title "Ranelagh" has something of a reckless, derring-do sound. He was one of the early Volunteers, and raised the Second (South) Middlesex corps, of which he remained colonel until his death. The military funeral given him by his men would have been of a much more imposing, and even national, character, befitting the important part he took in the Volunteer movement, had it not been that a general election was in progress at the time. At such times the military and auxiliary forces are by old statutes not allowed to assemble. The theory is the old one of possible armed interference with the free choice of electors.

Numerous monuments to long-dead and forgotten Bishops of London are found here. A group of them, eight in number, chiefly of the eighteenth century, is found to the east of the church. They are a grim and forbidding company. Amid them is found the meagre headstone and concise inscription to a humorist of considerable renown:
"Theodore Edward Hook, died 24th August, 1841, in the 53rd year of his age."
Efforts to provide a better monument have failed to secure support. Perhaps it is thought by those who withhold their subscriptions that the reading his books is the best memorial an author can be given.


Immediately to the west of the church extend the grounds of Fulham Palace, which run for some distance alongside the river, where a strip has been modernised and provided with an embankment wall, and opened to the public as the "Bishop's Park"; Fulham Palace and its wide-spreading lands forming the "country seat" of the Bishops of London, whose "town house" is in St. James's Square. The Bishops of London have held their manor of Fulham continuously for about nine centuries, and are said in this respect to be the oldest landed proprietors in England. Here they have generally maintained a considerable degree of state and secluded dignity, hidden among the luxuriant trees and enclosed within the dark embrace of a sullen moat, which to this day encircles their demesne, as it probably has done since the time when a body of invading Danes wintered here in A.D. 880-1. This much-overgrown moat is a mile round, and, together with the surrounding ancient muddy conditions which were remarkable enough to have given Fulham its original name of the "foul home," or miry settlement, must have proved a very thorough discouragement to visitors, both welcome and unwelcome.
Fulham Palace does not look palatial, and its parts are very dissimilar. The two principal fronts of the roughly quadrangular mass of buildings face east and west. That to the east was built by Bishop Howley in 1815, and has the appearance of the usual modest country mansion of that period; while the west front, which is the oldest part of the Palace, and dates from 1502-1522, when the then dilapidated older buildings were cleared away, is equally typical of the less pretentious country-houses of the age. It was Bishop Fitzjames who rebuilt this side, and his approach gateway and the tower by which the Palace is generally entered, remain very much the same as he left them. A modest, reverend dignity of old red brick, patterned, after the olden way, with lozenges of black, pervades this courtyard, upon which the simply framed windows still look, unaltered. The sculptured stone arms under the clock upon the tower are those of Bishop Juxon, more than a century later than the date of these buildings, and have no connection with the position given them here in modern times.

The Great Hall is immediately to the left of this entrance. It is in many ways the most important apartment in Fulham Palace. Here, while it was yet a new building, the ferocious Roman Catholic Bishop Bonner sometimes sat to examine heretics, while on other occasions they would appear to have been questioned in the old chapel, a structure that seems to have been situated in the eastern, rebuilt, portion of the groups of offices. The boldness of those sturdy men, many of whom became martyrs and confessors for righteousness' sake, reads amazingly. They were brought here in custody to the enemy's own precincts, and questioned for their lives, with preliminary tastes, in the shape of burning on the hands, of greater torments to come if their answers were deemed unsatisfactory. Yet we do not find that they often faltered. On September 10, 1557, there were brought before Bonner, in his private chapel here, Ralph Allerton and three other religious suspects. To one of these Bonner propounded the singular question, "Did he know where he was?" The answer came swiftly, "In an idol's temple." This was bold indeed, but awfully injudicious, according to modern ideas. But expediency and time-serving were cast aside then, and men were earnest though they died for it. I do not know what happened to the person who made that bitter repartee, but I suspect he suffered for it.


In the Great Hall occasionally used by Bonner in his examination of those who were not of his way of thinking in religious matters, Thomas Tomkins had his hand burned over the flame of a candle. He perished at Smithfield in February 1555.
This hall, after various changes, was converted into a domestic chapel by Bishop Howley, who had demolished the old chapel in the course of his rebuilding works. And so it remained until Bishop Tait had completed his modern chapel, in 1867; when it became again the Hall, and the marble flooring in black and white squares, with which it was paved, was replaced by oak.
Among the several changes that followed upon Bishop Howley's rebuilding of a portion of the Palace was that by which the old dining-parlour was converted into a kitchen.

In the time when Beilby Porteous was Bishop of London, 1787-1809, there hung over the mantelpiece an object that aroused the curiosity of all the Bishop's visitors; not because they did not know what it was - for it was nothing more than a whetstone, a sufficiently common object outside the dining-room of a Bishop - but because they could not understand its being here. And when the Bishop further mystified his guests by telling them it had been given to him on one of his journeys as a prize for being an accomplished liar, they gave up wondering, and waited for the story obviously belonging to it.
The particular journey on which he accomplished these supposed prodigious feats of lying and prize-winning took him to Coggeshall, in Essex, which appears at that time to have rejoiced in the possession of a "Liars' Club." The tale is well told in the old New Quarterly Magazine:
"There is a story that Bishop Porteous once stopped in this town to change horses, and, observing a great crowd in the streets, put his head out of the window to inquire the cause. A townsman standing near by replied that it was the day upon which they gave the whetstone to the biggest liar. Shocked at such depravity, the good Bishop proceeded to the scene of the competition, and lectured the crowd upon the enormity of the sin, concluding his discourse with the emphatic words: 'I never told a lie in my life,' whereupon the chief umpire exchanged a few words with his fellows, and, approaching the carriage, said: 'My Lord, we unanimously adjudge you the prize,' and forthwith the highly objectionable whetstone was thrust in at the carriage window."
This inimical article in course of time disappeared from these walls, later Bishops being less appreciative of the peculiar humour of the situation, or perhaps feeling themselves to be unworthy of the exceptional honour; for, after all, if Bishop Porteous "never told a lie in his life," surely he must have ranked with the only other personage reputed to have been naturally truthful, George Washington. But it is to be remarked that we have these statements from suspect sources - from the personages themselves. The Bishop said he had never done such a thing, and Washington as a boy declared he "could not." Now, it has been declared on eminent authority which no one will care to dispute that "all men are liars," and it would seem, therefore, that these two were superhuman. They were not, on account of that alleged natural truthfulness, one whit the better than their fellow-men, for there is more joy in one sinner that sees the error of his ways and repents than in a hundred just men.

On the north side of the old courtyard are the rooms especially associated, according to tradition, with Bonner, whose ghost is said to haunt the corridors and the apartment still known as his bedroom. This part of the Palace is appropriately dark, and the passages narrow. These rooms are now occupied by the servants, as also are those on two other sides of the quadrangle, generally known as Bishop Laud's rooms. Until a few years ago - and perhaps even yet - the servants were wakened in the morning by a man known as the "knocker-up," who went round the courtyard with a long wand, and tapped sharply with it at the upper windows.
In these days of pageants, the picturesque wooded grounds of Fulham Palace have witnessed some striking reconstructions of the brave and the terrible days of old. There was, for example, the Church Pageant, in which numbers of participants enjoyed themselves immensely as in a long bout of private theatricals, all in aid of some deserving charity. The charity did not, it would appear, benefit after all, for those doings resulted in a deficit, and a Military Pageant was held the following year to make up the loss. What was done to abolish the loss that probably resulted from this is not within my knowledge.

The Bishops of London, or the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, are now making some profit by letting or selling land for building upon, around the outskirts of the park. If any kind friend can help an overburdened Bishop who cannot without difficulty make two ends meet, let him remember the occupant of Fulham Palace. His bitter cry has appeared in the newspapers, so that there can be no breach of delicacy in mentioning the subject here.
Not the least of his burdens is the large sum it is necessary to disburse before he can finally style himself "London." Thus, the Reverend Winnington Ingram, when installed Bishop of London, found his accession to the Episcopal Bench and his coming to Fulham Palace a little expensive. Other newly made Bishops had ever found the like, but they had never before taken the public into their confidence, nor raised a howl of despair at the fees customarily payable by new-made Right Reverend Father in God. But this is an age of publicity, in which very few unexplored or secret corners survive; and Dr. Ingram is essentially at one with an epoch which has produced General Booth and the Reverend Wilson Carlile. We should, however, be grateful for this, for by favour of it we learn some curious ecclesiastical details that beset those unhappy enough to have obtained high preferment in the Church.


Thus, on filling up a vacancy on the Bench of Bishops, the first step, it seems, is that taken by the Crown Office, which confers upon Dean and Chapter the Sovereign's congé d'élire, or leave to elect; not, be it said, the leave to elect whom they please, but permission to elect whomsoever it shall please the Sovereign (or the Prime Minister at the head of the Government at the time in power) to select, in place of the right reverend prelate recently gathered to Abraham's bosom. The warrant for this humorous "leave" to elect is paid for by the Bishop who is presently elected. It costs £10, and is but the first of a series of complicated costs that come out of his pocket, and in the end total £423 19s. 2d.
The initial warrant is followed by a certificate, costing £16 10s., and that by letters patent, costing another £30, with 2s. for the "docquet."
So far, your Bishop is only partly made. He is "elected by Dean and Chapter." Thereupon, through the Crown Office, the assent of the Sovereign to the choice himself has made through his Prime Minister, is graciously signified, and the original costs are reimposed, plus 10s. The chapter-clerk of the Bishop's own cathedral then requests fees totalling £21 6s. 8d.
A technical form of procedure, known as "restitution of temporalities," has then to be enacted, not without its attendant fees, which include £10 for a warrant, £31 10s. 6d. for a certificate, £30 for letters patent, and 2s. for another "docquet."
Next comes the Home Office, clamouring for Exchequer fees: £7 13s. 6d. for the original congé d'élire, and the like for letters recommendatory, Royal assent, and restitution of temporalities. The oath of homage costs £6 6s. 6d.
The new Bishop has then to reckon with the Board of Green Cloth, with its homage fees to the Earl Marshal and the heralds, totalling £15 0s. 2d.
Your Bishop is not yet, however, out of the wood of expenditure. When he takes his seat in the House of Lords the Lord Great Chamberlain's Office wants £5 - and gets it. When he is enthroned the precentor pockets £10 10s., and the chapter-clerk £9 14s. 8d., the bell-ringers of the Cathedral ring a merry peal - fee £10 10s. The choir then chorify at a further expense of £6 17s. 4d.
Have we now done? Not at all. The clerk of the Crown Office is tipped half a guinea, plus two guineas for "petty expenses"; and takes £14 when the Bishop takes his place among his brethren in the House of Lords.
When all these various officers of Church and State are busily picking the new Bishop's pockets, in advance of their being filled, as an Irishman might say, the Archbishop himself is not behindhand. His turn comes when the archiepiscopal fees for confirmation are demanded; and they are heavy, costing in all £68 4s. 10d. These imposts are made up of the following items: Secretary, with Archbishop's fiat for confirmation, £17 10s., Vicar-General, £31 0s. 10d., fees at church where confirmation is made, £10 5s., and to Deputy Registrar, for mandate of induction, £9 9s. To the Bishop's own secretaries a sum of £36 5s. is then payable. The Bishop may then, surveying these devastations, at last consider himself elected, and in every way complete.

Let us hope that although the spreading tentacles of London town have enfolded Fulham and abolished its old market-gardens and numerous stately mansions in favour of commonplace streets, the evident episcopal wish to be rid of Fulham Palace will not lead to it being alienated. It remains one of the very few things that connect this now populous suburb with the village that many still remember; and the romantic-looking moat, often threatened to be filled up, is a relic of remote antiquity it would be vandalism to destroy. "No one," as Sir Arthur Blomfield remarked in 1856, "could say that the Bishops of London had constructed that defence. We may well hesitate to believe that any prelate, however rich and powerful, would have in any age undertaken to dig round his house a moat of such extent that, if intended as a means of defence, it would require a very large force to render it effective; still less can we believe that it was ever dug with any other object than that of defence." The Danes constructed it, and the bishops found it here when they came. It is fed by a sluice communicating with the river, and was until recent times a stagnant, malodorous place, owing to the sluice being rarely raised, the ditch cleansed, or the water changed. On the rare occasions when the mud was cleared away, the cost varied from £100 to £150, owing to the great accumulation of it. Those were the times when lilies grew in the moat. The Fulham people called them "Bishops' wigs." In 1886 the then Bishop of London received a communication from the Fulham Vestry, requiring him to fill up the evil-smelling moat, or to cleanse it. He had it cleaned out, and it looks no less a place of romance than before. It is too greatly overgrown with trees and brushwood to make a picture for illustration, but while it lasts, with the woodland park it encloses, Fulham will still keep some vestige of its olden condition of a Thames-side village.