Thames Ditton from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Thames Ditton from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

Rambles by Rivers
by James Thorne
in two volumes


Christopher North, in one of his pleasant papers, says of the chief of English lakes: -
"Live by it fifty years, and by degrees you may have come to know something worth telling of Windermere!"
If it be necessary to have lived as long by the chief of English rivers to know something worth telling of it, I must confess to insufficiency.
My knowledge of the Thames is of some years' shorter duration.
But if a familiarity amounting to friendship of a few years' less standing will entitle me to guide a rambler along it, I have some right to venture on the undertaking; and gratitude as well as friendship will prompt me, for with the poet I can say, that

I have loved the rural walk through lanes
Of grassy swath close cropt by nibbling sheep,
And skirted thick with intertexture fine
Of thorny boughs; have loved the rural walk
O'er hills, through valleys, and by river's brink,
E'er since a truant boy I pass'd my bounds
To enjoy a Ramble on the banks of Thames.

Cowper, Task, book i.

While, however, to enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames actually is an easy matter, to describe it, or to enjoy it in a description, is not so easy.
The general character of the scenery of the Thames is that of a calm and tranquil beauty, but with so much of sameness, that a continuous account of it would speedily become tedious: yet the endeavour to enliven it by digressions, however tempting, would protract a ramble beyond any reasonable length; while to enter, except in a cursory manner, into historical or antiquarian details, would little accord with a ramble at all.
The space we are to pass over is so considerable, and the objects of interest in our way are so many, that we must of necessity keep close to the river and only slightly survey what catches our attention as we saunter along it.
We must not pretend to notice every thing that deserves to be noticed, and we must confine ourselves to a general view.
We shall thus, however, find sufficient to occupy us - I hope with out wearying us - or at least with only occasional weariness: there are spots beside every stream so absolutely barren, that weariness must be felt even by the best tempered, and I cannot expect that my river will be found an exception.
To speak of the importance of the THAMES - the most important of all rivers - would be almost an impertinence; and it will be best to let its peculiarities develope themselves as we accompany it.
A few words respecting the name may not, however, be superfluous before starting on our journey.
Spenser's account of the origin of "the noble Thames" was only a poetic version of the opinion generally adopted in his day by sober geographers and antiquarians: -

"Him before there went, as best became,
His ancient parents, namely the ancient Thame;
But much more aged was his wife than he,
The Ouse, whom men do Isis rightly name.

Faerie Queen, b. iv.

That the upper part of the river was properly called the Isis, and that the name Thames arose from its junction with the Thame at Dorchester, a few miles below Oxford, seemed to be admitted without question, not only in Spenser's time, but long afterwards, and is still commonly asserted.
It is, however, a mistake.
Isis is only a scholarly name given to it, probably, from the termination of its Latin form, Tamesis.
In none of the ancient documents in which it is mentioned does the name Isis occur.
The credit of having been the first to notice this is frequently assigned to Camden, but that excellent old antiquary appears not to have suspected the truth of the common notion.
The Latin poem called the Marriage of Thame and Isis, in which the union of the streams is celebrated with all the pomp which a marriage producing such issue deserved, is even attributed to him by his biographer.
It was Bishop Gibson, in his 'Additions to Camden', who pointed out the error, and cited the various authorities in proof that it was an error, and the mistake of attributing it to Camden no doubt arose from the manner in which the Additions are mixed up with the original text.
The following are his words:-

Upon this first mention of the river Thames, it will not be improper to observe, that, though the current opinion is that it had that name from the conjunction of the Thame and the Isis, it plainly appears that the river was always called Thames, or Tems, before it came near the Thame.
For instance, in an ancient charter granted to Abbot Aldhelm, there is particular mention made of certain lands upon the east part of the river, 'cujus vocabulum Temis, juxta vadum qui appellatur Summerford'
(the name of which is Thames, near the ford called Somerford),
and this ford is in Wiltshire.
The same thing appears from several other charters granted to the abbot of Malmsbury, as well as that of Evesham; and from old deeds relating to Cricklade.
And, perhaps, it may with safety be affirmed, that in any charter or authentic history it does not ever occur under the name of Isis, which, indeed, is not so much as heard of but among scholars; the common people all along from the head of it to Oxford calling it by no other name but that of Thames.
So also the Saxon Tamese (from whence our Tems immediately comes) is a plain evidence that that people never dreamt of any such conjunction.
But further, all our historians who mention the incursions of Æthelwold into Wiltshire, A.D. 905, or of Canute, A.D. 1016, tell us that they passed over the Thames at Cricklade.
(Gibson's Camden's 'Britannia, i. 194, ed. 1772.)

We will now cast a hasty glance over the course of our river, and then abandon ourselves to its guidance.
he Thames rises in the south-eastern slopes of the Cotswold Hills.
For about twenty miles it belongs wholly to Gloucestershire, when for a short distance it divides that county from Wiltshire.
It then separates Berkshire first from Oxfordshire, and then from Buckinghamshire.
It afterwards divides the counties of Surrey and Middlesex; and then, to its mouth, those of Kent and Essex.
It falls into the sea at the Nore, which is about one hundred and ten miles nearly due east from the source, and about twice that distance measured along the windings of the river.
From having no sand-bar at its mouth it is navigable for sea vessels to London Bridge, forty-five miles from the Nore, or nearly a fourth of its entire length, a circumstance in which it is probably unparalleled by any other river in the world besides the Amazon.
The area of the basin drained by the Thames is estimated at above six thousand five hundred miles.

The Head of the Thames

The Sources

Two streams contend for the honour of the parent age of the Thames.
Both rise from the southern slopes of the Cotswold Hills, but some sixteen miles apart.
The source of one of them is known as Thames head, that of the other as Seven Springs.
The stream which flows from Thames head would seem at first sight to have the fairest title to the pre-eminence.
Its source has ever been called Thames head by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood; and the stream itself has always been called the Thames, long before it meets the other branch,
which, on the other hand, has always been called the Churn.
But then it must yield to its rival both as regards the distance of its source from the main trunk and its size - and whatever may have been the received opinion, the Churn is now considered by geographers as the true head of the Thames.
We will visit each, and trace them from their springs till they meet and form one river.

Thames Head

Thames-head is about three miles south-west of Cirencester, and within sight of the Tetbury-road station of the Great Western and Gloucester Railway.
What should be the spring, lies in a hollow close to a bridge over the Thames and Severn Canal, known as Thames head bridge.
The field in which it rises is named Trewsbury Mead, and the hill at whose foot it lies, has on its summit a circular earthwork, probably Roman, called by the country people Trewsbury Castle.
Leland notices this spring, and calls it the "very head of Isis;" and adds that it "is in a great somer drought, and offereth very little or no water, yet is the stream servid with many of springs resorting to one bot tom."
This peculiarity of many springs, as he terms it, resorting to one bottom, is yet noticeable, but it does not need a great summer to make the head dry, for now little or no water issues from it at any time.
In Cooke's "Picturesque Views on the Thames," which are generally correct as well as picturesque, there is an engraving of this 'Source of the Thames' which represents the water as bubbling up so as to make a moderate-sized fountain, and overshaded by a rich group of trees; and this appears to have served as the original of most subsequent views of it.
Nothing can be less like the spot.
The field is bare and barren.
The spring is only distinguishable by a circle of naked pebbles, with one large upright stone near it, which marks where once stood a sort of grotto that covered the spring.
The spring itself has long ceased to flow.
At the farther end of the field is a powerful steam engine, which is almost ceaselessly at work pumping up water from a well sixty feet deep, into the canal already mentioned.
This has effectually drained all the springs that here originally contributed to form the Thames.
When the engine has left off working for a few days - which is only when there is what the manager of it calls "a glut of water" - the water flows out from the head spring; from another spring, two or three hundred yards lower, the water issues after the engine has been still for a few hours.


Ordinarily, however, this stream is now first traceable at Kemble, a pleasant village situated on an eminence about half a mile from Thames-head, where a plenteous supply from one or two other springs enables it to spread out into a pretty brook.

The Somerfords

It then passes Somerford, where, it will be remembered, there is evidence in Abbot Aldhelm's charter, quoted by Gibson, that the stream was anciently called the Thames.
The church of Somerford Keynes deserves notice as one of the comparatively few churches that contain some vestiges of Anglo-Saxon architecture.
At Ashton Keynes the Thames receives the Swill brook, which rises in the high ground about four miles from Tetbury.
Leland, as we have seen, calls Thames head the very head of Isis, but in other parts of his "Itinerary' he mentions other heads.
Thus he says (vol. ii. p. 25),
"The head of Isis in Coteswalde riseth about a mile on this side Tetbyrie."
By this he must mean the Swill brook, which, however, as has been mentioned, rises four miles on this side Tetbury.
Our stream, considerably enlarged by its union with the Swill, flows on without further augmentation, and at no great distance from the Thames and Severn Canal, till it unites with the Churn near Cricklade.
In its course hitherto, there has been little to notice.
Nowhere could it be called picturesque, and there has been no place possessing any particular claim to attention.

Seven Springs, the River Churn

We will now turn to the other and principal branch.
And here we might linger awhile; a prettier stream of its kind could not readily be met with than the Churn.
Near its head it is separated into two branches: the one which is rather the longer, and which some affirm to be the true head, rises at Ullen Farm, about a mile west of Seven Springs, the source of the other.
Both rise near the root of Leckhampton Hill, about three miles south of Cheltenham; they unite about a mile from their respective sources.
That which issues from Seven Springs appears to be the main branch; and is so considered in the locality, where it is looked upon as one of the principal "lions," and few go to any of the neighbouring villages, or to Cheltenham, without being carried to see it.
From its situation and the greater quantity of water that constantly flows from it, Seven Springs seems fairly entitled to the name of the "very head" of Thames; and it is as lovely, quiet, and everflowing, as we could wish the head of Thames to be.
The springs, which lie in a secluded dell, are overhung with a luxuriant canopy of foliage.
The water gushes, clear and pure as crystal, out of the rock from several different openings (it is commonly said from several different springs; but they are evidently connected with each other), and, after whirling round a few times, starts

Off with a sally and a flash of speed,
As if it scorn'd both resting-place and rest."

Seven Springs from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Seven Springs from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

As it flows from the springs the water is deliciously cool, and very grateful to the rambler, - who will not need to use the cup of Diogenes.
A sturdy dame has for the last quarter of a century scrambled down the dell to every comer, with a glass clear as the water itself with which she fills it, that the visitor may "taste the Thames water at its source."
She is a sober, old-fashioned country peasant, without much of character in herself or her story, which it will be best to let her tell in her own way, as it is not long, and she is quite at home in it.
Her story, like that of a Westminster verger, is always the same, and however interrupted, she will go through with it.
Placing herself firmly on one of the blocks of stone in the bed of the stream, and pointing to the openings from which the water flows, she says -
"Here be the springs from which comes the great river Thames, which is called Isis till it gets past Oxford.
Here they be, seven of 'em.
One, two, &c.
And they never run less in the driest summer, and never are frozen in winter; only in winter there be a good many more springs that water comes out of, and then there is a great deal more water."
She has little more to tell; but she is a stern stickler for the supremacy of her springs over Thames head, of which she speaks with becoming contempt.
She lives in a little cottage just above, and evidently considers herself almost a part of the place; and indeed is so much a part of it, that it would be unjust to describe it and omit her.
By waiting on visitors and boiling water for "gipsy-parties," she obtains a decent livelihood (and supports two white-haired grand-children), and she is grateful to the Source for it - always winding up her account of it with "How thankful ought us to be for such a plenty of good water."
Unlike the other stream, this is exceedingly picturesque at its starting-place, and continues so for a great part of its course.
Its name Cern, or Churn, as it is now commonly spelt, is said to be the British Chwyrn, which signifies rapid;" but Rudder derives it from Corin, the top, and supposes it to have been so named because it was the top or head of the Thames.
The former seems the most probable, though each is apt, and both appear to be preserved in the places on its banks, and which have owed their names to it, viz., Cirencester, the Roman Corinium, and North and South Cerney.
* And this reminds me that the name of Thames is by some said to be derived from the British Tawys, gentle, it being a sluggish river, but the derivation appears rather forced as well as far-fetched.
From Seven Springs the stream runs through a narrow valley past two or three farm-houses, and by the little village of Cowley, when it bends to the east and crosses the Cirencester road at Colesborne where it is joined by the Lyde, and works a mill.
On the left of the river near Colesborne is an old farm house, adjoining which are some fragments of a monastery.
From Colesborne it passes under Cliffering Wood, dancing gaily along a glen-like valley, and well earning the title which Drayton bestowed upon it, of "nimble-footed Churn."
Here its course is extremely beautiful, and it will not fail to remind the rambler, both in its seclusion and in its character, of some of the lovely becks of the northern counties.
The hill-sides are steep and close together, and, especially that on the left, thickly covered with luxuriant foliage which forms a noble hanging wood, while

In the midst the little river plays
Amongst the tiny stones, which seem to plain
With gentle murmurs that his course they do restrain.

Nor does it lose much of its beauty, though it loses something of its wildness, in its progress through the rich grounds of Rendcombe, the property of Sir John Guise.
All along this part of its course the uplands, that rise steeply from it, are clothed with an abundance of noble trees, and the stream is well stored with trout, which are carefully preserved.
The way thus far will repay the attention of a young geologist, and find employment for a young antiquary.
The Churn rises from the upper lias formation, and runs for several miles along a very narrow strip of it, which is almost entirely confined to the bed of the river.
At North Cerney it passes into the inferior oolite, the prevailing formation of the neighbourhood.
North Cerney church is of a singularly venerable and picturesque appearance.
It is cruciform, and of the transition period from the Norman to the Early English style.
The doorway has an enriched circular arch, and the tower has windows with pointed arches supported on slender Norman pillars.
In the body of the church are large windows of a somewhat later date.
A tolerably perfect cross stands in the churchyard.
"The imperfect vestiges of a Roman specula, or outpost with circum vallations," are still to be traced in this parish, and various articles are occasionally dug up (Bigland).
From North Cerney the Churn passes under Perrot's Down by Baunton


to Cirencester, through which town it flows.
Cirencester, or Ciceter, as it is called by the natives, claims a fuller notice.
Its story commences before the time that modern English historians recognise.
Monkish writers relate, and Polydore Vergil repeats after them, a tale that says much for the patient courage of its early inhabitants.
Long before the Saxons came into England, in the days of King Brute, which is nobody knows how long ago, Cirencester was a famous town.
Strong were its walls and stout the hearts of its citizens, and little did it dread the visit of an enemy.
But one came who was not disposed to lose his labour.
Gormund was an African prince, - in what part of Africa his kingdom was situated, or how he found his way to England, is not stated, and does not matter, but certain it is (if Polydorus is to be depended on) that he laid siege to Cirencester.
Seven long years he kept his army before it, but never a step the nearer was he to the inside of its gates; when one day a bright thought struck him.
Houses were not tiled then, and Gormund judged that if he could only manage to set fire to the thatched roofs of those in the town, he should be likely, in the commotion that would arise, to gain an easy entrance.
Resolved to put the stratagem he had conceived into speedy practice, he set all his soldiers to catch sparrows; and when as many were caught as he considered sufficient, he had certain combustibles fastened to their tails, and then let them loose.
The poor birds flew straight to their nests under the thatches, which of course were quickly in a blaze; and while the unfortunate housekeepers were busy endeavouring to quench the flames, Gormund succeeded in entering the town - in memory whereof (says Giraldus Cambrensis) it was afterwards called the City of Sparrows.
Whatever may be thought of this story, there is sufficient evidence in authentic history of the ancient greatness of the place.
It was the metropolis of the Roman province of the Dobuni, and was named Corinium, or Duro-Cornovium.
Three of the great Roman roads - the Fosse road, Akeman Street, and Ermin Street, met here.*
* The last two were British roads, and there is good reason to believe that Cirencester was a British town.

The Roman city was surrounded by a wall two miles in circumference, which remained entire in the reign of Henry IV.
Leland says that in his day (temp. Henry VIII.) it might be easily traced, and Stukeley, in 1723, fancied that it could still be made out; but no traces of it are now distinguishable.
Within the space which it enclosed many Roman remains have been at different times discovered.
One of the most remarkable was an extensive and very complete bath.
It was first laid open in 1683, and is described by Sir R. Atkyns in his 'History of Gloucestershire;' being afterwards covered up, the site of it was forgotten until it was again discovered by accident in the last century.
Stukeley then examined and fully described it; for some time it was looked upon with interest by the townsmen, but it again became neglected, and a few years back was destroyed by the parties who rented the nursery ground in which it was situated.
Various other relics, as tesselated pavements, vases, coins, and penates, have been found; and in a place outside the town, believed to have been the Roman cemetery, a number of urns and monumental inscriptions have been dug up.
Stukeley, in his "Itineraria Curiosa,' mentions one, inscribed to the memory of a certain Julia Casta, that he saw in the possession of a Mr. Tibbot, who also kept the lady's skull "in his summer-house; but," adds Stukeley, with his usual gravity, "the people have stole all her teeth out for amulets against the ague" - a use which that fair lady little suspected her teeth would be put to some fourteen centuries after her death: - "But who knows," as Sir Thomas Browne asks, "who knows the fate of his bones, or how often they are to be buried? Who hath the oracle of his ashes, or whither they are to be scattered?"
During the several dynasties that succeeded the Roman power, Cirencester was occasionally both the seat of war and the scene of splendid ceremonials.
After the Norman conquest it was a place of great strength.
Its castle was destroyed by Stephen, but it was rebuilt and garrisoned by the Earl of Leicester for Queen Matilda.
When the barons were in arms against John, it was occupied by the royal army.
In the reign of Henry IV., a gallant exploit of the inhabitants led that monarch to confer upon the town valuable corporate privileges.
When the conspiracy formed by the Earls of Salisbury, Rutland, Huntingdon, and other adherents of Richard II. was discovered, Salisbury and Kent with their followers gained possession of Cirencester.
The noblemen and officers took up their abode in the town, leaving their soldiers encamped outside the walls.
Perceiving how careless a guard was kept, the mayor and the municipal officers got a number of the townsmen together and attacked the earls, and having easily defeated their retinue, struck off the heads of Salisbury and Surrey, who had fled to the abbey for sanctuary, with those of some other men of rank.
The soldiers meanwhile, imagining from the tumult that some of the king's troops had arrived, hastily abandoned their camp.
Henry, out of gratitude for this timely service, granted to the men of Cirencester all the goods and chattels left in the town by the rebels, "except such as were of gold, or silver, or gilded, and excepting also all money and jewels."
By another grant was given, "during our pleasure," " to the men [four] does in season, to be delivered unto them by our chief forester, or his deputy, out of our forest of Bradon; and also one hogshead of wine, to be received out of the port of our town of Bristol."
He also granted "unto the women afore said [six] bucks, to be delivered them in right season ... and also one hogshead of wine."
Some time after, he made Cirencester a corporate town.
The rest of its history may be quickly passed over, as nothing of much consequence occurred.

At the commencement of the great civil war it was garrisoned for the Parliament, but was taken after a sharp attack by Prince Rupert, whose chaplain published an account of the capture; and during the continuance of the war it changed hands more than once.
Since then, the only notable occurrence perhaps is, that the first blood spilt in the almost bloodless revolution of 1688 was shed here.
"Of all counties in England," says Fuller ("Ch. Hist., b. vi.), "Gloucestershire was most pestered with monks, having four mitred abbeys," whence, he says, grew "a topical wicked proverb, "As sure as God's in Gloucestershire.'"
Cirencester possessed one of these mitred abbeys, and it was a tolerably wealthy one, the income at the dissolution being estimated at £1051. 7s. 1d.
Little is left of the ecclesiastical splendour of the town.
Of the noble abbey the only vestige is a gateway leading to Grove Lane.
Of the three churches which formerly existed only one remains.
In Leland's day there were two standing.
"S. Lawrence yet stondeth," he says, "but as no paroch church.
S. Cecilia church is clene down."
That which yet stands is dedicated to St. John.
It is a spacious and very handsome edifice, and would be a great ornament to the town could it be fairly seen.
At present it is nearly hidden by a parcel of mean houses, which, whilst they hide the church, obstruct the Gloucester road.
The church has a large nave and aisles, a chancel, and four mortuary chapels.
The parts are of different styles, having been erected at different periods between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The tower is one hundred and thirty-four feet high, and of graceful proportion.
Originally the windows were filled with stained glass, but very little of it escaped the Puritanic mallet.
A few years back the scattered fragments were collected by Mr. S. Lyson, the antiquary, and arranged in the great west window.
The interior of the church has suffered a good deal of improvement.
There are, however, some interesting relics left: there are several noble wooden roofs which remain uninjured; a few brasses and some monuments will repay examination; and there is a very curious but rude sculpture in relief of a "Whitsun ale."
The lord of the feast holds in his hand a scroll with the words
"Be Merrie," and the figures of the lady, the steward, jester, and other officers of the ale are easily made out.
The chapels are the most interesting parts of the building: that of St. Catherine is very beautiful; in St. Mary's are some fresco paintings of purgatory, which were discovered a few years back on removing the whitewash; Trinity chapel, now used as a mausoleum of the Bathurst family, was once the richest of these chapels, it containing the gifts and adornings of the votaries of St. Thomas à Becket, whose altar was within it, and of whose martyrdom there is a representation in fresco near the altar.
Under the painting is an inscription in black letter, which deserves to be quoted as a striking evidence of the kind of worship once claimed for that most famous of English saints, and of the benefits that were promised by his intercession: -
"What man or woman worshippeth this holy Saint, Bishop, and Martyr, every Sunday that beth in the year, with a Paternoster and Ave, or giveth any alms to a poor man, or bringeth any candle to light [at the altar], less or more, he shall have [5] gifts of God.
The [1st] is, he shall have reasonable good to his life's end.
The [2nd] is, that his enemies shall have no power to do him no bodily harm nor disease.
The [3rd] is, what reasonable thing he will ask of God and that holy saint, it shall be granted.
The [4th] is, that he shall be unburdened of all his tribulation and disease.
The [5th] is, that in his last end he shall have shrift and housil, great repentance, and sacrament of anointing, and then he may come to that bliss that never hath end. Amen."
Let us get into the open air.
Other objects in the town we need not stay to examine, though the town-hall and an old house or two would perhaps repay us.
As I mentioned the little regard which the townsmen formerly paid to their antiquities, it is proper to add here that they have now a museum established for the reception and preservation of such as are left.

We have not now time to do more than glance at Oakley Grove, Lord Bathurst's seat and park, though it is the most celebrated place in the neighbourhood, and one which the visitor to Cirencester will do well to stroll through at leisure.
It is extensive, being sixteen miles in circumference, and associated with it are some of the most eminent names of what used to be called the Augustan era of our literature.
Pope, Swift, Addison, Prior, Gay, Arbuthnot, Bolingbroke, and other lesser stars used to assemble here to partake of the hospitality of Lord Bathurst, a nobleman who outlived them long enough to welcome Sterne as their successor, and whose lengthened existence gave rise to a celebrated passage in Burke's speech on moving his resolutions for a conciliation with America in 1775.
Many a spot in the grounds of Oakley Grove bears one or other of the names of the famous men who used to assemble there.
Pope, who
"looked upon himself as the Magician appropriated to the place, without whom no mortal can penetrate into the recesses of these sacred shades," *
* Letter to Mr. Digby, 1722.
in his letters, frequently refers to the "enchanted forest," and his taste is said to have contributed to the arrangements of it.
Besides the associations, it contains many other attractions, such as, a very extended avenue, an architectural combination called Alfred's hall, the ancient cross which formerly stood in Cirencester market-place, and, what is perhaps most interesting, there is in it one of the finest Roman tesselated pavements existing in this country; while the house, though not remarkably handsome, is a large building, and contains some good pictures.
Permission to see these objects is readily granted to the stranger.

Confluence of the Churn and the Thames

But we must with our stream proceed onwards.
Leaving Cirencester, it runs, a reedy brook, for some distance alongside the Cricklade road, and then by Addington, and South Cerney - a pretty village with a fine old church - to the foot of Hailstone Hill, where, about a mile short of Cricklade, and close to the North Wilts Canal, it unites with the other branch, and they flow on together as the Isis, or, more correctly, as the Thames.
The length of the stream which issues from Thames head to the junction here is about ten miles; the length of the Churn from Seven Springs is about twenty miles.



Cricklade, which our stream leaves a little on the right, is a very uninteresting place.
It is dull to look at, dull to live in, and no less dull to talk about.
Some of our old writers discovered, or invented, a strange etymology for its name.
Along with King Brute there came over to England, they affirmed, a colony of philosophers, who established themselves here - tempted, it may be, by the place, which seemed so little likely to divert their attention from their studies, though Drayton gives an other reason.*
* What Drayton says ought to be quoted, at least in a note :-
"Greeklade, whose great name yet vaunts that learned tongue,
Where to great Britain first the sacred Muses sung;
Which first were seated here, at Isis' bounteous head.
As telling that her fame should through the world be spread."
- Poly-Olbion, Song 3.
The college which they founded became famous for its Greek learning, and hence the town that grew up about it was called Greeklade.
About the same time, it is added, there was established, a few miles lower down the river, a rival college, which excelled in Latin scholarship, and gave rise to the town of Latinlade.
In process of time the colleges, like rival railways in our days, were amalgamated for mutual benefit, and removed to Oxford (or, as Fuller says,
"the Muses swam down the stream of the river Isis, to be twenty miles nearer to the rising sun");
and the names of the towns became corrupted into Cricklade and Lechlade.
This is as plausible as etymologies usually are, and is soberly told by a host of our older writers; but others have been suggested more accordant with modern taste.
Bishop Gibson thinks that Cricklade is derived from the British cerigwlad, a stony country; other writers believe it to have been compounded from the Saxon Cnaecca, a brook, and laeddan, to empty: it probably is derived from the position of the town by the river, where a tributary, the Ray, falls into it, lade signifying the mouth of a stream.
Cricklade was plundered by the Danes in A.D. 905, and in 1016 Canute crossed the Thames here with his army; which are the only events history has recorded in which it was concerned, until 1782, when, as a too-rotten-borough, it was put into an anticipative Schedule A - not, however, without a hard Protectionist struggle.
It was in consequence of the Cricklade vote that Pitt introduced his Reform Bill.
The town has now little business, but still shows traces of its former greater size and prosperity.
The church is the only building it contains worth examination.
It is large and rather handsome ; the east window is a very fine one, and the tower is lofty and of good design.
There was, not many years ago, a second church; and formerly the town contained a hospital dedicated to St. John the Baptist, of which some remains still exist.

Eisey, Water Eaton, Castle Eaton, Kempsford

Although Cricklade has little occasion to boast, either of its own attractions or of the scenery by which it is surrounded, some pretty walks may be found in the neighbourhood, especially towards Highworth, while in the opposite direction is Wind mill-hill, noted all round those parts for the beauty of its prospects.
The river for the next half-dozen miles flows at first through flat meads, and then along a rather narrow valley with gentle uplands on each side, that somewhat diversify the way; but the landscape is not anywhere remarkable, and the stream is shallow and sluggish.
Eisey chapel stands on some rising ground on the left, about a mile and a half below Cricklade; a little farther on the right is Water Eaton, and soon after Castle Eaton, where the hills terminate near what is known as "the Butts" - so called no doubt from its having been the spot where the butts were set up for the practice of archery, when the law directed that every Englishman should have his bow and arrows, and that butts should be erected in every township.
Beyond Castle Eaton the scenery is for some distance sufficiently unpicturesque.
On the right it is low, and only relieved by the sallows that skirt the river and the cattle that graze in the marshes; while on the left the only objects are a long straight drain, and the high embankment of the canal, that here runs nearly parallel to the river.
The village of Kempsford has nothing to detain the rambler;


but Inglesham, with its little rustic chapel and neglected churchyard, and the quiet beauty of the neighbourhood, will tempt him to linger for a few minutes.
But by this time our river has considerably increased in size, having received two rather important affluents; the Cole on the Wiltshire side, and the Colne on that of Gloucestershire.
The Cole is an inconsiderable brook, and passes by no place of consequence.

The River Colne and Fairford

The Colne is longer, larger, and more important.
It rises only a few miles from Seven Springs, and passes by Withington, Colne St. Denis, and Colne St. Aldwins, and through Fairford - a course of three-and-twenty miles, before it falls into the Thames.
Fairford is about three miles from our river, and is worth visiting for its handsome church and the almost unrivalled glass windows which adorn it.
The story of these windows, to which the town owes the church, is somewhat curious.
In the reign of Henry VII, John Tame, a wealthy merchant (and a sort of privateer apparently), captured a vessel which was conveying a quantity of painted glass to Rome in order to be placed in a church there.
Tame, not liking to part with the glass, and hardly venturing to appropriate to the purpose of gain what had been dedicated to ecclesiastical use, resolved to erect a church of his own as a frame for it; and he accordingly built this at Fairford, where he had large estates.
There are twenty-eight of these windows in the church, and they are very remarkable, though they have been greatly mutilated by mischievous and foolish people.
They are said to have been painted from the designs of Albert Durer, but that may be doubted.


Lechlade is seen to most advantage as you approach it.
The river, which is wide, is spanned by a handsome bridge, beyond which rise the irregular roofs of the houses, crowned by the graceful tower and tall and airy spire of the church, forming altogether a very pleasant picture.
The town itself possesses nothing noticeable.
Three centuries ago Leland described it as "a praty old village;" now it has the appearance of a small market-town of no great antiquity and of little beauty.
Some writers, as we have seen, make Lechlade derive its name from the Latin scholars who once dwelt in it; but others give it a different origin.
Time was, say they, when the College of Physicians (leeches), instead of, as now, rearing its head in the neighbourhood of the court, was relegated into this obscure municipality, and the town was in consequence called Leechlade - originally Leeches-lake.
It really owes its name to its position by the mouth of the river Lech, which here falls into the Thames.
As high as Lechlade the river is navigable for barges of seventy tons burden; and the navigation is continued through the western counties to the Severn by means of the Thames and Severn Canal, which unites with the Thames at Lechlade, and the Stroudwater Canal near Stroud.
This canal, which is thirty miles long, was completed in 1789, previous to which the Thames used to be navigated up to Cricklade by barges of light draught constructed for the purpose.
Now the upper course of the river is left to the undisturbed use of the miller and the fisherman.

Boat or walk? The towpath and ferries

Thus far our river has led us through enclosed meadows and private grounds.
For the remainder of the way - at least nearly to London - there is a public path provided for us alongside the river.
The path, however, is not a very smooth nor a very regular one - and he who follows it ought to have a pair of Odcombian[sic] shoes to walk in.
The pleasantest way to travel down the Thames from Lechlade, unquestionably, is in a boat.
Then you can row briskly where there is little to be seen, and rest where there is much; lie at ease and let the fancy play with the varying thoughts that are suggested by the moving scenery as you glide idly along with the current; or moor the boat and handle rod or pencil as taste or whim may dictate; or run it ashore to take a stroll over the meadows, or climb a hill, or survey an old church or ruin, or choose some quiet village inn not far from the river wherein to take rest for the night.
But this will not do for the rambler.
The rambler will of course take the path.
But as this path is to accompany him - or more properly, as he is to accompany it - or more properly still, as both are to be together all the rest of the journey, it is desirable that he should know what sort of a path it is; and - as I do not intend to take any further notice of it after setting out upon it, but shall go from one side of the river to the other just as if there were no path in the way - why this seems the proper place to give some little information about it.
For it would not accord with my plan to mislead the rambler who turns to me for guidance by any want of explicitness.
Well, then, it is not, as he may suppose, a narrow winding path, worn out of the soft green grass by the foot of the pensive angler or patient pilgrim, with daisies and celandines and other field-flowers on either side of it, but, on the contrary, it is a broad towing-path for horses, formed of flint-stones and flanked by a ditch - at least that is its general character.
At times the rough flints give place to sand, at others to mud.
He must make the best of it.
Before starting upon it, however, there is one thing he should provide himself with, and that is - this is entirely between ourselves, he might not think of it without this private hint - a store of copper coins.
And for this reason: - the path is not only hard and flinty, but capricious withal.
Whilst you are treading soberly along it, admiring the beauty of the landscape, it may be, or thinking of your dinner, or your debts, or - of anything else that is equally pleasant or pressing - all at once you find yourself at the end of the path, and discover that it recommences on the other side of the river.
To continue on the side you now are is impossible, or at least not easy, for there is a brook in front, or perhaps a weir.
Now, as you begin to perceive, there is, or ought to be, a ferry here.
And there is a ferry - sometimes too a ferryman: but if not, the miller's man, or the miller's maid, will ferry you over.
Now it is against these occurrences (and they happen half a dozen times at least in a day's walk) that you need the pennies.
Thames boatmen, from Cricklade to the Nore, are always "short of change."
When a pretty demure damsel takes the trouble to push the boat across the river for you, you will of course not care to search for coppers; but when a clumsy clown does it - it is - another matter.
But this is only a hint (aside) to the rambler - he may please himself about attending to it.
I have done my duty as guide, and my conscience is at ease on the subject.

Buscot, Eaton Hastings and Kelmscot

Beyond Lechlade the river is much more pleasant than it has yet been.
The banks are low, but they are considerably diversified, and there is a background of hills on each hand.
The little village of Buscot, on the Berkshire side, is one of the very prettiest, in its way, all along the Thames.
There is in it almost everything you would look for in a genuine English village, and each is excellent of its sort.
The little inn has flowers and grapes growing all over the front, and a clean and cheerful aspect that speaks of decent, homely comfortableness inside.
The church is a plain, old and thoroughly rural one, such as it is a pleasure to meet with; it stands too in a quiet, out-of-the-way spot, and there is an entrance to it through a flower garden.thoroughly rural one, such as it is a pleasure to meet with ; it stands too in a quiet, out-of-the-way spot, and there is an entrance to it through a flower garden. Close by the church are a mill and weir that a painter would rejoice to put into his sketch book. Then there is, standing alone in its dignity on the other side of the road, a stately mansion with a spacious park. There are also some substantial farm-houses nestling among lofty elms, and having goodly barns annexed, wherein to store the rich crops that in the autumn adorn the neighbouring fields. And, finally, there are a dozen or two neat cottages, with several dozen children making a clatter about them. The villages we next pass on the right and left are Eaton Hastings and Kelmscot; both pretty places, though not so pretty as Buscot. A little further is Radcot Bridge, which has a place in English history. Here, in 1387, Henry Boling broke, Earl of Derby, afterwards Henry IV., de feated the troops of Richard II., which were com manded by the King's favourite, Robert Vere, Duke of Ireland. Were saved his life by swimming across the river on his horse, and succeeded in escaping to Holland, where he died about four years after wards. Radcot Bridge was also the scene of a skir mish during the Civil War, when the Parliament troops under Cromwell captured two hundred prisoners. The bridge is an old one, but of a more recent date than the first battle. The road from Radcot Bridge leads to Faring don, which will be a very convenient halting-place: it is about two miles and a half from the bridge. Though Faringdon is a livelier town than either Cricklade or Lechlade, there is but little in it to amuse a casual visitor, -at best it is a wearisome Close by the church are a mill and weir that a painter would rejoice to put into his sketch book.
Then there is, standing alone in its dignity on the other side of the road, a stately mansion with a spacious park.
There are also some substantial farm-houses nestling among lofty elms, and having goodly barns annexed, wherein to store the rich crops that in the autumn adorn the neighbouring fields.
And, finally, there are a dozen or two neat cottages, with several dozen children making a clatter about them.
The villages we next pass on the right and left are Eaton Hastings and Kelmscot; both pretty places, though not so pretty as Buscot.

Radcot Bridge

A little further is Radcot Bridge, which has a place in English history.
Here, in 1387, Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby, afterwards Henry IV., defeated the troops of Richard II., which were commanded by the King's favourite, Robert Vere, Duke of Ireland.
Vere saved his life by swimming across the river on his horse, and succeeded in escaping to Holland, where he died about four years afterwards.
Radcot Bridge was also the scene of a skirmish during the Civil War, when the Parliament troops under Cromwell captured two hundred prisoners.
The bridge is an old one, but of a more recent date than the first battle.


The road from Radcot Bridge leads to Faringdon, which will be a very convenient halting-place: it is about two miles and a half from the bridge.
Though Faringdon is a livelier town than either Cricklade or Lechlade, there is but little in it to amuse a casual visitor, - at best it is a wearisome place to spend a wet day in.
The town stands on irregular ground, and the houses offer some picturesque combinations, and the neighbourhood is agreeable, but still it is difficult to conceive how the inhabitants endure the monotony of it.
On the 18th of October, indeed, it looks a little cheerful.
Gentle rambler, did you ever see a hiring "Statty"? if not, and you are near Faringdon on that day, or any other Berkshire town on the day marked in the county calendar, you cannot do better than visit it.
It is really a very pretty sight to see the lads and maidens ranged along in their best dresses; the maids with a knot of ribbon in their waists, the lads with a piece of whipcord or some straw in their hats.
And - but I have not time now to describe the sight; if I can make room, perhaps I may hereafter say something of this, along with several other of these rustic festivals.
Faringdon is a place of considerable local importance; in olden times its importance was greater, though of a different kind.
There was a royal palace here in the Saxon days, and Edward the Elder died in it.
A castle was built at Faringdon in the reign of Stephen; but it was destroyed by that monarch, who, however, made amends by erecting a priory instead of it.
No trace of either remains now.
The town has several times been honoured by royal visits; and the inhabitants remember, with some pride, that this was one of the very few places which successfully resisted the prowess of Cromwell.
Faringdon House was garrisoned by the royal troops, and its capture was attempted in vain by Cromwell, and afterwards by some other of the Parliamentary generals.
In one of the skirmishes the church steeple was battered down.
The old house has given place to a modern one, built by one of the Pyes, to whom the manor belonged.
The laureate Pye has sung (in his way) the beauties of the locality.
Among the odd feudal customs of the middle ages, Faringdon had one that was not the least singular: when a young lady misbehaved, she was bound either to pay a fine of forty pence - a serious sum for a young lady to possess in the time of Henry III., when this law was made - or to walk on a given day to the Lord's cross, carrying a black sheep on her back, and saying aloud as she went,
"Ecce porto pudorem posterioris mei."
(Note, The manor belonged to the clergy.)
Faringdon church is large and - barring some adornings - handsome; and it contains a few interesting monuments.
One is to the memory of Sir Edward Upton, ambassador to France from Queen Elizabeth, who was celebrated in his own day for a challenge he sent whilst there to the Duke of Guise, who had spoken disrespectfully of his Queen.
Another is to the memory of Sir Marmaduke Rawdon, the gallant defender of Faringdon House.
The neighbourhood of Faringdon has several objects worth visiting; one of the nearest is Badbury Hill, a large earthwork, said to be Danish, but which is probably Roman.
The prospects from it are extensive and beautiful.
If he have time, the visitor will do well to make a short excursion from Faringdon to the lofty range of downs he will see a few miles southwards.
This is the famous range of the White Horse, and a walk along it will afford him the opportunity of contemplating not only a series of magnificent views, but a succession of relics of ancient days.
Along the top of the range there runs one of the old British roads, Ickleton Street, here called the Ridgeway, which leads past most of the more interesting objects.
There are vast encampments or earthworks, (castles they are commonly called in the neighbourhood, a title, no doubt, derived directly from the Roman castellum,) of which the peasantry will tell you many wonderful things, and learned antiquaries others quite as wonderful; there are also several barrows, and some druidical remains.

Wayland Smiths Cave from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Wayland Smith's Cave from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

One of these (though a little distant from the Ridgeway, and not exactly on the White Horse range) is the cave wherein Wayland Smith shod horses so cleverly, as is fully described in 'Kenilworth."
But the tradition does great injustice to the memory of the smith, and it has not been improved in passing through the hands of Sir Walter Scott.
The real Weland was one of the most important personages in Teutonic mythology.
He was a matchless fabricator of every martial weapon, a most skilful artificer in all kinds of smith's work, and the contriver of an impenetrable labyrinth - in short, both in his art and his adventures, a sort of northern Daedalus.
He is the hero of Saemund's Edda, is mentioned in the poem of Beowulf, also by our Alfred, and under the name of Weland, Velant, or Volundr, is frequently introduced in ancient northern poetry and romance.
He received "a local habitation" in this place probably from some northern tribe having settled in the neighbourhood, when in the course of a few generations their favourite myth would become connected with their new abode, and the hero be associated with the most remarkable object in the vicinity.
The "cave'' is a sort of cromlech formed by a large stone placed on the top of three others, while several more are scattered irregularly about.
It has been thought by Mr. Gough and some other antiquaries to mark the burial-place of a Danish chief, but, of course, that is a mere conjecture, though Gough has not hesitated to name the person - Baereg.
The explosion that Sir Walter has recorded to have been caused by Flibbertigibbet did not disturb the stonework, but it destroyed every vestige of the vault underneath.
Every trace too of the marsh that Tressilian feared to venture upon has disappeared, and the visitor will a little wonder how a marsh could ever have existed on this hard chalk down.
While alluding to the novel it may be added that the peasantry in these parts no longer speak in an Anglo-Scottish dialect.
Another of the objects referred to is the Blowing Stone, in the estimation of Berkshire men the next great wonder to their White Horse.
This Blowing Stone is a huge sort of natural trumpet, which some fancy was used by the Druids as a call to the sacred rites; others, that it was a war-signal.
It is a great block of stone about a yard high and nearly as thick, and pierced in a curious manner.
You blow into a hole in the top, and a sound is produced of a singular character - varying, however, according to the skill of the performer and the strength of his lungs.
Its compass is from a something louder and more musical than Lablache's loudest swell down to the bellow of a calf or the bleat of a sheep.
In fact, it has properties almost as marvellous as the magic horn that Orlando won from the giant Jatmund, which might be heard twenty miles off.
This, when skilfully played, may be heard at some five miles' distance; and connoisseurs, it is said, can tell by the note where the player comes from.
Essex men are betrayed at the first breath.
Londoners "roar you an't were any nightingale."
Americans are known by the twang.
A celebrated politician once blew into it, and the milk in all the dairies around turned sour.
Some years ago the stone was removed from its original position; it now stands in front of a little public house called after it, "The Blowing Stone."
Should the visitor be diffident of his musical powers, any one at the public-house will play him a voluntary.
Indeed, if there be no one else in the way, Mrs. Willis, the good-natured landlady, will, with a little persuasion, apply her own lips to the instrument.
She is quite a proficient.
I have heard her "Force sweet music from the old batter'd stone" in a most masterly style.
But the White Horse, which gives its name to the range, is after all the wonder, and the rambler should not be at Faringdon without going to see it.
It is an extraordinary animal, standing some four hundred hands high, and visible (to those who can see so far) fifteen miles off.
Judges say that it is necessary to be at least a mile distant to see its points to perfection.
But it must be looked at from the right station, or, like an old picture, it will not be distinguishable at all.
- The reader, I suppose, knows that the White Horse is the rude figure of a horse cut out of the side of a chalk-hill.
It has been supposed to mark the site of a victory over the Danes; but Mr. Thoms, in a paper published in the recent vol. (xxxi.) of the 'Archaeologia," suggests that it had probably a religious origin - in fact, was a representation of the Sacred Horse of the Celts.
Once in three years the peasantry assemble and carefully remove any of the turf that has encroached on the figure, or, as they say, "rub down the horse."
On these occasions a fair is held on the hill-top, at which there is commonly horse-racing, jumping in sacks, and even more than the usual amount of rustic merriment.
Uffington Castle is on the hill above the White Horse; there is a barrow near the base of it; and the Blowing Stone is little more than a mile distant: they are all about four miles from Faringdon - except Wayland Smith's Cave, which is nearly six miles.
The Vale of the White Horse is one of the most fertile tracts in England.

Stanton Harcourt

Lock Cuts

By Radcot Bridge, where the river makes a bend, there is, as in several places we shall come to here after (and pass by without notice), a straight cut made for the convenience of the navigation, along which the path runs - but the old way is the pleasantest.
Short cuts, like all other utilitarian contrivances, are harsh, rigid, right-angled affairs.
They allow of no amplification or adorning.
Faney cannot find in them a curve to play about in, nor will Beauty forsake the chequered shade, where "the green leaves quiver with the cooling wind," for the shelter of their tarred palings.
We will leave the cuts to the bargemen.
And the river here has a great many choice turns, and quiet nooks where the angler finds just employment enough to give a relish Willows, alders, and poplars skirt the banks, and send their contorted roots into the stream; to his meditations, and the rambler is tempted to lie down and let the minutes roll away in dreamy enjoyment.
while their reflected forms and colours mingle with the hue imparted to the water by the tints of the sky, and the aquatic plants that float gracefully on the surface; and sky, trees, and water, with a solitary angler plying his craft under the shadow of the foliage, blend into lovely little pictures that the eye delights to gaze upon, but which are too general to impress themselves upon the memory.
These cool shady spots alternate with stretches of open country, spotted over with outlying farm-houses and clumps of elm or chesnut; and the river itself is enlivened by the frequent recurrence of a picturesque weir or lock, or the occasional passage of a barge.


On the south side a low range of hills forms the distance, and in front are the thickly wooded heights of Bucklands, so frequently mentioned in Cowper's Correspondence as the family residence of his friends the Throckmortons.
The manor was the property of Thomas Chaucer, the son of "That old Dan Geffrey, in whose gentle sprite The pure well-head of poesie did dwell."
On the north side the grounds are flat, and the tall spire of Bampton is the only object that arrests the attention.

Tadpole Bridge and Bampton

Tadpole bridge, which is about three miles below Radcot bridge, is the next noticeable place we arrive at.
The road over it leads from Bampton to the London and Faringdon road near Bucklands.


Bampton, which is about two miles and a half from the bridge, is a good-sized market-town, with nearly two thousand inhabitants.
It has considerable trade, some manufactures; and a large cattle fair is annually held in it.
The church is a spacious and very fine one, with a lofty spire, which is visible for many miles in every direction: there are also some vestiges of a castle.
Philips, the author of "The Splendid Shilling", was born in Bampton, of which his father was rector.

For the next few miles the way is wearisome enough to test the patience of the pedestrian pretty severely.
The country around is flat, formal, and dingy; and the uniform commonplaceness of its character is nearly unbearable.
It is as smooth, tame, and tedious as a French tragedy, Rapin's History, or anything else that is "most tolerable and not to be endured."
At the distance of a mile or two from the river on the Berkshire side there are, however, a few places worth visiting, and the road by which they are reached is pleasanter than by the river.

Pusey Horn from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Pusey Horn from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

The first of these places is Pusey, near Bucklands, where is kept the famous Pusey Horn, which was given to the family by Canute; at least such is the tradition, and there is an inscription to the same effect upon it:
"I, King Knoude, give William Pewse this horne to holde by thy londe";
but the letters, though ancient, are much later than the time of Canute.
The manor still belongs to a Pusey - the famous agriculturist, and brother to the still more famous theologian.

Hinton Walridge, Longworth, Cherbury Camp andFyfield

At Hinton Walridge, two miles farther, there are considerable remains of an ancient encampment.
At Longworth, the next village, there is another and much larger one, called Cherbury Camp, which, according to tradition, occupies the site of a palace of Canute's.
Churney Basset, a hamlet attached to Longworth, and which once belonged to the monks of Abingdon, has a Norman chapel.
Fyfield is a large village, with a fine church, which contains some interesting monuments.
One to the memory of Sir John Golafre, who founded a hospital at Fyfield in the fifteenth century, contains his effigy in armour on an open altar tomb, with a figure of a shrouded skeleton beneath.

New Bridge

From Fyfield the road leads directly to the New Bridge, where we rejoin the Thames.
New Bridge, which is some centuries old, is a substantial structure of several arches.
On the left side of it is the long marshy tract called Standlake Common, but which in winter rather resembles a lake, and at other times a bog.
The village of Standlake is some distance farther; it is a dull, swampy, sloppy, aguey place; and the only thing worth looking at in or about it, besides the church, which is a pretty good specimen of Early English architecture, is a farm-house, called Gaunt House, which is said by Antony Wood to have been built by John of Gaunt and Joan his wife.
There was formerly a brass to the memory of the latter in Standlake church, inscribed
"Orate pro anima Johanne Gaunt, nuper uxoris Johannis Gaunt, quae obiit x die Martii A.D. MCCCCLXV."
The house was fortified and garrisoned by Charles I.

The River Windrush

At Standlake the Thames receives the Windrush, a stream which rises on one of the slopes of the Cotswold Hills near the borders of Worcester shire.
It flows past the towns of Burford and Witney, and a great many villages, and after a course of about thirty-five miles falls into the Thames by several distinct channels.
Although not navigable, it is an important stream from the number of mills which it turns.

Below New Bridge the river winds along in solitary undisturbed peacefulness.
No road approaches it, the houses are few and far between, and at a distance from the banks; and the only visitant is a lonely fisherman, whose presence is never felt as an intrusion into the most secluded scene.
The scenery too improves as we advance.
The Oxford meadows are low and subject to be flooded, but there are a goodly number of trees and plenty of cattle about them, and they have altogether a fertile, cheerful look.
The Berkshire downs give a different and more varied, as well as attractive character to the other side.

Moorton, Northmoor, Appleton, Little Blenheim

The rambler will here stroll leisurely along the river, enjoying a succession of quiet and thoroughly English scenes.
He will pass Moorton, Northmoor, Appleton (where is an old manor-house), and Little Blenheim, but he will probably not be tempted to turn aside

Stanton Harcourt

till he reaches Stanton-Harcourt, where he will of course make a longish stay.
Stanton-Harcourt, though but a small village, possesses considerable and various interest; its situation is pleasant, its associations not unattractive; and it contains several objects deserving regard, especially the remains of the ancient mansion and the very handsome old church.
At a short distance from the village are three large upright stones, commonly called "the Devil's Coits;" they are of the ordinary red-veined sandstone of the district, and are supposed to be monumental.
Thomas Warton, in his History of Kiddington, conjectures that
"they were erected to commemorate a battle fought near Bampton, in 614, between the Saxons and the Britons; when the Saxons, under Cynegil, slew more than two thousand Britons."
"The adjacent barrow," he adds, "has been destroyed."
Stanton Harcourt was among the vast estates which fell to the lot of the Bishop of Bayeux, the half-brother of the Conqueror: and it was evidently, from the mention of it in the Domesday Survey, a somewhat valuable acquisition.
From an account of Stanton Harcourt, written by the late George Simon, Earl of Harcourt, we learn that "The manor of Stanton Harcourt has continued six hundred years in the Harcourt family.
Queen Adeliza, daughter of Godfrey first duke of Brabant, and second wife to King Henry I., granted the manor of Stanton to her kinswoman, Milicent, wife of Richard de Camvill, whose daughter Isabel married Robert de Harcourt; and from the time of that marriage it assumed the name of Stanton-Harcourt.
This grant was afterwards confirmed to her and her heirs by King Stephen and King Henry II."
The service by which it was held of the crown is worth quoting as an example of the somewhat curious mixture of minute observances in these feudal tenures: "The lord of Stanton-Harcourt shall find four browsers in Wood stock park in winter-time, when the snow shall happen to fall, and tarry, lie, and abide, by the space of two days; and so to find the said browsers there browsing, so long as the snow doth lie, every browser to have to his lodging every night one billet of wood, the length of his axe-helve, and that to carry to his lodgings upon the edge of his axe.
And the king's bailiff of the demesnes, or of the hundred of Wootton, coming to give warning for the said browsers, shall blow his horn at the gate of the manor of Stanton-Harcourt aforesaid, and then the said bailiff to have a cast of bread, a gallon of ale, and a piece of beef, of the said lord of Stanton Harcourt aforesaid : and the said lord, or other for the time being, to have of custom yearly out of the said park, one buck in summer and one doe in winter.
And also the said lord of Stanton-Har court must fell, make, rear, and carry all the grass growing in one meadow within the park of Wood stock, called Stanton and Southley mead; and the fellers and the makers thereof have used to have of custom, of the king's majesty's charge, six-pence in money, and two gallons of ale."
The manor now belongs to the present Archbishop of York.
Of the mansion, which was very large, and some parts of it very ancient, little is left.
After the death of Sir Philip Harcourt, in 1688, it ceased to be the residence of the family, and was suffered to go to decay.
By the middle of the next century it had become ruinous, and was, with the exception of the portions about to be noticed, demolished by order of its owner in 1770.
The porter's lodge, near the road, still remains in its original form ; the arms on each side of the gate, in both fronts, show that it was erected by Sir Simon Harcourt, who died in 1547.
Some upper rooms in the small remaining part of the house adjoining the kitchen, and now in the occupation of a farmer, are nearly in their original state, and bear evident marks of great antiquity.
They contain nothing remarkable, however, besides an old stone fire-place and an ancient chimney.
Pope passed the greater part of two summers in the deserted mansion, for the sake of pursuing his poetical studies in tranquillity.

Stanton Harcourt Kitchen from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Stanton Harcourt Kitchen from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

The tower, shown in the engraving, bears the name of Pope's Tower from the circumstance that in the uppermost room in it he wrote the fifth volume of his translation of Homer; as he recorded on a pane of stained glass in the window.
The pane of glass has been removed, and was long, and, perhaps, is now "preserved as a valuable relique at Nuneham Courtney."
The room is still called Pope's Study.
The tower is in good repair, though the apartments are used only as storerooms.
The lower room is the old family chapel; part of it has a flat wooden ceiling composed of squares, with red and yellow mouldings, and a blue ground, with gilt stars in the centre of each compartment.
The tower is fifty-four feet high; the upper rooms are each thirteen feet square.
But the most curious portion of the old mansion now existing is the kitchen, shown in the opposite engraving.
It is a large stone building of an earlier date than the rest of the mansion, and is the only edifice of the kind known.
It bears some resemblance to the abbot's kitchen at Glastonbury, but it is larger and loftier, and has no chimney.
Dr. Plot, in his curious History of Oxfordshire, says, "The kitchen of the right worshipful Sir Simon Harcourt, Knight, is so strangely unusual, that by way of riddle, one may truly call it, either a kitchen within a chimney, or a kitchen without one; for below it is nothing but a large square, and octangular above ascending like a tower, the fires being made against the walls, and the smoke climbing up them, without any tunnels or disturbance to the cooks; which being stopped by a large conical roof at the top, goes out at loopholes on every side according as the wind sits; the loop holes at the side next the wind being shut with folding doors, and the adverse side opened."
At one of the angles there is a turret in which is a winding staircase that leads to a passage round the battlements, in order to open and close the shutters according to the direction of the wind.
- This building is still used as the kitchen of the adjoining house, and the cooks say that they experience no inconvenience from the lack of a chimney; and I saw substantial evidence, a few weeks ago, that its capabilities are sufficiently tested.
There are two fire-places against the opposite walls, at either of which an ox might be roasted whole.
Only one is used now.
Besides the fire-places there are two large ovens, which are still employed.
The interior has a singular appearance.
It is a room about thirty feet square, capped by a conical roof, in itself twenty-five feet high, and from the floor to its apex about sixty feet.
The inside of the roof is thickly coated with soot, and the walls above the fire-places are blackened densely in the centre, shading off gradually to the angles.
In the large old fire-place a goodly wood fire is burning, which throws a rich warm glow on to the deep shade above, while three or four neat-handed Phillises busily engaged in the various culinary operations contrast strongly in their lightsome cleanly look with the murky walls of the strange old room.
On the canvas of a Rembrandt it would make a striking picture.
The main portion of the mansion was erected in the reign of Henry VII.; the kitchen is supposed to be of the time of Henry IV.
Pope in a letter to the Duke of Buckingham described the house as it was before its demolition; but according to the Earl of Harcourt,
"Although his description be ludicrous and witty, it is in almost every particular incorrect ; the situation of the several buildings being exactly the reverse of that in which they stood, as is demonstrated by a still existing plan" - it is not, therefore, worthwhile to quote any part of it.

Stanton Harcourt Church

Stanton Harcourt Church from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Stanton Harcourt Church from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

The church, which stands contiguous to the site of the old mansion, is an unusually fine one, and merits careful regard; indeed it would not be easy for a student of ecclesiastical architecture to select a village church that it would be more instructive to study in detail.
It is cruciform, and has a massive tower of handsome proportions springing from the intersection of the arms of the cross.
The several parts are of very different dates, but their union does not appear incongruous - the modern deformities having been recently swept away.
The nave is Norman, of the twelfth century, not greatly enriched, the two plain doorways on the north and south sides of it being the leading features.
Through the principal door the men enter the church on Sundays, the female part of the congregation more meekly entering by another lesser door, at a little distance from it, according to "a custom established there time immemorial."
The wooden roof to the nave is believed to have been added in the fourteenth century.
The chancel, the transepts, and the tower arches are of the thirteenth century; the upper part of the tower was, probably, added in the fifteenth century.
The chancel is a very pure specimen of the early English style of architecture, and of large dimensions for so small a church; these dimensions being forty-four feet long by eighteen wide, the nave being only forty-eight by twenty-three feet; making, with the space between the arches on which the tower is supported, the entire internal length of the church one hundred and nine feet.
The transepts are each twenty-four feet by twenty.
At the east end of the chancel is a fine triple lancet window, united on the outside by a string-course, and within splayed so as to appear a single window of three lights.
On the north side there are six smaller lancet-windows, divided into triplets; on the south side there is but one triplet, the other it having been destroyed to make way for the Harcourt chapel.
The Harcourt aisle or chapel was erected about the same time as the mansion, and is a not ungraceful example of the enriched Perpendicular style of the time of Henry VII.
On the exterior it is surmounted by an open quatrefoil parapet and square-topped pinnacles.
It was designed, and is still used, as the burial-place of the Harcourt family.
The north transept has an open timber roof, of the fourteenth or fifteenth century.
Originally there were two altars on the east side of this transept; they are gone, but the altar platforms, and a piscina near them, remain to mark their position.
The south transept corresponded in all respects to the north ; but was greatly altered to suit its union with the Harcourt chapel.
Inside the church are many objects interesting to the archaeologist.
The rood-screen which separates the chancel is of oak, and perfect.
In its carvings it agrees both in style and execution with the chancel arch; and is believed to be the earliest wooden rood-screen in England.

Some of the monuments in this church have attracted much attention, especially a small altar-tomb, about four feet long by two feet wide, and having a tall and very richly ornamented canopy over it, on the cornice of which are shields of many noble families, retaining, with the canopy, much of the original colouring; the tomb itself, also, has several shields supported by figures in the costume of the reign of Edward I.
It stands on the north side of the altar, from which, and from the emblems of the Crucifixion being sculptured on it, it has been conjectured to have been employed for the Easter sepulchre.
No other instance of an altar-tomb used for that purpose is known in this country, but it is said some have been noticed on the Continent.
The Harcourt chapel, also, contains a monument in its way almost unique.
It is engraved in Gough's 'Sepulchral Monuments' (vol. ii. pt. 3, p. 229), where it is thus described:
"This monument of Sir Robert Harcourt, of that place, Knight of the Garter, ancestor of the Earl of Harcourt; and Margaret his wife, daughter of Sir John Byron of Clayton, Lancashire, Knight, ancestor of Lord Byron.
He was sheriff of Lancashire and Warwickshire, 1445; elected Knight of the Garter 1463; commissioned with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and others, to treat of a peace between Edward IV. and Louis XI. of France, 1467; and was slain on the part of the House of York, by the Staffords of the Lancastrian party, November 14, 1472.
His figure represents him in his hair, gorget of mail, plated armour strapped at the elbows and wrists; large hilted sword at left side, dagger at right, his belt charged with oak leaves, hands bare, a kind of ruffle turned back at his wrists, shoes of scaled armour, order of the Garter on left leg, and over all the mantle of the Garter, with a rich cape and cordon; his head reclines on a helmet with his crest, a swan; at his feet a lion.
His lady, habited in the veil head-dress falling back, has a mantle, and surcoat, and cordon, and a kind of short apron, long sleeves fastened in a singular manner at the waist (wrist), and the order of the Garter round her left arm; her feet are partly wrapped up in her mantle."
On the effigy of Sir Robert is a remarkable collar of alternate roses and suns, which Gough appears to have overlooked, and which is very ill-represented in his engraving; it is more accurately engraved by Skelton.
Valuable as the figure of the knight is as illustrating the costume of his time, it is that of the lady which is especially noteworthy, being one of the two existing examples of female sepulchral effigies, represented with the insignia of the order of the Garter.
The other is that of Alice, Duchess of Suffolk, in the church of Ewelme, also in Oxfordshire, and only a few miles from our river.
On Lady Alice the Garter has no motto, and is worn above the wrist; that at Stanton-Harcourt is placed above the elbow, and has the motto engraven on it.
A third example is said to have been that of Constance, the lady of Sir John Grey, figured on the monument of her brother Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, in St. Katherine's by the Tower, London.
But the figure was too much mutilated to enable it to be recognised, long before the church, as well as the monument, was removed to make way for St. Katherine's Docks.
Some other monuments, both in the chapel and in the body of the church, are deserving of notice.
One has some lines, of little merit, by Congreve, and another has an epitaph by Pope.
There are, also, a couple of small brasses near the altar.
A marble slab fixed on the outside of the south chancel bears an inscription, written by Pope, to the memory of the couple whose death by lightning, while engaged with many others at harvest-work, is described in the well-known letter written by Gay a few days after the event.
Both the letter and in scription are too well known to require quotation.
They have had more than their share of praise, and we have already been lingering over-long here.
The church, of which the exterior is very picturesque, the ancient tower, and kitchen, form together a striking group from the churchyard.
Recently the church has undergone a complete restoration and all the churchwardens' improvements and decorations have been obliterated.
The appearance both externally and internally is now very beautiful, indeed of its kind it would be difficult elsewhere to find so beautiful a little structure.
The restorations were conducted under the auspices of the Oxford Architectural Society, to whose publications I have been indebted, in my notices of this and several other of the architectural remains in this neighbourhood.


On the Berkshire side, about a mile and three quarters from the river, is Cumnor, a place that has been rendered in our day far better known by the pen of Sir Walter Scott, than Stanton-Harcourt ever was by that of Pope or Gay.
It has, however, little to reward the visitor.
Mickle tells us that -

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

But there are no haunted towers to stimulate their tears now - the very walls are gone, and he who will weep had better take care to carry 'Kenilworth' in his pocket.
All that is left of the mansion is a portion of the foundation, which you have to pass through a rickyard to get at.
Some what of the order of the building and grounds may yet be made out.
That the countess of Leicester was murdered here is not doubted by the villagers, and some of them can tell some of the particulars - out of Scott.
But though Cumnor Hall be gone, there still swings the sign of "the bonny Black Bear," with Giles Gosling written under it, in front of the village inn, of which inn we may how surely say that "so great is its fame, that to have been in Cumnor without wetting a cup at the bonny Black Bear, would have been to avouch oneself utterly indifferent to reputation as a traveller." (Scott's 'Kenil worth.")
Some zealous novelists discover in the inn indubitable evidence of its being the veritable Bear; but honest Charles Capel, the host who now "conducts, or rather rules it," is, they complain, but a degenerate successor of portly Giles; and they miss pretty Cicely.
Cumnor church, which is a neat building, and of some architectural interest, contains the monument of Antony Foster, whom the inscription describes in very laudatory strains.
The village has nothing else noticeable.
The rambler who turns aside to visit Cumnor, will probably proceed from thence direct to Oxford, which is about three miles by the road: we must retrace our steps to the river.

Swinford Bridge and Eynsham

We rejoin it at Swinford bridge, a plain structure of several arches, erected about sixty years ago.
On the Oxfordshire side of the bridge is Ensham, a large village pleasantly situated on rising ground.
It was a place of some importance in Saxon times; and until the dissolution contained a Benedictine abbey, of which some fragments are left.
The church is a large and very handsome one, and near it stands an ancient cross of graceful proportions.

The River Evenlode

A mile below Ensham the Evenlode, a considerable rivulet, falls into the Thames.
It rises on the edge of Worcestershire, beyond Moreton-in-the-Marsh, and passes by Charbury and Combe.
It has a course of about thirty-one miles, receiving in its way several tributaries,

The River Glyme Woodstock and Blenheim

Woodstock from 'Rambles by Rivers', James Thorne 1849
Woodstock from 'Rambles by Rivers', James Thorne 1849

the principal of which is the Glyme, about nine miles long, which flows past Woodstock, and through Blenheim park, and forms the fine sheet of water in front of the mansion.
Woodstock will of course be visited by the stranger.
There is a pleasant walk to it of about four miles from Ensham, but it can be most conveniently reached from Oxford.
A stroll through the park, in which is "Rosamund's Well," and an examination of the magnificent edifice, which caused poor Vanbrugh so much trouble, and brought him so much obloquy from the scoffers, will amply repay the journey; to say nothing of the pictures, and the memorials of our greatest captain, save one.
The town of Woodstock has nothing to show but its glove-shops; but Old Woodstock has some old houses.
Chaucer dwelt at Woodstock, and wrote many of his poems there,
"Within a lodge out of the way, Beside a well in a forest."
Elizabeth was imprisoned at Woodstock Palace, when, as Holinshed tells,
"she hearing upon a time out of her garden a certain milkmaid singing pleasantly, wished herself to be a milkmaid as she was, saying, that her case was better, and her life merrier;"
and "no marvel was it," as the old gossip says; but she was of sterner stuff than to wish so long.
While she knew not that her head sat safe upon her shoulders, she might well envy a merry milkmaid; but our glorious Bess did not use to indulge in idle sentimentalisms - except in love matters.
Every trace of the palace has long disappeared.

Godstow Bridge and Nunnery

Proceeding onwards, our river leads us by a very pleasant course round the foot of Wytham Hill and wood to Godstow bridge, where the eye is caught by some ruins.
They are not large, nor very picturesque; but they will be looked at with interest from their being the first that have been seen by the river side, and from their connexion with the name of Fair Rosamund.
It is well known how,

When as King Henry rulde this land, The second of that name,
Besides the queene, he dearly loved This fair and comely dame. *
Most peerless was her beautye founde, Her favour, and her face;
A sweeter creature in this worlde Did never prince embrace.

Her crispe lockes like threades of golde Appear'd to all men's sight
Her sparkling eyes, like orient pearles, Did cast a heavenly light.

* Rosamund was a great favourite with our older poets. The beautiful ballad, of which these are the opening verses, was written by Thomas Deloney; there is a still more beautiful poem, though not so well known, called 'The Complaint of Rosamund,' by Daniel; and Drayton has two or three of his 'England's Heroical Epistles' dedicated to her memory, and frequent allusion is made to her by Chaucer and others. And it is equally well known how, as the ballad goes on to tell, the king provided for her a secret bower in Woodstock park.

But the story that so engages the youthful fancy is only a fiction.
Eleanor did not discover, by means of a silken thread, the secret of the labyrinth in which her rival was hidden, nor force her to drink from the poison-bowl.
The plain fact, which must take the place of fiction, however pretty, appears to be, that on the marriage of the king, or not very long after, Rosamund retired to this nunnery at Godstow, and there, in penitence and in attention to the duties of religion, passed the remainder of her days.
She was buried in the choir opposite to the high altar; and Henry raised a sumptuous monument to her memory.
The nunnery having been greatly enriched by her benevolence, and by the bounty of the sovereign on her account, her remains were treated with much honour by the nuns, who hung a pall of silk over her tomb, and set lights of wax about it.
And thus it continued, till, in the next reign, Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, came to the nunnery, and seeing so fair a tomb set about with lighted tapers, demanded whose it was ; and being answered that it was "the tomb of Rosamund, sometime leman to Henry II.," his virtue was shocked, and he commanded her bones to be cast out of the church, that the "nuns might not be led astray by having her example thus constantly set before them, and that other women, being made afraid, might beware, and keep themselves from unlawful and advouterous company with men."
Although his commands were obeyed, the grateful nuns, as soon as they dared, gathered her bones, and put them in a perfumed bag, which they placed in a leaden coffin, and again buried them in the church, setting over them a fair large stone, whereon were engraven her name and praise.
They were not again disturbed till the suppression of monasteries in the reign of the pious Henry VIII., when, as Leland records, her tomb was opened by the royal commissioners; in it was found the leaden case, within which were the bones wrapped in leather.
"When it was opened," he adds, "a very sweet smell came out of it"-which we may be sure was more than would come out of the coffins of those who committed this sacrilege.
But let us be fair towards these precious commissioners-who have sins enough, altogether their own, to answer for - and not blame them for what is essentially a national characteristic.
Whenever was there an opportunity afforded for turning over the bones of a celebrated person, that an Englishman did not avail himself of it?
Men the most reverend have not been suffered to lie undisturbed in their coffins, and why should a poor leman escape?
We all know how Milton's bones were handled; and Shakspere's have hardly been left unmolested, despite the curse so heartily invoked on him who should disturb them.
And now are zealous archaeologists-whether of the Institute or the Association - ready at any moment, if a barrow is to be opened, or the cemetery of an old priory to be turned up, to set out, brimful of enthusiasm, and not only to explore the coffins, but to measure tibia and femur, make section of humerus, and note "fracture" and " texture," examine the state of the teeth, and carefully chronicle the altitude of os frontis; and if there be aught else preserved besides bones, to analyse it, and faithfully record the taste, smell, and form ;-but all this is in the service of science.


Let us once more resume our journey.
And now, as we step slowly onwards, we see gradually opening before us one of the most glorious scenes our river has to show:

That faire city, wherein make above
So many learned impes, that shoote abrode,
And with their braunches spread all Brittany:
. . .
Joy to you both, ye double nursery
Of Arts! But, Oxford! thine doth Thames most glorify.

SPENSER, Fairie Queen, c. xi.

Port Meadow and Binsey

Oxford (from Hollar) from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Oxford (from Hollar) from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

Before it arrives at Oxford, the Thames, though it continues to be but shallow, expands to a considerable width, and making a bold curve, presents something of the appearance of a lake, beyond which rise the turrets and pinnacles of this City of the Muses - "Our Athens:"
"Mother of arts And eloquence."
The Oxford meadows are flat, and intersected by several branches of the river.
On the Berkshire side the banks are elevated and woody, forming at every bend an agreeable foreground to the landscape.
Here it is, perhaps, from the gentle slopes between Wytham and Bynson, that the best general view of Oxford is obtained.
The broad sheet of water stretches beneath and before you, and the dark roofs and tall chimneys of the western suburb, which occupy the middle-ground, serve to throw into a finer distance and impart a more airy grace to the long range of towers, domes, and spires that form the picture;


and that mark, as we know, spots where have lived and laboured a succession of the noblest men that our country - so rich in noblemen - has to boast of.
As we contemplate the scene on this calm summer evening, when the gathering shades have obscured the meaner objects, an air of serene grandeur rests on the place, and trains of associations arise that elevate our thoughts above the selfishness and sordidness of ordinary life.
The stranger fears almost to enter the city, lest the reality should destroy the idea which the distant prospect of it has raised.
It does not at all.
"An atmosphere of learning" seems to surround it, and it needs something like a familiar acquaintance to lessen the venerable dignity of its aspect.
The man is little to be envied who can for the first time wander through it without emotion.
Scarcely does it seem possible at any time to stand in its noble High-street and gaze along the line of academic courts unmoved.
Apart from its associations, and regarded merely as a matter of taste, Oxford is probably surpassed by few cities of equal size in the number and grandeur of its edifices, and perhaps beyond any other it carries its character deeply impressed upon it.
But then, how glorious are its associations!
How many of the most illustrious intellects of our land have here prepared themselves for their mighty tasks.
From this place how many of the men whose names stand highest on our roll of fame have proceeded!
Men who have stood forth the wonder and admiration of the world - shining as stars in the firmament of heaven: who have spent the vast intellectual strength with which they have been endowed in freeing the bodies and souls of their fellow-men from the fetters of despotism - who have sought to raise them above what is material and temporal - to verify the truth, and enforce the doctrines, and bring men to the obedience of Christianity; - who have achieved some of our greatest deeds, accomplished some of our proudest discoveries, and added some of the brightest pages to our literature.
The list were long to read, but how brilliant are the recollections excited by the names that at once recur to our memories of Wiclif, Wolsey, Raleigh, Penn, Hampden, Locke, of Hooker, Jeremy Taylor, Butler, Johnson, Arnold, of Harvey, of Wren, Ben Jonson, Sidney, and many more, statesmen, patriots, divines, philosophers, poets, or "scholars, and ripe and good ones" - differing as one star differeth from another in glory, but all glorious.
Obscured some of them were at times, but the clouds have rolled away, and only the splendour remains.
It will not be expected that anything like a complete account of Oxford can be given here.
That would require some volumes of the size of this little one.
Dr. Ingram's Memorials of Oxford, in which there is certainly no undue expansion, occupy three goodly quarto volumes, and other accounts have swelled to a far greater bulk.
Here can only a few points connected with the history be mentioned, and a few of the buildings be rapidly glanced at.
In such places as this there is the less need of any detailed account, inasmuch as local "guides" can be procured by the visitor, which will at any rate direct his attention to the more remarkable or interesting objects: in the smaller towns and villages somewhat more of fulness seems necessary.
The origin of both city and University is lost in the shade of antiquity.
In Saxon times the name was written Oxnaford, in the Domesday Survey it is Oxeneforde; both of which seem to support the general opinion that the town owes its name to having been built by a ford for oxen.
It has been attempted to carry the foundation of the town, in connexion with that of the University, back to the times of the fabulous King Brute.
This and all other tales respecting its extreme antiquity are, of course, mere inventions; all that is known with certainty is, that at a very early period Oxford was a place of some importance, and that there were schools of learning in it.
Like all the other towns in these parts, Oxford suffered greatly from the ravages of the Danes.
In the eleventh century it was frequently the residence of royalty.
In November, 1016, Edmund Ironside died here - as some affirmed by unfair means.
His successor Canute was often at Oxford, and on several occasions held the great council of the nation in it.
After his death, when his sons Hardicanute and Harold Harefoot were competitors for his dominions, the council met at Oxford and elected Harold to be King of England, or of the chief part of it; he was crowned and died at Oxford.
At the Norman invasion the city resolutely withstood the Conqueror.
It was taken by storm, and suffered terribly; and William afterwards made the inhabitants pay dearly for their temerity.
The Domesday Survey gives a gloomy idea of its condition:
"In the town itself, as well within the walls as without, there are two hundred and forty-three houses paying the tax; and besides these there are five hundred houses, save twenty-two, so waste and decayed that they cannot pay the tax."
And withal, while other places, on account of their poverty, were rated at lower sums than in the days of Edward the Confessor (the whole Survey being made so as to state the present value with that in the Confessor's days), Oxford was amerced at nearly three times as much:
"In the time of King Edward, Oxeneforde paid for toll and gable and all other customs, yearly to the king, twenty pounds; and six sextaries of honey. . . . Now it pays sixty pounds by tale, of twenty pence in the ore."
To prevent any attempt at a revolt on the part of the inhabitants, William gave some land to Robert D'Oilli, one of his Norman followers, for the erection of a castle.

Tower of Oxford castle from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Tower of Oxford castle from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

Of Oxford Castle, only a fragment remains by the county gaol, which occupies the site of the old pile.
Its appearance shortly before being pulled down is shown in the engraving.

Oxford castle from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Oxford castle from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

In the next reign Oxford regained much of its former prosperity.
Henry I. built himself a residence in the town; and also gave a charter of incorporation to the inhabitants.
This charter was confirmed and extended by succeeding monarchs down to the reign of James II.
In 1139, while Stephen was holding his court at Oxford, a tumult arose between the retainers of Roger, the powerful bishop of Salisbury, and those of the Earl of Brittany.
Several persons were wounded and one knight was killed.
Stephen ordered the arrest of Bishop Roger and his nephews the bishops of Lincoln and Ely.
Ely escaped, but the others were seized, and treated with extreme harshness.
The affair is by some suspected to have been contrived by Stephen as a pretext for obtaining possession of Bishop Roger, whose power he feared.
The effects of it were very influential on the fortunes of the king.
Nearly the entire body of the prelates and clergy at once declared against him, and perhaps much of his future trouble may be traced to his conduct on this occasion.
When the war between Stephen and Matilda fairly began, Oxford Castle was garrisoned for the empress queen; and hither it was that she fled when forced to make a hasty retreat from London: and at Oxford, a year or two later, she fixed her court.
In 1142 Stephen marched in person against the city with all the forces he could bring together, avowing at the same time his determination not to quit the place till he had his rival in his hands.
He soon took the city, but the queen escaped from him by one of those stratagems which she knew so well how to contrive and execute.
The castle had held out till the queen was nearly starved, as well as the garrison.
The season was winter, and the frost was of unusual severity.
The ground was covered with snow, and the Thames was frozen over.
In this it was she trusted.
She clothed herself in white, and accompanied by three knights similarly clothed, about midnight, on the 20th of December, she quitted the castle by a postern, and gliding like a ghost over the frozen river and snow-clad fields, escaped the notice of the besiegers.
She walked to Abingdon, and having procured horses there, proceeded safely to Wallingford."
Richard I. was born at Oxford; and bestowed many benefits on the city of his birth.
During this and succeeding reigns the councils of state were frequently held at Oxford, but it is needless to mention them particularly.
The city itself flourished or became depressed according to the varying prospects of the University, on which it had been chiefly dependent.
In the Wars of the Roses it suffered much; and several times it was nearly depopulated by the ravages of pestilence.
No very remarkable public event occurred till the reign of Mary, when, in October, 1555, Bishops Ridley and Latimer were burnt opposite the front of Balliol College, and in March, 1556, Archbishop Cranmer suffered on the same spot.
In the early part of the great Civil War, Oxford fell alternately into the hands of each party; but when the king quitted London, he made this city his head-quarters, holding his court there, and a Parliament of the Lords and members of the Lower House who still adhered to him.
The city remained in possession of the Royalists until the king's cause became hopeless, when it surrendered to Fairfax.
With this event all of interest apart from the University ceases.
The only thing that need be mentioned is that, owing to the supposed attachment of the University to the Stuarts, troops were quartered in Oxford at the advance of the Pretender into England in 1715.

Oxford is the county-town, and the seat of a bishopric.
It is a borough by prescription, and sends two Members to Parliament.
With the University it contains nearly twenty-six thousand inhabitants.
It stands on a slightly elevated tract of ground, almost insulated by the rivers Thames and Cherwell: and, including the suburbs, is nearly two miles long and about a mile broad.
All the more important public edifices are of an ecclesiastical or academic character.
As has been mentioned, the University has been stated by some early writers to have existed in the most remote period of even fabulous English history.
Others, however, have been content to make Alfred the founder, or at any rate the restorer of the University.
But it is now admitted that there is no authentic notice of the existence of a University at Oxford before the reign of Henry II., though there were schools of learning much earlier.
Even as early as 1149, Vacarius, an eminent civilian, taught the Roman law, and had numerous students resort to his lectures - a circumstance which denotes an approach to the character of a University.
The first Charter was granted by Henry III., in whose reign it arose to great eminence, being only surpassed by the University of Paris, while in scholastic learning it was considered to be unequalled.
Wood states that there were in this reign three hundred halls at Oxford and thirty thousand students.
This is, no doubt, an extravagant exaggeration; but a great number of students resorted to it from the Continent, and the names are preserved of a great many halls that have long ceased to exist.
In succeeding reigns the prosperity of the University greatly varied.
A very frequent cause of its depression was the disputatious temper of the students, who would not be content with their peaceful logical contests.
With the townsmen their quarrels were frequent, and with others not very uncommon.
On these occasions it was usual for them to leave Oxford in a body, and take up their residence elsewhere; and generally the townsmen had some trouble in prevailing on them to return.
One of the most serious quarrels with the townsmen occurred in February, 1344-5, when several persons were killed on each side.
Grostête, the Bishop of Lincoln, in whose diocese the University then was, placed the town under an interdict, from which he did not relieve it till 1357; and then not till the mayor and sixty of the chief burgesses had bound themselves and their successors by oath, and under penalty of a fine of one hundred marks for each omission, to attend on every anniversary of the tumult, at St. Mary's Church, and, after the performance of mass for the souls of the clerks and students slain in the fray, present each a penny at the high altar.
The citizens made many attempts to get rid of the unpleasant duty, but they continued to be subjected to it, under a modified form, to our own day: the ceremony being only abrogated by the Convocation in 1825.
With others, however, the scholars were not always so fortunate.
About a century before this affair with the townsmen, the students in a disturbance with some Italians of the suite of the Papal legate, who was then staying at Osney Abbey, killed the brother of the legate, who in consequence placed the University and also the clergy of Oxford under interdict; and thirty of the students were by the king thrown into prison.
On this occasion the students had to do penance, and to get some bishops to participate in it with them before they could assuage the anger of the representative of his Holiness.
During the reigns of Richard II. and the succeeding sovereigns, the preaching of Wiclif, who was professor of theology at Oxford, excited great commotion, and for a while threatened to lead to the dissolution of the University.
Then came the wars of York and Lancaster, and pestilence followed in their train, so that at the early part of the reign of Henry VII. the University was greatly depressed.
As peace became established, it again flourished, and continued to flourish -

till the general suppression of religious houses, and afterwards the Reformation for a time checked its progress.
Layton was the commissioner sent by Cromwell to Oxford, and he boasts, in a letter to his master, dated Sept., 1535, that he had
"set Dunce in Boccardo, and utterly banished him from Oxford for ever."
* Dunce, was Dun Scotus, the great master of the scholastic learning for which Oxford was so famous; Boccardo was the common prison.
It is a touch of Laytonian wit.
But that was not all; he not only set him in Boccardo, but had all the copies he could find of his works, torn to pieces or burnt.
The libraries of Oxford suffered grievously on this occasion; and worse four years later, when an order was sent down to destroy or mutilate all popish and improper manuscripts.
This was done so thoroughly, that many mathematical works were destroyed because the diagrams were magical; and all that had illuminations were burnt or defaced, as being figures of saints, though frequently they were only representations of kings or other eminent persons.
Multitudes of MSS. were destroyed, or consigned, says Wood, to the vilest purposes.
The University could not but suffer, being thus deprived of what Wood, in recording the circumstances, well calls "its supports, the libraries."
The destruction of MSS must have been frightful; beside what were destroyed in the University library, they were removed from the Colleges by the waggon-load.
We talk of the ignorance of the "dark ages," because so few MSS. have come down to us; and do not remember the perils all that remain have passed through.
Under the protection and care of Elizabeth Oxford revived, and, as Hallam observes ("Hist. of Lit.' ii. 258),
"continued through her reign to be the seat of a progressive and solid education."
James I. was equally anxious for its welfare, and it was in his reign that it received the privilege of returning two representatives to Parliament.
At the breaking out of the Civil War the members of the University warmly espoused the royal cause.
When the Parliament had gained the ascendency, as might be expected, it was not very well treated; but in truth the entire devotion of the University to Charles had already nearly destroyed it.
All its wealth had been given to the King; its members had engaged in his service, the business of education had been neglected; and during the long occupation of the city by his troops, most of the halls and public buildings had been used as barracks and greatly injured.
The Puritans completed the work of destruction so far as regarded the defacing of all "Popish adornings," but they went no further.
The University remained depressed, but it was not destroyed: and Cromwell deserves gratitude for preserving it from utter ruin.
There were many who looked with glad anticipation for the entire abolition of all such institutions, as useless, or worse.
That learning was unbecoming in a minister of religion - inasmuch as it was a looking to the wisdom of men - was a common and popular opinion, perhaps that of the majority of the dominant party; and, however mistaken, there can be no question as to the honesty of those who held it.

The sentiment is oddly expressed in 'The Spiritual Verses of James Hunt, Minister of the Gospel, dedicated (in 1643) to the most honourable and high court of Parliament.'
A learned clergyman among his books, he says, is like
"the owl in the ivy-bush sitting in the dark,"
for "You plainly may see The owl's ivy signifieth her library,
By which she hath blinded all the dark angels * (* i.e. the surpliced clergy) with the black evil,
To - they do not know the true God from the false evil!"
And now that such are done away with, he exclaims, in the longest and worst line ever written seriously +, -
"Now God of his great power (all people shall make see)
That he doth not tie himself to the art of scholarship which the clergy have been taught in the University!"
+ This tremendous line is only surpassed in length by that which Tom Brown ("Dialogues, p. 44) quotes as "the longest line in Christendom :" "Why was not he a rascal Who refused to suffer the children of Israel to go into the wilderness with their wives and families to eat the Paschal?"
which he says "is just thirty-four foot of metre, no more and no less;"
Master Hunt's is only twenty-eight feet, but it more than makes amends in the melody: of course it utterly distances the line of Dryden's, which Brown gives as the "second longest line."
Brown says he found his line on an engraving, but he probably manufactured it for the occasion.
Hunt's volume is preserved among the fifty thousand pamphlets of the Commonwealth period in the British Museum.

The excellent John Owen was in 1651 made Vice Chancellor of the University, and though the students laughed at his strictness, and quizzed the "scruple-shop" that was set up, and after the Restoration many said bitter things of him, he appears to have acted with moderation, and, considering the difficulty of his position, in such a manner as to have gained a claim to praise.
Clarendon honestly admits that in this period the University "yielded a harvest of extraordinary, good, and sound knowledge in all parts of learning."
At the Restoration it was restored to all its privileges, and soon grew to be as great as ever.
There is little more to add to its history.
Its opposition to the encroachments of James II. is well known; its subsequent "high" principles have been mentioned.
The only other event of public interest in connexion with it is the origin of Methodism by Wesley and Whitefield.
It is worthy of notice that the three most remarkable religious movements in English history proceeded from Oxford - that of Wiclif in the fourteenth century, that of Wesley in the eighteenth, and the smaller, but not unimportant, opposite one in our own day.
Whatever may be thought of any of them, there can be no doubt of their influence on the public mind, and their influence is a sufficient rebuke to the flippancy of those who sneer at the "thoughts of cloistered theologians."

There are nineteen Colleges and five Halls in Oxford; these are quite distinct institutions from the University, with which it is not unusual to confound them.
The Colleges are incorporated bodies endowed by the founders and benefactors with property, as much in order to afford peaceful abodes to men who should devote themselves to meditation and study in connexion with religion, as for the education of youth.
The Halls only differ from the Colleges in not being incorporated.

The number of public buildings in Oxford is so great, that to describe them is impossible, and to give a mere catalogue of them would be useless.
The University has several belonging to it; each of the Colleges has its separate edifice, many of which are of considerable extent; and there are a Cathedral and a great many churches: and all of these are of more or less grandeur or interest.
They are in every style of architecture which has prevailed from Norman times to the present, and several of them are admirable specimens of their respective styles; and almost all of them contain some matters that possess an additional claim to our regard.
A few of the most interesting may be named.
The first place perhaps is due to the buildings of Magdalen College, which cover a space of above eleven acres, and would alone require some hours to inspect at all adequately.
The interior of the chapel, well restored by Mr. Cottingham, is especially deserving of regard.
It is of the fifteenth century, as are also the tower, one hundred and eighty feet high, the cloisters, and the hall.
The new buildings, three hundred feet long, are modern "classic," and of stately appearance.
There is also a singularly rich gateway, which has been recently erected from a design by Mr. Pugin.
The quadrangle of Queen's College is imposing from its size, and not without interest in other respects.
New College should be noticed for its chapel, the noblest in Oxford; as should also the very beautiful chapel of Merton College ; and there are some ancient portions of this College of a very fine character.

Christ Church Oxford from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Christ Church Oxford from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

The Cathedral serves as the chapel of Christ Church, the largest college in Oxford; as a cathedral it is inferior to most, but it is a very fine building.
The entrance tower of this College contains "Great Tom," whose sound is so familiar in the city.
The hall of Christ Church is also celebrated.

Divinity Schools Oxford from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Divinity Schools Oxford from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

Most of the University buildings have some peculiar points of interest about them, though generally they are not the most attractive as architectural objects: they are the beautiful Divinity Schools; the Bodleian Library, with its magnificent collection of MSS. and printed books, and the picture gallery attached; the Theatre, designed by Wren; the Ratcliffe Library, from the top of which is obtained a fine view of the city, and inside of which is a collection of interesting objects; the Ashmolean Museum ; the observatory; the printing-office; and the splendid building yet scarcely finished, called the Taylor and University Galleries, erected from the designs of Mr. Cockerell, for the purpose of containing the drawings of Michael Angelo and Raphael, the Pomfret marbles, &c.
One of the most beautiful of the recent additions to Oxford is the "Martyrs' Memorial," a cross designed, somewhat after that at Waltham, but on a larger scale, to commemorate the martyrs Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley.
A great many new buildings have been erected within the last few years at Oxford, and many of the old ones have been, or are being, restored: so that this city, always so famous for its architecture, is constantly growing more worthy of its reputation.
We must not quit it without mentioning the celebrated walks of Christ Church, and the no less beautiful ones of Magdalen.
In the neighbourhood there are many places that deserve to be visited, but now they can only be mentioned.
Near the Mill once stood Osney Abbey, a place of great magnificence.
At the dissolution Henry proposed to create several bishoprics; that of Oxford was one which he did establish, and Osney abbey church was made the cathedral; but the king afterwards changed his mind: Osney was utterly despoiled, and the seat of the diocese removed to Christ Church, whither also Old Tom and other of the bells, and the sacramental plate, were also taken : a few insignificant fragments are all that remain of the building.
Warton has recorded having visited them with Dr. Johnson :
"After at least half-an-hour's silence, Johnson said, I viewed them with indignation" - a feeling in which most who view them now will participate.
Bagley Wood, Shotover Hill, and one or two other places within a few miles of Oxford, afford walks of great beauty.

The River Cherwell

The river Cherwell, which washes the east side of the city, and falls into the Thames a little below it, has its source in the Arbury Hills, near Daventry, in Northamptonshire, enters Oxford near Claydon, and then flows past the town of Banbury, and several villages, among others Islip, of which South was vicar, and enters the Thames after a course of about forty miles.
In the latter part of its course it is a very lovely stream - along the Christ Church and Magdalen Walks it is especially beautiful.
It turns several mills, but is not navigable.



Iffley Church Oxford from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Iffley Church Oxford from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

Below Oxford the scenery becomes much more beautiful: the country around is more diversified, the banks of the river are richly wooded, and from every elevated spot the spires of Oxford form a noble background to the prospect.
Of a part so well known, however, it would be idle to speak at any length.
The stern-looking old tower we see before us on the left, belongs to Iffley church, one of the most interesting examples of ecclesiastical architecture which the neighbourhood of Oxford, rich in such objects, presents to the admirer of architectural antiquities.
The village of Iffley is prettily situated on the hill-side, but has no historical or other associations to add to its interest.
Iffley is mentioned in the Domesday Survey under the name of Givetelei.
Warton, in his 'History of Kiddington,' states that Iffley church was built by a Bishop of Lincoln in the twelfth century, but he gives no authority for his statement; it appears probable, however, from the style of the architecture, that it belongs to the early part of that century.
All that is really ascertained is that it was in existence in 1189.
It belonged as early as 1217 to the Black Canons of Kenilworth.
"In the charter of Henry de Clinton, the third founder of Kenilworth (preserved in the registry of the priory, now in the British Museum), the church of Yftel, as it is there called (plainly a corruption of the Givetelei of the Domesday-book, and an approach to the present name), with a virgate of land in Covele (now Cowley), are stated to have been given to the monastery by Juliana de Sancto Remigio." (Skelton.)
Its great antiquity is therefore clear, apart from the evidence afforded by its style, and fortunately it has escaped without any remarkable injury.
It is generally admitted to be one of the finest and most beautiful specimens in England of an Anglo-Norman parochial church.
It consists of a nave and chancel, which are separated by a large square tower.
The tower is low and divides the church into two nearly equal portions.
On each side of it are two windows with circular arches supported by pillars.
As in almost all these Norman edifices, the doorways are the most elaborately ornamented, and most striking features.
That on the western side is the finest, and has long been known and admired by antiquaries.
It is large, and has a bold circular arch with receding mouldings, carved in the richest manner, with the zig-zag and other ornaments; the outer arch has a double row of grotesque heads, and one of animals above.
These carvings have been supposed to have an allegoric signification; they are rude in style, but they possess on the whole somewhat of grandeur of effect.
The doorways on the northern and southern sides of the church are likewise considerably enriched.
The southern is singular, but far less beautiful than the western doorway.
On each side of it are two pillars, with the usual Norman ornaments, but all differing from each other; they support a circular enriched arch.
Over the western door there was originally a circular window ornamented with zig-zag tracery, but a window with a pointed arch was inserted within it on occasion of some alterations being made in the church, it is supposed from the form of the arch, in the fifteenth century.
At the same time several other windows in the sides of the building were altered in a similar manner.
The original circle is still plainly visible, however, in each instance.
The interior of the edifice, although it received some alterations at the same time as the exterior, still retains much of its original character, and previous to the recent restoration, had a remarkably venerable and sombre look.
Mr. Brewer, in the 'Beauties of England', calls it rude and cold, but no one possessing any true feeling for Gothic architecture will agree with him in that opinion.
The chancel is vaulted with stone, and groined.
There are some circular arches of bold span and handsomely carved at the intersection of the nave and chancel with the tower.
A few of the windows contain some curious painted glass.
There are no monuments of interest in the church.

Iffley Church Font from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Iffley Church Font from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

Perhaps the most curious thing in it is the font, which is as old as the church.
Being intended for baptism by immersion, it is very large.
It is a plain trough, supported on an extremely thick central pillar, around which are four smaller ones, each of which is carved differently.
In the churchyard is a yew-tree with a trunk of enormous girth.
Near this are the remains of a cross.
Many of these crosses are to be met with in the churchyards about Font; several of them are in a much more perfect state than this, which has suffered greatly from the effects of time and ill usage.
Looked at from the churchyard, the appearance of the church is highly picturesque, especially when the huge dark mass of the yew and the old slim cross beside it are in the foreground.
At Littlemoor, a liberty adjoining Iffley and belonging to it, there was formerly a priory of Benedictine nuns; it was founded in the reign of Henry II., and was among the smaller religious houses suppressed by a papal bull in the reign of Henry VIII.
It was given to Wolsey towards founding his new college in Oxford.
Considerable portions of the building were standing in the last century, and some still remain.

Iffley Mill

Just by Iffley there is a very picturesque mill and weir on a branch of the river;

Sandford Lock

and a mile or so lower is a large paper-manufactory called Lock's mill, which is by no means picturesque.

Nuneham Courtney

The scenery onwards is varied and pleasant.
The banks are well clothed with foliage, and the easy windings of the river afford a constant succession of agreeable prospects.
The uplands are thickly sprinkled with villas and residences, embowered among lofty trees, and speaking aloud of the graceful enjoyments of genteel life.
On the river numbers of light wherries and cutters glide swiftly by, and stout horses tow briskly along the gaily painted pleasure-boats, from which as they pass break the sounds of soft or merry music, or the light laughter of hearts at ease.
Altogether our river perhaps nowhere else presents such an air of graceful and holiday cheerfulness.
On a bright summer's afternoon it has hardly the semblance of belonging to this hard-working country of ours.
And there before us are the pleasant groves of Nuneham-Courtnay, with Oxford holiday-seekers of all classes the most favourite resort.
And no wonder.
It lies at an easy distance from the city, being about five miles by the road, and not more than seven by the river; and as the row to it is one of the pleasantest on the Thames, few make an aquatic excursion from Oxford without Nuneham serving as the goal; and it deserves the favour in which it is held.
Few parts of the river are pleasanter, and fewer of the parks along its banks are so beautiful in themselves, or afford so rich a variety of views.
Some have not scrupled to assert that it is the most beautiful place by the Thames, but this is an exaggeration which its loveliness does not need.
We must stay a while here.
Its history is soon told.
At the Domesday Survey it belonged to Richard de Curci. *
* So says the Earl of Harcourt in his "Account of Nuneham;' but from the terms of Domesday-Book it rather appears that the property of De Curci was Newnham-Murren, near Wallingford.
It afterwards passed to the family of the Riparys, or Redvars: Mary, youngest daughter of William de Redvars, Earl of Devon (surnamed Harcourt), married, in 1214, Robert de Courtenay, Baron of Okehampton, by which marriage the manor was probably transferred to the Courtnays, and thence assumed the name of Nuneham-Courtnay.
From them it passed through several hands, till, in 1710, it was purchased for £17,000 by Simon, first Earl of Harcourt, and Lord Chancellor of England.
It is now the property of the present Archbishop of York, who assumed the name of Harcourt upon succeeding to the Harcourt estates on failure of the male line.
The house is not remarkable for beauty or picturesqueness, but it has a somewhat imposing effect from its size, and the simplicity of its form.
It was erected by the first earl from a design by Leadbeater, but underwent much alteration and enlargement under the superintendence of Brown during the time of the second earl.
It consists of a rather handsome stone front, uniting by curved corridors to projecting wings; the back-front is different in character, having a bold bow-window in the centre, supported by Ionic columns.
The rooms are described as being numerous, spacious, and of good proportions, being elegantly decorated and furnished, and containing an extensive collection of sculpture, paintings, and other works of art and objects of virtu.
The paintings are mostly by the old masters; the modern pictures are principally by English artists, and amateurs of rank.
Among them are several portraits of persons illustrious for their victories by the sword or the pen: of the latter, the portrait of Pope by Jarvis, accompanied by a letter of Pope's respecting it, is perhaps the most interesting.
One of the rooms is called the Tapestry Room, from its having held a curious set of three maps * of the counties of Warwick, Worcester, and Oxford, nearly eighty feet square, worked by the needle.
Gough, who has described them in his "Topographical Antiquities,' says that they are the earliest specimens of English tapestry-weaving, which art was first introduced into England by William Sheldon, in the reign of Henry VIII.
The Sheldon arms, and the date, 1588, are worked on each.
They were presented to Lord Harcourt by Horace Walpole, who purchased them at a sale of the effects of a descendant of William Sheldon, at Weston in Warwickshire."
* These maps, I am informed, are now in the Theatre of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, to which society they were presented by the Archbishop of York some years ago.
It is probable that some other of the objects described as being in the house may have been removed.
I have not seen the interior of the building.
There was another piece of tapestry in one of the rooms not less interesting, it being the work of Mary Queen of Scots: the subject is an allegory, with figures of Justice, Wisdom, &c., with their emblems.
It was long preserved at Windsor, and was given to Lord Harcourt, in 1805, by George III.
But the park is the grand attraction of Nuneham.
It was laid out by Capability Brown; and as it now appears, gives a favourable notion of his talent; but nature has no doubt since his day re-assumed her pre-eminence here, and added somewhat of wildness to the "grace" he was so renowned for bestowing.
The grounds are extensive, consisting of 1200 acres, well stocked with large trees, and the surface greatly varied.
Tall and steep banks, hung thickly with rich foliage, contrast with deep dells; on the slopes are well disposed groups of lofty and spreading elms, and the uplands are crowded with close-set plantations.
From the higher parts of the park the prospects are wide and rich on every side. Oxford, with its spires and domes, the sombre tower of Iffley in front and the woods of Blenheim beyond, is on the north; to the east are the hills of Buckinghamshire, stretching away from their union with the Chiltern Hills of Oxfordshire till they are lost in the distance.
Southward and westward is the long range of the Berkshire downs, including the White Horse, and Faringdon Hill with the circular clump which crowns its summit; two or three villages are seen in this direction, and a tall spire marks the site of Abingdon; while the beautiful stream, sparkling in the sunshine and dotted with swift-moving boats, adds a new life and beauty to all the rest.
As he strays about the park, now across the broad clear glades, and now among its glens, and by the wooded banks which dip into the river, the visitor will scarcely deem that Horace Walpole over praised it when, in his somewhat pedantic way, he pronounced it to contain "scenes worthy of the bold pencil of Rubens, and subjects for the tranquil sunshine of Claude de Lorraine."
The pleasure-grounds and flower-garden near the house were once considered almost unrivalled.
They are not only stored with plants and flowers, but at every turn are statues, busts, or tablets, with poetic inscriptions from Lucretius, Metastasio, Chaucer, Milton, or Marvel, or composed for the places they occupy by Whitehead or Mason.
When the garden was in its prime it must almost have deserved the inscription placed at the entrance of it : -

Here universal Pan,
Knit with the Graces, and the Hours in dance,
Leads on the eternal Spring.

Nuneham Courtney from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Nuneham Courtney from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

The garden was designed by Mason, who may be supposed, from having written a didactic and descriptive poem on 'The English Garden," to have had a congenial employment.
Lord Harcourt was a man of refined taste, and delighted in the pleasures of his home and the society of men of letters.
Mason and Whitehead were his favourite authors, and owed much to his patronage.
Whitehead - not him whom Churchill sent down with such an ill flavour to posterity * * "May I (can worse disgrace on manhood fall?) Be born a Whitehead, and baptized a Paul"
- but William Whitehead, the successor of Cibber in the laureateship, and the fashionable poet of his day, though now disallowed alike by gods, booksellers, and columns (except those of Nuneham), was the especial favourite of his lordship.
He spent a large portion of his time here, and many of his verses are engraved on plinths, columns, and urns, and distributed about the park and gardens.
He was one of those who, as Ben Jonson says in his sour way, "have but a kind of tuning and rhyming fall in what they write.
It runs and slides, and only makes a sound.
Women's poets they are called, as you have women's tailors:

They write a verse as smooth, as soft as cream;
In which there is no current, nor scarce stream.

We have had too many of them.
Mason, the other poet of the place, is best known from his connexion with Gray, but he was a man of superior ability, if not of genius.
At no great distance from the house stands the church, a somewhat singular-looking edifice, erected in 1764, at the expense of the second earl, "who himself gave the original design, which received a very slight alteration from (Athenian) Stuart."
The most prominent feature in the exterior is a portico "of six Ionic columns that support a pediment, above which a dome rises in the centre."
"Its interior form," says Lord Harcourt in the notice already quoted, "is simple and pleasing; its only ornaments are two tablets with the Harcourt arms in French tapestry, another piece of tapestry of large dimensions, representing the chiefs of the twelve tribes of Israel at the Passover, and a picture in the altar-piece (which was also after his design) by the Rev. Mr. Mason: the subject, which is the Good Samaritan, is well conceived, and has considerable merit.
In the church there is a barrel-organ, upon which is set Mr. Mason's music for the responses to the Commandments, and his Sunday Hymns.
The adjoining flower-garden was formed by him, and he suggested the alterations on the north terrace; so that in a very small space we have specimens of his genius in music, painting, and poetry, and of his taste in improving the beauties of nature."
His genius was not probably very great in either of these things, but for music it appears to have been least adapted - the barrel organ would be well fitted for his compositions, they being "upon principle" mechanical and rigid, for so he averred church music should ever be.
An attractive object in the park is a curious structure which formerly stood at the meeting of the four principal streets in Oxford, and served to supply the Colleges and Halls with water brought to it from North Hinksey. Its history is told in the following inscription engraven on it:-
"This building, called Carfax, erected for a conduit at Oxford, by Otho Nicholson, in the year of our Lord 1590, and taken down in the year 1787 to enlarge the High Street, was presented by the University to George Simon, Earl Harcourt, who caused it to be placed here."
The derivation of the name Carfax is not known, but "it is supposed to be a corruption of quatre faces or carrefour, given to it from the situation in which it was placed where the four streets met."
The village originally stood near the house, but was removed by Lord Harcourt to its present situation outside the park on the Oxford road.
From the houses being built in pairs, and the opposite sides of the road exactly corresponding to each other, it has a singular and rather formal appearance.
This stiffness of look is somewhat lessened, however, by the gardens and trees in front of the houses, and the whole seems unusually neat and comfortable.
When the rest of the cottages in the old village were taken down, one was left standing, and a tree still known as Bab's tree marks its site.
The circumstances connected with it are curious and creditable to both the earl and the old dame.
Barbara Wyat had dwelt in the cottage the best part of her life; in her youth she had planted the tree beside it, and now that she had outlived husband and family, her tree seemed all that was left to remind her of her early days, and she could not bear to leave it.
The earl had provided for her a more comfortable house in his new village, but she earnestly entreated that she might still remain in her old habitation.
Her request was complied with, and her cottage not pulled down till after her death; and then the tree was spared, and some commemorative verses were written by Whitehead and placed beneath it.
The earl, who made Nuneham-Courtnay what it is, had spent a good deal of his early life in France, and had become a sort of liberal French marquis of the old régime.
He not only improved his house and grounds, and built his church after a new fashion, but sought to improve his tenantry and new-model them.
One of his schemes for this purpose was the creation of an "Order of Merit" among them.
He established an annual festival, something after the fashion of the village fêtes of the North of France, which sentimental tourists spend their heroics upon.
The company used to assemble in the church, and there the earl and his lady being seated on elevated ground, and those to be honoured for good conduct during the year being placed apart, an address was delivered on the value of the distinction, their excellencies were enumerated, and then clothes with badges upon them, ribbons, and medals were presented to the most meritorious.
Afterwards prizes of industry were distributed in the park.
The villagers were regaled with a dinner, and the evening closed with a ball.
Finally, the names of the meritorious were painted on the church-walls, and a star with the letter M was fixed on the porch of the house in which each of them dwelt; and they were expected to wear the mark of distinction.
Now, doubtless, this was all very pretty; and we occasionally hear and read what sounds like a hankering after this sort of foppery.
But let us hope there will be no more of it.
We have had too much of such nonsense already.
Let small littérateurs long after stars and ribbons, and wear them if they can get them, - our brawny peasantry are better without them.
For a match at wrestling, or single-stick, or cricket, a prize of ribbons is well enough.
There the merit is palpable, and none can question the award.
But we want no aids to moral pride, nor any stimulant to envy.
We don't want the I am better than thou spirit to be fostered.
A fussy, ostentatious, pharisaic goodness, or a sort of prim starched propriety, may be thus coddled into a rickety existence, and by stays and irons be kept upright; but a healthy manly virtue cannot be so engendered, nor by such means be nourished.
Grievously do the morals of our villagers need to be elevated, but it is not by these holiday modes that it can be accomplished.
To write over the door of the best behaved man, "Here lives Job Winfarthing, the soberest and most virtuous man in the village," and to deck him with a ribbon and medal, would not be any more likely to make him better, or to improve his neighbours than the Agricultural club's awarding a blue coat and wheatear buttons, or a white frock and corderoy inexpressibles, to the labourer who has raised a dozen children on six shillings a week without parish help, is likely to lead other labourers to be equally prudent and praiseworthy.

It has been said that Nuneham-Courtnay is much resorted to by the inhabitants of Oxford; it should be added that the grounds are now, as they always have been, liberally and freely thrown open to all comers.
A picturesque cottage was erected by the Earl for the accommodation of such holiday visitors: it stands beside a branch of the Thames, across which a rustic bridge was at the same time thrown.
A short and pleasant walk by the river, which may be shortened by a cut across the fields, will bring us to Abingdon before the daylight is quite gone.


Abingdon from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Abingdon from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

Quiet, clean, and dull is Abingdon now, like many another old town whose small manufacturing trade has departed, leaving it dependent on agriculture for what business is done in it.
On market-days it wakes a little from its somnolent condition, but the market is soon over, and it at once relapses into its usual drowsihood.
Abingdon is not a place a stranger would long to make his permanent abode, yet something of interest might be found in it for a day or two.
Its situation is not striking, nor is the neighbourhood of it remarkable for beauty, yet both are pleasant:- standing near the junction of the Ock with the Thames, where the Thames is not the most picturesque, it still possesses some agreeable features, and some diversity of scenery.
Once it was a place of considerable importance.
A manuscript in the Cottonian library, quoted in Dugdale's Monasticon, describes it as being anciently a large and wealthy city, where was the residence of the Mercian kings ; and whither people resorted to assist at the great councils of the nation.
Long previous to the introduction of Christianity it was, if we may trust the same authority, a British station.
As its subsequent fame was long owing to the connexion of the monastery with it, it may not be amiss to notice its foundation.
In the reign of Kentwin, King of the West Saxons, who died in 686, Cissa, one of his viceroys, or his nephew Heane, or both jointly, founded a monastery in honour of the Virgin Mary, for twelve monks of the Benedictine order, Heane being made their first abbot.
The site of the monastery was, it is said, a hill called Abendune, near Bayworth, in the adjoining parish of Sunningwell.
After the death of Kentwin, Kentwell, his son and successor, not only confirmed to Heane and his monks the grant of their monastery, but gave to them the town of Seovechesham, with all its appendages - a right royal gift.
And he was further pleased to command that the town should henceforth be called Abendon, after the place whereon the abbey then stood.
This is the statement of a monkish writer of the thirteenth century, but it is probably, in part at least, fabulous.
The name most likely arose, as Camden suggests, from its connexion with the abbey: Abbendon signifying the abbey-town.
During the reign of Ethelwulf, the brother and predecessor of the great Alfred, and in the early part of Alfred's own reign, the Danes overran and ravaged the larger part of Berkshire.
The monastery of Abingdon was destroyed by them, but it was Alfred himself who completed the ruin of the poor monks, by taking from them their town and all their estates, as a punishment for not having resisted the enemy with sufficient zeal.
His grandson Edred gave the ruined abbey to Ethelwold - known by his contemporaries as the "father of monks," and by posterity as Saint Ethelwold - who was then a monk at Glastonbury.
Ethelwold, with a few of his brethren, removed to Abingdon, and immediately set about the erection of a much larger abbey, of which the king laid the first stone.
In the Abbey Register preserved in the Monasticon, it is recorded that Ethelwold deposited in the new edifice two bells made with his own hands; and two other larger ones, the workmanship of a still more famous saint and handicraft - his teacher in the mystery of bell-casting - the renowned St. Dunstan, were presented by that saint, who was also present at the consecration of the abbey.
The abbey was completed early in the next reign by Ordgar, the successor of Ethelwold, who had been transferred to the bishopric of Winchester.
The munificence of subsequent benefactors raised it to the foremost rank of the monastic institutions of the kingdom, both in honour and wealth.
It was made one of the mitred abbeys, and at the suppression of the monasteries its annual income was about £2000.
Leland, whose Survey, it will be recollected, was made soon after the suppression, describes the monastery as a magnificent pile of buildings; and Camden speaks of the ruins as exhibiting, in his time, evident marks of its former grandeur.
Besides what has been mentioned, there does not appear to have been much of importance in its history.
In 1326 it was plundered in a tumult by the townsmen, who were assisted by the commonalty of Oxford and the students of the University.
The loss to the abbey is estimated in one old record at ten, and in another at forty thousand pounds.
Several lives were lost in the tumult, and twelve of the townsmen were hanged afterwards.
Holinshed states that Engelwinus, bishop of Durham, was imprisoned in the abbey, and, finally, starved to death there in 1073.
According to Godwin, Geoffrey of Monmouth, the chronicler, was some time abbot of Abingdon, where he was buried.
St. Edward, king and martyr, is also said to have been interred at Abingdon.
William the Conqueror spent his Easter at Abingdon in 1084, and at his departure left his younger son to be educated at the convent.
That the monks did their duty by him appears evident from the fame he acquired by his learning, which was so unusual in amount for a prince then, that he was called Beauclerc on account of it.
When Heane became abbot of the original monastery, his sister established a nunnery close by, but it was afterwards removed to Witham, in this county.

Abbey Gateway by St Nicholas Church Abingdon from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Abbey Gateway by St Nicholas Church Abingdon from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

Very little remains of the abbey now.
The abbey church is quite gone.
Some of the rooms belonging to the monastery are in existence, - one of them contains an ancient fire-place, with slender pillars on each side, of the time of Henry III.
Besides these, the gateway by St. Nicholas church, represented in the engraving, is the only portion left.
It is a graceful structure, though in very indifferent preservation; and is now used as a police station.
During the great Civil War Abingdon played a somewhat important part in the contest.
Both parties attached importance to the possession of it, and in the large collection of pamphlets in the British Museum belonging to this period are several relating to Abingdon.
Charles at the outset established the head-quarters of his horse at Abingdon, and in the early part of 1644 carried his queen there.
In that year it was taken by the army of the Parliament: the Royalists made several unsuccessful attempts to retake it - its proximity to Oxford making it most desirable to dispossess the Commonwealth soldiers of it, if possible.
Waller's army plundered the town and greatly injured its buildings, and entirely destroyed its fine old cross.
Now the most noticeable edifices it contains are its two churches - though there are some others worth looking at.
The oldest church is the smaller of the two; it stands near the abbey-gate, and is dedicated to St. Nicholas.
Its erection has been attributed to Abbot Nicholas de Colchan, about the year 1300; but he probably only rebuilt and altered it, as parts of it are evidently of an older date.
The lower part is Norman, and there are traces of Norman arches where others of a somewhat later period have been inserted in their places.
It is a plain church, and presents no very remarkable feature either externally or internally.
In one of the windows are the arms of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York; there are also a few monuments, but none of interest.
St. Helen's church, near the river, is a much larger structure, and has been a very handsome one.
It was erected between the early part of the fourteenth and the end of the fifteenth centuries; and consists of a spacious chancel and nave, with two aisles on each side, and has a lofty and elegant spire.
Few churches perhaps have undergone more disfiguration, especially in the interior, than this.
Galleries have been erected and additions made, without any regard to the original design.
The whole of the body of the church has been filled with very tall and very ugly pews.
Of the large and noble windows some have been altered and others stopped up - the splendid east window, for instance, to accommodate a "classic" altarpiece.
The old Gothic pillars have been decorated with a gay colouring, to make them resemble housepainters' marble, and almost every imaginable kind of finery has been substituted for the solemn grandeur of the original.
It would be useless therefore to attempt to describe the interior: I shall only mention that, besides the arches and main parts of the edifice, much tracery can be made out in spite of the whitewash, and some fragments of the roof uncovered by plaster, are left worthy of notice.
In the Lady's aisle, or chancel of our Lady, as it is called, is a portion of a very beautiful carved wooden roof, having painted in the panels figures of prophets and saints, with their names under them, and having richly carved canopies over their heads.
Tradition reports it to be a fragment of the old abbey roof, but it was no doubt constructed for its present situation.
In a gallery in this aisle is a portrait of Mr. Wm. Lee, accompanied by a genealogical chart, and an inscription which states that he died in 1637, "having been fifty-three years one of the principal burgesses, and five times mayor of Abingdon, and had in his lifetime issue from his loins two hundred lacking but three."
It must be admitted that this is a goodly progeny for a man to live to reckon, but it is quite insignificant in comparison of that of Lady Temple, who, according to Dr. Plot, "before she died saw seven hundred descended from her!"
Abingdon appears to have always had an unusually charitable population, and some of the most prominent, if not the handsomest, of its buildings are appropriated to the use of the decayed inhabitants.
At a very early period a brotherhood was established here, who, having erected a cross in the church of St. Helen, called themselves the Brethren of the Holy Cross.
As early as 1389 they maintained a priest, and had two proctors chosen annually to manage their affairs, and it was mainly by their efforts that the two bridges of Burford [i.e. Abingdon Bridge] and Culhamford [i.e. the old Culham Bridge over the end of the Swift Ditch] were constructed, which proved of so great advantage to the town.
The brethren were incorporated by royal charter in 1442, and empowered to possess lands to the annual value of £40 for the purpose of keeping the roads between Dorchester and Abingdon in repair; and for the maintenance of thirteen poor men and women, and a chaplain to officiate in the church of St. Helen's.
Seven commissioners were appointed to the oversight of the fraternity, of whom Thomas Chaucer, the son of the poet, was one.
It was about this time that they erected the beautiful cross which formerly stood in the market-place, and which Sir Edward Walker, in his " Historical Discourses," calls "the greatest ornament of the place, being a goodly piece for beauty and antiquity."
Richard Symons, an officer in the army of Charles I., describes it as octagonal, and adorned with three rows of statues of kings, saints, and bishops.
He was at Abingdon in May, 1644, soon after which the soldiers of Waller, on taking possession of the town, destroyed the cross.
The more famous cross at Coventry is said to have been imitated from this.
No relic is left of it, but there is an old representation of it painted on the east end of Christ's Hospital.
To return to our "Brethren."
In 1457 they appointed two priests, at a salary of £6. 13s. 4d. each: one of them was called the "rood priest," his duty being to pray for benefactors to the rood; and the other the "bridge priest," it being his duty to pray for the benefactors to the bridges and roads.
At this time it was the custom of the fraternity "to give a very bountiful feast," providing plenty of victuals, twelve priests to sing a dirge, twelve minstrels to make the company merry, together with solemn processions, pageants, plays, May games, &c.
But the feast was not quite given, for "those who sat at dinner paid one rate, and those that for want of room did stand, another."
The guild was dissolved along with the other religious establishments in the reign of Henry VIII.: but Edward VI., at the request of Sir John Mason, a native of the town, and a great benefactor to it, granted a new charter in 1553 to some of the principal inhabitants, incorporating them by the name of the governors of Christ's Hospital.
There have been many changes in it since then, but it will suffice to mention its present state.
In the old hospital there are fourteen poor persons maintained; and in a new building erected out of the hospital funds in 1718 eighteen persons are maintained, but their privileges are somewhat inferior to those on the old foundation.
The old building is a curious brick and timber structure, with cloisters; and on the front of it are several rude paintings of figures and allegorical devices, with inscriptions enforcing the duty of alms-giving.
Both these buildings are in St. Helen's churchyard: where also are two others devoted to the same purpose, in one of which, also rebuilt out of the funds of Christ's Hospital, six poor men and their wives are supported; and in the other, founded in 1707, by Mr. Twitty, who gave £1700 to build and endow an almshouse, three poor persons of both sexes are supported.
In another part of the town is an ancient hospital, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, in which four men and their wives are maintained.
The other buildings in Abingdon are the market-place and town-hall, and a rather handsome bridge over the Thames.
Abingdon has produced a few persons of eminence.
Abbot, the speaker of the House of Commons, and Moore, the author of "The Gamester,' are among the most celebrated of its natives of late years.
It is to be regretted that no history of the town has been written.
It would afford sufficient matter for a very interesting one, and would be a pleasant and praiseworthy employment for an inhabitant who is fortunate enough to possess the necessary leisure and information.
Our river flows onwards through cultivated meadows, but for some distance the banks are flat, and no object presents itself that calls for notice.

Culham, Sutton Courtenay, Clifton Hampden, Burcot

Just before reaching Culham a range of low hills terminates by the river, and we see the tower of Sutton-Courtnay rising from among the trees, and presently the scattered roofs of the village; while on the higher ground, on the opposite side of the river, is seen the little rustic church of Culham.
But there is nothing in these places that need detain us, nor in one or two other villages that we pass soon afterwards.
The picturesque situation of Clifton church will not, however, pass unnoticed by the rambler.
It stands on the edge of a cliff that rises up almost perpendicularly from the water, and from the road that leads down to the ferry at its base.
The church is small, and quite new, having replaced one of much ruder appearance: the design is a very pretty one, and very suitable to the situation - a point seldom attended to in these new churches, and as seldom neglected in the old ones.
Between Clifton and Little Wittenham, some three or four miles, the fields on either side are undisturbed by any human habitation, except perhaps an outlying farm-house or two about the hamlet of Burcot.

Little Wittenham, Days Lock

There occurs, however, many a pleasant secluded spot that will tempt the feet of the rambler to linger awhile.
As we approach Wittenham its church is a prominent object, and on the other side that of Dorchester is even more so.
Near Little Wittenham is one of those characteristic "bits" of river scenery that landscape painters so delight to meet with, and to depict.
It is called Day's Lock, and should not be overlooked.
An island in the midst of the river is taken advantage of to form the lock, and is connected by rude bridges with the opposite banks.
Beyond is the rustic church, with a few straggling roofs of the village, and these are backed by rich woods, which shut in the distance.

The River Thame

A mile below Day's Lock our river receives the Thame, from its confluence with which, according to the popular account, it takes the name of Thames.
The Thame rises at Stewkley, in Buckinghamshire, through which county it runs for eighteen miles; it then enters Oxfordshire by the town of Thame, where it becomes navigable; in its after course, which is very winding, it passes by no place of importance till it reaches Dorchester, near which it falls into the Thames.
Its entire length is about thirty-nine miles.
Dorchester lies between the two rivers, but it is too important a place to notice in the present chapter.



When men travelled by coaches in England, such of them as passed between Oxford and London by the Henley road, would most likely stay to change horses at a little plain town about nine miles from the learned city.
Then it was a place of small note, and the business transacted in it depended a good deal upon its situation in a main line of traffic.
That source of profit is lost now, and the little town is quieter than ever; its shops duller, its inhabitants idler.
The inns that looked so flourishing once, are now decayed or decaying.
Its occupation is gone.
A stray rambler would stroll listlessly through it, with the kind of regret that is always excited by looking on an evil that cannot be remedied.
If, however, when he reached the bridge at the end of the street he turned aside to look at the church, he would feel that in the story of the town, insignificant as it had appeared to him, there must be something interesting.
Beautiful as the village churches in the western counties often are, this one is so striking from its size and general appearance being so disproportioned to the place to which it belongs, that however apathetic our rambler might be, he could scarcely fail to inquire about it.
Dorchester was a place of importance in the earliest periods of English history.
By the Britons it was called Cair Dauri: that is, according to Leland, the City on the Water; its site being near the junction of the Thame with the Isis.
It was a station of some consequence with the Romans, who called it Durocina.
Many Roman remains and some British have been found here ; a Roman altar of stone was dug up a few years back; and numerous coins have at different times been discovered.
A circular field at a short distance on the south of the town is thought to have been a Roman amphitheatre; and there is a military earthwork, supposed to have been formed by the same people in order to command the passage of the two rivers.
It consists of mounds, and a fosse, which is now dry, except in winter or after prolonged wet weather.
But it is with the Saxons that the interest of Dorchester commences.
In their times this now unimportant town was the seat of the largest bishopric in England.
I must tell the story of its foundation.
Somewhat more than twelve hundred years ago, there was in the monastery of St. Andrew at Rome a monk of the order of St. Benedict, a bold and virtuous man, and full of zeal for the propagation of the faith he professed.
About thirty years before, St. Augustine had gone from the holy city into Britain to endeavour to effect the conversion of its inhabitants, and great had been the success of his labours.
Moved by the reports thereof, and by the number of places said to be still unvisited by those who had followed that great man, Birinus resolved to devote himself to the office of a missionary, and begged the assent of the Pope to his enterprise; offering to go to the inmost parts of the island, where none had hitherto penetrated, on this errand of mercy.
Honorius I., then pontiff, encouraged him in his purpose, and he at once set out-not without a miracle, say his biographers.
For finding, after he had embarked, that he had left one of his sacred utensils behind, and knowing that it would be useless, as the wind was fair, to ask the seamen to put back, he boldly stepped forth from the vessel and hastened along the sea, which bore him as though it had been solid ground.
Having recovered his pallia, he returned and over took the ship, to the great edification of the sailors.
After this it was not likely that he would be drowned: and it is hardly necessary to add that he landed in safety (A.D. 634) in the kingdom of the West Saxons.
His purpose was to pass beyond their territory; but finding how entirely ignorant they were, he spent a year in traversing the province.
When he came to Dorchester, he found there Cynegil, the king, whom, after instructing, he baptized.
Oswald, King of the Northumbrians, who was then at Dorchester, acted the part of godfather to Cynegil, whose daughter he afterwards married.
Upon Birinus the king conferred the city of Dorchester as his see; it being the first bishopric, as Birinus was the first bishop created in these parts.
The king's appointment was duly ratified by the pontiff, and Birinus erected an episcopal church, probably of wood.
Here he resided for fourteen years, actively engaged, not alone in settling and ruling his diocese, but also in converting and baptizing the heathen in the surrounding parts, gaining for himself the reputation of a saint and the title of an apostle.
He died in 650, and was buried in his own church ; but in 677 Hidda, one of his successors, removed his body to the new church of Winchester; though, according to Robert of Gloucester, "the canons of Dorchester say Nay, and say that it was another body than St. Birinus that was so translated."
Be that as it may, Birinus was canonized, and was held in such reputation that the people raised a shrine to him, at which they made their addresses for the preservation and cure of their cattle from disease, and many miracles were effected before it.
Nor was his fame entirely local.
"In the 'Sarum Processionale', in the litany appointed to be sung on the sixth Feria (Friday) in the second week in Lent, in the bede roll of the saints he is ordered to be invoked: "Sancte Birine, ora pro nobis." (Skelton's "Oxford.")
Dorchester declined with the Saxon dynasty.
It appears to have suffered from the ravages of the Danes, who several times overran and plundered these parts.
In 662 Winchester was separated from the diocese, and formed into a distinct bishopric; afterwards the sees of Salisbury, Exeter, Bath and Wells, Lichfield, Worcester, and Hereford were taken from it, yet it is said to have been even then the largest in the kingdom; while the town maintained a distinguished rank among the cities of England, Henry of Huntingdon placing it fourteenth in his list of twenty-eight British cities.
Dorchester received the first bishop appointed by William the Conqueror, Remigius, a Norman.
At this time the town appears to have been decaying ; and in the next reign (1092) the see was removed to Lincoln.
Henry of Huntingdon informs us that the town was at this period ill-peopled and small, but the majesty of the churches was great.
Camden says there were once three parish churches in Dorchester, and Leland has informed us of their positions.
"There was a parish church a little by south from the abbey church, and another parish church more south above it.
Then there was the third parish church by south-west."
The town was originally walled; and according to Camden, a castle once stood on the south side of the church, but there were "not the least traces" of it in his time.
In 1140, Alexander, the third bishop of Lincoln, founded a priory of black canons here, twelve churches in this county being appropriated to its support.
Its situation was almost contiguous to the present church, and some portions of the walls yet remain; a part of them may be seen in the grammar-school near the church; and a larger portion somewhat northward of it forms a large quadrangle; these walls are very massive, and serve as the foundation for an extensive range of wooden barns which enclose a farm-yard, apparently of the same size as was the original quadrangle.

Dorchester Church

Dorchester Church from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Dorchester Church from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

The church was a part of the ancient priory; and was most likely raised on the site of the original church of Birinus.
The date of its erection cannot be precisely fixed; part of it is Norman, but the greater part probably belongs to the end of the thirteenth century, while some of the windows are much later.
It is of large size and lofty, but of unusual length in proportion to its breadth; its dimensions being: interior length, one hundred and eighty-six feet (exclusive of the tower); width, sixty-nine feet; height, forty feet.
It consists of a nave and chancel with north and south aisles.
Externally, its appearance is striking and picturesque; but it is more picturesque in parts than as a whole.
The south-west angle, with its ornamented buttress, the porch and cross, with the yew by which it stands; and the south-east angle, with the noble chancel windows, for example, afford very beautiful and pleasing combinations.
The interior is far more interesting than the exterior.
Only a portion of it is now employed for divine service, the rest, parted off by the filling up of the large arches, being used as lumber-rooms.
The chancel is of unusually large proportions, and by far the most imposing portion of the edifice; its lofty and hand some pillars and arches, its curious but magnificent windows, imparting to it an air of uncommon grandeur.
Three of these windows deserve particular notice - the great east window; that on the south; and the north, or Jesse window, so called from the stone framework of it being a genealogical tree springing from the loins of Jesse, and the whole representing the genealogy of the Saviour.
"The east window is a remarkably fine specimen of late Decorated, and is singular in its design.
It is not, as is usual, divided by mullions into lights as far as the springing of the arch, but is filled with tracery almost its whole length, that in the head being intersecting, and that below flowing alternately with the upright mullion.
It has up its centre on the exterior a buttress, and in the interior a solid piece of masonry, which gives it in its present state the appearance of being two separate windows; but originally these were united by a large circle in the head, no doubt filled with tracery, and forming together one magnificent window.
A great part of this window is filled with stained glass, which has evidently been brought from some other window, most probably from the one which was removed when this part was added." (Addington, Hist. of Dorchester Church.)
The window on the south is somewhat similar in appearance, but has more the character of the Perpendicular style.
It is divided by a transom, on which, at the junction of the mullions, are small sculptured figures representing a procession, with a bishop, &c.
Beneath the window are four carved and decorated sedilia, under the canopies of which are small openings containing stained glass of a very ancient date, having probably belonged to the original Norman east window.
The figures on this glass, as well as those sculptured on the framework of the window above, are supposed to have reference to the history of Birinus.
"Opposite to this, on the north side, is the celebrated Jesse window.
It is a window of four lights with intersecting tracery in the head.
The centre mullion represents the trunk of a tree, its branches crossing over the intermediate mullions as far as the jambs.
In the centre, at the base of the window, is sculptured the recumbent figure of Jesse, and from his body rises the tree.
The branches are ornamented with foliage their whole length, and with a figure sculptured at each intersection of a mullion; that of David occupying the lower angle on the east side.
Some of them are male, some female, several are crowned, and some have wings, and all seem originally to have had their names painted on the labels, which they in general hold in their hands.
On the upper part of the centre mullion, representing the tree, has been apparently a figure of the Saviour, and at the base of it appears to have been a figure of the Virgin, crowned; but both these have been wilfully mutilated.
The tree terminates in a large finial formed of leaves.
The label is ornamented with foliage, and the head of this, as well as of the other two windows, has two rows of ball-flowers." (Addington.)
This Jesse window, which is probably unique, has often been engraved.
Having very recently carefully examined the church, I have no hesitation in saying with its historian, that, "if restored to its original design, there are few buildings which could excel this chancel."
The rest of the church need not detain us long.
The nave and aisles are fine and interesting.
The aisles are of different periods, but both beautiful; the south aisle, which is the most recent and the finest, is separated from the chancel by a rather handsome wooden screen.
At the east end of this aisle is a large altar platform still perfect; on the wall above it are some remains of a fresco painting, the head of the Virgin, or a female saint, very fairly executed, being quite distinct.
Throughout the church, on the walls, the carvings of the sedilia, the monuments, &c., traces of painting are discernible.
The north aisle contains a portion of the original timber roof, which is elsewhere removed or covered by a plaster ceiling.
In the interior are many monuments that will repay examination; very few of them, however, are in anything like a perfect state.
In the chancel are two recumbent statues: one, carved in alabaster, is of a cross-legged knight, clad in ring-mail, and is supposed to represent one Holcum ; the other, in freestone, is the effigy of John de Stonore, a judge of considerable repute during the reigns of the Second and Third Edwards.
There are in various parts of the church slabs on which have been brasses of bishops and others, but the brasses have nearly all been removed; one, however, remains perfect - the effigy of Abbot Bewforeste in his robes and with his insignia; on the end of the adjoining stall-desk his name and crozier are also carved.
In the south aisle is placed the statue of a bishop, which was dug up a few years since from under the floor.
There are also two stone coffins, one of which was found before Camden's time, the other much more recently.
There is also preserved here a Saxon or Norman font, considered by Gough and Stukeley to be the oldest in England; but that may fairly be questioned.
The bowl of it is of cast lead, and of large size, its internal diameter being one foot ten inches and a half; outside, two feet two inches; depth inside, one foot.
It was intended for baptizing the child by immersion, as is still done in it at the pleasure of the parents.
Around the outside of it are eleven figures seated under semicircular arches, and each holding a book.
By some they are supposed to represent the apostles (Judas being omitted); by others, to relate to the adventures of St. Birinus.
The pedestal is of stone, and much more modern, though probably it is as old as the fifteenth century.
The church, as has been said, belonged to the priory.
On the dissolution of the religious establishments, the body of the church appears to have been retained for parochial use, but Richard Beauforest, whom Leland calls "a great rich man dwelling in the town of Dorchester," purchased the chancel, which had been condemned, for the sum of £140, and at his death bequeathed it, and all that he had bought which belonged to it, to the parish, and also 20s. for its reparation.
During the Civil War it greatly suffered, and much damage was done to the sculpture about it by the Commonwealth soldiers.
Far greater, however, has been the injury it has since undergone.
Windows have been stopped up ; arches filled with plaster; carvings hewn down to make way for wooden wainscoting ; roofs covered up or removed ; and the whole inside has been daubed over times innumerable with coarse coats of whitewash - to say nothing of the infliction of tall pews, or sundry coats of paint on the wooden carved work.
A better feeling is abroad now, and an effort is being made thoroughly to repair and restore this noble old pile.
The Oxford Architectural Society have zealously set about the undertaking.
They have had the church carefully surveyed, and estimate that the whole may be accomplished for £4000 - a sum that certainly appears scarcely adequate for such a restoration as they contemplate.
Meanwhile, they have raised funds sufficient to restore the chancel; and they earnestly appeal to all interested in the preservation of our ecclesiastical architecture to aid them in completing their task.

I have dwelt much longer on this and one or two other old churches than I intended, and have gone into details beyond the limits I proposed - we shall not, however, meet with any more that will detain us.
And now, at parting with the subject, let me say a few words on these churches and church restorations.
I at once acknowledge that I am desirous to induce the rambler who has not been used to heed these village churches, to pay some attention to them, and to interest him in their preservation, or, if needful, restoration.
He who neglects them, neglects some of the most interesting and often instructive objects in his journey.
Our old churches are among the noblest relics we possess of the piety and the skill of our ancestors.
Many of them are, both in the general design and in the details, of exquisite beauty, while others are of the highest grandeur.
That these glorious monuments of our forefathers' genius should be preserved, and, where they have been injured by time, or ignorant or foolish men, that they should be as far as possible restored in all essential particulars to their original state, is what I think every Englishman ought to desire.
It has, indeed, been strangely said that those who are desiring to "restore churches" are seeking thereby "to restore popery."
A strange thing if true, and the method they adopt an unlikely one!
If there be such, their number is assuredly very small.
I have no sympathy with those who would restore mere trivialities, mere archaisms; and I think it a manifest wrong to reproduce in a Protestant church what is essentially unconnected with Protestant worship: - and it must be confessed that there are some restorers who display a nervous anxiety for these things.
This is not the ancient spirit.
The men who originally constructed these glorious edifices would have been the last to insert what only belonged to a state of things that had passed away.
The objects in question had a real use when the churches were raised; but they were destroyed by the Reformers, as adverse to Protestantism, and they ought not to be reintroduced - especially as mere ornaments - in a Protestant church.
Where they remain, they ought not, of course, to be destroyed, as they are harmless now; but to reintroduce them where they are not, if there be no end which they are to subserve, is more puerility; and if there be an end, and it is one which the Church does not sanction, it is something far worse.

Shillingford Bridge and Ewelme

The four or five miles between Dorchester and Wallingford have nothing to call for particular notice; but on arriving at Shillingford bridge it would be well to diverge two or three miles to the left to Ewelme, for the sake of its unusually rich store of antiquities.
The church is a remarkably fine one of the fifteenth century, and contains some monuments of more than common celebrity - one of them being that of the Duchess of Suffolk mentioned in the notice of Stanton-Harcourt; while another, of Sir Thomas Chaucer, is remarkable for its heraldic quarterings.
There are also some architectural remains in the parish; and the situation and the neighbourhood are pleasing.


Wallingford is a very neat, respectable, prim-look ing country-town of nearly eight thousand souls; it has clean streets, some good houses, capital inns: also a well-attended market, and - unfortunately for its morality - the privilege of sending one member to the Imperial Parliament.
The town can boast both of its antiquity and ancient importance.
It is believed to have been the Roman town of Tamesis, and is known to have been a considerable place in Saxon times.
It was destroyed by the Danes in A.D. 1006.
In the castle of Wallingford, which then belonged to a Saxon, named Wigod, William I., before proceeding to London after the battle of Hastings, received the homage of Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, and several other of the principal spiritual and temporal lords.
The daughter of Wigod married Robert D'Oyley, a Norman baron, who built himself a castle at Wallingford, but whether on the site of the old one is not known.
D'Oyley's castle was of prodigious strength; and during the long struggle between Stephen and Matilda, being held for the empress queen by its owner Brien Fitz-Count, who had succeeded to it by marriage with the daughter of D'Oyley, was several times besieged by the king in person, but without success.
It was to Wallingford Castle that Matilda fled on her escape from Oxford Castle over the snow: and it was at Wallingford that the treaty was entered into by which this miserable contest was terminated.
When Henry, in 1153, came from the Continent to continue the quarrel from which his mother had retired, his army and that of Stephen met at Wallingford.
The armies encamped on opposite sides of the river, and lay watching each other for two days and nights, being prevented from an engagement by the sudden swelling of the water.
During this space the nobles on each side sought to bring about an accommodation; and the Earl of Arundel at length ventured to say publicly that "it was not reasonable to prolong the calamities of a whole nation, on account of the ambition of two princes."
The two princes were induced by the general feeling to enter into a conference across a narrow part of the river, at which they agreed to a truce with a view to the settlement of a peace.
The peace, as is well known, was afterwards concluded at a solemn council of the kingdom held at Winchester, when it was determined that Stephen should retain the crown during his life, and that Henry should be adopted by him as his successor.
The castle endured many sieges in succeeding reigns.
It was last garrisoned for Charles in the great Civil War; and it held out till near the end of the war, when it was taken by Fairfax and demolished.
Only a fragment of the walls is left.
The town was once of large size and walled.
It is said to have at one time contained fourteen churches.
There are only three now, and there is nothing remarkable in their appearance - unless indeed it be that of St. Peter's, by the river, which has a very remarkably odd and ugly spire.
This spire was not designed by any of the Gothic builders of the dark ages, but was raised in that age of enlightenment and refined taste the eighteenth century, and its designer was Sir William Black stone, the author of the 'Commentaries' - at least he paid for its erection, and by its appearance we may guess that he designed it.
Sir William was a considerable benefactor to the town, which he represented in Parliament.
Within the castle was a collegiate establishment, consisting of a dean and prebendaries; and connected with it was a school for the instruction of singing-boys, in which Tusser, the author of "Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry,' was educated, as he records in the curious piece entitled "The Author's Life", prefixed to the black letter edition of his works.
He was not born at Wallingford, and its singing-school was probably in great repute, from his being sent so far to it.
He says:-

It came to pass, that born I was
Of linage good and gentle blood,
In Essex laier, in village faier,
That Rivenhall hight:
Which village lide, by Bancktree side,
There spend did I mine infancie.

But, from this he was torn, and neither his lamentations nor "the tears that fall

From mother's eies, when child out cries,
To part hir fro, Could pitie make good father take,
But out I must to song be thrust;
Say what I would, doo what I could, His mind was so.

Wallingford, whither he was sent, soon showed him what he calls the "quirasters miserie."
He thus describes his condition there:

O painful time, for every crime
What toosed eares! like baited beares!
What bobbed lips! what yerks, what nips!
What hellish toies!
What robes how bare! what colledge fare!
What bred how stale! what pennie ale!
Then Wallingford, how wert thou abhor'd
Of sillie boies!


One of the many advantages of following the course of a river is, that we are thereby not only brought to see a continuous variety of objects, but are led into connexion and companionship with them.
In the rapid whirl of modern travelling men visit many places, and learn to despise them all.
Time enough is not allotted to any one to see it thoroughly, and of consequence to estimate it aright; hence a cold flippancy, a morbid acuteness of spirit is induced, which

Makes the eye blind, and shuts the passages
Through which the ear converses with the heart.

There is seen in everything chiefly what is ludicrous, or incongruous, or absurd; and thus everything, as much what has heretofore been regarded as most deserving of reverence or admiration, as what is vile and despicable, has come to be alike named only with a scoff, or made the subject of heartless mockery.
Our travellers have come not only to admire nothing, but to scorn everything.
It appears to be the spirit of the age.
But the rambler who plods slowly along the many windings of a river is saved from much of this.
He sees but few things comparatively, but those he learns to greet with a blithe welcome, and to gather what benefit he can from the acquaintanceship ; he does not despise them because they are not what he would have them to be, but cherishes them for what they are; and, observant of all things, draws something of instruction and delight from all.
His river, as he follows it from its source to the ocean, leads him through many of the gentler and the grander scenes of nature, and the solitary and the crowded abodes of man.
He passes the peaceful homestead, the lonely battle-field, the weather-beaten monument of forgotten rites, the little village church, and the glorious cathedral whereon man appears to have lavished a sublimity of genius worthy of a more exalted race of beings.
He roams unshackled by care for coach or train, and hastens or lingers as he pleases along the flowery meadows and public ways; through the populous city, with its places of pride, its men of resolute enterprise, its grandeur, its wretchedness, and its guilt; the busy manufacturing district, with its industry, its wealth, and its squalor; the quiet street of the rural village, and the dull stateliness of the country market town ; and seeing in all good and evil, - he opens his heart to the teaching of each of them, learns to love and to reverence Nature alike in her lowliness and her majesty, and to feel an honest regard for the dwellings and the occupations of man; to sympathize in his joys and his sorrows, his struggles and his fears, whether he be a denizen of the rude hamlet, the solitary hut, or the crowded capital.
Of the enjoyments of the river-side rambler not the least is that which he feels when he gets away from town or city, to wander by it along some green secluded valley and there hold converse with Nature and with his own heart ; while for a brief space the busy working-world, with all its cares and its duties, is to him as a distant thing.
Some such a scene of tranquil loveliness is now before us.
Our river, though it yields many of higher fame, and many of greater grandeur, has not along its banks a more enjoyable ramble, for one who is willing to enjoy the simple charms of Nature, than that which will employ us till -

Ere the stars are visible, we reach
The village-inn, our evening resting-place.

Crowmarsh, Newnham-Murren, Winterbrook and Mongewell

On leaving Wallingford it will be best to cross the bridge, and take the path through the meadows, which, being speckled with lofty elms, have for some distance a park-like appearance.
There are several little villages and hamlets about here, but none of much mark.
Crowmarsh, at the foot of Wallingford bridge, has a small Norman church that is worth looking at.
Newnham-Murren on the left, and Winterbrook on the right of the river, require no notice here.
Mongewell, which is next reached, will attract attention from the mansion and fine grounds which adorn it.
The chapel is a very plain rude edifice, with long sloping roofs, and beside it stand two noble guardian elms.
The village has retained its name unaltered since the Domesday Survey, when it belonged to one Roger de Laci, and was worth £14.
From Mongewell, stretching for above two miles in the direction of Nuffield, there is a remarkable raised road, or ridge-way; as it approaches Nuffield its bank is double, with a deep trench between.
In books and maps it is called Grimes' Dyke, but by the country people the Devil's Ditch.
For a short distance beyond Mongewell the banks of the river are not very beautiful, but the country on each side is agreeable, and the wide-spread chalk downs which now rise into full view before us, clad in the soft light of the morning sun, present a new feature in the landscape; while, if we choose to follow any of the narrow footpaths which at every hundred yards come temptingly in our way, we shall be led to some snug sheltered nook at a little distance from the stream, in which lies a cluster of straw-covered cottages embowered among fruit-trees, with a patch of flower-garden in front, a stand of bee-hives on one side, and surrounded with a protecting hedge of thorn or privet, looking many of them the very ideal of the abodes of humble industry.

North Stoke, Cholsey

As we proceed onwards, North Stoke, with its church and ferry, and little inn close beside the river, makes a pretty picture.
Cholsey, which lies a short way from the opposite bank, is a wilder-looking place, and worth a visit.
It once contained a monastery, which was founded by Ethelred abott 986, as an atonement for the murder of his brother Edward the Martyr; it is believed to have been entirely destroyed by the Danes.
Henry I. gave the manor to the Abbey of Reading, and the monks built for themselves a handsome mansion wherein to recruit their health, or enliven by change of scene the tedium of their daily routine of duties and ceremonies.
The most remarkable thing the place has now to show is a very ancient and singular barn, built of stone, and said to be one of the largest in England.
The church contains some portions of Anglo-Saxon architecture.

Moulsford railway Bridge [1839]

And here for the first time we come upon the main line of the Great Western Railway, but which we shall see many times again.
What ever it may be hereafter, here it is no injury to the appearance of the country: the bridge which spans the river is indeed a very considerable ornament to it; it is a skew-bridge of four arches, and, like almost all the bridges and viaducts on this railway, is of bold form and very handsome proportions.

Moulsford and South Stoke

Now we are fairly away from the towns; and the villages hereabout are as good samples of thoroughly countryfied out-of-the-way places as one would wish to meet with ; but they are quite polished to what they were some fifteen years ago, when the railway was not, and visitors were almost unknown.
Moulsford, which lies close by the river, has a little rustic church, with a farm-house beside it, half hidden among trees; about the banks are a great many fine trees, between which we catch glimpses of the distant downs.
Opposite to it is South Stoke, from whence to Goring there is a delightful walk along the brow of the hill that overhangs the river.

Cleeve Lock

The whole way affords a series of beautiful prospects; but that over Clive mill, as we approach Goring, is particularly fine.
The river expands to a great width, so as to enclose a large island, or rather a chain of islands, which occupies the centre of it, and is clothed with goodly trees.
On the right of the island is a lock, on the left are the mill and weir, and beyond is the grim old tower of Goring church rising from the light vapoury smoke of the little village.
A few houses of different forms and sizes are scattered irregularly along the left bank; a glimpse is caught of the village of Streatley on the opposite bank, and the lofty Berkshire downs close in the distance, while all the nearer objects are repeated in the clear water.
As you descend the hill, the view is more circumscribed, but still very pleasing.
The chalk cliffs, which are formed by the downs, now become important objects in the landscape, and continue to be so for some distance.


Goring is chiefly worthy of notice for the beauty of its situation, but is not without other interest.
A small priory of Augustine nuns existed here in the time of Henry II., and some vestiges of the building may still be seen at the west end of the church.
The church itself is a very curious edifice.
Originally it consisted of only one lofty aisle without a chancel, but a north aisle was afterwards added, and at subsequent periods porches and other projections were stuck on.
The original aisle is Norman, as is also the lower part of the massive tower; the north aisle is of the Pointed order; the other parts have been added as convenience dictated, and are of indescribable fashions: altogether it has a singularly picturesque appearance.
In the interior there are several brasses and monuments that will repay inspection.


Streatley, on the opposite side of the river, is even more beautifully situated than Goring, but there is not much beside the situation that is noticeable.
It is said to owe its name to its position by Icknield Street, which here entered Berkshire from Oxfordshire, the river being crossed by a ford.
Streatley once contained a convent of Dominicans.


All the way between Goring and Reading the river continues to present a succession of beautiful and various prospects.
Basilden, the first place we arrive at, though now a mere village, once had a weekly market, and contained two churches. The church which remains is prettily placed by the river.
Basilden Park is well wooded, and the mansion which stands in the midst of it is a large and stately edifice.
The fine hanging-wood is a great ornament to our river.

Whitchurch and Pangbourne

The villages of Whitchurch and Pangbourne, which are situated a little below Basilden, and on opposite sides of the river, but united by a wooden bridge, will either of them afford a convenient resting-place to one who wishes to examine this part of the country somewhat at leisure.
At both comfortable accommodation may be found, but Pangbourne has the better inns, and from being a station of the Great Western Railway, is perhaps the most convenient, but it is the noisier.
Either is in every way preferable to Reading: and there is really sufficient to repay any one who would put up here for a few days.
Pangbourne has not much in itself to show, and Whitchurch has less; and as it is not worth while repeating of them what has been already said of so many other villages, let us leave them and look at the neighbourhood.
As we are, however, to make Pangbourne our halting-place, we may as well first see what is to be seen along the river for the few miles between it and Reading, and then return.


In the three miles below Pangbourne the river makes a long reach, departing little from a direct line, but it has a fine bold appearance, towards which the majestic woods of Hardwick, which are directly in front, greatly contribute.
Hardwick House is a very fine specimen of a manor house of the Tudor period.
It is of dark red brick, and has the pointed gables and clustered chimneys so characteristic of the mansions of that time.
Seen from the opposite side of the river, with the fine woods behind it, it looks very striking; and it will repay a close examination.


But a mile or so beyond Hardwick, also on the Oxfordshire side, is another and far more magnificent manor house; indeed there are few in any part of England that are finer of the kind than that of Maple Durham, and few are in finer preservation.
It has belonged ever since its erection to the family of the Blounts, who seem to have always retained an hereditary affection for the old mansion.
It is a glorious combination of bays and oriels, projecting wings with pointed gables, tall roofs, decorated chimney shafts, porches, and all those other concomitants of an Elizabethan mansion of the richest style, and which afford such materials for brilliancy of effect and bold play of light and shadow.
Then, if it be added that lofty firs and poplars are grouped about it, and that from the front there extends a broad avenue of magnificent elms about a mile in length, it will be felt that here is a place which it is worth walking a good many miles to see, especially as there is a fine collection of family portraits and some other pictures in the interior.
But this is not all; for the river just about here, having the fine grounds of Maple-Durham on one side, and the not less beautiful grounds of Purley on the other, in each of which there are groves of noble trees extending down to the water, and the banks being much broken, and there being a number of small islands in the middle of the stream, altogether perhaps affords more scenes of a rich but quiet beauty-those close scenes such as Hofland and Constable and Creswick have painted with so much relish - than in any other part of its course.
And then there are at Maple Durham an old water-mill that is certainly the most picturesque on the Thames; and a weir that is excelled in that respect by few.
The church of Maple-Durham is an old and curious one.
There is, by the way, the very unusual custom allowed of performing the Roman Catholic burial service in the church, over the corpses of persons who have died in that communion.
The custom has arisen from the family of the Blounts, who are the owners of the manor, having always remained in the Romish faith, to which the greater part of the parishioners also adhere.


From Maple-Durham we may cross by a ferry to the pretty little rustic village of Purley.
There is here a showy mansion called Purley House, designed by Wyatt (apparently from a tea-chest) towards the end of the last century.
It has been greatly admired, and will serve as a contrast to that we have just left.
There is another - a good companion to Purley House - a short way from it.
This, which is called Purley Hall, was built about half a century before Purley House, for Law, the celebrated "projector" of the South Sea and Mississippi bubbles: it was the residence of Warren Hastings during his famous trial.

Between Purley and Reading, about six miles, the river is greatly varied, and, especially for the first three miles, very beautiful.
The islands are a principal feature, and from their difference in size and character - some being large and clothed with rich foliage, others having but a tree or two, and some being bare, or covered only with oziers and skirted with beds of rushes - an extremely pleasing feature in the landscape.

It will have been by this time seen that Pangbourne is a good centre for a rambler who should merely confine himself to the river, but it is an equally good one for him who would extend his circuit.
And perhaps the very best way of examining the country is that of making short excursions in all directions around some selected centre, and thus seeing as thoroughly as possible some one locality.
Other parts of the district may then be more casually inspected.
Besides what has been pointed out, Pangbourne affords a convenient place from which to survey the less-known parts of the country around, and to study the character of the people.
The river here cuts through the long range of downs, which on the one hand are known as the Berkshire downs, and stretch away into Wiltshire, and on the other form the famous Chiltern Hills - whose Stewardship is so frequently in request - and which extend through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to Hertfordshire.
These downs are more enclosed and cultivated than the broad open breezy South Downs; but they have a character of their own, and so have the peasantry upon them, who are a more uncultivated race than any others anywhere about the lower parts of these counties.
The country-people themselves in the neighbouring lowlands speak of them as a sort of Bœotians, and of the district as "the wild country."
The names, too, which are still retained about the homely spots are of a very rough kind.
At no great distance from where we now are may be found several with such polite designations as "Hell Hole" (which is the name of a farm-house), "Gallows Common," and the like - at least these are the names commonly applied by the country people - they are not in the maps.
And, as for the people, I verily believe that the peasantry on the Oxford Hills are among the most uncouth in England.
You may trace the character extending from this spot along the ridge into Hertfordshire, and improving very gradually, if improving at all.
Buckinghamshire generally is of a better description, but the vein runs through the connecting part between Bledlow and Tring.
They are said, however, to be improving, and I hope they are.
This is almost the only part of England where you must reckon on not finding a lodging at a village inn, as the rule, and it is the worst part for meeting with even a man who can give a direction.
I asked one fellow - it is some years since - the way to Caversham -
"You mean Cawsham, I suppose," said he, after eyeing me very carefully;
"I dare say that's what you call it", I replied: -
"Then whoy couldn't you say so at first?" returned he, and stalked indoors without so much as pointing a finger towards the road.
But this roughness does not cross the Thames; the race is indigenous to the Chiltern Hills.
The Berkshire men are civiller.
They are ill-taught - as are all our peasantry, and as all our peasantry will continue to be whilst our country schools are what they are: for, if even the pittance which the children earn in the fields or pick up on the roads (and which is the chief reason that will for a long while prevent the education of the children of the agricultural labourers) did not induce the parents to keep them from school, the village schools, as now managed, would give them little better than the mockery of an education - imparting only the smallest fraction of what commonly receives that name, and leaving the moral sense utterly untouched.
But though untaught or ill-taught there is much of shrewdness about them; and often a vigour of mind, a vein of strong and serious thought which leads them to express themselves in a straightforward homely style, and with a store of plain expressive English words that reminds one of the racy heartiness of Bunyan and Cobbett.
A good deal of this may be seen, for instance - by such as do not mind putting up with some peculiarities for the sake of information, - in those men who get to be "local preachers and class-leaders" among the Wesleyans in these parts.

Landscape painters

Before quitting Pangbourne, I would just point out that it, or Streatley, is an admirable place for a young landscape-painter to escape to for a few days from the smoky atmosphere of London.
He may with little trouble, and at small expense, bring here his colours and canvas, and then, in some of those delicious spots already spoken of, fix his easel in the open air, and, without darkened windows or reflected lights, or any other atelier contrivances, and forgetting atelier conventionalisms, try to represent what he sees just as he sees it - aiming only to distinguish what is essential and characteristic - giving himself up unrestrainedly to the teaching of Nature, whom he will find to be a far better guide than any connoisseur or picture dealer.
The young painter who will do this - who will come and dwell here for a while, watching in the early dawn the changing effects of the breaking mists, the deep thick shadows, and the pearly sparkling dew; the brightness and glitter of the noon-tide, as he looks out over the river from the shelter of the rich groves; the mellow radiance which the setting sun flings over trees and river and cloudless sky; and, as "the risin' moon begins to glowr", trace the power of chiaroscuro, of those marvellous combinations of light and shadow which genius has sometimes been able to fix on the canvas, but which Nature is ever lavishing with unsparing hand before him who is abroad to see: - he who will do this, will find that the bounty of Nature is not yet exhausted; that even in such unromantic spots as these, there are to be found passages of river scenery still unappropriated by any of our admirable landscape-painters, and unnoticed by the great painters of old.
And he will find also plenty of employment for his sketch-book.
There are, as architectural studies, Goring Church, both in parts and as a whole; Hardwick, a capital exercise, and the bays and oriels of Maple-Durham; of homely picturesque buildings he will see plenty about the villages; the mill at Maple-Durham will yield more than one sketch ; and he could not desire better models for landscape "figures" than the folks hereabout.


One other person ought not be overlooked - I mean the angler.
Pangbourne is a famous spot for him.
If he cast the fly, Thames will yield plenty of work: trout abound and rise kindly, and the little Pang brook which enters the Thames by the village (and gives it its name) is also a good trout stream.
If he prefer trolling, there are some stout jack which will not let him want sport; and if he be content to fish at bottom, he may always reckon on a good basket of barbel, roach, or chub, if he know how to handle his tackle


Reading from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Reading from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

THE town of Reading has been often described, its history often written.
Whoever has read "Belford Regis" [by Mary Russell Mitford, 1835] - and who has not? - knows something of the sunny side of its present condition; and the readers of this series of volumes have had a lively picture set before them of its state at one period of its olden existence.
Now, if I were in the habit of making sunny pictures, or telling a lively tale, I should be deterred from adventuring to do so on the present occasion; as it is, I shall take the safer course, and plod through a dry general account, leaving the wiser of my readers to skip the chapter.
"To write," says Dr. Johnson, in his oracular way, "to write of the cities of our own island with the solemnity of geographical description, as if we had been cast upon a newly discovered coast, has the appearance of very frivolous ostentation; and yet - "and yet as something of the sort must be done, it had better be done quickly and quietly: we will, therefore, leave the ostentation to shift for itself, and endeavour to support the solemnity.
Reading, then, stands a few hundred yards from the Thames; the Great Western road runs through the centre of it, and the Great Western railway on one side-between it and the river.
It is a large irregularly arranged place (though I believe the historians of the town have found out some definite shape for it, but whether triangle or hexangle, I forget); and it holds somewhere near nineteen thousand inhabitants.
It is the county-town, and a parliamentary borough, sending two members to the Imperial Parliament.
The assizes are held in it; and it has a market twice a week, a large annual fair for cheese, and three others for horses and cattle.
Moreover it has a good trade and some manufactures, and is altogether the most bustling business-like place we have yet visited.
So large a town has of course a good many houses, and they are of different sizes and kinds.
It has too the ordinary number of buildings belonging to the corporation, and more than the ordinary number belonging to charitable institutions.
It has three old churches, which have been all miserably defaced, and look miserable; one or two new ones, which look very smart; and one or two others, which look very shabby.
It has also the usual number of dissenting chapels, which present the usual varieties of deformity.
[Ouch - Thorn your petticoat is showing]
Finally there are the workhouse and the county gaol.
So that it has altogether a very comfortable, respectable, social, substantial, every-day English look. So far we are safe enough - now for its history.

This unluckily is rather long, and chiefly interesting to its inhabitants; we may, therefore, run over it rapidly.
Antiquarians have not decided whether the name is of British or Saxon origin; nor whether, consequently, it came to be called Reading from being built in a ferny country; or because it was placed by an old ford; or because it was built in a meadow subject to be flooded.
But there seems to be no doubt that it was a town at a very early date, though the first mention of it occurs in 871, when it was occupied and fortified by the Danes, who made it the centre from whence to plunder and devastate the surrounding country.
An attempt was made to dispossess them of the town by Ethelred, the Saxon king, in person, assisted by his brother Alfred, afterwards the Great, and Ethulwulph, a powerful Saxon Earl, and lord of these parts.
Ethelred was at first successful, and the Danes were driven within their fortifications, but they retained possession of the town, and soon after, by a sudden sally, entirely defeated the royal army.
During the remainder of the summer they were left in undisturbed possession of the town, but at the close of it they withdrew to London.
In 1006 the Danes under Sweyn, their king, again visited Reading, which they burnt.
From the effects of this visitation it does not appear to have soon recovered, for at the next notice of the town, which is in the Domesday Survey, it is stated to belong to the king, who "has in the burgh twenty-eight houses," and it is supposed that had there been any more they would have been mentioned.

It is to Henry I. that Reading is indebted for the origin of all its importance.
That monarch, in 1121, founded an Abbey at Reading, for two hundred monks of the Benedictine order, on the site of a religious house which had been destroyed when the Danes burnt the town; and endowed it in the most princely manner.
The abbey he made a mitred one, the abbot having the rights of a spiritual lord; and as a peer in parliament, ranking only below the abbots of Glastonbury and St. Albans. for its support he gave to it several manors and parishes; and rights and powers of the largest kind in all matters of manorial lordship.
And he gave them exceptions almost as extensive as their rights; for they were to be free from all taxes and levies of all kinds, and their servants from all tributes, tolls, and customs in travelling all over England.
He also gave them the privilege of setting up a mint and striking therein coinage with whatever impression and circumscription the abbot should direct. *
* This right of coinage was withdrawn from the Abbot of Reading by Edward II., nearly two centuries afterwards; but it was restored a few years later by Edward III., for pennies and farthings.
None of these coins have been discovered of an earlier date than the reign of Edward I.
They are pennies only, and very rare.
Some halfpennies of the reign of Edward III. have also been met with.

About such an establishment people would in those days soon collect, as well for safety as for trade.
And the king, or the monks, took care to build a substantial edifice - for those times an almost impregnable one.
Henry did not forget his abbey during the remainder of his life, and at his death, which happened at Rouen some ten years after the foundation of the abbey, he directed his body to be buried in it, which was done as he desired; his body, having been rudely embalmed, was wrapt in bull-hides and brought to Reading, where his interment was performed with great solemnity.
His body rested there till the dissolution of the monastery, when the tomb was destroyed, and his bones were "thrown out" to make room for a stable.
The eldest son of Henry II. was, in 1156, buried with his grandfather.
In subsequent reigns Reading was frequently visited by the sovereigns, and it was the scene of some important ceremonials.

De Montford Island (Fry's island)

A well-known trial by battle occurred here in 1163, at which Henry II. sat as judge.
It was the appeal of Robert de Montford against Henry of Essex, the king's standard bearer, for cowardice and treachery, in having in a skirmish in Wales, at which the king was present, cast away the royal standard and fled, upon a report of the king having been killed.
Essex pleaded that, at the time, he believed the king was killed.
The combat took place, it is supposed, on an island by Caversham bridge.
Montford was the victor, and the body of Essex, who was apparently killed, was given to the monks of the abbey for burial.
He recovered, however, from his wounds, and being permitted to assume the habit of a monk, was received into the abbey.
His estates were of course forfeited.

Parliaments were held in Reading under several sovereigns, and on many occasions the court assembled here for purposes of business or of pomp, but it is not worth while to write a list of such occurrences.
A far more important event was the dissolution of the abbey in 1539.
It had undergone some fluctuations of fortune, but at the visitation of the commissioners it was extremely wealthy; besides the plate and valuables within the abbey, the annual revenue was returned at £116 3s. 9½d., or a clear revenue of £1908 14s., or about £25,000 according to the present [1849] value of money: and there is reason to believe that these returns were generally under the real value.
The letters of Dr. London, the commissioner, are in existence, and afford a vivid idea of these proceedings.
The commissioner speaks well of the abbot, and of the regular performance of the religious duties; a sermon was delivered every day in Latin and in English, which was well attended.
Reading abbey at this time contained some much-valued relics, which the commissioner states the abbot readily delivered.
The chief of these relics was the Hand of the Apostle James, which was given to the abbey by its royal founder.
But there was another more remarkable.
London mentions, with something like glee, in a letter to Cromwell, that he has found here, and sent up to him, "the principell relik of idolytrie within thys realme, an aungell with oon wyng that brought to Caversham the spere hedde that percyd our Saviour is syde upon the crosse."
He does not say what this one-winged angel was made of.
Hugh Faringdon was the abbot at this time, and he was distinguished for piety and learning, as well as for the patronage of learned men.
London says of him, in writing to his master, "He desyres onlye your favour and no othyr thynge, and I know so muche, that my Lord shall find him as conformable a man as any in this realme:" - which was saying a good deal.
But London had not measured his man aright, as a paragraph out of Hall's Chronicle will show: -
"The 14th day of November (1539), Hugh Feringdon, Abbot of Redyng and two priests, the one called Rugg, and the other named Onyon, were attainted of high treason, for denying the king to be supreme head of the church, and was drawn, hanged, and quartered at Redyng.
This abbot was a stubborn monk and utterly without learning.
The same day was Richard Whiting, Abbot of Glascenbury, likewise attainted and hanged on Tower-hill beside his monastery, for the said case and other great treasons, which also was quartered; and the first day of December was John Beche, Abbot of Colchester, put to execution for the same confederacy and treason."
I have borrowed a line or two more than was necessary, but it rounds off the matter prettily.
Those were pleasant days for Lord Abbots!
Besides the abbey there was a priory of Grey Friars in Reading, established there in 1233.
This was, of course, suppressed along with the abbey.
The poor monks - there were ten of them with a superior - however, surrendered more meekly than the Benedictines, offering not the least resistance, expecting probably that they should thereby move the pity of the spoilers.
London writes to Cromwell,
"The most part of them be very agede men, and be not of strength to go much abrode for their lyvinges, wherefor ther desyr ys that yt myght please yr lordeschippe to be a mediator unto the kinges grace for them that they might during their lives enjoy ther chambres and orcharde."
But it did not please his lordship; and so the old men were sent out, being first stripped of their monkish garments and clad in secular apparel, to find lodging and food where they might.
When the friars were gone, the people of the town stepped in and set about the commissioners' work, even to the "stealing of the lead by night."
London gives a dismal account "how he was servyd at the Fryars."
"Forr as soon as I had taken the Fryars surrendre, the multytude of the poverty of the town resortyd thedyr, and all thyngs that myght be hadde they stole away, insomyche that they hadde convayd the very clappers of the bellys.
And saving that Mr. Fachell, wyche made me great chere at hys howse, and the mayer dydde assist me, they wolde have made no lytill spoyle."
It is rather a curious circumstance that the people generally should have been so ready to participate in the spoil, but they probably thought that, as it must be seized by some one, they might as well have a share.
The commissioners frequently complain of being so "served."
In 1625, when the plague raged in London, not only the king and his court, but also the courts of law were removed to Reading.
A few years later occurred the memorable seige.
Early after hostilities commenced between Charles and the Parliament, Reading was seized and occupied by the royal troops.
Being a place of importance, both on its own account and from its position, much consequence was attached to the possession of it.
The Parliament determined if possible to obtain it, and Essex sat down before it on the 15th of April, 1643, with an army, according to Clarendon, who has given an elaborate account of the siege, of about 20,000 men.
Charles had placed in it a garrison of about 4000 men, under Sir Arthur Aston, who added to the fortifications and formed entrenchments so as to render it very strong.
Ten days after the commencement of the siege, the garrison hung out a flag of truce, but at the same time Charles and Prince Rupert came up to Caversham with some troops to endeavour to relieve it.
They were driven back, however, with some loss, and then the garrison surrendered - the soldiers being allowed to join the King at Oxford.
The Parliamentarians were greatly elated by their success, and the Royalists proportionably annoyed; but to the soldiers engaged on both sides the consequences were very unfortunate.
The Royalist soldiers, after the surrender, were ill-used and plundered, and on their arrival at Oxford were received with such an ill grace by Charles, that Colonel Fielding, who had succeeded to the command of the garrison, the governor having been rendered incapable of giving directions by a hurt on the head, thought it necessary to demand a court-martial.
He was found guilty of "not obeying his orders," which were to hold out to the utmost, and sentenced to be beheaded; and Charles was with great difficulty induced to grant his pardon.
The soldiers of Essex, on the other hand, having been promised their pay and a gratuity to spare the plunder of the town, fell into mutiny upon the failing of the performance, many of them disbanded.
Among those who remained there was a great mortality, occasioned by the infected air in the town of Reading, insomuch *
* Other accounts say that it was induced by the army having been encamped during the siege in the marshes, + Mem. of Col. Hutchinson.
- that my lord was forced to return and quarter his sick and weak army about Kingston, and those towns near London.
After the defeat of Essex at the first battle of Newbury, Reading again fell into the hands of the king, but he was not able to retain it long.
The only subsequent historical event that happened here, was an encounter of the forces 9 James II, with those of the Prince of Orange.
They met in the market-place on a Sunday morning in December, 1688.
James's soldiers fled after a brief engagement, but there was lost on the other side the only officer who was killed in the whole of the prince's expedition.
The anniversary of this skirmish was celebrated in Reading by ringing the bells in the different churches till within a few years.
The townsmen were greatly frightened on the occasion by reports of the evil propensities of the king's Irish troops, and some rhymes wer tagged together into a ballad which commemorated their panic, and told how - "Five hundred Papishes came there To make a final end Of all the town in time of prayer, But God did them defend"


Among the notabilities of Reading may be mentioned the appearance in it of two very eminent though very different men, in quite unexpected characters.
"There is a tradition among the Baptists at Reading," says the best biographer of John Bunyan, that Bunyan, towards the end of his life, when nonconforming preachers could not travel without risk, "sometimes went through the town dressed like a carter, and with a long whip in his hand to avoid detection." *
* "Reading," it is added, "was a place where he was well known: the house in which the Baptists met for wor ship was in a lane there, and from the back door they had a bridge over a branch of the river Kennet, whereby, in Case of alarm, they might escape.
In a visit to that place, he contracted the disease which brought him to the grave.
A friend of his who resided there had resolved to disinherit his son; the young man requested Bunyan to interfere in his behalf; he did so with good success, and it was his last labour of love; for returning to London on horseback, rough heavy rain, a fever ensued, which, after ten days, Proved fatal."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The other is a more singular transformation.
That the brave tinker of Elstow would even in his olden days wield the long whip not unskilfully may be well supposed, but how the metaphysician and poet would handle the musket, or rub down his horse, it is not so easy to imagine.
It is related, however, that an officer of the 15th dragoons, one day, in 1794, happened to overlook a private of that regiment reading a Latin Horace in a public-house in Reading at which he was quartered.
So unusual a circumstance led him to make some inquiries about this "noticeable man," and he was told that his name was Silas Tomkins Cumberbatch, and that his comrades and others were accustomed to assemble of an evening to hear him talk, his conversation being of an extraordinary character.
This account stimulated his curiosity, and he questioned Silas himself, when he soon found that he had run away from Cambridge, where he was a student, and, after enduring great privations in London, had enlisted in this regiment, and that his real name was Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
When the friends of the young soldier were informed of his situation, they of course speedily procured his discharge.*
* The story is very variously told.
Some say that the officer was led to inquire about Cumberbatch by finding a Greek or Latin verse written under his saddle, or on the wall of the stable.
It is only certain that Coleridge was a private in the regiment from Dec. 1793 to April 1794, and was at Reading in that capacity.
It appears that he did not to the last manage either horse or musket in a very soldier-like way.
He used to get his comrades to take care of his charger, in return for which he wrote their letters.
With his arms he was not so successful.
On one occasion the officer in command, seeing in the stand a musket in uncommonly bad case, shouted, "Whose rusty musket is this?"
"Is it very rusty, sir?" asked Cumberbatch. "Yes, it is very rusty." "Then it is mine, sir," was the reply. . . . . .
It is often stated that Coleridge wrote his "Religious Musings" in "a tap-room in Reading," but a note attached to the poem states it to have been written on Christmas-eve, 1794, which was eight months after he had quitted the regiment.

We must now look at what Reading has to show, which, however, is not much.
- Of the abbey and the friars some vestiges still remain, but the greater part has been demolished.
At the dissolution a portion of the abbey was spared, and converted into a residence for the monarch.
Elizabeth often visited Reading, and the place came to be known as the Queen's House; her successor also once or twice occupied it.
From that time its destruction was rapid.
During the Civil War it suffered greatly: the parts that had been fortified were blown up by the Parliamentary soldiers on the termination of the siege; and other portions that retained anything of ornament were defaced by them.
The huge masses of wall that remained were regarded as a quarry.
Some portions had, when the abbey was first dismantled, been used for the repairs or enlargement of the parish churches and for building the hospital for the Poor Knights of Windsor; after the Restoration the walls served to build kitchens and the like at Windsor; the last appropriation of them on a large scale was by the late General Conway, who, having a taste for antiquities, built a fantastic modern-antique bridge across the Wargrave-road, to connect the two sides of his estate; but they are still resorted to when rough stonework is wanted.
There are yet left large amorphous masses of the walls, which are of flint, and chalk, and stone, cemented strongly together, and of enormous thickness.
One of the principal gateways remains in something like the original form, but it has been sadly patched and botched with brick and plaster.
It now serves as the entrance to the Forburg.
In the national school and some other buildings, portions have been worked-up; but the most interesting fragment left is a part of the abbey-mill, and it still serves its original purpose.
It stands at no great distance from the gateway just mentioned on a little dirty brook, but once a clean lively one, the "hallowed brook" of the old abbey, now called the Holy Brook.
Over the millrace is a Norman arch way with its characteristic carving plainly discernible, though a good deal damaged.
The abbey stood in a right pleasant situation, looking over the broad Thames, but safe from its overflowings, and watered by the delicate Kennet, with this little branch of it to turn a mill and serve the kitchen.
It covered an area of several acres.
The county gaol now occupies a considerable portion of the abbey grounds.

Of the "Friars" there are some remains in Friar street.
At the suppression of the monastery, a part of the building was granted to the corporation, who were anxious to remove from their old town hall, for what now sounds to English ears a rather curious reason.
The old hall stood by the river Kennet, near the spot which was used by the town's women for washing clothes; and the corporation in their petition say that the clapping of the battle dores made so much noise as greatly to interrupt the transaction of the public business.
Now-a- days, if we were unluckily situated by such a spot, it would be the noise of some other clappers than wooden ones that we should be in dread of.
There was once a castle in Reading, but it was destroyed by Stephen; the situation of it is believed to be marked by the present Castle-street.
The old churches, as I have said, have been shockingly mutilated and decorated, but about those of St. Lawrence and St. Mary some "bits" may be found worth looking at closely.
Both have good and lofty towers.
There is a curious building erected rather more than two centuries ago, when the woollen manufacture was the staple of the town, for the employment of the poor in that manufacture, which bears the odd name of "the Oracle," and will attract notice by its showy gateway.
About the town are a few old houses, but I do not remember any of much note.
Those best worth looking at are in Minster street.
Reading has produced its share of eminent men, but perhaps the most famous is Archbishop Laud, who was the son of a poor cloth-worker in Broadstreet.
The prominent share he had in the councils of his sovereign, and the disastrous results of many of his proceedings, together with his own sad end, must always make him to be regarded with interest.
Recent events have caused his name to be frequently mentioned, and his character to be commented upon with unusual warmth.
So long as the age in which he lived is discussed in a spirit of partizanship, his character will be regarded with very opposite feelings.
The best measure wherewith to try the length and breadth, and plumb the depth of his mind, is afforded by his own diary.

The River kennet

The river Kennet, which flows through Reading, and falls into the Thames just below it, is the most important tributary our river has yet received.
It would afford a pleasant ramble in itself; passing, as it does, not only some very lovely scenery, but also by a great many places of more than common interest.
It rises near Yatesbury, on the edge of the Wiltshire downs, and before it quits Wiltshire passes close to Avebury, where are those famous Druidic remains which exceed Stonehenge in extent, though they are far inferior in grandeur; by the vast earthwork known as Silchester Hill, and through the fine old town of Marlborough.
In Berkshire it flows through the towns of Hungerford and Newbury, celebrated for its two battles, and near which is Donnington Castle, once the residence of the poet Chaucer; and then by Aldermaston (where is a very fine manor-house of the time of James I.), Brimpton (where are several barrows), Theale, and many other villages of less importance.
In its way it receives numerous tributaries; the chief are the Lambourne, which unites with it at Newbury; it belongs wholly to Berkshire; and the Emborne, which joins it below Brimpton, after having for the greater part of its course separated Wiltshire from Berkshire.
The whole length of the Kennet is about fifty-three miles.
It has by means of locks and cuts been rendered navigable for barges of one hundred and twenty tons burden, up to Newbury, where it joins the Kennet and Avon Canal: since the completion of the Great Western Railway the traffic along it has been so much lessened that the receipts barely cover the current expenses.

I have pointed out nearly all that is of consequence in Reading, and there is not much besides to be seen in the immediate neighbourhood.
One of the curiosities always shown to the stranger is a stratum of sand in Catsgrove lane, which is filled with oyster-shells and other marine fossils.
In Dr. Plot's amusing "Natural History of Oxfordshire" (in which the wonders of any other county are, however, gladly laid under contribution), their situation is proposed to be accounted for by an hypothesis as good in its way as Voltaire's pilgrims' cockle-shells, and for which it might have afforded a hint.
When the Danes were besieged in Reading by King Ethelred and his brother Alfred, as has been mentioned, they endeavoured to secure themselves by cutting a trench across the meadows.
Now, says Dr. Plot, "the Saxons having in all probability removed their cattle, it is likely that they might be supplied by their navy with oysters, which, during the time of the abode of their army on land, might be very suitable employment for it.
Which conjecture allowed, there is nothing more required to make out the possibility of the bed of oysters coming thither, without a deluge, but that Catsgrove was the place appointed for the army's repast."
It must not be forgotten that Three-Mile Cross, the scene of "Our Village,' the pleasantest lady's book in the language (I mean of those I have read, for I must to my shame confess that I have not read many), is at the distance its name implies from Reading: for its own sake it would deserve a visit, while all who have read its description will not fail to recognise in it many an old acquaintance.


Caversham Bridge

From Reading you cross to the village of Caversham, on the opposite side of the Thames, by a bridge of extraordinary deformity.
The county of Oxford and the corporation of Reading have, I believe, to maintain this bridge between them, and they have not been able to agree as to the best method of doing so; consequently each has done its half as it pleased, independently of the other.
The Oxford half is an old-fashioned stone and brick structure - the Berkshire half is a sort of make-shift wood and iron skeleton, the whole presenting an appearance similar to the lady in the engraving that used to be exhibited in the windows of the print-shops some twenty or thirty years ago -one-half of the lady being represented in full dress, the other bare bones.
Leland thus describes its appearance in his day :-
"At Causeiham, shortly called Causham, ther is a great mayne bridge of tymbre over the Tamise, wher I markid that it restid most upon foundation of tymbre, and yn sum places of stone.
Toward the north end of this bridge stondith a fair old chapelle of stone on the right hond, pilid in the fundation for the rage of the streame of the Tamise." ("Itinerary, ii. 5.)<
br> In the reign of James II. some of the old stone and brick arches were removed for the convenience of the navigation.
It has been in its present state for at least half a century.
It is now the ugliest bridge on the Thames, and equal in ugliness to any in the kingdom.


Caversham is a long straggling village of about fifteen hundred souls; in the lower part of it are many very mean and miserable-looking houses, occupied by fishermen, bargemen, and others, who get their living by the water; on the higher ground there are a good many very excellent houses.
Several handsome villas have been erected within the last few years.
The church is small, and of various dates, but some portions are very ancient.
Caversham House, which is a prominent object from the Thames, occupies a commanding position; and both from the house and grounds are obtained views of great extent and beauty.
The mansion, which is a showy one, was built by Lord Cadogan in the reign of George I., but has been subsequently altered more than once.
The grounds were laid out by Capability Brown, and are much admired.
In the old mansion, which was pulled down when the present was erected, Charles I. was for a while a prisoner; and here he had the interviews with his children which Clarendon has mentioned.

Monastic cells

At Caversham was a cell and chapel belonging to the monastery of Nutley, in Buckinghamshire.
These cells, of which I have frequently had to speak in these Rambles, were little dependencies attached to a monastery, in which one or more monks, according to the size, resided, remaining still strictly under the authority of their superior, and conforming in all respects to the practice and discipline of the house.
The cell usually arose from a farm or an estate being given to a religious house at some distance, when a monk was appointed to reside there, partly perhaps to look after the property, and partly because it afforded a convenient retirement for an aged or a supernumerary inmate of the parent establishment.
Refractory monks were also occasionally sent to them to rusticate for a season.
After a while, if not at first, a chapel was generally erected, and it frequently became the nucleus of a monastery.
At this cell at Caversham there was only one monk; but there was a chapel attached, and it was in great repute on account of a statue of the Virgin, to whom the chapel was dedicated, which was reported to have wrought many miracles.
It also contained, at the suppression, a great number of relics of considerable celebrity.
Dr. London's letters respecting his visit to this cell are so characteristic, and so illustrative of these places in general, that a few extracts from them will probably be not unacceptable.
He describes the chapel as a place
"whereunto wasse great pilgrimage"
on account of the image; and he mentions in another letter, as a proof of the numbers who resorted to the "Lady of Caversham," as she was called, that
"even at my being ther com in nott so few as a dosyn with imagies of waxe."
This he soon put a stop to, after the fashion he describes in a subsequent letter to Cromwell, wherein he also tells something of the image itself, and of some other interesting matters.
"The image," he says, "ys plated over with sylver, and I have put yt in a cheste fast lockyd and naylyd uppe, and by the next bardge that comythe from Reding to London yt shall be brought to your lordeschippe.
I have also pulled down the place sche stode in, with all other ceremonyes, as lightes, schrowdes, crowchys, and imagies of wek, hanging abowt the chapell, and have defacyd the same thorowly in exchuying of farthyr resort the dyr.
Thys chapell dydde belong to Notley Abbey, and there always wasse a chanon of that monastery wich wasse callyd the warden of Caversham, and he songe in thys chapell, and hadde the offeringes for his living.
He was accustomyd to show many prety relykes, among the wiche wer (as he made reportt) the holy dagger that kylled King Henry VI., [who was then commonly believed to have been murdered, and popularly regarded as a sort of saint], and the holy knyfe that kylled sainte Edward [the martyr].
All thees, with many other, with the cotes of thys image, hyr capp and here [hair], my servant shall bring unto your lordschip's pleasure.
I shall see yt made suer to the kings graces use.
And, if yt be nott so orderyd, the chapell standith so wildly that the ledde will be stolen by nyght, as I wasse servyd at the Fryars," at Reading, of which we have already heard.
But the principal relic, though not mentioned in the above account, was the "spear-head that pearced our Saviour his side," which was brought to Caversham by the one winged angel that was itself afterwards deposited at Reading Abbey.
Dr. London says, that of the relics belonging to Caversham he "myssed no thing butt only a peece of the holy halter Judas was hangyd withall;" from which we may gather, what we might expect without it from the estimation in which they were held, that it was not an uncommon practice to secrete the relics when the commissioners were expected.
I will end these extracts with his hint to Cromwell about the disposal of the place:
"There ys a proper lodginge, wher the chanon lay, with a fayer garden and an orchard, mete to be bestowyd upon som frynde of your lordschipp in these parties." * * Wright's 'Letters relating to the Suppression of Monasteries, published by the Camden Society, p. 222, &c.
In this volume, and in the recently published volumes of 'Original Letters illustrative of English History', by Sir Henry Ellis, are collected for the first time the letters of those who were chiefly concerned in the suppression, either as agents of Cromwell or as suitors for the property; and the student has here in a convenient and accessible shape the materials for forming a more vivid idea of the circumstances than he can readily do by any other means.
Most of the letters were of course known to the student of history, but thus brought together their effect is very striking.

Dreadnought Reach

Immediately below Reading the scenery is not very beautiful, but it improves as we advance.
At first the river winds slowly along broad flat meadows, and the formality is increased by the railway embankment that for some distance runs by the river.
But we soon lose sight of the railway, (and see no more of it till we reach Maidenhead, some five and twenty miles farther,)


and then the hills and groves of Sonning make the way pleasant before us.
Sonning is said to have once been the seat of a bishopric, but the assertion is questioned by Bishop Tanner, and apparently with reason.
But if not itself a diocese, it is certain that as early as the Conquest it belonged to one.
The manor when the Domesday Survey was made was the property of the Bishop of Salisbury, and it has been attached to that see ever since.
There was formerly a mansion here, which the bishops long used as an occasional residence.
After the deposition of Richard II. his Queen Isabel was a prisoner at large in it.
Leland ("Itin. ii. 3) describes the house as being in his day
"a fair olde house of stone, even by the Tamise ripe, longging to the Bishop of Saresbyri: and thereby a fair parke."
Sonning itself he calls an "uplandish towne, sette on a faire and commodious ground; the Tamise renneth under it in a praty vale."
Whatever it may have been, it is now only a small village, but it is a very delightful one.
The Thames just before reaching Sonning bridge branches out and encompasses two or three large islets, which harmonize agreeably with the surrounding scenery.
Sonning Ait is connected with the shores by a lock and a weir; on the Oxford side are wide meads; from the Berkshire side, the thickly-wooded bank of Holme Park ascends abruptly.
In the autumn, when the noble trees assume their richest vesture, and, with the fine bank which overhangs the river, are reflected in the still water, and the sky is lit-up in all the splendour of an October sunset, the scene is one of marvellous beauty.
Holme Park, which is so great an ornament to the river, is well laid out, has a great number of magnificent trees, and affords from many parts of it some beautiful views both up and down the stream ; the house, which is the seat of R. Palmer, Esq., is spacious and rather handsome.
Sonning church is a respectable building, and has parts that are of a superior character: it contains some curious monuments.
The parsonage is so pretty a one, has so pleasant an air of "refined rusticity" about it, and is so nicely situated, that one is half-tempted by it to forget the tenth commandment.
Sonning is a quiet retreat for a London angler; there is a comfortable inn, and the river affords tolerable sport.
Below Sonning the scenery is tame, the only relief being afforded by the hills about Shiplake; but the village of Sonning, with the old church tower overtopped by the tall trees, affords some pleasant retrospective glances.


About Shiplake there are some choice walks, and the views from the uplands are extensive.
The village itself, with the old ivy-covered church, looks very pretty from the opposite side of the river.
The Rev. James Granger, the author of the well-known 'Biographical History of England,' was the vicar of Shiplake, whither, as he says in the dedication of his great work to Horace Walpole, he "had the good fortune to retire early to independence, obscurity, and content."
He died at the altar while performing divine service on Sunday, April 14, 1776, and is buried in the church.
His work is the result of much labour, and though a good many trivial names are admitted, it is valuable for the amount of curious anecdotal information which it contains, and which it would be difficult to find elsewhere.

The River Loddon and Twyford

Just below Shiplake the Thames receives the Loddon, a very pretty stream, which rises in the North Hampshire downs, near Basingstoke, and passes through the grounds of Strathfieldsaye, the seat of the Duke of Wellington, Shinfield, and Twyford, near the last of which places it enters the Thames, by two or three channels, after a course of about twenty-four miles.
In its way it receives several tributaries, one of which rises near Windsor Forest, and is celebrated in Pope's story of Lodona, in his Windsor Forest.'
Twyford, so called from the tway fords which crossed the two arms of the Loddon where are now the two wooden bridges, is a long village without any thing remarkable about it.
Pope is said by some of his biographers to have been for a while at school here; no tradition of the circumstance is retained in the village, but it is not unlikely from the manner in which he speaks of the rivulet - "The Loddon slow with verdant alders crowned," which is much more characteristic of this than of the upper part of its course.
At a little distance from the village is Bowsey Hill, famous in the neighbourhood for its wide prospects, and well worth ascending.
Adjoining Twyford is Ruscombe, a little secluded village, where William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, died, and in the little church of which he was buried.


Wargrave-on-the-Thames, not far beyond the farthest branch of the Loddon, was once a market-town, and is now a rather large irregular village, with some old and picturesque houses, and plenty of fine trees about it.
Derham, the author of the admirable "Astro-Theology,' and 'Physico-Theology,' was for some time the vicar of Wargrave; in the church is a monument to the memory of Thomas Day, the author of 'Sandford and Merton', who died at Bear Hill just by, owing to a fall from his horse.

We have now reached that part of the Thames which is most celebrated for its beauty.
The general voice proclaims the space between Wargrave and Maidenhead to be the finest along the river, and there can be no doubt that the opinion is correct.
There are spots which we have past that may fairly be placed in comparison with almost any that we are coming to, but they are of a different and more homely character.
The scenery about Maple-Durham is of the loveliest kind, but it is a succession of short reaches shut in by rich foliage, and only giving occasional glimpses of the hills beyond; and the river is a narrow, shallow, companionable stream.
Nuneham-Courtnay is more like the part we are now arrived at, but the river there is much narrower.
Now the river has expanded to a considerable width, and we no longer meet with any of those close, shady, secluded scenes.
It is altogether on a larger scale, the river is still shallow, but it exhibits a breadth and boldness far beyond what we have hitherto seen.
On the Oxfordshire side there is no village or hamlet calling for remark until we arrive at Henley; Boulson House, with its fine grounds, adds greatly to the beauty of the river, and there is an old mill with its appurtenances that does so equally;

Park Place

but it is on the Berkshire side that the eye will rest with most pleasure.
Park Place, which extends for a considerable distance along the heights above the river, is one of the best known parks on the Thames.
The house was built by the Duke of Hamilton, and was some time the residence of Frederick, Prince of Wales, the father of George III.; in later times it was a frequent and favourite resort of another Prince of Wales - afterwards George IV.
But there is not much about the house that is attractive, it is to the grounds that Park Place owes its fame.
They are very beautiful, and of very various beauty.
The surface is broken into hill and dale, and long sloping lawns, and glades decked with majestic trees, and deep glens, and by the river are hanging woods and steep chalk cliffs.
From the hills splendid prospects are obtained, and the valleys afford a grateful variety of cool shady bowers, with sunny peeps beyond, and retired nooks where nought disturbs the privacy.
But to these beauties where the finger of art has but worked at the bidding of nature, have been added many matters of which the taste is more than questionable.
Park Place fell into the hands of the late Marshal Conway towards the end of the last century, and he made the improvement of it the amusement of his later days; and whilst it is to him that it is indebted for much of its real beauty, he must bear the censure for its barbarisms.
Among the additions which he made is one of those annoying things, a "classic" artificial ruin - a Roman amphitheatre - but it was in the taste of the age, and it has its admirers still.
There is also a Druid's Temple, not a mere toylike imitation, like several that were manufactured to decorate the gardens of our grandfathers, but a genuine Druidic relic brought here from Jersey!
It was found in that island in 1785, by some workmen who were employed in removing what appeared to be a barrow, on the summit of a hill near St. Heliers.
It has been conjectured that the sacred stones were covered by the Druids on some occasion of danger.
There are forty-five stones, generally of about seven feet in height, four or five in breadth, and from one to three in thickness: they are arranged in a circle, it is said in the exact positions which they occupied in their original situation.
General Conway was Governor of Jersey at the time of the discovery, and at his departure the inhabitants, as is recorded upon it in a French inscription, presented him with the "Temple" as a mark of their esteem!
The bridge which the General built here out of the walls of Reading Abbey has been already mentioned; it is formed of large masses of the wall put together in a very singular manner.
But the proprietor of this place was determined to bring together all kinds of interesting objects.
His Roman ruin is approached by a subterraneous passage several hundred feet in length, which leads to a valley planted with cypress, at the end of which the amphitheatre is placed.
There is also a walk overhung with weeping-willows, which leads to a marble tomb.
Also not far off a cottage, close to which is a cavern.
To add to the medley there has quite recently been a pretty boat-house built by the river, in the Gothic style, with a figure of a saint placed in a niche in the front: a good many alterations have, however, been made lately, and I am not sure that all the above remain in their former state.
From the river the wooded heights of Park Place are remarkably beautiful: the hanging woods and steep chalky cliffs contrast finely with the softened hills and woods in the distance, and the broad stream, which is all along here thickly studded with little islands, and enlivened by flocks of swans.
But to enjoy this part thoroughly, you must take a boat and row gently along under Park Place, in which way only can the full effect of its loveliness be appreciated.

Henley, the Red Lion

But we must loiter no longer, for-
"Now twilight grey Has in her silver livery all things clad."
And we will step quickly to our hostel, and there indulge in the "sober certainty of waking bliss." over a well browned steak or dainty trout, to which the gentle rambler will add barley wine, or port or claret, according to the promptings of his purse or palate - unless, indeed, he be one of the picked fashion that can endure nought besides "the stream which, beautifully tinged and deliciously flavoured with the Chinese leaf, smokes in the elegant porcelain," as a delicate Meditator of the last century wrote - for shortness or grace - instead of Tea.
And we can put up this evening at an inn of fame - the Red Lion, where Shenstone wrote his well known 'Lines on an Inn.'
Our English sage has also been there with his Scottish disciple, and as he added a commentary to the lines, we will listen to that along with his quotation of them. *
* Boswell's Johnson, vi. 81, ed. 1835.
I am, of course, aware that Boswell makes the conversation to have taken place at the inn at Chapelhouse, but he tells us in immediate connexion with it, that they stayed the night at Shenstone's inn, and it was quite in Johnson's manner to quote at any place a poetic passage that related to it, while Boswell might easily have mistaken the reference in his notes at the distance of fourteen years.
We will therefore add Johnson's 'Eulogy on an Inn" to the fame of the Red Lion.

"We happened," says Boswell, "to lie this night at the inn at Henley*, where Shenstone wrote these lines . . .
"There is no private house," said Dr. Johnson, " in which people can enjoy themselves so well as at a capital tavern.
Let there be ever so great plenty of good things, ever so much grandeur, ever so much elegance, ever so much desire that everybody should be easy; in the nature of things it cannot be: there must always be some degree of care and anxiety.
The master of the house is anxious to entertain his guests; the guests are anxious to be agreeable to him: and no man, but a very impudent dog indeed, can as freely command what is in another man's house, as if it were his own.
Whereas, at a tavern there is a general freedom from anxiety.
You are sure you are welcome; and the more noise you make, the more trouble you give, the more good things you call for, the welcomer you are.
No servants will attend you with the alacrity which waiters do, who are incited by the prospect of an immediate reward in proportion as they please.
No, sir; there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.'
He then repeated with great emotion Shenstone's lines:-

Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found
The warmest welcome at an inn.

A good deal of virtuous indignation has been expended upon Shenstone for these lines, which have been pronounced to be a libel upon English hospitality, and even human nature; but he is bravely backed by Johnson; and there is no doubt a great deal of truth in them - though that, we know, may but increase the libel.
Johnson's reasoning is curious; and he was constant in it.
Hawkins says that he used to assert "that a tavern chair was the throne of human felicity" - a saying, by the way, which, with its context, may have suggested a celebrated passage in Washington Irving's Essay:
"Shall I not take mine ease in mine Inn?"



According to Dr. Plot, Henley-upon-Thames is the oldest town in Oxfordshire; its very name denotes its antiquity: hen old, ley place.
Whatever its age may be, it has nothing old in its look.
It may in ancient times have had houses, and probably it had, but it has retained none of them.
It has nought old now.
But though there is no ground for Dr. Plot's conjecture, and no mention of the town till long after the Conquest, it is, doubtless, of considerable antiquity.
In the earliest records of the corporation it is called Hanleganz and Hanneburg.
In its history the only circumstance of note is that it was, in 1643, the scene of an engagement between the troops of Charles and those of the Parliament.
Henley is a neat town, with above four thousand inhabitants; and is pleasantly situated on ground that slopes up gently from the Thames.
It has four good streets, at the intersection of which stand a plain cross and conduit.
The houses are generally well-built; and there are several large inns, to which there was formerly a considerable posting trade attached, but that is almost destroyed by the railway; and the inns are now in a great measure dependent on the market, which is one of the largest corn-markets in England.
In Camden's time the inhabitants were chiefly supported by carrying wood to London in barges, and bringing back corn: and the carrying to London of malt, meal, flour, and wood, is still one of the chief branches of employment.
The buildings are all modern, and of little importance, with the exception of the church, which is of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and is a large and respectable edifice, but no great beauty.
A few eminent men have been buried in it.
General Dumouriez, who played so prominent and brilliant a part in the outset of the French revolution, lies here.
The latter part of his life was spent at Turville Park, a seat he possessed in the neighbourhood of Henley, where he died in March, 1823, at the age of eighty-three.
In the churchyard is buried Richard Jennings, "the masterbuilder of St. Paul's Cathedral."
Jennings lived in a mansion called Badgemore, close by Henley, which is now the seat of George Grote, Esq., the eminent banker, and author of the 'History of Greece.'

Henley Bridge

The Thames is spanned at Henley by a handsome bridge of five arches, which was erected in 1787.
It was built from the design of Mr. Hayward, a Shropshire architect, who died, however, before the building was begun.
He had frequently expressed a desire to die before the completion of his bridge, that he might be buried under the centre arch of it, but the townsmen would not allow his wish to be complied with, and he lies in Henley church under a handsome monument which they raised to his memory.

The neighbourhood of Henley is very pleasant.
The heights behind the town are full of undulations, and covered with groves of beeches, a tree that flourishes all about here, and with its deep sombre summer foliage and its glowing tints in autumn imparts great richness to the scenery.
From Henley the river makes a sweep of three or four miles round the base of Remenham hill.
The view from Henley bridge looking up this reach is very beautiful, and that in the other direction, along the part we have recently passed over, is no less so.
As we advance our river opens fresh beauties at every little turn of its career, but we come to none that is equal to that under Park Place.
Remenham and the following places on the Berkshire side are agreeable enough to wander along, but there is nothing about them that calls for particular notice,

Culham Court

till we arrive at Aston, where is Culham Court, a well-built mansion, from the grounds of which the windings of the Thames through this part of its course are seen to great advantage, and extensive views are obtained of the wood-crowned undulations of the Chiltern Hills.

Fawley Court

On the Buckinghamshire side - for we part from Oxfordshire at Henley - there are spots of more celebrity and of greater loveliness.
Fawley Court is a large and handsome building, said - but I believe incorrectly - to have been built by Inigo Jones.
With its grounds and the surrounding scenery it has a noble appearance from the river.
The interior is said to be of a superior order, and to contain many things worthy of inspection.
From the higher parts of the grounds the views are of the finest description; through breaks in the ridge of Berkshire hills that stretches from Wargrave to Cookham, the towers of Windsor loom out finely.
The grounds are planted and laid out with great skill, and little has been neglected that might add to the natural beauty of the place.

Temple Island (Regatta island)

On an island in the river has been erected a "Grecian temple," which as it peeps out from the trees looks pretty enough.


A little lower, on a point called Greenland, that projects into the river, are some remains of an earthwork.
Greenland House, the seat of the D'Oyleys, was the cause of one or two severe contests between the troops of Charles and of the Parliament.
Here the Buckingham hills, which have been hitherto at a little distance from the river, come close down to it, but soon recede again.


Hambledon is a neat rustic village, and the church is worth turning aside to look at.
It is large and not inelegant, and contains some rather choice stained-glass windows and several curious monuments.
The manor-house is of the time of James I.

Thus our river flows along a broad copious stream, making here frequent and bold windings, which stretch out before us, now glistening in the full light of the sun, and, anon, hidden by a knoll of rising ground, or only to be traced by a silvery streak between the stems of the clumps of trees beside it; while its banks are studded with dwellings on the lawns that slope gently from the waterside or embosomed among the woody uplands.

Medmenham Abbey

Presently we see a little inn and ferry; and just beyond a pleasant peaceful-looking edifice, a quiet, cleanly, cloistered building, with a large, widespreading elm in front, and groups of trees sheltering it from the easterly and the south-western winds, and the Buckingham downs screening it from the northern blasts - its white front gladdened by the sunshine - a little rural monastic retreat nestled here in a comfortable warm spot, that seems as if it were still an abode of monks, and half tempts one to look steadily whether those be not Grey friars pacing to and fro there under the cloisters.
This snug little nest has held in its time monks of very different kinds, monks of the olden times - the miserable depraved dark ages; and modern monks, monks of that age of light and purity, the eighteenth century.
The difference was very great between them.
In the twelfth century, when Stephen was king, Walter de Bolbec founded a monastery of the Cistercian order at Woburn in Bedfordshire, and gave his lands and wealth to the endowment of it.
Among other places which he gave was this manor, or part of it; and in 1200 the monks had grown strong enough to found a cell here for two or three of their number; building a pleasant little house beside the silver Thames, that they might have a plenty of fish for lent and fast days.
The little cell, like many other of such places standing at a distance from a town, and out of a line of road, found little of external support; and so, for a century or two, existed in decent poverty - we may hope with honest contentment on the part of the brethren.
As monks increased, and indeed swarmed over the land, these cells became poorer, and scarcely subsisted at all.
When the day of reckoning arrived, many of them were in ruins, their inmates in deep poverty.
This was not one of the worst of its kind, but it had worsened greatly.
The commissioners appointed by Henry to inquire into the state of the smaller monasteries, found it to have monks two; servants none; debts none; woods none; moveable goods worth £1 3s. 8d., and the house wholly ruinous.
The two poor monks, with a house keeping out neither wind nor rain, without woods wherefrom to gather up a fire, or a servant to do rough work, though still out of debt, had no objection, the Commissioners found, to remove to some larger religious establishment, and so this cell, which seems to have slipped off from its connexion with Woburn priory, was now appended to Bisham, on the other side of the river, and suffered to linger on a few years longer, till all, whether mitred abbey or rural cell, perished together.
The walls were in after days strengthened and the place was converted into a family-dwelling - and so it remained for many generations.
But near the middle of the eighteenth century, a nobleman of celebrity - "a person of flighty imagination, and who possessed a fortune that enabled him to pursue those flights, being cloyed with common pleasures," resolved to found an order of monks who should be in keeping with the character of the times.
He accordingly, in imitation of one whose name must not be mentioned on this page, chose twelve companions, - not, however, from the poor and the unlearned, but from the men of rank and fashion and literary fame, who took the name of Franciscans, Francis being the Christian name of their superior.
This abbey was chosen for the practice of their devotions.
Workmen were brought from London to fit up the interior, and not allowed to pass the doors till their work was completed, and then they were transported back again.
Only one or two servants were admitted into the house, and every care was taken to prevent them from having any intercourse with the people of the neighbourhood.
But the mystery only added to the desire to know what was hidden, and strange and startling tales soon got abroad, both of the adornings of the rooms and of the scenes that took place within them.
"Fay ce que voudras" was the motto inscribed over the door, and these monks did what they pleased.
It is impossible to go on : those who wish to know what were the rites may see more than enough of them described in but too much detail in the pages of Chrysal.
But it may be said, in a word, that the rites were an overwrought mockery of those of the religion of the land, and the practices a formal and deliberate repetition of the worst debaucheries ever attributed to real monks, with such additions as the greater genius of their successors suggested.
The account has well been called horrible: it is difficult to conceive how any human beings, however low and degraded, could have devised a scheme of such coarse cold-hearted elaborate impiety as that invented by these men of high refinement - and utterly marvellous how, having devised it, they could cherish their plan through all the slow stages of preparation, and at length carry it out into practice.
And it is scarcely less wonderful how it was that the common feelings of human nature did not revolt against such an outrage on all decency, and that the perpetrators of it were not scouted out of society.
The feeling of the neighbourhood did cause the suppression of the monastery.
The account in Chrysal may be and probably is exaggerated, but as Scott says in his notice of Johnstone, the author of it - "But when all exaggeration has been deducted, enough of truth will still remain to incline the reader to congratulate himself that these scenes have passed more than half a century before his time."
And it may be added, that when sober men, hoping to find the exaggeration very great, sought out the only remaining servant, they were constrained to own that it was best for all that no more should be said of the matter.
Francis Dashwood, Lord le Despencer, was the founder of the order, and among the members were the Earl of Sandwich, the Hon. Bubb Doddington, Wilkes, Churchill, and Paul Whitehead.
* Lord le Despencer was not satisfied with caricaturing the rites of the Christian religion only : in the 'Gentleman's Magazine, vol. xli., may be seen a curious notice of a fête he had celebrated at Wycombe, with Bacchic processions and the like.
Lord le Despencer rebuilt the neighbouring church of Wycombe in order to show his liberality - and to afford a pleasing termination to his avenue; and that he might complete the farce characteristically, he had a huge ball placed on the church tower, and the inside fitted up as a room wherein to hold convivial parties; and finally he had the heart of Paul Whitehead - the "Paul the Aged," the secretary and steward of the Medmenham mysteries, deposited in the church."
Every trace of the Franciscans was afterwards carefully removed from the walls, and now Medmenham Abbey is again a peaceful, pleasant dwelling.


out beyond Medmenham is Danesfield, where are considerable traces of an encampment, popularly attributed, as the name tells us, to the Danes.
Along this part of the river, and by the roots of the Chiltern Hills, are several of those earthworks; which are probably of Roman construction.


Nearly opposite to Danesfield on the Berkshire side is Hurley, a village of old houses, several of them interesting from their structure, and all more or less picturesque in form.
The village lies in a pleasant valley, and should be visited.
In the Conqueror's time it belonged to one of his Norman knights named Geoffrey Mandeville, who founded a priory there for Benedictine monks, and dedicated it to the Virgin.
Some few fragments of the building still remain.
In the reign of Elizabeth, or beginning of that of James, a mansion was erected by the then owner of the estate, Sir Richard Lovelace; "a gentleman of metal," says old Fuller, "who in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, making use of letters of marque (under Sir Francis Drake), had the success to light on a large remnant of the King of Spain's cloth of silver, I mean his West Indian fleet; wherewith he and his posterity are warmer to this day.
King Charles created him Lord Lovelace, of Hurley." ("Worthies,' Berks.)
The house, which he built with a portion of this wealth, was a large, rambling place, uniting considerable state with much discomfort.
From being built on the site of the old monastery, it was called Lady Place.
During the latter part of the reign of Charles II. and the whole of that of James II., this house was the meeting-place of the peers and leading commoners who were dissatisfied with the royal proceedings, and friends to the Prince of Orange.
The meetings were held under cover of a round of splendid hospitalities, by which the noble owner of the mansion is said to have exhausted his fortune.
The more secret consultations were held in a vault under the house, which had been originally the burial-place of the monastery.
It is said that it was in this vault the measures were adopted that led to the Revolution of 1688, and in a recess at the end were signed the memorials inviting the Prince to come over.
An inscription was, about a century after the event, placed in the vault, recording the circumstances, and stating that on account thereof "that Powerful Prince" visited the vault, after he had ascended the throne; and that it had also been visited by General Paoli (a less fortunate manager of revolutions), in 1780, and by George III. and his Queen in 1785.
For his services, Lord Lovelace was rewarded by William with the office of Captain of the Band of Gentleman Pensioners, but he continued to live in so costly a style as to involve himself in debt, and Lady Place was sold under a decree in Chancery.
The house passed through various hands, till in 1837 it was pulled down on account of its dilapidated condition.
Near Lady Place are Hurley mill and weir, and a little farther we come to Temple House, neither of which need detain us.
On the opposite side is Harleyford, a large house surrounded with rich grounds, and as it lies embosomed among the trees, looking far better across the river than when close at hand.

Bisham Abbey and Church

We next come upon the fine beech-groves of Bisham, and soon see, rising from among them, the old grey church tower; and presently a curve in our river brings us to a spot which shows us the abbey and the church, both standing before us on a smooth lawn beside the stream, in whose placid water they are again figured.
In the reign of Stephen the manor of Bisham, then called Bustleham, was given by Robert de Ferrars to the Knights Templars, who built a preceptory there.
At the dissolution of the order the manor passed into private hands, and in 1338 William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, to whom it then belonged, founded a priory on the site of the preceptory, for canons of the Augustine order, and endowed it with a revenue of £300 a year.
At the suppression of the smaller religious houses Bisham had a revenue of £357. 4s. 6d.; but the monastery, instead of being suppressed, was refounded for the Benedictines, and its income greatly increased.
Three years afterwards, however, it was suppressed along with all similar establishments.
The abbot, unlike his brother of Reading, was "conformable," and his fate was as singularly lucky as that of the other was unhappy.
He received a mitre, afterwards married, and had, it is said, five daughters, each of whom became the wife of a bishop - which was rather wonderful, if true.
In the old conventual church many celebrated men were interred.
The body of the founder of the priory, which was originally buried at Cirencester, was removed here by Maud his widow.
His son William, Earl of Salisbury, one of the warriors of Poitiers, was laid beside him.
The catalogue of famous men buried at Bisham in the fifteenth century is a remarkable one, and gives a startling idea of the state of the nobility of England then, when a little retired place like this was the depository of so many men of rank, all of whom came to a violent end.
The list is as follows:- Thomas, Earl of Salisbury, who died at the siege of Orleans in 1428; Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury and Warwick, beheaded at York in 1460; Richard Neville, "the King-maker," - killed at the battle of Barnet, 1470; his brother John, Marquis of Montague, killed at the same battle ; and Edward Plantagenet, son of the Duke of Clarence, beheaded in 1499, for attempting to escape from confinement.
Here was a lesson on worldly greatness upon which the monks might well moralize.
Over their remains magnificent monuments were erected; but they were destroyed at the dissolution of the monastery.
Of the old abbey itself all that is left is a gateway, which serves as the entrance to the present mansion.
The modern "abbey" is of the Tudor period, and was erected by Sir Edward Hoby; it is a stately-looking specimen of the manor-house of that time, but neither of the grandest nor most beautiful kind.
There is a tradition that Elizabeth made it her temporary residence.
The church is a venerable looking ivy-covered edifice: in a chantry chapel attached to it are some rather splendid monuments of members of the Hoby family.
Two of them have effigies in complete armour.

Till we arrive at Marlow there is nothing else to notice.
The river is beautiful; and both banks afford pleasant scenes for the eye to rest upon, but the Berkshire side is much the finer.
The famed groves of Bisham descend close to the water, and their sombreness is relieved by the glimpses which at every bend in the river are caught of the gables of the abbey, and the old church tower; while the ridge of Cookham Hills rising above them, breaks the uniformity of outline and agreeably varies the picture.
On the Buckingham side there is a wide meadow, but as the path is along it, the other side is what most engages and most repays attention. As we approach Marlow its suspension bridge has an exceedingly light and graceful appearance, standing out as it does from a background of dark trees and round-topped hills.



Great Marlow is a market-town, a borough sending two members to Parliament, and contains above six thousand inhabitants.
Its principal street, which is a very broad one, slopes up from the river, and is crossed at the top by another long street, giving the town somewhat the shape of a capital T.
From these streets several smaller ones branch out.
About the look of the town there is nothing remarkable.
It has a good many shops, but they are mostly small and of a common-place kind.
It has several inns, and one a very tolerable one.
It has some large houses, but none that I remember of a very noticeable order.
The handsome suspension bridge was erected in 1835, and is a great ornament to the river.
The church stands at the foot of the bridge, and was built about the same time.
It is of the style fitly named "modern Gothic," and is, with infinite good nature, greatly admired by the inhabitants, who do not, however, so much admire the tax laid upon them for bridge and church, which together they complain of as a serious affair, and pressing hardly upon their not very flourishing trade.
I know of hardly anything connected with the history of the town that deserves repetition: and as little about its present appearance and circumstances, which are just those of an every-day sort of second-rate agricultural town.
There is an annual cattle-fair, at which there is generally a great show of horses, and usually some of large size and excellent form are exhibited.
To the cattle-fair succeeds a pleasure-fair, at which, beside the usual shows and sports, there is generally a great variety of goods and housekeeping stores - almost enough to remind one of the times when even abbots and lords used to purchase their household matters at these annual fairs.
The pleasure-fair seems a dull one.
The countrymen hereabout are not of a mirthful cast, and their liveliness is of a very laborious character.
Marlow has not produced many celebrated men; and has few associations of a rememberable kind connected with it.


One, however, must not be unmentioned.
Shelley dwelt here for a while, and whilst here wrote his remarkable poem of the 'Revolt of Islam;' to which, in the late edition of his poems, Mrs. Shelley has appended a note stating the circumstances connected with his residence in this place, which should be read by all who think harshly of him, as well as by his admirers:-
"During the year 1817, we were established at Marlow, in Buckinghamshire.
Shelley's choice of abode was fixed chiefly by this town being at no great distance from London, and its neighbourhood to the Thames.
The poem was written in his boat, as it floated under the beech-groves of Bisham, or during wanderings in the neighbouring country, which is distinguished for beauty."
But from the pleasure he derived from the beauty of the scenery he found a great drawback.
The town was surrounded by the mansions of the wealthy, but was itself inhabited by a miserably poor population, and whose ordinary poverty was then aggravated by the circumstances of the times.
"The changes produced by peace following a long war, and a bad harvest, brought with them the most heart-rending evils to the poor.
Shelley afforded what alleviation he could.
In the winter, while bringing out his poem, he had a severe attack of ophthalmia, caught while visiting the poor cottages.*
* It is said that he was so moved by the sickness he saw about him, that he actually studied medicine, and walked the London hospitals, in order to fit himself to alleviate the misery by his personal attendance; but I do not see that Mrs. Shelley mentions it: it was, however, quite in accordance with his general unselfish benevolence.
I mention these things, for this minute and active sympathy with his fellow-creatures gives a thousand-fold interest to his speculations, and stamps with reality his pleadings for the human race."
And it is for these reasons that I quote this passage.
Shelley was a man of lofty aspirations and of true genius, and strongly averse as I feel to the tenour of many of his speculations, I cannot but reverence the noble philanthropy of the man, and his earnest sincerity of purpose, as well as admire the splendour of his genius.
Remembering too his youth, and the exasperating circumstances of his life, brought on though they were generally by his own reckless defiance of other men's opinions, and his angry attacks on what they held most sacred, - and remembering also the growing sobriety of his views, one cannot but believe that had he lived longer, and further observation and reflection had shed their mellowing influence over his genius, he would have altered many of his sentiments as well as have added much to them.
I am afraid that Marlow has still a very poor population.
The houses about the meaner streets have a wretched poverty-stricken aspect, and there are more evident signs of vice forcing themselves on the attention than is at all common in countrytowns of the same size and class.
And the complaints of the inhabitants accord fully with the general appearance.

Marlow Weir

Quitting Marlow, we pass by Mile End, where are large paper-mills, by which the weir makes a fine waterfall; we then reach Marlow Moor and race-ground.
Looking down the river, the high Cookham downs and Quarry Woods present a beautifully diversified prospect, and the woods and high grounds of Buckinghamshire are little less beautiful.
The Buckingham hills, however, gradually recede from the river, and the bank is flat; on the Berkshire side the hills accompany us some way farther, the river making a considerable curve round the foot of Cookham Hill.

On the top of this hill, or Cookham Heath, we have a delightful breezy walk, and one pleasant enough to excite a wish to be on that side of the river.
There is no place to notice now for some distance along the banks.
Westhope House and grounds are passed, and presently Little Marlow, which is noticeable as the place where was a Benedictine nunnery, and where is an ancient church; after which, till we reach Hedsor, we meet with neither village nor hamlet, and hardly with a house-only with a succession of sweet bits of river scenery.
There is nothing here to describe, nor any stories to tell - for no battles have been fought, nor great men dwelt here.
We will, therefore, as we have four or five miles to walk, have a little chat by the way about some of the things that are among the most observable in the upper and middle course of the river, but which have been passed without notice, or with only a word.
We have nearly completed the first stage of our ramble, and another opportunity may not occur.
They are only small matters, however, but they are small matters that belong to the Thames, and that ought to be noticed.

Aits, Islands

Of all the things that are seen on the Thames, or beside it, none add more to its beauty or are more characteristic of it than the aits, as the little islands, or rather islets, are called, with which it is studded through the greater part of its upper and middle course.
These are extremely numerous, occurring everywhere, sometimes singly and far apart, and sometimes in clusters ; and they are almost as various and beautiful as they are numerous.
Not many of them are of any great size, and only two or three have dwellings upon them ; excepting such as are used for locks, when it is not uncommon for the lock-keeper's house to be built on the ait : but several have toy houses taking the form or name of temple, or grotto, or summer-house, according to the taste of the proprietor.
Some of them are planted with groups of good-sized trees, such as ash and abeles, and others that will thrive in damp soils; but the alder and willow are the most common, and perhaps are most suitable for the situation.
The smaller aits are generally planted with osiers.
As these aits occur in the shallows, they are frequently surrounded by beds of rushes; while the willow-herb, and the tall loose-strife, and the similar flowers that love such places, grow in marvellous profusion about them, so that they are often encompassed by a belt of brilliant colours.
Those that are used as pleasure grounds by private possessors have their banks generally made-up, and set about with piles and wattles - greatly to the injury of their beauty.
The natural boundaries are always pleasing in form, always take the easy pliant varying line that most harmonizes with the opposite banks of the river.
It is always thus in nature.
The smallest bit of broken bank that Nature is left to mould and dress, soon becomes an object that is graceful; that must be admired if a man will stoop to examine it: - its curves, its furrows, the flowers that deck it, the flowing herbage, the rich-tinted mosses contrasting with the dark brown mould - look at them, and say whether they form not a dainty little picture of Nature's designing.
And one thing that renders these aits so pleasant to come upon, is, that you are almost certain to see some of the many graceful tribes of water-birds playing about them.


If the birds are of the shier kind, they take wing and away; and then their flight it is a pleasure to watch - hardly inferior to that of watching the gambols of the less timid.
The common water-birds are mostly, I believe, met with here, and at the proper seasons some that are not so common; but the aits are especially the abode of the two that are eminently Thames birds - I mean the swan and the moor-hen.
Of the upper part of the river the moor-hen or water-hen (the common gallinule of naturalists) is certainly the most attractive and characteristic bird.
You meet with the field-birds along its banks, as you do everywhere; king-fishers are not very rare, and are always a gladsome sight, but they are gone like a sudden flash of splendour, while the water-hen is so abundant, and so fearless, and with its nimble antics so diverting, that the most careless Thames rambler must form an acquaintance with it.
It generally builds on the aits, and lives on the water, seldom rising even to the lower branches of the trees on the banks, though it will do so sometimes, and when driven from the ground by the sportsman's dog, will nestle on a bough, and remain there quite quietly till the danger is over.


What the water-hen is to the upper, the swan is to the middle course of our river.
This noble bird is familiar to every one who has ascended the Thames even to Richmond, and is seen in goodly flocks as low as Chelsea; but it is sailing on the clear water among the beautiful scenery between Windsor and Henley that it is seen to most advantage, and there it will be felt to be the very perfection of grace as it "floats double, swan and shadow."
It is said to be decreasing in numbers, but it is still very plentiful.
The Thames swans are property, the principal owners being the Queen, and the Dyers' and Vintners' Companies.
The nests of the swans are built on the aits, or in the osier-beds beside the river.
They are large compact structures, formed of twigs and osiers or reeds, and are built so as to be out of the reach of the water; every pair of swans having its "walk" - or proper district within which others do not build.
A great deal of pains is taken to preserve the swans, and a waterman, or some person living near the swans' walk, generally has charge of each pair, and receives a small sum for every cygnet that is reared.
It is his duty to see that the nests are not disturbed, and to prevent, as much as possible, the eggs or young birds from being stolen; he also, within the influence of the tide at least, builds the foundation of the nest.
Mr. Yarrel has given a very full and interesting account of our Thames swan, and has recorded several anecdotes of its remarkable instinct and foresight.
But Thames swans are not infallible.
One that had her nest on an ait, where I could watch it daily, brought her young ones - five lively creatures - off the nest for the first time on a cold raw morning, as the tide was falling; in consequence of which the little creatures got in the mud at the base of the island, and the old birds could not by any means get them back to the nest, or even away from the mud.
The old swan at length nestled over them and tried to keep them warm, but by the time the tide had again risen, three of them were dead.
Mr. Yarrel mentions that the female is occasionally seen to carry her young ones on her back; in this instance she for a long time afterwards would scarcely ever trust them off hers when out of the nest.
She used to raise her wings a little - not so much as they do when in full sail, and the young ones seemed to have a remarkably snug berth.
She was very proud of her progeny, and, when I whistled, would come swimming up with them on her back, and sail round and round with an expression of pride and pleasure that scarcely could be exceeded by a human mother with her first swanling.
I do not know whether there might not have been traced here the effects of indulgence; for the little pair came to be so used to be carried, that at last they would not willingly swim, and the old one used to be obliged to dive, in order to shake them off.
During incubation the birds are very fierce.
The male swan, or cob, as he is called, takes his post at the edge of the ait, and attacks every creature that comes near.
He is very strong, and by no means an opponent to be despised at such times.
Some men sent a large dog out to the nest of the pair I have been speaking of, and he advanced boldly enough, but the swan met and seized him, and forced him under the water, at the same time spreading out his great wings he beat him violently with them.
The dog yelled piteously, and the men went out in a boat, and with some difficulty succeeded in beating off the infuriated bird.
But I must not gossip at this rate; I will only add about swans, that the City Companies make an excursion up the river to Marlow on the first Monday in August, for the purpose of taking up the cygnets and marking them, the marks being notches or nicks on the mandible.
The mark of the Vintners' Company is two nicks, from which came the well-known sign of the Swan with two nicks (or, as corrupted, two necks).
The annual excursion is called swan-upping, which has got to be commonly called swan-hopping.

Weirs and locks

After the aits, the next most noticeable things are the weirs.
Our river has no falls, and these are the best substitutes the rambler will find.
They are constructed chiefly for the navigation, but also for the mills, the water above the tide being often very scanty.
As picturesque objects, much must not be said for most of them.
But when the water is rushing over, there is always something pleasurable, and even exhilarating, both in the sight and sound.
And some of the weirs are very picturesque when viewed in connexion with the surrounding scenery, to which they impart animation and interest.
The locks are mostly formal and ungainly, but some of them are pleasing.
By some of the locks and weirs there are rude thatched cottages with a variety of sheds and lean-tos stuck against them, and a bit of bright flower-garden on one side, and oars, eel-pots, and nets are hung about the walls and palings, making the place look as if altogether laid out for a sketcher.
The barge navigation of the Thames has greatly fallen off, especially in the upper part, since the general adoption of the railway for the conveyance of goods.


The only other thing I shall notice is the fishing; and I shall say very little about that.
"The scenery on the banks of the Thames is of unrivalled beauty, and few streams contain a greater variety of fish and fishing-stations," wrote * Hofland, 'Angler's Manual", who had well worked the Thames, and who was as good a judge of both river-scenery and river-fishing, and had had as much experience in both, as most men.
There is fly-fishing in the higher parts of the river; but trolling and bottom-fishing are the most usual kinds, and a punt is the most common station.
Fly-fishing is a fine, healthy, wholesome sport; it is nonsense to call it dull work, or its practitioners blockheads.
It is, on the contrary, from its exhilarating influence that it has been so great a favourite with the clever men.
A dull man cannot make a good fly-fisher.
He may hunt well, or shoot well, but to fish well is out of the question.
Chantrey called fly-fishing the amusement of Genius, which is nearer the mark.
It is curious, by the way, to notice the unusual honour that has been paid to it in our day.
Men of eminence in almost every mental pursuit have published its praises.
There is, as the representative of poetry and moral philosophy, Professor Wilson, whose glowing essays all will remember; in natural philosophy, Sir Humphry Davy, with his poetic descriptions and scientific explanations.
Law has sent Chitty to give us a textbook; and painting, Hofland, with his professional knowledge and piscatorial enthusiasm; and music, Phillips, who has brought his art to set off his favourite sport.
I do not remember whether medicine has contributed anything, but we know that Sir Charles Bell practised, if he did not write about the gentle craft: nor do I remember that theology has added to its literature, but certainly many of the most successful of the present race of fly-fishers are divines.
Apart from the fish, the practice with the fly is infinitely preferable to any other mode.
Hofland used to say that every landscape-painter ought to be a fly-fisher; not merely because, as Davy has so well said, it leads him into the more secluded and wilder scenery of nature, for there the landscape painter would go without adventitious inducement - but because, whilst angling, somehow the scenery always appears so much fresher and brighter.
And I think there is something in it.
Sir Joshua Reymolds has mentioned in his Journey to the Flemish picture-galleries that he was greatly struck with the superior brilliancy of the colours on again looking at the pictures after he had stooped down to make some memorandums respecting them ; and he attributes the effect to the contrast with the white paper on which his eyes had just been steadily fixed.
But there is something more than that.
Every one must have felt the weariness that arises from looking over a large collection of pictures, and the freshness and beauty there appears to be, on revisiting the gallery, in some that in our previous visit we thought almost worthless or mediocre.
The fact is, the eye becomes satiated, exhausted.
And so with scenery.

We go from one scene to another without respite or diversion, and both eye and mind become saturated and refuse to admit more.
But in wandering from spot to spot, rod in hand, there is every minute a new interest excited, and then the eye returns refreshed to drink in greedily the loveliness before it.
In trolling there is something of this; in bottom fishing from a bank less: but the punt is horrible.
To be nailed to the bottom of a chair - as is the Thames fashion - in the midst of a punt moored fore and aft, and there sit and dip and pull up, and dip and pull up again and again, without change or exercise for hours together, and all for the sake of a few roach or dace, is a thing so monstrously monotonous, that one cannot help wishing, when we see a punt-angler, the wish of one of old, that "joy may be given in proportion to the tediousness he has suffered."
But punt-fishing is emphatically the Thames fishing, and the punts and their contents at least make pretty patient groups in the landscape, and are pleasant to sketch.
Not very far from where we now are, there used some years ago to be one the very acme of a punt-angler.
He was a comely, rotund, middle-aged gentleman, and used to dress in the height of neatness and good-fitting.
His chair seemed contrived for ease.
He had a livery servant beside him, to cast in ground-bait, put the gentle on the hook, and take the fish off - do every thing in fact but catch.
Nor lacked he sherry-flask or sandwich-box, by which ever and anon he might repel the insidious approaches of weariness or vacuity, and recruit the inner man.
And thus he might be seen to sit and watch the float, lift up his rod and put it down again, day after day, "From morn till noon, from noon till dinner-time" the summer thorough.
But I was only to say a few words!
Verily, we must for the future eschew gossip and walk faster.

CLIEFDEN. (Cliveden)

We have now reached a part of our river where the scenery is of the loveliest and most rememberable character.
The four miles between Cookham bridge and Maidenhead are unquestionably superior to any we have yet passed over, and, in their way, are hardly surpassed by any in England.
The scenery of the Thames has here attained its highest in the scale of beauty.
Other places there are along its banks which are visited oftener, and with more interest, but they owe much of their charm to the associations connected with them or the edifices that adorn them, while this has little beside its natural beauty to depend on.
Along these four miles the river flows in easy windings, having broad meadows on the right, and on the left lofty hanging woods.
Before we stroll along them, we must, however, visit the villages on each side of our starting-place.


Cookham is an extensive parish, embracing hill and dale, heath and meadow, with houses scattered widely about.
The inhabitants are chiefly employed in agriculture, but there are many dwellings of a superior class.
The church stands at the foot of the bridge, and has a pleasing appearance from the river.
The houses which compose the village are at a little distance from both church and river.
A wooden bridge was about five years ago erected over the Thames at Cookham to connect the road from Maidenhead to Wycombe, which was previously connected by a ferry.
No doubt the bridge [1829-1865?] is of service for the traffic between these towns, and has been beneficial to the villages to which it affords an easier approach, but it has added nothing to the beauty of the river, and has spoilt a very picturesque view of the village.


The village of Hedsor has nothing notable about it, except that it affords many fine views and pleasant walks.
In the churchyard lie the remains of Nathanael Hooke, the author of the 'Roman History.'
Hedsor Lodge, the seat of Lord Boston, is celebrated for the beauty of the grounds, which, though inferior to Cliefden, and perhaps to Taplow, are deserving of all their fame.
They are greatly broken in surface, well-wooded, and command prospects up the Thames and across the Buckingham hills, of vast extent and richness.
Near Hedsor the Thames receives a pretty little tributary called the Wick, which rises near West Wycombe, passes High Wycombe and Woburn, and in its course of some ten miles turns several mills, and expands into one or two sheets of ornamental water.
From Hedsor a pleasant walk of about three miles leads to Beaconsfield, where lie the remains of Waller and of Burke.
The house in which Burke resided - and who that has read his Correspondence will forget it and the joyful hours he spent there, with the gloomy close? - was accidentally burnt down in 1813.
Burke's remains were deposited in the church.
Waller was buried in the churchyard, where is a showy marble monument to his memory.
The monument is shaded by a large walnut-tree, the presence of which, so unusual in a churchyard, is accounted for by the family crest being a walnut-tree.
His house, Hull Court *, a somewhat stately-looking red brick mansion, still stands.
* [In vol II.] By some mistake of writer or printer, in the notice of the neighbourhood of Hedsor (i. 196), Waller's residence at Beaconsfield is called Hull Court, instead of Hall Barn.

Cookham Islands, Formosa Island

Let us return to our river. Immediately below Cookham bridge is a series of connected islets that are laid out as pleasure grounds, and look very beautiful.
On the Berkshire side are a number of rather superior houses, several of which have a neat and cheerful appearance.
Some of them are of considerable size and pretension.
Formosa is the most celebrated, and, with the grounds, fairly merits the name it bears.

Cliveden Reach

But it is to Cliefden that the river here owes its chief loveliness, and whether we view the valley of the Thames from it, or float leisurely along the stream and regard it as the principal object, we shall alike find enough to delight the eye and kindle the imagination.
The path lies along the Berkshire side of the river, and Cliefden, which is on the opposite side, is a magnificent object from it, but the rambler should here by all means take a boat - and there are two or three places near Maidenhead at which one can be hired - and row gently along, if he would see this part in all its varied beauty.
Cliefden runs along the summit of a lofty ridge which overhangs the river.
The outline of this ridge is broken in the most agreeable way; the steep bank is clothed with luxuriant foliage, forming a hanging wood of great beauty, or in parts bare so as to increase the gracefulness of the foliage by the contrast, and the whole bank has run into easy flowing curves at the bidding of the noble stream which washes its base.
A few islands deck this part of the river, and occasionally little tongues of land run out into it, or a tree overhangs it, helping to give vigour to the foreground of the rich landscape.
In the early morning, when the sun has risen just high enough to illumine the summit of the ridge and highest trees, and all the lower part rests a heavy mass of shadow on the sleeping river, the scene is one of extraordinary grandeur.
From the summit the views are really magnificent.
I believe they are unequalled along the Thames - or only equalled by that from the north terrace of Windsor.
Both up and down the river they are of surpassing beauty.
Looking over Windsor the eye ranges far away till it loses itself in the hazy distance, to which the royal pile gives an aérial grace, while it adds majesty to the whole view.
Looking up the river, from the heights towards Hedsor, we have a prospect little less splendid, though of a very different character.
A vast extent of country lies at your feet covered with dense wooded tracts, from which ever and anon peeps up an old grey tower, and the blue smoke marks a secluded village, while our glorious river winds away like a broad stream of molten silver.
I have gazed over these scenes on an autumn day till their very beauty has become oppressive.

Cliveden House

But it is time to look at the house-

Cliefden's proud alcove,
The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love,

as Pope, in his 'Epistle to Lord Bathurst,' terms it.
Cliefden House was erected in the reign of Charles II., by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.
The Duke of Buckingham has been unlucky in having his name sent down to posterity by men of genius whom he had offended, and who have managed matters so that one cannot hear it mentioned without its starting a flight of ugly associations.
He was, beyond doubt, possessed of considerable ability; even Dryden, in the exquisite portrait of him as Zimri, admits that he was

A man so various, that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome

though he somewhat qualifies the praise - if praise it be - in the next lines:-

Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
But in the course of one revolving moon
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.

(Absalom and Achitophel.)

And what follows is well known.
The worst that can fairly be said of him is, that in a vicious and profligate court, he was the most vicious and profligate; and in an age when man and woman alike cast off shame as a needless garment, he was the most shameless.
Pope's allusion, in the lines quoted above, is to his connexion with the Countess of Shrewsbury, whose husband he killed in a duel.
While they fought, the Countess is said to have stood by dressed as a page, holding Buckingham's horse; and then to have gone home with him, though covered with her husband's blood.
Pepys a little while afterwards notes in his Diary:
"I am told that the Countess of Shrewsbury is brought home by the Duke of Buckingham to his house; where his Duchess saying that it was not for her and the other to live together in a house, answered,
"Why, Madame, I did think so, and therefore have ordered your coach to be ready to carry you to your father's"; which was a devilish speech, but, they say, true; and my Lady Shrewsbury is there, it seems."
But with all his skill and his vice,

In squandering wealth was his peculiar art,

as Dryden says, and his vast fortune was speedily dissipated, and his mansion and estates were in a few years out of the reach of his enjoyment.
His end was not quite as Pope described it:-

In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung,
The floors of plaster and the walls of dung,
On once a flock-bed, but repaired with straw,
With tape-tied curtains, never meant to draw ;
The George and Garter dangling from that bed
Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red,
Great Villiers lies.

But there is no doubt that, "ruined, both body and mind, fortune and reputation equally," this favourite of the monarch and pride of the court spent his last days in contempt and comparative poverty.
Of the Countess, it has been said that there is a sort of poetic justice in the way in which her fate passes unrecorded, and that we may fairly judge she too died in poverty and obscurity.
But her fate is not quite unknown.
She found a second husband in a man of an ancient and honourable family, and no doubt we should find on her tomb that she "lived respected and died lamented."

Cliefden was for some time the summer residence of Frederick, Prince of Wales,the father of George III.
The most memorable occurrence connected with his abode here is of a literary nature.
The Prince, Johnson tells us, "was at that time struggling for popularity, and by the influence of Mr. Littleton, professed himself the patron of wit; to him Thomson was introduced, and being gaily interrogated about the state of his affairs, said, that "they were in a more poetical posture than formerly;' and had a pension allowed him of one hundred pounds a year."
In consequence of this connexion, Thomson wrote, in conjunction with Mallet, his Masque of Alfred, which was first performed at Cliefden, in August, 1740.
The Masque, which is dull enough to have been altogether Mallet's, has gone to the limbo appointed for all such productions; but one song has survived - "Rule Britannia" - and is not likely to die as long as our wooden walls last.
The Masque hints that the Prince was to be another Alfred, but he was
"Only poor Fed - And no more's to be said."
Villiers's house was destroyed by fire in 1795;
the present mansion [1824 - 1849] stands on the site of the old one, of which some small portions are preserved in it.
Although a far less ambitious structure than the former, the present is a spacious and noblelooking building.
It is now the seat of Sir George Warrender.


To Cliefden succeeds Taplow Court, the seat of Earl Orkney.
The grounds of Taplow are lower than those of Cliefden, and of course the prospects are less extensive, but they are such as would be of great attraction elsewhere, though here overshadowed by their giant neighbour.
Many of the closer scenes, and those in which only a peep of distance comes in between a break in the trees, as well as some of those in which our river plays the chief part, might be transferred at once to canvas, so exquisite is their composition.
By the river is a cavern that has at some unknown time been cut in the chalk cliff.
Taplow church is modern and placed lower than the old one.
From the churchyard there are fine views over the river.
Taplow itself is but a small place, but there are some picturesque houses and cottages about it.
Just here are some mills that have an uncommonly attractive and pleasing appearance; they are connected with some islands, and, with their foaming weirs, the woods of Cliefden beyond, and our river in front, make a pretty picture.


Maidenhead is a market-town of one long street; but there is nothing whatever in it to stay the feet of a rambler.
The public buildings are a chapel and a gaol.
But the chapel is a modern and altogether common-place one, and the gaol we have nothing to do with.
Maidenhead is not the original name of the place.
It is called South Eadlington by Leland, and Sudlington by Stow.
Camden says it received the name of Maidenhead from the head of one of the ten thousand British virgins, reported to have been killed by Attila, having been kept here: but as it was at first called Maydenes-hythe, or Mayne-hythe, it is more probably supposed to have owed its name to a large timber wharfage which there was near where the bridge now stands - hythe signifying in Saxon a wharf or quay.
Maidenhead is not a separate parish, but stands partly in Bray and partly in Cookham; it has, however, a chapel, the minister of which is elected by the mayor and corporation, and is not subject to the jurisdiction of the bishop.

Maidenhead Bridge

The bridge over the Thames is a very fine one of six arches; it is of stone, and was erected towards the close of the last century, from the designs of Sir Robert Taylor:

Maidenhead Railway Bridge [1838 - date]

but it is far surpassed in grandeur of design by the bridge which, just below it, carries the Great Western Railway over the river, which is probably the finest brick bridge in England.
There is a railway station at Maidenhead, and I would suggest this as an excellent place for a day's excursion.
Thanks to the day-ticket system, the cost of the journey from London is but small, and on this best of railways the time consumed in travelling is brief.
At Maidenhead a boat may be hired, and with little fatigue or expense a delightful day may be spent.
All that is pleasant along the river lies upwards; but that, as has been seen, is most pleasant.
The boat may be moored by the cottage under Cliefden, and the grounds (I believe, all but the most strictly private part) are open to the visitor.
It is a favourite place for pic-nic folks, and there is down by the river a spring in great reputation for tempering the sherry.
The Londoner who has not been here, has little conception how beautiful his river is.


Passing under the railway bridge, we enter upon a portion of our river that is a perfect contrast to that we have just left.
The country on each side is low, and long beds of osiers line the river, only the square tower of Bray church, rising from a clump of large trees before us, at all relieves the way.
The name of Bray is sure to recall the memory of its "vivacious vicar," who, "whatsoever king did reign, would still be Vicar of Bray."
Fuller, after quoting the proverb - the sole one of this county -
"The Vicar of Bray will be Vicar of Bray still,"
gives this account of both parish and parson :-
"Bray, a village well known in this county, so called from the Bibroces, a kind of ancient Britons inhabiting thereabouts.
The vivacious vicar thereof, living under King Henry the Eighth, King Edward the Sixth, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, was first a Papist, then a Protestant, then a Papist, then a Protestant again.
He had seen some martyrs burnt (two miles off) at Windsor, and found this fire too hot for his tender temper.
This vicar being taxed by one for being a turncoat, and an inconstant changeling -
"Not so," said he, "for I always kept my principle, which is this, to live and die the Vicar of Bray."
Such many, now a-days, 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." ("Worthies, Berkshire.)
The well known ballad makes the vicar to have lived in later times, turning windwards from the days of Charles the Second to those of the second George.
For the honour of Bray, it must be added that the church records refute both.
But barring specialities, there is truth in the story, and the race is not extinct yet.
Bray itself has not much in it that is of interest,


but about a mile from it, at Ockwells, formerly Ockholt, there is a very curious manor-house, now used as a farm-house.
It is of the time of Henry VI., and is one of the most interesting relics of the kind left.
The old house is of a singularly picturesque appearance, with a number of projecting wooden gables and some curious windows.
In the interior is a fine hall, belonging to which there are an open wooden roof, now hidden by a flat ceiling, a handsome bay-window, and a large old fireplace.
In the hall windows is some painted glass.
There was formerly a chapel attached, but it and some portions of the house were burnt down about sixty years ago, through the carelessness of a beggar, who, having been permitted to sleep there, shook the lighted ashes from his pipe among the straw.
What remains of the chapel is used as a pigeon house.

Monkey island

Below Bray our river brightens more and more till we reach Windsor.
On the way are not many notable things.
The first we come to is an island at which pleasure-parties usually land, and which is often visited by the angler.
It rejoiceth in the name of Monkey Island, a name which it has received from a pleasure house built on it by the late Duke of Marlborough, the drawing-room of which is painted over with monkeys in all sorts of positions.
The house is hastening to decay, and is only kept from entire ruin by the occasional attention of the fisherman and his family who live in a cottage on the island, and who rent the water for the fishery, and two or three of the neighbouring aits for the purpose of growing basket-rods, and who supply boiling water and the like for visitors.

On the left lies Dorney, with a little rural church buried among trees; and an old mansion.
"The proud keep of Windsor" now stands out majestically before us, and as we advance, the whole pile by degrees unveils itself.
This noble edifice is seen to great advantage as we follow the windings of the river.
Every bend presents it in a new position, and its manifold combinations succeed each other with ever fresh beauty.
When you think you have settled that the last is the best view, a few steps show a fresher and a better.
Windsor people prefer the nearer views, but on the whole, I think its appearance most beautiful from the river just before reaching Boveney, especially when the western sun is glancing kindly upon it; and scarcely elsewhere can it appear grander than from the same spot
"About the springing of the gladsome day."

Surley Hall and Clewer

Surley Hall, so well known to fishermen and Etonians; and Clewer, visited by all who visit Windsor, on account of its richly-decorated Catholic chapel, require no further mention here.


Whatever of interest attaches to Windsor is centred in the Castle.
The town is of goodly extent, has a large and busy population, yet is it quite lost sight of in the deep shadow of the mighty pile beneath which it lies.
Topographers describe the town, account for its name, trace its history - who heeds them?
The stranger visits it, puts up at his inn, walks about the streets, and the day after he has quitted it forgets all about it, and everything he has seen in it, except the Castle, and what is connected with the Castle.
Windsor Castle is eminently happy in its situation, in that it is so placed as to exhibit its vast extent and massive proportions to the best advantage; and at the same time to afford the most agreeable prospects, and a healthy dwelling-place to its possessor.
It stands on a hill of moderate elevation, which slopes gently on all sides but the north, which is somewhat abrupt.
The town is built along the slopes, and neither interferes with the view of the Castle or from it.
Camden has given so admirable a description of the position of the Castle, that every one who has written of Windsor has quoted it:
"It is built," he says, "on a high hill, that riseth with a gentle ascent: it enjoyeth a most delightful prospect round about ; for right in front it overlooketh a vale, lying out far and wide ; garnished with corn-fields, flourishing with meadows, decked with groves on either side, and watered with the most mild and calm river Thames.
Behind it arise hills everywhere, neither rough nor over high, attired as it were with woods, and even dedicated by nature to hunting and game."
Windsor Castle is the only building we possess that is worthy to be the residence of the sovereign of England.
The hideous mass called Buckingham Palace is fit only for a penitentiary, or a railway terminus, or to present to Dr. Reid to carry on his windy labours in, and to decorate with his prodigious cowls.
But Windsor Castle is worthy of the country, and in its magnificent outline, and its somewhat incongruous aggregation of parts, the growth of ages differing in almost every respect from each other, it seems fitly to symbolize the character of the nation slowly compounded of antagonistic materials into its present sublime form.
One likes that there should be one national palace that has grown with the growth of the nation, and accommodated itself to its progress - that has advanced with it from the rude strength and suspicious defences of the feudal days, through the struggles of early civilization, to the present calm display of greatness and refinement, of power and wealth.

The history of the Castle commences with the Conqueror.
The ground on which stands both town and castle had been granted by Edward the Confessor to the Abbey of Westminster; but William being desirous to possess it, the abbot agreed to exchange it for some lands in Essex.
William erected a building, probably a fortress, upon it.
The neighbouring country he converted into a royal forest, and perhaps used his house as a hunting lodge.
By Henry I. it was entirely rebuilt, and made a residence; walls and ramparts were added; and it was raised to the rank of a castle.
He held his court in it, on two or three occasions; and in a chapel which he built celebrated his second marriage with considerable splendour.
In the time of Stephen - the age of castles - it was reputed to be the second for strength in the kingdom.
Henry II. held a parliament in it, which was attended by the King of Scotland and his brother, as well as by the barons of England.
As soon as the news of the imprisonment of Richard reached this country, the castle was seized by John; and when the barons had compelled him to sign Magna Charta, he shut himself up in it; and the barons on one occasion laid siege to it without success.
In the struggle between Henry III. and the barons it once or twice changed masters.
With both Edward I. and Edward II. it was a frequent and favourite abode.
Edward III. was born at Windsor, and it was by him that the castle was raised to its present form and magnitude.
The reign of this prince was in every way a brilliant era in English history.
The mind of England made one of those marvellous advances that are sometimes to be observed in the life of a nation.
Men of lofty genius appeared in every calling that required the intellectual faculties to be brought into most powerful exercise.
The victories of Crecy and Poitiers displayed the military skill and indomitable bravery of Englishmen"; and whatever else may have been the good or evil of Edward's continental wars, those splendid victories, as Mackintosh has finely said,
"surrounded the name of his country with a lustre which produced strength and safety; which perhaps also gave a loftier tone to the feelings of England, and a more vigorous activity to her faculties." ('History of England, i. 311.)
And in the arts of peace the achievements were no less glorious, while the consequences have been far more abiding.
Chaucer gave dignity and lustre to our language, equal and more than equal to what had been won for our arms.
He struck the English lyre to a bolder and better note than had yet been heard; and though nearly five centuries have rolled away, his poems still live to excite alike our delight and admiration.
In architecture, works of marvellous skill in design and beauty of execution were produced.
The law, it has been said, was improved to its greatest height.

And as if to mark the workings of men's minds, the struggling for mental advancement and freedom, Wiclif stood forth to do battle against spiritual despotism, and gave the first shock to the power that had bound in fetters, as of adamant, the souls of the civilized world.
The age grew in splendour as in genius.
The meaner houses of a former generation would no longer satisfy the proud monarch of England.
Here, in his birth-place, he resolved to build a new and more magnificent edifice, and he intrusted the working out of his plan to a master worthy of the task.
William of Wykeham was appointed Surveyor of the Works, and Windsor Castle was designed in nearly its present magnitude and arrangement.
But the splendour of these feudal times must not blind us to their real evil.
The country at this time probably was in a state of considerable suffering; and even the steps taken to complete this building show the oppressed condition of the labourers.
Wykeham was appointed to be Surveyor of the Works in 1356, with a salary of one shilling a day, and sixpence a day for his clerk; but for the workmen, warrants were issued to the sheriffs of the surrounding counties to impress all that they could find, and in one year three hundred and sixty were, so seized and employed "at the King's wages."
Pestilence swept many away; better wages, and the desire of seeking employment where they pleased, tempted others.
To fill up the ranks new writs were issued; such as were caught in attempting to escape were committed to prison, and, to prevent others from eloping, heavy penalties were denounced against any one who should employ such as had quitted the service of the king.
Records still exist which show that the impressment went on until 1374, when, as they cease entirely, the works are supposed to have been completed.
Thus, then, had the monarch who had won for himself so glorious a name, now built for himself what was then, as it still is in many respects, the noblest palace in Europe.
And well might the designer look with pride and pleasure on the pile he had fashioned, and even have set his mark upon the whole of it, as, with more of humility, he did on the Winchester tower - "This made Wykeham."
During the progress of the works the walls witnessed many a splendid ceremonial.
Edward had already established the "Order of the Garter."
The meetings of the order were held in the Castle, and, to render them as gorgeous as possible, the monarch lavished his wealth with unrestrained munificence.
Whatever device could be thought of, he called into requisition.
The most splendid jousts and tournaments were held.
Knights were invited from all parts of the world to be present at the festivals, and free passes were provided for all who came.
At this time, too, John, King of France, his son Philip, and David, King of Scotland, were prisoners here, and Edward increased the splendour of the entertainments in order to do honour to them.
The old chroniclers have exerted their best skill to describe these feasts, and probably the feudal state was never adorned with more of external pomp and glory than when the royal conqueror of Crecy presided in the Castle of Windsor, with his brave bride, and his son, the hero of Poitiers, beside him, and surrounded by the captive kings, and his own brave knights, and the flower of foreign chivalry; and all the pride and beauty of the land gracing the spectacle.
In the reign of Henry IV. the Round Tower was made the prison of another king, James I. of Scotland.
He had been seized by a trick when a child, but never was prisoner more nobly treated.
The education he received was the best that could be procured, and far better than he could possibly have obtained in his own country; and he was trained in all manly exercises, His residence in this round tower he has rendered romantic by the account he has given of it in his poem of 'The King's Quair' (or book).
He was about twenty when he was brought here, and naturally was grieved at being deprived of freedom; and so he would day and night bewail his fortune, in that he, a man, lacked liberty, while "bird, and beast, and fish eke in the sea" lived without restraint. To relieve the tedium of the thoughts which haunted him, his "custom was to rise early as day;" and having done so one May morning, he tells us, he was -

Bewailing in my chamber thus alone,
Despaired of all joy and remedy,
Fortiret[*tired] of my thought, and woe-begone,
And to the window gan I walk in hyt [* haste]
To see the world and folk that went forby [* thereby];
As, for the time though I of mirthes food
Might have no more, to look it did me good.

Now under his window was a fair garden and green arbour, set about with trees and hawthorn hedges -

So thick the bewes[boughs] and the leaves green
Beshaded all the alleys that there were,
And middest every harber might be seen
The sharpe, greene, sweete juniper,
Growing so fair with branches here and there,
That, as it seemed to a life without,
The bewes spread the harber all about."

"And the little sweet nightingales" sat on the small green branches and sang so loud and clear that all the gardens and the walls rang with their melody.
And listening to the nightingales' song, he found it was "all of love:"

And therewith cast I down mine eye again,
Where as I saw walking under the tower,
Full secretly new comyn her to pleyne,
The fairest or the freshest younge flower
That ever I saw methought before that hour.

Our "sage and serious" Milton has told us how a grave citizen "forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe among the pleasant villages and farms," and who has from each rural sight and sound conceived delight, how even he,

If chance with nymph-like step fair virgin pass,

will find a pleasure in her looks far above that he drew

From smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine
Or dairy;

and no wonder, therefore, that our young prince, who had been lately studying Gower and Chaucer, and just now listening to a nightingale whose song was all of love, no wonder that he, on seeing such a beauteous lady, should suddenly "feel start the blood of all his body to his heart," as he says he did.
How fair the lady was, and how he sighed and mourned when she departed from his sight, may be seen in the poem: here there is only room to add that this lady was Jane Beaufort, the daughter of the Duke of Somerset, and that she became afterwards the wife of the royal poet, and lived to mourn his miserable death.

From the time of its erection by Edward III. Windsor Castle remained for nearly a century without any important alteration or addition; when Edward IV. erected St. George's Chapel, perhaps the most exquisite specimen of the architecture of that period in existence.
It was designed by Richard Beauchamp, bishop of Salisbury, and on his death, in 1481, its completion was superintended by Sir Reginald Bray, who afterwards built the beautiful chapel of Henry VII. at Westminster.
In the reign of Henry VII. was constructed the building near the public entrance to the state apartments which bears his name.
Henry VIII. rebuilt the principal gateway.
Of the sort of life led by the young courtiers here in his reign, we have a lively description in a poem which the accomplished Earl of Surrey wrote during an imprisonment which he suffered in the Round Tower for eating flesh in Lent.
The poem is perhaps the most beautiful of his productions, but it is so linked together throughout, that no extract would convey a fair idea of it, and it is too long to quote entire.
After all, Elizabeth is the sovereign to whom we owe the most real enjoyment and the pleasantest recollections connected with Windsor.
She caused to be constructed the North terrace, the view from which is worth a thousand times all the other sights in or about the Castle - and she led our great poet to write of those merry wives and that merrier knight, the remembrance of whose doings and sufferings is so bound up with these localities, as always to be the first that occurs to a stranger on his visit to Windsor.
Mr. Knight has shown, in his Life of the poet, good cause to believe that the 'Comedy of the Merry Wives of Windsor' was for the first time played before Elizabeth in this castle in 1593.
The gallery which Elizabeth built, and which is named after her, was a good example of the architecture of the age, but it has been improved by Wyatt.
No addition was made to the building from this time till after the Restoration, when Charles II. erected the Star Chamber, in which are the State apartments, and altered the older parts in accordance with what the guide books call "the French taste."
He also employed Verrio to cover the ceilings with his tawdry gods and sprawling goddesses - fit divinities to preside over the doings of that court.
His alterations and decorations are, happily, pretty well got rid of and even the ladies whose portraits he hung upon the walls are banished.
The best of his doings here was the continuing of the terrace round the east and part of the south fronts.
Little more was done in any way to the castle till the reign of George III., who had the interior of St. George's Chapel carefully restored.
The castle had been altogether neglected by his two predecessors; and he himself resided the best part of his life in a comparatively mean house called the Queen's Lodge, which stood on the south side of it.
Towards the end of his life he had some apartments made habitable, and the remainder of his days, the last of them under saddest circumstances, were spent within his hereditary palace.

In the next reign was undertaken the entire restoration of the whole pile, and the adaptation of it to modern habits.
The Parliament voted £300,000 for the purpose, and Mr. Wyatt (afterwards Sir Jeffrey Wyatville) was the architect whose design was successful in the competition.
The works were commenced in 1824, and have been continued with some interruptions to the present time, and upwards of £800,000 have been expended in their execution.
The change made in the edifice has been very great.
The whole has been remodelled; and while greater splendour has been imparted to the interior, it has been attempted to render the exterior more imposing.
Very different opinions have, as might be expected, been expressed as to the success of the architect; but generally it is considered that he was not unsuccessful.
As a distant object the appearance is unquestionably very much improved, but viewed closely many of the additions have a distressingly unsubstantial look, and the details are by all admitted to be often unsuitable.
The interior of the castle is of course fitted up very sumptuously.
The State Apartments, the Armoury, and one or two other rooms, are now open to the public without the payment of any fee to the attendants, for three days in each week; the private rooms can only be seen when the Queen is absent, and by very special permission.*
* The State Apartments are open to the public every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and admission tickets (available for a week from the day they are issued) may be obtained gratuitously of Messrs. Colnaghi, 14 Pall-Mall East; Ackermann, 96, Strand; and Moon, 20, Threadneedle Street.
Official Guide-books may be purchased for 1d. each where the tickets are obtained: and to those guidebooks I refer the reader who may desire to know the contents of the rooms.
In viewing the State Apartments, St. George's Chapel, the Round Tower, the magnificent views from the North terrace, and finally in strolling over as much as time will allow of the Great Park, a summer day may be most delightfully and profitably employed; and the holiday is as inexpensive as it is delightful.
By taking a return ticket on the Great Western Railway the cost of the journey is rendered very trifling; while, through the considerate kindness of her Majesty, though the utmost facility is given to the visitor, no fee is permitted to be taken from him.
I have not seen the private apartments, and shall not obtrude upon the reader an account of those which are open to all, and of which descriptions are already too abundant.
The chief pictures in the State Apartments are - a noble series of portraits by Vandyke ; Lawrence's Waterloo portraits, which look very unsubstantial after the Vandykes, and, in any case, exceedingly unheroic; the portraits and historical paintings by Rubens; and a miscellaneous collection of various value, among which used to be the famous Misers of Quintin Matsys, the picture said to have been created by Love; but I am told that this, with some other of the more celebrated ones, are not shown under the recent arrangement.

St. George's Chapel is the most interesting and the most beautiful place accessible to the visitor.
It is a perfect architectural gem: and in such admirable preservation, and kept in such order, that one feels transported at once to the time when it was erected.
The stalls and insignia of the Knights of the Order of the Garter add not a little to the appearance as well as to the interest of the chapel.
As has been said already, it was built by Edward IV., and it is one of the very choicest specimens of the enriched style of his time.
In it are interred the remains of Edward IV., Henry VI., Henry VIII., and Charles I.
The remains of George III., with those of George IV., William IV., and other members of his family, lie in a vault under the Beaufort Chapel, which is attached to the east end of St. George's Chapel.
The Round Tower affords a prospect of extraordinary extent and variety.
A board affixed to one of the battlements informs the visitor that on a clear day twelve counties may be seen from it.
The Round Tower is built on an artificial mound, above which it rises to a height of 80 feet; the watch-tower is 25 feet higher; and the entire height above the quadrangle is 148 feet.
The original height of the Round Tower was only 50 feet above the mound ; and its elevation was one of the happiest of Wyatville's alterations.
But however much more extensive the view may be from the tower, that from the North Terrace has a far more pleasing and richer effect.
Indeed, of its kind, it has scarcely a rival.
At your feet are the tops of trees of giant stature, screening the meaner houses of the town, and guiding the eye to the "distant spires" and "antique towers" of Eton ; and the "expanse below of grove, of lawn, of mead,"

Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among,
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver winding way!

And over the richest variety of cultivated country through which our Thames wanders, the glorious prospect extends right away to the metropolis.
The very beautiful enclosure which encompasses the Castle on the south and east, is called the Little Park, and in it are laid most of the choicer out of door scenes of 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'.
A tree is still pointed out as "the oak with great ragg'd horns," that Herne the hunter used to "walk round about all winter-time at still midnight," and to which Falstaff was decoyed, and then by a Welsh fairy mocked; but the more likely tree, as Mr. Knight has shown in the "Local Illustrations" to the play, in his edition of Shakspere, was inadvertently cut down by direction of George III. when a young man.
The Little Park is united to the Great Park by a magnificent avenue of elms, called the Long Walk.
This "walk," which consists of a perfectly straight road, three miles long, having on each side a double row of elms, was laid out in the reign of Queen Anne, and the trees are now in their maturity.
At the termination of it, in the Great Park, is a colossal statue of George III., by Westmacott.
Both parks originally formed part of Windsor Forest.
About them are vast numbers of noble old trees; and in the Great Park are plenty of deer.
The Little Park is entirely private; but the Great Park is open.
It is a fine place, of very varied character and vast extent, and, with the forest, affords walks that would require many days to explore thoroughly.
From many parts of the Great Park the Castle presents a most majestic appearance.
At the extremity of the Great Park is Virginia Water, the favourite specimen of the taste of George IV.
The lake is said to be the largest artificial sheet of water in England.
The place is very pretty, but has altogether a sort of plaything look.
On the lake are mimic frigates; the fishing-house is a Chinese temple; in a hollow just by an English bridge are the real ruins of a Grecian temple, brought from their original site, and placed here in a snug corner, where a hermit might have built a cell.
Then there is a cascade where a natural cascade would not be, and wanting in all that gives character to a natural one.
On the west side of the park is the only remaining portion of Windsor Forest, a fragment, but a noble one.
Pope's poem of "Windsor Forest' is well known; but a few lines of it - the most truthful descriptive verse he ever wrote - will serve better than prose to describe the forest, and well close this over long notice of Windsor:

Here waving groves a chequer'd scene display,
And part admit, and part exclude the day.
. . .
There interspers'd in lawns and opening glades,
Thin trees arise that shun each other's shades.
Here in full light the russet plains extend;
There wrapt in clouds the bluish hills ascend.

E'en the wild heath displays her purple dyes,
And midst the desert fruitful fields arise,
That, crown'd with tufted trees and springing corn,
Like verdant isles the sable waste adorn."

Pope's lines are in some respects an embellishment of the scenery; but it has a boldness and rugged grandeur far above what he describes.

Windsor castle from Eton in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Windsor castle from Eton in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849


Connected with Windsor by a bridge, and forming in appearance one town with it, is Eton: they are, however, on opposite sides of the Thames, and in different counties.
There is nothing in Eton that requires notice besides its famous college.
Eton College was founded by Henry VI. in 1440, and he provided endowments for a provost, ten priests, four clerks, six choristers, twenty-five poor grammar scholars, and a master to teach them, and twenty five poor men, whose duty was to pray for the king.
There are now on the foundation a provost, seven fellows, two conducts, seven clerks, seventy king's scholars, ten lay clerks, ten choristers, with inferior officers and servants.
Besides these there are scholars not on the foundation (oppidans), who usually amount to between six and seven hundred.
Attached to the foundation are several good scholarships at King's College, Cambridge, for the scholars; and also about forty comfortable livings for the fellows.
It would be idle here to enumerate the celebrated men who have been educated at Eton.
None of our public schools have contributed a worthier or larger proportion to our roll of fame, and there is little reason to fear that its eminence will soon be lost.
There is a well known ceremony, so associated with this school, that it seems necessary to mention it - especially as it is rumoured that the college authorities have resolved on its abolition.
It is celebrated triennially on Whit-Tuesday, and is called the Eton Montem, the object of it being to provide a sum of money called salt-money to be given to the senior scholar or "Captain" of the school on his removal to King's College, Cambridge.
The scene is a very gay one.
The scholars, dressed in fancy uniforms, chosen by each according to his own taste, march in military array, commanded by a marshal, colonels, and other officers, to an elevated spot called "Salt Hill," just beyond Slough on the Bath road, where they wave a flag with much formality.
The festival is attended by large numbers of people of rank and fashion, as well as by old Etonians and the friends of the scholars; and as all who are present are laid under contribution for "salt," and as the two "saltbearers" are zealously assisted by an active band of "scouts," the amount collected is generally very considerable, verging from one thousand pounds to one thousand four hundred pounds; and after the deduction of expenses a very handsome sum is presented to the captain.
The college buildings consist of two quadrangles, in one of which are the chapel and school, with the dormitory of the foundation scholars; in the other are the library, provost's house, and lodgings of the fellows.
With the exception of the chapel, which is of Caen stone, they are almost entirely constructed of brick.
Their erection was commenced in 1441, but they were not entirely completed till 1523.
Some buildings have been recently erected which are to be employed as lodgings for the oppidans.
*[in Volume II] There have been many changes in Eton College since the brief notice of it appeared in the first volume.
The New Buildings for the Collegers (not Oppidans, as was written by a slip of the pen), including a handsome school library, have been completed, and the greatly improved system of examinations brought into full exercise; improvements of the highest value, and conferring great honour on the liberality of the College authorities.

The Chapel has been admirably restored: and, lastly, the Montem has been abolished.
The chapel is a handsome building externally; and by the recent extensive alterations in the interior has been much improved.
The library is a goodly room with galleries, and contains an excellent collection of books.
A library especially for the use of the scholars has been lately added.
There are one or two statues of the founder; and a commencement has been made towards the formation of a collection of busts of eminent Etonians, that must eventually become exceedingly interesting and valuable.
The buildings are a striking object from the North terrace of Windsor Castle, but they everywhere group well when seen from a distance.
The finest view of these

Spires and antique towers
That crown the watery glade,

is from our river.
Gray's 'Distant Prospect' of them is that from the North terrace of Windsor Castle.

End of Volume I.


Before recommencing his journey, the rambler ought, perhaps, to be reminded that there are a great many places in the vicinity of Windsor and Eton, but at a little distance from the Thames, and consequently not within the limits of this volume, which well deserve a visit, either on account of their interest or their beauty, or of both combined.
Although we cannot turn aside to visit them, a few may just be mentioned.
On the Windsor side, there is a delightful stroll through the Great Park and Windsor Forest to Binfield, where, in the house of his father, Pope spent his youthful years, and wrote the greater part of his early poetry.
The house, his "paternal cell," as he styles it in the well-known lines,
"A little house, with trees a row,
And, like its master, very low,"
has given place to a much larger structure; but a room which tradition has fixed on as "Pope's Study" forms a part of the present building.
The tree at some distance from the house, under which he is said to have been accustomed to compose, and which bore the inscription "Here Pope sung", was blown down several years ago.
There are other noticeable places and pleasant walks, but they have been already referred to generally, in speaking of Windsor Forest, within the precincts of which they chiefly lie.

Slough, Stoke Poges

On the Eton side of the river is Slough, in which is the house that was occupied by Herschel, the eminent astronomer, and after his death by his equally eminent son.
Near Slough is Upton, whose venerable and deserted church and quiet church yard are often said to have suggested the imagery of Gray's famous Elegy: but that honour is more justly claimed for the churchyard of Stoke-Poges, some two or three miles north of Upton.
Stoke is altogether intimately associated with the memory of Gray.
In early life he spent his College vacations there, and as long as his mother lived he was a frequent resident in the house in which she dwelt with her sister; and there he wrote a good deal of his poetry.
The house, known as West-End Cottage, is still standing, but it has been altered from the "compact box of red-brick with sash windows", which he describes, into a smart modern-looking villa.
Of Stoke Manor House, the scene of his "Long Story", only a portion of one of the wings remains.
The church yard, as has been said, is unquestionably the spot that has the fairest claim to the 'Elegy written in a Country Churchyard': - and it is the appropriate resting-place of the remains of the poet.
Graphic Pope's Tree at Binfield. Burnham is another beautiful locality with which the name of Gray is associated; the reader of his letters will hardly need to be reminded of his lively notice of Burnham Common and Beeches.
The common and the almost unrivalled beech-woods remain as when he described them, and appear as lonely now as then, and even more venerable.
Burnham is about midway between Stoke and Hedsor, and, except for its connexion with the name of Gray, would have been more properly mentioned when at the latter place - if mentioned at all.

We will now return to the Thames.
The best and pleasantest way to pursue our ramble is to pass through the Playing-fields of Eton College, and take the field-path to Datchet.
To float along the stream between Eton and Datchet bridges [1812-1851] is pleasant enough, but the ordinary path on the right bank of the river is very wearisome to the pedestrian, whose view on that side is closed by the monotonous park wall, which extends the whole distance, while on the opposite side there is little in the level banks to relieve the attention.
No weariness will be felt in a stroll through the College Playing-fields.
Beautiful are they in themselves, and beautiful in their associations.
Over the broad smooth meadows numerous ancient elms stand apart in solitary grandeur or ranged in formal groves and avenues.
The "spires and antique towers" of the College, more or less concealed by the thick foliage, crown the westward prospect.
Alongside the fields wanders the "hoary Thames his silver-winding way"; and beyond, in all its matchless majesty, rise the stately turrets of Windsor Castle.
The fine manly "boys" recall the memory of those old Etonians who have figured prominently on the wider playing-fields of the world; and make one think of Gray's poetry - perhaps also of Charles Lamb's good saying: in either case we shall not fail to regard "the little victims" with interest - if it had been possible not to feel interest for them on their own account.
The field path to Datchet will afford some pretty glimpses across the river, with Windsor Castle rising from among the noble trees of the Home Park; it will also yield to the bookish pedestrian Some recollections.
Falstaff's misadventure in the buck-basket at Datchet Mead does not, however, as the name might suggest, belong to this side of the river.
"The muddy ditch at Datchet Mead, close by the Thames' side," into which the Fat Knight, who has contributed so largely to the world's stock of enjoyment, was so unceremoniously thrown while "glowing hot, like a horse-shoe hissing hot," and where "he had been drowned but that the shore was shelvy and shallow" - that notable spot was on the opposite bank, near the end of Datchet Lane.


The recollections connected with this part of the river are chiefly piscatorial.
Within the whole extent of angling memory, or the reach of tradition, has the Thames about Datchet been a favourite haunt of Thames fishermen.
Here it was that honest Izaak was wont to fish for "a little trout called a samlet or skegger-trout, that would bite as fast and freely as minnows, and catch twenty or forty of them at a standing."
He used to fish here along with his famous friend, "that under valuer of money, the late Provost of Eton College, Sir Henry Wotton; a man", continues the inimitable and kind-hearted old gossip, "with whom I have often fished and conversed; a man, whose foreign employments in the service of this nation, and whose experience, learning, wit, and cheerfulness, made his company to be esteemed one of the delights of mankind: this man, whose very approbation of angling were sufficient to convince the modest censurer of it, this man was also a most dear lover, and a frequent practiser, of the art of angling." *
* Complete Angler, chap. iv.
It was on one of the occasions, when they were thus fishing here together, that Sir Henry, when he was beyond seventy years of age, made that description of a part of the present pleasure that possessed him, as he sat quietly in a summer's evening on a bank a-fishing - While stood his friend with patient skill
Attending of his trembling quill;

which that friend repeats as a proof of "the peace, and patience, and calm content, that did cohabit in the cheerful heart of Sir Henry Wotton;" and which he calls "a description of the spring, which glided as soft and sweetly from his pen, as the river does at this time, by which it was then made."

The place where Walton and his friend used to fish, is just that spot, gentle rambler (and if a gentle rambler, also, I am sure, a dear lover, if not a frequent practiser, of the gentle craft), where you have been so long stayed - I hope not unwillingly - listening to this gossip.
Wotton used to say, as his friend relates, that "angling was an employment for his idle time, which was then not idly spent; and that it was, after tedious study, a rest to his mind, a cheerer of his spirits, a diverter of sadness, a calmer of unquiet thoughts, a moderator of passions, a procurer of contentedness; and that it begat habits of peace and patience in those that professed and practised it."
Wherefore, that he might enjoy these benefits undisturbed, he built for himself a fishing-box here, by a lovely bend of the river, a short mile below his College residence, and somewhat farther from Datchet ; and there it was that Walton annually spent some days with him in the fishing season.
Every vestige of Wotton's house has long disappeared.
The egregious Verrio - the proper Titian of Charles the Second's Court - built himself a summer-house on the site of Wotton's; but that too has long been destroyed.
Afterwards the place, which belongs to Eton College, was let to successive tenants, who rented the fishing along here, and grew osiers on the bank and the adjoining ait, and a mean hut marked the site of the Provost's box; but it has now for many years been again occupied by a fishing-house, and something of its old fame is restored.
Black Pots and its master are both well known to Thames anglers.

But Datchet was the resort of a more important fisherman than either Walton or the Provost; the "Merry Monarch " himself used sometimes to angle here, as is told in some rather uncomplimentary verses, which have been attributed to the Earl of Rochester.
Their paternity has been questioned, but they are about equal to those he generally wrote - and "Lory" was not accustomed to be over smooth of speech towards his royal master.
Here are the lines:-

Methinks I see our mighty monarch stand,
His pliant rod now trembling in his hand;
Pleased with the sport, good man, nor does he know
His easy sceptre bends and trembles so.
Fine representative, indeed, of God,
Whose sceptre's dwindled to a fishing-rod!
Such was Domitian in his Roman's eyes,
When his great godship stoop'd to catching flies:-
Bless us, what pretty sport have deities!
But see: he now does up from Datchet come,
Laden with spoils of slaughter'd gudgeons, home;
Nor is he warn'd by their unhappy fate,
But greedily he swallows every bait,
A prey to every kingfisher of state.

Did Charles come to angle at Datchet in hope of enjoying that "calmness of spirit, and a world of other blessings attending upon it," which Wotton expected and found?
It could hardly have been as "a rest to his mind after tedious study" that he came hither; though it may perchance have been to "divert unquiet thoughts."
Charles, the initiated will have perceived, was a fly-fisher; he is not to be classed with the honourable and patient fraternity of quill-bobbers.


Datchet itself is one of those ordinary semi-rural villages you may find in the vicinity of every large town.
Till lately it was one of the quietest, not to say dullest of its class.
Now that the western terminus of the Windsor railway is here, it wears a somewhat more active appearance; but when the line is carried on to Windsor, Datchet will doubt less relapse into its ancient somnolescent state, to be disturbed only for the moment by the shrill whistle of a locomotive flying through it, or the irruption of a noisy holiday party.
But though Datchet contains nothing to attract or requite the curiosity of a casual visitor, it is a pleasant genteel place to reside in ; and the old church, though not remarkably handsome, has some few points about it, and some monuments in it which will interest those who take delight in the examination of our old village churches.

Old Windsor Weir and Cut and Ham Island

Below Datchet the Thames makes some bold curvatures, pursuing its course in capricious windings, as streams, like ladies, are often wont to do.
But all its deviations need not be followed.
The broad towing-path, which lies along the right bank, will shorten the way a good deal.
Yet, after all, the pleasantest course is seldom the straightest; and it will be well still to keep on the Datchet side, where foot-paths may be found nearly to Wraysbury, and the river itself, instead of a straight navigation cut, can be thus accompanied.
Not that there is much to be seen along this part of the Thames.
The banks are flat and tame, and little beauty is added to them by the extensive osier-beds which skirt them, and cover the aits which occasionally diversify the stream.
Yet is the scenery not to be despised.
After the first half mile or so, you come upon delicious little quiet closed-in bits of river scenery, that it is quite refreshing to linger by.
Though our river here is neither grand nor strictly beautiful, it has a tranquil companionable loveliness that is no less agreeable.
Just the place is it to delight the river rambler, or the angler who with the proper taste for his craft cares less for the fish than the recreation, and enjoys far more than either the pleasant scenery which the pursuit opens to him.
At every curve in our river we see, on looking back, the lofty keep of Windsor Castle adding a finishing grace to the landscape; while forwards Cooper's Hill and some other more distant up lands form a scarcely less graceful background; and the river itself seems to be the especial home of the swans.

"King John's Hunting Lodge"

Presently we come to a very noticeable house - in appearance something between a farm-house and a mansion, or the parsonage of some wide-spread glebe.
It is a fine substantial structure and looks very picturesque as it lies there under the shadow of those magnificent walnut-trees.
Mr. Jesse, in his work entitled "Spots of Interest in the vicinity of Windsor and Eton", has given a full and interesting account of this building, which he calls "King John's Hunting-lodge".
The house is a very old one, but unquestionably of some centuries later date than the reign of John.
The interior (which I have not seen), Mr. Jesse says, is quite as remarkable as the exterior; and he adds,
"It is evident from the old foundations and the appearance of the adjoining ground, that this was a very considerable place in former times.
It is also curious that an underground passage has been traced for some distance from the house leading directly towards Windsor Castle. . . .
I recollect the late Sir Jeffrey Wyatville informing me that he had discovered, and traced for a short distance, an underground passage at the lower end of the Round Tower at Windsor Castle, leading in the direction of the one already mentioned, and that there was an old tradition of such a one existing.
Should this ever prove to be the case, the projector of the Thames Tunnel cannot claim the merit of originality."
Originality of conception Brunel would hardly claim at any rate, as tunnels were certainly not a new idea when he projected that under the Thames.
But he is safe enough from any rivalry on the part of a Windsor tunnel, though if such a tunnel there were, it would be a formidable rival - making up in extent for any deficiency in size.
From the Round Tower to this lodge is just two miles in a direct line, and, though railway engineers have made tunnels of far greater length in our days, it would require some more veracious authority than Old Tradition - who is notoriously an old fabulator - to render it for a moment credible that such a work had been accomplished in the middle ages.
The nature of the soil would indeed make it no trifling task even now, with all the experience of the past twenty years, to carry a tunnel under the Thames here, and through the marshy ground that borders it.
The truth is, that these underground passages are by no means uncommon either in old manor-houses or castles, but in no instance, I believe, is there evidence that they have been traced to any great distance from the place where they originate, though in almost every case Tradition connects them with some other building in the same locality, whether at a distance of two or three hundred yards, or two or three miles, being a matter with which that busy dame seldom troubles herself.
These subterranean passages were doubtless constructed for the purpose of temporary concealment in troublous times - in some instances, with a view to escape from the house, if escape became necessary; and in either case they would not be carried farther than was needful for the purpose.

Old Windsor

It will be well to cross by the ferry to Old Windsor; as that place must not be passed without notice, though there is little in it to detain us.
It is a good sized and respectable village ; indeed, from the numerous mansions and well built houses it contains, it wears rather a stately air.
And it is of old standing.
Its greater neighbour it looks upon as of comparatively modern origin.
Before the present town of Windsor was in existence, Old Windsor could boast of possessing a royal residence.
The Saxon monarchs had a palace there; and as late as 1107 Henry I. held his court in it.
In the 'Saxon Chronicle', sub anno 1110, it is recorded that "this year, at Pentecost, King Henry held his court for the first time in the New Windsor."
British or Saxon remains have at different times been discovered about Old Windsor.

Cooper's Hill

Cooper's Hill, which now rises before us and so greatly enriches the scenery, is itself memorable as having given birth to the earliest professedly descriptive poem in the language.
The view from the summit is indeed sufficient to inspire a lover of nature.
A broad expanse of luxuriant and fertile country is spread at your feet, and stretches away till lost in the hazy distance,

While Thames among the wanton valleys strays.

The rich tract of Windsor Forest, and the beautiful country beyond, extends on the other side; numerous cheerful residences adorn and enliven the natural scenery; and the royal castle stands exposed in all the majesty of its proportions.
Some of the objects that animate the canvas of Denham have disappeared from the landscape; the ruins of the old abbey are no longer to be seen, the progress of cultivation has removed or softened some of the wilder features of nature, and the prospect seems, to an ordinary eye, more circumscribed than it appeared to the ken of the poet, - yet is it still very lovely, and would for its own sake amply repay the slight labour necessary to enjoy it.
Pope has said -

On Cooper's Hill eternal wreaths shall grow,
While lasts the mountain or while Thames shall flow:

and, though the greater excellence of later descriptive poems, and perhaps a more genial feeling for what is really beautiful in nature, have abated the eagerness with which Denham's verses used to be read, and taken off somewhat of the keenness of admiration with which they used to be quoted, yet will their real excellence long maintain for them sufficient celebrity to hinder the prophecy from being reckoned merely the hyperbole of a brother poet.
It is not, however, as has been often said, so much the descriptions themselves that render these verses so pleasing, as the easy semi-philosophic strain into which they seem so naturally to flow.
The poet did attain the excellence he sought after in the words of his famous apostrophe to the Thames:-

O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
My great example, as it is my theme!
Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
Strong, without rage; without o'erflowing, full.

"Four verses which," as Johnson remarks, "since Dryden has commended them, almost every writer for a century past has imitated."

Denham was one of those men who display in their writings a genius which their conversation does not promise.
When he published his "Sophy", Waller said "that he broke out like the Irish rebellion, three score thousand strong, when nobody was aware or in the least suspected it:" yet, notwithstanding this display of power, when in the following year his "Cooper's Hill" appeared, we are told that "a report was spread that the performance was not his own, but that he had bought it of a vicar for forty pounds." (Johnson.)
Denham's life was unhappy in the beginning and the end.
At the outset of his career he took to gambling, and dissipated a good part of his fortune.
When an old man (according to Grammont, who gives a very unfavourable sketch of him, at the age of seventy-nine, but if Wood dates his birth correctly, at somewhat over fifty) he had the folly to marry a lady of the Court, one of "King Charles's beauties", a Miss Brooks, whose age was only eighteen.
He was made as unhappy as he could expect to be.
The lady indeed died within a brief space, but Denham derived as little comfort from her death as he had from her life.
He was generally suspected to have poisoned her, and "the populace of his neighbourhood had a design of tearing him in pieces, as soon as he should come abroad; but he shut himself up to bewail her death, until their fury was appeased by a magnificent funeral, at which he distributed four times more burnt wine than had ever been drunk at any burial in England." (Grammont's Memoirs.)
He now became, either really or as a pretence, insane; after awhile, however, he recovered, and his recovery was celebrated by Butler in some satirical verses entitled "A panegyric upon Sir John Denham's recovery from his sickness".
He died a few months later.


We descend from Cooper's Hill to a spot especially sacred in the history of our country.
The long pleasant-looking slip of flat meadow is Runnemede, and the island by the upper end of it bears the name of Magna Charta.
Runnemede is said, in the Chronicle usually ascribed to Matthew of Westminster, to have been of old a place where treaties concerning the peace of the nation were made: the name signified "the Mead of Council".
On this fair meadow, in the summer time of 1215, met in hostile attitude the Pope's serf, John, the degenerate sovereign of England, and the flower of the English nobility; supported each by an army, but that of the Barons comprising the whole body of yeomen and free peasantry, and a band of auxiliaries representative of the capital, while the king's army was composed mainly of mercenaries.
John had sought help on every side, and it was only by the force of stern compulsion that he had at last assented to the meeting.
After brief parley here on this pleasant plain, on Trinity Monday, the 19th of June, 1215, was MAGNA CHARTA signed.
It has been the fashion of late to undervalue this great measure, and in the humour of the day to cast ridicule upon the whole proceedings.
It is hardly just, and certainly not generous, so to treat a measure, won with so much danger, and which wise men of each succeeding age, till our own, have regarded with unmingled reverence.
In a better spirit and with a noble eloquence wrote of it one who had carefully studied its provisions and thoughtfully traced its consequences, and who by his general knowledge of history and acquaintance with the laws of nations was better qualified than most men to estimate it aright.
"On the English nation," says Sir James Mackintosh, "undoubtedly the Charter has contributed to bestow the union of establishment with improvement.
To all mankind it set the first example of the progress of a great people for centuries, in blending their tumultuary democracy and haughty nobility with a fluctuating and vaguely limited monarchy, so as at length to form from these discordant materials the only form of free government which experience had shown to be reconcilable with widely extended dominions.
Whoever in any future age or unborn nation may admire the felicity of the expedient which converted the power of taxation into the shield of liberty, by which discretionary and secret imprisonment was rendered impracticable, and portions of people were trained to exercise a larger share of judicial power than was ever allotted to them in any other civilized state, in such a manner as to secure instead of endangering public tranquillity; - whoever exults at the spectacle of enlightened and independent assemblies, who, under the eye of a well-informed nation, discuss and determine the laws and policy likely to make communities great and happy; - whoever is capable of comprehending all the effects of such institutions, with all their possible improvements, upon the mind and genius of a people, is sacredly bound to speak with reverential gratitude of the authors of the Great Charter.
To have produced it, to have preserved it, to have matured it, constitute the immortal claim of England on the esteem of mankind.
Her Bacons and Shaksperes, her Miltons and Newtons, with all the truth which they have revealed, and all the generous virtue which they have inspired, are of inferior value when compared with the subjection of men and their rulers to the principles of justice; if, indeed, if[sic] be not more true that these mighty spirits could not have been formed except under equal laws, nor roused into full activity without the influence of that spirit which the Great Charter breathed over their forefathers."
(Hist. of Eng. i. 221.)

Magna Carta island

Runnemede is now used for a somewhat less important purpose than of old, though one not entered upon with less seriousness - the Egham races are annually run upon it.
Some, indeed, affirm that it received its name from having been used for a similar purpose in Saxon times, Runnemede being a corruption of Running Mead, instead of meaning the Mead of Council.
According to the popular tradition the Charter was signed on Magna Charta Island - whence its name.
The little stone building we see peeping out from among the willows was erected some fourteen or fifteen years ago, in commemoration thereof, by S. Harcourt, Esq., the owner of the island and of the manor.
It is prettily fitted up, has windows of stained glass with appropriate emblems; and contains the very stone upon which, as an inscription testifies, the Charter was there signed.
Traditions in such matters generally have some truth in them.
Recent investigations have brought to light the treaty by which Louis of France agreed to evacuate the country with his foreign followers, after John had made peace with the barons; and that treaty was signed on this island, as the attestation records: from which circumstance, no doubt, arose the tradition that the Great Charter was signed here.
From the island there used to be a ferry to Wraysbury, but now, if credence may be given to a board which is placed by the path that leads from the village to the river, communication is only allowed on that side with the island twice a week, "in consequence of the increasing annoyance experienced from visitors straying into the private walks" of Ankerwyke House.


Wraysbury (or, as it used to be spelled, Wyrardisbury) is a quiet, straggling, and remarkably secluded little village.
The church, which is a very respectable sample of a small village church, has been recently carefully repaired and restored.
It is worth examining.

Ankerwyke House

Ankerwyke House stands on the site of a priory of Benedictine nuns founded by Sir Gilbert Montfichet, the owner of the manor in the reign of Henry II.
Soon after the suppression of religious houses, a mansion was built where the nunnery stood, but, with the exception of the hall, which still remains, it has given place to a more modern edifice.
A yew tree of vast size and great fame stands near the house.
It stood there when the Barons met in the neighbouring mead, and it is still vigorous.
At three feet from the ground the trunk is twenty-eight feet in girth, and the branches over shadow a circle of above two hundred feet in circumference.

A TRIBUTARY. [The River Colne]

Here the good reader must pardon a digression.
At starting it was proposed neither to diverge far from the banks of our river nor to indulge in digressions, however we might be tempted thereto.
But that, it soon became apparent, was a rule which would be "more honoured in the breach than the observance"; and in the hope that the reader is of opinion, with Beroaldus and old Burton, that "however some mislike them as frivolous and impertinent, such digressions do mightily delight and refresh a weary reader" - and such I fear my reader too often is - with those good authorities to support me, "I do therefore the more willingly use them".
A short distance below Ankerwyke we come upon one of the arms by which the Colne unites with the Thames.
The Colne - Milton's Colne - is a stream of such singular interest, that I must depart a little from my usual practice when noticing the tributaries of the Thames, in order to trace it somewhat in detail, and just indicate its more memorable points.
That branch of the Colne whose source is farthest from the mouth, rises by a village called Market Street, about five miles south-east of Dunstable; but the branch which bears the name of the Colne to its head, has its source near Hatfield in Hertfordshire.
The former, which is called the Verlam or Muse, passes by Redburn and some other villages, and by Gorhambury, where was the famous residence of Lord Bacon; it then runs between the site of the Roman city of Verulamium, and the Saxon city of St. Alban's, both places of more than ordinary interest to the antiquary, and which no one can visit without pleasure.
Some five or six miles below St. Alban's, and not far from Colney Street, the Verlam is joined by the Colne, which is a much smaller stream, although it has been swelled by the addition of a brook that rises between Elstree and Barnet, and which some topographers have erroneously called the main branch of the Colne.*
* The carelessness with which such matters are treated in topographical works is remarkable.
I have noticed no less than four different and widely separated places mentioned as the source of the Colne, viz., Market Street, Hatfield, Elstree, and Chesham; and in each instance no other place was referred to.

After the confluence of these streams, the next town that is passed is Watford; near which is Cashiobury, the seat of the Earl of Essex, one of the most celebrated among the "show" mansions of the country.
The grounds, which are very beautiful, are watered by the Gade, a feeder of the Colne.
The river next flows by Moor Park, which has been the residence of a succession of celebrated men: among others, Cardinal Wolsey, the unfortunate James Duke of Monmouth, and Lord Anson have been its occupants.
At Rickmansworth the Colne it swelled by the Chess, a stream that rises near Chesham, in Buckinghamshire, a pretty little town in a pleasant situation.
The only place worth noticing on the Chess is Cheneys, once a seat of the Duke of Buckingham.


Harefield, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849

A few miles more bring us to Harefield, where stood a mansion that had been honoured by our two greatest bards.
On the last day of July, in 1602, Queen Elizabeth, in the course of one of her progresses, visited Harefield, the residence of the Lord Keeper Egerton.
Many were the entertainments provided for the occasion, but the most memorable was the new play of "Othello", performed by Shakspere's own company, and perhaps for the first time.
Some thirty years later, when Egerton's widow, the Countess Dowager of Derby, was the owner of Harefield, Milton wrote his "Arcades", as the poetic part of an entertainment to be presented before the Countess "at Harefield, by some noble persons of her family".
The fortune of the Countess was remarkable in thus having performed before her, in her own house, the works of the two greatest of English poets, under their own direction; and we may suppose she was worthy of such an honour, if it be true, as is said, that Milton was a frequent visitor at Harefield during his residence at Horton.
The mansion was burnt down about 1660: according to a tradition preserved by Lysons, "the fire was occasioned by the carelessness of the witty Sir Charles Sedley, who was amusing himself by reading in bed."
A few miles below Harefield the Colne receives a considerable tributary, the Mishbourne, which rises in the vicinity of Amersham in Buckinghamshire, and flows past the Chalfonts and Denham.
At Chalfont St. Giles still remains the cottage which the quaker Ellwood hired for the retreat of Milton in the year of the great plague 1665.
It was in this house that the blind bard wrote the greater part, if not the whole, of 'Paradise Regained'.
The Harefield house is a humble one, not much above an ordinary cottage either in size or appearance.
It has been a good deal altered for the worse externally, but the interior has been much less interfered with.
The present occupant is a tailor.
Chalfont village is one of the prettiest of simple country villages - containing a neat church, groups of picturesque cottages, and having about it many pleasant green lanes well stored with hedge row elms.
At Denham - the place described with so much zest by Davy in his 'Salmonia', and where he found such good fishing and excellent cheer - the Mishbourne falls into the Colne.
Somewhat lower the Colne passes by Uxbridge, as well as several villages of little celebrity.
The only thing to be noticed in Uxbridge is the house in which the commissioners appointed in 1614 to arrange the differences between Charles I. and the Parliament, prosecuted for fourteen days their ineffectual labours.

Iver, the next place by which the river flows, though now but an unimportant village, was once a market town.
It dates its origin from Roger de Iveri, a follower of the Conqueror.
In the church is a large and very curious monument to Sir George and Sir Edward Salter, "carvers to King Charles I."
Ritchings Lodge, a mile or two below Iver, has a place in our literature.
It once belonged to Lord Bathurst, whose possession of it Pope has celebrated in his letters.
Here he used to assemble around him the wits of the day.
In the gardens were inscriptions written there by Pope, Addison, Prior, Congreve, and Gay - "and what he esteemed no less", says Lady Hertford, "by several fine ladies".
From Lord Bathurst it passed into the hands of the Earl of Hertford, and Ritchings, called by him Percy Lodge, lost none of its fame with the change of name and owner.
Lady Hertford, better known perhaps as the Duchess of Somerset - herself of a literary turn - was also the patroness of the professed votaries of literature, and her connexion with Ritchings contributed as much to its celebrity as that of Lord Bathurst.
Her name authors of very various kinds delighted to honour.
She had the double fortune to be praised by the poetical and the pious.
She is the Eusebia of Dr. Watts; the Cleora of Mrs. Rowe.
Thomson dedicated his poem of 'Spring' to her, and immortalised in sounding verse her "unaffected grace",

With innocence and meditation joined
In soft assemblage.

And he entreated her to "listen to his song",

Which thy own Season paints; when Nature all
Is blooming and benevolent, like thee.

But he did not play the courtier as well in conduct as in verse.
Johnson tells a pleasant story of his unskilful management on a visit here.
"It was the practice of the Countess of Hertford", says Johnson, "to invite every summer some poet into the country, to hear her verses and assist her studies.
This honour was one summer conferred on Thomson, who took more delight in carousing with Lord Hertford and his friends, than assisting her ladyship's poetical operations, and therefore never received another summons."
The bard's insensibility to the lady's poetry was sufficiently provoking, but considering in what an elegant strain of flattery he had addressed her, the punishment does seem a little too severe.
My Lord, "good easy man", might, one would think, have ventured to shield the poet.
Shenstone managed matters better.
He did not "Slight her merit, but adore her place", as he intimates others did.
He went, listened patiently to her poetry, and then on his return home addressed to her a poem entitled "Rural Elegance", wherein he celebrated "her genius graced with rank", and the scene -

Where from gay throngs and gilded spires
Her philosophic step retires.

Shenstone laid on his colours with such strong impasto, that the Duchess was fain to beg that before the picture was exhibited, it might be a little softened, or else her name be detached from it.
Moses Brown was another of the poets whose verses did honour to the place and its fair occupant.
His poem on Percy Lodge was composed by command of the Duke and Duchess of Somerset.
But after all that the poets did for it, the description which her Grace wrote herself of it to her friend Lady Pomfret, is that which will be read with most interest, and preserve its fame the longest.
If we had not stayed here too long already, I would bring the reader into good humour with the lady - whom I am afraid I have drawn not as Lawrence would have done - by quoting some portion of it. Allons.


Colnbrook, by Camden, Gale, Stukeley, and others of our elder antiquaries, thought to be the Pontes of Antoninus, owes its name to its position by the river; though the curious old rhyme "Thomas of Reading" makes both river and town derive their names from its hero, Thomas Cole, the Reading clothier, who was murdered by the treacherous host of the inn at this place, where he had put up for the night on his way to London.


Thus far the Colne has not been deficient in places of interest, but that which has conferred most renown upon it is the village we next arrive at - Horton; a place dear to every lover of poetry - to every one who honours genius.
The author of "Paradise Lost" and "L'Allegro" has described the scenery of Horton as it appears to one who wanders trustfully about it:-

Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
While the landscape round it measures;
Russet lawns and fallows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray.
. . .
Meadows trim, with daisies pied;
Shallow brooks and rivers wide;
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosom'd high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some Beauty lies,
The Cynosure of neighbouring eyes.
Hard by a cottage chimney smokes,
From betwixt two aged oaks.

The mountains he speaks of are of course not to be seen here, but all else may.
It is pretty plain that the poet drew from what he saw; many of the same touches occur in a Latin epistle (Elegy i.) which he addressed to Charles Deodati, about the time he wrote "L'Allegro", and which professes to describe the scenes among which he is living.
His residence at Horton is an important period in the life of our great epic bard.
In the seclusion of this peaceful village it was that John Milton sought to prepare himself for the task he had in opening manhood taught himself to believe lay before him -

To that same lot, however mean or high,
Towards which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven,
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.

Milton's father had a house at Horton, and thither the young poet retired when he left the University.
Five years he spent there; and in that time, as he himself has told us, he read through all the Greek and Roman classics - an amount of labour which has excited some questioning.
That the time he spent at Horton was emphatically a time of preparation we know.
He who would be a poet, he said, his own life must be a poem.
The discipline necessary to be undergone by him who would "build the lofty rhyme", the youthful Milton was not disposed to regard as a light one: and he already contemplated an ascent into the highest regions of poetry.
"I had", he says ('Reasons of Church Government'), "an inward prompting, which grew daily upon me, that by labour and intent study (which I take to be my portion in this life), joined with the strong propensity of nature, I might perhaps leave something so written as they should not willingly let it die."
It was no trifling task, he knew, to add one more poem fit to rank with those of the mighty men of old, and he was not inclined to underrate the exertion necessary, or shrink from the labour of preparation.
The enterprise he sought to accomplish he regarded as one requiring the severest exercise of a well-trained as well as a strong intellect.
"He meant not to write" (as Warburton says of Virgil) "for the amusement of women and children over a fire, but for the use of men and citizens."
He felt, as he had already written, that

Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble minds)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days.

"You ask me, of what I am thinking", he wrote to his friend Deodati about the termination of his abode at Horton.
"As God shall help me, of immortality!
But how shall I attain it?
My wings are fledging, and I meditate a flight." *
* "Quid cogitem quaeris? Ita me bonus Deus, immortalitatem.
Quidagam Vero? Pterophuo, et volare meditor; sed tenellis admodum adhuc pennis evehit se noster Pegasus."

He added, that his "Pegasus as yet soars on but feeble pinions"; - but they were flights heavenward.
The choicest of his lighter pieces were all written here.
That most poetical of masques, the enchanting Comus, in which, as Johnson observes as truly as finely, "may very plainly be discovered the dawn or twilight of 'Paradise Lost';" the classic dirge, "Lycidas, and those most exquisite companions, "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso", all were the divine fruit of his residence at Horton ; and never did youthful poet breathe sweeter melody.
In all of them the exuberant richness of a young imagination appears chastened by recent reverential intercourse with the great masters of Greece and Rome, while his lyre is tuned to richest harmony by the softer genius of modern Italy.
But his thoughts and studies were not directed to poetry only.
"Honour and repute, and immortal fame", were the prizes on which he had fixed his eye; and they were to be won in the field of public life.
But to engage in that arena he regarded as a serious matter; and he resolved not to do so prematurely.
He would have his sinews well knit, and his arms well proven before he essayed to use them in actual encounter: "not taking thought", to borrow his own words, "of being late, so it give advantage to be more fit."
Before now he had probably laid aside all thought of the ministry, the first object to which he had directed his attention.
The pen was to be his instrument, and he determined to learn how most effectually to use it in whatever service it might be employed.
Not as "an unweaponed creature", or unprovisioned, would he enter the field.
Neither, however, was he one of those "who spend their lives in mastering their tools."
He had come "to measure life betimes"; he realized clearly to his own mind a purpose, and he delayed only till he perceived that he had attained the measure of his expectation.
When he saw fit to act, his decision was prompt, his self-reliance inflexible.
It is impossible to study his prose writings without feeling how thoroughly he had disciplined his powers.
He has the knowledge necessary for his purpose and the ability to employ it to the most advantage.
His style may be complained of as un-English or cumbrous: but it is evident that he had adopted it not by accident; that it is a powerful weapon in a strong hand; like the two-handed sword of the heroes of chivalry, perhaps the most powerful instrument that could have been devised for the time and the service: and that he had made it thoroughly his own, knew its strength and its temper, and could wield it alike for attack or defence, is equally plain.

Indeed few who really know his writings will refuse to admit that he entered upon the business of life the most perfectly disciplined man in English literature.
With abundant resources at command and sufficient skill, he always knew what he wished to say, and he was always able to say it, and that exactly in the manner he desired.
The precise idea, and the precise form of expression, were always available.
Surprise is often expressed by the student of Milton's prose writings at the fierceness of his partisanship; but in truth it is not surprising when his whole character is examined.
From the first he was prepared, so to speak, to become a partisan.
Before he left the University he had laid it down as a principle that "every mortal must aspire either to be useful to his friends or to offend his enemies."
And this throughout his public life remained his rule of conduct, and is indeed the key to much that appears least explicable in it.
Having first deliberately formed his opinions, he would advance them by every means that seemed not to be dishonourable.
Whatever would most strengthen his party, would most injure his opponents, that he was prepared to do, and to do as a matter of stern duty.
And whatever he engaged in he did thoroughly, with heart and soul and strength.
Pain and pleasure were put out of thought.
There was no relenting, either of heart or of head, even for a moment.
There was no play in his warfare; no mercy for a feeble enemy; no pity for a fallen foe; no tenderness even for the dead.
He thought with his master Dante -

Harsh manners were best courtesy to them.

It was the sternness of principle, therefore, not of the heart.
The gentler virtues were repressed, not destroyed.
So when he withdrew from the public scene, there was room for the development of those better and holier thoughts and feelings which occupied his later days.
With the strife of party he could lay aside its asperity; and then all the riches and beauty of his mind broke forth, even through the pain and sorrow and bitter calamity which oppressed and environed it.
The early sowing of truth and beauty yielded a late, but a glorious harvest.

They still point to a house at Horton as Milton's, but that in which he resided was destroyed near the close of the last century.
The only relic of him that remains, and that of very doubtful authenticity, and less value, is the bole of an old apple-tree, under whose shade, there is a tradition, he was accustomed to compose.
Horton is a beautiful neighbourhood, and must have been in his days a most fitting place for the rural studies of a youthful poet.
Just the place was it that would seem to have been most suitable for such a mind to undergo its initiation into the arcana of the mysteries of nature, and to prepare it for its intercourse with the stern world of human action.
What a contrast must the quiet of these happy days have been to the fearful turmoil of his following years!
And doubtless, in those evil days, while "In darkness, and with danger compass'd round", he often thought of the time when

He knew each lane, and every valley green,
Dingle or bushy dell of this wild wood,
And every bosky bourn from side to side,
His daily walks, and ancient neighbourhood.


Horton Church will be visited by the tourist.
One cannot but connect Milton with it, as we look upon its venerable ivy-mantled tower, and the two yews in the churchyard, which were goodly trees when he walked under their shadow.
A marble slab to the memory of the mother of Milton is the only inscription that reminds the visitor of the connexion of our great poet with the place.
The church itself is a very good specimen of a village church, but it has suffered somewhat from recent repairs.
After quitting Horton the Colne flows past no place of consequence.
It falls into the Thames by several channels, but as they wind through flat meadows, none of them have any thing striking in character.
The little that was pleasing formerly about them, is pretty well destroyed by the straight hard line of the Windsor railway, which now traverses these meadows.
Through the greater part of its course the scenery of the Colne is eminently beautiful, and its beauty is considerably varied.
A very pleasant "River Ramble' might be made up it, to the source of the Verlam branch, by which all the places that have been mentioned would be passed.
And then a courageous pedestrian might strike across to the source of the Ousel, one of the head streams of the Ouse, which is only five or six miles distant.
The Ousel would lead him to the Ouse at Newport Pagnell, where he would at once enter upon the scenes which have been immortalized by Cowper:

Where Ouse, slow winding through a level plain
Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er,
Conducts the eye along his sinuous course

From Newton to below Olney every step is Cowper's own property.
Lower down the river Cromwell and others put in a claim.
I will not venture to say much for the scenery of the lower part, but there will, perhaps, be found sufficient to interest one who is not too exacting in his requirements, till Ouse is lost in the Wash below King's Lynn.
Two rivers especially associated with two of our best poets would thus be explored; and the slow and "sedgy Ouse" would form a good contrast to the livelier and bolder Colne.


The London Stone, Staines, Staines Bridge

IN a broad green meadow on the bank of the Thames, by one of the smaller arms of the Colne, stands a stone inscribed
"God preserve the City of London. A.D. 1285."
It is known as London Stone, and serves to mark the western limit of the jurisdiction of the Corporation of the City of London over the Thames.
From this place to a similar stone which is placed near its embouchure, the city possesses the almost uncontrolled authority in all matters connected with the conservancy of the river, and the regulation of the navigation and fishing.
He who steps aside to read the inscription, will, perhaps, respond to its prayer, but, if he be at all of an antiquarian turn, he will demur to the date.
The city in very early times had jurisdiction embracing about the same extent as that it now possesses, but there is no evidence, I believe, that the time was as early as the date on the stone would imply.
The inscription itself is recent, but you are further informed by it that
"the ancient stone (from which it was copied) is raised upon this pedestal, exactly over the spot where it formerly stood.
My Lord Mayor and aldermen occasionally make official visits to the stone, as is duly recorded upon it.
The last of their high mightinesses whose name and dignity is thus sculptured was "John Johnson, Lord Mayor, 1846."
London Stone stands at a short distance from Staines bridge, and Staines itself is said to owe its name to it, Stana being the Saxon word for a stone ; but the chronology of the derivation seems a little at fault.
Staines is a place too well known to need description ; and if it were not, there is nothing in it to describe but a long street of ordinary looking houses, a market-place of the usual kind, and a patch-work sort of church.
By the best modern authorities Staines is thought to be the Pontes of Antoninus; and here the great Roman road crossed the Thames, being still distinctly traceable by way of Wickham Bushes in Windsor Forest to Silchester, whence three branches passed off, to Winchester and the coast, to Salisbury, and to Bath ; other lesser branches diverging at various points from these principal ones.
Staines bridge is a handsome structure consisting of three main arches of granite, with several side arches of brick, to permit the flow of water during floods.
The bridge was built a few years back, after the failure of several attempts to construct one of iron.
It was designed by Rennie, and was opened with considerable ceremony in 1832, by King William and Queen Adelaide.

Staines Bridge

Crossing the river by Staines bridge we come to Egham, once a busy town, owing to the number of long stages that passed through it.
Of the eighty that once passed daily, not half a dozen run now, and the posting trade is almost gone.
This great change is owing to the construction of the South-Western Railway on one side of it, and the Great Western on the other.
Egham consists of a street, above a mile in length, but without any thing in it to call for record.
The old church was burnt down about thirty years back; several of the curious monuments it contained are preserved in the present church.
One to the memory of Sir John Denham, and another to his two wives, are perhaps the most remarkable, as well as the showiest.
Sir John was a Baron of the Irish Exchequer, and father of the poet Denham.


A little lower down the river, on the Middlesex side, is the pleasant retired village of Laleham, where Dr. Arnold spent the early years of his manhood.
The neighbourhood is flat and not particularly attractive to a stranger, but it may be seen in his letters how much of beauty may be found in such a place by one who resides there, and is willing to look after what is lovely in it.
On Greenfield, a common in the parish, are the remains of a Roman encampment.
Dr. Stukeley says that it is the spot where Caesar halted the day after he crossed the Thames, but that, as Lysons remarks, is of course a mere conjecture.
Some parts of Laleham church are of the Norman period.
About Laleham there are a good many large trees, and a few are scattered along the opposite meadows; St. Anne's Hill, on the Surrey side of the river, stands out very prominently, clad in light foliage, from amidst which a glimpse is caught of a quiet looking mansion; the roofs of part of Chertsey rise in the distance, and over them hangs the gray smoky haze that always marks the site of a good-sized town; while the river at our feet makes some bold curvatures; so that this part of our journey is both cheerful and picturesque - though the elevated causeway carried along the river between Egham and Chertsey for the protection of the fields from floods, somewhat detracts from the latter quality.
A meadow called Laleham Burway belongs to the parish of Laleham, though on the opposite side of the river.
There is a tradition that it was given by an Abbot of Chertsey to the Laleham fishermen as an acknowledgment of their having supplied the Abbey with fish during a time of pestilence and dearth.
The meadow was used as a common ground by the inhabitants of Laleham, and their cattle used to cross the Thames every morning to pasture on it; but Laleham Burway, like so many other commons, is now enclosed and divided.
St. Anne's Hill owes its name to a chapel which once crowned its summit.
The house which now peers out so temptingly from among the trees, was the favourite retreat of Charles James Fox.
During the later and stormier years of his public life he owned this estate, and hither he gladly escaped from the strife and acerbity of politics.
Every hour that he could snatch from the requirements of his country or his party, was spent here; and his enjoyment of rural life and occupations had a keenness that seems to have been a constant source of surprise and amusement to his political associates.
In the Life of Lord Sidmouth, recently published, the feeling is illustrated in two or three lively anecdotes.
"Mr. Fox", says the author, "delighted in his seat at St. Anne's Hill.
At an important epoch of the French Revolution, on some one asking, Where is Fox? General Fitzpatrick answered,
'I dare say he is at home, sitting on a haycock, reading novels, and watching the jays stealing his cherries.'"

Again we are told,
"Mr. Addington on one of his few holidays, during the heat of the French Revolution, was riding past the grounds of St. Anne's Hill, when he was espied over the pales by its owner, who called out to him to stop.
Mr. Fox then invited him into his garden, showed him its beauties: and as he particularly admired some weeping ash-trees, very kindly offered to send him cuttings at the proper season.
Some months afterwards, Mr. Fox, who had just been attending a stormy meeting in Palace-yard, went up to the Speaker in the house and said,
'I have not forgotten your cuttings, but have brought them up to town with me, and you must treat them so and so.'
In five minutes more, he was warmly engaged in debate with Pitt and Burke."
The great statesman's enjoyment of his country residence was as ardent as here represented, but his employments were scarcely so trivial.
He spent his time not only in rural pursuits, but also, says Lord Holland, "in historical researches, critical inquiries, the study of the classics, and works of imagination and poetry. . . .
The scale which his various pursuits occupied in his estimation is very naturally described in several of his letters."
Lord Holland gives as a specimen, that most pleasant letter to Lord Grey, in which he defends the cheerfulness of the nightingale's note by the authority of Theocritus and Chaucer.
A more detailed and evidently faithful sketch of his daily life at St. Anne's Hill is given by Mr. Trotter, his secretary, in his "Memorials of Fox' (p.16); and a poetic one, by the master hand of the Bard of Memory, may be found in "Human Life, a Poem"; but here there is no room to insert either.
The house is rather small, but neat, and the grounds are exceedingly beautiful.
Fox, as has been mentioned, paid great attention to the cultivation of the grounds, and they are said to have been in an unusually excellent condition during his life.
The views from both house and grounds are extensive and varied.
Fox's widow continued to reside here till her death, which occurred only four or five years ago.


St. Anne's Hill appears, from a passage in one of his letters to Sprat, to have been a favourite resort of the poet Cowley, when he lived at Chertsey.
Chertsey is an ancient town, but there is little of antiquity in its present appearance.
It stands on a slip of low land, between the brook which issues from Virginia Water and the Thames; hence its name, of which the Saxon form, Ceortes-eye, signifies Ceort's isle; though Stukeley fancies that it derives its name from Caesar having crossed the river here, it being "made up of Caesar and the British ridh, ritus, a passage or ford". (Letter to Dr. Ducarel.)
The town consists of two broad streets placed at right angles to each other, with some meaner streets and passages diverging from them.
The business is chiefly agricultural, but there are extensive brick-works; and I believe some other manufactures are also carried on, though on a more confined scale.
It has above 5000 in habitants.
There are a few public buildings, mostly of modern erection, but none remarkable either for size or beauty.
The largest, most noticeable, and ugliest is the church.
Inside it is a marble tablet erected to the memory of Fox by his widow.
Fox was buried, it will be remembered, in Westminster Abbey.
The ancient importance of the town was mainly owing to the noble abbey, which was originally founded in 666, by Frithwalde, governor or sub regulus of the province of Surrey, under Wulfhere, Ring of Mercia; and by him appropriated to the Benedictines.
In the ninth century the abbey was destroyed by the Danes, who murdered the abbot, Beocca, and all the monks, ninety in number.
The monastery probably revived in some measure, but it was not till the following century that it was fully restored, when Edgar (in 964) rebuilt the edifice and refounded the monastery, in conjunction with the Father of Monks, Ethelwold, who ejected the monks already there, and supplied their place with others willing to submit to a stricter rule.
This building does not appear to have had a very lengthened existence, for in the Saxon Chronicle it is recorded, under A.D. 1010 -
"This year men began to work at the new monastery of Chertsey."
The monastery continued on the whole to prosper until the dissolution.
The abbot wore the mitre, was a baron, owing military service to the king, and had privileges as wide as was customary with lord abbots; the estates of the monastery were extensive, and the abbey buildings were large and of considerable magnificence.
At the dissolution, the clear revenue was £659. 15s. 8¾d., the gross revenue being nearly a hundred pounds more.
The abbey stood in the meadows north of the town, between it and the river.
The site was granted in the 6th of Edward VI. to Sir William Fitzwilliam.
The buildings were speedily demolished.
Aubrey said that scarce anything remained of them in his day except the outer walls; "the streets of Chertsey," he adds, "are all raised by the ruins of the abbey."
He also notices the "fair house, built out of the ruins, and now in the occupation of Sir Nicholas Carew, Master of the Buckhounds".
Some seventy years afterwards, Stukeley *
* Letter to Dr. Ducarel, Oct. 1752, published in Gent. Mag. March, 1797.
describes a visit he made to
"the abbey, or rather the site of the abbey; for so total a dissolution", he says, "I scarcely ever saw ; so inveterate a rage against even the least appearance of it, as if they meant to defeat even the inherent sanctity of the ground.
Of that noble and splendid pile, which took up four acres of ground, and looked like a town, nothing remains; scarcely a tittle of the outward wall of the precinctus. . . .
The mount and all the terraces of the pleasure-garden on the back-front of the house, (built on the site and out of the walls of the abbey,) are entirely made up of the sacred rudera and rubbish of continual devastations.
Human bones, of the abbots, monks, and great personages, who were buried in great numbers in the church and cloisters, which lay on the south side of the church, were spread thick all over the garden, which takes up the whole church and cloisters; so that one may pick up handfuls of bits of bones at a time everywhere among the garden-stuff."
# Stukeley should have noticed how this garden-stuff flourished.
Bones make excellent manure, and the practice here might have supplied a serviceable hint to future purchasers of churches or burial-grounds.
In our days another use has been found for human bones.
We learn from Dr. Mantell's pleasant little "Day's Ramble in Lewes", that in excavating within the precincts of the old priory there, for the purpose of carrying the railway through it, a vast quantity of human bones were found, which were supposed to have belonged to the soldiers slain in the famous battle of Lewes.
Thirteen waggon-loads of these bones were removed, and employed in constructing the railway embankment.
Now, had the Directors known, or recollected, their other use, they would probably have found a more profitable investment of them.

[Stukely continues] "Foundations of the religious buildings have been dug up, carved stones, slender pillars of Sussex marble, monumental stones, effigies, crosses, inscriptions, everywhere, even beyond the terraces of the pleasure-garden.
The domains of the abbey extended all along upon the side of the river for a long way, being a very fine meadow.
They made a cut at the upper end of it, which taking in the water of the river, when it approaches the abbey gains a fall sufficient for a water-mill for the use of the abbey and of the town.
Here is a very large orchard ; with many and long canals or fish-ponds, which, together with the great moat around the abbey, and deriving its waters from the river, were well stocked with fish."
Of the little there was left when Stukeley visited the place, nearly all is gone now.
The abbey house is pulled down ; the mounds and terraces have been levelled ; the moat is filled up.
A fragment of wall, and a rude gateway forming part of a farm-house, with some pavement, are all that remain.
The cut still bears the name of the Abbey River, and yet works a mill.
Henry VI. was interred in Chertsey Abbey.
The day after his death, his corpse was removed with some pomp from the Tower to the church of Saint Paul, where it lay in state for a day, and the next day, as the old chronicler relates, "without priest or clerk, torch or taper, singing or saying, it was conveyed to the monastery of Chertsey."
By the monks it was received with more respect, and buried with due solemnity.
A few years later it was carried to Windsor, where it finally rested.

Abraham Cowley

Chertsey, perhaps, owes its chief fame to having been for a while the dwelling-place of Abraham Cowley.
And his abode here has been rendered more than usually notorious from its having served as a standing illustration, in terrorem, of the fallacy of anticipating happiness in a withdrawal from the "busy hum of men" into the seclusion of the country.
We may therefore spend a little time, not quite unprofitably, in looking at the circumstances connected with his residence here, and endeavouring to ascertain whether the inference is fairly drawn, that his retirement should be regarded as a warning.
Cast upon a time of unexampled change and excitement, Cowley had spent all the years of early manhood and the better part of middle-age in cities, engaged in the business and the intrigues of courts, and the stirring occupations of public life.
All the while he had constantly declared his preference for the country, and his strong desire to retire to it, and spend the remainder of his days in its peaceful employments, and in the studious and meditative habits its leisure would afford.
But he was in the predicament described by a poet, two or three centuries before his time -

Albeit he was a philosopher,
He had but little gold in coffer;

and he lingered on, vainly waiting for some of those courtly rewards he had been led to expect would be the recompense of his adherence to the Royal cause in its adversity, and his labours in its behalf.
At length, with a heart sick of hope deferred, he resolved to indulge the desire he had long cherished, to use his own words, by "withdrawing himself from all the tumult and business of the world ; and consecrating the little rest of his time to those studies to which Nature had so motherly inclined him, and from which Fortune, like a step-mother, had so long detained him."
He first took a house at Barnes Elms, where he was "soon afflicted with a dangerous and lingering fever"; for, according to Sprat, "out of haste to be gone away from the noise and tumult of the city, he had not prepared so healthful a situation in the country as he might have done if he had made a more leisurable choice."
On his partial recovery he removed to Chertsey (in 1665, being in his 47th year), having "obtained, by the interest of the Earl of St. Alban's and the Duke of Buckingham, such a lease of the queen's lands there as afforded him an ample income."
"By the lovers of virtue and of wit", says Dr. Johnson (in his Life of Cowley), "it will be solicitously asked, if he now was happy.
Let them peruse one of his letters accidentally preserved by Peck, which I recommend to the consideration of all that may hereafter pant for solitude:-

Chertsey, May 21, 1665.
The first night that I came hither I caught so great a cold, with a deflexion of rheum, as made me keep my chamber ten days. And two after, I had such a bruise on my ribs with a fall, that I am yet unable to turn myself in my bed. This is my personal fortune to begin with. And, besides, I can get no money from my tenants, and have my meadows eaten up every night by cattle put in by my neighbours. What this signifies, or may come to in time, God knows; if it be ominous, it can end in nothing less than hanging.
Another misfortune has been, and stranger than all the rest, that you have broke your word with me, and failed to come. . . .
I do hope to recover my late hurt so far within five or six days (though it be uncertain yet whether I shall ever recover it) as to walk about again. And then, methinks, you and I and the Dean might be very merry upon St. Anne's Hill. You might very conveniently come hither the way of Hampton town, lying there one night.
I write this in pain, and can say no more: verbum sapienti.

It is plain that Cowley did not find the happiness he sought, but his failure is easily accounted for.
He did not retire to the country till the better part of his life was past, and he then went to it a disappointed man.
"As long as he was pursuing the course of ambition in active life", his friend Sprat tells us, "he never wanted a constant health and strength of body: but as soon as ever he had found an opportunity of retiring from the town, his contentment was first broken by sickness, and at last his death * was occasioned by his very delight in the country and the fields", which he had long fancied above all other pleasures." (Life, prefixed to Works.)
* Spence, in his Anecdotes, has grafted on this a foolish "traditional" story of his death having been caused by lying out in the fields one night, owing to having missed his way in returning, along with Sprat, from the house of a friend who had plied them too liberally with wine.
Spence, "a weak conceited man", as Johnson very truly called him, may be forgiven for making up or repeating this idle tale, but it is to be regretted that men of stronger intellect should still be found ready to give currency and credit to it.

A man advanced in years, with all his worldly prospects blighted, removing into the country, to be there attacked by sickness, and on his recovering from that, to meet with an accident from which it is doubtful whether he will recover at all, whatever might be his honest convictions of a country life, could hardly be expected to write cheerfully; and it is rather too bad to hold up a letter written under such circumstances, as a warning "to all that may here after pant after solitude".
But it is not very probable that Johnson would have given much credit to the letter if it had been full off[sic] glee and described the adventures as all joyous.
London, as he himself said, was the element of the Doctor, and he could not sympathize with any who professed to prefer the country.
"Whoever", he told Mrs. Piozzi, "has once experienced the full flow of London talk, when he retires to country friendships and rural sports must either be contended to turn baby again and play with the rattle, or he will pine away like a great fish in a little pond, and die for want of his usual food."
Or, as he said it with more brevity to Boswell, "Sir, you find no man at all intellectual who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life ; for there is in London all that life can afford." *
* Boswell's Johnson, vi. 322. He told his faithful disciple directly afterwards, with ludicrous solemnity, that "A country gentleman should bring his lady to visit London as soon as he can, that they may have agreeable topics for conversation when they are by themselves!"
But while we can thus see pretty plainly how natural it was for Cowley to write gloomily under the circumstances, and for Johnson to suspect a profession of happiness in a retirement from London under any circumstances, we can only conjecture whether the poet really felt the desire he expressed for a country life, or would have enjoyed it had he been in health.
A fair case might easily be made against him.
He was accustomed, it might be said, to have poetic likings.
In the matter of love, for example, in praise of which, as well as of the country, all poets must write, instead of paying homage by a few amatory verses, he published a whole book of them, and those addressed to or celebrating a great many different ladies; in addition to which, he published what he called "A Chronicle", wherein he has managed to give the names of twenty mistresses in the space of fourteen stanzas, at the same time leaving "a long et caetera" unnamed: and yet we are told he never was in love but once, and then lacked courage to declare his passion - and that, notwithstanding some piteous complaints in his verses of many "rough refusals", as well as loud boastings of soft compliances.
And though he spoke of his longing after a country retirement in prose as well as poetry, and reiterated his determination to seek out some solitary spot, as well to his private friends as to the public, he does not seem to have made any serious effort to carry out his resolve while any hope remained of the fulfilment of the Royal promises.
All this must be admitted, and yet I cannot help thinking that he was sincere.
His language has all the air of truth, and is quite unlike the hyperboles and frigid conceits of his amatory poems.
That he did not retire sooner is accounted for by the fact of his means being insufficient for an independent maintenance; he waited in the hope of some employment or reward that would enable him to "get into some moderately convenient retreat in the country"; which he says was the only advantage he ever proposed to himself from the King's restoration, and "which he thought in that case he might easily have compassed, as well as some others, who with no greater probabilities or pretences had arrived to extraordinary fortunes."
When at last he did attempt to carry out his design, he cast himself upon it, as he declares, "without making capitulations or taking counsel of fortune"; and he confesses that he "met presently not only with many little incumbrances and impediments, but with so much sickness (a new misfortune to him) as would have spoiled the happiness of an emperor as well as his."
Yet, he exclaims, "I do neither repent nor alter my course"; and he finishes the essay (that "Of Myself") by declaring, in a strain of unabated enthusiasm, "Nothing shall separate me from a mistress which I have loved so long, and have now at last married; though she neither has brought me a rich portion, nor lived yet so quietly with me as I hoped from her:-

Nec vos dulcissima mundi
Nomina, vos Musae, libertas, otia, libri,
Hortique, sylvaeque anima remanente relinquam.
Nor by me e'er shall you,
You of all names the sweetest and the best,
You Muses, books, and liberty and rest;
You gardens, fields, and woods, forsaken be,
As long as life itself forsakes not me.

This essay was probably written at Chertsey; but another ("The Dangers of an honest Man in much Company"), which we know was written there, contains a passage that gives probably the nearest hint of the actual result of his country experience: "I thought, when I went first to dwell in the country, that without doubt I should have met there with the simplicity of the old poetical golden age: I thought to have found no inhabitants there but the shepherds of Sir Philip Sidney in Arcadia, or of Monsieur D'Urfey upon the banks of Lignon; and began to consider with myself, which way I might recommend no less to posterity the happiness and the innocence of the men of Chertsey: but to confess the truth, I perceived quickly, by infallible demonstrations, that I was still in Old England, and not in Arcadia or La Forrest; that if I could not content myself with anything less than exact fidelity in human conversation, I had almost as good go back and seek for it in the Court, or the Exchange, or Westminster Hall."
The truth probably is, that his notions of a country life were in the main of a poetic character; but, as most in similar case do, he would soon find that if it was not the sweet scene of simplicity he had fancied, it had real charms fully sufficient to atone for the absence of the ideal.
"He did not long enjoy the pleasure, or suffer the uneasiness, of solitude; for he died at the Porch house in Chertsey, in 1667, in the 49th year of his age." (Johnson.)
It would be a pleasant task to say a few words about his writings, had we not gossiped so long about himself.
His poetry is too little read.
The strangely applied learning with which most of it is overlaid, and the glittering conceits which are so profusely spangled about it, and which were once its chief attraction for the popular eye, now that time has rendered them unfashionable, repel the ordinary reader.
But there is much sterling sense, and brilliant fancy and poetic imagery in all of it.
His serious poetry, whether pindaric or epic, always exhibits too much of those "laborious effects of idleness" which he complains of in others.
He never produces an idea, whether mean or magnificent, but he ransacks the cabinets of his memory, and draws extravagantly on his fancy for some exotic imagery wherewith to deck it.
But his Anacreontics have never been surpassed, and others of the gayer and some of the graver among his Miscellanies have had few superior in their way.
The plain unaffected vigorous prose in which he clothes the sound sense of his Essays has always excited the admiration of men of manly taste, and is deserving of the most careful study of those who wish to comprehend the power of genuine English.
His house still stands in Guildford Street, and now bears his name.
Cowley House is partly of timber, and by its appearance would seem to have been erected very little earlier than the period when the poet inhabited it; but it has been greatly altered since then, so much indeed, as scarcely to retain any resemblance to its original character and appearance.
Having fallen into a dilapidated condition, it was, towards the end of the last century, thoroughly repaired by Alderman Clarke, chamberlain of London (and a friend of Doctor Johnson), who made it his residence.
Alderman Clarke died here in 1831, at the age of 93 (which, by the way, says something in defence of the healthiness of Chertsey* );
* There are many gravestones in Chertsey churchyard, which attest that the air of the neighbourhood is not unfavourable to longevity.
One commemorates a W. Goring, who died in 1836, at the respectable age of 104 - and he a tailor!

and the old house is now occupied by his son, the Rev. J. C. Clarke.
The porch which was formerly attached to the house, and from which it used to be called the Porch House, was removed many years ago.
When Stukeley visited Chertsey in 1752, he says "they talked of a pretty summer-house which Cowley built, which was demolished not long since, and of a seat under a sycamore by the brook (at the side of the garden), which are mentioned in his poems.
There are very good fishponds too of his making."
Now, however, if one may venture to say so in despite of some stubborn traditions, very little remains either in house or grounds of what was there when Cowley lived and Wrote.
The neighbourhood of Chertsey, except towards St. Anne's Hill, is low and level, but it is everywhere pleasant (except of course near the brick-fields and market-gardens, which, however, occupy so large a space as somewhat to qualify the preceding commendation).
Opposite the neat rustic-looking inn at the foot of the hill, which rejoices in the sign of the Golden Grove (and a right civil landlord), stands a venerable elm, whose wide spreading branches embrace and support a shady summer-house, which rests on the separation of the greater branches some ten or twelve feet from the ground, and is reached by an easy flight of steps.
In the afternoon of a summer's day many a comfortable group may be seen taking their ease in this elevated seat.
A substantial bridge of Purbeck stone now supplies the place of "the goodly bridge of wood over the Thames at Chertsey'' which Leland mentions.


For some miles below Chertsey the river winds deviously through flat marshy meadows.
A raised towing-path runs alongside it, and it is skirted with osiers, and a few willows and alders.
Though sufficiently monotonous in character, yet is it not without some charms of the Dutch kind, to which the slow-moving barges and lighter craft contribute their share, as do also the fat cattle in the fields, while the low Surrey hills on the one side, and occasional glimpses of the sister heights of Highgate and Hampstead on the other, serve to relieve and complete the picture.

The River Wey and Weybridge

And here the river receives two affluents, the Bourne brook, an unimportant stream that rises near Bagshot; and the river Wey, which has been described in a former volume.
Weybridge is a pleasant healthy village, which seems to be growing into favour as a suburban residence.
It is a long, straggling, scattered place, with somewhat of an old-fashioned picturesqueness about many parts of it, which it is to be feared will soon pass away.
It is even now a good deal altered from what it was before the railway was brought to it.
Some new houses have been erected ; and the grounds of Oatlands, once the pride of this neighbourhood, are for the larger part apportioned out "to be let on building leases".
One excellent change has been made.
Alongside the very plain and uninteresting old church there has just been erected a very handsome new one, in the early English style of architecture.
By Weybridge the river is, if not strikingly beautiful, yet at least very agreeable.
It flows along a wide tranquil stream through meadows of brilliant verdure.
A few willows skirt the banks, and larger trees occur at intervals.
Two or three swans with their cygnets float stately upon the water.
About the broad pastures "fair-eyed cows", as Sir Philip Sidney prettily expresses it, graze or ruminate, or seek shelter from the mid-day sun under the trees, or stand motionless in the stream.
Not far off, the tower of a village church rises above the dark foliage of lofty elms; and the blue smoke curls languidly from many a cottage chimney up to the blue vapoury ether.
Just such scenery is it as Cuyp would have loved to paint, had he had the good fortune to be an Englishman, and Cooper does paint with genuine Cuypean, and yet honest English relish.


As we proceed, the little quiet-looking village of Shepperton, straggling along at a short distance from the left bank of the river, is the first place that catches the eye, but there is nothing in it that will tempt the stranger to linger long, and there is little in its history to record.
It boasts, however, of having been for a while the dwelling-place of two eminent men - Grocyn and Erasmus.
Grocyn, one of the very small band of Englishmen (according to Hallam numbering only four or five) who at the commencement of the sixteenth century had "any tincture of Greek"; whose name is remembered with respect as one of the revivers of classical learning in our Universities; and of whom, to adopt the words of Fuller, "there needs no more to be added to his honour, save that Erasmus in his Epistles often owns him pro patrono suo et praeceptore" - Grocyn was vicar of Shepperton from 1504 to 1513; during a portion of which time Erasmus resided with him in the vicarage.
Shepperton is a good deal resorted to by Thames anglers, and the gentle brethren have not often to leave Shepperton Deep without some more substantial memento than a few "famous nibbles".


The word Deep may need some explanation to the uninitiated.
The Deeps are spaces of the river, of two or three hundred yards in extent, granted by the Corporation of London to the several towns and villages between Staines and Richmond.
A Deep is given to the village over against which it lies, and it is appropriated and preserved exclusively for angling; no person being allowed to use any "net or engine" for taking fish within its limits.
The Deeps are of much benefit to the smaller villages, attracting to them a considerable number of visitors during the fishing season.
In almost every such village there is a comfortable inn, to the support of which the anglers mainly contribute.
These inns are worth looking into.
They are essentially the inns of fishermen, and they are fitted up with due regard to the tastes of their patrons.
Angling prints and stuffed fish are the leading ornaments, but portraits of famous fish-catchers, as well as fish caught, are seldom wanting, and there is commonly a list of the nobler fish taken in the adjacent Deep, with their weight, date of capture, and name of captor.
During the season, some of the more social of the brothers of the angle may be found in the evening talking over the sport of the day, or the braver sport of olden days, or, like Piscator and his friends in their hostel by the Lea, having "a gentle touch at singing and drinking; but the last with moderation" - of course.
In addition to the inn, there are also in the village usually two or three "fishermen", who depend chiefly on the angling visitors for support.
They keep punts, and provide ground-baits and other gear for anglers.
They are mostly shrewd "knowing" fellows, deep in all the mysteries of the craft, and acquainted with every hole whither big fish retire, like monks, for meditation and good fare.
In the main, these fishermen are respectable and trustworthy, though they are apt occasionally, like other guides, to play upon the credulity of a confiding stranger:- and it must be confessed, that they do a little love to tickle the gills of a "cute trout".
Some of the clever fishermen are a good deal petted, a few are "characters", and a good many aim to be humourists.
Almost all are civil; and their charge is moderate - being about three half-crowns a day, for punt, ground-baits, and attendance.

Cowey Stakes

Cowey Stakes, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Cowey Stakes

A short distance west of Walton bridge is the place known as Coway Stakes; by most antiquaries supposed to be the ford by which Caesar crossed the Thames.
Many able scholars, however, who have carefully considered the subject, controvert that opinion.
We will first see what is Caesar's own account of the occurrence, and then we shall be better prepared to understand the matter.
Caesar, after landing somewhere about Deal (probably near Walmer), 54 B.C., had advanced as far as Canterbury, when he received intelligence that his fleet, which consisted of 800 ships, had been damaged by a storm.
He left his army and hastened back to the coast; where he stayed till he had taken measures to repair the injured vessels, and had secured them from further mischief by drawing them ashore.
On his return to his army, he found that the natives had assembled in great numbers, from the various territories, in order to oppose his farther advance into the country, and had intrusted the chief command and direction of the war to Cassivellaunus, a bold and skilful warrior.
Some sharp encounters ensued, in which the Britons fought desperately; but their bravery was insufficient to check the Roman valour and discipline guided by the highest military genius; and the several auxiliary forces soon dispersed.
Cassivellaunus, with the main body, consisting of about four thousand charioteers, withdrew towards his own territory, which was divided from the maritime states by the river Thames (Tamesis), about eighty Roman (seventy-four English) miles from the sea.
"Caesar, having ascertained the intention of the enemy, led his army to the river Thames on the confines of Cassivellaunus, where the river is only fordable on foot in one place.
When he reached that place, he observed great bodies of the enemy drawn up on the other bank of the river.
The bank, too, was fortified with pointed stakes fixed in front, and stakes of the same description, driven into the bed of the river, were concealed by the water.
Having been informed of these things by the prisoners and deserters, Caesar ordered the cavalry to advance, and the legions to follow immediately after them.
But the soldiers, though their heads alone appeared above the water, advanced with so much swiftness and impetuosity, that the enemy, unable to withstand the charge of the legions and the cavalry, gave up the bank, and committed themselves to flight." (Caes.'De Bell. Gall.' lib. v. c. 18.)

Early in the eighth century, Bede, writing of Caesar's invasion, says that the "remains of these stakes are to be seen to this day; they appear to be about the thickness of a man's thigh, and, being cased with lead, remain immovably fixed in the bottom of the river." ("Hist. Ecc. c. 11.)
Camden was the first in recent times to point out Coway Stakes as the ford which the Britons defended.
"It is impossible", he says, "I should be mistaken in the place, because here the river is scarce six feet deep; and the place at this day, from those stakes, is called Coway Stakes; to which we may add, that Caesar makes the bounds of Cassivelan, where he fixes this his passage, to be about eighty miles distant from that sea which washes the east part of Kent, where he landed ; now this ford we speak of is at the same distance from the sea; and I am the first, that I know of, who has mentioned and settled it in its proper place."(Camden's 'Britannia, Gibson's ed.1772, vol. i. p.236.)
The first edition of Camden's 'Britannia' was published in 1586.
In 1735 a paper by Mr. Gale appeared in the first volume of the 'Archaeo logia', in which the subject was elaborately discussed, and the opinion of Camden maintained by a comparison of the statements of the authorities, with the appearance of the place and the neighbourhood (where are two or three encampments), and an examination of the route traversed.
Of the stakes themselves, Gale says, "The wood of these stakes proves its own antiquity, being, by its long duration under the water, so consolidated as to resemble ebony, and will admit of a polish, and is not in the least rotted.
It is evident, from the exterior grain of the wood, that the stakes were the entire bodies of young oak-trees, there not being the least appearance of any mark of any tool to be seen upon the whole circumference; and if we allow in our calculation for the gradual increase of growth towards its end, where fixed in the bed of the river, the stakes, I think, will exactly answer the thickness of a man's thigh, as described by Bede; but whether they were covered with lead at the ends fixed in the bottom of the river, is a particular I could not learn."
None of the stakes remain now; the last was removed about ten years ago.
They are said to have been capped with metal for convenience of driving, but whether brass or iron, accounts vary.

Since Gale wrote, the greater number of antiquaries have acquiesced in his opinion; but there have been many dissentients.
Petersham, Kingston, and several other places have been fixed on as more probable, chiefly on account of the river being easier to ford, and military weapons having been found in the bed of the river at those places.
But none of the weapons found are, I believe, Roman, and though the Romans used auxiliaries taken from friendly tribes belonging to the country they were traversing, yet it must not be forgotten that those tribes were constantly at war among themselves, and that fords would, in the rude system of fighting then in practice, be always desperately defended.
It is said, on the authority of the water-bailiff, that the river at Coway Stakes is not now fordable at all, except in very dry summers.
But that is far from being decisive that this was not the place which Caesar's legions forded.
The waters then no doubt flowed untrammelled over the adjoining marshes, whereas now they are confined within artificial banks wherever the natural banks are low ; weirs and locks have been constructed for modern wants; and to improve the navigation, the river has often been dredged - changes fully sufficient to account for a place being no longer fordable except in dry summers, which nineteen centuries ago was only fordable "with great difficulty", and only allowed the "heads of the soldiers to be seen above water".
Some writers, as Daines Barrington and others, doubt whether Caesar ever crossed the Thames at all ; and Mr. Lysons treats Coway Stakes as unceremoniously as Edie Ochiltree did another Roman memorial *,
* "Praetorian here, praetorian there, I mind the bigging o' it."-Antiquary.
pronouncing them to be "neither more nor less than the remains of a fishing-weir".
The former need no answer; and the latter certainly seems rather a bold guess, when what Gale said of the stakes is recollected, and it is also remembered that they were in existence when Camden wrote, and are probably those which in Bede's day were regarded as those planted in order to oppose Caesar's passage.
It is at best merely conjectural, but the various probabilities appear to converge so much more towards this, than any other place which has been suggested, that I think we may be fairly content to look on the matter as being as nearly established as such things usually are, or well can be.
On both sides of the river in this neighbourhood there still exist the traces of several encampments, and some are known to have been destroyed.
The largest is on St. George's Hill, in Walton parish; it covers an area of twelve acres, and is connected with another in Oatlands Park: a road runs through it, and the town of Walton has been supposed to owe its name to this vallum.
St. George's Camp is now covered with a fir plantation.

Walton Bridge

We need only notice in passing the long straggling combination of arches called Walton Bridge.
It is in fact a sort of double bridge, a second set of arches being carried over a low tract of ground, south of the principal bridge, which crosses the river.
According to the popular tradition this marshy tract was the original bed of the Thames; and the change of the river's course here is mentioned in many books, and in some with considerable embellishment.
That most credulous of collectors, Aubrey, has recorded a report, which he had from Elias Ashmole, that when the river changed its bed, a church was "swallowed up by the waves"; and a much more recent writer tells us that the tradition states the river to have run [up hill and down valley] south of Walton town.


Walton is a good-sized busy country-village, without anything remarkable in its appearance.
The church is a strange patched affair - extremely old and extremely ugly.
The interior is little better, but it contains a good deal that is worth looking at.
Several monuments and some brasses are curious or interesting.
The showiest monument is a large one to the memory of Lord Shannon, of which Roubiliac was the sculptor.

Not the least note-worthy monument is a black marble slab with a florid inscription designed to celebrate the merit and perpetuate the memory of one- "Who not far from hence did dwell, That cunning man hight Sidrophel", otherwise William Lilly, otherwise the English Merlin.
This prince of British astrologers ought not to pass without due honour in the place where he dwelt alive, and where he was laid when dead.
The last five-and-twenty years of his life were spent on an estate which he had purchased, called Hersham in Walton, in ease and affluence; but the early part of his career was humble enough.
His story, as related by himself, in his Life and Times, is characteristic and amusing; and it contains much curious information relating to the manners of both the middle and higher ranks of society in his day. His parents were decent poor people living at Dewsbury in Leicestershire, who gave him such education as they could afford. Growing tired, as he grew towards manhood, of the penury in which he lived at home, he determined to try his fortune in the wider world of London. His stock in trade was the writing and arithmetic he had acquired in the school of Ashby-de-la-Zouch; to this his father added, he says, 20s. to buy him a new suit, hose, doublet, &c.; his doublet was fustian"; and his friends and relations made him up a sum of 10s., which was "a great comfort to him." Thus provisioned, he set out for the great city, having first taken dutiful leave of his father, who was confined in Leicester gaol for debt. He started, in company with the Dewsbury carrier, on Tuesday, the 4th of April, 1620, and arrived in London on the following Sunday, at three o'clock in the afternoon. He "footed it," he tells us, all the way. Travelling thus was not very expensive in those days, for after "contenting the carrier and his servants," he had seven shillings and sixpence left of his store. He was taken into the service of the person to whom he was directed to apply, one Gilbert Wright, of Newgate Market, who was "of no trade or profession, but lived upon his annual rents." Gilbert could neither read nor write, and he hired William for his scholarship. But besides keeping the accounts and conducting the correspondence of Mr. Wright, our William had multifarious employments. "My work," he says, "was to go before my master to church; to attend my master when he went abroad; to make clean his shoes; sweep the streets; help to drive bucks when we washed; fetch water in a tub from the Thames-I have helped to carry eighteen tubs of water in one morning; weed the garden, scrape trenchers, and so forth. If I had any profession, it was of this nature. I should never have denied my being a tailor, had I been one",-as had been imaliciously insinuated by some of "Those wholesale critics, that in coffee Houses cry down all philosophy" and philosophers, when William wrote himself gentleman and "student in astrology." His master before he died settled on him an annuity of twenty pounds: and his mistress cast her eyes on him as a likely lad to console her for the loss of her spouse. She accordingly threw out some gentle hints to her maid, who faithfully repeated them to Master William. She would have no more old husbands, she said, and she did not want money. William considered the matter on both sides. She had already been twice married, was not very young nor very fair, but she was wealthy. He catalogues her charms very carefully: "she was of brown complexion, corpulent, of but mean stature, plain, no education, yet a very provident person, and of good condition." He thought the chance a very good one, and there was no time to stand shilly-shallying. One day after dinner, "when her talk was all about husbands", he plucked up courage to say he thought he could find one that would exactly suit her. She asked where; whereupon, laying aside his natural bashfulness, he incontinently "saluted her, which she accepted lovingly." The courtship so briskly and happily commenced, was as speedily and prosperously concluded. The very "next day, she at dinner made him sit down at dinner with his hat on his head," and announced that "she intended to make him her husband: for which," says he, "I gave her many salutes." The marriage soon followed; and they lived very lovingly "together some five or six years:" during all which time he resorted nowhere save to Puritan lectures, and the only amusement he indulged in was that of angling-for his wife was old as well as rich, and had promised, if he "proved kind and a good husband, to make a man of him." In return for his self denial, when she died "she left him whatever she possessed, which was considerable, very near to the value of £1000." He remained a widower "one whole year or more," when he found a second wife, who had a portion of £500, and was "of the nature of Mars." He was now well to do in the world, and having leisure as well as ambition, he thought he would endeavour to become proficient in occult learning; wherefore, "In the circle of the arts, He did advance his natural parts," and soon became, by profound study of "Mathematics, Optics, philosophy, and statics, Magic, horoscopy, astrology," and the other branches of the science, so erudite, "That none a deeper knowledge boasted, Since old Hodge Bacon and Bob Grosted." His fame rapidly spread. He was consulted not only "When brass and pewter happ'd to stray, And linen slunk out o' the way; when butter did refuse to come, And love prov'd cross and humoursome," but also when search was to be made after treasure hidden in the cloisters of Westminster; in affairs of state; and, if truth must be told, in some other equally secret but less reputable doings-for, like the valet of Don Gil Blas, he owns to having been in his day a little on the picaro. He lived in dangerous times, but he steered through them safely. Charles I. he served with good wishes and advice as to "destiny's dark counsels;" and he vows that if his advice had been better heeded, it would have saved the King from falling into the hands of his enemies. With the Parliament he coquetted till it grew the strongest, when he aided it with all his art, and received from it a handsome salary for his "erections," and his "intelligences;"-for he appears to have been valued and employed both as spy and conjuror. He continued faithful to the ruling powers till the Restoration, when, though he thought it necessary to sue out a pardon, he declared roundly that he had always been a Cavalier in heart, as he had now no objection to be in practice. But his advances were unheeded. The Merry Monarch had no desire to peep into futurity. Lilly had, however, amassed wealth sufficient to console him under the mortification of neglect; he retired to the snug estate he had purchased at Hersham, with his third wife-for his second had died in 1654; and, as he is careful to record, he "shed no tears on the occasion," but took another a few months after, "to his great comfort." He continued to give advice to the last ; and for the especial benefit of poor persons, he used to go on fixed days to Kingston, where he received only "one shilling or half-a-crown" for his fee-if it were offered, for he cautiously notes that he never asked for it. But he had now grown scrupulous about the questions he undertook to resolve: he had left off those "curiosities," as he calls the dark matters in which he dealt in earlier times. In his later days many really learned and respectable men became his associates, moved there to, no doubt, by admiration of his reformed manners and great riches. He died at Hersham in 1681, and Elias Ashmole erected the monument that here commemorates his virtues, and has caused this long rigmarole. For thirty or forty years Lilly published his "English Merlin,' besides which he wrote many astrological works, and also his autobiography-from which the preceding exacts have been taken, with the exception of those from " Hudibras." He was altogether a man of many talents, of which, however, beyond all competition, the most eminent were his boundless impudence and perfect unscrupulousness. These are talents which "command success" in the world, if a man knows how to use them; and to them doubtless are to be ascribed the prosperity of this prosperous knave:- "Brass was his helmet, his face brass, and o'er His breast a thick plate of strong brass he wore." Cowley, Davideis. b. iii.

Henry Skrine

There is also in Walton church a monument which it would be unpardonable in us to pass unnoticed: it is to the memory of a genuine lover of rivers, Henry Skrine, the author of
"A general account of all the Rivers of note in England", a brief work well worth reading.
Skrine lived in a small villa (in which he succeeded Mr. Shakspeare, not William) that looked out upon the fine broad heathy common of Walton; and he dwells with very endurable pleasure upon the place where, as he says, he "for several years pursued his lucubrations."

In the chancel of Walton church there is a curious brass, on each side of which is engraven the figure of a man riding on a stag, into whose neck he is plunging a sword.
The person thus represented is said to be one John Selwyn, who was under-keeper at Oatlands in the reign of Elizabeth.
Selwyn was noted for his strength, agility, and equestrian skill, specimens of which he exhibited before the Queen at a grand stag-hunt in Oatlands Park.
While in the heat of the chase he suddenly leaped from his horse on to the back of the stag (both horse and stag running at the time at their utmost speed), and not only kept his seat gracefully, in spite of every effort of the terrified beast, but drawing his sword, guided him with it towards the Queen, and when he came near her, plunged it into the animal's throat, so that he fell dead at her feet.*
The brass used to be suspended on a peg, that both sides might be seen, but it is now screwed down.
* This singular feat has been paralleled in our own time.
"The forester of the present chief of Clanchattan, in passing last summer (1837) through the forest of Stramashie, near Loch Laggan, descried the horns of a stag above the heather at some distance; and taking advantage of the cover of a grey stone on the lee side of the animal's lair, crept cautiously up to him, whilst he was apparently asleep.
He had no rifle, but opened his deer-knife, which he placed between his teeth, that his hands might be free, and then threw himself suddenly upon the stag; up started the astonished beast, and sprung forward with Donald on his back, who grasped with might and main by the horns. . . . .
The animal made right down the rugged side of a hill with headlong speed, to a stream in the glen below, and dashed through it, still bearing his anxious rider with his knife in his mouth, which he had neither time nor ability to use.
When, however, this gallant pair reached the opposite side of the glen, and the deer began to breast the hill, and relax his speed, Donald was enabled so far to collect his bewildered senses as to get hold of his knife; and he absolutely contrived to plunge it into his throat.
The deer fell forward in the death struggle, and Donald made a summerset of course." - Scrope, "Days of Deer-Stalking, p.290, ed.3.

"Gossip's Bridle"

In the vestry is preserved one of those curious instruments, a brank, scold's bit, or gossip's bridle, as it is variously called.
Dr. Plot, in his 'History of Staffordshire,' mentions similar machines as being kept at Newcastle and at Walsall: and it is described and engraved in Brand's "Popular Antiquities" (Ellis's ed. iii. 55).
The bridle enclosed the head, and was fastened behind by a padlock, a small piece of iron being so placed as to "hold the tongue" of the offender.
Thus compelled to silence, "she was led round the town by an officer, to her shame, nor was it taken off till she began to show all external signs imaginable of humiliation and amendment."

A picturesque old half-timber building at the back of Church Street is pointed out as the residence of Bradshaw, who presided at the trial of Charles I.
The building is now let out in humble tenements.
Among the more eminent of the natives of Walton the gallant Admiral Rodney deserves to be mentioned.
The country around Walton is very pleasing.
Walton Common is a fine broad stretch of open heath, extending far away both east and west, and though a good deal disfigured as well as circumscribed by hideous fir plantations and other enclosures, it yet affords some capital rides and walks, and from the higher parts yields wide and rich prospects.
In and about Walton there are several mansions and villas.
Ashley House is a red brick mansion of Tudor date, but it has been a deal altered.
Lord Tankerville's gay villa at the foot of Walton bridge is an elegant specimen of the skill of Barry, the architect of the new Houses of Parliament: the lofty campanile is said to afford a remarkably fine prospect of our river and the surrounding country.

"Riverside Villas"

But before we proceed any farther it will be as well to say a word or two on the subject of the river-side villas.
As we draw near to London they lie along the banks of the Thames in an almost continuous succession, while the banks retain the least appearance of verdure.
To pretend to notice in a work of this kind all that are noteworthy either on their own account or on account of those who may have occupied them, would evidently be idle, since it must happen that almost every building of any importance has at some time or other been associated in some way with names that have figured more or less prominently on the great stage.
I beg therefore that it may be understood that I make no pretension to any intimate acquaintance with those notabilities: I shall only just point out a few places that attract the eye, or whose names recall some peculiar associations to the memory.

Below Walton the river presents no features of especial prominence or beauty.
The banks are flat, and continue so to Richmond, but occasionally the Surrey hills approach near enough to relieve the attention, and on the other side the hills of Middlesex appear in the extreme distance; while numerous genteel residences, with their smooth lawns and cheerful gardens, enrich the shores, and the aits in the river generally afford a pleasing variation to the ordinary character of the scenery.


Sunbury, on the Middlesex side, exhibits a great many good houses, and the grounds show some noble cedars.
The red-brick mansion at the western end of Sunbury has a very stately air as seen across the river; and another of red brick, but of more modern appearance (Fenton House), at the eastern extremity, with the magnificent cedar beside it, looks even more dignified.
Sunbury itself will hardly repay a visit.
The church, erected about the middle of the last century, is singularly ugly, and there is little else to notice.
On looking back, after having descended the river some little distance, the village, with the ait in front of it, and the barges and fishing-boats moored about, makes a neat picture.
The Surrey shore is very uninteresting.
The meadows are flat, and skirted with osiers which exclude the distant prospect.


Moulsey Hurst, the low tract we are now by, is memorable as the frequent scene of prize-fights, duels, and races; and I do not know that it has any more agreeable associations.
In the villages of West and East Moulsey, the only object that will attract the rambler's notice is East Moulsey church, a pretty little rustic structure; there is nothing respecting either place to chronicle.


Hampton, on the other side of the river, is much pleasanter, but it has little that requires mention here.
The most noticeable house on the river side at Hampton is that which formerly belonged to David Garrick, and where, after his retirement from the stage, "all the world" used to come in order to do homage to his ability, and listen to his "lively conversation".
The kind of worship he received, and the amount, is a curious feature in the social history of England in the eighteenth century.
The little round summer-house, as in our ignorance we might have named it, is "the Grecian rotunda with an Ionic portico", in which stood, in David's time, the twisted statue of Shakspere (by Roubiliac) that now adorns the hall of the British Museum.
Pope has laid the scene of the pleasantest of his poems - the airiest and most graceful of its class in our language - at Hampton: partly on "the bosom of the silver Thames," and partly in the building we are about to visit:-

Close by those meads, for ever crown'd with flowers,
Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers,
There stands a structure of majestic frame,
That from the neighb'ring Hampton takes its name.

Rape of the Lock, canto iii.

Thames Ditton and the River Mole

Thames Ditton from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Thames Ditton from 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
[This appeared above the title of Volume I]

But it is too late for us to visit Hampton Court to-day.
We will therefore step over to the Swan at Thames Ditton, and appease what old Homer calls "the sacred rage of hunger", which we may there do very satisfactorily.
The house is nicely situated, affording capital views over our river; the host is commendable, the fare good, and the cook skilful; and the little village will afford an agreeable stroll while dinner is preparing.
No Thames rambler will desire a better or more suitable inn ; to all Thames anglers it is well known, and is, as it deserves to be, a leading favourite.
The village contains a park or two, and some good houses; and there are some pleasant walks in the vicinity.
The church is a large irregular building, both old and picturesque, but without anything particularly interesting to the antiquary or student of ecclesiastical architecture.
At Thames Ditton, the river Mole, of which some account was given in a former volume, falls into the Thames.


View from Hampton Court Bridge [1788-1866]

Most visitors allow themselves to be carried through the avenues of Bushy Park straight to the gateway of Hampton Court, and then, with as little delay as possible, commence the tour of the apartments.
But in so doing they do amiss.
That way is not the best way.
The judicious visitor will take a more leisurely course.
He will approach it, as we shall, from the Surrey side, and if he come in a carriage he will not fail to alight at the foot of the crazy-looking bridge which connects Hampton Court with East Moulsey.
Right pleasant and refreshing it is, on a bright summer's day, to linger awhile "with heart at ease", on the crown of the old wooden fabric, and admirably does it prepare the mind for the banquet which is in store for it.
On both sides of the bridge are views of considerable beauty.
Looking up the river, you have a luxuriant prospect of the valley of the Thames, upon whose placid surface rest a number of well cultivated islets; and through the foliage so abundantly spread around peers out many a lowly, and more than one lordly roof, and from many a chimney curls up the light smoke, gracefully contrasting with the dark hue and heavy forms of the trees, till it loses itself against the hazy sky; while in front Moulsey lock and weir, with the wide sheet of water rushing over it, impart strength and motion and a picture-like completeness to the view.
On the right, looking down the stream, "the silent Mole" creeps stealthily into the broad bosom of the Thames;- but the quiet rusticity that rendered the view below so pleasing is quite destroyed by the sheds and terminus, and long straight cutting of the railway just formed.
On the left are seen the hall, and turrets and gables, with the battlements and multiform projections, and variously grouped and carven chimney-shafts of "Royal Hampton's pile", partly hidden by the venerable elms, and backed by other majestic trees beyond.
The irregular mass of the older palace looks picturesque wherever seen; from this spot, as the varying outline is still more broken by the noble trees, and the dull red brick of which it is constructed is rendered more effective by contrast with the dusky green of their foliage, its impressiveness is greatly heightened; and even King William's straight and formal addition has its formality somewhat relieved.
And while gazing upon these roofs, how busily will the teeming fancy re-people the royal pile, as the memory runs over its history, and recals[sic] the tenants who have followed each other in this caravansary, from its early glories in the days of its builder, "the o'er-great Cardinal", till, in the strange lapse of events, it is now the Palace of the People!

Hampton Court

Hampton Court Palace, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Hampton Court Palace

Of none of our palaces could so rich a domestic history be written as of this.
There are now scattered in memoirs and letters, materials in abundance for relating all that concerns it, with almost Boswellian minuteness - and with almost Boswellian interest also.
But of course that is not to be thought of here.
The matter of volumes cannot be compressed into half a dozen pages.
The first palace is of the time of Henry VIII.
In the Domesday Survey the manor of Hamntone (as it is there spelled) is stated to belong to Walter de St. Waleric, and "the whole value" to be thirty-nine pounds.
The right of fishing and laying nets in the Thames is estimated at three shillings.
Early in the thirteenth century, the manor and manor house were bequeathed by the pious widow of Sir Robert Grey, to the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem.
In their possession it remained till Wolsey induced the prior of that order to grant him a lease of it, for the purpose of erecting a mansion on the site.
About 1515 the King Cardinal commenced the building of his palace, and in a few years it was so far completed as to allow him to make it his residence.
The stately style in which it was built, says Stow, "excited much envy"; and the manner in which contemporary writers speak of it, sufficiently confirms his assertion.
But the splendour with which Wolsey surrounded himself here, and the haughtiness with which he treated those who came to him, were still more provoking to the old nobility, who looked with little complacency on the "upstart priest".
Skelton (whose poetry ought to be familiar to those who would know the real manners of that period), in his bitter satire on Wolsey, 'Why come ye not to Court' written, as Mr. Dyce conjectures, about 1522, affords a pretty strong proof of the current feeling.
Addressing the nobles, Skelton says-

Why come ye not to court?-
To which court? To the king's court,
Or to Hampton Court? -
Nay, to the king's court;
The king's court
Should have the excellence;
But Hampton Court Hath the pre-eminence.

(Skelton's Works, Dyce's ed., ii. 39.)

Thomas Allen, chaplain to the Earl of Shrewsbury, makes doleful complaint, in a letter to his master (printed in Lodge's Illustrations, and in Dyce's Notes to Skelton), of the manner in which, after waiting "since Monday sennight" at Hampton, in "attendance upon the Cardinal's pleasure", he had seen "no remedy, but came away without answer, except I would have done as my Lord Dacre's servant doth, who came with letters for the King's service five months since, and yet hath no answer."
And the good chaplain declares, "This is truth; I had rather your Lordship commanded me to Rome than deliver him letters, and bring answers to the same."
Thomas had been snubbed by the Cardinal for venturing to address "his Grace as he walked in the park at Hampton Court", where "when he walketh he will suffer no servant to come nigh him, but commands them far away as one might shoot an arrow": and he might be thought to write rather angrily in consequence of his rebuff; but Skelton tells us that it was not servants alone whom Wolsey kept at such a distance:-

No man dare come to the speech
Of this gentle jack breech,
Of what estate he be,
Of spiritual dignity,
Nor duke of high degree,
Nor marquis, earl, nor lord.
. . .
My lord is not at leisure;
Sir, ye must tarry a stound,
Till better leisure be found;
And, Sir, ye must dance attendance,
And take patient sufferance,
For my lord's grace
Hath now no time nor space
To speak with you as yet.
And thus they shall sit,
Choose them sit or flit,
Stand, walk, or ride,
And his leisure abide,
Perchance half a year
And yet never the near.

(Ibid. ii. 46.)

The virulence of Skelton's satire is itself the strongest testimony of the extent to which the feeling against the Cardinal had spread.
Wolsey was not ignorant of the efforts that were making to undermine his influence.
He saw that his foes were taking a course that was but too likely to be successful.
He well knew that Henry was one of the last men to listen unmoved to any insinuations of his minister's "pre-eminence", either in power or splendour; and he knew also that he had all his father's selfishness and avarice, and that his own wealth as well as magnificence had been exaggerated, in order to induce the King to give readier credence to the suggestions of his enemies.
When he found, therefore, that his noble house "began to excite great envy at Court", he at once presented it, with all its sumptuous furniture, to his rapacious master.
The King accepted the gift without compunction, and not only expressed his pleasure with the gift, but spoke with fondness of the giver, though in his heart he had already resolved on his ruin.
It was in 1526 that Wolsey made this royal present to the King, who in return for it graciously "licensed him to lie in his manor at Richmond at his pleasure"; but he appears also to have permitted him to occupy Hampton Court, at least occasionally, and that in the character of host.

Once at least, in the following year, we behold it under his direction the scene of festivities, which excited wonder even in that age of splendid pageantry.
It was in honour of Montmorency, the French ambassador, that this magnificent entertainment was given; and it was intended by the Cardinal to mark his sense of the respect with which he had shortly before been treated in France.
Wolsey, of whose ability in the disposing of such pageantries Shakspere has left record, had set his heart on the success of this; his orders to his "principal of cers, as steward, treasurer, comptroller, and clerk of the kitchen", being "neither to spare for any cost, expense, or travail, to make such a triumphant banquet as the Frenchmen might not only wonder at it here, but also make a glorious report of it in their country, to the great honour of the King and his realm."
Cavendish, who writes thus, was Wolsey's gentleman-usher, and had the super intendence of the whole of the preparations; and in his valuable Life of his master he has left a full account of this "glorious feast", as he terms it.
That the Frenchmen did "not only wonder at it here, but also make a glorious report of it in their own country", we have ample evidence.
Cavendish says, "they were, as it seemed, wrapped up into a heavenly paradise"; and Du Bellay, bishop of Bayonne, who was in the suite of Montmorency, has borne testimony to the admiration with which they spoke of it at home.
"The very chambers", says Bellay, "had hangings of wonderful value, and every place did glitter with innumerable vessels of gold and silver.
There were two hundred and fourscore beds, the furniture to most of them being silk, and all for the entertainment of strangers only." Cavendish says, that each of these two hundred chambers "had a basin and an ewer of silver, a great livery-pot of silver, and some gilt; yea, and some chambers had two livery-pots with wine and beer; a silver candle stick both white and plain, having in it two sizes, and a staff torch of wax, a fine manchet, and a cheat loaf.
Thus was every chamber furnished throughout the house."
And the feasting was answerable to the lodging.

The banqueting-room and the hall of presence were hung with the richest arras.
A gorgeous display of gold and silver plate was ranged round the rooms, but only for show, for "none of all this plate was touched in this banquet".
The room was suitably illuminated; "a pair of candlesticks of silver and gilt, and curiously wrought, which cost 300 marks", supported "two lights of wax as big as torches, burning": and "the plates that did hang on the walls to give light were of silver and gilt, having in them great perches of wax burning."
The tables were nobly furnished, and there were plenty of "tall yeomen to serve".
When supper was ready, the strangers, who had been conducted to their several chambers, were summoned by sound of trumpet, "and my lord's officers went right discreetly in due order, and led these noble personages to the chamber of presence, where they should sup".
When they were seated, "the service was brought up in such order and abundance, both costly and full of subtleties, with such a pleasant noise of divers instruments of music, that the Frenchmen, as it seemed, were wrapped up into a heavenly paradise."
Wolsey did not appear at the feast till the second course was ready to be brought in, when he "came in among them all suddenly, booted and spurred", and bade them welcome with a hearty proface.
He then, without "shifting his riding apparel, called for a chair and sat himself down in the midst of the table, laughing and being as merry as ever I saw him in my life", says his faithful servant.
It was one of his last merry days.
Perhaps care sat at his heart even then, but he was not a man to baulk merriment at such a time.
The second course was served up, our old informant tells us, "with so many dishes, subtleties, and curious devices, which were above a hundred in number, of so goodly proportion and costly, that I suppose the Frenchmen never saw the like".
Among the most notable of these subtle and costly devices, of which Cavendish gives a list, that must be very delightful to an architect in confectionary, was a "chess-board made of spiced plate, with men of the same", which for its "good proportion, and because Frenchmen be very cunning and expert in that play", my Lord Cardinal gave to a gentleman of France, and that he might carry it safe to his own country, commanded a goodly case to be made for the preservation thereof.

Wolsey displayed no less grandeur in his style of toast-giving than in other respects: "My Lord took a bowl of gold, which was esteemed of the value of five hundred marks, filled with hippocras", whereof there was plenty, and, putting off his cap, said "I drink to the king my sovereign lord and master, and to the king your master", and therewith drank a good draught.
And when he had done, he desired the Grand Master [Montmorency] to pledge him cup and all, the which cup he gave him; and so caused all the other lords and gentlemen in other cups to pledge these two royal princes."
No wonder that "the cups went so merrily about, that many of the Frenchmen were fain to be led to their beds"; or that from his "using them so nobly with so loving and familiar countenance and entertainment, they could not commend him too much."
* Hippocras was a favourite beverage, composed of wine mixed with spices and sugar.
Wolsey was charged with too great fondness for it.
Skelton accuses him of an improper and unseasonable indulgence in this as well as other unclerical delicacies; he loves, he says,
"To drink and for to eat,
Sweet hippocras and sweet meat!
To keep his flesh chast,
In Lent for a repast
He eateth capons stewed,
Pheasant and partridge mewed,
Hens, chickens, and pigs."
"This is a 'postle's life!" adds the satirist, after detailing other less defensible indulgences; but it must be recollected that Skelton was a violent enemy of the Cardinal.

Three years later Hampton Court witnessed a very different though not less memorable scene.
The same chronicler who told of those festive doings relates this also, in which he again bore a leading part.
The "o'er-great Cardinal" had died, miserable, heart-broken, constrained to beg "a little earth for charity".
Cavendish, who had faithfully attended the last sad hours of his master's life, and seen his corpse laid in the grave, now came hither to render to the King an account of his stewardship.
He was commanded, on the morning after his arrival, to attend on the King in the park.
There he found him shooting, and thinking it unfit to disturb him, resolved to wait there till his Majesty was at leisure.
Accordingly, leaning against a tree, he soon fell "in a great study", from which he was aroused by the King clapping him on the shoulder.
He followed his sovereign to the palace, and had an audience with him behind the garden-door, where he "kneeled down before him, being there with him all alone, the space of an hour and more".
Henry had many weighty matters to ask respecting the Cardinal, of whom he vowed he had "liever than twenty thousand pounds he had lived":- and then, having given utterance to this honest lament, he asked, with bated breath, if Cavendish knew aught of the fifteen hundred pounds his late lord was in possession of just before his death.
Cavendish happily could give him the desired intelligence, and the royal mourner quickly dried his eyes.
"Keep this gear secret between yourself and me", said the monarch, "and let no man be privy thereof, for if I hear more of it, then I know by whom it is come to knowledge."
Three, quoth he, "may keep counsel, if two be away; and if I thought my cap knew my counsel, I would cast it into the fire and burn it.
And for your truth and honesty ye shall be one of our servants, and in that same room with us that ye were with your old master." (Cavendish's 'Life of Wolsey, Singer's ed.)
Good and profitable doubtless it is to hear a discourse on truth and honesty from so eminent a master of both; and no less instructive to study his private than his public doings, but we must nevertheless be content with what has been said - and indeed we have stayed listening somewhat too long already.

After Hampton Court came into his possession Henry built the grand hall, and made other additions to the buildings, "till it became more like a small city than a house.
And having", as was said in the Report made by the Royal Commissioners in the next reign, "waxed heavy with sickness, age, and corpulency of body, so that he might not travel so readily abroad, but was constrained to seek to have his game and pleasure ready and at hand" - he with his usual reckless selfishness, afforested the country around, converting Hampton and several other parishes into a chase, which he stocked with deer.
So intolerable was this found to the inhabitants - "very many households of the same parishes being let fall down, the families decayed, the people much diminished, and the country thereabout in manner made desolate" - that the chase was broken up in the following reign; but the Crown still retains exclusive rights over the game within its bounds.
Henry spent a good deal of his time at Hampton Court.
There Edward VI. was born; and a few days afterwards his mother, Jane Seymour, died.

During the residence of Edward VI. at Hampton, some stormy councils were held in the palace, while the Protector Somerset and his rivals were struggling for the ascendancy in the government.
On one occasion, the servants and household rose in arms and called in the assistance of the villagers, under the apprehension that the young king was about to be carried off by force.
In succeeding reigns Hampton Court continued to be a frequent residence of the sovereign.
Paul Hentzner, the German, who wrote an account of his 'Journey into England' in 1598, which Horace Walpole has translated, was exceedingly delighted with the splendour of Hampton, of which, after giving a brief but glowing description, he says by way of summary, "in short, all the walls of the palace shine with gold and silver".
James I., on his arrival in England, took up his abode in Hampton Court, and there was held, in January, 1604, that mockery of a "Conference" at which the pedant-king presided.
Charles I. spent many of his earlier and happier days here, and some of his latest and most anxious.
Two of the most characteristic sketches of his abode at Hampton as a prisoner, are from the pens of ladies - Lady Fanshawe and Mrs. Hutchinson, the one a devoted royalist, the other a zealous republican.
It was from Hampton Court that Charles made the ill-advised and worse conducted attempt to escape from the hands of his captors, which resulted in his more rigorous confinement in Carisbrooke Castle.

Hampton Court owed much to the taste and munificence of Charles.
To the superb furniture which it already possessed, he added the nobler adornment of many most admirable works of art.
These, when they passed into the possession of the Parliament, were sold and dispersed, and many now grace the palaces of the Continent.
The building itself was sold, along with the manor of Hampton, for about £10,700.
Cromwell, in 1656, purchased Hampton Court, and from that time made it his principal abode.
One of his daughters was married, and another, his favourite, Mrs. Claypole, died here.
The history of Hampton Court from the Restoration would prove extremely curious and amusing, if all the late additions to our historical and biographical literature were carefully sifted by one whose taste made it a congenial employment.
Yet the review would be depressing as well as amusing.
The fearful neglect of grave duties, and the utter disregard of weighty responsibilities, could not fail to haunt the mind, while revelling amidst the pleasant unrestrained vivacity, or observing the profligacy and licentiousness, the selfishness, the insincerity, and the wretched frivolity over which so thin a veil of decency was thrown; and which a heedless gaiety only causes in the retrospect to appear so much more vile as well as meretricious.
The English Courts, from the first year of the reign of Charles II. to the last of the second George, can hardly be thought of without shame as well as wonder.
Grammont and Pepys, in their different ways, give a lively notion of the scenes which Hampton Court witnessed, while the second Charles kept his Court in it.
James II. resided here occasionally.
William made it his ordinary residence.
To him it owes its present general character and appearance.
The state apartments were built by this monarch, with whom Hampton Court was an especial favourite.
Of this new portion of the building Sir Christopher Wren was the architect ; but it does very little honour to his taste and judgment.
It harmonizes not at all with the older edifice, and it is in itself formal, ungraceful, ill-arranged, and inconvenient.
The residence of the next sovereign here is immortalized by Pope, and the dull routine of her Court - where business and scandal, and political and personal intrigue, followed each other in regular order - is hinted at in his inimitable "Rape of the Lock":-

Here thou, Great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take - and sometimes tea; ['tay']
Here British statesmen oft the fall foredoom
Of foreign tyrants, and of nymphs at home.
Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort,
To taste awhile the pleasures of a Court;
In various talk th'instructive hours they past,
Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last;
One speaks the glory of the British queen,
And one describes a charming Indian screen;
A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes-
At every word a reputation dies.
Snuff or the fan supply each pause of chat,
With singing, laughing, ogling, and all that.

Pope's letters too enable us to imagine the equally dull and less decent manners of her successors.
George II. was the last monarch who made Hampton Court even an occasional dwelling-place.
Mrs. Thomson, in her "Memoirs of Lady Sundon", has printed a letter of Lord Hervey's (Pope's Lord Fanny) in which is an amusing account of the "unchanging circle of Hampton Court" in the time of its last royal inhabitant: but a more complete and infinitely more startling picture of the royal life here may now be found in Lord Hervey's own Memoirs, which have just been published.
It is needless to observe that the memoirs and manifold letters of Horace Walpole throw a good deal of light upon the interior of the palace, and the doings of those who figured in it, while he lived in the neighbourhood.
The private apartments are now, as is well known, appropriated as residences for members of noble families; while the state apartments, with all their rich treasures of art, and the beautiful gardens, are freely devoted to the public gratification.
But it is quite time we entered the palace: we have made rather too long a stay on the threshold.

The entrance being by the gateway near the foot of the bridge, the visitor obtains a general view of what is left of Wolsey's palace, before he reaches the state apartments, which, as was said, are of King William's building.
A row of low cavalry barracks and stables, whose presence, with their ungraceful accompaniments, is very much of an eyesore, have to be first passed, and excite a momentary feeling of disappointment; but the rich varied quaintness of the buildings in front soon removes any unfavourable impression.
This grand west front is indeed one of the very finest and most striking examples of the Tudor palatial architecture remaining.
The recent reparations have restored it to nearly all its original characteristic picturesqueness and beauty.
A good general view of Wolsey's palace may be obtained from Tennis Court passage, on the north side of the Hall.
The original palace consisted of five principal quadrangular courts: it now consists of but three.
Of these, two only belonged to the old building: the western or Outer Court, which is 167 feet by 161 feet; and the Clock Court, which is 133 feet by 92 feet.
With the exception of the great hall, they are principally divided into suites of private apartments.
The third quadrangle, or Fountain Court, which is the workmanship of Sir Christopher Wren, and in which are the state rooms, is about 110 feet by 117 feet.
Besides these there are long ranges of buildings, chiefly for domestic offices, behind the superior apartments, and connected with them by passages.
They should be seen in order to arrive at a clear conception of the arrangements of the original pile.
The finest and least altered of the old quadrangles is the Outer Court, and its appearance is remarkably picturesque.
The capabilities of the old Tudor brickwork are here very well displayed.
These quadrangles are connected by lofty gatehouses of pleasing form and elaborate decoration; the dull red brick of which, like the whole of the original edifice, they are constructed, is admirably adapted to their somewhat heavy richness of style, while the light and graceful oriels and stone dressings sufficiently relieve the sombreness that would arise from a uniform tint of reddish brown.
It is worth noting as we pass, that the busts of the twelve Caesars which decorate the old courts were presented to Wolsey by the magnificent Leo X.
These courts are disfigured by some "classic" colonnades and other modern additions and embellishments, but the good taste that has presided over the changes which have been made here within the last few years, warrants the expectation that, at no very distant period, all that remains of Wolsey's building will be restored as nearly as may be to its primal condition.

Hampton Court Great Hall

Having surveyed the exterior of the two older quadrangles, the visitor will do well, before he proceeds to the state apartments, to turn aside up the dark staircase he will see on his left hand, under the arch of the gateway which leads to the inner court.
A painted board points the way "to the Hall".
From the staircase you enter at once into the old hall, by a door under the gallery "where the music did play".
Eminently striking is the first view that is presented on emerging from the gloomy passage into this noble room.
The whole room glitters with splendid colouring, too splendid, perhaps, to be quite accordant with the sober tone of historic feeling which seems appropriate to such a place.
A broad flood of light streams through windows richly stained with many a strange heraldic bearing and quaint device; and the brilliant hues enrich with a mellow glow the bright colours and gilding so lavishly spread over the elaborate carvings of the roof.
Now that these restorations have been made, and the hall shines in all its original splendour, scarce anything of the kind can be conceived more imposing than is the general effect.
Looking more at leisure the visitor will, after the first surprise is over, perhaps regret the flimsy nature of some of the decorations.
He will wish that the banners had been not quite so gaudy, nor the St. George so extravagant; and perhaps he will also regret that instead of the cold stone floor there had not been one laid down of figured tiles, as was the case at first.
But these are small drawbacks scarcely worth mentioning, and not to be set off against the hand some liberality with which the magnificent relic has been renovated, especially for public gratification.
The Hall is indeed a noble specimen of the palatial hall of the time of its founder; fitting to We either the audience chamber or the banqueting room of a sovereign.
Its proportions, ample enough for the costliest display of that "Pomp, and feast, and revelry, And masque and antique pageantry", in which our ancestors loved to exhibit alike their wealth and their taste, are at the same time such as to produce the most pleasing impression on the eye.
In length it is one hundred and six feet, in breadth forty, in height sixty feet.
The lofty walls support a richly carved, open, oak roof, of very elaborate design, which has lately been painted and gilt with more than its original brilliancy.
At the farther end of the hall is the dais - the platform carried across the room and raised a step above the rest of the floor, where at the high-board sat the lord of the house with his chief guests.
On the south side of the dais is a splendid bay-window.
Across the lower end is a screen of carved oak, which supports the music-gallery.
Along the sides of the room are twelve windows reaching from the roof half-way down the walls; at the west end is another window.
All the windows are filled with stained glass, representing the bearings and quarterings of Henry and his half-dozen wives, and also the arms and offices of the Cardinal; the whole being further set off with proper supporters and appropriate inscriptions.
The painted glass is entirely from the studio of Mr. Willement, the painter of glass par excellence of our time; and the harmonious arrangement of the colours serves well to subdue the light, that before was rather glaring, and to chasten somewhat the formerly too vivid colours of the blazonings of the roof.
The walls of the hall are hung with the designs in tapestry that adorned them at first, and though darkened and faded by time, they are none the less interesting.
The arras in the hall represents various circumstances in the life of Abraham: that under the music-gallery, allegories of the Virtues with the opposing Vices; and if they are not to be greatly admired as works of art, they are not to be despised even in that respect.
At present the furniture in the hall consists mainly of a few modern chairs; it would be a vast improvement if a high-board and state seat of the proper style were placed on the dais, and long tables and forms ranged down the sides of the hall.
These, with a pavement of encaustic tiles, and a good-sized andiron on a central hearth, would at once restore the hall to its primal appearance, and enable the least imaginative visitor to realize with little mental exertion a royal hall of the Tudor era.

Hampton Court Great Hall, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
The Great Hall

Adjoining the hall, and forming an admirable pendant to it, is the withdrawing-room.
The walls of this room are also hung with tapestry, but of inferior design to that in the hall.
In this room is another bay-window, of great beauty, and of very uncommon form, being semicircular.
From the hall you pass by the "King's Grand Staircase" to the State Apartments, all of which form part of the modern building.
The walls of the staircase are covered with the detestable allegories of Verrio's manufacturing, and similar perpetrations deface the ceilings of the rooms to which it leads; but this one notice may suffice for all these abominations, which are alike offensive to the sight, corruptive of the taste, and nauseating to the imagination;- would that some cleanly churchwarden or Scotch Covenanter might have uncontrolled charge of them for a week or two, and free permission to use the white-wash brush!
It will not be expected that I should go through the whole suite of state apartments, describing them and jotting down their contents.
They will very well bear to be left to the visitor's own consideration, and whatever he may desire to know further about them, he will find amply told in the guide books which he may purchase of the attendants.
Suffice it that the rooms appear stately enough - some of them at least, but very uncomfortable, and so inconvenient, that one wonders how they could have been endured as dwelling-places.
Each room contains a great number of paintings; and almost every one has some upholstery of the time of William, Anne, or George, that is more or less worth noticing.
And from each room there is a view over the gardens, the broad placid river, and the distant Surrey hills, that should by no means be passed unobserved.
Indeed, it is one of the pleasantest things in a visit here, to sit awhile, if the room be not crowded, in one of these window-seats, and let the eye, which is growing fatigued with dwelling so long on the gaud and glitter of art, refresh itself by resting on the soft verdure and gentle features of nature.

The pictures will be returned to with quite a new pleasure.
With a passing glance, then, at the general collection of pictures, we will proceed at once to the glory of Hampton - the Cartoons of the greatest of painters.
The paintings in these state apartments are a strange miscellaneous assemblage, huddled together with little more regard to arrangement or classification than in an Academy exhibition; and named with as little regard to authenticity as in a broker's shop or an auctioneer's sale room.
Titians and Bogdanes, mock Giorgiones and genuine Kalfs, Venuses and war-hulks, dead game and martyred saints, are mingled together in a way that is as wearisome as it is confusing.
The rooms of Hampton Court appear to have become a refuge for pictures of suspected character, or unpleasant appearance, from our other royal dwellings; and perhaps the greater part are worthless.
Still there might be selected from them a really pleasing collection.
It might be made, indeed, singularly interesting and instructive, were the pictures (as has been once or twice suggested) to be arranged historically.
There are many historical portraits of undoubted authenticity; were they properly classified, and good copies added of others, so as to render the series tolerably complete, several rooms might be fitted up that would be both interesting and valuable, and it might be done without a large outlay.
Besides the portraits, there are several pictures of historical subjects - I mean contemporary pictures or nearly so - such as the Battle of Spurs, Henry the Eighth's embarkation at Dover, the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Sir Henry Wotton presenting his Credentials as Ambassador to the Doge of Venice in the Senate, and the like, which might be brought together, and others added as opportunities occurred.
The collection of portraits in the Queen's Gallery may be pointed to as an example of what might be done - though not exactly as an example of how it should be done.
Even contemporary pictures which are not directly historical, but still represent some incident connected with historical personages, have an interest when attention is directed to them, beyond that of their artistic worth (which is often exceedingly small), as illustrating the public or domestic manners of the time, or showing the habits and appliances of the actors;- the writers and painters thus mutually serving as commentators or elucilators[elucidators?] of each other.

There is a painting here, for example, of Charles I. and his Queen dining in public, which has some such value.
The custom of the sovereign dining in public is often referred to, and consequently well-known; but a much livelier idea of it is obtained when we see it thus "done from the life".
And this very queen we can look at with more interest here, when we read the following naive passage from the autobiography of that stiff old Puritan, Sir Simonds D'Ewes:-
"On Thursday, the 30th and last day of this instant June (1625), I went to Whitehall purposely to see the Queen; which I did fully all the time she sat at dinner, and perceived her to be a most absolute delicate lady, after I had exactly surveyed all the features of her face, much enlivened by her radiant and sparkling black eye.
Besides, her deportment amongst her women was so sweet and humble, and her speech and looks to her other servants so mild and gracious, as I could not abstain from divers deep-fetched sighs to consider that she wanted the knowledge of the true religion."
Doubtless many a one hastened, like Sir Simonds, to Whitehall when the King brought home his young bride, and many, like him, looked on her with some such mingled feelings of horror and admiration.
Puritanism was already strong and flourishing.

Of the general collection of pictures as it now stands the most marked feature (though one is a little disposed to question whether this popular resort is just the most fitting place for their exhibition) is perhaps the Gallery of the Beauties of King Charles II., who have been banished here from Windsor.
How thoroughly do they illustrate that time and Court; his, happily, the only time, and that the only Court, in which such a number of the noblest of the ladies of England would have suffered themselves to be painted in such a fashion.
Grammont has hardly set them more vividly before us than they are here displayed on the somewhat frigid canvas of Lely; and they add to Grammont's stories more of vraisemblance[sic] than even his biographer's Hiberno-Gallic fire, and facility of touch.
It is almost too much to say, by the way, that English ladies would not at any other time, or in any other Court, allow themselves to be exhibited as King Charles's beauties did, while we have here before us Kneller's paintings of the Beauties of the Court of King William.
There is, however, a sufficient distinction.
These fair dames evidently do their best to be thought as graceless as those they desired to rival; but in vain; they have not the heart for it.
Their effort to appear impudent, only makes them look silly.
Holbein's portraits, of which there are several here, are of a different and greater value.
Wanting, as he did, almost all the higher qualities of the artist, the literal truth of his portraiture is astonishing.
He has been styled the Daguerre of Limners, but the title is not appropriate.
From Daguerreo type portraits, with all their minute and ghastly accuracy, the mental stamp, somehow, invariably escapes.
Holbein gives the veritable man; the intellectual with the physical head.
Still, truthful as are the portraits of Holbein, they are true only as the dry delineations of the scientific naturalist are true.
The portrait of Henry VIII., in his old age, coarse, selfish, brutal, dehumanized; and that of his royal rival, Francis I., are memorable productions; but the prodigious superiority of the representations of real genius becomes at once felt on passing from them to the Charles I, of Vandyke, in which, as in the finer portraits of Titian and Raphael, the man himself is brought before us, as he stood revealed before the mind's eye of the great painter.
The portrait of Charles is a valuable historic study.
This portrait again may be compared with another equestrian portrait - that of William III. by Kneller: the grand masculine simplicity of treatment in the one being a striking contrast to the feeble puerile allegory of the other.
Zucchero's portrait of Elizabeth, in her dress of pearls, is a curiosity, but it also is a curious historical document; and a similar remark may be made on the portrait of her by Lucas de Heere, in which she is represented as throwing Juno, Venus, and Minerva into a panic, as she steps forth in the plenitude of her majesty, beauty, and wisdom.
Vainly would the fantastic descriptions of the writers of that day present the queen to us in her extravaganza habits, were it not for some such faithful yet unconsciously grotesque commentaries as these.
They are only to be paralleled by Mytens' portrait of the Scottish Solomon at Knole.

There are also portraits by Titian and Velasquez of some of the potentates of their time; and others, by lesser artists, of men of notable fame - some mainly of national, but many of general historic value and importance.
But we must on.
There are several paintings of artistic value among the miscellaneous collection, but, probably, with the exception of the works of recent artists, by far the greater part of them are not genuine.
Several are, no doubt, original works, but of artists of less eminence than those whose names they bear.
It is very much to be desired that they should be subjected to a rigorous official scrutiny, and sternly relegated to their proper rank.
Most of them would then have some value, and in every case the value would be somewhat equivalent to that they ought to possess.
Now the whole arrangement is so careless as to be quite startling to one who knows anything of the real value of paintings, and most misleading to those who of necessity depend on the estimate placed upon them by their official guardians;- and for such it must be recollected the Gallery of Hampton Court is particularly destined.
An excuse may readily be found for the inaccurate specification of the pictures in private collections, in the natural reluctance to admit the inferiority of works which their owners have always been taught to believe were so precious, and also in the want of sufficient skill or knowledge to decide whether or not they are rightly affiliated; but no such excuse can be admitted with respect to a national collection - and it is quite indefensible to suffer great names to continue in them attached to pictures which proclaim at a glance their falsity.
Upon these older paintings it is not worthwhile to comment.
Nor need we stay before the moderns.
The Wests find numerous admirers, and are not unsuitably placed.
Inferior as they are when regarded as works of art, they plainly possess the elements of popularity, and there is a good deal to like in them.

The most important works in many respects, after the Cartoons, are the series of pictures of the Triumph of Julius Caesar, by Andrea Mantegna.
They are painted in distemper, and have suffered considerably from the effects of time and ill-usage; but they merit careful examination as specimens of the tempera painting of the fifteenth century.
In their way they are masterly productions, and probably superior to most others of their time.
They exhibit a great deal of technical skill - good drawing and clever painting - and they have directness and sincerity of treatment which render them, even as paintings, far superior to the florid productions of many later schools: yet they are at best but cold and ineffective as a whole.
These pictures occupy one side of the portrait gallery.
Originally they were placed in the upper part of a hall in the palace of San Sebastian at Mantua; - and in judging of works of art, the place they were intended to occupy, as as well as the time when they were painted, should always be taken into account.
They were purchased, with the remainder of the Mantuan Gallery of paintings, by Charles I.
When the pictures of Charles were sold, the Triumph of Julius Caesar produced the sum of £1000.
The Cartoons of Raphael, on the same occasion, sold for only £300.

Hampton Court Raphael Cartoons

To those glorious works we now proceed.
The history of the Cartoons is singular and eventful, and may be repeated here, as it is not perhaps familiar to every reader.
They were designed for the papal, or Sistine chapel, as it was named after Sixtus IV., by whom it was built in 1453.
The walls of the chapel were intended to be covered with paintings of Scriptural subjects, and the intention was partly carried into effect during the life of the builder.
After his death, however, the works were not continued; and no more was done towards the completion of the design until the pontificate of Julius II., who employed Michael Angelo to paint the ceiling.
That great artist performed his task by the sublime series of pictures so well known to every lover of art.
When Leo X. ascended the papal throne, he resolved to complete the decoration of the chapel, by filling the vacant spaces on the walls with magnificent pictures worked in tapestry and heightened with gold.
Raphael was directed by Leo to make the designs.
He carried out the intention which Michael Angelo had by his ceilings suggested, of a complete series of the Scriptural and traditional events of the earliest history of Christianity, by a set of designs which embraced the leading features connected with the foundation of the Christian church, commencing from those which had been treated by the previous artists.
Raphael produced eleven designs, of which seven are at Hampton Court: these are, 'The Death of Ananias'; 'Elymas the sorcerer struck with blindness'; 'St. Paul and St. Peter at the Beautiful Gate'; 'The Miraculous Draught of Fishes'; 'Paul and Barnabas at Lystra'; 'Paul preaching at Athens'; 'Christ's Charge to Peter': the four which are wanting are, 'The Coronation of the Virgin', 'The Conversion of Paul', 'The Stoning of St. Stephen', and 'The Deliverance of Paul from Prison'.
They were painted about the year 1514, and in 1515 were cut up into strips and sent into Flanders, to be copied in tapestry by the workmen of Arras.
The tapestries were completed and transmitted to Rome, where they are still occasionally displayed; but the designs were suffered to remain in Flanders, where they seem to have been treated with the kind of neglect common with "patterns" which have served their purpose.
At any rate they remained in Flanders till Rubens, while at the court of Charles I., induced that monarch to purchase them as designs for the tapestry works he had established at Mortlake.
At the sale of the royal collection, they were secured by Cromwell, for the nation, at the price of £300.
In the reign of Charles II. they were again sent to Mortlake, where the manufactory of tapestry had been re-established, to be copied; in the work-rooms they were roughly used, and afterwards they were thrown aside as lumber.
Their preservation is owing to William III., who had them collected, and carefully - though not skilfully - restored; and then had the gallery in which they now hang, built for them by Sir Christopher Wren.

After this they were not suffered to remain quite unmolested.
In 1766 they were removed to Buckingham House; they were subsequently taken to Windsor; and finally carried back again to Hampton Court.
The only peregrination they have made since their return to Hampton, was about twenty years ago, when two or three of them were carried in successive seasons to the painting-room of the Royal Academy, for the purpose of being copied by the students.
They are painted in distemper colours, on paper, whence their name, Cartone being the Italian word for paper of the kind on which they are painted, and are of different sizes, having been adapted to fit the vacant spaces in the Sistine chapel.
From their various adventures, and having been so carelessly treated, it may be supposed that the frail materials in which they are wrought have suffered considerably; but though partaking somewhat of the character of a ruin, they are a magnificent ruin.
Blackened and dingy though they be, they are unquestionably the noblest works of art the country possesses.
They are preserved in a gallery built especially for them, and wholly appropriated to their service ; still we may dread their safety.
Whether they ought not to have some external protection may be a matter of consideration, even against the influence of the climate; while the effect of the dust from the feet of the many thousands who now pass through the room in the summer months must be prejudicial - and being painted in distemper, the surface cannot be cleaned.
Of the way in which they are hung and lighted there can be no second opinion.
The Cartoons almost invariably, when first seen, disappoint the expectations of the ordinary visitor.
Perhaps the feeble impression which they at first produce is to a great extent owing to the materials in which they are wrought, and the unpicture-like appearance they present.
Plain representations of Scriptural subjects, executed in dull, faded, distemper colours, on small sheets of paper put together so as not to disguise the joinings of the several sheets, without any of those conventional groupings of the figures, or arrangements of broad and unearthly gloom and bright light he is accustomed to see in paintings, are not what are looked for by one who has heard of their surpassing eminence ever since he heard of art: and hence the usual objections.
They have a common look.
They are hardly pictures at all.
They "only represent the thing", as a stranger one day said, "just as it might have happened."
You do not seem, as is commonly the case in historical paintings, to have a theatrical tableau of the event placed before you to gaze at.
The figures want the "striking attitudes" and copy-book "expressions" people look for in a picture.
And to many who set up for judges of art, they are as difficult of comprehension as to the unlearned.
To one who has that most horrific of all species of boreisms[sic], a small acquaintance with the technical language of art, a smaller knowledge of the practice, and just so much intimacy with its history and its professors as to be able to string together a number of foreign names, and talk about schools and styles and manners, they are quite perplexing.
He can get on bravely at Charing-Cross or Pall-Mall, but he finds it hard to play the connoisseur here.
The properly educated student of art will not be disappointed even at the first visit, because he will know that works of the highest order require a prolonged and close study to be properly appreciated.

The truth is, the Cartoons are too grand and elevated in character to be appreciated at first sight, or to be construed by school-boy "rules of art".
Like all great works, they must be studied.
To hope in a hurried promenade through a picture gallery to be able rightly to judge of any great work of art, is a mistake; and least of all can the works of Raphael be so understood.
In another manner and in a more reverential spirit must they be examined.
Grave, simple, earnest, their appeal is to the heart, and by it, as well as by the intellect, must they be tried; and when so tried and comprehended, they will be dwelt on with ever increasing admiration.
Their truth and consistency, the absence of all affectation, the calm repose and dignity, the religious sobriety and elevation, will take firm hold upon the best affections of the mind; and they will be felt to be, beyond almost all other pictorial representations of the events connected with the foundation of the Christian faith, worthy of their glorious theme.
It is upon no merely technical or executive skill, however great, that they depend.
They were not addressed to artists merely.
They were painted for all men, and they can be understood by every one who has feeling and imagination, and will examine them seriously.
They will not let an earnest, trustful student go unrewarded.
To every one who will study them, they will unfold continually more and more of that higher beauty which it is only at rare seasons given to man to apprehend and to embody.
Yet though their superiority is independent of mere objective artistic skill, how noble are they, considered as works of art!
How every part teems with meaning, and how unflinching is the degradation of every subordinate accessory!
Not a touch but is to the purpose; not an object is introduced merely to fill up a vacant space.
What at first appears to be an excrescence, or at most an object or an incident too trifling or insignificant to be worthy of notice, is seen on further study - as in similar instances in the dramas of Shakspere - to have been carefully considered and introduced with forethought, or rather, perhaps, is the effect of that intuitive power of genius which accomplishes unconsciously what careful study acknowledges to be true and fitting.
And so of every object and indeed of every line of the composition; while each stands distinct and self-supported, all are so mutually connected and interlinked as to depend upon each other for the full and perfect impression.
They have, like every human work, their faults and their deficiencies, but they are probably as perfect as human productions ever have been or will be.
It would be pleasant, and not out of place, to endeavour to sustain these remarks by a somewhat detailed examination of the several Cartoons; but with a knowledge of the many words that have been expended to little purpose on these wonderful creations, I shrink from adding by any particular criticism to the dim and murky atmosphere through which they are too often viewed.

Hampton Court Gardens

The peeps which the visitor has had over the gardens of Hampton Court from the windows of the state apartments, will have prepared him to expect pleasure from a stroll through them-if he be one
"That in trim gardens takes his pleasure."
They are of considerable size, and kept in the most scrupulous order.
Hentzner describes the gardens of Hampton Court as being, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, "most pleasant".
They were laid out anew in the reign of Charles II., in the prevalent French fashion, but their present arrangement is perhaps chiefly due to the taste of William III., under whose direction they were rearranged by Messrs. London and Wise.
William was a thorough Dutchman, and he retained his Dutch tastes and likings to the last.
Gardening was one of the most favourite pursuits of his countrymen, and they were very proud of their attainments therein.
William, it may be, desired to show his subjects an example of the superior taste of his old country.
The gardens of Hampton Court were accordingly remodelled.
Many straight walks were formed; square ponds and straight canals excavated; yew-trees were cut into strange, monstrous, and anomalous shapes.
The whole was made formal, rigid, and rectangular, as the lines of a fortification, or the banks of an Amsterdam canal.
It was a Dutch version of the French style.
Yet though the taste be perverse and extravagant, there were both taste and good feeling shown by those two old landscape-gardeners to whom the work was intrusted; and now that their designs have been judiciously remodelled, the effect is undoubtedly very pleasing.
The trees have been permitted to resume their natural shapes, and the excessive formality has been got rid of.
The gardens have still a formal appearance, but it is only sufficient to impart the air of old-fashioned stateliness that seems so proper to the pleasaunce of the old palace; and is infinitely more pleasing here than would be any of the latest novelties.
The long lines of sombre evergreens, the broad walks, pleached alleys, trim bowers, most brilliant of flower beds, wide, verdant, and smooth-shaven lawns, and sparkling fountains, admirably combine to make up a garden right worthy of the old house.
But the statues and the sculptured fountains should be restored, or others brought in their place.
We may not compare it, and the sober folks who are collected in it, to
"Boccaccio's garden and its faery,
The love, the joyaunce, and the gallantry";
nor, while sauntering about, fancy it a garden of the Grand Monarque, with groups of Watteau peopling it: but it is a place to delight in nevertheless, and I know not whether, with the happy crowds who troop merrily to and fro on a bright summer's day, it be not a more enjoyable spectacle than either.

The long lofty front of Wren's building shows itself perhaps to most advantage in connexion with the formal walks and terraces and fountains of the gardens.
Some of the peeps over the river too have a charming effect, and so has the church tower and roofs of Kingston, as seen at the termination of one of the long avenues.
Indeed the whole grounds afford numerous very pretty little bits of garden scenery.
And then the park beyond is also very fine, though level, and not very extensive.
Some of the trees in it are very large.
An oak near the old stables is one of the largest in England.
Mr. Jesse says that the trunk is thirty-three feet in girth.
A poplar, according to the same authority, is nearly a hundred feet high.
There are also some elms of enormous magnitude; and two or three fine cork trees.
Before leaving the gates, the stranger should turn aside to the private garden, which is worth seeing.
The prime attraction in it for the majority of visitors, the vine famous as "the largest in Europe", and which is said to produce above two thousand pounds weight of fruit, the reader has no doubt heard of, if he has not seen.
The Wilderness and the Maze are a never-failing delight to juvenile visitors - and their merriment does good, or ought to do good, to the heart of the oldest.

Bushy Park

Then having left the Lion gate of Hampton Court, you have only to cross the road to the hardly less delightful Bushy Park.
Well fare the fame of old Timothy Bennet, who preserved the right of way through Bushy Park to his own and succeeding generations.
It was about the middle of the last century that Bennet, who lived at Hampton - "being unwilling to leave the world worse than he found it", as an inscription on his portrait notifies - tried in a court of law whether the old road-way, which had been for some years stopped, was legally closed.
The point was stoutly contested by the Crown, but the cobbler was the conqueror, and the right of way has remained undisputed ever since.
A similar "attempt to obstruct the road through this park", says Lysons, "had been made once before, in Oliver Cromwell's time.
In 1662 the jury presented that the highway for horse and foot, leading from the Wick to Hampton Court, through the hare-warren, was stopped up by pales lately erected by Oliver Cromwell, and continued then stopped up."
But this was not the whole extent of the Protector's encroachments and misdoings: for the same jury "presented also, that by turning the course of the new river water into the ponds lately digged by Oliver Cromwell in the hare-warren, and by the overflowing of the same water, the common highway leading from the Wick to the heath-gate was made very dangerous and unsafe to pass for man, horse, and carriage."
Bushy Park is said to have taken its name from the hawthorns which are so abundant in it.
They have been thinned a good deal at different times, but yet form a good-sized thicket.
At all seasons Bushy Park is beautiful, but it is in its utmost glory in the spring, or in that sweet
"Season atwixt June and May, Half prankt with spring, with summer half imbrown'd."
Then the hawthorns are a miniature forest of brilliant blossoms, aud the numerous limes load the air with the perfume of their delicious bloom; and above all, the matchless avenue of horse-chestnuts is in full flower.
Majestic as the horse-chestnut always looks when in flower, the splendid appearance of a broad avenue of them, extending for above a mile in length, can hardly be imagined.
The chestnut avenue was planted by William, and the trees are now in their full maturity.
This chestnut avenue is the boast of Bushy and of Hampton - and well it may be: it would be worth while to make a journey of twice the distance from London only to see it in its prime.
Altogether Hampton Court (with of course Bushy Park, which is but an adjunct to it) is undoubtedly the most delightful place in the vicinity of London to which the inhabitants of the crowded capital can resort for a holiday.
Its popularity appears to be continually on the increase; and it will doubtless continue to increase, with the progress of the people generally in good taste, and the love of harmless and healthy pleasures.
The palace and gardens are open to the public every day except Friday; no restraint is placed on the movements of the visitors, nor is any fee permitted to be taken (except in the vinery and private garden, where, I believe, a trifle is expected by the gardener); and the attendants invariably give the most proper attention and afford every required in formation and facility.


Thames Ditton

Between the bridges of Hampton and Kingston the Thames makes a bold reach of about a couple of miles, skirting in its way two sides of Hampton Court park.
From the Surrey side of the river the palace is seen to great advantage, with the avenues of noble trees diverging from it in various directions.
From the towing-path, which is carried along the Middlesex side of the stream, the prospect is of another kind, but not unpleasing.
Thames Ditton, with its couple of aits, and the punts and boats that lie off the ferry, makes a pretty little rustic river-side picture - Hofland, I think, has painted or sketched it more than once.


After pass ing Thames Ditton the buildings straggling along the opposite bank engage attention; and soon the dark irregular mass of houses forming Kingston town comes into view, with the old church tower rising above them, and backed by some uplands, just distant enough to partake of an aerial hue; while the broad placid river and the bridge add a very picturesque finish to the scene.
Kingston-upon-Thames is a long quiet town, without anything very rememberable in its appearance.
A few years ago it had a rather more than usually countrified air, considering its nearness to London - but that is pretty well worn off now.
It has a town-hall with a statue of Queen Anne in front, and some other public buildings, but none remarkable for size or elegance.
Some portions of the church are of ancient date, but the church itself has been so often repaired, altered, and beautified, as no longer to retain any feature of interest.
But though the town possesses few objects of which it can boast, it is proud of its history.
From the earliest times it was a place of importance.
Antiquarian inhabitants contend that there was a Roman town, or a considerable station, on the site of, or close by, the present town; Gale says, improbably enough, it was the Tamesis of Antoninus; it has also been claimed as the place where Caesar crossed the Thames.
Thus much is certain, that many Roman articles have been found in the town; and the vestiges of a cemetery a little distance from it.
In the Saxon times it was a royal town; the name Cyningestane having been bestowed on it from its possessing the stone on which the Saxon kings sat at their coronation.
A list is confidently given of some eight or nine Saxon monarchs, ending with Ethelred in 978, who were crowned here.

It was at Kingston that the unseemly event is said to have occurred at the coronation of Edwy in 955, which not only led to desperate evil in the following years of his reign, but has in our own day stirred up plenteous strife and some scandal among the historians.
Before his coronation, Edwy, though quite a youth, had married Elfgiva, a lady of great beauty, but, according to the ecclesiastics, who strongly opposed the marriage, within the proscribed limits of relationship.
During the feast which followed the coronation, Edwy suddenly left the table where the nobles were carousing, and withdrew to the chamber of Elfgiva.
The nobles appear to have complained of the absence of the King, and Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, loudly expressing his indignation at the sovereign preferring the society of women to that of his counsellors, called upon some one to compel him to return.
Dunstan, the fiery abbot of Glastonbury, at once rushed into the royal apartment, and having angrily reviled Elfgiva and her mother, dragged the King back by force to the hall.
The remainder of the story belongs not to Kingston.
How the lady brought the King to banish the haughty priest - her own seizure by Odo, and his brutal branding of her face with a heated iron, and afterwards sending her to Ireland as a slave; her escape to England, capture, and murder by being hamstrung and left to perish (a kind of punishment, "though cruel, not unusual in that age", as an historian of this age mildly puts it);- all this is well known, as is also the deposition of Edwy, and his speedy death; or may be seen in the histories of his reign.

In the Domesday-book Kingston is stated to be a royal demesne.
It owes its first charter to John.
A meeting, which led to no result, is said to have taken place here between Prince Edward and Simon Montfort in 1263; in the next year Henry III. took and demolished a castle which stood at Kingston, and which was held by the Earl of Gloucester for the Barons.
Sir Thomas Wyat, when marching to London, on his revolt against Mary, after the execution of Lady Jane Grey, crossed the Thames at Kingston: the bridge had been broken by the Queen's council, in order to prevent his passage, but it was hastily repaired by his followers.
In the great civil war Kingston was the theatre of some encounters, though none of much consequence.
Soon after the battle of Edgehill, Rupert was defeated in a skirmish here.
After the "battle of Brentford", the Royal army for awhile occupied Kingston; and it was here that the last feeble effort was made to revive the Royal cause.
When the King was a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, and the Royalist troops were everywhere disbanded, the Earl of Holland, the Duke of Buckingham, and his brother, Lord Francis Villiers, succeeded in collecting about six hundred men.
They made this town their head-quarters, and issued addresses to the citizens of London, calling upon them to arise, and rescue their sovereign.
The Parliament, as soon as it heard of the rising, despatched some troops of horse from Windsor against them.
A skirmish ensued on Surbiton Common, just outside Kingston, when the Royalists were speedily routed; Villiers was slain, Holland was taken shortly afterwards, but Buckingham escaped.
Norbiton and Surbiton - corruptions, as is believed, of North and South Barton (or demesne) - are hamlets attached to Kingston; they contain some good residences, but have no claim to separate notice.
Surbiton, since the opening of the South Western Railway, has become quite a village of villas.
Kingston is joined to Hampton Wick by a neat stone bridge, erected a few years back, at an expense of £40,000.
The bridge whose place it supplied was one of the oldest on the river.


From Kingston the Thames flows on pleasantly enough to Teddington, a little quiet out-of-the-way village that has remained for the last quarter of a century unaltered, while every other place around it has been in course of constant mutation.
Somehow it appeared to get, year by year, more isolated; neither railway nor pier came nigh it, hardly a new house was erected in it or an old one modernized, and the fields remained unencroached upon by cot or villa.
Within the last few months, however, a railway has been brought within a mile or two of it, but whether it will effect any change remains to be seen.
It is the last thoroughly rural sequestered village we shall find on this side of London.
A few anglers repair thither during the fishing season, and it is the halting-place of a good many pleasure-parties, who "in sweet summer time" row their boats as far as the lock: but else its quiet is little disturbed even by visitors.
The village contains, with many little shops, some good houses.
The church is a brick building of small pretensions and little beauty.
Teddington lock is the first on the Thames, and the tide, which flows but feebly for some miles lower, is here finally arrested.
The little village, with the broad sheet of foaming water that rushes over the weir, looks extremely pretty from the river.
Teddington has had many inhabitants who have been celebrated in their day, and in very different ways.
Elizabeth's Earl of Leicester occupied a house here.

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was resident in Teddington in 1688; the letter which he wrote in that year, in order to clear himself from the charge of being a Papist, was dated from this place.
It may appear singular to those who know him only by common fame, that such a suspicion should for a moment have rested on his drab coat; but there was abundant reason for it.
He had been a busy and pliant tool of James's, and even he must have thought that Penn could have no strong antipathy to the creed, when he selected him as the proper person to endeavour to persuade the fellows of Magdalene College to admit the Roman Catholic president, whom the king had nominated.
With the general and violent feeling that then prevailed, it is not wonderful that Penn should be regarded with jealousy.
Long after the Revolution, he continued to be suspected of being a disguised Catholic, as well as of being concerned in plots for the restoration of his old master.

The excellent Dr. Stephen Hales, celebrated alike as divine, naturalist, and philanthropist, ought to be mentioned as having once held the curacy of Teddington, if only on account of his having built the tower of the church and repaired the north aisle, chiefly at his own expense.
He lived here for above fifty years, and now lies under the church tower.
Paul Whitehead, worthless alike as poet and man, lived during the latter part of his life at Teddington.
His body was interred in the church - with the exception of his heart, which, as already mentioned, was put in an urn and carried to High Wycombe, where it was deposited, with a curious mixture of Christian and heathen ceremonies, in the mausoleum of his worthy patron, Lord le De spencer.
"Pretty Peg Woffington'' is another of the Teddington notables.
She too lies in the church or churchyard.
A short distance below Teddington stands a neat cottage, once well known, where
"There lived a laughter-loving dame,
A matchless actress - Clive her name."
Mrs. Kitty Clive, as the reader of Boswell will remember, was capable of pleasing off the stage as well as on - and also of being pleased.
"Clive, Sir, is a good thing to sit by; she always understands what you say."
was the great moralist's opinion of Kitty; while she used to say of him,
"I love to sit by Dr. Johnson, he always entertains one."

Strawberry Hill, Twickenham meads

Strawberry Hill, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Strawberry Hill

"This then is Little Strawberry Hill, Mr. Rambler?"
It is, good reader; and these are Twickenham Meads.
For thus plodding slowly onwards, we have arrived at length at a place familiar by name to every one who has looked into the literature of the last century, and whose fame will last as long as the language in which it has been celebrated.
The Parish Register of Twickenham, written about 1758, by one who has contributed (after Pope) most largely to its renown, will save us the enumeration of many names, and be more agreeable to the reader than dry prose.
Walpole's lines are not generally known to the present generation of readers; they are a choice sample of his courtly taste :-

Where silver Thames round Twit'nam meads
His winding current sweetly leads;
Twit'nam, the Muses' fav'rite seat,
Twit'nam, the Graces' lov'd retreat;
There polish'd Essex 1 wont to sport,
The pride and victim of a court.
There Bacon tun'd the grateful lyre
To soothe Eliza's haughty ire.
- Ah, happy had no meaner strain
Than friendship's dash'd his mighty vein!
Twitnam, where Hyde 2, majestic sage,
Retir'd from folly's frantic stage,
While his vast soul was hung on tenters,
To mend the world, and vex dissenters;
Twitnam, where frolic Wharton3 revell'd;
Where Montagu4, with lock dishevell'd,
(Conflict of dirt and warmth divine,)
Invok'd - and scandalised the Nine:
Where Pope in moral music spoke,
To th' anguish'd soul of Bolingbroke,
And whisper'd how true genius errs,
Preferring joys that pow'r confers;
Bliss never to great minds arising
From ruling worlds, but from despising:
Where Fielding5 met his bunter Muse,
And, as they quaff'd the fiery juice,
Droll Nature stamp'd each lucky hit
With inimaginable wit:
Where Suffolk6 sought the peaceful scene,
Resigning Richmond to the queen,
And all the glory, all the teasing,
Of pleasing one7 not worth the pleasing;
Where Fanny8, ever-blooming fair,
Ejaculates the graceful pray'r,
And, 'scap'd from sense, with nonsense smit,
For Whitfield's cant leaves Stanhope's9 wit:
Amid this choir of sounding names,
Of statesmen, bards, and beauteous dames,
Shall the last trifler of the throng
Enroll his own such names among?
- Oh! no, enough if I consign
To lasting types their notes divine;
Enough if Strawberry's humble hill
The title-page of fame shall fill.


1 Rob. Devereux, Earl of Essex. 2 Lord Clarendon 3 The Duke of Wharton
4 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. 5 Henry Fielding. 6 Henrietta Hobart, Countess of Suffolk.
7 George II. 8 Lady Fanny Shirley. 9 Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield.

In winding up his verses with this affected humility, Walpole, of course, meant nothing.
He would have been grievously mortified, if he could have brought himself to believe that Strawberry Hill, as well as its master, would not stand high up in the roll of fame.
At any rate Strawberry Hill must now occupy a prominent position in any sketch of Twickenham Meadows.

The Great Strawberry Hill stands only a short way below its little namesake.
Horace Walpole took such pains to inform posterity of the history of the house which his admiring contemporaries were fain to look up to with devout regard as a model of Gothic architecture, and which he had traversed the kingdom in order to complete satisfactorily, that it would be a pity not to give his own account:-
"Where the Gothic castle now stands was originally a small tenement, built in 1698, and let as a lodging house: Cibber once took it, and wrote one of his plays here-'The Refusal; or, the Lady's Philosophy'.
After him, Talbot, Bishop of Durham, had it for eight years: then, Henry Bridges, Marquis of Carnarvon, son of James, Duke of Chandos, and since Duke himself.
It was next hired by Mrs. Chenevix, the noted toy-woman, who, on the death of her husband, let it to Lord John Philip Sackville: he kept it about two years; and then Mr. Walpole took the remainder of Mrs. Chenevix's lease, in May, 1749, and the next year bought it by Act of Parliament, it being the property of three minors of the name of Mortimer. . . .
The castle now existing was not entirely built from the ground, but formed at different times, by alterations of and additions to the old small house.
The library and refectory or great parlour were entirely new-built in 1753; the gallery, round tower, great cloister, and cabinet in 1760 and 1761; the great north bed-chamber in 1770; and the Beauclerc tower, with the hexagon closet, in 1776."

His description of the house would be too long to quote: of the interior, it may suffice, as a sample, to give his note of "the refectory or great parlour:"-
"It is 30 feet long, 20 wide, and 12 high; hung with paper in imitation of stucco.
The chimney-piece was designed by Mr. Bentley: upon it stands a fine Etruscan vase, between two bottles of black and gold porcelain."

After he had finished the house or castle to his liking, he set about storing it with all sorts of "articles of taste and virtu," as the catalogues have it.
Of the contents he drew up, and printed in a handsome quarto form to range with his other "Works", a catalogue, in which such things as "two old blue and white plates, artichoke pattern", or "an octagon square plate with a cock and hen", or "a blue and white caudle-cup" - are of perpetual recurrence.

And this was the man who set himself up, and was pretty generally admitted, as an infallible critic upon all matters of art and the practical application of taste.
The "castle" itself is perhaps the most trumpery piece of gingerbread Gothic ever constructed.
As a whole, it is monstrously ill-looking and absurd; while the details are not only incorrect and out of place, but wretchedly meagre and poverty stricken.
By descent Strawberry Hill became the property of a late Earl of Waldegrave, who dismantled it, and converted the plates and japan-ware and nicknacks that so fitly decorated the rooms, into solid cash - not fearing the repose of the ghost of Otranto.
It is to be hoped that the present Earl will soon remove the crazy castle itself:- if he respect the memory of his precedessor, or the taste of Horace, he certainly will.
Nothing can be more melancholy than the air of the rickety structure in its present neglected state - the walls cracked, the plaster pealed off in patches, windows boarded up; every part, in fact, dropping into unsightliness - a wretched modern lath-and-plaster ruin.
Walpole made a great mistake in fancying himself an admirable Crichton.
He was in his way matchless, but it was, after all, a very small way.
He essayed history, and has left a scandalous chronicle.
He wrote on art, and was blind to all its higher qualities.
His biographies show small knowledge of human nature.
His judgments on his contemporaries are worthless, because, keen as he was, he suffered himself to be guided by the current scandal: nowhere is there any clear acknowledgment of the wide separation of right and wrong, or any recognition of the great principles of truth and justice: - himself frivolous, superficial, insincere, and devoid of everything like elevation of feeling he believed others to be as himself - without his cleverness.
Virtue he looked on as a useful profession - at the notion of disinterestedness he curled his lip.
Throughout his whole character the most marked feature was the entire want of a masculine tone of thought: but in that lay his real strength; that it was which gave him such unrivalled skill as a letter writer.
His letters, so light, facile, and sparkling in style, so piquant in matter - the very malice sharpening the piquancy - are, of their kind, unapproached in English.
They are as easy, witty, and pleasant as those of Madame de Sevigné, or any other French lady of the olden time: - indeed, when fresh from the pretty Gallicisms of his style of thinking and writing, one is half tempted to fancy that some tricksy spirit had in wilfulness moulded him out of the clay which "Dame Nature meant some French Madame should be".

But we must part in good temper with Horace Walpole.
He is great in his way, if it be but a small way.
He is indisputably the first of his class; and it is a class "necessary", as Swift expresses it, "to the commonwealth of learning.
For all human actions seem to be divided, like Themistocles and his company: one man can fiddle, and another can make a small town a great city; and he who cannot do either one or the other, deserves to be kicked out of creation."
There is no fear of that being Walpole's fate.
Still it is sad to see a man of such remarkable ability - though but in fiddling - so entirely without any of the kindly or generous qualities on which to fix one's esteem.
Generally speaking, however widely you differ from a writer's opinions, you learn to like him in proportion to the pleasure you take in his works.
But Walpole, though one of the most enjoyable of authors, is at the same time the least likeable.
There is in fact scarcely anything to like in him:
"To his memory
No virtue lends its lustre.
" He has no heartiness of any kind.
He was neither a good liker nor a good hater.
But perhaps he could not help it.
It seems, indeed, to borrow an odd phrase (but I suppose an orthodox one, as it was penned by a bishop when writing on a very serious theme *),
* i.e. Immortality. Warburton's 'Divine Legation of Moses'.
"to be a thing extraneous to his nature, and not put into his paste when first fashioned by the forming hand of his Creator."

Pope's grotto

Pope's Grotto, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Pope's Grotto

A little farther and we come to a spot still more renowned - for
"There Pope his moral music spoke".
In olden times - and sometimes in modern - literature was but a sorry profession.
The poet or the scholar, it was said, was like a grasshopper - he lived on the air as well as slept in it.
Sometimes the simile was less elegant.
"Like an ass", quoth Burton, "he wears out his time for provender, and can show a stum-rod."
Pope happily was not one who found its rewards so thankless.
Though no such magnificent sums were thought of then, as in our time have been realized, he had no reason to be dissatisfied.
The subscription to his translation of Homer was so large as to enable him to provide a comfortable habitation for the rest of his days.
Out of the profits of that work he purchased, about 1715, the estate where we now are; and immediately commenced the erection of a house upon it.
His letters abundantly testify to the delight he took in his new occupation.
His house and his garden- "my Tusculum" as he fondly styles them - are referred to with continual pleasure: and although fresh from Windsor Forest, the scenery of Twickenham equally delights him.
"Though the change of my scene of life", he writes to one friend, "from Windsor Forest to the side of the Thames be one of the grand eras of my days, and may be called a notable period in so inconsiderable a history; yet you can scarce imagine any hero passing from one stage of life to another with so much tranquillity, so easy a transition, and so laudable a behaviour.
I am become so truly a citizen of the world (accord ing to Plato's expression), that I look with equal indifferency on what I have lost and on what I have gained."
Somewhat later he writes to another friend (Jervas, the painter), who had inquired about his removal to Twickenham -
"The history of my transplantation and settlement which you desire, would require a volume, were I to enumerate the many projects, difficulties, vicissitudes, and various fates attending that important part of my life; much more, should I describe the many draughts, elevations, profiles, perspectives, etc. of every palace and garden proposed, intended, and happily raised, by the strength of that faculty wherein all great geniuses excel, imagination.
At last, the gods and fate have fixed me on the borders of the Thames, in the districts of Richmond and Twickenham: it is here I have passed an entire year of my life, without any fixed abode in London, or more than casting a transitory glance (for a day or two at most in a month) on the pomps of the town.
It is here I hope to receive you, Sir, returned from eternizing the Ireland of this age.
For you my structures rise; for you my colonnades extend their wings; for you my groves aspire, and roses bloom."

His letters enable us to follow the progress of his edifice, and to perceive that there is no decline in the complacency with which he regards it.
A year or two later he thus writes, one fine May morning, about the house and the scenery:-
"No ideas you could form in the winter can make you imagine what Twickenham is in this warmer season.
Our river glitters beneath an unclouded sun, at the same time that its banks retain the verdure of showers: our gardens are offering their first nosegays; our trees, like new acquaintance brought happily together, are stretching their arms to meet each other, and growing nearer and nearer every hour; the birds are paying their thanksgiving songs for the new habitations I have made them; my building rises high enough to attract the eye and curiosity of the passenger from the river, where, upon beholding a mixture of beauty and ruin, he inquires what house is falling, or what church is rising.
So little taste have our common Tritons of Vitruvius; whatever delight the poetical gods of the river may take in reflecting on their streams my Tuscan porticos or Ionic pilasters."

When his house was completed, he amused himself with the improvement of his gardens; and to connect them with the building, from which they were divided by a public road, he caused a subterraneous passage to be excavated.
The dressing and planting of his grounds, and the adorning of his grotto - as he called his tunnel, and by which name it soon became so celebrated - henceforth afforded him an agreeable occupation, and engaged no small share of his thoughts.
"A grotto", says Dr. Johnson, moralizing, according to his wont, on Pope's amusement, "is not often the wish or pleasure of an Englishman, who has more frequent need to solicit than to exclude the sun; but Pope's excavation was requisite as an entrance to his garden; and as some men try to be proud of their defects, he extracted an ornament from an inconvenience, and vanity produced a grotto where necessity enforced a passage.
It may be frequently remarked of the studious and reflective" - continues the Doctor, using weightier words, and a more solemn manner than one is prepared to expect, even from him, when discoursing on such a matter - "that they are proud of trifles, and that their amusements seem trivial and childish; whether it be that men conscious of great reputation, think themselves above the reach of censure, and safe in the admission of negligent in dulgences, or that mankind expect from elevated genius a uniformity of greatness, and watch its degradation with malicious wonder; like him who, having followed with his eye an eagle into the clouds, should lament that she ever descended to a perch."

Warburton did not think so lightly of the grotto as the Doctor.
In his all-admiring annotations on his poetic friend, he declares it to be his belief that "the beauty of Pope's poetic genius appeared to as much advantage in the disposition of these romantic materials as in any of his best contrived poems"!
Having had the benefit of the lucubrations of the bishop and the sage, we shall be prepared to listen with due attention to the poet's own account of this famous grotto.
The passage has been often quoted, but having begun to quote, it would be intolerable to omit this quotation.
He is writing to Mr. Blount: the young ladies are the Miss Blounts:-
"Let the young ladies be assured I make nothing new in my gardens without wishing to see the print of their fairy steps in every part of them.
I have put the last hand to my works of this kind in happily finishing the subterraneous way and grotto: I there found a spring of the clearest water, which falls in a perpetual rill, that echoes through the cavern day and night.
From the river Thames, you see through my arch up a walk of the wilderness, to a kind of open temple, wholly composed of shells in the rustic manner; and from that distance under the temple you look down through a sloping arcade of trees, and see the sails on the river passing suddenly and vanishing, as through a perspective glass.
When you shut the doors of this grotto, it becomes on the instant, from a luminous room, a Camera obscura; on the walls of which all the objects of the river, hills, woods, and boats, are forming a moving picture in their visible radiations; and when you have a mind to light it up, it affords you a very different scene; it is finished with shells interspersed with pieces of looking-glass in angular forms; and in the ceiling is a star of the same material, at which when a lamp (of an orbicular figure of thin alabaster) is hung in the middle, a thousand pointed rays glitter and are reflected over the place.
There are connected to this grotto by a narrower passage two porches, one towards the river, of smooth stones, full of light, and open; the other towards the garden, shadowed with trees, rough with shells, flints, and iron-ores.
The bottom is paved with simple pebble, as is also the adjoining walk up the wilderness to the temple, in the natural taste, agreeing not ill with the little dripping murmur, and the aquatic idea of the whole place.
It wants nothing to complete it but a good statue with an inscription, like that beautiful antique one which you know I am so fond of:

Hujus Nympha loci, sacri custodia fontis,
Dormio, dum blandae sentio murmur aquae.
Parce meum, quisquis tangis cava marmora, somnum
Rumpere; seu bibas, sive lavere, tace.

Nymph of the grot, these sacred springs I keep,
And to the murmur of these waters sleep;
Ah, spare my slumbers, gently tread the cave!
And drink in silence, or in silence lave!

"You'll think I have been very poetical in this description, but it is pretty near the truth.
I wish you were here to bear testimony how little it owes to art, either the place itself or the image I give of it."

Of his house, when it was finished, the best account, he said, would be, that it afforded a few pleasant rooms for a few friends.
And such were never wanting.
It is one of the best traits in the character of Pope, that he could retain as well as gain the attachment of those who would esteem him as much for the qualities of the heart as of the head.
This is a matter about which there is no difference of opinion.
Arbuthnot writes as emphatically on this point from his death-bed, as Warburton does after one week of intimacy.
Pope had friends among those whose friendship was the highest honour he could possess; and he lost very few of them except in the common course of nature.
To his Twickenham Tusculum poets, scholars, statesmen, and divines, the foremost in their day, were the frequent and willing visitors: nor were the gay and the fair absent.
To have won early, and maintained through a lifetime, the friendship of such men as Swift, Gay, Arbuthnot, Bolingbroke, Atterbury and Warburton, and many more of almost equal reputation, would itself be a memorable thing: and the house wherein such men were accustomed to assemble round the first poet of the age, would be a shrine sure to attract the feet of many a pilgrim, who would like to recal on the spot, the memory of those literary meetings where, as their master sung,
"Mingled with the flowing bowl
The feast of reason and the flow of soul:"
meetings which gave the tone to the critical taste of the whole kingdom; and at which were laid the ground-plans of more than one work that will last as long as the literature of the country.

But the house has long been destroyed.
After Pope's death, which occurred here in 1744, the estate was purchased by Sir William Stanhope, who added new wings, but carefully preserved the original building.
The garden was also enlarged at the same time.
On the death of Sir Willian Stanhope, the house descended to his son-in-law, the Hon. Welmore Ellis, afterwards Lord Mendip; and from him to two or three other persons.
Finally in 1807 the estate was purchased by the Baroness Howe, wife of Sir Wathen Waller, and daughter of the celebrated Admiral Lord Howe.
Hitherto the house had been preserved with the care and respect which such a building seemed to claim : but her ladyship having apparently "no music in her soul", - soon after her purchase levelled with the ground this celebrated villa", says Lysons, writing within two or three years of the time, "and has since built a new mansion on its site."
Lysons was mistaken if he meant it to be understood that the new house was erected exactly on the site of Pope's; but he probably only meant that it was built on the grounds.
Pope's house, as is shown by the engravings published while it was standing, stood directly over the grotto.
Lady Howe built hers on one side of it.
As will be supposed, amid all this havoc, few relics were suffered to remain of the poet's abode.
Four or five years back, there was some talk of building a new house exactly on the site of Pope's, and exactly resembling it; and the intention is mentioned in several books as though it were about to be accomplished.
A new house has been built close against the grotto, but it is not at all like Pope's - hardly like any other one.
It is quite an original - or rather, unique edifice.
It is constructed of very red brick and tiles, carved timber, stone, encaustic tiles, and various other and many-coloured materials.
The style is quite indescribable: but it may be briefly said, that it appears to be a combination of an Elizabethan half-timber house and a Stuart renaissance, with the addition of Dutch and Swiss, Italian and Chinese features; and it was probably designed when the architect was fresh from a diligent study of the paintings in Lord Kingsborough's work on Mexican antiquities.
Altogether it is enough to make the shade of Pope irate.

The Aegerian grot
Where, nobly pensive, St. John sat and thought;
Where British sighs from dying Wyndham stole,
And the bright flame was shot through Marchmont's soul -

Pope's Tree at Binfield, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Pope's Tree at Binfield, James Thorne 1849

the grotto remains; but shorn of all "the pointed crystals, and unpolished gems", and with only its memory to give to it interest.
If it remain still as it was before the erection of the last new building, it will, in its unadorned condition, disappoint the poetic pilgrim.
It is singularly petite.
Pope might have found "ample room and verge enough", but how any ordinary man could have "sat and thought" within it, is rather puzzling.
It is sometimes said that the willows are those of Pope's planting - but that is a mistake.
Lysons says, that the willow which was called Pope's perished in 1801, notwithstanding the utmost care being taken by Sir W. Stanhope to preserve it.
The obelisk which Pope raised to the memory of his mother is also gone.
The grotto alone remains.
Pope speaks with pride of the view from the lawn; and it is said that in the Homer which he used there is a drawing of it made by himself.
The view is a very lovely one:-

Thames' translucent wave
Shines a broad mirror;

and beyond it are the rich woods of Ham and the Hill of Richmond.
Or, directing the eye along the stream instead of across it, a very picturesque glimpse of Twickenham village with the ait is obtained.
The lawn slopes gently to the river, and it requires little stretch of fancy to recall the living figure of the poet, in bag-wig and black coat, with a little sword by his side, stepping briskly along to hand his favourite Martha from her boat, or to welcome the Dean and the Doctor from theirs; or to see him getting into the sedan-chair placed in the centre of his own boat, in order to take the air or ride to London.
Pope's remains were interred in Twickenham church, along with those of his parents: and there are the monuments which the poet erected to the memory of his father and mother; and that which Warburton raised to himself.
Pope's monument is a tablet with a relievo portrait; it bears, besides the usual information in Latin as to date of birth and death, his well known lines, which bespeak as much pride as humility.
On the monument they stand thus:-

Poeta loquitur.
For one who would not be buried in Westminster Abbey.
Heroes and kings, your distance keep;
In peace let one poor poet sleep,
Who never flatter'd folks like you:
Let Horace blush, and Virgil too.

There are a good many other monuments of persons of more or less celebrity in Twickenham church, but they must remain without record here.
Pope's is the dominant name at Twickenham, and no lesser one is worth mention after it.
Else there is plenteous subject in the list of Twickenham worthies for a goodly gossip.
There are the noble, and the fair, and the learned, whose names we have read in Walpole's 'Parish Register'; and several others that have flourished since his day.
There have also been painters, to notice whom would lead one at all acquainted with the history of English art into some curious speculations.
Here lived Sir Godfrey Kneller; of whom Pope endorsed on his tomb, that
"Living, great Nature fear'd he might outvie
Her works; and dying, fears herself may die!"
And his contemporaries seem almost to have credited it.
Jervas too, a worse painter, yet equally popular, had a house here: so had Hudson, also the first in his day, though now only remembered as the instructor of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
That three such artists should have been successively the leading and fashionable portrait-painters is a sufficient comment on the taste of the first half of the eighteenth century.
Twickenham has been honoured as the residence of landscape as well as portrait painters.
In our own time, Hofland - to us of course especially dear as a true lover and admirable painter of our own delightful English river scenery - lived here; and so did Turner, who may have learnt on Twickenham Meads to value and represent those fitful, vague, yet brilliant effects of haze and mist, and loaded vapoury atmosphere, which he is so fond of throwing upon the canvas.


A very few words must suffice for the village.
The church, which is the most noticeable edifice, is a common-place brick building, erected early in the eighteenth century, with the exception of the tower, which is ancient and timeworn.
Twickenham itself is a good-sized, respectable village, with something of antiquity as well as respectability in its appearance.
In the last century, it was one of the most fashionable places in the neighbourhood of London: but all that is changed now.
Only the stately old houses remain to testify to its former prosperity.
Even humbler folks have ceased to come hither as they once were wont.

Eel Pie Island

Upon the ait just off Twickenham is the "Eel-pie House", to which of old those "sober citizens" who, like John Gilpin, of worthy memory,
"Although on pleasure they were bent, Had still a frugal mind",
used to come in the summer season, by boat, to partake of an inexpensive luxury, after a cheerful row on their own dear river.


Marble Hill

On again turning to our river, the attention is caught by a large brick mansion having its frontage extended by corridors, and rendered rather singular by an octagonal projection, evidently more recent than the main building, though still not belonging to the present age or taste.
The house was standing in the reign of William III., when the Princess of Denmark, afterwards Queen Anne, occupied it for a short period.
The building is probably not of a much earlier date.
But it owes its present appearance to Secretary Johnstone, who enlarged and altered the old house; the octagon room he erected especially for an entertainment which he gave to Queen Caroline, wife of George II.
"Macky, whose tour through England was published in 1720, says that Secretary Johnstone had in his gardens the best collection of fruit of most gentlemen in England; that he had slopes for his vines, from which he made some hogsheads of wine a year; and that Dr. Bradley, in his 'Treatise on Gardening', ranked him among the first gardeners in the kingdom." (Lysons.)
It is not at all unusual to meet in local histories of the southern and midland counties with notices of vineyards - especially in connexion with the sites of monasteries - and of the quantity of wine made from them; while traditions are still more common.
But this is probably one of the latest accounts of wine being made in any quantity in the vicinity of London.
The gardens here are now, however, not what give the house its local celebrity - which, by the way, recent events may have somewhat lessened.
It was the residence of Louis-Philippe during good part of his former exile; whence its present name of Orleans House.
The remembrance of the abode of the Duke of Orleans is (or was) cherished in Twickenham.
The stately stone mansion which we see some little way farther on, has been celebrated by Pope and Swift - who, like most of the other wits of that day, paid earnest but mistaken court to its mistress.
Marble Hill was built by George II. for the Countess of Suffolk.
The Earl of Pembroke, it is said, was the architect; and Pope laid out the grounds.
The Countess of Suffolk is the lady, as will be recollected, whose task Horace Walpole, in the 'Parish Register, represents to have been that of "pleasing one not worth the pleasing".
He probably had in mind the words of Madame Maintenon; but there is a passage in one of the Countess's letters to Swift, which shows pretty plainly the bitterness of her employment.
"I have been", she says, writing in 1727, "a slave these twenty years, without ever receiving a reason for any one thing I was obliged to do."
Lord Hervey's Memoirs sufficiently corroberate the assertion; while they show also that the wife was no better off than the mistress.
"The Queen was at least seven or eight hours tete-a-tete with the King every day, during which time she was generally saying what she did not think, assenting to what she did not believe, and praising what she did not approve."

Little Marble Hill

Marble Hill, like Strawberry Hill, has its minor.
Little Marble Hill was once noted as the residence of Lady Diana Beauclerk, a lady celebrated for her talents, and for some other matters also.
Her ladyship was the wife of Topham Beauclerk, the friend of Johnson; both the lady and her husband will be remembered by the reader of Boswell.
And this reminds me that the house seen on the rising ground just beyond, ought also to be mentioned.
It is "the beautiful villa on the banks of the Thames near Twickenham", which belonged to Owen Cambridge, the friend of both Johnson and Boswell.
It was on one of his journeys to this hospitable roof that his admiring disciple was, as he expresses it, "struck with wonder" to hear "the stately moralist" apply to himself "the epithet 'fellow'".
As they were riding along in Sir Joshua Reynolds's coach, Johnson had been lamenting the rareness of good-humour in the world.
Boswell named some four or five of their acquaintances, who he thought possessed that quality, but not one of them would the Doctor "allow to be good humoured.
One was acid, another was muddy", and so on.
Then, shaking his head and stretching himself at ease in the coach, and smiling with much complacency, he turned to me", says the faithful chronicler, and said, 'I look upon myself as a good-humoured fellow'."
That is a picture worth imagining.
Owen Cambridge was author of the "Scribleriad" and a very learned, able, and worthy man; his successor here, Archdeacon Cambridge, was "of worthy father worthy son."
Both of them enjoyed a considerable social reputation, and the Twickenham villa attracted a large circle of literary and political notables during the life of both.

Ham House

But there is a house on the other side of the river that demands a brief notice; we may cross to it by the ferry.
A strange gloomy atmosphere seems to surround the cheerless pile.
It is not ruinous, nor has it passed into the hands of lowly occupants; yet you see at a glance that it has fallen from its high estate.
It appears occupied, yet neglected ; deserted, yet preserved.
The untrimmed gardens - the grass-grown walks - the long, noble, uncared-for avenues - the lofty ornamental gates, unpainted, rusty, evidently seldom opened - all proclaim that it belongs to some owner whose chief or only care is that it shall not quite fall to ruin.
One who visits it and wanders on an autumn evening about the sombre purlieus, will hardly wonder that it should have suggested to a poet of highly imaginative genius the imagery of that exquisite poem 'The Elm-tree'.
It is perhaps now its chief claim to general regard, that it was here Thomas Hood wrote or conceived a poem of such singular beauty; and it will be acknowledged that he has faithfully drawn the scenery - not indeed with topographical accuracy, but as invested with those lofty attributes which only genius is privileged to behold and to represent.
Well might he, with such thoughts resting on his mind, feel as he sings, in lines which, beautiful as they are, serve but to herald in others far more beautiful-

With wary eyes, and ears alert,
As one who walks afraid,
I wander'd down the dappled path
Of mingled light and shade. -
How sweetly gleamed that arch of blue
Beyond the green arcade!
How cheerly shone the glimpse of heav'n
Beyond that verdant isle!
All overarch'd with lofty elms,
That quench'd the light the while,
As dim and chill
As serves to fill
Some old cathedral pile!

But the plain prose of the history of Ham House must be briefly told.
It was built in 1610, by Sir Thomas Vavasour; in 1651 it passed into the possession of Sir Lionel Tollemache, in whose descendants, the earls of Dysart, it yet remains vested.
His widow, famous in the history of that time, under the title of the Duchess of Lauderdale, greatly enlarged and altered the mansion; and Charles II. furnished it at a considerable expense.
It was at Ham House that the Cabal held their meetings.
It has a more honourable celebrity as the birth-place of the eminent statesman, John, Duke of Argyle and Greenwich.
Ham House was the place to which James II. was directed by the Prince of Orange to remove, after his unsuccessful attempt to escape from the kingdom; but the King objected to it, as being too damp for a winter residence - he wished to be nearer the sea.
Ham House is a fine specimen of the somewhat fanciful style that was engrafted on the old Tudor domestic architecture.
It is of red brick, with a slated roof of high pitch.
The front is varied, and though quaint, not unpleasing in design.
The most remarkable feature is a series of busts in niches, which range along the entire frontage above the windows of the ground-floor, and are continued round the garden walls.
From the mansion in various directions runs
"Many a shady avenue Where lofty elms abound."
In the grounds at the rear of the house may be seen those old contorted firs which stand out so grandly in the poem - "a forest Laocoon".
The interior is said to present an almost unchanged example of a Stuart mansion.
Only a few of the apartments are inhabited, but the quaint and costly original furniture for the most part remains undisturbed.
Various paintings cover the ceilings of the chief apartments.
Vandyck's pictures hang on the walls.
The old Duchess of Lauderdale's chamber remains as when she occupied it.
Her cane rests against her great chair; her desk is as though ready for use.

Richmond Hill

We cannot turn aside to Petersham ; rather let us at once ascend -
"Thy hill, delightful Sheen: - there let us sweep The boundless landscape."
A short walk will bring us to Richmond Terrace, where suddenly the matchless prospect bursts upon the view.
However the imagination may have been raised, the view will fully satisfy it, that is, supposing the visitor has not been led to expect the sterner or wilder features of nature.

It is a purely beautiful landscape which is spread before us, holding to the rugged grandeur of other famous scenes the same relation as the soft grace of feminine loveliness does to the severer character of manly strength.
Of all that belongs to the beautiful in scenery, little is wanting.
Wood and water, softly swelling hills and hazy distance, with village spires and lordly halls, are blended in beautiful harmony.
From the gentle slope of the hill a vast expanse of country stretches far away, till the distance is closed by the hills of Buckinghamshire on the north-west, and the Surrey downs on the south-east; and all the intermediate space is one wide valley of the most luxuriant fertility, but appearing to the eye a succession of densely wooded tracts, broken and diversified by a few undulations of barer uplands; while here and there a line of light vapoury smoke, with a tower or spire, marks the site of a goodly town or humble village.
In the midst the broad placid river, studded with islets, and its surface alive with flocks of swans, and innumerable pleasure-skiffs, winds gracefully away till lost among the foliage, only to be occasionally tracked afterwards by a glittering thread of silver, seen, as the sun glances suddenly upon it, between the dark trunks of the trees.
And to the exceeding loveliness something of majesty is added by Windsor's royal towers, which in clear weather loom out grandly on the distant horizon.
Nothing, however, but poetry can properly describe the surpassing beauty of the prospect, and the poetry that does well describe it will at once recur to every one.

Familiar as Thomson's description is, it would be unpardonable to quote it here, though the best that has been given of the view, and of course infinitely better than I could hope to give.
It is indeed a beautiful picture, admirable in taste and almost perfect in execution.
Thomson probably has no other equal to it, and it would be very difficult to find its equal among the poets of his generation.
In all material points, moreover, it is as true as it is beautiful.
The view from Richmond Hill has always been a chief favourite with English painters.
Probably almost every landscape-painter has in some way depicted the prospect, and almost every one has caught some new beauty of the ever new scene.
But the hill has a special connexion with English art.
The house at the end of the terrace, on the right of the road, was built by Sir Joshua Reynolds - though it must be confessed he did not spend much of his time in it.
Malone says that "in summer Sir Joshua spent a few days at his villa on Richmond Hill; but he had very little relish for a country life, and was always glad to return to London, to which he was not less attached than Dr. Johnson; with him, justly considering that metropolis as the head-quarters of intellectual society." (Malone's Reynolds, i. xl.)
One of the very few landscapes which Reynolds ever painted, however - and his biographer was able to discover but three - was the view from the window of his drawing-room.
Gainsborough, Hofland, and other eminent landscape-painters, have been for awhile residents in Richmond.

Richmond park

The gates of Richmond Park are but a few steps from the Terrace.
Richmond Park was enclosed by Charles I., and was originally called the Great or New Park, to distinguish it from Old or Lower Park, near the palace.
The formation of the park caused a considerable ferment at the time; and the particular were thought of sufficient importance to be related at length in Clarendon's 'History of the Great Rebellion': but they are not important enough to be repeated here.
In the reign of George II., an attempt was made to exclude the public from using the footpaths across the park, as at Bushy and similarly resisted.
Here the "village Hampden" was John Lewis, a brewer, of Richmond.
The right of footway was established; and the right of carriage-way was afterwards conceded.
Lewis, who so successfully resisted these encroachments, afterwards became reduced in circumstances; and it ought to be told, that the inhabitants of Richmond acknowledged their obligation by settling upon him an annuity, which he enjoyed till his death in 1792.


It is time, however, that we turn to look at the village.
The name of Richmond was given to it by Henry VII.; the original name, or at least the earliest by which it is mentioned in any known record, was Schene or Scheen, a Saxon word signifying "beautiful" or "shining", from which our word shine is immediately derived; and which is yet retained in the German language, in its primary signification of "beautiful" and with a very slight difference in the spelling - schon or schoen.
Some writers have fancied that the village owed its name to the splendour of its palace; but it was called Schene long before there is any evidence of its possessing a royal habitation: and I do not know why our Saxon forefathers, having eyes and hearts to see and enjoy the beauty of the scenery, may not, as they gave to other places appropriate names, have called this Schene because of its beauty.
The historical interest which Richmond possesses is chiefly connected with its palace.
How early the sovereigns of England had a residence here, is not exactly ascertained.
Henry I. is known to have had a house at 'Schene'; but he granted it, along with the manor, to the Belet family, who held the hereditary office of king's butler.
The manor appears to have reverted to the crown towards the close of the reign of Edward I., and it has formed a part of the royal property ever since.
From existing documents it is known that Edward I. and his immediate successors resided here, a least occasionally; and from this time we find the palace of 'Sheen' frequently mentioned by the old chroniclers.
It was at Sheen that Edward III., the conqueror of France, finished his career in gloom and solitude.
His successor, Richard II., resided here during the earlier years of his reign.
It deserves to be noticed that Chaucer, whose poetry shows him to have been familiar with the characteristics of architecture, was surveyor of works to the palace of Sheen during the reign of this monarch.
Henry V. restored the house, which had fallen into some neglect, to its former splendour.
But it was under the Tudors that it rose to its highest magnificence.
All of that family were fond of fine houses and showy pageants; and even Henry VII. in a great measure overcame his ordinary propensity, when money was to be thus expended.
This was his favourite residence.
From his accession to the throne till his death, he most loved to be here, and here many of his most sumptuous entertainments were given.
In 1492 he held a grand tournament at Sheen, in which "Sir James Parker, in a controversy with Hugh Vaughan for right of coat-armour, was killed at the first course."
In 1499, while the king was resident in it, an accidental fire occurred, by which the old palace was almost entirely consumed.

Richmond Palace, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Richmond Palace

Henry caused it to be immediately "after builded again sumptuously and costly, and changed the name of 'Sheen', and called it 'RichMond' because his father and he were Earls of Richmond" (Hall, 491, reprint.)
The palace built thus "sumptuously and costly" was of unusual magnificence for those days.
It was completed in 15O1: Henry himself died in it in 1509.
During the earlier years of his reign Henry VIII. frequently resided at Richmond, where he kept considerable state.
In 1523 he entertained Charles V. of Germany here.
When, however, Wolsey built his new palace of Hampton Court, which so completely eclipsed the glory of Richmond, the spleen of his jealous master became excited, and Wolsey found it necessary to endeavour to propitiate him by presenting him with that mansion, which thenceforth became the royal habitation.
In return for this munificent gift, the king, we are told, "of his gentle nature, licensed him to lie in his manor of Richmond at his pleasure, and so he lay there at certain times: but when the common people, and in especial such as had been King Henry VII.'s servants, saw the Cardinal keep house in the manor royal of Richmond, which King Henry VII. so highly esteemed, it was a marvel to hear how they grudged and said, 'See a butcher's dog lie in the manor of Richmond!' (Hall, 703.)
It is not worth while to notice the few events that checkered the Cardinal's brief abode here.
He maintained his old splendour, and even appears to have endeavoured, by a show of gaiety at an unusual time, to conceal the vexation that was eating at his heart.
Thus whilst the King kept the Christmas of 1625 at Eltham privately, on account of the plague which prevailed in London, we read that "the Cardinal in this season lay at Richmond, and there kept open household to lords, ladies, and all other that would come, with plays and disguisings in most royal manner: which sore grieved the people, and especially the king's servants". (Ibid. 707.)
In his disgrace Wolsey again visited Richmond; but this time he was not allowed to occupy the palace.
He was remanded to the lodge in the neighbouring park, where he remained, says Cavendish, "from shortly after Candlemas until it was Lent, with a privy number of servants, because of the smallness of the house."
But Wolsey was now thoroughly humbled, and he appears to have turned his thoughts away from the concerns of earth in earnest.
He removed, early in Lent, to a lodging built for himself by Dean Colet in the priory of Sheen, and passed that penitential season in severe observance of the austerities prescribed by the monks.
"He had", Cavendish relates, "to the same house a secret gallery, which went out of his chamber into the Charter-house church, whither he resorted every day to their service; and at afternoon he would sit in contemplations with one or other of the most ancient fathers of that house in his cell, who, among them by their counsel, persuaded him from the vain glory of this world, and gave him divers shirts of hair, the which he often wore afterward, whereof I am certain, and he thus continued for the time of his abode there in godly contemplation." (Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, i. 237; Singer's ed.)

For awhile during the gloomy reign of her sister, Elizabeth was a prisoner in the palace of Richmond, but she also inhabited it when queen, and on several occasions entertained foreign magnates in it.
Towards the end of her life she seems to have been a good deal here, and to have spent her days somewhat merrily: John Stanhope, one of the gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, in the postscript of a letter to Lord Talbot, dated from Richmond, 22nd of December, 1589, (Lodge's Illustrations, ii. 411) says, "My Lord, the Queen is so well as, I assure you, six or seven galliards in a morning, besides music and singing, is her ordinary exercise."
And Lysons tells us that it was here, some seven years later, that Anthony Rudd, Bishop of St. David's, incurred her serious displeasure by preaching a sermon before herself and court on the infirmities of age; in the course of which he noticed how "age had furrowed her face, and besprinkled her hair with its meal" - a some what perilous allusion, as the preacher might have known.
Perhaps he would have been more scrupulous had he heard of her advice to the painter, "not to make any shadows in her face".
Here, too, on the 24th of March, 1603, occurred the death-bed scene that all our historians have related so fully, when she sturdily protested she would have "no rascal" to succeed her - by which protestation her ministers understood her to imply that she wished for Jamie of Scotland to be her successor.
With the politic queen the glory of Richmond Palace departed.
Once or twice her successors visited it, but the visits were few and transient; and when the Parliament had obtained the ascendancy, the building was dismantled.
A very elaborate survey was made of it by the Parliamentary Commissioners, who valued the materials at £10,782. 19s. 2d.
Fuller, in his 'Worthies", speaks of it as "being now plucked down"; but, however dilapidated, a good portion of it must have remained; for at the Restoration some part was in a sufficiently perfect state to be appropriated to the use of the widow of Charles I., who continued to reside in it till 1665.

Of this splendid pile a little, and but a little, is yet left.
The site is almost entirely covered with modern dwelling-houses; but a vestige of the palace remains.
The visitor will see on the west side of Richmond Green a rude-looking stone gatehouse, above the arch of which is an escutcheon containing the arms and supporters of Henry VII., so much defaced, however, as to be scarcely decipherable.
Passing through this gateway, he will then observe on his left hand a building, consisting of some apartments, and a turret, constructed of red brick with stone dressings and battlements.
They have suffered somewhat from time, but more from the alterations necessary to adapt them to the requirements of a modern dwelling house.
There is nothing now observable in these rooms, which are small, and have all undergone alteration.
According to the local tradition, the room over the gateway is that in which the Countess of Nottingham died, after the interview with Elizabeth in which she confessed to having kept back the ring which Essex, when under sentence of death, had intrusted to her to deliver to the Queen.
The Green was an important adjunct to the palace - in whose palmy days it was the scene of the jousts and tournaments that then occurred so often.
Horace Walpole, writing to Sir Horace Mann, on the 4th June, 1749, gives a singular notice of the lordly contests which, in the eighteenth century, had succeeded the tournaments of the sixteenth: -
"As I passed over the Green, I saw Lord Bath, Lord Lonsdale, and half-a-dozen more of the White's club, sauntering at the door of a house which they have taken there, and come to every Saturday and Sunday to play at whist.
You will naturally ask why they can't play at whist in London on those two days as well as on the other five: indeed I can't tell you, except that it is so established a fashion to go out of town at the end of the week, that people do go, though it be only into another town.
It made me smile to see Lord Bath sitting there, like a citizen that has left off trade!"
In this nineteenth century the only games it witnesses are games of cricket.

The Park belonging to the palace lies a little northward of the Green, extending to Kew Gardens.
It was known as the Old or Little Park, and is sometimes called the Lower Park.
The Lodge stood in this park.
It was occasionally employed as a residence by George II.; and it was the favourite abode of Queen Caroline, with whom the adorning of Richmond Gardens became quite a hobby.
In addition to costly alterations in the grounds, she caused several fantastic buildings to be erected.
There was a dairy in which all the utensils were of china, with every thing else answerable.
There were also pavilions and summer houses; a hermitage with busts of Newton, Locke, and other men of famous memory, and, elevated above the rest as president of the society, Robert Boyle, having the head surrounded with golden rays; a building with busts, by Rysbrack, of the English kings; a menagerie with beasts - and so forth.
But the most eminent structure was "a circular thatched building in the Gothic taste, called Merlin's Cave!"
On this were lavished all the resources of regal taste and courtly art.
Inside it Merlin himself sat at a table examining his magical books; while the consort of Henry VII, Henry VIII., Queen Elizabeth and her nurse, and the Queen of the Amazons, were waiting to learn the issue of his inquiries.
These figures, all in proper costume, were in wax-work, and were executed by Mrs. Salmon - the Madame Tussaud of that day.
When the Queen discovered a natural genius in Stephen Duck, the poetic thresher, she made of him - however little like a conjuror - a living Merlin and 'Genius of the Cave': providing him also with a small library and an annuity of thirty pounds.
The King looked with small complacency on the artistic occupation of his spouse: when she tried to avert a tirade he was commencing against her "nonsense there", by telling him that the "Craftsman, a paper his Majesty had a mortal antipathy to, had abused Merlin's Cave, he interrupted her in his ordinary polite way with "I am glad of it, you deserve to be abused for such childish silly stuff, and it is the first time I ever knew the scoundrel in the right."
The memory of Merlin's Cave is embalmed by Pope and others whose works will live.
Pope and Swift, however, let their satire fall on poor Duck, whom it was real cruelty to satirize.
He was a man of but feeble powers, yet it was his misfortune, not his fault, that he was so ludicrously "elevated".
There can be little doubt that he was better employed in threshing corn than when he turned "to thresh his brains", and so
"Threshing stubble,
His toil was lessen'd, and his profits double."
Like Clare in our own day, his removal from the barn to the study was the beginning of sorrow - and the end, lunacy.

Sir Walter Scott makes the interview of Jeanie Deans with Queen Caroline to have taken place in the Great Park - perhaps from not remembering that the Queen's Lodge was situated in the Lower Park.
The inaccuracy, however, may have been intentional, - for the sake of introducing the very characteristic notice of the view from the hill which Jeanie could have had no opportunity of seeing if she had gone to the Lower Park.
George III. lived for awhile in the Queen's Lodge in the early part of his reign.
One of the first changes made by him was to call in Capability Brown to remodel the park and gardens.
Brown made clean work of all Caroline's prettinesses.
"He broke the avenues", says an enthusiastic admirer, "rooted up the long lines of dressed hedges; gave the woods a natural shape; unveiled extensive lawns; destroyed by a superior magic Merlin and his cave; dilapidated every tasteless building; formed plantations" - in short, removed one species of once fashionable landscape gardening, to substitute another of a newer fashion and equally ungraceful.
Brown's day is gone by; whether the fashion which has succeeded be truer or more lasting, a future generation must decide.
The Lodge was pulled down in 1776.
Richmond Gardens were united with those of Kew at the commencement of the present century [1800].
On a spot of ground now included within the limits of the Old Park, and marked by some ancient trees, and a slight unevenness of the surface, once stood a famous religious establishment - the priory of Sheen, which was founded by Henry V. in 1414, for the support of forty monks of the Carthusian order, whom he incorporated by the name of the "House of Jesus of Bethlehem at Sheen".
The house continued to flourish till the suppression of monasteries.
Very little in its history calls for record, but one or two rather unusual incidents are mentioned.
In 1498, Perkin Warbeck, after he had escaped from his keepers, sought sanctuary here.
Shortly after the battle of Flodden, the corpse of the gallant James IV. is said to have been enclosed in lead, and brought to this monastery for interment.
Dean Colet, as we have seen, built himself a cell here - which served for the retirement of the fallen Wolsey.
Sheen Priory was one of the religious houses in which Mary replaced the dispersed monks; but it was of course again suppressed along with the other monasteries by her successor.
The monks of Sheen then migrated to Flanders, where the community existed till near the close of the last century.

An ancient gateway, the last vestige of the priory of Sheen, was taken down in 1769, and the whole site enclosed within the limits of the Lower Park.
At the same time the hamlet of West Sheen, consisting of eighteen houses, was also demolished and similarly enclosed.
It was on the site of Sheen Priory that Sir William Temple's house was situated, which he refers to with so much fondness in his letters, as Well as in his 'Essay on Gardening'.
His abode here is memorable, not on his own account only.
Swift resided with Sir William at Sheen for a considerable period.
At this time William III. used often to visit Temple, and Swift was accustomed to attend his Majesty - who, being troubled with the gout, needed some one to lean on - in his walks about the garden.
The king was much pleased with the young Irish parson, and bestowed such uncommon civility upon him, that Swift reckoned somewhat confidently upon the royal favour.
William did reward him, but after a manner Swift little expected or relished.
The king offered him an ensign's commission in a regiment of horse, and initiated him into the mystery of cutting asparagus after the Dutch fashion!
Thus, at least, Swift told the story; but probably it was a little embellished.
It was at Sheen that Swift became acquainted with Stella, whose story forms so sad a chapter in his biography.
She was the daughter of Sir William Temple's steward.
Richmond is one of the largest villages in the kingdom - indeed it is larger and more populous than many a considerable country town.
At the census of 1841 it contained 7760 inhabitants; and now doubtless contains many more.
A good part of the population consists of persons of independent means; and the place is, consequently, genteel as well as pleasant and healthy.
There are many houses of a superior kind, but none that calls for particular notice here; nor is there any thing very noteworthy in the appearance of the streets or of the public buildings.


The old church, with the exception of the tower, is modern and mean; but it is interesting for its monuments.
Of these the finest as a work of art is, perhaps, that by Flaxman, to the memory of Mrs. Lowther; but the most interesting, though the least prominent, is a plain brass plate, tarnished and blackened by age and neglect, and placed against the wall under the west gallery, in a spot so dark that it can scarcely be read.
The inscription informs us, that "In the earth below this tablet are the remains of James Thomson, author of the beautiful poems, "The Seasons", "The Castle of Indolence", &c., who died at Richmond on the 27th of August, and was buried there on the 29th, O. S., 1748.
The Earl, of Buchan, unwilling that so good a man and so sweet a poet should be without a memorial, has denoted the place of his interment, for the satisfac tion of his admirers, in the year of our Lord 1792"
- and then follow some lines from "The Seasons".
A monument on the wall of the south aisle records the virtues of Gilbert Wakefield the voluminous.
Outside the church by the tower is a neat marble slab, with a medallion portrait, "erected by his son", to the memory of Edmund Kean, who, after fretting his brief hour upon the stage, rests here.
Here also rest many other men, and some women, celebrated in their day.
In the New Cemetery, close by the church, is a monument to the memory of Dr. John Moore, the author of "Zeluco", and father of General Sir John Moore.
Of all the famous men who have resided in Richmond, Thomson has conferred most renown upon it.
It was in the maturity of his genius that he dwelt here; the larger portion of his immortal "Seasons" was written here, as was also the whole of the 'Castle of Indolence' -the most delightful poem of its class in our language, and displaying a luxuriance of imagination infinitely surpassing what is shown in the more popular "Seasons"; and here he died: while his description of the view from the hill is what always recurs to the memory of every visitor to Richmond, when he for the first time gazes upon that matchless scene.
It is not to the credit of the Richmond folk, that his only memorial, in a place which owes so much to him, should be the paltry brass plate which a private individual set up in the church, rather for his own glorification than to do honour to the poet.
Thomson lived in Kew lane, in a house which now forms a part of Rosedale House, the residence of the Countess of Shaftesbury.
A good deal has been preserved of what belonged to Thomson's house.
The parlour in which he composed yet exists, with the furniture in it, as when he lived.
Some portion of the garden, too, is said to remain nearly as when "The bard, more fat than bard beseems", was wont to saunter into it at mid-day, and, as tradition relates, and Leigh Hunt has recorded in his always pleasant verse, -

slipper'd, and with hands
Each in a waistcoat pocket (so that all
Might yet repose that would) was seen one morn
Eating a wondering peach from off the tree!

The summer-house, which he [Thomson] used as his poetic study, is also preserved.
A tablet over the entrance informs you that "Here Thomson sung the Seasons and their change"; and his employment of it is further commemorated by a long and inflated in scription, set up by Lord Buchan, the author of that in the church.
This commences, "Within this pleasing retirement, allured by the music of the nightingale, which warbled in soft unison to the melody of his soul, in unaffected cheerfulness, and genial though simple elegance, lived James Thomson."
Thomson wanted not poetic companions while at Richmond, and the esteem in which he was held by them says much for the qualities of his heart.
Savage lived here some time in close intercourse with him, and, as Dr. Johnson observes ('Life of Thomson'), "always spoke with the most eager praise of his social qualities, his warmth and constancy of friendship, and his adherence to his first acquaintance, when the advancement of his reputation had left them behind him."
Collins, too, resided at Richmond the last year or two of Thomson's life, and left it - unable to endure it longer - on his death.
The "Ode on the Death of Thomson", in which he gave expression to his affection and grief, is well known to every poetic reader.
And so also is, or ought to be, the "Remembrance of Collins", which Wordsworth "composed upon the Thames near Richmond": -

Glide gently, thus for ever glide,
O Thames, that other bards may see
As lovely visions by thy side,
As now, fair river! come to me:
O glide, fair stream, for ever so,
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
Till all our minds for ever flow
As thy deep waters now are flowing.


If we had not stayed so long in the village [Richmond] we might well linger a few minutes to notice the very pleasing views, both up and down the river, which are obtainable from Richmond Bridge.
Upwards, the hill, with the neat residences crowning the summit; the richly wooded meadows of Ham on the one side, and those of Twickenham on the other; the Duke of Buccleugh's and other villas, as well as those already mentioned, which skirt the banks of the clear river, along which drags slowly a deep laden barge, while pleasure-boats and fishing-punts enliven the surface: and downwards the broad stream, with the aits so prettily ornamented with poplars and willows; the banks with their villas and villa-like hotels; perhaps a steamer at the landing place disembarking its passengers, or gliding along mid-stream; and in the distance the dense foliage of Kew and Isleworth - these might fairly claim regard, for each is a view which, though presenting no very striking features, is always looked upon with pleasure.

Richmond Railway Bridge

The peculiar character of the downward prospect has, indeed, been of late in a great measure destroyed by the erection of the railway bridge and its approaches; but the bridge itself is a neat, almost a graceful structure, and gives something in the place of what it has taken away or concealed ; while from the height and span the arches serve well as a frame to display to advantage the landscape seen through them from the river side or surface.

Twickenham Park

The grounds on the left below Richmond Bridge are those of Twickenham Park - lying therefore a mile and a half lower down the river than Twickenham village.
Here it was that Bacon in his earlier days pursued in comparative retirement his philosophic studies, and later in life he was anxious to repurchase his former house, "for a residence for such deserving persons to study in" as should engage in those scientific researches he was anxious to see undertaken.
His reason for selecting "Twitnam Park" for this purpose he states to be, that he "experimentally found the situation of that place much convenient for the trial of his philosophical conclusions".
Bacon's house was pulled down about forty years ago.
Several villas have been built in the park, so that it bears little resemblance to its appearance in "good Queen Bess's golden days"; but there are many old trees standing, which the inhabitants are willing to believe were planted by the great Lord Chancellor.
Onwards the "Thames in silver currents winds his way" through a vale of rich cultivated beauty.

Sion House, Richmond Lower Park, Kew Gardens

The grounds of the Marquis of Ailsa, and those of the Duke of Northumberland's famous domain of Sion, on the left bank, have both been carefully arranged with a view to picturesque effect; while on the right are the lofty elms of Richmond Lower Park and Kew Gardens.
Isleworth lies half hidden behind the long ait, but what is seen of it rather contributes to the general sequestered, yet not unsocial air.
This part of the river, and as far as Kew Bridge, is in deserved favour for a row on a summer's evening.
It is the last really quiet, sylvan, companionable reach on the Thames.
The venerable ivy-covered tower of Isleworth church, which looks so picturesque as you approach it from the river, holds out the promise of a more attractive place than the village proves to be when you perambulate it.
Only the tower of the church is ancient.
The remainder of the building is a very ordinary brick erection of the commencement of the eighteenth century; the design of it is said to be an alteration from one made a few years before at the desire of the parish magnates, by Sir Christopher Wren, but which was considered to be too costly.
About the village there are many houses of a rather superior grade, but it falls not within the plan of this volume to particularize them; the history of this village has been fully recounted in a goodly tome by Mr.Aungier.

What has given to Isleworth its chief historical fame is the monastery of Sion; as now the mansion (or palace) of the same name gives to it its local celebrity.
It was in 1414 that King Henry V. expelled from his manor of Isleworth some alien monks who were settled there, and founded in their stead a monastery of the order of St. Bridget - the only one of that order in England.
The monastery was from the first on an important scale; its founder making provision for sixty nuns and twenty-five monks, which was the full number allowed to be in one house of that Order.
It was a part of the provision of the Order, as Fuller says, "that the house was to be endowed plentifully at the first, whereon they might live without wanting or begging, as well in dear as cheap years; and after their first foundation they were uncapable of any future benefactions; "If afterwards the whole world should proffer them farms and possessions, it was utterly unlawful for them to accept anything thereof."
So stringent was the rule in this respect, that whatever remained after the annual audit they were enjoined to distribute without reserve to the poor, "conceiving otherwise it would putrify and corrupt if treasured up, and be as heinous an offence as the Jews, when preserving manna longer than the continuance of one day." ("Ch. Hist." Book vi. sect. i. 40.)
However, Sion appears to have admitted of additional benefactions, for Henry VI. is set down as having made large gifts and grants to the monastery.

At the spoliation of the religious houses by Henry VIII., its wealth was considerable; the royal commissioners stated the gross annual revenue to be £1944. 11s. 5¼d.
Sion was one of the first of the large monasteries that was suppressed.
It is said to have been especially obnoxious to the King on account of the prophetic claims of the Maid of Kent having been earnestly espoused by the inmates; and no doubt their great wealth was another inducement.
This being one of the very few priories in which persons of both sexes were allowed to reside, it was of course easy to get up a case against it; and the agents of Thomas Cromwell were excellently adapted for such a purpose.
"They were men", as Thomas Fuller, no friend to the monks, very truly says, "who well understood the message they went on, and would not come back without a satisfactory answer to him that sent them, knowing themselves were likely to be no losers thereby."
On the whole the Commissioners prefer stronger and grosser charges against the inmates of Sion than those of almost any other monastery; but the strange laxity of investigation is apparent, on the slightest examination, to any one, however unused to weigh the trustworthiness of evidence.
Where not invented or fancied - and their prurient minds made them but too ready to do either - the matters stated as certain are plainly the merest hearsay.
Whoever had a coarse tale to tell was eagerly listened to.
"Hit[sic] were long to declare," says the veracious Richard Layton, writing to Cromwell, after detailing at length the abominable charges brought against one of the most contumacious of the monks of Sion, "Hit were long to declare alle thynges of hym that I have herde, wich I suppos is trewe.
This afternoone I intende to make furder serche bothe of sum of the brederen, and sum also of the sisters."
But withal it was found no easy matter to render the brethren and sisters conformable - for it was a main object to make the surrender seem to be voluntary on their part.
The following passage from the letter of another of the respectable Commissioners may serve to show the means by which the monks and nuns were to be persuaded, or frightened, or hammered into acquiescence in the royal will.
Thomas Bedyll says, in writing to Cromwell,
"As for the brethren, they stand stiff in their obstinacy as you left them.
Copynger and Lache were sent to my Lord of London on Monday.
Here were on Tuesday Doctor Buttes and the Queen's Almoner to convert Whitford * and Little.
* Richard Whitford was the author of numerous devotional works, and the only impeachment of his character is that of this licensed slanderer
[Bedyll continues] And on Wednesday here were Doctor Aldrigge, Doctor Curvene, Doctor Bawghe, and Doctor Morgan, sent by the King's grace for that purpose, but they nothing profited.
I hammered Whitford after that in the garden, both with fair words and with foul, and showed him that through his obstinacy he should be brought to the great shame of the world for his irreligious life, and for his using of bawdy words to divers ladies at the time of their confession, whereby (I said) he might be the occasion that frost shall be laid down through England; but he hath a brazen forehead and shameth at nothing."

In this same letter Bedyll hints at a matter that may at this time have weighed with the King.
He says he has ordained the confessionals to be walled up, "for that hearing of outward confessions hath been the cause of much evil, and of much treason, which hath been sowed abroad in this matter of the King's title, and also in the King's grace's matter of his succession and marriage".
And this reminds me that John Hall, after having been vicar of Isleworth for fourteen years, was hung at Tyburn, in 1535, for refusing to acknowledge the King's supremacy.

Instead of being dismantled and the materials sold, as was the case with most of the monasteries, Sion was retained by the King in his own hands; and it remained in his possession till his death.
It served as the prison of his unhappy wife Katherine Howard till her execution; and it was at Sion that his own corpse rested on the night when it was carried from London towards its final resting-place at Windsor.
Sion was given by Edward VI. to the Protector Somerset, who erected a mansion for himself on the site of the monastery.
After the fall of Somerset, it was transferred to the Duke of Northumberland.
It was at Sion that poor Lady Jane Gray was forced to accept the crown.
Sion was one of the monasteries restored to is original use by Queen Mary.
Her successor of course again annexed it to the crown.
In 1604 it was granted to the Earl of Northumberland.
This unlucky nobleman was prosecuted for being concerned in the Gunpowder Plot, and condemned to pay a fine of £30,000 to the king.
He remained for fifteen years a prisoner in the Tower, before he was able to raise the money; yet he found means to greatly improve his mansion.
The children of Charles I. were for some time confined at Sion, in the custody of the Earl of Northumberland, who obtained of the Parliament permission for them to have interviews with their father.
The history of the nuns since the dissolution of the monastery at Sion is somewhat remarkable.
Some returned to their families, but several remaining in community, migrated to Dermont in Flanders.
There Cardinal Pole saw them on his way to England, after the accession of Mary to the throne.
By his mediation, they were recalled and reinstated at Sion, where several of the survivors among those who had stayed in England rejoined their superior.
When Elizabeth became queen, the restored monasteries were again suppressed; and the nuns of Sion again took refuge on the Continent.
At first they went to France, afterwards to Germany and Flanders, but they finally took refuge in Portugal.
After a while, Isabella de Azevedo gave them a house and grounds in Lisbon; where they formed themselves into a community, under the title of the Sisters of Sion House.
They continued to replenish their numbers from time to time with English ladies, and they continued to prosper - cherishing, meanwhile, the anticipation of a recall to their ancient home - till 1808, when, on the approach of the French to Lisbon, the monastery was broken up.
Many of the nuns, with their superior, took refuge in England.
They were kindly treated, but getting after a time involved in debt, they were unable to continue in community, and became dispersed.
Those who had remained in Lisbon suffered real hardships, but on the fall of Napoleon they were restored to their house; several of the old nuns returned to them from England; and the convent was once more re-established.
The Sisters of Sion are still in existence in Lisbon - being the only one of all the ancient English convents which now remains.
Mr. Aungier, quoting from Churton's Lives of Smith and Sutton, says, that on the "second dissolution of the monastery by Queen Elizabeth, the nuns took away with them not only what treasure they could carry, but likewise the keys of Sion House and the iron cross from the top of the church, by way of keeping up their claim to this their ancient possession.
These they conveyed with them in all their changes of habitation, and still retain at their present house of Sion at Lisbon."
The late Duke of Northumberland, he adds, visited their convent, and presented the nuns with a silver model of their lost Sion House.
They told him that they still had the keys of Sion House; "I dare say", said he, "but we have altered the locks since then!"
Very small, indeed, is the chance that their keys will ever again unlock the doors of Sion.

Of Sion Monastery not a vestige is visible.
But there is a tradition that two subterranean passages exist: the one leading from Sion, under the bed of the river, to the site of the old monastery at Sheen; the other to the Dairy Farm-house close to the present large corn-mill at Isleworth.
"I am unable", writes a kind correspondent at Isleworth, to whom I am indebted for this and other information, "to ascertain with certainty whether these passages ever did exist, or remain in part, but the belief in there having been such passages is generally prevalent."
We need trouble ourselves little about them.
Such traditions prevail by nearly all old monasteries and castles, and many old manor-houses, and, as was said when we were at Wraysbury, with about equal foundation.
The general prevalence of traditions of the existence of these extensive subterraneous and subaqueous passages may be thought to render it highly probable that some such tunnels did exist; but then, on the other hand, how does it happen that none of them have been traced to any distance?
There are underground passages, but no one has been followed far from the place where it commenced; much less under the bed of a river.
Sion House is too well known to be described here.
The frame-work of the present mansion is believed to be that constructed by the Protector Somerset.
But there have been many alterations.
Inigo Jones is said to have had the remodelling of it; but its present appearance is due to the artistic taste and skill of Adams.
It is, from its size and simplicity of form, a stately and imposing pile, but it displays no marked architectural merit.
The interior I have not seen, but it is described as being very splendid; and it contains many valuable works of art and articles of taste.
The conservatories are famous among horticulturists.
The grounds are remarkably fine; they contain various noble trees, and afford some delightful views.
The lawns are so hollowed towards the river, that from the windows of the mansion Kew Gardens appear to be a part of the grounds, and the Thames to flow through the midst of them.


Proceeding onwards we soon reach
"Brentford's tedious town, For dirty streets and white-legged chickens known."
The first part of this celebrity, such as it is, the good town has long possessed, yet retains, and is likely to preserve.
George I., in the course of his frequent journeys between Hampton Court and the Metropolis, used, when he arrived at Brentford, to have his coach driven through the long narrow street at an extremely slow pace, in order that he might enjoy as much as possible of its filth and its fragrance: it reminded him so much, he used to say, of his dear Hanover.
His son and successor is reported to have had the same penchant for it.
James I., there can be little doubt, held it in like esteem for a similar resemblance to Auld Reekie.
Within the last twenty years, however, there has been a wonderful improvement; it is now tolerably decent in parts; though still, on the whole, the least clean and most inodorous town on the banks of the Thames - I had nearly said in (South) Britain, but I luckily bethought myself in time, or I should have had the good folks of Brentford setting on me, with faces as red as their own Red Lion.
Brentford takes its name from the little river Brent, which, after pursuing its vagrant course for many miles, here falls into the Thames.
The bridge that crosses it at Brentford was in early times maintained by an imposition, which strikingly marks the condition of the Israelitish race in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
In the 9th year of the reign of Edward I. a toll was granted for three years in aid of the bridge of "Braynford".
"All Jews and Jewesses who passed over it on horseback, were to pay a penny; on foot, a half penny ; other passengers were exempted.
A toll for the like term was granted 5 Edward III.; another for five years, 43 Edward III." (Lysons.)
If Jews were as plentiful in Brentford then, as they now are, such a tax might yield a tolerable revenue.

The town has not much historical interest; it is chiefly mentioned on account of its two battles.
In 1016, Edmund Ironsides defeated the Danes, and drove them out of London, compelling them to seek safety in their ships.
"And then, two days afterwards", says the Saxon Chronicle, "the King went over the river at Brentford, and there fought against the army, and put them to flight."
Many of the English, it is added, lost their lives, through their carelessness in crossing the ford.
The ford here seems to have been a usual passage at this time; a little later, we find Ironsides again carrying his soldiers across the river at Brentford.

The Battle of Brentford

The encounter generally known as the Battle of Brentford happened on the 12th of November, 1642, shortly after the more important Battle of Edgehill.
Brentford was held by Colonel Hollis with his regiment for the Parliament.
Prince Rupert, taking advantage of a thick fog, succeeded with the main body of the royal army in surprising the town; Hollis's regiment was routed, but Hampden's and other troops came up and held the Royalists in check till the arrival of Essex, who had heard the cannonading in the House of Lords, and hastened westward with such troops as he could collect.
London was at first thrown into a panic, but soldiers and citizens alike turned out with alacrity, and Essex was speedily at the head of an army some 30,000 strong.
Rupert's object was to force his way through Brentford before the Parliament could draw their forces together to oppose him; seize the parliamentary artillery, which lay at Hammersmith - which he expected to capture with little difficulty; and then, if matters seemed favourable, to march on to London.
In this he completely failed; but the victory, of which the utmost was made, greatly raised the spirits of the party; by the parliamentary scribes, on the other hand, it was studiously depreciated.
More than one account of "Brentford fight" was issued both by Cavaliers and Roundheads.

The town has some literary or poetic as well as historical fame:-and that not merely, as is often the case with such local celebrity, "To those that dwell therein well known", but of general notoriety.
Every one will recollect how serviceable the "Two Kings of Brentford" have been to poets and poetasters of every class and grade, from William Cowper down to Tom D'Urfey: by the last of whom two Brentford Queens were also made to play their part on the stage.
In the days of Shakspere and Ben Jonson, a Brentford inn with its host was almost as useful as the Brentford sovereigns were to later writers.
"We will turn our courage to Braynford westward,
My bird of the night, to the Pigeons"-
says one of the characters in Ben Jonson's 'Alchemist'.
The landlord of the Three Pigeons at that time was John Lowin, a celebrated performer, and one of Shakspere's own company.
Lowin played tragic parts; but he was famous for his performance of Sir John Falstaff.
His portrait shows him to have looked the part well; and there is a proper social turn about the corners of his mouth and eyes, that lets it be understood he could play equally well his part as mine host of the Pigeons, in the days when much of the character and success of such a house depended on the companionable qualities of its chief.
According to fame Lowin was, in the words of the old play, "admirably suited for the Three Pigeons"; - and his hostel was honoured by not infrequent visits of Ben Jonson and others his worthy compeers. *
* Shakspere is also said to have been a visitant; but if, as is believed, Lowin held the house late in life, it must have been after Shakspere's time.
Lowin was probably unsuccessful in the three Pigeons, as he died, according to Malone, in London at an advanced age and in poor circumstances.
Mr. Collier has not been able to learn any Particulars of his last years.

The Falcon is gone, the Mermaid is gone - and perhaps every other place in the great city is gone where this most 'clubable' company met.
The Three Pigeons, however, is still standing.
It will be found on the north side of the street, at the corner of the market-place.
But it is not likely to be found there much longer.
For some time past it has been condemned, in order to make way for a new town-hall and some projected improvements in the market-place.
The mention of Shakspere and the old dramatists will have reminded the reader of the "Brentford Witches" so often alluded to by them.
Before and long after the days of the Merry Wives of Windsor "the old women of Brentford" were notorious for their bewitching qualities - and more than once in person met with rougher handling than Falstaff endured as their proxy.
Lysons, among the "singular entries" he extracted from the parish register, has one under the year 1634, which would seem to show that an effort was then made by the Brentford people to rid themselves of their society: "Paid Robert Warden, the constable, which he disbursed for conveying away the witches, lls."
Where they were "conveyed" is not recorded.
Whether any infested the good town afterwards I do not remember to have noticed.

As the county town, Brentford is the place of nomination for the Middlesex elections.
When it was the only polling-place, and the poll used to be kept open as long as voters could be found, Brentford was often the scene of unimaginable riot.
Then, and indeed when the polling time was limited to a fortnight, a Middlesex election was one of the English "sights".
The elections of Wilkes, during the struggle between the electors and the House of Commons, are matters of history; and the tumultuous proceedings at those in which Burdett and Main waring figured somewhat later, are hardly less memorable.
Of late years they have passed of quite peaceably, as well as speedily.
But generally Brentford has always been notorious for its turbulence, as well as for its dirt.
Brentford Fair, for example, had considerable notoriety that way - though in this, as in other matters, the town has grown quieter and graver.
What it was in olden times will perhaps recur to the memory in the description of those doings wherein Sir Hudibras got so sorely moiled.
Just by the church is an old half-timber house which is believed to have been the residence of Serjeant Noy of Ship-money celebrity.
That this was his house is not improbable: at any rate he lived in Brentford, and the house must have been standing in his day.
The fact of Noy having resided in it, if it be so, will probably not add much to its interest, but it is worth noticing on its own account.
The Market-house, which is shortly to be pulled down, is a quaint crazy structure, looking not a little picturesque in its half-ruinous condition.
On market-days the market-place with the market people has a much more rustic character than would be anticipated from its nearness to London.
In returning to the river, we may notice that the river-side houses - a miserable collection - are happily hidden from the view of the passengers along the Thames by means of the ait, which extends nearly the whole length of this part of the town, and is judiciously planted with tall trees.
Brentford, from its position by the confluence of the Brent with the Thames, and the lowness of its site, is very subject to be inundated.
Several times the town has suffered severely from floods.

Kew Bridge [1789-1903]

We will now cross over the river by means of Kew bridge - a substantial high centred structure, erected, like Richmond Bridge, by Payne, in the last century.
Kew is directly opposite to Brentford, but the houses of the village lie at a distance from the river.


Kew gardens

Darwin, in his 'Botanic Garden', has proclaimed, in his most grandiloquent style, what is now, still more than it was when he wrote, the crowning glory of Kew:

So sits enthroned in vegetable pride
Imperial Kew by Thames's glittering side:
Obedient sails from realms unfurrowed bring
For her the unnam'd progeny of Spring:
Attendant Nymphs her dulcet mandates hear,
And nurse in fostering arms the tender year.

There is a good deal more to the same effect, but the reader is probably satisfied with this sample.
Kew Gardens, with all their old recollections, their recent changes, and present admirable condition, might well alone fill a chapter of a volume on the Thames.
But here they must be dismissed with a short notice.
My rapidly diminishing space, and the distance yet to be traversed, warn me of the necessity of brevity.
I have preferred to loiter along the more rural and distant parts of the river: as we approach London we can afford to proceed more rapidly - we need merely glance at the most inviting objects or places, and may safely leave unnoticed many which in the earlier part of the route it would have been improper to neglect.
This is a ramble; not a history or a topographical survey.
Kew House, which, with its grounds, occupied the site of what is now called Kew Gardens, was taken on a long lease, about 1730, by Frederick, Prince of Wales; and the estate was purchased by his son, George III., soon after his accession to the throne.
The Dowager Princess of Wales continued to reside in Kew House after the death of her husband; and took much interest in the improvement of the grounds, which she caused to be entirely remodelled.
Being quite level, the grounds allowed the more scope for the exercise of genius.
The task of newly arranging them was intrusted to Sir William Chambers; whose satisfaction with the result of his labours was abundantly manifested by the publication of his elaborate folio volume of 'Plans, Elevations, &c., of the Gardens and Buildings at Kew'.
A mere list of the buildings reads like a satire now.
There were in the grounds, which contained an area of about 120 acres, Temples of Bellona, Arethusa, Pan, AEolus, the Sun, Victory, and Peace; these of course were in the "classic" orders of architecture, in one of which was also the "Roman ruin".
Then there were, in the Gothic style, a cathedral and an aviary.
In the Arabic and Moresque, there were a mosque and "the Alhambra".
And last, not least, there were, in the Chinese, a pavilion, a house of Confucius, and the Pagoda.
The Chinese Pagoda is known to everyone who has been near this part of the Thames.
It consists of ten stories, and is 163 feet high.
Towering far above the lofty trees, its appearance is very singular.
The view from the upper story is said to be magnificent.
In the recent Ordnance Survey of the metropolis a "crow's nest" tent was fixed on the seemingly insecure roof of this pagoda.

kew Botanic garden

The Botanic, or, as it used to be called, the Physic Garden, was also commenced by the Princess of Wales.
Its history will be found succinctly given (from Lysons) in Sir W.J.Hooker's excellent little 'Guide to Kew Gardens'.
This garden was carefully maintained during the reign of George III, under whose fostering care it became celebrated all over the world.
In many kinds of plants, especially South African, it was unrivalled.
By his successors it was neglected, and consequently "the Botanic Garden", to use the words of its present director, "retrograded rather than flourished".
The ascension of Victoria, however, wrought a change in its favour.
An inquiry was directed to be made into its condition, the result of which was that "about the year 1840, from being a private garden belonging to the Royal Family, and maintained by funds from the Board of Green Cloth, it was liberally relinquished by her present Majesty, Queen Victoria, and placed under the control of the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods and Forests, with the view of rendering it available to the general good."
At the same time it was determined to extend the collection of plants, and make such alterations in the general arrangements, as should give to it the rank which such a place ought to hold among the public gardens of Europe.
Sir W.J.Hooker was appointed general director.
From that time the improvement of the garden has been prosecuted with steady zeal and excellent judgment.
The grounds have been greatly enlarged; new buildings have been erected, and efforts made to render the collection of plants as complete as possible.
The Botanic Garden at Kew is now an honour to the country.
The plant-houses are abundantly stocked with rare and interesting specimens from all parts of the world; and throughout the year some or other of them are in full flower.
The chief attraction is the new Palm-stove[sic], a noble building "consisting of a centre and two wings occupying an area 362 feet in length; the centre is 100 feet wide, and 66 feet in height to the summit of the lantern; the wings 50 feet wide and 30 feet high."
This enormous building, appearing at a little distance entirely formed of glass, has a striking effect on a bright day, especially when seen from the opposite side of the lake and reflected in it.
"The extent of glass for covering this vast building is about 45,000 square feet."
The interior of the building, with its cocoa-nut and palm trees, the tree-ferns, and other of the noble Oriental and Australian exotics, lifting their heads, many of them almost to the roof, and growing in apparently native luxuriance, is still more striking than the exterior.
The other plant-houses contain splendid collections of orchidaceæ, and other of the rarer or more curious or important plants from every clime;- and the variety is literally marvellous.

All these houses are open without restriction to the public.
Considering that the plants so exposed are of the most delicate as well as valuable description, and that it would be hardly practicable (if it were not most undesirable) to have persons stationed in each house to prevent mischief or peculation, it was perhaps putting to the severest test the practicability of admitting the public generally to places where costly articles are exposed.
The test, however, has been fairly applied, and the result is in every way satisfactory; it is, as the Director properly remarks, "peculiarly gratifying to know that the privilege has been rarely abused" - while "in the few cases of an opposite line of conduct the consequent detection has proved its own punishment".
Although the exotics are collected in the stoves and houses, the garden, which is admirably laid out, is itself filled with both choice and beautiful plants.
One part deserves to be particularly noticed - the British Garden, "which is wholly occupied by indigenous species, named and arranged according to the natural orders".
Such collections of native products are exceedingly interesting and instructive.
When will the British Museum have a space set apart for British Fauna?
When will there be even a room devoted to British birds in that vast and bewildering collection?
The Botanic Gardens are throughout the year open freely every day (except Sundays), from one o'clock till six.
The pleasure-grounds belonging to Kew House - the part which contained Chambers's temples, with a portion of Richmond Old Park, are only open on Thursdays and Sundays, from Midsummer to Michaelmas.
Both are well worth visiting.
The Botanic Gardens will afford a rare treat to any one who takes the smallest interest in the productions of nature.
A few hours may be spent in them with as much profit as pleasure.

Kew House was pulled down by command of George III. in 1789.
The small antique-looking red-brick building, which will be noticed soon after 1eaving the first conservatory, was that occupied by the king and his family, who were very fond of Kew.
It is now commonly called Kew Palace; but the structure that was to have borne that name was quite a different building.
About the beginning of the present century, a new palace was commenced in these grounds, close by the river side.
It was intended to be a castellated building; the architect was Wyatt.
But though Kew Palace was begun, it was never completed; after standing awhile as a mere shell, it was pulled down.
An engraving of it may be seen in the first volume of Lysons' "Environs", which it may be worth while to refer to, as it will go far to remove any regret for the fate of the unhappy edifice.

Kew Village, Gainsborough

Kew is a little, quiet, clean village; the houses are mostly gathered round the Green, in the centre of which stands the church.
On this Green Sir Peter Lely had a house, but it was long ago pulled down.
The church has little to attract attention ; but there are some monuments that require a word of notice.
One is to the memory of Meyer, the celebrated miniature and enamel painter of the last century.
In the churchyard, on the south side, is a flat stone in memory of Joshua Kirby, well known by his work on Perspective.
Alongside of this is another plain slab, which marks the grave of Gainsborough, who, though a frequent visitor, did not reside at Kew; it was by his own desire, however, that he was buried here, alongside his friend Kirby.
The stone merely bears his name, with the dates of his birth and death; not even the Academic initials are added to denote that the "Thomas Gainsborough, Esq.", who lies here, is the great painter.
It was hardly needed; yet it might be wished that his grave were distinguished by some more worthy memorial.
The name of Gainsborough is one of the greatest in English art.
He was the first really original English landscape-painter.
Before his time, land scape-painting was in this country either a formal and tasteless "view" of a place, or a feeble conventional imitation of the manner of the great masters of the earlier schools.
It is to Gainsborough that the credit is due of a bold return to the study of nature.
With him landscape-painting was a passion.
He pursued it with ardour in his earliest youth ; it was the business and the enjoyment of his life; and the last words he uttered had reference to it.
Untrammelled by authority, he found a way for himself, and though his pictures fell far short of the highest excellence, they are all of them honest manly delineations of their several objects.
But they are not mere copies of certain places or things.
Every one is stamped with that mental seal which genius puts on all its productions.
Whatever be the subject, it is imbued with feeling and sentiment.
He selected an ordinary theme, and elevates it into poetry.
Loftiness of conception, masculine breadth and simplicity of treatment, richness, depth and glow of colour, are the characteristics of all his better works.
He was the grandest colourist that, in this country at least, ever painted landscape.
The dash and vigour of his pencilling sometimes led him into mannerism; but that was only for a time.
If ever the name of Gainsborough comes to be spoken of slightingly, it will be an ill omen for British art.
Our admirable living landscape-painters have adopted an entirely different system to his ; and their works are of indisputable excellence; - difference of course does not imply inferiority, but it may be doubted whether the tendency to minute detail is not a greater fault in a master than his somewhat too daring disregard of it.


The collection of irregular dirty-looking houses which border the Thames just below Kew Bridge is Strand-on-the-Green, a hamlet of Chiswick.
It chiefly consists of malting-houses, barge-builders' sheds, and hovels for boatmen, fishermen, and field labourers; but there are a few houses of a better class.
Zoffany, the well-known painter, had a house here; and here lived Joe Miller, of jocular celebrity, whose little volume of jests (not his own gathering, by the way) has been indeed "the fruitful parent of a hundred more".
Miller has had many an 'Old Joe' affiliated upon him, that was in being centuries before he was born; and many another has been laid at a different door, of which he was doubtless the real parent.
The family, true and supposititious, is now so large, that there is little chance of his name perishing while the English language lasts.


Mortlake, on the Surrey side, is the next village we arrive at.
It consists of wharfs, malt-kilns, and a street of small houses and shops.
There are, however, about the parish some of those old red brick mansions that always have such a comfortable substantial appearance.
Among its eminent inhabitants, it boasts of having had Oliver Cromwell - but there is only the village tradition to support the boast.
The house which he is said to have occupied was in the last century the residence of Colson, to whose munificence Bristol is so much indebted.

The most remarkable of the inhabitants of Mortlake is the Doctor Dee whose reputation for dealing with spirits stood so high in the reign of Elizabeth, and whose actual occupation has been to some extent a puzzle ever since.
His various adventures at home and abroad would make a curious story - but having spent so much time in talking over one of the class already, we must not dally long with another.
Yet Dee was altogether a very superior person to Lilly.
He was a man of learning and ability, and there is no reason to suppose that he engaged in such questionable practices as those by which Lilly acquired his wealth.
It has been conjectured that he was employed by Elizabeth as a political agent or spy; and that his strange pursuits with Kelly in Germany were but a feint to cover his real employment.
The regard with which he was treated by Elizabeth and her ministers, at this time and after his return, and the money and appointments he received, as well as various other circumstances, strengthen the supposition.
Lilly - who was well qualified to judge - says plainly he was "the queen's secret intelligencer", and that "he was the most ambitious person living, and most desirous of fame and renown."
He probably was employed in secret services by the government, but he was nevertheless certainly a student and practitioner of the occult sciences.
It appears, too, that he was a believer in the possibility of transmutation.
A strange story is told by his biographers, and was repeated by his son, Dr. Arthur Dee, (a native of Mortlake, and therefore the properest person to be quoted here,) who lived in his later years at Norwich, where Sir Thomas Browne became intimately acquainted with him, speaking of him with great respect as his "familiar friend".
"I have heard the Dr. say", Browne writes to Elias Ashmole, "that he lived in Bohemia with his father, both at Prague and other parts of Bohemia.
That Prince or Count Rosenberg was their great patron, who delighted much in alchemy.
I have heard him affirm, and some times with oaths, that he had seen projection made and transmutation of pewter dishes and flagons into silver, which the goldsmiths of Prague bought of them ; and that Count Rosenberg played at quoits with silver quoits made by projection as before: that this transmutation was made by a powder they had, which was found in some old place, and a book lying by it contained nothing but hieroglyphics, which book his father bestowed much time upon; but I could not hear that he could make it out." (Browne's Works, i. 466, Wilkins' ed.)
In this story Arthur Dee persisted firmly to his death.
"He lived many years and died at Norwich", says Browne in another letter, "and with the highest asseverations he confirmed unto his death, that he had clearly, undeniably, and frequently beheld projection made in Bohemia."
Old Dee lost the powder, Kelly having extorted it from him, and carried off the best part of it; and he never acquired the art of making it for himself.
Kelly, too, gained little by the fraud; he was seized by order of the emperor, and imprisoned in a castle.
Arthur Dee told Browne that his father having showed to Elizabeth the efficacy of the small portion of the powder which he had contrived to secrete, the queen sought to release Kelly from prison, and for that purpose sent trusty messengers, who succeeded not only in obtaining an entrance into the castle, but also in putting opium into the drink of the jailors, which laid them so fast asleep, that Kelly had no difficulty in getting out of his cell.
But the spirits he could evoke at other times, failed him now.
In attempting to escape over the castle wall, he fell and broke his leg, and was soon returned to his old lodging.
So much of the story as concerns his confinement and attempt to escape is true; the rest the reader may give as much credit to as he pleases.
After his return to England, Dee was treated with great honour by the queen, who several times visited him at Mortlake.
He received also the appointment of Warden of Manchester, as well as gifts of money.
But Dee, unlike Lilly, did not seek to amass wealth.
He was rather ostentatious than covetous, and there was a spice of honesty in his composition.
He lived in great style while he had the means, which was as long as the queen lived; but when a new king reigned who knew not John, his star declined.
"Dr. Dee", says Lilly, "died at Mortlake very poor, enforced many times to sell some book or other to buy his dinner with", - a sorry sort of transmutation for one who had been concerned in changing base pewter into sterling silver.
Dee's autobiography is a curious production; but his 'Book of Spirits' (as it is commonly called) is so much more curious, that the learned have been unable to determine whether it is a veritable "relation", as it professes to be, or a political report couched under some mysterious cipher.
The reader may remember that the feats of Dee and Kelly in raising spirits were "Done By the devil's looking-glass, a stone": - but they may not perhaps know that the actual stone is preserved in the British Museum.

In Mortlake churchyard is a flat stone to the memory of John Partridge, the unlucky almanac maker who was so unscrupulously killed by Swift.
Partridge indeed refused to admit the fact, assuring the public that, so far from being dead, "blessed be God, John Partridge is still living and in health, and all are knaves who report otherwise": but the 'Tatler' persisted in asserting that he had ceased to exist, and, to the excessive chagrin of the poor astrologer, the public only laughed at his repeated appeals and denials.
The tomb-stone makes his death to have occurred in 1715, which was seven years after the date fixed in Isaac Bickerstaff's memorable prediction.
Partridge, though assuredly not witty in himself, was the cause of much wit in others.
We must not quit Mortlake without noticing that it was here that the Tapestry-works were established to which England owes the possession of the Cartoons of Raphael.
"The making of tapestry", says Fuller, "was unknown or unused till about the end of the reign of King James, when he gave £2000 to Sir Francis Crane to build therewith a house at Mortlake for that purpose.
Here they only imitated old patterns, till they had procured one Francis Klein, a German, to be their designer."
James awarded to Klein an annuity of £100, which was continued by his successor.
The establishment was liberally patronized by Charles, who increased the grant to Sir Francis Crane to an annuity of £2000.
Five of the Cartoons were here copied in tapestry, and other magnificent works were executed for the King and the nobility.
On the fall of the monarchy the premises were seized and sold as royal property.
Charles II. proposed to restore the manufacture, and the works appear to have been recommenced - but from all further notice of them soon ceasing, it is most likely that the experiment was only tried on a limited scale and speedily abandoned.
"The Merry Monarch" had other uses for his superfluous cash.


Barnes Terrace, which immediately follows Mortlake, is a row of genteel residences, situated in a very pleasant part of the river.
The quiet scattered village of Barnes, with its humble church and broad heathy common, lies away from the river: Barnes Elms is on the opposite side of the village, so that though belonging to Barnes, we must, owing to the great curve (or loop) made by the river here, proceed for at least a couple of miles down the stream before we reach that rather celebrated domain.
Though the banks of the Thames between Kew and Chiswick are everywhere low and level, yet they are so diversified by the succession of open meadows, well wooded plantations, villages, mansions, and glimpses of distant uplands, while the broad stream flows along in such easy windings, that every one who floats along it acknowledges its agreeable character.
On an autumnal evening, as the sun is sinking in the west, the row or sail up this part of the river is perfectly delicious.

Barnes Railway Bridge [1848]

A railway bridge is now being constructed over the Thames by Barnes Terrace, which will probably a good deal alter the appearance of the river here; as the embankment has changed the appearance of the common.

Chiswick House

The grounds of Chiswick House are sure to attract attention.
The house, it is hardly necessary to say, was erected by the architectural Lord Burlington, after one known as the Villa Capra, near Vicenza, of which Palladio was the designer.
Kent was the architect appointed by Lord Burlington to superintend the erection of his Chiswick villa.
Lord Hervey's bon mot, that "it was too small to inhabit and too large to hang to one's watch-chain", was rendered inapplicable by a late Duke of Devonshire, who erected two additional wings.
The interior of the house I have not seen; but any one who has examined Chatsworth will give ready credence to what is said of the taste and splendour of this, the favourite summer villa of "the Duke", as his Grace of Devonshire is styled with as much emphasis in Chiswick as he is in half Derbyshire.
The paintings in Chiswick House are of a very high class - many of them being of celebrity in the annals of art.
The various articles of virtu are of the richest and most costly kind; and altogether the place is worthy to have received the many distinguished personages who have been its owner's guests.
A somewhat melancholy interest attaches to it from the circumstance of two of the most eminent of modern statesmen having expired within its walls: - both of them brought hither for the sake of the quiet retreat it afforded in connection with proximity to the metropolis.
Fox died here on the 13th of September, 1806; George Canning, on the 8th of August, 1827.
The grounds of Chiswick House are extensive and of exceeding beauty.
They were laid out by Kent in the most florid "Italian" manner: every where are antique statues or busts, or architectural ornaments, mingled with the vegetable productions proper to the grounds.
It is hardly necessary to say that they have been since improved and are maintained in the highest style of landscape gardening, or that the conservatories and their contents, as well as the general horticultural and floricultural display, are all that modern skill can accomplish.
But the gardens are essentially in that enriched style in which they were first arranged, and which is so consonant with the peculiarities of the building to which they belong.
Every part presents some quaintly graceful and picturesque bit of garden scenery.
Sir Walter Scott said, truly enough, "The place and highly ornamented gardens belonging to it resembled a picture of Watteau"; and he adds, that what in the picture appears affectation, looks very different here.
As in the house, so in the grounds, all is on a scale of princely magnificence.
For some few years past, as is well known, the grounds of Chiswick House have been thrown open on one or more of the Horticultural Society's Fêtes, when they have invariably made one of the most attractive features of those fashionable assemblies.

Horticultural Society Gardens

Of the gardens of the Horticultural Society, which adjoin the grounds of Chiswick House, it is unnecessary to say anything.
Most of my readers who reside in London have seen or easily may see them for themselves; and those who live in the country will find two or three hours very well employed in visiting them, when next they stay in town.


The village of Chiswick is very quiet and sequestered, considering its nearness to London.
But it has not improved in appearance or pleasantness of late years.
Many of the good substantial old houses have been pulled down; and a supplementary village of poor, ill-built, and undrained new houses has been erected.
The church is partly old and partly modern.
The tower and chancel are of ancient date; the nave is comparatively recent.
Its interest consists in the memorials of the dead which are in and around it; a stranger to the place would be surprised at the number of names that have long been familiar to him.
The most noticeable monument in the church is one to the memory of Sir Thomas Chaloner, celebrated in the court of Elizabeth as a soldier, courtier, an accomplished scholar, and (what would make him perhaps of more estimation then, as now) the discoverer of very productive alum-mines in Yorkshire.
Kent, who united in himself the several professions of painter, sculptor, architect, and landscape gardener, is buried in Chiswick church, in the vault of his patron, Lord Burlington.
A tablet to the memory of Charles Whittingham, the celebrated printer, will attract the attention of the admirer of elegant typography.
The "Chiswick Press", from which so many admirable works have proceeded, occupies an old mansion on the Mall.
But the tombs in the churchyard are most noteworthy.
One is to the memory of the Earl of Macartney, so widely known by his embassy to China.
Dr. Rose, one of the most prominent of the periodical writers of Johnson's time, lies here; on his tomb is a rather long poetical inscription written by Arthur Murphy.
Here too rest, after all their strife, Dr. Ralph Griffiths, noted in the literary circles of his day as the Editor of the 'Monthly Review'; and James Ralph, gibbeted by Pope in the 'Dunciad' -
"Silence, ye wolves! while Ralph to Cynthia howls,
And makes night hideous - answer him, ye owls."
But I do not remember that there is any inscription to their memory.
A slab, with his name and dates of birth and death, and his coat of arms, marks the burial-place of Ugo Foscolo.
A large tomb bears the name, and an inscription records the worth and talents, of Philip Loutherbourg, the painter.
Sharpe, the historical engraver, is another of the men of fame who, "after life's fitful fever", here repose.

William Hogarth

The tomb which has rendered Chiswick churchyard a memorable place is that under which lies the body of William Hogarth.
It is a large and noticeable structure ; and was erected shortly after his death by a subscription among his friends and admirers.
In addition to the name and the usual information, it has engraven on it the well known lines written by Garrick.
Johnson also wrote an elegy for it, but Garrick's was preferred ; neither is at all worthy of the memory of the painter.
Hogarth was scarcely appreciated in his own day.
The flippant patronizing manner in which Walpole treated him was perhaps a favourable instance of the way in which the connoisseurs of art were accustomed to regard him.
It is not to be wondered at.
He was not a drawing-room painter.
He did not work for the amusement of dilettanti lords and fine ladies.
The flimsy conventionalities they adored he despised and ridiculed.
But due honour has been done to his memory.
His fame has steadily risen, and men of loftly intellect have been the foremost to do homage to his inimitable genius.
Hogarth, who in his own age was only considered as a sort of superior caricaturist, is now acknowledged to be the greatest moral painter this country ever produced.
Charles Lamb I think it is who says "Hogarth's paintings are books."
Whoever said it spoke the literal truth.
They are books which may be not merely once read, but referred to again and again for instruction as well as delight.
Every part of them teems with meaning.
Under the most sportive passage there lies a serious purpose.
Yet are they also true pictures.
He fully understood that painting has a language of its own: that what speaks to the heart by means of visual representation must be different from that which addresses it by means of language.
And what he would say he says clearly.
The perfect perspicuity of his style is one of the most remarkable of his many excellencies.
There wants no Dr. Trusler to moralize his pictures.
They tell their own tale, and declare their own moral with such distinctness, that an exposition is almost an insult to the intelligence of the most uninstructed observer.

But that which places Hogarth apart from and above almost all other painters of familiar life is his great creative power.
He sought subjects neither from history nor poetry: he neither copied nor followed writer or painter; his pictures all have a history or a poem of their own.
His invention is unbounded, and his ability was equal to depict what his mind conceived.
Walpole said he was "no painter", because he did not in composition and execution imitate the Dutch or some other "school".
But his composition and colour, and every other technical quality, were of just that kind which served best to embody his purpose - the purpose of a masculine simplicity of intention and healthiness of intellect.
Hogarth for many years spent his summers in Chiswick; in a house which had before been, it is believed, the residence of his father-in-law, Sir James Thornhill.
The house still remains.
It stands in a lane not far from the church: any child in Chiswick will direct the stranger to "Hogarth's house".
It is a rather plain, old fashioned, red-brick building ; not such probably as would in these days satisfy a popular painter, but yet one that must, when he lived in it - surrounded as it was by goodly trees, having moderate-sized snug rooms, commanding a charming view of the river, and not, as now, neighboured by the mean ill-favoured houses that have sprung up opposite to it, offending alike the eye and nostril - have been a very likeable summer retreat.
The house itself has not probably been much altered, but the garden has lost many of its trees.
An outbuilding called "Hogarth's painting-room" is carefully preserved.
Hogarth lived here till his death; and his widow continued to reside in it till she followed him.
It has since had an occupant whose residence has done further honour to it.
In 1814 the Rev. H.F.Cary, the translator of Dante, was appointed to the curacy of Chiswick, when he shortly after purchased this house of Hogarth's; and he continued to reside in it, with a short interval, till 1826, when he removed to his official residence at the British Museum.


They have an odd tradition at Hammersmith respecting the name of the place.
Once upon a time, it is said, there lived here a giant and his wife or sister, who worked, like Birmingham nailors, both of them at the anvil.
The lady's forge was on one side of the river, the gentleman's on the other.
From some unexplained cause, they had but one hammer between them.
When, therefore, he wanted this very necessary instrument, he used to shout "Hammer!" and the strong-armed dame incontinently flung it across the water to him; when she needed it, she used to cry "Smith", and he very politely tossed it back again.
Hammersmith is a large and populous place.
It contains some ten thousand inhabitants, and the houses stretch irregularly over a wide area.
The main street is a part of the great western road.
We need only look at that part which lies by the river side.
In Hammersmith Terrace, which we first arrive at, resided Arthur Murphy, the dramatic author, and friend of Dr. Johnson.
Here also lived and died Philip Loutherbourg, one of the most distinguished painters of the last century - a sort of precursor to Stanfield.
Late in life Loutherbourg was rather crotchety; he became a convert to Brothers the prophet; and among other strange whimsies he set up for a prophet and curer of diseases on his own account.
For a failure in some of his prophecies or promises, his house in Hammersmith Terrace was beset by the mob, who broke his windows and did other mischief.
Hammersmith Mall is a fine walk of good houses, and is planted with stately old elms; - it is a great pity that it is not kept in better order.
Were it united with Chiswick Mall, they would together form one of the finest terraces by the Thames.
But Hammersmith has lost its former popularity with people of fashionable habits.
It was, I believe, in one of the houses on or by the Mall that Dr. Radcliffe had a summer residence.
He intended to erect a hospital on the grounds, and had commenced the building, when death arrested his design.
Sir Samuel Morland, of mechanical note, lived here.
Another of the residents by the river side at Hammersmith was Catherine, the widow of Charles II.
There is a little inn, the Dove, near the end of the Mall, which might easily be past unnoticed by the stranger.
Yet it deserves a word of recognition.
Its old title "the Dove Coffee-house" tells that it belonged to a time when coffee was a less domestic beverage than at present.
The Dove was once a genteel suburban inn, whither wits as well as citizens resorted in the season to sip their coffee, enjoy the sweet prospect of the river, and talk over the literature and the politics of the day.
It is said to have been a frequent resort of Thomson's - who, by the way, once lived in Hammersmith; it is even asserted, but on very doubtful authority, that Thomson wrote a portion of the "Seasons" in the Dove.
Here the late Duke of Sussex had a room by the river, to which he used occasionally to escape, in order to enjoy in privacy the luxury of the Nicotian weed.

Hammersmith Suspension Bridge [1827-1885]

The very handsome suspension-bridge which crosses the Thames at Hammersmith, was constructed in 1828, from the designs and under the superintendence of William Tierney Clarke - to whose taste as well as engineering skill it does the highest credit.
It is one of the most graceful structures of its kind in the kingdom.
But Mr. Clarke's recent achievement at Pesth has of course thrown this, and indeed almost every other suspension bridge, into comparative insignificance.

Site of Brandenburg House

A short distance beyond the bridge stood Brandenburg House - a mansion whose various occupants have ensured for it a lasting celebrity.
It was built about the commencement of the reign of Charles I. by Sir Nicholas Crispe, at a cost of £23,000 - an enormous sum in those days.
With Crispe's other property it was seized by the Parliament; but he regained it afterwards, and resided in it till his death.
By his nephew it was sold to Prince Rupert, who gave it to Mrs. Margaret Hughes, the lady who caused that strange transformation in his habits which Grammont notices.
After passing through a variety of hands it was purchased, in 1748, by Bubb Dodington, afterwards Lord Melcombe.
By Dodington the interior was entirely remodelled and filled with works of art and articles of luxury; - he gave to it the appropriate name of La Trappe.
Dodington sought to be distinguished alike as a politician, a wit, and a patron of literature.
It was his fate not to gain much honour in either character.
His name will live in the pages of his flatterers and his satirists - but the sternest satire may be found in his own diary.
Towards the end of the last century the house was purchased by the Margrave of Brandenburg-Anspach, when it received the title of Brandenburgh House.
While in the occupancy of Dodington, and afterwards of the Margrave, it was considered to be "one of the most magnificent places in the neighbourhood of London".
The last occupant was the unfortunate wife of George IV.
It is needless to allude to the unhappy occurrences which made Brandenburg House a public word.
It was here, as will be remembered, that Queen Caroline breathed her last.
Soon after her death the house was razed to the ground.
Sir Nicholas Crispe, the builder of the mansion, must not be left without a special word of notice.
He was a wealthy merchant in London; is said to have introduced into England, or restored, the manufacture of bricks, which were before obtained from Holland ; and his monument claims for him the "having first settled the trade of gold from Guinea".

His attachment to Charles I. was unbounded; and he displayed his loyalty in a memorable manner.
When the struggle commenced between the King and the Parliament, he gave and obtained for the king a hundred thousand pounds; and he afterwards raised a regiment, and distinguished himself by his bravery at the head of it.
In order to procure or to convey money, to gain intelligence, to communicate with friends, or to fix waverers, he, in various disguises, travelled over the kingdom, or loitered about London; sometimes, according to Lloyd, assuming the character of a messenger, at other a porter, a butter Woman with her panniers, a merchant, or a fisherman.
The storm excited by the discovery of the plot in which he had engaged with Waller, for raising an array, and securing London for the king, is well known.
Crispe was beyond the reach of the Parliament; he continued in active service as long as the King had an army: when Charles was in prison, he was compelled to fly to France.
He afterwards, by submitting to a composition, by which he lost a large part of his property, obtained leave to return to England, where he again successfully engaged in commerce.
But he never wholly despaired of the cause of royalty: in the various efforts that were made to bring about a restoration he was always concerned; he was one of the foremost in inciting the City to support Monk by a royalist declaration; and he had at length the happiness to accompany the deputation, which welcomed the return of the unworthy son of his old master.

In Hammersmith church there is a monument which bears the name of Sir Nicholas Crispe; but it is a testimony more to his loyalty than to his memory.
The monument is a remarkable one.
It is of marble, and supports a bronze bust of Charles I.
The inscription states that "This effigy was erected by Sir Nicholas Crispe, Knight and Baronet, as a grateful commemoration of that glorious martyr King Charles I. of glorious memory."
Below, on a black marble pedestal, is an urn, which contains the heart of this devoted subject; it was placed there in obedience to his last request, that "his body might be laid in the family vault, but his heart should be placed at his master's feet".
Crispe was a considerable benefactor to Hammersmith.
Towards the erection of the church he was the chief contributor.
Hammersmith Church is by no means a handsome building, but with the trees about it its appearance is rather picturesque.
Among other noteworthy monuments are those of Arthur Murphy, and Thomas Worlidge, celebrated for his etchings.
Bubb Dodington and other men of rank and notoriety have memorials here.

Barnes Elms

About a mile below Hammersmith we come upon the grounds of Barnes Elms.
In the reign of Elizabeth it belonged to her astute minister, Sir Francis Walsingham, who had the honour of here receiving his mistress more than once as his guest.
His daughter Frances had the singular fortune of being successively the wife of three of the most distinguished men of that age of remarkable men: Sir Philip Sidney; Robert Devereux, the famous and unfortunate Earl of Essex (who resided for some time at Barnes Elms); and the Marquis of Clanricarde.
Barnes Elms, it will be remembered, was the place to which Cowley first retired when he resolved on a country life - what would be thought of a country life there now!
In the grounds there is a memorial of Cowley, which seems a straining of complacency, seeing how unanimously Cowley's biographers have dispraised the place.
A house close by was the residence of Jacob Tonson, the bookseller, and here the Kit-Cat Club held its original meetings; the room which was built especially for the meetings was hung round with Kneller's famous portraits of the members.

On approaching Putney Bridge there will be noticed, on the right bank, a long stand-like erection; it marks the starting-place of the Thames Regatta: the race is up the stream; the suspension Bridge is the goal for wherries, the Willow Ait for cutters.
One of these annual trials of skill is worth anyone's witnessing.
The Thames watermen are masters of their craft; and they are as resolute as they are skilful.
The style in which they manage the flimsy boats, sitting in them and wielding them as though a part of themselves, and the unflinching energy of the struggle for victory, are quite a study in their way.
Poor Haydon used to declare that for any English animal - "from an historical painter to a bulldog" - to be worth anything, he must possess, as an essential attribute, "plenty of bottom".
There is no lack of this attribute in our boatmen now, and one may fancy there never was.
Two centuries ago, that prince of Thames watermen, glorious John Taylor, ventured on "a voyage in a boat of brown paper from London to Queen borough", accomplished it in safety, and wrote a merry account of it afterwards.
We have no such literary watermen in these days, but I doubt if we have not some who would "handle their oars with skill and dexterity", at least equal to his.

Newell versus the Dutch Four

Five or six years ago, an English amateur of aquatics, being a little provoked by some Hollanders who vaunted of the surpassing skill of their boatmen, offered to find a Thames waterman who should beat any four in Holland; - he being in a wherry, they of course in a four-oared cutter.
The challenge was at once accepted.
A Thames boatman and his boat were put on board a Dutch steamer, and in due time landed.
The Dutchmen were surprised at the lightness of the London wherry (which only weighed about half a hundredweight); but four against one seemed such favourable odds, they stepped into their clumsy cutter with all possible Dutch alacrity.
The day was fair, and the water smooth.
When the signal was given, the Thames champion went off like an arrow.
"The panting crew toiled after him in vain".
Every stroke increased the distance, and the Englishman won without his opponents having even a momentary chance of success.
But the Dutchmen naturally enough thought their defeat to be owing rather to the clumsiness of their boat than their own inferior skill.
They procured a Thames-built cutter of the best construction, and practised in it till they felt assured of the mastery.
They requested a repetition of the contest, which the others nothing loth agreed to.
The Englishman with his boat again went to Holland.
But this time the day fixed proved to be very stormy, and it seemed hardly possible for the flimsy wherry to live in such rough water.
His backer would have given up the contest, but the Briton was resolved to "try".
He asked to be allowed to put canvas over the boat to repel the waves, but it was refused.
They started, and Thames rowed manfully, but it was in vain.
The weight of the four told in their cutter, and they drew steadily ahead.
Wherever the bank gave a little shelter, the Englishman gained rapidly, but such places were few.
The water kept filling his boat, but the "essential attribute" never failed, and he scorned to give in.
He rowed with one hand, and baled out the water with the other; till the wrist of his rowing hand swelled to double its natural size.
Still he kept on, and though the distance rowed was considerable, he reached the winning post very soon after his opponents.
The Dutch were gallant fellows, and cheered him heartily.
The time he stayed in their country, he was a little lion among them; but they declined all offers to repeat the match.
They were quite satisfied, they said.
I hope my readers do not think that long story too long, or out of place.

If we talked of Thames swans in the upper part of the river, surely Thames water men ought not to be omitted in the lower - and that story seems to me a good illustration of the characteristics of the fraternity.
Great is the change within these twenty years in the state of the watermen on the Thames.
John Taylor lived at a time when coaches were coming into use, and he utters doleful lamentations over the approaching ruin of his trade.
Doubtless they did produce a wonderful alteration in the amount of traffic on "the silent highway".
But the change in our time is of a different kind.
Bridges and tunnels have been so increased, that very few people about London now think of crossing the Thames in a boat; and the steamers have equally destroyed the traffic up and down the river.
The spectator, who looks with wonder on the skill of the best men at the Thames Regatta, doubts not for a moment that it is acquired and kept up by incessant practice.
But it is not so.
The most skilful, steady, and industrious watermen - and the skilful men are generally both - are unable now to earn a living at their business.
They keep their boats if they can, or else borrow one when they require it, but their dependence is on other work than rowing.
Most of the London watermen are fellowship porters, or river-pilots, or have some other riverside occupation: - but they continue attached to some particular stairs, though seldom to be found at them.
For example, Newell, one of the best watermen on the Thames - the man who so gallantly rowed against the Dutchmen - is a fellowship porter: being a St. Olave's man, he 'hails' from Battle Stairs, but may more commonly be seen at work as a porter along-shore there - except during part of the summer, when he is employed as coxswain by Lord Kilmorey.
Thus do our Thames watermen now manage to gain a hard-earned subsistence, exactly in the spirit, though not in the manner, of their poetic predecessor.
Thus resolutely sang sturdy John Taylor:

Let trencher-poets scrape for their base vails,
I'll take an oar in hand when writing fails;
And 'twixt the boat and pen, I make no doubt
But I shall shift to pick a living out.

Putney Bridge [1729-1885]

The Thames just here is remarkably picturesque.
On one side is a line of irregular buildings; on the other, the stately trees of the Bishop's Walks.
In front is a rude many-arched wooden bridge, having a weather-beaten church at either end of it.
Altogether Putney bridge with the two churches and the surrounding scenery is one of the more rememberable views on the lower part of the Thames.


Antiquaries have fixed an uncleanly etymology upon Fulham: "Fulham, quasi Foul-ham, because it is a dirty place."
It does not concern us to find a daintier derivation, but this is certainly unsustained by the present condition of the place.
Fulham has been an appendage to the see of London, from a period long anterior to the Conquest.
"Anciently", says Selden, "the bishops' houses were built by the water-side, because they were held sacred persons which nobody would hurt.
The noblemen lay within the City for safety and security."
Be the cause what it may, bishops' houses (like the residences of most ecclesiastics) were frequently placed in low unprotected spots by the sides of rivers.
The Bishops of London have had a house here from a very early date; but very little of the present palace is older than the sixteenth century, while a considerable part is much more recent; and the whole has been renovated, and changed by successive prelates.
The palace is an imposing building.
The library is a chief feature of the interior.
It contains a series of portraits of Bishops of London.
In the chapel is some very fine stained glass.
Had we time to spare, we might say a few words respecting some of the Bishops who have resided here; of their royal and other distinguished guests; and of the vicissitudes of the palace: but we must hasten on.
The grounds belonging to the palace are fine in themselves; and in combination with the river afford many choice glimpses of cultivated land scape scenery; some of the walks are delightful.
Fulham church and churchyard contain many monuments to the Bishops - which are of course worth examining, if merely as examples of the monumental art of the times to which they severally belong.
And there are numerous monuments to laymen that will attract attention.
One in memory of Dr. Barrow, physician to Charles II., is the work of Grinling Gibbons.
Another is a statue of the Earl Mordaunt, in the costume of a Roman General.
The church is ancient, and interesting for its architectural features.
Fulham is the mother church to Hammersmith.
The eminent inhabitants of Fulham are far too many to enumerate.
Parson's Green would alone furnish an illustrious list.
Sir Thomas Bodley, the founder of the famous library, had a house here.
Lord Bacon was here for a short time after his disgrace, and would have stayed longer, but King James refused to renew his licence.
That dashing General, the Earl of Peterborough, also resided here, and his house was the frequent resort of Locke, Swift, and other literary celebrities.
Samuel Richardson, too, had a house at Parson's Green, and here his female coterie used to assemble around him.
Both these last two houses have been pulled down.
In some part or other of Fulham the literary labourers of the metropolis have been accustomed to reside, from the time of Florio down to Theodore Hook.
It would be idle to accumulate mere names.


Putney is a good-sized village, which, from its pleasant site and healthiness, as well as its nearness to London, has always been a favourite residence with persons in easy circumstances who require to be near the great city; and the construction of the Richmond railway has added to its advantages.
In the place itself there is little that requires notice here.
The streets are clean and respectable; several of the houses are of a superior class.
Putney Heath, with its neighbour Wimbledon, might tempt us to wander and gossip awhile about its bright and breezy uplands, its rich prospects and various recollections - but we are resolute not again to quit the banks of the Thames.
Putney Church is a structure of many different dates, but is interesting as a whole; and contains some interesting memorials.
Attached to it is a small chantry chapel, which was erected by Bishop West, in the reign of Henry VIII.; and is familiar to architectural students as an example of the perpendicular style of Gothic architecture.
The vaulted roof and some other parts are exceedingly rich.
Bishop West was a native of Putney.
His career was remarkable: his father was a baker.
Having been sent to Eton College, Nicholas West was elected thence to King's College, where he proved, says Fuller, "a Rakehell in-grain", and was expelled after he had set fire to the master's apartments.
His expulsion, however, sobered him ; he turned hard student; and having first procured a humble employment, he gradually rose by his talents and acquirements to the highest offices both in Church and State.
Henry VIII. employed him both at home and abroad; and he was one of the persons selected by Queen Catherine for her advocates.
He died Bishop of Ely.
His benevolence is said to have been very great ; and he did not forget to make atonement to his College by liberal benefactions; the master's lodgings in particular "he rebuilt firm and fair from the ground".

But there was a contemporary of West, also a native of Putney, whose rise was much more remarkable, and whose name is far more widely renowned.
That bold bad man, Thomas Cromwell, the rapacious and unscrupulous minister of a still more unscrupulous and rapacious monarch, was the son of a blacksmith at Putney.
It is not a little singular that the two men who have risen to higher stations than any other Englishmen under a monarchy, Thomas Cromwell and his old master Wolsey, should both have been of the meanest and most obscure birth.
But there is no comparison between the two in point of intellect or grandeur of character.
Cromwell had all or nearly all of the meaner vices of his master, but none of the more splendid; and none of his virtues.
Had it not been for the share which he had in bringing about the Reformation, his memory (despite of his unjust death) would have borne the infamy it deserved.
As it is, he has found and still finds apologists and even admirers, though his connexion with that great event was for selfish purposes, and he has done more than any other to sully its glory.
The manor, which included his birth-place, was one of those he procured for himself in his prosperity.
The most illustrious of the recent natives of Putney was Gibbon, our great historian ; who was born in a house which is still standing just above the railway station.
His first school was a house near the bridge.
Putney has had many eminent literary inhabitants, and still has some.
It has also had several otherwise famous inhabitants.
William Pitt died in Bowling-Green House on the Heath.


Wandsworth owes its name to its position on the little river Wandle, by its confluence with the Thames; it was formerly called Wandlesworth, of which the present name is an obvious corruption.
The Wandle rises near Croydon, runs next by Carshalton, and thence by Mitcham, Merton, and other villages to the Thames at Wandsworth.
Altogether its length is not above a dozen miles.
Although not navigable, it is very serviceable; from Carshalton to Wandsworth it supplies numerous flour, snuff, dyeing, chemical, and many other mills and works.
In its earlier course it is in parts extremely pretty, and a great favourite with London fly-fishers; but lower, where the banks are level, and smoky factories are the chief objects which diversify them, and the water is impregnated with unfragrant refuse of many varieties, so that what was "the blue, transparent Wandalis" is now but dirty brown and scarcely semi-diaphanous - no one will probably care to wander alongside it an inch farther than he is compelled.
And Wandsworth itself, as will be supposed, is not a very agreeable or very picturesque place.
So much of it as lies by the Thames, and the low district that extends from the river-side to the main street, are in truth unattractive enough.
They have of course an appearance of activity, such as befits a manufacturing district, however small - but then they have the unwholesome, and squalid character which generally accompanies it: - as, therefore, we are not considering manufactories or manufacturers, we need not tarry here.
The upper part of Wandsworth, Wandsworth Common and the vicinity, are pleasant and healthy enough.
The parish has a population of about five thousand souls.
The parent church is a poor looking brick building; and it has but few monuments of interest.
One, however, is to the memory of Henry Smith, alderman of London, and the great benefactor of various parishes in Surrey.
Before we leave the church, it is only proper to mention that in 1540 Griffith Clarke, the vicar of Wandsworth, with his curate or chaplain, his servant, and one Friar Ware, were hanged and quartered by command of Henry VIII. for refusing to take the oaths of ecclesiastical supremacy, &c.
The mock election of a Mayor of Garrett on occasion of a general election, and which gave rise to Foote's popular comedy, may recur to the reader in connexion with Wandsworth.
But the election has ceased for many years, and Garrett, where it took place, is on the side of Wandsworth farthest from the river - we may therefore be spared further mention of it.
Full particulars of it may be found in that well-filled repository of out-of-the-way in formation, Hone's 'Every-Day Book'.


Almost the only thing in Battersea which will engage attention is the church, wherein is the monument of one of the most able, eloquent, and unprincipled of English politicians, - the cele brated St.John, Lord Bolingbroke.
He was born in Battersea, where his ancestors had been established for several generations; the manor having been granted in reversion to Oliver St.John, Viscount Grandison, in 1617.
Bolingbroke lived in the family mansion, both before and after his exile, and in it he died.
The house was pulled down towards the end of the last century.
The monument in Battersea church is by Roubiliac; on it are portraits in relievi of Bolingbroke and his wife.
Another monument in the church may be noticed: it is to a whiskered knight of redoubtable prowess, hight Sir Edward Wynter, who died in 1685.

Born to be great in fortune as in mind

as the inscription has it, he travelled to India and elsewhere, and gained not only considerable wealth, but much honour -

Witness his actions of immortal fame!
Alone, unarm'd, a tiger he opprest,
And crush'd to death the monster of a beast.
Twice twenty mounted Moors he overthrew,
Singly on foot, some wounded, some he slew,
Disperst the rest - What more could Samson do?

What more, indeed!
Wordsworth talks of forty men fighting (or feeding) like one: here was a much more marvellous occurrence - one man fighting like forty.


Battersea Fields, the low tract which extends from the bridge to Nine Elms, like much of the marsh-land along the Thames below Brentford, is extensively cultivated as market-gardens.
Of late, however, it is being a good deal built upon, and the appearance of the district has been considerably altered - and will be more.
A park is to be formed here; and it is also proposed to construct a suspension-bridge across the Thames.
Battersea Fields was one of the favourite spots for shooting men in the palmy days of duelling: "in these our unmonomachial days" the Red House is an equally favourite place for shooting pigeons.

Battersea Bridge [1766-1885]

The wooden bridge which connects Battersea with Chelsea is rather useful than ornamental: it will serve us, however, as well as the handsomest to reach the latter place.


Chelsea alone, to write about its inhabitants as well as itself, would require a volume the size of this.
Even to gossip after our old fashion about the notabilities along the river-side, would need a long chapter - and we have no such space to spare.
From the river the appearance of Chelsea is pleasing as a whole; while parts are both picturesque and striking.
The heavy-looking church, rising from the irregular houses westward of it ; the handsome terrace called Cheyne Walk with its trees, its stately old-fashioned houses, and the pier; farther on the Botanic Garden, with its pair of unrivalled cedars; and finally the Hospital, each in turn attracts attention, and altogether make a rememberable ensemble.
In itself the church is nothing; a plain building, chiefly of brick, it would only be noted for its massive and ungainly tower.
But there is a monument within it of more than ordinary interest.
It is a plain slab enclosed in a recess under a Gothic arch, and is inscribed to the memory of Sir Thomas More.
On it is engraven a long biographical epitaph written by Sir Thomas himself: but the monument is not the original one which More set up during his lifetime.
More was a regular attendant at Chelsea church, where, even while Lord Chancellor, being a good singer, he used to take his place with the choir, wearing, like them, a surplice.
It is told by Roper, that the Duke of Norfolk, seeing him one day in this guise, accosted him after service with "God's body My Lord Chancellor a parish clerk! A parish clerk! You dishonour the King and his office."
To which More replied with a smile, "Nay, Sir, your Grace may not think that your King and mine will be offended with me for serving God his master; or account his office thereby dishonoured."
It was after such a service that in this church More in his merry way announced to his wife his having incurred the royal displeasure, and the consequent loss of his office.
It was customary after service for one of the Lord Chancellor's officers to go to his lady's seat, and say "My Lord is gone before".
On this occasion, More himself went to the pew, and making a low bow, said, "Madam, my Lord is gone."
But my Lady by no means enjoyed the riddle when it was expounded to her.
More was a considerable benefactor to Chelsea church.
The chapel which yet remains at the end of the south aisle was built by him.
It is sometimes said that his body was brought from the Tower, and interred in the vault which he had constructed for himself; but there appears sufficient reason to doubt that statement.

The large monument in the churchyard, consisting of an urn under a sort of triumphal arch, which from its size and position is always noticed by the passenger, is to the memory of Sir Hans Sloane, the celebrated physician, and President of the Royal Society.
Among other well known persons who have been interred here are, Adam Littleton, "a sound divine" and a writer of excellent English;* * And, by the way, here also lies Lady Jane Cheyne - in whose funeral sermon he introduced a panegyric of the sex, which ought to make his name precious to all ladies.
Shadwell, on whom Dryden has conferred an unenviable immortality; Pennant, the naturalist; and Chamberlayne, the author of a work long annually reprinted - very useful in its day, and sometimes referred to now - "The Present State of Great Britain", and also of many other books which have long since perished.
Dr. Chamberlayne had some fear that his books would be "let die", but he had no misgivings as to their meriting to live.
Wherefore, in order to preserve them for the benefit of posterity, notwithstanding an ungrateful people should suffer them to fall into oblivion, he caused six of his works to be carefully packed up, the wrappings to be covered with wax, so that neither worms nor moisture should break through and destroy, and then deposited along with himself in the tomb.
And that the circumstance should not be forgotten, and so the books never be recovered from the grave, an account thereof, with their titles, was engraven on his monument.
But alas for the hopes of future fame!
The vault has been opened and searched, and the books - cannot be found!

Thomas More

The house in which Sir Thomas More resided at Chelsea was by the water side, and appears to have occupied a site somewhat eastward of the foot of the bridge.
More removed to Chelsea about 1520.
Erasmus, and More's son-in-law Roper, have given a beautiful picture of the happy home of this illustrious man.
He had, says the former, "his son, and his son's wife, his three daughters and their three husbands, and eleven grandchildren, all living with him in his house at Chelsea", and all living together, as he adds, most affectionately.
He generally too had there some men eminent for worth, or learning, or genius.
Holbein lived here for three years with him.
In his garden he had a menagerie of strange animals, with which he used to amuse a vacant hour.
"Such is the excellence of his temper", says Erasmus, "that whatsoever happeneth that cannot be avoided, he accepteth it as if it could not have fallen out more happily.
You would say there was in that place Plato's Academy - but I do his house an injury in comparing it to Plato's Academy. . . .
I should rather call his house a school or university of Christian religion; for though there is none therein but readeth or studieth the liberal sciences, their special care is piety and virtue; there is no quarrelling, no intemperate words are heard; none appear idle: that worthy gentleman doth not govern with proud and lofty words, but with well-timed and courteous benevolence; everybody performing his duty, yet is there always alacrity, neither is sober mirth anything wanting."
Roper relates that when, on his disgrace, his children and grandchildren were perplexed at the fear of separation, which his diminished means appeared to render necessary, he comforted them by showing how they might yet live all together, though with more frugality than heretofore; "and yet we need not fall to the lowest fare first".
Then giving them a pleasant account of student's diet, he told them how they might by degrees conform to their decreasing income - beginning with Lincoln's Inn diet, they could next year go one step to New Inn fare, and then, "if that year exceed our ability, we will the next year descend to Oxford fare, wherein many grave, learned, and ancient fathers are continually conversant.
If our abilities stretch not to maintain either, then may we yet with bags and wallets, go a-begging together, and hoping for charity, at every man's door to sing "Salve, Regina"; and so still keep company and be merry together."
Thus could this great man teach his children, as well as himself, to rise above the oppression even of poverty: little wonderful is it that his children should have regarded with such intensity of affection such a parent.
As long as the name of More is remembered, the memory of his daughter will be remembered also: and the names of both Thomas More and Margaret Roper will be preserved as long as manly worth and womanly affection are revered and cherished.
On More's execution, his house and property were of course seized by the king; the family, it is said, being left with not so much as a winding-sheet to wrap his corpse in.
But Henry, with unusual generosity, afterwards granted to the widow of his great Chancellor an annuity of £20.
More's house passed successively through a great many hands; and several persons of eminence at different times resided in it.
In 1738 it was purchased by Sir Hans Sloane, who, in 1740, pulled it down. (Lysons.)
Among other eminent men who have lived by the water-side here may be mentioned Sir Richard Steele; - who it will perhaps be recollected, has in the 'Tatler" celebrated " Don Saltero's Coffee house" in Cheyne Walk, of which the shadow still occupies the old locality.
Many distinguished persons have resided in Cheyne Walk, and some in our own day, for whose sakes a future generation may visit it.
Proceeding onwards we soon reach the Botanic Garden of the Apothecaries' Company, famed for its officinal plants, and for its cedars; in the centre is a statue, by Rysbrack, of Sir Hans Sloane, the founder of the garden and donor of the site.

Chelsea Hospital

Chelsea Hospital, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Chelsea Hospital

Just beyond is Chelsea Hospital, one of the buildings which confer renown on our river, and, as an institution, honour on the country.
It is needless here to dwell on a place so well known.
The reader no doubt remembers that it was erected by Charles II. on the site of "Controversy College," and that Sir Christopher Wren was the architect.
He may believe, if he pleases, that it owes its foundation to Nell Gwynn, though there really does not seem to be any better ground for the tradition than the improbability of the Merry Monarch being induced to do so noble a deed, except by the solicitation of a courtesan - and on the whole, the English lady was the most likely one of his seraglio to make the suggestion.
But he should not forget the more probable statement that the true originator of the plan was Sir Stephen Fox, who also contributed £15,000 towards the cost.
The building itself is not too ornamental for its purpose, and is sufficiently stately and imposing.
With its battered veterans loitering in the sunshine about it, Chelsea Hospital is an inspiriting spectacle; and Chelsea Hospital ought not to be named without honourable mention of its admirable supplement, the Military Asylum.

Site of Ranelagh Gardens

But we must hasten on.
Just beyond the Hospital is the place where once were the Ranelagh Gardens - so familiar to every reader of our "polite literature", and so charming a spot in the eyes of the beaux and the belles of a past age.
Chelsea was altogether a popular locality in the days of coffee-houses *,
* Our river itself, it will be remembered, had its floating coffee houses in the palmy days of those favourite haunts of wits and politicians.
breakfast-gardens, bun-houses, and other forgotten places of amusement and resort.

Vauxhall Bridge

Without even casting a glance towards Belgravia, we may pass under Vauxhall Bridge, and hasten to terminate this stage of our ramble.
Vauxhall Gardens might well tempt us to talk over their departed glories, but gas-works fright us from the shore.
From the dismal Penitentiary on the opposite bank we gladly avert our eyes.

Lambeth Palace

If aught could tempt us now to turn aside for a few moments, it would be Lambeth Palace with its many memories, and various points of interest.
Just a glance we must take into the venerable and picturesque court-yard, with its fine old Gate-house and Great Hall.
This hall is a noticeable room, of goodly proportions, and it has an open timber roof of rather unusual and very good design.
The Guard-room with its high pointed roof is another curious architectural feature.
So too is the Chapel with its crypt.
But the most remarkable is the Lollards' Tower, of which the grim exterior so well accords with its grim associations.
The Lollards' Prison is in this tower.
The part of the edifice which forms the residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury is chiefly recent.
The noble library, with its valuable manuscripts and archiepiscopal register, is of universal fame.

The New Houses of Parliament [burnt down 1834]

From Bishops' Walk a very good general view of the New Houses of Parliament (or Palace of Westminster, if that is to be its title) may be obtained in connexion with Westminster Abbey.
And here (or from the river in this direction) it will be seen why Mr. Barry proposes to carry up a lofty and massive tower at the west end of his building.
He evidently intends the Victoria Tower to be the grand central point of the composition, when the new palace shall be seen grouped along with the Abbey - whose lofty roof and towers would else overbalance the lower mass of the new structure.
The architect has of late had to bear many rough attacks; but so had Wren while building St. Paul's Cathedral, and so had the architect of every great work during its erection; - and certain senators, who have been foremost among the objectors, by their amazing exhibitions of aesthetic criticism, seem chiefly to have designed to set their sails to catch a passing breath of popular applause, though they may also succeed in providing for themselves a place in the history of this edifice, similar to that which other critics of like knowledge and profundity have won in earlier records.
What this building may be it is yet perhaps too soon to predicate; but we have reason, from what has been accomplished, as well in the interior as externally, to hope and expect that it will convey to posterity a worthy example of the art of the middle of the nineteenth century.

THE ÆSTUARY. [Thames Estuary]

"Matter grows under one's hands" - says Sterne - "Let no man say, 'Come - I'll write a duo decimo'."
It is certainly a dangerous undertaking.
Ten to one he will find, long before his task is ended, that he has written an octavo.
I thought to have strolled down the Thames as far as Westminster, in the compass of little more than half this second volume; - then, "skipping" the huge city (which is no place to ramble in - though very instructive to explore), to have dropped at ease down the lower reaches of the river, and just hauled ashore to inspect whatever seemed to require inspection.
But the reader has seen how, after quitting the rural parts, I have hurried over the places within every one's reach; and yet while already beyond the proper limits of the volume, all "below bridge" is untouched.
To enter into an examination of any new locality now, would plainly extend this volume to an inconvenient size - and of course another is not to be dreamt of.
You, gentle reader, will be glad to get to the end of the Ramble - and so, I am sure, shall I.
The Ramble is in fact ended here.
London, as has been said, is altogether out of the question - and below London the width of the river makes a ramble by it impossible.
We will therefore, if you please, pass unnoticed the Thames in its course through the Metropolis - leave untouched its astounding traffic - the mighty forest of masts - the docks - the bridges - the wharfs, and all that renders it the busiest, the most wonderful river in the world: - and seating ourselves in a skiff at Greenwich, avail ourselves of an ebb tide to reach as quickly as we may the æstuary of the Thames.
As we sail along we can just point out any notable place, but that is all.


Were not speed so necessary, Greenwich would be a pleasant spot to gossip over before starting.
There are the old palace, Placentia, and its successor the Hospital, and each has a history and associations of more than ordinary interest.
Then there is the Park with all its mirthful memories.
The Observatory, with the discoveries which have ennobled its name.
Recollections too there are of Johnson and Savage, and of Defoe there; and of many another of the names which dwell in the memory of their countrymen.
And then there is Blackheath, a subject for a volume in itself - which is so intimately connected with Greenwich, as not to be passed over in any notice of it.
The Royal Hospital for aged and disabled seamen is a later establishment than the hospital for soldiers at Chelsea.
It was founded in the reign of William III., and the credit of originating the design is given to Queen Mary.
The appearance of Greenwich Hospital is familiar to every one who has been on the river - and from prints, hardly less so to those who have not.
It is indisputably the noblest building on the Thames, and its situation here, at the entrance of the Port of London, is a most happy one.
Nor could a more suitable object than the Asylum for the sons of mariners be chosen to fill the central opening between the two sides of the Hos pital.
I do not of course mean the present contemptible building placed in so important a position, but some one worthy of the site and the purpose.
The Observatory is a noticeable feature in the view from the river: and the Park contributes its share to the picture.
Altogether, he must have an unenviable mind who can gaze upon this scene without emotion - at least, until familiarity shall have lessened its impressiveness.
Here it will hardly be necessary to mention the delicate little fish which in these days is so essentially characteristic of this part of our river.
If the reader have not tasted the delicious morsel, he will do well and wisely to avail himself of the first seasonable opportunity to come hither for a whitebait dinner.
It matters little whether Greenwich or Blackheath be selected, or Quartermain or Lovegrove be patronized.
But only here can the fish be properly appreciated.
Fish, says Cicero, should taste of the sea: by which no doubt he meant, being a man of taste and sound judgment, that it ought to be eaten when and where taken.
He would have had a salmon put into the kettle fresh out of the Tiber; - and were he here now, he would have white-bait just out of the Thames.
They serve them up in London, and sometimes on the other side of it, but it is poor work that; every yard the dainty little creature is carried from the shore depreciates it - and they are all taken off where we now are.
It is not the foolishest thing the Ministers do, when they come down here to their annual white-bait dinner.

Blackwall, Docks and Shipyards

At Blackwall will be noticed the entrances to the East and West India Docks; and also the ship-building yards of Messrs. Wigrams and Green from whose slips many of the finest vessels in our mercantile, and some in the royal navy have been launched.

River Lea

Only a short distance beyond the neat station and pier of the Blackwall Railway is the confluence of the Lea, of which river an account has already been given; and by the mouth of the Lea is the wharf of the Trinity Company, some of whose curious-looking but very valuable beacons will probably be observed.

The banks now, on both sides of our river, are flat and marshy.
The Essex marshes - or levels, as they are called - continue with little intermission to the mouth of the Thames; but on the Kent side there is more diversity.
A range of low hills runs at a varying distance from the shore to the mouth of the Medway.
Here, for example, though the bank be flat, the chalk hills of Charlton are but a short distance inland, and pleasantly vary the scenery.


Charlton itself is a very pretty village, but we cannot visit it.
In it was held Horn Fair, which some years ago used to be a scene of strange tumult and wild mirth: the fair is still continued, but it is quiet, and degenerate, and dull.
Beyond Charlton is seen Shooter's Hill, whither Queen Elizabeth went betimes in the morning "a-maying"; and where her burly father used to witness, if not to practise, archery.


Woolwich Dockyards with the majestic ships of war that are building in them, and all the stores which they contain, would abundantly recompense an hour or two spent in their examination.
And then the Arsenal, with its amazing supplies of military materiel, and the wondrous variety of instruments of war, its factories and its repositories, is in truth one of the great sights of England.
It is said that when the Allied Sovereigns and their generals were in this country in 1814, this Arsenal with its contents astonished them beyond almost anything else: and when a few hours have been spent in its survey, the bewildered visitant will hardly wonder that such should have been the case.
The long reach of marsh beyond is employed for the proving of cannon, and for artillery practice.
But it is proposed to remove the long-range practice to the more extensive waste by Shoebury Ness at the mouth of the Thames, as well on account of the greater safety as of the ampler space.
For some half-dozen miles the marshes extend on both sides of the river, without offering the slightest variety - but here, as all down the stream, the continual passage of vessels of all kinds sufficiently prevents any monotony.


Along the Kentish shore the Government powder-magazines are indeed the only buildings until Erith is approached, when, at some distance from the village, the little ivy-covered church is seen lying at the foot of the wooded hill whose summit is crowned by the prospect-tower of Belvidere House.
Erith itself was a rude, dirty, odd, out-of-the-way village, having, till within these dozen years, a good deal of a peculiar kind of traffic in consequence of the East India ships lying off here in order to discharge part of their cargo.
But of late Erith has grown poor and genteel; and what Thomas Fuller happily calls "the plague of building" has lighted upon it, so that it is just in that awkward, unformed, transition state which renders men and matter alike ill-looking and unendurable.
No great way below Erith the Darent slips so quietly into the Thames that very few mid-river passengers would notice its influx if it were not pointed out.
The Darent is an exceedingly pretty river in much of its early course - and the same may be said of the Cray, which falls into it in the marshes a couple of miles before its confluence with the Thames.
Both rivers are famous for their trout: that of the Cray is sometimes affirmed to be the finest in Kent.
On the Essex side the only noteworthy spot before Tilbury is arrived at, is Barking Creek, the mouth of the Roding - a river which traverses Essex, and yet is but a trifling stream till it meets the tide at Barking, two or three miles from its junction with the Thames.
Barking is a place full of interest - but it is not possible to turn aside to it.
About a mile and a half below Barking Creek is Rainham Creek, the mouth of the Rainham river, or, as it is called above Rainham, the Ingrebourne, or Bourne brook - a stream which also has a rather long course, but is of little size or importance.


Rounding Cold-Harbour point (which is opposite Erith) we next notice the curious walls of chalk and sand which serve to distinguish Purfleet, which lies nearly opposite the mouth of the Darent.
Purfleet is rather a populous little place.
Here are extensive ordnance stores and powder magazines.
The only remarkable objects are the chalk cliffs, and some caverns which are traditionally spoken of as "the gold-mines", from a vague notion of Purfleet having been at some very distant day a sort of lesser California.
The Beacon Cliff serves as a landmark to mariners; while from its summit there is a very extensive prospect along the river and over a part of Kent.
On the Kentish side, Stone Church, which will be observed on the heights, shortly before reaching Greenhithe, is a superior example of a village church of the early English style and date.


Greenhithe stretches for some distance along the river side opposite Stone Ness, in the hollow of a great bend of the river; but it has little to distinguish it from ordinary river-side villages.
In the neighbourhood are extensive chalk-pits, and consequently considerable wharf traffic is carried on here.
Just below Greenhithe is Ingress Abbey, the seat of Mr. Harmer, which, from its pleasant situation and extent, is sure to attract the eye; it is said to have been partly built of the stone of the Old London Bridge.
The Kentish shore is here a good deal diversified, and has a cheerful pleasant aspect.
Again the river makes a bold curve round Broad Ness, opposite which, on the Essex side, is Gray's Thurrock, which consists merely of a long irregular street; the inhabitants are largely engaged in brick making.
Belmont House, from standing on a cliff which rises sharply from the river, is rather a noticeable feature.
Northfleet will be known by its vast excavations in the chalk cliffs and the smoke of its lime-kilns.
There was at one time an extensive ship-building yard here, and many mercantile vessels of the first class, as well as some naval frigates, were built in it.


Now Northfleet proper, though still a place of considerable trade, is somewhat obscured by the smartness of a neighbour that has sprung up within these few years on the outskirt of the town.
This is a collection of pretentious and unhappy looking dwellings, with hotels, pleasure-gardens, pier, baths, and all the paraphernalia of a river-side watering place of the showiest class, and, in accord ance with the anti-vernacular dialect proper to such places, it has assumed the name of RosherVille.


Adjoining Northfleet is Gravesend, probably the best known, and certainly the most visited place on the lower part of the Thames.
Before the construction of the different wet-docks in London, outward bound vessels found it convenient to take in their sea-stores at Gravesend; and long after the docks were formed, it was necessary for ships to anchor off here, and wait for the Custom-house "clearances".
Gravesend in consequence had a very large trade in shipping-stores.
By degrees the Custom-house regulations were altered, and the trade of Gravesend seemed in a course of inevitable decay.
When the clearances were granted to ships in the docks, it became unnecessary for outward-bound vessels to stay at Gravesend at all, and probably the town would have been in a great measure ruined, but that an entirely new source of prosperity had sprung up, owing to the introduction of steam-vessels upon the river.
Heretofore the passenger traffic had been almost wholly dependent on the decked sailing vessels, which had succeeded the old well-known Gravesend tilt-boats, in which, if there were baffling winds or a calm, passengers were commonly kept on the river all night, "with straw for a bed and a tilt for a covering".
The Gravesend sailing-boats were very much superior to the old tilt-boats, but still few holiday folks thought of a sail to Gravesend as a matter of pleasure.
When steamers were introduced, Gravesend soon became a popular resort; and now every season above half a million passengers land at the Town and Terrace Piers.
A railway is in course of construction, and will probably be opened to Gravesend during this summer.
It will no doubt considerably affect the traffic, but the trip on the river is so considerable a part of the pleasure of a day at Gravesend, that it is not likely the railway will in this instance so materially injure the old system of conveyance as it ordinarily does.
Gravesend is, by water, 26 miles from London Bridge: by the railway to Blackwall, and thence by steamer, the distance is usually performed in about two hours.
For the convenience of landing steam-boat passengers, there are a couple of piers; both are excellent, but the new one, "Terrace Pier", is one of the most substantial structures of the kind that has yet been erected.
Gravesend has thoroughly conformed to its changed circumstances.
It is quite a pleasure town now; and the change is strikingly manifest in its appearance.
Gravesend proper, despite the various improvements it has had to endure, is yet a rude, irregular, uneven place; while the new part, or Milton, is laid out in the most regular and rectilinear style.
The streets are wide and straight; the houses uniform.
But I cannot describe Gravesend nor tell its history.
Happily it has found a zealous native historian in Mr. Cruden, who has caught up and preserved whatever is curious in the antiquities of the town, and carefully chronicled the several stages of its transitionary condition. *
* And I gladly add, that the reader who desires to obtain information respecting the Thames below bridge, will find a great deal that is both curious and valuable in Cruden's "History of Gravesend.
The increase in the population of Gravesend has been very rapid since it has become a pleasure town.
In 1831 it contained 9445 inhabitants; in 1841 there were 15,670; and probably the increase has since been in proportion.
As will be supposed, Gravesend is a gay place on a fine summer day.
Every part is alive with humanity bent on enjoyment; - and it is generally to be obtained.
To assist in this laudable pursuit there are all the ordinary appliances - music and bazaars, and gardens, and the like.
The old Cockney Eden, Windmill Hill, was especially a mirthful spot, before the builders encroached on its precincts.
But Gravesend presents the most extraordinary appearance on a bright hot Sunday, when visitors flow in by thousands.
Always a dry and dusty neighbourhood, then, when every dusty avenue is thronged with troops of holiday-makers, the heat and the dust are increased forty-fold - but the powers of endurance appear increased proportionally.
And what an absorption of restoratives - particularly of the liquid kind - is there!
Towards evening especially the eating and drinking are "prodigious".
However, there is abundant provision made, and every one obtains all he desires, - from the 'fast man', who takes white-bait and champagne at the Talbot, to the soberest cit, who is content with "tea and shrimps" in one of the odd little " tea rooms".
There is a regular ferry from Gravesend to Tilbury Fort for both "horse and foot": as there is also with the opposite shore, at Greenhithe and other places along the river.
Just fifty years ago a Company was formed for constructing a tunnel under the Thames from Gravesend to Tilbury.
The entire expense of the tunnel was estimated at £15,995.
An Act of Parliament was obtained; and the work was commenced by sinking a shaft at Gravesend.
The shaft was carried to a depth of 85 feet; and further the works never proceeded.
As Mr. Cruden remarks, "an excellent commentary on the result appears on a loose paper of the Company, probably sketched by a member of the committee, at a meeting to close the accounts: -
"Total cost of the Well, £15,242 10s. 4½d.!
This could hardly have been surpassed by a railway company during the recent mania.

Tilbury Fort

Tilbury Fort, in 'Rambles by Rivers' James Thorne 1849
Tilbury Fort

Tilbury Fort was one of the block-houses erected by Henry VIII.: but it was converted into an efficient fortress under the direction of the Italian engineer Genibelli, when the Spanish Armada threatened a descent upon England.
It was again altered and strengthened in the reign of Charles II.; and has subsequently received such improvements as the changes in military engineering have suggested.
It was at Tilbury that the great military camp was established against the approach of the Armada: and here it was that Elizabeth visited her camp, and addressed to the army her famous spirit-stirring message.
Another and very different association may be mentioned, as it has not found a place in the local topography.
It was by Tilbury Fort that the author of 'Robinson Crusoe' pursued for some years - but unsuccessfully - the trade of a pantile-maker.
While he complains bitterly of his failure, by which he says that he lost three thousand pounds, he takes credit to himself for having introduced the manufacture into this country.
He says, "before violence, injury, and barbarous treatment demolished him and his undertaking, he employed a hundred poor people in making pantiles - a manufacture before always bought in Holland". *
* Review, No. 9, v. ii.
Probably before the works were stopped Defoe was considerably straitened for means to carry them on, for the author of one of the many party scribblings which followed 'The True-born Englishman' has, among much more of a likekind, what reads very like a current scandal about the pantile-works: -
"Justices forc'd him to pay his slaves,
Who, subjects to a worse than Pharaoh's law,
Made bricks without due food, instead of straw." *
* 'True-born Hugonot', (4to. 1703 p. 14.)

If Tilbury Fort reminds us of the glories of England's arms in the days of Elizabeth, East Tilbury church recals to the memory their disgrace under a degenerate successor.
The tower of East Tilbury church was beaten down by the Dutch in 1667, when their fleet destroyed, unchecked, the British ships lying in the æstuary of the Thames and of the Medway.
Here passing from the Lower Hope into the Sea Reach, we fairly enter upon the æstuary of the Thames.
The river, which has widened gradually to Gravesend, thence rapidly expands into an arm of the sea.
At London Bridge the river is, at high tide, 290 yards across; at Blackwall Wharf it is 380; at Gravesend Pier it is 800; at Coal-house Point, where the Lower Hope commences, it is 1290 yards - being an increase of 1000 yards in about 29 miles: while some ten miles lower, at the London Stone by Yantlet Creek, where the jurisdiction of the Corporation of London ends, the river is nearly four miles and a half across.
In these lower reaches of the Thames the banks are quite flat, and no object breaks the level line of the shore on either hand.
The only relief to the eye is the low ridge of hills which on each side runs along at a little distance inland; and on each of these hills are a few village churches, and also an old castle or two - but hardly near enough to be of much importance in the general prospect.

Canvey Island

Canvey Island, on the Essex side, and the Cowling and other marshes, which extend to Yantlet Level on the Kentish, are both low, fenny, and foggy tracts - but, though uninteresting to look over, of great agricultural value.
These, it is said, are such unhealthy places, that the natives who are inured to the climate invariably fetch wives (or husbands) from the uplands; and so always make sure of a speedy succession.
I mention this because I have heard it, only for the sake of any fair friends who may have Canvey or Yantlet wooers - without pretending to answer for its accuracy; and therefore I also add, that I have heard the aspersion warmly repelled.
Both places, it is affirmed, are very endurable now - whatever they may have been formerly.
On passing Yantlet, we see, on the left side, the pleasant village of Leigh, running along the summit of a cliff.


Beyond this again is Southend - a pretty spot, which has grown, within the last half century, from a poor fishing-hamlet into deserved favour as a quiet, retired, watering-place.
So gently does the shore shelve here, that the pier which has been constructed for landing steam-boat passengers is carried out above a mile and a quarter from the bank: to accommodate those who are unwilling or unable to walk this "tedious but necessary length", a little railway has been constructed along it to the pier-head.
From Shoebury Ness, immediately below Southend, the Essex shore trends rapidly away.


On the opposite side, by Sheerness, the Medway unites its waters with those of the Thames.
Before us is the Nore Light; and beyond, the wide expanse of ocean.
Though there are none of the wilder features of nature observable at the æstuary of the Thames, the prospect is at least one of mingled amenity and grandeur.
The broad calm river passes imperceptibly into the majestic sea.
Along the entrance of the united Thames and Medway ride some of those magnificent ships whose thunders have made the prowess of the British navy memorable in the annals of the world.
In continual passage are vessels of every class and of every nation, bringing hither the fruits of every clime, or bearing to every shore the products of British skill.
One who has followed the Thames from its parent rock through so many beautiful and fertile districts; past so many places dignified by the memory of great events and illustrious men - of British worth and British genius; by so many trophies which mark the peaceful triumphs of British wealth and commerce - now that he contemplates this parting scene, may well regard with pride and admiration the noble river, which so greatly contributes to the grandeur and the glory of his country and his countrymen.
And as he looks forth on the ocean sprinkled over with the shipping of the world, it will almost seem that the language is verified in which one of our elder poets addressed his native land -

Now all the riches of the Globe beside
Flow into thee with every tide;
And all that Nature doth thy soil deny,
The growth is of thy fruitful industry;
And all the proud and dreadful sea
And all his tributary streams,
A constant tribute pays to thee,
And all the liquid world is one extended Thames.