Ye Olde Swan

Thames Ditton Regatta

Boyle Farm Island

Left bank below Thames Ditton Island

Swan Island

Left bank tiny Island at the tail of Thames Ditton Island (and effectively part of it)

Public Slipway

Left bank, next to The Swan, Summer Road, Thames Ditton, said to be suitable for small craft. Access may be difficult

Thames Ditton Church, 1817
Thames Ditton Church, 1817

Ye Olde Swan Inn

Left Bank.  Mooring for craft less than 3' draft

William Hone, 1827 -

Thames Ditton is a pretty village, delightfully situated on the banks of the Thames, between Kingston and Hampton Court Palace.  During the summer and autumn, it is much frequented by the followers of Isaac Walton's tranquil occupation.
The Swan Inn, only a few paces from the water's edge, remarkable for the neatness and comfort of its appearance, and for the still more substantial attractions of its internal accommodation, is kept by Mr John Locke, a most civil, good natured, and obliging creature;  and what is not of slight importance to a bon-vivant, he has a wife absolutely incomparable in the art of cooking a good beef-steak, or a mutton chop.

1849: Rambles by Rivers: The Thames By James Thorne -

... 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.

1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall


Our print exhibits the long-famous inn, "The Swan"; and the stately mansion — "Boyle Farm" — the residence of Lord St. Leonards. "The Swan" is, as we have said, "famous", but only in the records of the angler. Time out of mind, Thames Ditton has been in favour with the punt-fisher, not alone because sport was always abundant there, — its pretty aits, close beds of rushes, and overhanging osiers being nurseries of fish, — but because the river is especially charming "hereabouts", and there are many associations connected with the fair scenery that greatly augment its interest to those who enjoy the recreation of the "contemplative man". All anglers, therefore, are familiar with the pleasures to be found in this quiet and attractive nook of the Thames. Our own memory recalls to us a day we cannot soon forget: it was passed in a punt with Theodore Hook — a lover of the gentle art, as many have been to whom "society" and the gaieties of life were necessities. Hook was in strong health at that time — it was in the year 1834; the fountain of his wit was in full and uninterrupted flow; it is not difficult to imagine, therefore, the stores of incident and humour that were opened up between the first cast of the plummet into the stream and the winding up of the reel when the declining light gave notice that refreshment was provided at "the Swan". *
* On that occasion Mr. Hook produced some lines, which we believe are little known, and were not published with his name; we therefore reprint them from the New Monthly Magazine (then edited by Mr. S.C.Hall) for July, 1834, in which they were printed. They were composed in the punt, and afterwards written down. It is needless to refer to Mr. Hook's wonderful facility in improvising verse.

Listen to 'When sultry suns ...'

When sultry suns and dusty streets
Proclaim town's winter season,
And rural scenes and cool retreats
Sound something like high treason —
I steal away to shades serene,
Which yet no bard has hit on,
And change the bustling, heartless scene
For quietude and Ditton.

Here lawyers, free from legal toils,
And peers, released from duty.
Enjoy at once kind Nature's smiles,
And eke the smiles of beauty:
Beauty with talent brightly graced,
Whose name must not be written.
The idol of the fane, is placed
Within the shades of Ditton.

Let lofty mansions great men keep —
I have no wish to rob 'em —
Not courtly Claremont, Esher's steep.
Nor Squire Combe's at Cobham.
Sir Hobhouse has a mansion rare,
A large red house, at Whitton,
But Cam with Thames I can't compare,
Nor Whitton class with Ditton.

I'd rather live, like General Moore,
In one of the pavilions
Which stand upon the other shore.
Than be the king of millions;
For though no subjects might arise
To exercise my wit on,
From morn till night I'd feast my eyes
By gazing at sweet Ditton.

The mighty queen whom Cydnus bore.
In gold and purple floated,
But happier I, when near this shore,
Although more humbly boated.
Give me a punt, a rod, a line,
A snug arm-chair to sit on.
Some well-iced punch, and weather fine,
And let me fish at Ditton.

The 'Swan', snug inn, good fare affords
As table e'er was put on.
And worthier quite of loftier boards
Its poultry, fish, and mutton:
And while sound wine mine host supplies,
With beer of Meux or Tutton,
Mine hostess, with her bright blue eyes.
Invites to stay at Ditton.

Here, in a placid waking dream,
I'm free from worldly troubles,
Calm as the rippling silver stream
That in the sunshine bubbles;
And when sweet Eden's blissful bowers
Some abler bard has writ on.
Despairing to transcend his powers,
I'll ditto say for Ditton.

As a fishing station. Ditton has lost some of its ancient fame; and the inn had fallen also from its "high estate". Latterly, however, it has been considerably "brushed up"; the landlord and landlady seem very attentive to their guests; the rooms are remarkably clean and neatly furnished, and anglers may again enjoy there the quiet comfort which ought to succeed a day of pleasant toil. Moreover, there are several good and experienced fishermen at Ditton; and punts, as well as row-boats, may be generally obtained.

1876: Lippincott's Magazine -

Thames Ditton Lippincott 1876
Thames Ditton, Lippincott's Magazine, 1876

The angler's capital is Thames Ditton, and his capitol the Swan Inn. Ditton is, like many other pretty English villages, little and old. It is mentioned in Domesday Boke as belonging to the bishop of Bayeux in Normandy, famous for the historic piece of tapestry. Wadard, a gentleman with a Saxon name, held it of him, probably for the quit rent of an annual eel-pie, although the consideration is not stated.

1906: Henry Wellington Wack, In Thamesland -

Thames Ditton on the Surrey side is a small village with ... an inn, "The Swan", which half a century ago [1850s] was a popular rendez-vous for anglers from all parts of the Thames valley.
Theodore Hook, whom the last generation will probably more readily recall than the present, as a dramatist, mimic, wit, and rhymster of exceptional facility, and a man of many greater parts, must have regarded Ditton as the Elysium of the punt-fishing and contemplative man.
While sitting in his punt in July, 1834, with Mr. S.C.Hall [the man who with his wife wrote "Down the Thames" in 1859] then editor of the "New Monthly Magazine", he composed seven eight line verses cleverly expressive of his appreciation of what was then, much more than it is at present, one of the loveliest regions of the great little river.

1872: Edward Lear -

There was an old man of Thames Ditton,
Who called for something to sit on;
But they brought him a hat, and said "Sit upon that,
You abruptious old man of Thames Ditton!"

2017: Not Edward Lear -

There was an old poet called Lear,
Whose words were perfectly clear;
The sound of his rhyme was exquisitely fine,
But his last lines are rubbish, I fear!