1792: Picturesque Views on the Thames by Samuel Ireland -
THE scenery of this neighbourhood is truly beautiful : the Quarry Woods extend a confiderable distance, and form a noble screen on the Berkshire side of the river.
1829: A Tour on the Banks of the Thames -
Following the course of the stream, we pass a range of hills to the left, known as the Quarry Hills,
whose appearance, covered as they are to the very summit, with foliage of every kind and description,
is most imposing, adding a charm to the scene, at once unexpected and pleasing.
The paths of these woods, which we had not time to unravel, seem by no means strange to the lads and lasses of the neighbouring villages, many of whom we met in boats, merrily making their way for the woods, there to spend in harmless mirth a happy, and, we hope, a deserved holiday. It was amusing to hear (after they had landed and made way into the deep recesses of these wooded heights) the echo of their voices, now calling for their companions, lost in the trackless maze, and then the loud peals of laughter, occasioned by their sudden and unexpected recognition.
Absorbed in beholding the magnificence of these hills, and our attention fixed by observing the happiness of its human inhabitants, the ground is insensibly passed over, and we arrive at a part of the river within a short distance of Great Marlow, studded over with numerous little aits, on which oziers are grown, whose wild luxuriance imparts an additional charm, which, to be properly felt, must be seen. These aits form, in fact, a complete Archipelago, but on a very small scale.
1899: Quarry Woods, Francis Frith -
1880: Quarry Cottage, Henry Taunt -
Quarry Cottage, Henry Taunt, 1880
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive;
I am not sure whether this is the same cottage as the 'Quarry Wood Cottage' seen below, if it is it was given a thorough makeover.
1899: Quarry Wood Cottage. This is the cottage rented by Dame Nellie Melba for a few months.
Quarry Wood Cottage
Haddon Chambers, Dame Nellie Melba, Bertram Mackennal.
Haddon Chambers - having an affair with Dame Nellie.
Nellie Melba - the famous opera singer herself.
Bertram Mackennal - an Australian painter.
1901: The Thames Illustrated by John Leland -
... the long range of the Quarry Woods stretches towards Great Marlow.
The curve from Cookham Lock to Marlow Lock is a great and striking one, and from the top of Winter Hill,
round which the river sweeps, there is a truly magnificent view.
The Quarry Woods have not the varied charm of Cliveden, but to some they are even more attractive. There is a wild and picturesque charm about them that wins upon the beholder, and they look out over the great sweep of the river, with its eddying water to the picturesque view of Great Marlow Church and the Suspension Bridge beyond.
[ Winter Hill is South of Gibraltar Island. The greater part of Quarry Woods stretches South away from the river at Longridge ]
Quarry Wood Hall, Mortimer Menpes, 1906
1992: Skyscan's Aerial View of Quarry Woods in The Secret Thames -
Skyscan's Aerial View of Quarry Wood Hall.
Quarry Wood Hall, 2004
Quarry Wood Hall, an ornate fake castle known locally as "the cardboard castle".
Dame Nelly Melba spent a few months at Quarry Wood Cottage nearby (see above) - (and not in Quarry Wood hall as previously thought).
There is a story that Quarry Wood Hall was designed by Aubrey Beardsley (and repeated by me without thinking much about it!) but I can now find no evidence to support it. It was completed 5 years after his death in 1898 at the age of 26. However Aubrey Beardsley produced the illustrations for an edition of "Le Mort d'Arthur" and it may be that the romanticism of that book influenced the fantasy "Art Nouveau" style of the Quarry Wood Hall. If so it was perhaps modified by the equally romantic, but rather more severe, gothic movement influenced by Walter Scott.
Castles by Aubrey Beardsley
I have come across this (which is quite possibly unrelated, however the author lived at Marlow):
Crotchet Castle by Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866) -
In one of those beautiful valleys, through which the Thames (not
yet polluted by the tide, the scouring of cities, or even the minor
defilement of the sandy streams of Surrey) rolls a clear flood
through flowery meadows, under the shade of old beech woods, and
the smooth mossy greensward of the chalk hills ... in one of those
beautiful valleys, on a bold round-surfaced lawn, spotted with
juniper, that opened itself in the bosom of an old wood, which rose
with a steep, but not precipitous ascent, from the river to the
summit of the hill, stood the castellated villa of a retired
citizen. Ebenezer Mac Crotchet, Esquire ...
The more effectually to sink the Mac, he christened his villa "Crotchet Castle," and determined to hand down to posterity the honours of Crotchet of Crotchet. He found it essential to his dignity to furnish himself with a coat of arms, which, after the proper ceremonies (payment being the principal), he obtained, videlicet: Crest, a crotchet rampant, in A sharp; Arms, three empty bladders, turgescent, to show how opinions are formed; three bags of gold, pendent, to show why they are maintained; three naked swords, tranchant, to show how they are administered; and three barbers' blocks, gaspant, to show how they are swallowed ...
He was not without a plausible pretence for styling his villa a castle, for, in its immediate vicinity, and within his own enclosed domain, were the manifest traces, on the brow of the hill, of a Roman station, or castellum, which was still called the "Castle" by the country people. The primitive mounds and trenches, merely overgrown with greensward, with a few patches of juniper and box on the vallum, and a solitary ancient beech surmounting the place of the praetorium, presented nearly the same depths, heights, slopes, and forms, which the Roman soldiers had originally given them. From this cartel Mr. Crotchet christened his villa.
1881: George Leslie, "Our River" -
Nothing can be finer than Quarry Woods
1889: Jerome K Jerome, waxes quite poetic -
the river itself is at its best here.
Down to Cookham,
past the Quarry Woods and the meadows,
is a lovely reach.
Dear old Quarry Woods!
with your narrow, climbing paths,
and little winding glades,
how scented to this hour you seem
with memories of sunny summer days!
How haunted are your shadowy vistas
with the ghosts of laughing faces!
how from your whispering leaves
there softly fall the voices of long ago!
1906: G.E.Mitton -
the famous Quarry Woods, held by many to be superior even to the Clieveden Woods.
In some points they are, and not the least of these is that they are traversed by several roads, while those at Clieveden are kept strictly private.
The woods are composed almost wholly of beech, the tree that loves the chalk, here so abundant, and only a few patches of larch may be seen in clumps among them. Beginning at the water's edge, rising above the curious white castle with harled walls called Quarry Hill, now to let, the woods continue in a straight line inland, getting further and further from the river as they go.
It is difficult to say at what season of the year they are the most beautiful.
In early spring, before the buds burst, if looked at in the mass, there is to be seen a kind of purple bloom made by the myriad buds, which is not found in any mixed woods.
In spring the buds burst out into that tender indescribable green, like nothing else in the world, and the new-born leaves, suspended from their dark and almost invisible twigs, are for all the world like fronds of giant maidenhair.
In the autumn the whole ground is one blaze of rich burnt-sienna, a carpet of leaves laid so industriously that not a speck of the bare brown earth appears; and from this rise the stems smooth and straight, lichen-covered every one, and thus transformed to brilliant emerald.
Where the light strikes through the rapidly thinning branches, they have the very glow of the stones themselves.
It is an enchanted wood, and at any moment a wizard might peep out from behind one of those magic trunks.
The next page examines the View of Marlow from Quarry Woods (and of Quarry Woods from Marlow) prior to the building of the A404 -