1910: Bisham in Thames Villages by Charles Harper.

Bisham Abbey, Left bank

Bisham Abbey and Church, 1811

1834: Tombleson -

Bisham Church and Abbey, Tombleson, 1834

1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall


we arrive at Bisham Abbey, one of the most picturesque objects on the Thames, and also among the most venerable and interesting of all the ancient remains which time and use have consecrated. The abbey and church are in admirable "keeping"; but each has its own peculiar features. The abbey is now a modern residence, tasteful, and comfortably arranged, furnished, and decorated. The mansion is old — of the Tudor period: it was built on the site of the abbey originally a preceptory of the Knights Templars, but subsequently BISHAM CHURCH a priory for canons of the order of St. Augustine, founded by William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, in 1338. His body was interred in the church, together with that of his son William. Here also were laid the "mortal parts" of that Earl of Salisbury who died at the siege of Orleans, in 1428; Richard Neville, "the king-maker", killed at the battle of Barnet, in l470; and Edward Plantagenet, son of the Duke of Clarence, beheaded in 1499 for attempting an escape from confinement. *
* The tombs of the Hoby family, of the times of Elizabeth and James I., are now the most remarkable monuments in the church. The present mansion at Bisham was built about 1500, by the head of that family.
It is impossible to tread these grounds, sombre as they are, — for the hues of dark and heavy trees are in solemn harmony with the ancient church, and the almost as venerable mansion, — without being impressed by a degree of awe amounting to sadness. What a story might be told by those old walls, of the times when the Templars revelled in their glory!

1881:George Leslie, "Our River" continues -

The abbey itself is never quite so popular with the artists as the church and trees;  why, I do not know, for the colouring of the old house is superb, and there is a forsaken romantic look about the whole place which disposes one strongly to believe in the ghost story of the Lady Hoby, who, dressed in black and white, is said to haunt the building by way of expiation for having beaten to death the little child who blotted her writing-books.

1885: Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames:

Bisham is chiefly celebrated for its abbey, the seat of G H Vansittart, Esq., which dates from the time of King Stephen. In 1338 it became a priory. Subsequently it was given by Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves. Queen Elizabeth once resided here, under the charge of the Hobys, and appears to have had a "good time" ...
The porch and great hall, which are portions of the oldest part of the building, are exceedingly fine; and the drawing room, which contains a bay window built spcially for the Princess Elizabeth, is remarkable for some very goold old stained glass. There is a remarkable tapestry bed-chamber, with an entrance to a peculiarly constructed secret room high up in the wall;
and on the ground-floor is a very satisfactory ghost-room, which is said to be haunted by the apparition of one of the Ladies Hoby, who beat her little boy to death for inking his copies, and is now condemned to continual vain attempts to wash her own hands in a ghostly basin which goes before her as she walks. Unfortunately it is not clear whether anybody has actually seen the ghost, but it is said that, during a period of repairing, a number of blotted copy books of the time to whch the legend refers were found secreted in the room - evidence, which as ghost stories go, is quite enough for all practical purposes. ...
In the dining room is a very jovial portrait of a certain Rev.Peregrine Hoby, who appears from his complexion to have thoroughly enjoyed the good things of this life ... and the gem of the collection will be found over the mantelpiece in the shape of a brilliant portrait of Henrietta Maria, by Van Dyck.


Henrietta Maria by Van Dyck
Henrietta Maria by Van Dyck.

[ Van Dyck painted 35 portraits of Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I. Whether this is the Bisham version I leave to art historians. ]

1885: Bisham Abbey, Henry Taunt -

Bisham Abbey, Henry Taunt, 1885
Bisham Abbey, Henry Taunt, 1885
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT4843

1893:  Bisham Abbey, Francis Frith -

1893:  Bisham Abbey, Francis Frith
1893:  Bisham Abbey, Francis Frith

1901: The Thames Illustrated by John Leland -

There are few [boatmen] who have not rested on their oars to delight their eyes with the beautiful picture, of exquisite colouring, presented by the grey walls and lovely gardens of Bisham Abbey.
Some have gone ashore - as many should - to visit these attracive scenes, and to look at the pretty village with its shadowy lane and rustic cottages, of which many are overgrown with roses and honeysuckle. The trees hereabout are magnificent, enframing scenes that are not easily forgotten, and disclosing places which it may seem almost pardonable to covet.
The Abbey standing near the bank is not the house of the monks, although it has foundations, a pointed doorway, and a hall which date from those times. Tudor hands took the fragments which had been destroyed, and added gables, bays, and a turreted tower, and their work remains one of the gems of the Thames.

1906: Bisham Abbey, Mortimer Menpes -

Bisham Abbey, Mortimer Menpes, 1906
Bisham Abbey, Mortimer Menpes, 1906

Bisham Abbey Sailing & Navigation School

2004: Bisham Abbey -

Bisham Abbey 2004
Bisham Abbey in 2004

1889: Jerome K Jerome -

From Marlow up to Sonning is even fairer yet ...
Grand old Bisham Abbey, whose stone walls have rung to the shouts of the Knights Templars, and which, at one time, was the home of Anne of Cleves and at another of Queen Elizabeth, is passed on the LEFT bank just half a mile above Marlow Bridge.
Bisham Abbey is rich in melodramatic properties.  It contains a tapestry bed-chamber, and a secret room hid high up in the thick walls.  The ghost of the Lady Hoby, who beat her little boy to death, still walks there at night, trying to wash its ghostly hands clean in a ghostly basin.
Warwick, the king-maker, rests there, careless now about such trivial things as earthly kings and earthly kingdoms; and Salisbury, who did good service at Poitiers.

1992: Bondig Bank given to the Thames Society.
[ According to Temple Mill Island During the reign of Edward the Confessor, the Manor [of Bustleham which became Bisham] was held by Bondig, who was a horse thane or constable.

Bondig Bank, a beautiful stretch of riverbank opposite Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, is situated halfway between Marlow and Temple locks.
Miss Margaret Dickinson, a relative of the last private owner of Bisham Abbey, and a long time member of the Society, donated this stretch of bank to the Society in 1992.
A landscape architect who recently visited the bank, expressed her delight to see that the Society had planted reeds and spiral willows to prevent bank erosion and in her opinion, more of the bank should be protected in this way.
There is always work to be done, in particular, path and fence repairs together with pollarding of the willows, in order to maintain the bank as a place to walk and enjoy, as well as being the perfect habit for birds, plants and insect life.
There are two benches situated on the bank, one in memory of Mr John Parton who founded the Society in 1962 and the other in memory of Mr Derek Simmonds, who was a committee member of the Middle Thames Branch for many years.
It is the aim of the Society to manage the bank in such a way as to encourage plants and wildlife. In May 2006 Roger and Frances Wilding of the Wycombe Wildlife Group, conducted a survey on behalf [of the Thames Society] and suggested that in some areas, the stinging nettles should be pulled up rather than strimmed to encourage more attractive flowering wild plants local to the area.
Anyone interested in helping with the maintenance of the bank or with any specialist knowledge on bank management please contact the River Thames Society Administrator.