Mongewell Boathouse 2017
"Mongewell" rhymes with "Sponge Well"!
Little of Mongewell is much seen from the river - other than the boathouse.
But if you look at the map you will see there is an inlet leading up a weir to a small lake and then up another weir to a larger lake.
John Taylor the Water Poet, in 1632 has an extremely 'over the top' description of the virtues of the water here. He calls it MONGEWELL SPA (well actually 'Mungrill Spaw').
I am puzzled - did John Taylor make it up (he was capable of doing just that) - or has this aspect of the place been completely lost? He was not a balanced author! You should be warned that his account may well owe more to his fertile imagination than to reality.
My guess - and it is a total guess - is that somebody was attempting to promote the waters as beneficial, and John Taylor decided to throw ridicule on the idea by so totally exagerating any claim that it would be discounted.
It could even mend broken heads! (And Taylor says - if you doubt that - break your head and try for yourself!)
And as to what it could do for young ladies - I leave to you to discover below!
Private Lake at Mongewell
from THAME ISIS by John Taylor, 1632
[ I have modernised the spellings ]
From [ Wallingford ] our Oars did down the river draw,
Until we came unto a Mongewell Spa,
A Bath, a Spring, a Fountain, or a Rill,
That issues from the bowels of a hill,
A hill it may be termed, or demi-mountain,
From out whose entrails springs this new-found fountain,
Whose water (clear as Crystal, sweet as honey,)
Cures all diseases (except want of money,)
It helps the Palsy, Cramp, or Apoplexy,
Scab scurf, or scald, or dropsy if it vex ye,
The Plurisy, the Lethargy, Strangury,
It cures the Cataract, and the Stone assure ye;
The headache, Megrim, Canker, or the Mumps,
Mange, Murrians, Meazles, Melancholy dumps,
It is of virtue, vigor, and of force
To drive all maladies from man or horse;
Helped of a Tertian ague I saw one,
Weak, and not worth the ground he went upon)
Who drank the water mingled with the clay,
And presently the Ague ran away;
It cures an old sore, or a bruised blow;
It made the deaf to hear, the lame to go;
One dumb came thither, and straightway disputed,
And on the trees are crutches executed;
To heal green wounds it hath such Sovereign power,
It cured a broken pate in half an hour,
Which sconce was cracked on purpose to th'intent,
To try the vertue of the Element.
If any man imagine I do lie,
Let him go thither, break his pate and try.
Some say cracked maidenheads are there new soldered,
I'm sure the hill with beggars is embroidered,
And all those beggars are with little cost,
With lice and scabs embroidered and embossed;
And as it were the Well of Aristotle,
The water is far fetched in many a bottle,
The clay mixed with the liquor kills the Corns,
Ah could it cure some Cuckolds of their horns,
It would have patients out of every climate,
More than my patience could endure to rime at,
And had it but the virtue to surcease
Some clamorous tongues, and make them hold their peace
Thousands of husbands would their wives send thither;
That they might be recovered all together.
Apothecaries I lament your lots,
Your medicines now will mould in Gallipots,
Your drugs with barbarous names unbought will lie,
And waste and languish in obscurity,
'Twill beggar all the Quacksalvers outright,
And all our Mountebanks are undone quite,
So what's become of me? can any tell?
Good Reader helpe me out of this strange well;
For with my pen its praise did mean to touch,
And it (I fear) hath made me write too much,
Which if I have, let your constructions be,
Blame the strange working waters and not me:
But he that says that I do over-do,
Let him go thither and he'll do so too;
Well farewell, Well, well fare thou, still excel,
Increase in operation, Well farewell.
Larger Lake at Mongewell
1876? "Mongewell" a poem by William Blake Atkinson
There's a quiet place where I often go
When the sun is in the west,
And the evening breezes, as they blow
O’er the trees above and the lake below,
Seem sighing themselves to rest;
Where under the bank beneath the feet
There lies a hidden well;
Where the hanging boughs the waters meet,
And the moor-hen finds a safe retreat,
And the white swan loves to dwell.
For there have I heard the cuckoo’s call,
And the lay of the nightingale,
The cooing of doves in the tree-tops tall,
And the distant sound of the waterfall
Come creeping up the vale.
And in the far-off haze I have seen
The slopes of the circling hill,
And, the arching boughs of the trees between,
The broad expanse of the meadows green
Lie peacefully and still.
I have seen the water smooth as glass,
Or the ripples o’er it fleet,
When the winds that move it as they pass
Bear the scent of dew-besprinkled grass
And the odor of flowers sweet.
I have watched the shades of twilight glide
Over the peaceful scene,
Till the stars stole forth on the heavens wide,
And the moonbeams fell on the tranquil tide
In floods of silver sheen.
O, there is no vale that ever I knew
That has such charms for me,
Where the earth assumes a brighter hue,
And the sky seems tinged with a deeper blue,
And the flowers more fair to see.
And still contented shall be my lot,
Whether I laugh or weep,
If, the busy cares of the world forgot,
I may visit that sweet, secluded spot,
Where the woods and waters sleep.
1883: St John the Baptist, Mongewell, Henry Taunt -
St John the Baptist, Mongewell, Henry Taunt, 1883
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT3933
Published in 1823 was an account of a house guest at Mongewell.
He makes no mention of any virtue of the waters - but it too was "over the top" in the sense that he found it a totally overwhelming pleasurable experience.
Memoir of A. Green Esq, 1823
We were now on our way to Mongewell, where we were invited to go by the bishop of Durham while at Bath.
I expected a place of exquisite neatness, adorned with every luxury and elegance that plants and flowers can bestow, but I did not suppose that a flat scene on the banks of the Thames could afford any thing very interesting.
I was mistaken; owing to some peculiar circumstances belonging to the place, and to the uncommon taste with which it is managed, it is strongly marked with character, and of the most pleasing kind.
Soon after entering the grounds, we saw the bishop of Durham coming towards us from a wood near the road.
He desired us to alight, and conducted us into a close walk shaded by trees and shrubs, on the side of an irregular and transparent piece of water.
We were conducted through a close plantation which encircled the lawn, to a noble avenue of elms on the banks of the Thames.
The trees are broken into elegant groupes, so as to be highly ornamental in every point of view, and they are so managed, as to afford uninterrupted shade without formality.
A root-house and other seats in this walk, afford very agreeable views of the river as it quietly pursues its course.
I rose early the next morning, August 14th, and delighted in a cool bed-room shaded by fine trees, and in the polished, calm scene from the dressing-room; a long reach of the Thames terminated by the elegant spire of Wallingford, and accompanied by the fine vista through which we walked last night, broken into graceful forms.
The banks of the river are agreeably decorated, and in a manner so congenial to the place, that I was not aware of any art having been used: yet much had been done in beautifying and defining the outline, and planting a little island; the contrast was very striking on observing the river out of the precincts of Mongewell.
Near us, a playful limpid brook was seen sparkling among the dark shade of the trees which hang over it.
The bishop of London hastened down to it, saying, that when he came to Mongewell, he was always impatient to pay his devotions to that lovely Naiad.
She emerges from the pure water we saw last night, and winds under the shade of noble elms, round a singularly beautiful flower-garden; encircles part of the lawn; hurries with lively motion past the green-house, and is soon lost in the depth and silence of the Thames.
From a shady seat close to the brook, appears, among the trees, the west end of a handsome old church: - at least such it seemed to be; and so excellent was the deception, that our eyes could not yield to our judgment when the thing was explained: the building was in reality a mill.
From this place we went to the lovely scene which had given us our first impression of Mongewell: - the mid-day sun did not rob it of a beauty; shade still prevailed, and light unfolded every pleasing part that belonged to it.
This little pellucid lake is fed by innumerable springs, which are seen bubbling up among the beautiful aquatics which decorate its bed, appearing through the transparent medium as through a glass.
The margin has all the careless graces of nature, and is fringed with rushes and wild flowers, which are as carefully preserved as the rare plants in the conservatory.
It is adorned with trees of peculiar elegance, many of them hanging over the water; and among them the weeping willow has, in many instances, a very happy effect.
A path is conducted round with elegant simplicity; now close within trees and shrubs, now on the open turf.
During the whole of this delightful round, we were protected from fervid heat by a succession of shade, and every thing that could produce coolness.
I walked alone to the lake to draw.
My station was on the turf under the shade of trees, close to transparent water, whose margin was fringed with rushes and purple flowers, and whose polished surface reflected the Grecian portico, amid the dark shade of trees.
What a delicious spot for contemplation!
Mongewell in Domesday Book
Roger de Laci holds Mongewel. There are ten hides there. Land to Ten ploughs. Of this land there are in the demesne seven hides, and therein three ploughs, and five bondmen; and six villanes with one knight and eleven bordars with six ploughs. There are two mills of forty-five shillings; and five acres of meadow. Wood one mile and a half in length, and four quarentens broad. It was worth ten pounds; now fourteen pounds.
Julius Gottlieb Gallery and Boathouse at Carmel College
Mongewell Julius Gotlieb Gallery - Listed Grade 2*,
1969-70, Sir Basil Spence
Exhibition gallery and boathouse. Designed 1968, built 1969-70 by Sir Basil Spence, Bonnington and Collins, design architect John Urwin Spence. Plinth of curving brick walls contains boathouse, with the gallery a reinforced concrete pyramid 12.2 metres square, rising to a height of 14 metres set on top. Brick paviours to roof of boathouse. The pyramid of reinforced concrete `gunite' with trowelled finish. 2 pairs of double doors to boathouse. The pyramid is pierced with triangular openings, their soffits painted in primary colours, fitted with toughened plate clerestory glazing in metal frames. Glazing at side entrance with triangular lights, and square panes fitted in board-marked triangular surround filled with coloured glass and monographed `J G'. Projecting concrete gargoyles dispel rainwater into brick pools below, part of the composition. INTERIOR: the gallery is lined with board-marked concrete, which incorporates light brackets. The room is entered down steps, which give on to a raised platform area for 3-dimensional work, surrounded by fixed concrete benches incorporated into the building. The interior of the boathouse understood to be simple, and lit by a single triangular rooflight. The building was erected as part of Carmel College, a Jewish boarding school founded in 1948 by Rabbi Dr Kopul Rosen and established at Mongewell in 1953. It is a late addition to the scheme of new buildings, most of them built in the early 1960s to the designs of Thomas Hancock, who prepared a master plan in 1960. Only the gallery and boathouse building is of special interest. It was presented to Carmel College by one of its governors, Lieutenant Commander E J Gottlieb, as a memorial to his father Julius Gottlieb, a designer in wood and patron of the Arts. The pyramidal form was chosen as appropriate to a monument, with the boathouse deliberately kept in a subordinate position. It was originally intended for the exhibition of industrial and engineering design as well as for Arts and Crafts. It is perhaps the most dramatic example of the tough, geometrical forms increasingly preferred by Sir Basil Spence as his work evolved and became more monumental in the 1960s. The small scale of this building made it perfect for the synthesis of these ideas. The building is proto-post modern for its classical geometry.
Mongewell Park was Carmel College, Jewish Independent School, 1948 - 1997.
1792: Picturesque Views on the Thames, Samuel Ireland -
A LITTLE below the town of Wallingford, at Mongewell, on the Oxfordshire side of the river, the late Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Barrington, has chosen a delightful retreat, richly embosomed, amidst a thicket of trees. Full in view of the house a beautiful verdant lawn skirts the borders of the Thames, which, gliding at a pleasing distance from it, gradually makes its course with a considerable increase of water towards the village of Moulsford, while the distant Oxfordshire hills present a beautiful termination of the scene.
1883: Mongewell Park, Crowmarsh, Henry Taunt -
Mongewell Park, Crowmarsh, Henry Taunt, 1883
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT03931
1893: Mongwell House, Francis Frith, very much redeveloped and extended since 1883 -
1881: George Leslie, "Our River" -
As Wallingford is neared, the park-like grounds of Mungwell possess fine trees and considerable beauty.
1906: G E Mitton -
The only interesting place in the stretch below is Mongewell, where a large piece of artificial water joins the river, and near it is a small church quaintly built. Shute Barrington, the well-known Bishop of Durham, married for his second wife the heiress of Mongewell, and lived here before his death.
St John the Baptist, Mongewell is a small riverside church, of possibly Norman origins, redundant, but remaining consecrated, despite having no nave roof. The chancel is watertight however, and services are still held here very occasionally.
From advertisement 2017:
Mongewell Park has a rich history with the main mansion house dating back to 1890.
The property extends to circa 31.8 hectares (78.58 acres) and currently comprises a collection of buildings that together formed the prestigious Carmel College.
The buildings are set within the extensive grounds which include open park and woodlands, a lake and private frontage onto the Thames River.
The site is bounded by open land to the north and south, by a collection of residential properties to the north east, Carmel Meadows and Mongewell Park Farm to the east, The Springs Golf Club to the south east and the River Thames to the west.
The Ridgeway ancient trackway contours the eastern boundary of the site running in a north-south direction.
(12th Century): St John the Baptist Church (now partially in ruins)
(1769-1782): Home to Shute Barrington, Bishop of Llandaff
1890 Brick mansion house built for Alexander Frazer
1916 Hospital for wounded officers in WWI
1918-1939 Occupied by Howard Gould
1939-1945 Occupied by RAF and then as hospital until end of WWII
1953-1997 Carmel College
Mongewell Synagogue- Listed Grade 2, 1969, Thomas Hancock
Mongewell Amphitheatre - Listed Grade 2, 1965, Micheal Browne
Mongewell Mansion House (1890)