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Title: Middlesex - Painted by John Fulleylove; described by A.R. Hope Moncrieff
Author: Moncrieff, A.R. Hope
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          BY THE SAME ARTIST


     =THE HOLY LAND.= Painted by JOHN FULLEYLOVE, R.I. Described by Rev.
     JOHN KELMAN, M.A. 92 Full-page Illustrations, mostly in colour.
     Price =20s.= net.

     =OXFORD.= Painted by JOHN FULLEYLOVE, R.I. Described by EDWARD
     THOMAS. 60 Full-page Illustrations in colour. Price =20s.= net.

     =WESTMINSTER ABBEY.= Painted by JOHN FULLEYLOVE, R.I. Text by Mrs. A.
     MURRAY SMITH. 21 Full-page Illustrations in colour. Price =7s. 6d.=
     net.

     =EDINBURGH.= Painted by JOHN FULLEYLOVE, R.I. Text by ROSALINE
     MASSON. 21 Full-page Illustrations in colour. Price =7s. 6d.= net.

     =GREECE.= Painted by JOHN FULLEYLOVE, R.I. Described by Rev. J. A.
     M‘CLYMONT, M.A., D.D. 75 Full-page Illustrations in colour. Price
     =20s.= net.


                          BY THE SAME AUTHOR

     =HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS.= Described by A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF. Painted
     by WILLIAM SMITH, Jun. 40 Full-page Illustrations in colour. Price
     =10s.= net.

     =BONNIE SCOTLAND.= Described by A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF. Painted by
     SUTTON PALMER. 75 Full-page Illustrations in colour. Price =20s.=
     net.

     =SURREY.= Described by A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF. Painted by SUTTON
     PALMER. 75 Full-page Illustrations in colour. Price =20s.= net.


                             PUBLISHED BY

                 A. AND C. BLACK, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON

                               MIDDLESEX

                                AGENTS


    =AMERICA=      THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                     64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

    =CANADA=       THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD.
                     27 RICHMOND STREET WEST, TORONTO

    =INDIA=        MACMILLAN & COMPANY, LTD.
                     MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                     309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA

[Illustration: CLOCK COURT,

HAMPTON COURT PALACE]



                               MIDDLESEX

                      PAINTED BY JOHN FULLEYLOVE,
                    R.I. · DESCRIBED BY A. R. HOPE
                        MONCRIEFF· PUBLISHED BY
                        ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
                      SOHO SQUARE, LONDON. MCMVII

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                       _Published October, 1907_



PREFACE


Middlesex, squeezed up as it is among more expansive beauties, and too
much overshadowed by the chimneys of Greater London, may not be thought
of as a show county. But no shire need hang its head that contains such
scenery, still hardly spoiled, as can be found about Hampstead Heath,
Enfield Chase, Harrow Weald, and the leafy heights of Pinner, with many
islets of pleasant greenery not yet drowned in the brick-and-mortar
deluge. Its very misfortune of being so near a rich city contributes one
feature of ornament in notably frequent parks, pleasure grounds, and
gardens. Then its hills, vales, and woods can boast a special interest
in having perhaps inspired more of our great poets than has any larger
English county. The writer has explored it in every corner, marking out
charms often neglected by those who hurry over its dusty or muddy high
roads to reach neighbouring bounds that have not always a better right
to give themselves airs of rurality.



CONTENTS


                                      PAGE
CHAPTER I

LONDON’S COUNTY                         1

CHAPTER II

HAMPSTEAD AND HIGHGATE                 17

CHAPTER III

THE GREAT NORTH ROAD                   39

CHAPTER IV

EDMONTON AND ENFIELD                   53

CHAPTER V

ABOUT WATLING STREET                   76

CHAPTER VI

HARROW AND PINNER                      92

CHAPTER VII

THE WESTERN ROADS                     109

CHAPTER VIII

THE THAMES BANK                       126

CHAPTER IX

BEATING THE BOUNDS                    149



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


1. CLOCK COURT, HAMPTON COURT PALACE                       _frontispiece_

     FACING PAGE

2. THE GREAT AVENUE, HAMPTON COURT                                     4

3. ST. PAUL’S FROM HAMPSTEAD                                          20

4. CHURCH ROW, HAMPSTEAD                                              24

5. THE SPANIARDS ROAD, HAMPSTEAD                                      28

6. HIGHGATE                                                           36

7. HIGHGATE FROM PARLIAMENT HILL FIELDS                               40

8. EDMONTON CHURCH                                                    60

9. ENFIELD                                                            64

10. HENDON                                                            80

11. RUINED CHURCH AT STANMORE                                         88

12. HARROW                                                            96

13. PINNER                                                           104

14. OLD MANOR HOUSE, NEAR ICKENHAM                                   112

15. UXBRIDGE                                                         116

16. SYON HOUSE, BRENTFORD: GARDEN FRONT                              120

17. HIGH STREET, TWICKENHAM                                          128

18. THE DIANA FOUNTAIN, BUSHEY PARK                                  132

19. HAMPTON COURT PALACE: SOUTH FRONT                                136

20. KEW BRIDGE FROM BRENTFORD                                        148

_Sketch-map of the county at end of volume._



MIDDLESEX



I

LONDON’S COUNTY


Fresh from having sounded Surrey’s praise, I find myself called on to
put a new barrel into my organ for the tune of Middlesex. At once comes
to mind a scene in a petty sessions court, where it was a certain
lawyer’s business to tear to rags the character of a witness on the
opposite side, as he did with professional gusto. But when the next case
came on, it was the turn of this damaged witness to stand in the dock;
then the lawyer himself led the laugh raised by his announcement: “I
appear for the prisoner, your worships!” Clients must reckon with such
awkward chances where a small knot of country solicitors divide the
alternation of blowing hot and cold on the course of justice.

At the time I thought this particular client unfairly used; but it
occurs to me that I am now in much the same plight as was his turncoat
champion. In that volume on Surrey I had not foreseen how I was to hold
a brief for Middlesex, with which I then made some odious comparisons,
and called Cobbett to witness, in his downright way, against the latter
county as “all ugly.” Now, we hack-writers, a poor but more or less
honest tribe, do not pump up sweet or bitter so easily as those
fountains of legal eloquence that at the Old Bailey or elsewhere stand
ready to spout high moral indignation, touching emotion, and
jury-bamboozling argumentation for whichever party may be first to put a
fee in their slot. The literary conscience being less elastic, I have
nothing for it but to acknowledge that, in the heat of advocacy for
Surrey, I was led into speaking with too little respect of its neighbour
across the Thames. As for my witness, counsel on the other side might
easily show that he had an itch for venting random abuse, that on
occasion he vilipended the fairest parts of his beloved Surrey, and that
he lived in the flattest and tamest corner of the slandered county. As
for myself, casting off the metaphor of wig and gown, I humbly and
heartily cry _peccavi_, I recant my error, and in the following sheets
will stand to do ample penance for having said any word that might bring
a blush of resentment to the cheek of Middlesex. What I may have hinted
to its disparagement was spoken in haste, without malice, and I trust
fully to explain it away after the example of that courtly German tutor
who, on his princeling pupil translating _albus_ as “black,” remarked,
“Quite so, your Transparency--black, but not indeed absolutely black;
rather verging on grey--one might say light grey, or even white, if his
Serene Highness will graciously allow.”

In sober earnestness, as English counties go, there is little need of
apology for Middlesex, which, if not ranking as a show county, and
certainly not so charming, on the whole, as Surrey, has some bits hard
to match. It may be truly said of this green-robed damsel that “when she
is good she is very, very good,” and that when not so good, she is
seldom “horrid.” The worst of it is flats fit for market-gardens and
football fields, of which the largest stretch extends on the west side
of London. Yet here, too, one is seldom out of sight of some pleasant
rise, some oasis of park wood, some straggling line of hedgerow timber;
and even that most dreary edge of the county, the marshlands of the Lea,
is overlooked by the heights of Clapton and Enfield. The general
character is a gently undulating surface, swelling more boldly in the
heights north of London, and in the ridge above Stanmore, where, at its
junction with Hertfordshire, Middlesex reaches a highest point of about
500 feet. The most marked features are those two lines of high ground,
the latter walling in the north side and curving round on the
north-west, then between them the basin of the Brent, in which stand up
isolated hills like that of Harrow.

So far as size goes, Middlesex has little to boast of, being the
smallest but one of English counties, not half so big as Surrey. A
winter day’s stroll would bring us through its greatest length, and at
one point it might be stepped across in a couple of hours. On the other
hand, its smaller area has a considerably larger population than
Surrey’s, even excluding its bigger half of the Metropolitan area. But
more thickly packed as it is with suburbs and villages, farms and
factories, Middlesex is not so well off as Surrey for good old
independent towns, and for capital has to content itself with the shabby
squalor of Brentford. London seems to have cast its shadow on this side
so as to stunt the growth of puny boroughs. Another contrast between the
two counties is in shape, Surrey being, on the whole, more compactly
contained than its sprawling neighbour. But the most striking difference
is that of soil, Surrey marked off in zones of clay, chalk, and sand,
that give its special ornament of dimpled variety, while Middlesex shows
mainly a smug face of London clay, only here and there spotted by sandy
pimples, gravelly scabs, rare warts of rock, or more frequent freckles
of brick earth, in most parts interlarded with the patches and cosmetics
applied by elaborate culture.

This much-enamelled nymph wears, perhaps, a too monotonous dress of
green, hay and market vegetables being now the chief crops of Middlesex,
though time was when its “Pure Vale” had a name for the best wheat in
England to make flour for the royal larder. Yet the supply of London
Haymarkets and Covent Gardens has not blighted its most common beauty of
“hedgerow elms on hillocks green.” It can be pronounced, indeed, a very
well-wooded county, studded with parks and gardens, and richly laced
with avenues,

[Illustration: THE GREAT AVENUE, HAMPTON COURT]

looking like fragments of that great Middlesex forest which once covered
all its heights, when the valleys were marshy wildernesses, and the most
eligible residential quarters such island camps and clearings as have
left their traces on Ludgate Hill and Brockley Hill at either end. For a
good time back the advantages of ornamental planting have been liberally
bestowed on a shire where Defoe could reckon not less than three
thousand houses “which in other Places would pass for Palaces, and most
if not all the Possessors whereof keep Coaches,” not to speak of myriads
of gigmanity.

One glory may be claimed without question by London’s chief
county--which, of course, is to be distinguished from the County of
London--that English literature must be full of scenes and images drawn
from fields that lay within a walk of Grub Street. Till the last
generation or two we find our poets more at home on the north side of
the Thames, not a few of them, indeed, born within the sound of Bow
Bells. Milton, Pope, Addison, Johnson, Goldsmith, Gray, Keats, Byron,
Coleridge, Leigh Hunt, Lamb--such are the shades that at once come to
mind as haunting this countryside. Even within the present bounds of
London they found their whispering groves, verdant lawns, and blossoming
brakes, long buried beneath bricks and mortar, where such names as
Maiden Lane, Islington Green, Highbury Barn, or Willow Walk are like the
tombstones of beauty that lives to be a joy for ever in immortal verse.

Population and industry have wrinkled and scarred the natural features
of a county _nimium vicina Cremonæ_. London itself has spread leagues to
the north since the day when one of Miss Burney’s cits used “to take a
walk in Tottenham Court Road as far as the Tabernacle or thereabouts,
and snuff in a little fresh country air.” Nearly a century earlier
“Evelyn’s Diary” sighed over two new streets behind Piccadilly--“to such
a mad intemperance was the age come of building about a city by far too
disproportionate already to the nation.” Half a century later Mary Lamb
could speak of Dalston as “quite countrified,” where her brother, in his
half-serious way, boasted of walks to such “romantic” scenes as Hackney
and Tottenham. When, beyond the northern heights, a wayfarer of our
generation thinks to have left the smoky Babylon behind him, he finds it
breaking out again in whole towns of suburban homes, through which its
trams run to the very edge of the county; for in these days of steam and
electricity London grows and multiplies not only by accretion, but
fissiparously, throwing out swarms to settle upon blooming trees and
flowery meads, whence, indeed, it is the drones that daily flit back to
make honey in the original hive, so that we had better drop this
metaphor as a stinging one.

Has any Lubbock or Maeterlinck ever had an opportunity of watching a new
crop of London homes as it rises on the ground? Here is a goodly field
that once fattened corn or turnips, but for long has been laid out in
grass, making part of a dairy farm, a horse paddock, a golf course, or
area for one of those open conical towers often standing up in the
environs of our Babylon, which might be taken for Chaldean observatories
or wickerwork idols, to be filled with hecatombs of captive victims, but
the initiated recognise them as shooting-stands for the practice of
Cockney sportsmen. Perhaps the ground is let to a cricket or football
club, and that is more like to be a sign of the doom close at hand.
These youthful athletes hold their playgrounds on more precarious tenure
than the richer amateurs of golf; then a season comes when the gates are
left open, the fences fall in gaps, the weather-stained notices to
trespassers stand in idle decay, and the local urchinry press in to
sport at will, no longer snatching a fearful joy. For weeks, months, the
field lies waste, uncared for, sodden and sorry, trampled to flaws of
bareness, with patches of rank weeds and unsavoury rubbish-heaps--a
no-man’s-land, as might seem, that in truth is signed, sealed, and
delivered to the speculative builder. Yet here still peep out daisies
and buttercups, “the little children’s dower”; and here hawthorn and
hemlock bloom bravely on the ragged hedge or choked ditch, along which
wander youth and maid, for whom nature’s poorest charms are made
glorious by the sunshine of life’s May-days, and their feet tread here
as lightly as on the heath of Hampstead or the rich lawns of Hampton,
while still they can whisper that old story, “Old and yet ever new, and
simple and beautiful always.”

But too soon wooers and playfellows are exorcised by short pipes and
horny hands digging trenches, laying foundations, piling bricks and
mixing mortar. Already the open field may be marked out in invisible
streets, labelled with titles for which the builders have much ado to
draw on their invention, one erecting a chain of castles in the air,
another completing a series of abbeys, a third affecting historic
surnames, while a fourth may invoke famous writers or heroes of the
hour, and it saves trouble when some local landmark can be pressed into
service as godfather. Soon, over broken waves of grass, emerge the brick
reefs wrought by trades-union zoophytes. The rows of houses rise like an
exhalation, story on story. Lath and plaster, jousts and beams, stucco,
slates take their place as if by _hey presto!_ and where you walked on a
spring evening along some puddled footpath, or some trickling rill, in
the height of summer you must pick your steps on incomplete pavements of
Brook Terrace or Oak Avenue, again coming upon that young couple who,
earlier in the season, were all eyes for one another, but now are fain
to bend their united looks upon the high-pitched proclamations of
house-agents and the fluttering hopes of “orders to view.”

Almost as soon as run up the houses may be taken. Builders’ carts are
succeeded by furniture-vans; bare window after window blossoms out with
blinds, flower-pots, faces watching new neighbours coming in turn to
their ordeal of broken crockery, broken promises of tradesmen, struggles
with furniture that must be forced to fit, clashing of tempers and
tastes that ought to harmonize, ends that should be made to meet. And
as these young households settle down, so does the colony clear up its
litter. Now the dovetailed dwellings may be numbered, that at first,
perhaps, stood precariously independent as “Honeymoon Cottage” or what
not, six-roomed “Chatsworths,” two-storied “Abbotsfords,” veritable “De
Vere Mansions,” housing a dozen Smiths and Browns. Gaps are filled,
rough edges are rounded off, roadways are beaten smooth; one by one are
barred the footpath short cuts, on which smart or smug husbands and
brothers, with some salt of youthful sport in them, made hasty morning
spurts to the nearest station. Their evening return is guided by lines
of gaslights to the welcoming door, at which will be handed in so many
circulars, and among them, too soon, demand-notes for rates and taxes.

In the intervening hours, the rawly-paved streets are somewhat silent,
but for cheery whistling of butchers’ and bakers’ boys, here and there
echoed by the tinkling of pianos on the hire system, now and then
drowned by the postman’s knock or the rattling of commercial Jehus, who
by-and-by have to look out for perambulators. And ah! at times there
comes a gloomier van to doors that must open for grief as well as for
joy; then poor comfort it is to aching hearts if their dear ones have
not so far to travel to that freshly laid-out cemetery that makes such a
weary journey from the inner parts of London, where not even the dead
may rest. But if one go-cart be turned into a household tombstone,
neighbour mothers are happier in setting on their legs a brood of
future citizens, who will grow up to know nothing of this suburb but as
a great toy-box of bricks and mortar.

For New Kensington, East Hampstead, or whatever title it assumes, has
pushed out apace till its spreading lava-flow half hides the scattered
hamlets or groups of tumble-down cottages which may thus be preserved
for a time like flies in amber. For example, look into the back roads of
Tottenham, or beside the church of Walham Green, where to-day a
Juggernaut procession of motor-cars would soon crush the
eighteenth-century poet who still berhymed this “green” as truly rural.
Your new district may well have an old church to make its moral centre,
perhaps in some out-of-the-way corner of the parish; then spick and span
fanes, in each shade of Anglicanism, bring their services within easy
reach of any householder; and chapels of various denominations follow
suit, from tin little Bethels to imitation Gothic towers and Vandal
spires. Even before the perambulators peeped out on fine days, doctors’
lamps and door-plates began to shine at corners not taken up by the
flare of a public-house. Babels of school buildings rise above private
roofs. Galaxies of shops break out along the main thoroughfares,
promoted from “Lanes” to “High Roads” or “Broadways”; and ere their
fronts have grown dingy, their windows glow on red and green omnibuses
plying to some Crown or Spotted Dog, whereat, before it took the style
of a hotel, the rustic borderer leisurely drank his beer and opened his
ears to strange tales of what went on in London, whose lights, if they
have not lured him into its tempting glare, now stretch out to cheer his
secluded home. The slow buses are shoved aside by tram-lines and motors,
cause as well as effect of fresh growth. Humbly neighboured mansions and
well-fenced parks are turned into public playgrounds for the young urban
district, that soon develops an obscure but noisy school of local
politics, and heaps up a debt as recklessly as any of your rich
boroughs.

Thus, in the short lifetime of a generation, some square mile or two of
fields and hedgerows has been turned into a permanent camp for one of
London’s legions. By this time our loving couple that were among its
oldest inhabitants may no longer appear in the local directory. Have
they prospered in the world, we must look for them in its Bayswaters or
Bromptons. Have they failed, let us pity their hunt through some newer
and cheaper suburb for a jerry-built roof over rheumatic bones.

    Many at seventeen their fortunes seek,
    But at three score it is too late a week!

This portentous growth is indeed past praying for. “Every wind that
blows from north or south, east or west, from India, China, America, or
Australia, feeds it; every wheel that turns at home, every colonist who
digs or watches his flocks at the antipodes, intensifies it. The marrow
of London is in the backbone of the world; its blood is the blood of
myriad kindred populations; its million hands seize upon the fruits,
the corn, the gold, the oil, and wine of every zone.” Its choice
suburbs, indeed, may be considered as stretching out to the Riviera, the
Swiss Lakes, or the Bohemian Forest. But, as yet, the county in which
the greatest of modern cities chiefly lies has a remnant of rustic
charms it cannot be too coy of displaying to the cosmopolitan multitude
pent up within its spreading bounds. Nor are these busy throngs blind to
the charms of Nature. As willingly as the yokel seeks its streets paved
with gold and gleaming with lights, so the smoked Londoner loves to wash
his eyes in greenery, or to bask in the “good gigantic smile of the old
brown earth,” if only on a holiday stroll to Hackney Downs or Wormwood
Scrubs.

    Then thy spruce citizen, wash’d artisan,
    And smug apprentice gulp their weekly air:
    Thy coach of hackney, whisky, one-horse chair,
    And humblest gig through sundry suburbs whirl,
    To Hampstead, Brentford, Harrow make repair;
    Till the tired jade the wheel forgets to hurl,
    Provoking envious gibe from each pedestrian churl.

    Some o’er thy Thamis row the ribbon’d fair,
    Others along the safer turnpike fly;
    Some Richmond Hill ascend, some scud to Ware,
    And many to the steep of Highgate hie.

To leave his beehive behind him, the townsman of this age has to go
further afield; further and faster he does go by his trains, trams, and
other machines such as those foreseen by Wordsworth in a spirit of
prophesy, on which Byron’s “spruce citizen” and “snug apprentice” can
now

                        Glance along
    Rapid and gay, as if the earth were air,
    And they were butterflies to wheel about
    Long as the summer lasted.

Or those foretold by an earlier poet:

    The filthy beasts that never chew the cud
    Still grunt and squeak and sing their troublous song,
    And oft they plunge themselves the mire among;
    But ay the ruthless driver goads them on,
    And ay of barking dogs the bitter throng
    Makes them renew their unmelodious moan.

Yet it is doubtful if dusty cyclist or goggled motorist see as much of
the country as their slow-going grandfathers, and that not only because
there is less of open country to see. In their haste to get away from
the streets they might as well travel on the Underground Railway. These
speedy wayfarers--“machines themselves, and governed by a clock”--go in
the traces of a road, blinkered by its rows of suburban houses, and
ready to drop for fatigue when taken out of the shafts of pace-making
and record-breaking. Nay, I could name one philosopher of note who on
Sundays became peripatetic, but never thought of leaving his hard-paved
rounds till I opened his eyes by turning him on to grass for a dozen
miles, by ways undreamt of in his philosophy.

Among authors, only popular novelists or journalists can afford to keep
gigs, not to speak of motor-cars and the like, so one need not make a
virtue of necessity. But no one should presume to write a book about
Middlesex without having tramped all over its hills and dales on the
green lanes and winding field-paths, too many of which have been
obliterated, but many are guarded more carefully than ever now that the
sons of Mammon or of Nimrod would fain enclose them against the like of
me. In taking these quiet byways between bustling highroads, I cannot
help observing how few persons one meets, and these few--if not
whispering lovers, for whom their primrose path cannot be too
lonely--are apt to be men of my own time of life rather than our
juniors, who, when the hoardings and the gate-money are not too high,
may be seen packed into fields for their beloved sports, some score of
them playing, perhaps, while some hundreds or thousands take the
exercise of noisily looking on.

They may call me an old fogey, these spry youngsters who follow so
keenly their elaborate pastimes, but I laugh in my beard and chuckle to
think how in its day our generation was more active, though it made less
fuss about its amusements. Schoolboys of that day did not need to be
harnessed and driven to their games, undertaken with spontaneous mirth
rather than with solemn zeal. We never wasted a holiday in applauding
the feats of professional champions, and our wholesome spring, surely,
had a better chance of a lusty winter. I sometimes go out a country
ramble with a contemporary who has sons brought up at schools that make
a religion of athletics; then we have to leave his young hopefuls
behind, lest they should be a clog to our gouty feet. I never--more’s
the pity--can get any son of mine to encounter the stiles and the
clay-bottoms of Middlesex. Such simple recreation is voted “too much
fag” by an age that has little relish for sport unless spiced with
excitement, costume, renown--that is, indeed, changing the very meaning
of sport from doing something oneself to seeing something done by the
idols of the gate and the gallery.

A popular writer has braved his public to flout this craze for athletic
performances as distracting “muddied oafs” and “flannelled fools” from
the great game of war. I would more humbly put in a word of lament over
the decay of walking, when even the men of my time have too much gone
astray after golf, which is simply an intermittent walk, attended with
considerable expense, made in the unprofitable and unprofited society of
caddies, and spoiled at every turn by the anxiety of driving little
balls into ugly holes with instruments which a scientific observer has
pronounced “singularly ill adapted for that purpose.” As for the girls
who stretch their limbs at this game, as at hockey or tennis, they may
be not so ill employed, since walking over Middlesex fields seems
contra-indicated by their boots and other impediments.

The right way to see and love Middlesex is at the jog-trot pace of
Shanks’ mare, breaking no wind and no records. In my guide, _Around
London_, I have traced many paths which are also pointed out to willing
eyes in other booklets of the kind. The present volume’s aim is to take
a more general and sweeping view of this county; yet I hope, as we
trudge along together, to give the reader many hints as to where and
how he may explore its often hidden charms. As for matters of history,
statistics, geology, and so forth, I refer him to the tomes in which I
should have to look for such information, only advising him that a
certain encyclopædia must not be trusted in its flattering of Middlesex
soil as “mainly gravelly.” Let him not go by that authority when
choosing his boots for a tramp here. Nor should they be seven-leagued
boots, as thus, in every direction, their first stride would take him
over the border of a neighbour shire. On one side, indeed, less than
four miles beyond the limits of a London borough, he can shake off the
dust of this county in Herts; on another, he has only to cross the Lea
to be in Essex before he seems to have got clear of London streets; on a
third, any bridge of the Thames will take him into Surrey, from which,
when all is said and seen, he may be in no haste to get back into
Middlesex.



II

HAMPSTEAD AND HIGHGATE


The Switzerland of Middlesex is a name that has been fondly given to
those heights closing the vista up northward openings from Oxford
Street. Hampstead ranks as a London borough, and so should stand out of
the scope of our survey. But we cannot pass by the cream of the county’s
scenery, even though it has been half spoiled to make the choicest of
suburbs, a crowd of homes for the classes, and a holiday resort for the
masses, with suburblets and dependencies of its own in once outlying
hamlets like South Hill, North End, Child’s Hill, Belsize, and so on,
not to speak of adjoining districts that cling to its skirts by such
usurped titles as South Hampstead and West Hampstead.

Middlesex has other hills as high and bold as Hampstead, which owes its
eminent amenity to a topping of Bagshot sand, here rarer than in Surrey,
giving a dry and broken surface, natural nursery for heath and
copsewood. Heedless digging out of sand and gravel has but increased the
picturesque irregularity; and even the enclosures filched from the
common in former days add a charm of contrast, where the richer
greenery of private groves or avenues masses itself above the scarred
mounds and hollows, so wildly overgrown, so deviously threaded by
embowered tracks among thorny tangles, bosky knolls, thickets of bracken
and broom. It takes a poet to describe the manifold aspects of this
half-tamed wilderness:

              Thine ever-shifting looks surprise:
    Streets, hills, and dells, trees overhead now seen,
    Now down below, with smoking roofs between--
    A village revelling in varieties.
    Then northward, what a range, with heath and pond,
    Nature’s own ground; woods that let mansions through,
    And cottaged vales, with billowy fields beyond,
    And clump of darkening pines and prospects blue.

The “village” itself, grown to a borough of more than eighty thousand
people, may well be said to “revel in varieties,” all the more now that
its smart, newer streets make a frame for the intricate ascents on which
stately mansions, snug villas, and tumbledown cottages stand huddled
together; and trim suburban roads are still here and there lined with
the remains of park-like avenues. Hampstead is much changed in our time,
but, more conscientiously than most suburbs, it clings to fragments of
the past, unwilling to destroy scenes and buildings whose embalmed
memories go to keep up its rents.

This favourite purlieu of London has larger books than mine devoted to
its history. Through the mists of the past is dimly seen a _homestead_
clearing in the great Middlesex forest, that became a manor of
Westminster Abbey and a hunting-ground of our kings; then, by-and-by, a
resort of Londoners when they could stroll out safely across the open
fields of St. Pancras and Marylebone. At the time of the Plague it made
a camp of refuge, as it had done from a great flood of the Thames in the
previous century, and would do again when, on its wooded heights,
homeless families looked back to the glare of the Great Fire, which they
took for a prelude of the Judgment Day. The Middlesex elections were at
one time held on the Heath, serving also for a racecourse and
fair-ground. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, when Epsom and
Tunbridge Spas set the fashion, the chalybeate well at Hampstead became
a resort, like other wells about London that had long enjoyed a name as
miraculous remedies. The Hampstead Spa, still commemorated in Well Walk,
soon came to be a scene of idle diversion and heady revels, more like to
kill than cure, about which the village of lodgings grew fast, as Defoe
notes, “even on the very steep of the Hill, where there’s no walking
Twenty yards together without Tugging up a Hill or straddling down a
Hill.” Several other pleasure-grounds sprang up in the vicinity, such as
the once-famed Belsize Gardens, the most noble that Pepys ever saw,
before the mansion was turned into a “folly-house,” precursor of
Ranelagh and Vauxhall. This suburban Vanity Fair advertised among its
attractions “twelve stout fellows completely armed to patrol between
Belsize and London”--a guard which had to be increased as robbers
swarmed like flies round the concourse of gamblers. The sign of the
“Flask” preserves the name of another resort in vogue for a time. Our
Bank Holiday Saturnalia seem a flicker of those more expensive
high-jinks that went out in a snuff of scandal. The Long Room of the
Wells is said to have been turned into a chapel, of better repute than
their Sion Chapel, which, like the Fleet, was once notorious for illicit
marriages. After ranking for a time as “one of the politest public
places in England,” in the latter part of the century Hampstead seems to
have had a quieter reputation, when the philanthropist Thomas Day
brought his wife here to be out of the world; and it figures as a
secluded spot in the _Fool of Quality_, that Sandford-and-Mertonish
romance so much admired by Charles Wesley and Charles Kingsley. Here
also are laid some of the scenes of _Clarissa Harlowe_, and of
_Evelina_.

By this time Hampstead was attracting famous residents as a retreat from
the smoke and din of London. It had borne a humble name for laundresses
from a time when they might have ducked Falstaff in its ponds. In the
age of wigs and waistcoats we have glimpses of Steele, Addison,
Goldsmith, Johnson, the Kit Cat Club, and, indeed, almost all the
literary notabilities, as occasional lodgers or visitors; then about a
century ago Hampstead drew together a galaxy of artists and poets, who
found inspiration in its lovely surroundings. A later inhabitant,
Coventry Patmore, tells us how Millfield Lane, leading round Caen
Wood

[Illustration: ST. PAUL’S FROM HAMPSTEAD]

to Highgate, used to be known as Poets’ Lane, so often was it trod by
sons of the Muses, whose publishers sometimes drove or rode to town from
more spacious dwellings than sheltered Keats and Leigh Hunt. Caen or Ken
Wood, which at one time belonged to the unpopular Lord Bute, reminds us
of a constellation of lawyers, when the great Lord Mansfield settled
here, and had for neighbour on the heath the eloquent Erskine; while
Rosslyn House, lower down, was the seat of Wedderburn, another judge
whose name is held in less honour--all three poor Scottish cadets who
grew fat on the English bench. In our generation, its rents and rates
are like to keep poets out of this paradise; but it is still well
stocked with successful Scotsmen, and is said to make a promised land
for the chosen people of the Old Dispensation, as Defoe says it did in
his own day.

Among the many authors once at home here was William Howitt, to whose
_Northern Heights of London_, or to books like Park’s _History_,
Baines’s _Records_, and Mrs. White’s _Sweet Hampstead_, I must refer my
reader for a long list of celebrities. It is half a century ago since
Howitt looked from his beloved heights, too truly prophesying how soon
the open view would be engulfed in “this monster development of burnt
clay, and buried for ever beneath its dingy piles! Look along the feet
of these yet green and smiling hills--east and west, far and wide comes
up, as it were, a giant army to desolate and trample them down. See that
front rank of the great house-army, far as the eye can reach before
you, and on either hand, coming on with a step ‘steady as time and
inexorable as death.’” The same writer records attempts of successive
Sovereigns to limit the growth of the capital, but no Canute could stay
the advance of its swelling population, sucked together from all ends of
the earth. Yet, since his day, something has been done here to stem the
tide that threatened to drown so much beauty. The Heath itself stands up
like an Ararat above the deluge of brick and mortar, rescued from
further encroachment and spoliation, protected by Act of Parliament,
even extended of late by reclamations or acquisitions of private
property thrown into the public demesne.

Our way to the top is now to be made easy by a tube railway. Hitherto
the ascent has been a true pilgrimage, the nature of the ground, as well
as the gentility of the place, not much encouraging public conveyances.
The titular Hampstead road, as we know, mounts from Camden Town, past
Chalk Farm, once a quiet spot notorious for duels, now a noisy railway
depot; up Haverstock Hill, where a street name recalls the abode of Sir
Richard Steele; then by Rosslyn Hill to the steep and irregular winding
of the High Street. Hampstead Heath Station lies off to the right, at
South End, the foot of the Lower Heath. Further to the other side,
through the Belsize district, is the Swiss Cottage Station of the
Metropolitan line. When this was a newly-made terminus, I lived on the
top of Hampstead Hill, and my way home was by a field-path, with a bad
name for garrotters, that is now Fitzjohn’s Avenue, the smartest and
most expensive street in North London, though architectural purists may
gnash their teeth over its eclectic amenities. Its young trees, now
beginning to give some shade to the seats along this broad avenue, lead
up to the Church quarter, where old buildings have mainly gone down
before new ones, but still Church Row shows a blotched face of mellow
comeliness from the days when Mrs. Barbauld kept a school here; and the
Soldiers’ Orphan Asylum to the right represents at least the site of
what was Bishop Butler’s home, and before him Sir Harry Vane’s.
Exploration on this side would reveal a bit of old Hampstead that may
take rank as a picturesque slum. On the other side, the slope below the
church is seamed by the devious roads of the Frognal quarter, in which
lived that lover of London and its suburbs, Sir Walter Besant. It is
well known how death cut short his preparation of a Metropolitan survey
on a huge scale. The materials he left behind him have been partly used
for a series of small volumes under the general title of _The
Fascination of London_; and in one of these, half devoted to
Hampstead,[A] we are told how the Frognal Priory that once flourished
here was a mere mock-antique folly of a middle-class Horace Walpole.

[A] _Hampstead and Marylebone_, by G. E. Mitton. Edited by Sir Walter
Besant. A. and C. Black.

Hampstead Church is more admirable for its situation than for its
structure, which dates from the eighteenth century, and shows the
peculiar feature of the chancel being at the west end. The pretty
churchyard has fine peeps of prospect and several notable graves. Here
is buried Sir James Mackintosh, the reformer so warmly praised by
Macaulay. Close to each other lie two old neighbours at Hampstead, Lucy
Aikin and Joanna Baillie, who share the fate of a literary fame brighter
for their own generation than for ours. In the church it was left to
American admirers to place a bust of John Keats, whose name has shone
far and wide since his obscure sojourn where he loved

                  To find with easy quest
    A fragrant wild, with Nature’s beauty drest.

Incledon, the singer, is buried inside. Of quaint epitaphs there appears
only one, to Mr. John Hindley. Most of the monuments are of an elegant
type, answering to Hampstead’s later character. The tomb to be first
sought out, under the south-eastern wall of the church, is Constable’s,
painter of so many scenes from his “sweet Hampstead,” which has had as
strong attraction for artists as for poets. Collins, Romney, Linnell,
Blake, Clarkson Stanfield, were some of those familiar here. In the
extension of the burial-ground across the road, by the railing at the
lower end, lie the cremated ashes of Gerald du Maurier, the popular
Punch artist, who lived at New Grove House a little way above. Sir
Gilbert Scott was not the only distinguished architect who has made his
home near Hampstead Church.

[Illustration: CHURCH ROW, HAMPSTEAD]

But we shall never get to the top if we linger beside all such memorials
of renown, which may be sought out by the help of Miss Mitton’s book
above mentioned. Heath Street, mounting from Church Row, comes into the
backbone line of High Street. Hence the explorer may lose himself in the
labyrinth of steep roads and lanes winding upwards, to come out where
the Heath opens at about its highest point, recorded by a tablet, on a
house off the right of the main road, as being level with the top of St.
Paul’s. If one stray too far to the right, the spire of Christ Church
makes a beacon towards the Lower Heath, by the edge of which is the way
up from Hampstead Heath Station, passing, below this church, the tall
elms of the Well Walk, that was the centre of Spa gaieties. If one bear
rather to the left, that course should lead out on the Judges’ Walk, a
grandly-shaded terrace looking over the West Heath and the country
beyond. This gets its name from a tradition that, in the Plague year,
the law-courts were held at Hampstead _al fresco_, suitors from infected
and non-infected quarters keeping to opposite sides of the ridge running
on from the pond at the head of our main line of ascent.

The open plateau here, marked by a round pond and a flag-staff, may be
taken as a central spot from which to orient ourselves. The view,
weather permitting, is a noble one, the most prominent feature to the
right being the dome of St. Paul’s, and to the left the spire of
Harrow-on-the-Hill, rising over the Welsh Harp Water, with, perhaps, a
glimpse of Windsor Castle. Bounded more closely to the north by the
Barnet ridge, it is said by writers of a less smoky age to take in the
Laindon Hills of Essex eastwards, and in the other direction the spire
of Hanslop, a few miles from Northampton.

The ridge road onwards separates the Upper and the Lower Heath, the
former on the left the more wildly broken expanse, the latter sloping
more barely, with squashy patches, to the line of ponds, along which it
makes an open playground. Close at hand, in the hollow to the east, peep
up the chimneys of the Vale of Health, a curious gathering of
tightly-packed houses fringed by tea-gardens and dominated by a big
public-house, the whole looking as if it did not quite know what it
meant to make of itself. This colony must have lost the sanitary
reputation it had when Leigh Hunt lived here, visited by Keats, Shelley,
and other disciples of the “Cockney Poet” school. Beside it is the
highest of the chain of ponds separating Hampstead Heath from Highgate
Fields, going to fill that “river of wells” which once ran above ground
as the Fleet, so much of a river that an eighteenth-century picture in
the Guildhall shows barges riding upon it at Holborn; and so late as
Victorian days its upper bed could be traced beside the Fleet Road that
records it below Hampstead Heath Station. From this bank of clay, with
its sand cope breaking into springs, rise other streams that flow under
London, and come to light in the park waters of the West End, their
hidden course marked by such names as Kilburn, Westbourne, Tyburn, St.
Mary-le-Bourne, Brook Street, as by the crooked shape of Marylebone
Lane. The ponds, when first formed or improved, were actually used as a
water-supply, but are now kept as a reserve in case of fire, one of
them, like one at Highgate, serving for a bathing-place.

Advancing on the ridge road, we pass “Jack Straw’s Castle,” a famous old
tavern that holds its head high after catering for patrons like Dickens
and Macready. I bear in mind nearly forty years with what dignified pity
the head waiter handed back his tip of twopence to a country parson not
duly aware of this being no common public-house. Here, to the left, goes
off at an acute angle the Hendon Road, dividing the Upper Heath into its
west and north sections. Above the latter the ridge road runs straight
on to that other old hostelry, the “Spaniards,” in the garden of which
Mrs. Bardell was arrested while carousing with her friends on the
elusive profits of her action against Mr. Pickwick. A landmark at this
further end is the conspicuous group of Italian pines that have figured
on many a canvas, so as to be perhaps the best-known feature of
Hampstead scenery. On the right of the ridge road here the Lower Heath
has a park-like aspect, borne out by a large red mansion intruding
itself towards the edge of Caen Wood. But the most richly ragged part of
the common, sweetest in blossom-time and glorious in autumn, lies to the
other side.

To see the Upper Heath at its best one should descend upon it from
outside the buildings about “Jack Straw’s Castle,” making towards the
Leg of Mutton Pond at the western edge. Keeping round this edge to the
north, one presently comes to the grounds of Golder’s Hill, seat of Sir
Spencer Wells, and after his death saved from the builder to make a
public paradise, where, indeed, as often happens in such cases, the
mansion has proved to be rather a white elephant. Beyond this, among a
cluster of refreshment-houses, across the Hendon Road, their doyen is
the “Bull and Bush,” with its old-fashioned garden, traditional resort
of Addison, Garrick, Hogarth, Sterne, and other celebrities. Next is
reached the double hamlet of North End and Wildwood, a charmingly
secluded group of cottages and mansions, one of them North End House,
famed as the gloomy retreat of the great Lord Chatham. We might hence
gain the Hendon Road up a grand avenue of chestnuts faced by lime-trees,
which is not always discovered by wanderers on the Heath. But the
leisurely explorer is advised to hold on to the common beyond the
houses, and there turn left to a knoll commanding an expanse of green,
bordered by the Hendon heights beyond the Finchley Road. At this edge of
the Heath a scheme is on foot for planting a “Garden Suburb,” as
homœopathic remedy against any eruption of vulgar building.

Still keeping to the edge of the Heath, one comes up to its northern end
by that fragmentary avenue of storm-beaten pines near which Erskine
House stands beside the “Spaniards,” according to one story so named as
having been once the residence of a Spanish

[Illustration: THE SPANIARDS ROAD, HAMPSTEAD]

ambassador, while another explanation of the sign makes its origin like
that of a more widely famed _Keller_, whose landlord was an _Auerbach_
man. At the time of the Gordon Riots this inn was kept by a man who
seems to have passed for a Spaniard among his neighbours, of one of whom
he well earned grateful favour. When Lord Mansfield’s town-house had
been burned by the mob, a body of rioters swarmed out to attack Caen
Wood, but were cunningly delayed by this landlord with free supplies of
drink till soldiers could be brought up to protect the judge’s mansion.

Beside the road onwards now swells, to the right, a noble mass of timber
in the park of the Earls of Mansfield, who still possess Caen Wood,
while they have another most enviable home at Scone Palace on the Tay.
If ever this family were driven to mend their fortune, like others of
our aristocracy, by marrying a Chicago millionaire’s daughter, they
might choose rather to sell such a valuable property, which as yet has
been kept safe from the suburban builder. But the episcopal estate on
the other side of the road has ceased to give sanctuary to Nature, as we
may see by Bishopswood Avenue, running off towards East Finchley, and
further threats of streets in this direction, though opposite the gate
of Caen Wood, below the “Spaniards,” a field-way still leads to the
“Five Bells” of Finchley.

Under the modest title of Hampstead Lane, the main road now mounts and
winds up to Highgate Church, which may be gained in other ways from
Hampstead. Round Caen Wood passes that Poet’s Lane, now too prosaically
fenced in, and leads to the Highgate Ponds, beneath a height studded
with mansions and grounds. The east side of Hampstead Heath, beyond its
line of ponds, merges into the Highgate Fields, bought for the public at
a king’s ransom, less wild than the adjacent playground, but fitter for
the games that spangle this expanse of open slopes. Towards the north
side will be seen a tree-planted tumulus, about which hangs some misty
popular legend of the flight from Boadicea’s defeat at Battle Bridge by
the Fleet River, close to King’s Cross Station. It has been opened and
explored, though not thoroughly, without any remains being discovered.
On the southern edge swells up Parliament Hill, formerly known as
Traitors’ Hill, since here the gunpowder plotters proposed to watch
their explosion, where smoke too often hides a fine view over London,
beyond the further expanse of playing-fields named from the Gospel Oak,
an old preaching station. By this height there is a way across from
Hampstead Heath Station, above which cluster the houses of South Hill,
one of several outlying suckers of this favourite suburb.

Highgate makes a worthy neighbour to Hampstead, not standing quite as
high in the world, but with a dignity and distinction of its own, and no
small wealth of treasured memories. Its steep ascents have not been so
much invaded by mere smartness; the face towards Hampstead, at least,
shows quality rather than quantity in its colonization. So, on the
height rising from a welter of lower suburbs, it better preserves the
roomy amenities of the time when “Coleridge sat on the brow of Highgate
... a kind of Magus, girt in mystery and enigma, his Dodona oak-grove
whispering strange things, uncertain whether oracles or jargon”; and
among other pilgrims to the lofty shrine came one not over-devout Scot,
who could note how “wide sweeps of flowery, leafy gardens, their few
homes mostly hidden, the very chimney-pots veiled under blossomy
umbrage, flowed gloriously downhill, gloriously issuing in wide-tufted,
undulating country, rich in all charms of field and town.”

The approaches from Lower Hampstead fall into the line of West Hill, to
the foot of which road run tramways and buses through Kentish Town, that
has undergone a certain social subsidence since from his windows here
Leigh Hunt could look out on Caen Wood. But as we hence begin the ascent
to Highgate, on the right is passed a model village, in quite baronial
style, guarding the approach to Holly Lodge, seat of the late beneficent
millionaire Lady Burdett-Coutts, whose mother was Coutts the banker’s
daughter, and her father Sir Francis Burdett, that firebrand of radical
reform, cooling down in later years so as to be taunted with his
“_re_cant of patriotism”--epigram which seems a reading backwards of
Horace Walpole’s gibe against Whitfield, who “had not recanted, only
canted.” This lady’s great wealth fell to her by inheritance through the
will of her maternal grandfather’s second wife, a marked figure in the
society of a century ago, who had been Miss Mellon the actress, and came
to be Duchess of St. Albans in the end. The lucky heiress, who perhaps
suggested Miss Dunstable in Trollope’s novels, found her hand sought by
many suitors, among them Prince Louis Napoleon; but, like Miss
Dunstable, she was long in making her choice. Her friend Queen Victoria
honoured her with a peerage in her own right; and, with national
benedictions, a place was made for her in Westminster Abbey.

Higher up, this road is bordered by many fine mansions, among which the
“Fox and Crown,” while it stood, had special license to display the
Royal Arms, in token of the gallantry of its landlord, who at the risk
of his life stopped the young Queen Victoria’s carriage when the horses
had almost run away down a hill that at any pace should be descended
with caution. On the right stands the Church, a modern one, notable for
its far-seen spire, and for the monument inside to S. T. Coleridge, who
spent his last days peacefully at No. 3, The Grove, that quiet row of
houses to the left behind the shady green, blocked up by a reservoir. He
is buried in the vaults beneath Highgate School above, which was the
site of the old church.

Below the present church the grounds of the old Mansion House on the
slope have become a cemetery, bisected by the lane coming up past Holly
Lodge. The situation of this makes it the finest of London’s
burial-grounds, having from the terrace at the top an open view over the
northern suburbs, too much blocked up by private enclosures on other
sides of the hill. Many celebrated persons lie here, from Faraday to Tom
Sayers, among them George Eliot, whose grave in the lower part is
inscribed with her own lines:

    Of those immortal dead who live again
    In minds made better by their presence.

The cemetery adjoins the beautiful park presented to his neighbours by
the late Sir Sydney Waterlow, beyond which we get on to the steeper
ascent of Highgate Hill, a line more thickly strung with historic
interest. This road comes up from the great artery of London that was
once a veritable _Hollow-way_. At the foot of the hill the Whittington
College Almshouses commemorate the name of that fortunate-unfortunate
youth who here heard Bow Bells calling him back to be Lord Mayor of
London. The very stone on which he may have sat down is seen
incorporated in a lamp-post a little way up the hill. In our day, with
his last copper, he might have rested his stiff legs in a cable tramcar,
soon carrying him above a roar of traffic that would drown Bow Bells,
even if they had not to be rung gingerly for fear of bringing down their
tower. Higher up, where Hornsey Lane goes off to Crouch End, he would
pass a Roman Catholic church and monastery, whose dome makes a landmark
from more than one point of view. Above this comes Waterlow Park, the
mansion in which, Lauderdale House, is believed to have been once
occupied by Nell Gwynne; and a brass in the wall outside marks the abode
of Andrew Marvell. On the other side of the road, Cromwell House, with
its neighbour, Ireton House, now a convalescent home, is said to have
been built by the Protector for his son-in-law Ireton. A little higher
on that side stood Arundel House, where Lord Bacon died of a chill
caught in the unlucky experiment of getting out of his coach on Highgate
Hill to stuff a fowl with snow.

At the top, beside Pond Square, which is Highgate’s quiet Charing Cross,
this road converges with those coming up by West Hill and from Hampstead
Heath. Here the “Gatehouse Inn” preserves the memory of that high gate
at which the Bishops of London, as lords of the manor, levied toll upon
vehicles passing over the hill, a privilege that appears to have been
originally granted by Edward III. to a hermit who undertook to keep the
roads in repair. His turnpike hermitage is supposed to have been on the
site of the old church, now occupied by Sir Roger Cholmeley’s school.
Till a century ago the Great North Road bravely mounted to this gate,
when from the windows of the Gatehouse could be seen a dozen other
hostelries, their common sign those famous horns that proclaimed them a
resort of junketing Cockneys, who, as well as passing travellers,
received the freedom of Highgate by “swearing on the horns.” This was a
burlesque pleasantry of more or less coarse features, which long
survived through the rites of libation kept up to the profit of that
conservative trade, the licensed victuallers. An essential part of the
ceremony was a fee drunk for the good of the house. The origin of it is
obscure, but it may have arisen as a verbal play on drinking from a
horn, as seems to have been the custom in “Drunken Barnaby’s” time. The
classic form of the oath is preserved in Hone’s _Year Book_, with an
illustration by George Cruickshank. The initiated one was called on to
swear that he would not eat brown bread if he could get white, nor drink
small beer if he could get strong, nor kiss the maid if he could kiss
the mistress, always with certain reserved cases, the conclusion being,
“Kiss the horns, or a pretty girl if you see one here, and so be free of
Highgate.” Recent research has not shown the horns exhibited over any
Highgate inn, yet no lack of girls deserving to be kissed, in strict
accordance with police regulations.

From the school the line of that old North Road drops to converge with
the modern one coming round the east side of the hill. The latter may be
gained at once down Southwood Lane, which has pretty peeps between its
houses, and at the lower end some fine old trees, relics of a noble
seat. This brings us into the present highroad at Highgate Station,
where turns off the way to Muswell Hill beside Highgate Woods, a trim
pleasure-ground of lawns and low thickets traversed by arched alleys and
glades, in which one might well forget being not yet clear of London
suburbs. On the opposite side of the Muswell Hill Road, Queenswood makes
another shady park, its groves well displayed in the hollow formerly
known as Churchyard Bottom. Through it one comes out in view of Hornsey,
where a fresh forest of houses appears beyond a gap of green
playing-fields.

This young Middlesex borough of over 70,000 people must not be passed
over without notice, though it does not hold up its head like its
“classy” neighbours. Yet Hornsey is as old a place as any of them, once
boasting lordly seats and parks, now turned into streets and
playgrounds; and while its character is rather for respectable snugness
and smugness, it has still some picturesque nooks. Indeed, proud
Highgate itself, into which runs also the London parish of St. Pancras,
is in large part a municipal dependency, as it was once a chapelry of
the parish whose name seems better represented by the old form
Harringay, “field of hares,” as it may well have been, like its namesake
at the opposite end of the county. Hornsey’s new Church overshadows an
ivied tower of the old one, beside which the most distinguished tomb is
that of Samuel Rogers, the banker-poet, whose first pleasures of memory
belonged to Stoke Newington Green. Tom Moore lived for a time at Muswell
Hill, in a cottage named “Lalla Rookh,” said to have been formerly a
rural retreat of Abraham Newland, the most popular prose author of his
day as signing the Bank of England notes. I mentioned him in _Surrey_ as
the traditional godfather of Newland’s Corner, but I see the _Dictionary
of National Biography_ allows him no _villeggiatura_ further than
Highbury, and states that he never slept out of the bank till his
retirement. Let the local antiquaries look into this matter, one of
whom, Mr. R. O. Sherington, has published an interesting little book
about the parish. All traces of antiquity

[Illustration: HIGHGATE]

are like to be swept away by a growth so rapid that Mother Shipton’s
portent, Highgate Hill standing in the middle of London, would appear
now no such impossibility, if the city did not spread as fast in other
directions.

But the lion of Hornsey is the Alexandra Palace, that stands more
conspicuous than beautiful on Muswell Hill, most of it, indeed, in the
adjoining parish of Wood Green. This northern rival of the Crystal
Palace, opened a generation ago, at the same distance of six miles from
Charing Cross, had a career of intermittent unprosperity as a
speculation, but now that it is public property its fortunes seem to be
on the mend. The building contains much the same quasi-educational
attractions as the Crystal Palace, combined with all the fun of a fair.
Inside is boasted the “greatest cycle track in the world,” and the lower
part of the park on the Tottenham side was laid out as a race-course. On
the higher side, about the Muswell Hill entrance, is a grove preserving
some fine trees. In the Coronation year this made the scene of a lively
encampment of colonial troops, who did not keep the _Pax Britannica_,
since our white fellow-subjects proved too ready to resent the manner in
which black or brown auxiliaries were treated as men and brethren by the
local nursery-maids.

From Muswell Hill one has a wide view of green ridges vanishing under
brick. To the east, indeed, appears a new prospect, the flat valley of
the Lea, bounded by Epping Forest. From other open points on these
northern heights of London, one sees Middlesex in its more
characteristic aspect of waves of land swelling out of green troughs and
breaking into a foam of structures of all shapes and sizes, from
tombstones to palaces. This scenery we can best explore by following the
lines of the main roads that run north and west out of London. On that
more crowded area let us now turn our backs, having reached its official
edge at the further end of Hampstead Heath, and again on Highgate Hill.



III

THE GREAT NORTH ROAD


To not every Londoner of this generation is the Great North Road as well
known even by name as the Great Northern Railway running near it. The
highway that led so many a hopeful youth across the northern heights, to
see the lights of London at last shining before him, has more than once
shifted its course, and now falls into the Metropolis by a delta of
branches, among which one might be at a loss to pick out the main
stream. Its original course seems to have been by Hornsey, Muswell Hill,
Colney Hatch, and Friern Barnet, where it may still be followed as a
pleasant byway of winding ups and downs joining the present road at
Whetstone. That chain of muddy, rutty lanes, as it was in old days,
becoming worn out by traffic, the Bishops of London, through whose land
it passed, made a new road straight over Highgate Hill. Those spiritual
stepfathers were more concerned about collecting their tolls than
sparing horseflesh; but, as Bishops ceased to be great lords, both
clergymen and laymen began to have a conscience of what is due to
animals. Proposals to divert the road round this trying steep were for
a time baffled by the opposition of landowners holding jealously to
their parked seclusion. Not till about a century ago was constructed the
road which skirts Highgate Hill on the east, at first meant to be
carried out through a tunnel on a smaller scale, like the grotto leading
from Naples to Pozzuoli. The tunnel, however, fell in before it was
opened, and gave place to a deep cutting spanned by the archway on which
Hornsey Lane crosses it, a structure recently rebuilt. This Archway
Road, as it is called, may claim to be the main northern highway. But
motorists and cyclists from the West End are much more familiar with the
Finchley Road that, passing on the other side of Hampstead Heath,
converges with the eastern line at North Finchley.

Finchley is a very wide word, as I can tell, who, while yet a stranger
to Middlesex, paying a visit here, found myself let in for a dark walk
of over half a dozen miles to the Finchley Road Station. Even further
this parish spreads along the lower heights beyond Hampstead and
Highgate, including dependencies with by-names of their own. Till
enclosed early in last century, it contained much open land, like that
Finchley Common famed in Hogarth’s picture and in the Newgate Calendar;
Sydney Smith calls it the most notorious haunt of highwaymen in England
when he was young, as Tom Jones and Partridge had reason to understand.
A rough patch of it still holds out on the right hand of the eastern
road, but hardly large enough to parade a regiment of the Guards, or
to

[Illustration: HIGHGATE FROM PARLIAMENT HILL FIELDS]

afford a stage for any thrilling chase of Dick Turpin or Jack Sheppard.
The airy high ground once used for military encampments is now set with
strings and knots of houses, grouping themselves most thickly at three
points--Church End, East Finchley, and North Finchley--the last-named
being the apex of the triangle they form, and the first the nucleus of
the parish.

Between these straggling suburbs are still green fields, groves of elm
and beech, and footway hints of vanishing rusticity; while much of the
ground has been taken up by huge cemeteries on the heights once clearly
outside of London. Electric trams and motor-buses seem at present in
need of a good word, which they might have from anyone who had seen the
Great North Road before its tram-line was made. Two or three years ago a
pitiable sight here on hot Sunday afternoons was groups of
flower-burdened women in black, waiting to struggle for room on the
insufficient public vehicles that tugged heavy loads towards the
resting-places of their dead. Where so many sad and weary mourners were
often disappointed of a lift, tramcars from Holloway now spin by the
gates of the adjacent Islington and St. Pancras burying-grounds. The
Finchley Road is not yet laid with rails; but up it steer a fleet of
motor-buses that have their haven at the “Swan and Pyramids” in North
Finchley, some of them voyaging southwards as far as the distant
“Elephant and Castle.”

The Finchley Road emerges into open country at Child’s Hill, just beyond
the London boundary. Further back, indeed, near the cemetery at Fortune
Green to the left of the road, there is a most rustic-looking farm and a
fine old avenue, making the first stage of a field-way to Hendon, soon
spoiled by a sewage farm and an isolation hospital, but recovering from
this infection when it has crossed the Brent. The road to Hendon turns
left from the highway through the village and string of villas called
Golder’s Green, a name that takes in the red-brick tower on the right,
marking the new Golder’s Green Crematorium, beside a Jewish cemetery,
five miles from the Marble Arch. The tube railway passing under
Hampstead Hill now threatens to break up this pleasant stretch of the
road, where at present lanes and paths run off to Hendon and the Brent
Valley. So London stretches its tentacles towards Hendon, as yet
swimming freely on its sea of green bounded by the Finchley and the
Edgware Road, from which latter we shall visit it further on.

From the hamlet of Temple Fortune, with its “Royal Oak” bus station,
where a rash suburb seems to have budded too early, the road, again as
yet between hedges, mounts for a long mile to Finchley’s Church End and
G.N. Railway-station. Here, nearly six miles from Lord’s Cricket Ground,
the Finchley Road behoves to be known as the Regent’s Park Road. The
little Church, containing some old brasses, stands to the left on a road
coming in from Hendon, where it has been rather dwarfed by Christ’s
College opposite, once a semi-private school, now acquired by the local
authorities. In the pleasant churchyard the most noticeable tomb is an
obelisk over Major Cartwright, that firebrand of Radical reform in his
day, who in ours, perhaps, might pass for a cautious Conservative.

Church End has still some traces of its village life; but most of
Finchley is a suburb of too monotonous respectability, now overshadowing
our road for a couple of miles or more. On the west side it drops to the
course of the Dollis Brook, the Brent’s longest stream, beyond which the
swelling ground lies still open in meadows or parks, with green lanes
and footpaths leading over to the ridges of Mill Hill and Totteridge.
From Nether Street, for instance--the valley road parallel with the
highway--by a lodge gate is marked an avenued footway for Mill Hill,
that leads finely across the Dollis Brook to mount on a golf-course
beside the grounds of Nether Court. It seems as if all the parks of
Middlesex are like to be usurped upon by that greedy game of golf, so
much more at ease in its native barrens, or on the heaths of Surrey.
There may soon be as many clubs of Londoners as in all Scotland; and yet
a bitter cry goes up from long waiting-lists of would-be members, eager
to find room on links of any pretensions. Of such a candidate it is told
that, in his impatience, he addressed the secretary, asking whether his
admission were barred by social ineligibility or by want of “form,” and
received on a postcard the curt reply, _Both_. But if we drop into golf
stories, our progress along the North Road will be bunkered; so from
this hint of an attractive deviation let us return to its macadam. The
word is “Fore!”

At Tally-Ho Corner, about a mile beyond Church End, the Finchley Road
converges with the main highway coming by the “Bald Faced Stag” of East
Finchley, with cemeteries and other prospects on its right. Past the
seven-mile-stone there is an ascent to the turning for Colney Hatch at
Fallow Corner, where the top of tramcars gives a wide view towards the
Alexandra Palace. To the right here lies some pleasant scenery about the
great asylum of Colney Hatch, name worthy of a better fame, which its
conscious dwellers would fain dissemble under the undimmed title of New
Southgate. But, on the whole, this makes a less pleasing way than the
other.

From North Finchley the united roads run on another long mile between
houses, a remarkable number of them public-houses and other places of
refreshment. Thus we pass imperceptibly into Whetstone, where comes in
Friern Lane from Muswell Hill, by Colney Hatch and Friern Barnet, which
is the oldest and prettiest, but not now the busiest, way out of North
London. By-roads and paths go off on this side, over the Great Northern
main line, towards Southgate and East Barnet. On the other side, where
runs the branch line to High Barnet, one can soon strike across to the
quiet amenities of Totteridge; and from Totteridge station, close to the
highroad, a path leads on up the Dollis Brook to High Barnet. But when
the road itself brings us again into something like open country, it
passes for a time out of Middlesex, its boundary here so labyrinthine
that one has known a very policeman doubtful as to which county he was
patrolling. Between Totteridge and Barnet a long forked tongue of
Hertfordshire is thrust into Middlesex, licking up some of the fairest
scenes hereabouts for a county that has no need to be greedy of
loveliness. It is thus that our shire’s waist becomes pinched up to a
breadth of about eight miles, between Colney Hatch and the Thames. The
North Road crosses the border more than a mile short of High Barnet,
where for a time the tramway stopped at the top of a hill, as if taking
breath to mount the steeper rise into the town, in the upper part of
which we come back into Middlesex. On this ascent into Barnet, by its
railway station, almost for the first time we get on either hand wide
and open views of the fine landscapes that have been too much butchered
to make London homes and holidays.

Barnet is another widespread name. Friern Barnet--Friar’s Barnet--was
site of a monastery, now two or three miles behind us to the east of our
road. A mile or two north of this lies East Barnet, with its suburban
outgrowth, Oakleigh Park. Modest as East Barnet looks, its secluded old
Church seems to have been the core of all the Barnets. A little way
further north, on the main line of the Great Northern Railway, New
Barnet has become a distant Metropolitan suburb overlaying the hamlet of
Lyonsdown. Then, a mile to the west, eleven miles from Clerkenwell,
Chipping Barnet--_i.e._, _Cheaping_ or Market Barnet--answering to the
_alias_ of High Barnet by its elevation of 400 feet, still shows
character as an old independent town, especially about the far-seen
tower and spirelet of its restored church, on the brow of the ridge.
Here goes off westward an airy road to Elstree, leading in a couple of
miles by Arkley to Barnet Gate, a mere hamlet about an old windmill and
an inn, from which a very rural footpath edges a by-road to Highwood and
Mill Hill.

Towards the parallel ridge of Totteridge, building is transforming
Arkley Common, where were the once-sought Barnet Wells, visited by Pepys
in 1667, who “there found many people a-drinking”; but half a century
later Defoe records how the credit of this spa had dried up, the more
accessible waters of Hampstead and Islington having come into vogue.
Till the present day Barnet has kept the notoriety of its fair in
September, the trade of which is drowned in a carnival of blended
Cockney rascality and bucolic dissipation, so that it seems time to put
down this blatant survival from when the town was practically as far off
London as York is now. It will be remembered that at Barnet Oliver Twist
fell in with that compromising companion, the “Artful Dodger,” who, at
the fair time, was likely enough to have business here. Dickens is said
to have had Barnet again in view as “Thistledown,” at which he denounced
the mismanagement of a “Free” Grammar School, such as in his day so
often gave cause for scandal. But unless that the way to it led up a
hill, where on either side the fields were “puffed up into notice by a
series of undulations,” his description as little answers to the Barnet
of our day as to its rebuilt and reformed school beside the Church. The
town enjoys several charitable foundations, from the seventeenth-century
Jesus Hospital, designed for such old women as are not sorcerers,
witches, tale-bearers, back-biters, drunkards, lunatics or otherwise
objectionable, to the modern Leathersellers’ Almshouses on the Elstree
road. Its “Red Lion,” “Green Man,” and other ancient hostelries are
further hints of a prosperity fed by the traffic of the Great North
Road, which here throws off a hardly less-renowned branch to Holyhead.

Barnet is famed in history for the battle, 1471, where, as an old
schoolmaster of mine puts it in a well-known school history, “every
petal of the Red Rose was shattered from its stem”--a botanical metaphor
to puzzle unimaginative schoolboys, who perhaps know more of this battle
from Bulwer Lytton’s _Last of the Barons_. Running on through the
cheerful High Street, and by the common called Hadley Green, our road
forks for St. Albans and for Hatfield at a triangular patch of grass on
which an obelisk marks the traditional scene of Warwick’s death. The
battle-field seems to have been mainly to the right of the road, on
Hadley Common, to which one turns off from the upper corner of Hadley
Green, where the town almost runs into the village of Monken Hadley,
with its ancient Church. As a rarer relic than its monuments, this
restored, or rather rebuilt, church keeps on its tower a cresset that
may often have served for beacon to wanderers in the wilds of Enfield
Chase, and no doubt did its part in spreading the alarm of the Armada,
for at Hadley we are on one of the highest levels of Middlesex, in view
of “bleak Hampstead’s swarthy moor,” where Macaulay starts the chain of
fire-signals that would run to the north till “the red glare on Skiddaw
roused the burghers of Carlisle.” Close to the church will be seen the
railed-in stump of an oak, haunted by misty memories of one Friar
Bungay, whom Bulwer Lytton makes to figure in his story; but this
personage seems to have lived more than a century earlier, and to have
shared the fate of Roger Bacon as being dubbed a sorcerer, through
scientific curiosity in advance of their age. For an elm not far off is
cherished a tradition of Latimer’s preaching under it; and if so, it
must be a very patriarch of elms.

Hadley Common, Barnet’s most beautiful purlieu, is the largest
unenclosed fragment of Enfield Chase, a strip of woodland, interspersed
with greensward, stretching for two miles along the ridge north-east of
the town, all whose sweetheart couples might be lost in its bosky mazes.
One can thread them by taking the road turning off at that venerable
stump, to become a bridle-track along the edge of the woods, joined
about half-way by a path coming up from New Barnet Station. This way is
sacred to the pedestrian, though the cyclist is tolerated, if he care to
plough through the roughness of its further end. It debouches at Cock
Fosters, now a pretty hamlet of gentility about the inn which was once,
no doubt, a resort of foresters, standing just off the road from
Southgate to Potter’s Bar.

As hitherto he has seen so little of the country from closed-in
highroads, the reader who has got to High Barnet on wheels might be glad
to take his way homewards by a roundabout track that, safe from the
proud dust of motor-cars, makes one of the greenest walks so near
London, with fine prospects on all the Barnets. His first stage is along
Hadley Common to Cock Fosters; then, by the spire of the church behind
the inn, he will find a footpath which, crossing a road enters Oak Hill
Park and drops over the Pymmes Brook to a road past the isolated church
of East Barnet. At the Manor House here James Thomson is said to have
been tutor, and he might still find scenes for the rural pictures of his
_Seasons_, preserved by private grounds on the slopes opposite this
church, half hidden in its shady enclosure. Behind it the Church Farm
has been turned into the Philanthropic Society’s Industrial School, by
which goes a path that, beyond the Great Northern Railway main line,
soon loses itself in the new roads of Oakleigh Park, leading into the
highway at Whetstone. Perhaps a pleasanter way, as things are now, is to
keep the road past the church till on its right runs up an embowered
lane straggling across the railway into a road from Colney Hatch, on
which one turns right for the tram-line. This round of some five miles
from Barnet takes one roughly along the edge of that inlet of
Hertfordshire, that, indeed, extends to Colney Hatch, a mile or two
further south. Almost opposite the “embowered lane” mentioned above,
goes off a turn in the other direction, which, crossing the Pymmes
Brook, mounts past the opening of a trim path to Southgate. But I fear
to confuse my _guidees_ in pointing out all the green ways still open on
this side of the Great North Road here.

To return from our digression backwards: in the upper part of Barnet the
Great North Road re-enters Middlesex to traverse its bluff north-eastern
promontory. Here the road is a truly great one, well laid, well
bordered, and well provided with guide posts giving not only directions,
but distances on the by-ways. From the obelisk at the fork it skirts on
the left Wrotham Park, the seat of the unlucky Admiral Byng, its woods
hiding a white mansion that looks out conspicuously from the other side.
To the right appears in a hollow the suburban smartness of Hadley Wood,
a new quarter grown up about its station on the main Great Northern
Railway line, which presently tunnels under our road. By Ganwick Corner
and the “Duke of York,” we come to Potter’s Bar, the last Middlesex
village, much transmogrified through villas and trim suburban roads, by
which London breaks out again on the edge of its shire. This is three
miles from Barnet, and five or six miles more through “pleasant
Hertfordshire” would bring us to Hatfield, whence this road holds on by
fat midlands, skirting fens and wolds, over fells and moors, through
dales and glens, till at last it must be brought to a stand by the
rushing tide of the Pentland Firth, after giving so many stages of
scenery and adventure for imagination. I think it is Mr. John Buchan who
insists how, among the world’s roads, the breath of romance blows
stronger on those pointing to the Pole than on those belting the same
latitude and hugging the same isobar.

The station of Potter’s Bar lies a mile or so to the left, reached by an
avenue-like way opening nearly opposite the “Old Robin Hood.” This
station also serves South Mimms, a goodly village with an old church,
but not set in such rich surroundings as its neighbour, North Mimms,
across the Hertford border. The direct way to South Mimms is the
Holyhead Road, turning off from Barnet High Street at the “Green Man,”
which is all that a highway should be; but not much more can be said of
it unless for its peep into Dyrham Park at the Dancers Hill cross-roads.
Above the thirteenth mile-stone and the crossing of the Mimms Brook the
pedestrian may look out for a group of farm buildings on the left, by
which a path, crossing the road here, curves over fields to Clare Hall
and a hospital near the south end of North Mimms. There a lane to the
left, or a path a little further, leads out of Middlesex to the hamlet
of Ridge, through whose churchyard begins another field-path running
after a mile almost into the picturesque Hertfordshire village of
Shenley; then a park-enclosed road of two miles more leads to the
Midland station of Radlett on Watling Street.

But one must not be tempted to stray into another county, else much
might be said of the road that turns right at the Potter’s Bar Police
Station for Northaw, Cheshunt, and Enfield. From Potter’s Bar, on this
side, another finely-bordered highway turns back to London, through
what was once Enfield Chase, by Cock Fosters and Southgate. At the leafy
hollow, where a large board beacons to Hadley Wood Station, one can turn
by it for a walk of two miles to Barnet, pleasantly reached over the
upper part of Hadley Common.

The cross-road in the other direction leads in three miles to Enfield
and the scenes of our next chapter, passing the north side of Trent
Park, which got its exotic name from George III., when he gave a lease
of it to Sir Richard Jebb, in reward for his services to one of the
royal princes on a sick-bed at the Tyrolese Trent. Where the road
touches the park, over the fence may be seen the remains of Camelot
Moat, an overgrown enclosure of immemorial antiquity that makes one of
the scenes in the _Fortunes of Nigel_. A later novelist may have picked
up a hint here in the legend of such a “Lost Sir Massingberd” as is said
to have hid himself in a hollow tree and perished miserably by falling
into a well underneath. By the country-folk Camelot Moat seems best
remembered as one of Dick Turpin’s lairs; but all over the county linger
memories of this worthy, whose spirit on rough nights haunts its lonely
roads from Enfield Chase to Stanmore Heath, or did so till quite
recently, when it is understood to have taken offence at the passage of
motor-cars as not easily brought to “stand and deliver.”



IV

EDMONTON AND ENFIELD


An older road north is the line of the ancient Ermyn Street, running out
roughly parallel with the Great Eastern Railway to Cambridge, by the
Middlesex side of the Lea. Defoe styles this the North Road, and states
that more carriages came that way in his time than on any other road
into London. But there are Londoners of our day to whom it is unknown
beyond Shoreditch; and few foreigners find it out, though Americans
might see here perhaps our best effort at one of their long city
avenues. It is not, indeed, as long as Yonge Street, Toronto, which has
laid itself out for thirty miles as a shadow cast before future
greatness, and it may be surpassed by the “magnificent distances” of
Washington or Philadelphia; still, this modest London thoroughfare holds
an almost straight course for half a dozen miles from Shoreditch, past
Dalston and Stoke Newington, over Stamford Hill, and through Tottenham
to Edmonton. Here it makes a slight bend from the line of the ancient
road; that a little to the left may still be traced in grassy and
sloughy stretches beside fragments of woodland, where one might believe
oneself many miles from a busy highway. But for a few green gaps, which
seem in the way of being filled up, the actual road as far as the edge
of Hertfordshire and beyond has been shut in with houses, often
spreading out so far on either side that the Edmonton census district is
the most populous part of Middlesex outside London. Edmonton’s name
included one of the county’s half-dozen Hundreds, which, in the more
practical grouping for parliamentary representation, is divided under
the titles of Enfield and Tottenham; while Enfield, for its part, holds
the distinction of being the largest Middlesex parish.

This is the road on which fared Hobson, the Cambridge carrier of
Milton’s day, whose rule that each horse must be hired in turn as it
stood in the stable is said to have originated the phrase “Hobson’s
choice.” It has also memories of Dick Turpin, who, according to the
legend recorded by Harrison Ainsworth, leapt Black Bess clean over a
donkey-cart at Edmonton as he spurred on to Ware, with the myrmidons of
the law in hot pursuit. Another criminal hero of the neighbourhood was
the pickpocket George Barrington, transported to Botany Bay in 1790,
where he reformed himself to become a police superintendent, an author,
even a poet, known by one trite couplet--

    True patriots all! for, be it understood,
    We left our country for our country’s good.

“Stop, thief! Stop, thief! A highwayman!” was the cry naturally raised
by those who saw John Gilpin racing along the road, its most famed hero
to the general reader. There appears, indeed, some obscurity as to the
first stage taken by the worthy linen-draper on his untamed steed. The
text distinctly states that he passed through ‘merry Islington‘; but
commentators differ as to whether by Aldersgate Street he gained the
Essex Road, and thence struck across the line of the Green Lanes, or
more directly attained the Kingsland Road, which seems his shortest line
from Cheapside, but would soon bring him into the parish of Stoke
Newington, a name perhaps omitted by poetic license as more intractable
to the metre.

We can confidently follow his race beyond where the Seven Sisters Road
comes in from Finsbury Park. Were the seven sisters of Tottenham those
seven daughters who, with such comically lugubrious looks, kneel in a
diminishing row along the Barkham monument in its Parish Church? The
received legend makes them seven elms, whose successors stand railed in
on the green at Seven Sisters Corner. From this landmark we hold up the
road to another corner, where has been restored Tottenham High Cross,
the name of which calls to mind shades as abiding as John Gilpin’s. It
was from Tottenham that Piscator and his friend set out to take their
“morning draught” at the “Thatched House” of Hoddesdon, after a walk of
over a dozen miles. It may have been in the garden of the “Swan” here
that Izaak Walton in the flesh could stroll under a “honeysuckle hedge”
and rest “in a sweet shady arbour,” rural amenities now much to seek
about the Tottenham highroad, though in entering this parish it crossed
the invisible boundary of London. By Tottenham Hale one might now turn
down to the Lea, that ripples so sweetly through Walton’s
seventeenth-century Arcadia; but one had better not.

    We have a vision of our own,
    Ah! why should we undo it?

On the other side of Tottenham’s spacious Broadway, towards Hornsey, we
might still find a remnant of green fields shrinking like the _peau de
chagrin_ in Balzac’s romance. A height between this road and the Green
Lanes has of late been laid out as a pretty park, overlooking the
meadows of the Muswell Brook--mocked with the _alias_ of Moselle--where
the London County Council proposes to plant a new town of working men’s
dwellings. Socially, Tottenham has not much to boast of, Stamford Hill
perhaps being its only purlieu on visiting terms with the West End. A
century ago it had come down to snug and sober respectability, when it
was much affected by Quakers and other Dissenters, and such names as
Bernard Barton and John Williams, the missionary, marked its eminent
natives. Still, its main thoroughfare wears a certain aspect of
broad-brimmed sobriety and unpretentious comfort. But time was when this
village rang with the stir of feudal chivalry, even before that
burlesque “Tournament of Tottenham,” sung by an English Cervantes of so
early date that a quotation would need a glossary. To lists set up
beside Tottenham highway came “all the men of Islington, of Highgate,
and of Hackney,” their weapons flails, their shields baskets, their
armour sheep-skins; then Perkin the potter, “with doughtiness of dent,”
carried away the prize, the hand of the Reeve’s daughter Tib, along with
which went such trophies as a grey mare, a spotted sow, and a brood-hen.
The fair lady was forthwith led to church, the beaten champions in her
train, and rancour was drowned in a wedding-feast that lasted “all the
long day” for those eupeptic heroes.

About the church can be traced Tottenham’s nucleus of antiquity. When,
on the right hand of the main road, we have passed the Sanchez
Almshouses, founded by a Spanish confectioner who came to England with
King Philip, a far from bonny opening named Scotland Green hints how
this was once a royal manor, passing into the lordship of the Scottish
Kings, and held in turn by the rivals Bruce and Baliol. The Bruces had a
keep here, still extant in a modernized form. Bruce Castle became a
school carried on by the Hill family, one of whom, after an experiment
at educational reform noted in its day, rose to wider fame as the
victorious champion of penny postage. The ivied mansion, no more like a
school than a castle, housed young gentlemen till not long ago; but,
with its pleasant grounds, it has now been turned into a public resort.

At the north-west corner of this park stands Tottenham Church, half hid
among trees that soften its incongruity, ranging from the old flint
tower to the new brick chancel. One might well look in here for a sight
of the Barkham and the Candeler monuments, each in its way an imposing
specimen of such memorials in Stuart days, set in dim religious light by
a rich show of coloured glass. A daughter of the Ettrick shepherd is
buried, so far from her birthplace, in what Besant described as “a very
good churchyard, full of interesting monuments of unknown people; and in
the day-time you might wander there for a long time and learn quantities
of history just hinted at in the bald, disjointed way common to
tombstones. You might, I say, under happier conditions, but you cannot,
because they have stuck up rows of spiky iron railings beside the path,
so that no moralist, unless he have very long legs, shall ever be
permitted to get any good out of the churchyard at all.”

Into the neighbour parish Tottenham merges without a break in what was
“all one continued street” so far back as Defoe’s time. About half a
mile beyond the latitude of the church, where the road swerves slightly
to the right, a house on the left side is marked “No. 1, Edmonton.” The
next landmark here is the “Bell,” with its fresco of that galloping
citizen, cloak, hat, and wig flying in the air, by which this house
claims connection with his wild career; but it has more than once been
rebuilt, and may not occupy the site of the original resort for Cockney
trippers, that would probably be farther on, towards the original
village. The “Wash of Edmonton” seems another doubtful point. No such
obstruction is now found on the road, which in Tottenham was crossed by
the Muswell or Moselle Brook, and beyond the “Bell” passes over the
large Pymmes Brook, flowing from East Barnet, then farther on the Salmon
Brook, from Enfield. This last is said to have been known as the Wash, a
title repeated in the Wash of Enfield and of Cheshunt; but now that the
streams have long been bridged over, the oldest inhabitants are not in
one tale as to which was the ford splashed about by our Cockney Mazeppa

    Just like unto a trundling mop
    Or a wild goose at play.

The hedges and stiles that bordered the road in Cowper’s day have
vanished like its turnpike gates. Upper Edmonton in turn imperceptibly
becomes Lower Edmonton, the old village now strung to London by leagues
of houses. A long mile beyond the “Bell” is reached a fragment of
Edmonton Green, where the poor “Witch of Edmonton” was burned in 1621.
We may here desert the road, and its trams running on to a gap of
still-open fields which the builder threatens to close; then again the
industrial outliers of Enfield will shadow it almost continuously to the
edge of the county. Let us turn up, by the Green and the station, to
Edmonton Church, notable for its traditions of Archbishop Tillotson, and
of another incumbent, Tate, the rusty psalmist, also of that “Merry
Devil of Edmonton” that played such tricks here in Henry VII’s time, as
for its joint memorial to Lamb and Cowper. Keats, as apprenticed to an
Edmonton surgeon, is likewise commemorated along with Lamb by medallions
in the public library.

The greenest memory of this parish and the next is Charles Lamb’s, who
ended his days at Edmonton in a little house on the way up to the
church. It was occupied, when I last passed it, by a registrar of
births, deaths and marriages, a tenancy to “arride” that very human
spirit. No lover of literature will visit Edmonton without seeking out
his and his sister’s grave, which may be found by going on from the west
end of the church to the tiny almshouses on the graveyard’s further
side, and there turning left on a railed path. About half-way along
this, on the right side, overshadowed by a more pretentious tomb, a
modest slab shows the epitaph by Gary, the translator of
Dante--Wordsworth’s tribute being rejected as long enough to fill a
whole row of tombstones.

A path from the churchyard, bending on to the right by an old windmill,
towards the New River and the Green Lanes, shows how much Edmonton has
lost the rural charms it may have had when Lamb came to die here. For
several years his home had been in the adjacent parish of Enfield, to
whose hilly and shady beauties let us now set our face. Not that rural
beauties appear to have had enduring attraction for Elia, who took any
beer-shop as the goal of his restless walks, which also by choice were
turned towards his familiar London. “To him the tide of human life

[Illustration: EDMONTON CHURCH]

that flowed through Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill was worth all the Wyes
and Yarrows in the universe; there were, to his thinking, no Green Lanes
to compare with Fetter Lane or St. Bride’s, no Garden like Covent
Garden.” So says his friend P. G. Patmore, who could only guess at
unselfish regard for his sister’s health as the cause of that seclusion.

When Lamb’s friends visited him at Enfield, they were sometimes in the
way of taking the hourly Edmonton stage, and walking the two miles on.
Another coach ran direct to Enfield, by which Henry Crabb Robinson was
two and a half hours on the way, who again tramped it in little more
than three hours. The London theatres were the loadstone that drew young
Charles Cowden Clarke, walking both ways by what could then be called
the quiet Green Lanes, now laid with an electric tram-line. Green lanes
are a frequent feature of Middlesex scenery; but these Green Lanes _par
excellence_ can no longer be held typical, as they run through the
crowded homes of Stoke Newington and Hornsey, tantalizing a romantic
soul with such names as Mount Pleasant and Wood Green. Yet this lively
highroad has still some patches of its greens to show; some stretches of
private grounds turned into public demesnes, like Clissold Park and
Finsbury Park; some pleasant glimpses of the fenced New River, in Lamb’s
youth still open to the holiday explorations of his school-fellows.
Beyond Palmer’s Green it grows more truly rural, the Green Lanes winding
up to Enfield in a manner not unworthy of their name, with many
tempting by-ways towards the Great Eastern Railway line on the right and
the Great Northern Railway on the left, that would keep wanderers from
going too far astray.

But the pleasantest way of reaching Enfield on foot is from the
south-west side, where Pan still haunts fragments of the Chase. For this
route one can turn off the Great North Road near its junction with the
Finchley Road, making by Colney Hatch to Southgate, the birthplace of
Leigh Hunt, who might still call this “a prime specimen of Middlesex” in
its charms of “trees and meadows, of greenery and nestling cottages.”
Southgate Green also boasts the Walkers, a family of cricketers recorded
in a bigger book than has been written about Leigh Hunt. Another way to
it is from Bounds Green, leaving the present border-line of suburbia to
cross the Pymmes Brook for the fine elm avenue of Broomfield Park, now a
public playground, through which is reached the avenue-like road from
Palmer’s Green to Southgate Green.

The builder has made havoc here with Lamb’s “unfrequentedest Blackberry
paths that ever concealed their coy bunches from a truant citizen.” But,
beside the “Cherry Tree” on Southgate Green, one can take a footway
leading into a road from the Green Lanes, along which road to the left,
then turning, right, round the next corner, one finds a woodland path
which makes one of the most sylvan walks so near London. Nearly a mile
of it lead out upon the small Green of Winchmore Hill, where a snug old
village forms the core of a settlement spread loosely along its
radiating roads. We are here a little to the west of the Green Lanes,
and about two miles from the further line of road through Edmonton.
Beyond the Green, after neglecting the turn to Winchmore Hill Station,
the pedestrian crooks to the right over a railway-bridge, then presently
on the left side of the road his path goes off almost straight to
Enfield, across a road, through a market orchard, over a brook, up the
slope of the Old Park, along the thickly-shaded bank of the New River,
and by the Town Park, to the tongue of open sward opening between the
older part of the town, and the west-end quarter known as Bycullah Park,
built upon what was once a racecourse.

High-set Enfield turns its best face to the west, where travellers from
Barnet are beaconed by a tall white spire rising over red roofs half
hidden in swelling greenery. This spire does not mark the Parish Church,
whose tower stands by the Market Place, where the Green Lanes road
crosses that from Barnet to Ponder’s End, close to the Great Eastern
Railway station, distinguished as “Enfield Town.” The Great Northern
Railway branch station, towards the west end, which will now cease to be
a terminus, is known as “Enfield.” This name, indeed, is widely
scattered, the Hertford road, to the east, being lined for two or three
miles with the huge hamlets of Enfield Highway, Enfield Wash, and
Enfield Lock. But the town of Enfield, linked to these offshoots only by
a name, still preserves much of its spacious amenity, from the days
when it was a clearing in the forest turned into a royal chase. The Old
Park, on the south side, has not lost its tradition of dignity as
precinct of a Tudor palace, while the wider bounds of the
hunting-ground, disforested and enclosed under George III., have shrunk
into smaller parks about mansions whose modest title of Lodge recalls
their origin, when only three such houses stood in a circuit of two
dozen miles, the Chase bounds stretching from Southgate to the northern
edge of Middlesex. The name of the Old Palace is fondly cherished for a
remnant of building used till the other day as the Post-Office, at the
present moment proclaimed “to let.” In front this looks across the
Market Place to the tower of the Church, the interior of which gains
roomy effect from its prolonged aisles and sunken floor; and it has
monuments to show, the most remarkable being Lady Tiptoft’s ancient
altar-tomb, and the family group of effigies commemorating a Lord Mayor
of Charles I’s. time.

Beside this church are the new buildings of the Grammar School, which
under Charles II. occupied the Old Palace, when its master was Dr.
Uvedale, the botanist, by whom is said to have been planted the first
cedar in England, still flourishing royally at the back of this
building. A fruitful private seminary is now ill-represented by the
Great Eastern station, the fine façade of the old building having in
part been removed to South Kensington Museum as a noble specimen of
moulded brickwork. Wren may have been the architect of a mansion which
appears to have

[Illustration: ENFIELD]

been occupied by Isaac Disraeli, till he removed to London, just in time
to make the future Prime Minister no native of Enfield. The house then
became a school kept by Charles Cowden Clarke’s father, with John Keats
as its most illustrious pupil, who, after his apprenticeship at
Edmonton, used to walk over to borrow books from his old teacher.
Another school in the vicinity could boast two scholars of very
different renown, Captain Marryat, and Babbage, the calculating boy, of
whom it is remembered that he would get up in the small hours to study
on the sly, whereas the future naval novelist was keen rather for play,
and distinguished himself by running away from frequent scrapes and
floggings, being once captured “in the horse-pond at Edmonton.” Sir
Ralph Abercromby also was an Enfield schoolboy, in days when the place
made such a choice retreat from London as now is Tunbridge Wells or
Leith Hill, and it can look back to older days when for wealth and
dignity it held up its head above Kensington.

The younger Clarke’s _Recollections of Writers_ are thick set with names
not yet forgotten, familiar to him when his father on their walks taught
the boy to plant acorns that may now be stately trees. He knew a
grandfather of Bulwer Lytton and a nephew of Gilbert White. He
remembered a visit from George Dyer, his father’s fellow-usher and rival
in love at Northampton, whose name has been “pickled and preserved in
humour” by his friend Lamb. From the school garden he sent a weekly
basket of flowers, fruit, and vegetables to comfort Leigh Hunt’s
imprisonment. He met Major Cartwright, the doughty Radical, then living
at Enfield. There were other notabilities of the neighbourhood with whom
the family of a liberal-minded schoolmaster might not come much in
contact, ex-Lord Mayors, knights, and professional veterans. Abernethy,
the rough-tongued surgeon, came here to die, and has a tablet in the
church. At an earlier date Lord George Gordon, the Protestant firebrand,
had lived hereabouts. Gough, the antiquary, is another name in a long
list of notable residents that might be continued down to Walter Pater,
whose childhood was spent on Chase side; and to its chequered shades,
perhaps, he owed “many tones of sentiment afterwards customary with him,
certain inward lights under which they most naturally presented
themselves to him.”

Tom Hood for a time had his home at Winchmore Hill, and in Hone’s _Table
Book_ (1827) there is a caricature by him of Mary Lamb stuck fast on one
of the high stiles common about Enfield and Edmonton. This is
accompanied by a letter signed “Sojourner at Enfield,” which, I must
confess, made me an accomplice in deceiving readers of my guide, _Around
London_. Till my eyes were opened by Mr. E. V. Lucas’s edition of Lamb,
I had not recognised this communication as one of Elia’s farcical fibs,
with its grave attribution of the sketch “probably” to Romney, and its
fragment “in the handwriting of Cowper,” going to show that the poet had
designed a companion piece to John Gilpin, which should deal with his
wife’s adventures while hanging about the “Bell.”

    Then Mrs. Gilpin sweetly said
      Unto her children three,
    “I’ll clamber o’er this style so high,
      And you climb after me.”

    But having climb’d unto the top,
      She could no further go,
    But sat, to every passer-by
      A spectacle and show;

    Who said, “Your spouse and you this day
      Both show your horsemanship;
    And if you stay till he comes back,
      Your horse will need no whip.”

The Clarkes had left their school before Charles Lamb settled definitely
in “this vale of deliberate senectitude,” so we do not understand that
he here found the model for his _New Schoolmaster_. Charles Cowden
Clarke made his acquaintance at Ramsgate, and afterwards visited him at
Enfield, where from 1827 to 1833 the brother and sister lived in two
adjacent houses on Chase side, first as tenants, then as lodgers of an
uncongenial family next door. Both these houses, standing in a somewhat
altered state, are piously marked by tablets; but in my experience not
every Enfielder knows where to find them, so the pilgrim stranger may be
directed to the straggling green beside “my old New River,” on the way
between the two stations; here he turns up the road marked “Clay Hill,”
and may look for his double shrine on the right-hand side just before
reaching the spire of Christ Church. This part of Enfield, somewhat
bevillaed in our time, must then have been close to the fringe of green
by-ways of which Clarke speaks more lovingly than Lamb. One seldom knows
how far to take seriously the whimsical humorist’s groans over the
dullness of country life when fairly tried, nor his sighs for the
“fresher air of London”; but there seems to be a vein of real feeling in
such complaints as fill his letters from this exile--for instance, to
Wordsworth:

     O never let the lying poets be believed, who ‘tice men from the
     cheerful haunts of streets, or think they mean it not of a country
     village. In the ruins of Palmyra I could gird myself up to
     solitude, or muse to the snorings of the Seven Sleepers, but to
     have a little teazing image of a town about one, country folks that
     do not look like country folks, shops two yards square--half a
     dozen apples and two penn’orth of overlooked gingerbread for the
     lofty fruiterers of Oxford Street, and, for the immortal book and
     print stalls, a circulating library that stands still, where the
     show-picture is a last year’s Valentine, and whither the fame of
     the last ten Scotch novels has not yet travel’d (marry, they just
     begin to be conscious of the Red Gauntlet!); to have a new
     plastered flat church, and to be wishing that it was but a
     Cathedral. The very blackguards here are degenerate. The topping
     gentry stockbrokers. The passengers too many to insure your quiet,
     or let you go about whistling, or gaping--too few to be the fine
     indifferent pageants of Fleet Street. Confining, room-keeping,
     thickest winter is yet more bearable here than the gaudy months.
     Among one’s books at one’s fire by candle, one is soothed into an
     oblivion that one is not in the country; but with the light the
     green fields return, till I gaze and in a calenture can plunge
     myself into Saint Giles’s. O let no native Londoner imagine that
     health, and rest, and innocent occupation, interchange of converse
     sweet and recreative study, can make the country anything better
     than altogether odious and detestable! A garden was the primitive
     prison till man with promethean felicity and boldness luckily
     sinn’d himself out of it.

The writer of this was a man of moods, who, as his friend Coleridge has
it:

                        Pined
    And hungered after Nature many a year
    In the great City pent.

Before leaving the India House, Lamb “had thought in a green old age (O
green thought) to have retired to Ponder’s End--emblematic name, how
beautiful!” No one now would choose a retirement at Ponder’s End, that
industrial eastern neighbour of Enfield overshadowing the Lea Valley
with its tall smoke-stacks and long rows of workmen’s homes. Yet just
beyond the grimy hideousness of Ponder’s End Station, the bridge leading
over to Chingford Marshes gives a peep of the Lea that by moonshine
might still make a trysting-place for shepherds and milkmaids. Daylight
dulls all memories of romance with smoke and mist; then the name of
Green Street seems a mockery among those of the outlying Enfields that
for miles blotch the Hertford road with their confluent eruption.

These quarters depend upon various industries planted along the Lea, the
principal of them a national factory of death and destruction which, two
generations ago, brought Enfield’s name into history with the rifles
made here. A century earlier the name of Enfield Wash flowed far and
wide in public excitement over a puzzling story of crime, to stir, under
George II., even more sensation in England than did the Tichborne case
for our newspaper age. It was here that a servant-girl, Elizabeth
Canning, professed to have been robbed and imprisoned by certain
persons, one of them a gipsy woman, who, sentenced to be hanged, was
saved by fresh evidence that convicted the accuser of perjury. In those
days of rough-and-ready justice feeling ran strangely strong between
partisans of the gipsy and of the servant, the latter’s cause being
championed by mob violence, while dozens of books and pamphlets hotly
discussed the trials spread out over more than a year. Banished to the
American plantations, the dubious heroine took away a considerable sum
collected by her sympathizers, and, thus famed and dowried, she made a
good marriage in the colony, where her descendants may now be
flourishing as New York bosses or Chicago pork-poisoners.

As hints of what this highway was then, among its bordering of
monotonously mean streets stand here and there weather-worn cottages and
broad-faced Georgian mansions, whose long windows overlooked John
Gilpin’s race. When--the name of Enfield at last left behind--about
eight miles from the boundary of London, the road has passed out of
Middlesex, just before coming to Waltham Cross, on the right it has the
gates of Waltham House. This was for years the home of Anthony Trollope,
that energetic post-office inspector, traveller, and fox-hunter, who in
his spare time made himself the most voluminous author of a family which
must have filled more shelves in the British Museum than any other, his
own works better known to our fathers, as they may be to our sons, than
they are to a generation greedy of spicier flavours in its literary
fare.

A preserve of such good old houses is Baker Street, continuing the Green
Lanes, which no more resembles that “long unlovely street” of London
than its paradise of South African millionaires is like the Park Lane
leading on to Tottenham Marshes. This Baker Street makes the pleasantest
way north from Enfield, bordered by fine old trees and by the grounds of
suburban mansions, more than one of them showing notable ironwork in its
gates. A mile of such rustic gentility leads to Forty Hill, where we
pass the grounds of Forty Hall, built by Inigo Jones, then those of
Middleton Hall, named in honour of Sir Hugh Middleton, cadet of a large
Welsh family, who, like so many other gentle youths in his day, became a
London apprentice and merchant, and won honour, if not wealth, by his
great enterprise of bringing a water-supply to the capital in the New
River.

This artificial water-course, a Pactolus to later share-holders though
it ruined its constructor, makes more Arcadian appearances in the
landscape than does the Lea, and bears itself with an air of
long-established standing to belie its “assumption of eternal novity.” I
know of no other canal that has got a poem all about it--_The New
River_, by William Garbott, whose muse, indeed, flows at no high
pressure:

    From _Basons_ large, the water is conveyed
    By Pipes, which thence into the _Town_ are laid.
    Had I but Skill, how sweetly could I play
    Upon thy _Pipes_, Sir Hugh, a _Roundelay_!

For miles out of London the New River is guarded from pollution like the
sky at Naples, which has been said to be the only clean thing there, and
that because no one can get at it. But higher up, near the Middlesex
boundary, one may take a path along its banks as it winds from mansion
to mansion, through woods and meadows where Izaak Walton might still
love to linger.

And here we come among royal memories. Between Forty Hall and Middleton
House stood Elsynge Hall, or Enfield House, in the New Park, where
Elizabeth held her court, after spending some of her younger days at the
Old Palace. The Maiden Bridge on the stream crossed by the road
continuing Baker Street is taken for the scene of Walter Raleigh’s
courtier-like offer of his cloak; no Enfield man, at least, will allow
the legend to be located elsewhere. A mile further on, across the county
border, we should skirt Theobald’s Park--pronounced _Tibbald’s_--once
the princely seat of Elizabeth’s Lord Burleigh, to which James I. took
such a fancy that he gave the Salisbury family Hatfield in exchange for
it. The park was then ten miles in circuit, the gardens passed for the
finest in England, and the house was a stately palace that stood till
George III.‘s reign. It had many changes of owner, one, by the irony of
fate, being last male descendant of Oliver Cromwell, who carried out a
more sweeping exchange with his sovereign. The hunting of Enfield Chase
made it a favourite abode with James, and here he died (1625) after
nearly being drowned, three years earlier, by a fall from his horse that
sent him head foremost into the frozen water of the New River, his boots
only sticking up above the ice. Here also the timid King was put in
danger from fire as well as water, for White Webbs House, a vanished
neighbour of Forty Hall, appears to have been one of the hatching-places
of the Gunpowder Plot.

Just within the Middlesex boundary, a road turning left from the
well-timbered hamlet of Bull’s Cross leads by the modern mansion of
White Webbs Wood in its charming park. In a short mile is reached the
“King and Tinker,” an old inn offering a variety among the zoological
signs of the neighbourhood--“Spotted Cow,” “Goat,” “Fallow Buck,” and
such-like. This sign gives a local habitation and King James’ name to
that oft-told tale of a sovereign too familiarly treated by an
unsuspecting subject, miller, tanner, tinker, or what not, the first
case on record being Alfred’s awkward dealings with a baking house-wife.
Opposite the inn stands a little chapel of the Countess of Huntington’s
Connection, which seems a natural growth here, since at Cheshunt, not
far off, was the college set up by that denomination, removed to
Cambridge only the other day. Between the chapel and the inn opens a
most charming footway across White Webbs Park, coming out in the Clay
Hill suburb of Enfield, a little to the east of the “Rose and Crown,”
that boasts itself the scene of one of Dick Turpin’s adventures--his
home, indeed, as it was kept by his grandfather.

For straying into Hertfordshire beside Theobald’s Park, one can find
excuse in a famous Middlesex monument. Let Viator keep straight on from
Bull’s Cross, till a leafy turn round the north side of the park leads
him towards the rose-gardens of Waltham Cross. Here, if he have as many
grey hairs as his present guide, he may suddenly start and rub his
spectacles, when he comes upon the once-familiar arch of Temple Bar, set
in the park enclosure, standing outpost sentry over Greater London, grey
and massive as ever, and looking as if in the country air it would
outlive that flighty griffin that has taken its place at the City
boundary. On the other side of Theobald’s might be found a hint of its
old neighbour, Charing Cross, for beside the highroad, at the turning
off to Waltham Abbey, just outside Middlesex, has been restored a
sumptuous Eleanor’s Cross, one of that series erected by Edward I. at
each spot where his wife’s body rested on its way from Grantham to
Charing.

Enfield does not turn its best face to the Lea Valley, but the stretch
of parks and shady roads to the north of it makes one of the pleasantest
corners of Middlesex. And if the pedestrian seek a green ramble back to
town, I can put him upon one which will show part of the country not so
much changed from the days of Lamb’s wanderings. Let him take the Barnet
Road, past the Great Northern Railway station and the spired church, a
little beyond which, where the road drops from a turning marked “Chase
Ridings,” he looks out for a field-path going off to the left. Crossing
a brook, it leads him into a bushy lane, past a group of hospital
buildings and chimneys that make a landmark. When the suburban skirtings
of Eversley Park are reached, turns of the road may be taken to the
right, and guide-posts will keep one straight for a mile or so
south-west till the north end of Southgate is reached at a joining of
five ways. Here, from the road southward for Southgate Green, almost at
once a path leads off to the right, by the backs of houses, along a
wooded bank, over a meadow, and through a park till it reaches a road
dropping down to cross the Pymmes Brook, beyond which is struck the way
leading past East Barnet Church to Colney Hatch. A good mile or two to
the west of this runs the tram-line of the Great North Road, on the
further side of which we now pass to London’s north-western artery.



V

ABOUT WATLING STREET


It has been fondly held that Watling Street went out over Hampstead and
Hendon, and the bit of the City bearing this name would fit in with such
an opinion. But the sounder doctrine seems to be that the ancient way,
made or improved as the Romans’ great North-Western Road, originally
came up from the marshes at Westminster, where the name Horseferry Road
tells a tale, and thence took the line of what is now Park Lane, till
the building of London Bridge caused it to be diverted into the City.
From the Marble Arch this route runs almost straight on to Edgware, and
beyond, without much wavering, to the foot of the height on which stands
St. Albans.

The Edgware Road is familiar to more Londoners than are aware of its
antiquity. It is now too crowded with traffic to stir thoughts of bygone
renown; but on one of the motor-buses that urge their wild career
through Maida Vale and Kilburn, beyond Brondesbury making the arduous
ascent of Shoot-Up Hill, a spur of the Hampstead heights, we can soon
get out to the boundary of London County at Cricklewood. On the left
hand of the road here a square mile or so of new suburb has sprung up in
the last few years, the best part of it being on an estate of All Souls’
College, whose Fellows must fatten in the body, while less lucky
gownsmen are like to starve on agricultural depression. It is well to
own property at some “Creek in the Wood” so near London; but when my own
three acres of pasturage come to be allotted I have my eye on the fields
about St. Martin’s or St. Paul’s.

The east side of the road here belongs to the Metropolitan borough of
Hampstead. On the west we are in the Middlesex urban district of
Willesden, that huge hobbledehoy suburb that as yet in part bears much
the same relation to London proper as lignite does to coal; or it may be
said to be in process of solidification--“half-baked” is a vulgar
epithet on censorious tongues. In the lifetime of a generation this
district has increased its population more than sevenfold, while, not to
be behind its neighbours, it has set up a debt of nearly a million
pounds. The large parish originally consisted of several scattered
hamlets--Kilburn, Brondesbury, Cricklewood, Willesden Green, Harlesden,
and Church End--which have now run together, though with gaps still
shrinking every month. The Kilburn end, indeed, has long been firmly
welded on to Paddington. Beside Willesden Green Station may be seen a
bit of the original green; but if thereon Willesden should affect
“county” airs, let her look back to the fate of Lisson Green and Lisson
Grove. Between Kensal Rise and the Public Library in Willesden High
Road there is at present a deep, shaded hill lane, barred by a stile,
where artists or poets might carry on their business undisturbed. In
another year or two this will probably be overflowed from the adjacent
brickworks, so as to become “Klondyke Avenue” or “Edward VII. Road.”
Would that the builder had first swooped upon that dingy south-western
edge, blighted by the smoke of engines and the language of bargees,
where Browning may well have seen--

                    Something on the dismal flat
    Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train!

From the misnamed junction at Harlesden, the quarter of Willesden best
known to railway travellers, there are still bits of footpath towards
Church End, by Roundwood Park, swelling to an eminence that gives a good
view of the neighbourhood. Willesden Church, standing in the remotest
corner of the parish, had once a noted image of the Virgin, which
brought many pilgrims to “Our Lady of Willesden”; and though it has
suffered enlargement and restoration, it enshrines interesting
monuments, brasses, and other relics of an antiquity that goes back to
Norman times, beset by a show of later tombstones, among them that of
Charles Reade the novelist.

The “Crown” at Cricklewood is the terminus of bus traffic on the
high-road. Thence an electric tram, coming round from Willesden, spins
out the straight road as far as Edgware, through a chequer of open
spaces that are every day being filled up like a backgammon board. On
this road we may well hurry at tramway speed, looking for interest
rather to either hand of it. As soon as we get out of what a year or so
ago was the edge of building, where on the right stands a forbidding
fortress of the Midland Railway, on the other side Dollis Hill Lane is
about to be overshadowed by Dollis Hill Avenue. This leafy lane leads
along the brow of Dollis Hill to Neasden, passing a house of Lord
Aberdeen’s, more than once visited by the statesman in honour of whom
its sloping grounds, now a public play-place for Willesden, have been
named the Gladstone Park. Mark Twain for a time occupied the house,
which has a fine view over the north-western suburbs. The word Dollis,
recurring in Middlesex place-names, has been held as connected with
“dole,” an old word for a mark of sharing or partition, replaced in our
Prayer Book by “neighbour’s landmark”; but this is not a point on which
pundits are agreed, and in many cases such names, the popular etymology
of which is generally wrong, might turn out to come from an owner long
forgotten.

From the back of Dollis Hill a footpath leads down to the “Welsh Harp,”
the next point of note on the road. This tavern flourishes on the edge
of what is the largest lake in Middlesex, or indeed in South-Eastern
England, the Kingsbury Reservoir, popularly known as the Welsh Harp
Water, a sheet more than a mile long, formed by damming the waters of
the Brent and the Silk Brook, as a store for supplying the Regent’s
Canal. Fishing, boating, and skating make attractions for customers of
the landlord, who in hard winters must coin ice into gold; and in summer
there are the tea-garden dissipations of a popular Vauxhall. At the top,
the artificial lake’s feeders are bridged by the road; at the bottom,
the Brent is released from a dam not so large as that of the Nile at
Assouan; then below, the once flowery banks of this stream seem as if
blighted by the Metropolitan Railway works at Neasden.

Mr. Chadband might well rebuke the writer who should compare the Welsh
Harp Water to Loch Katrine or Windermere; but there is some pretty
scenery to be looked for about its lower end. One surprising feature
here is Kingsbury Church, that, not 300 yards off a suburban road,
stands among quiet meadows almost out of sight of any house. On a slight
eminence, shaded by funereal evergreens set in a frame of hedgerow
timber, its red roof makes a cheerful spot of colour, and the interior
shows a refreshingly old-fashioned simplicity. So close to London, one
might suppose it a secluded country church, but for the predominance of
elegant tombstones betraying its congregation as no mere villagers. The
original structure has been claimed as Anglo-Saxon. Some antiquarian
spectacles make out here the site of a Roman camp; while there seems
better reason to take this _King’s burgh_ as the first Saxon settlement
in Middlesex, in a sense the nucleus of modern London, when the place
may have been more populous than it is to-day, but for its _annexe_
Neasden. The

[Illustration: HENDON]

village of Kingsbury has drifted nearly a mile to the north, where it
lies stranded about its “Green Man,” past which a by-way from Harrow
leads into the Edgware Road at the hamlet called the Hyde. Hyde House
Farm here, a little off the highway, is understood to have given a
country retreat to Goldsmith, who is heard of as lodging at other points
on the Edgware Road.

The mile or so’s breadth of country stretching two or three miles back
from the Edgware Road, between Kingsbury and Harrow, makes an
extraordinary vacuum in the teeming life of Greater London. For reasons
based on a heavy clay soil, it does not lend itself to builders’
designs. Of late a few villas have straggled on to the lanes between
Kingsbury and its lonely church; else few but scattered farm-buildings
break this green expanse, a preserve of real rurality, traversed by
lanes and hedgerow paths giving solitary ways across brooks and meadows,
northward to Edgware, westward to Harrow, so little trodden that
blackberries can grow ripe here within sound of the Metropolitan Railway
whistles, and the plainest hint of London’s close neighbourhood is a
crop of notices to trespassers. On the north side lurk two isolation
hospitals; in the centre, towards Harrow, come the hamlets of Preston
and Kenton; on the south, at the foot of a bold hill-swell towards
Wembley, lie the buildings of Uxendon Farm, where poor Anthony Babington
was captured to answer for his abortive conspiracy. Horseflesh seems to
thrive on these fat pastures. Though Kingsbury Races have been well
abolished, there are stud paddocks on the Wembley side, as well as great
army stables near the Edgware Road; and it was somewhere hereabouts, if
one be not mistaken, that Mr. Soapey Sponge came to equip himself for
his sporting campaign.

The other side of the Edgware Road is far better populated, for, at the
“New” Welsh Harp, above the “Old” one, it touches the growth of Hendon,
stretching and straggling across almost to the Finchley Road. Our
tram-line passes close to Hendon Station, a mile below the row of old
almshouses where one turns aside to the Church of which Hampstead’s was
once a chapelry. This, with its monuments of dignity, has the air of a
true village church, and its shady churchyard overlooks green slopes.
Beyond Church End comes a knot of lanes, bordered by new and old houses,
one of which belonged to David Garrick. But elsewhere Hendon has grown
too much “up to date,” and its outskirts are beset by huge piles of
public buildings, among them the new newspaper depot of the British
Museum Library. In the southern quarter, dropping to the Brent, one
might think oneself back in London; while to the north greedy tongues of
brick still stretch out over green fields, on which Anthony Trollope’s
readers may remember how Polly Kneefit was wooed and won.

But there are some pleasant field-walks left about Hendon, and as our
tram for the next two or three miles will show us little beside
workhouse palaces and the like, the reader may as well be taken on
towards Edgware by a circuitous route across country. About two miles
north of the Hendon heights another ridge is crowned by the more eminent
features of Mill Hill. For this one may make by two paths starting from
Hendon Churchyard, on either side of a line of villas projecting
northwards. The field-path on the west side is to be preferred for its
open view on the heights of Harrow and Stanmore. After a mile it comes
into a road, that bridges the Great Northern Railway branch to Edgware,
and presently turns up an avenued way, from the top of which a path
mounts over park-like meadows with fine backward prospects, leading into
Mill Hill opposite its “King’s Head.” If here one turned right as far as
the “Adam and Eve,” beside it one could come back to Hendon by the other
path above mentioned, passing near the Great Northern Railway Station,
from which a road climbs to Mill Hill’s “Angel and Crown.” Such a place
has to take the consequences of its loftiness in keeping both its valley
stations at a distance, a mile or so to the south. Down the northern
slope of the ridge lead other pleasant field-ways, that would bring us
to Totteridge on the next swell of land, which belongs to that inlet of
Hertfordshire crossed by the Great North Road.

This finely situated village straggles roomily along the swarded and
shaded ridge road, dropping at the west end into a valley in which lies
its Midland station. Where our paths from Hendon come out upon the road,
to the left we have the Church, making a very modest appearance in face
of a Nonconformist neighbour that turns a conspicuous face to the
south. This is Mill Hill School, founded a century ago as a
Congregational seminary, and now flourishing as an undenominational
public school, which has had among its pupils Judge Talfourd, Lamb’s
friend, and among its masters Dr. Murray, of the “Oxford Dictionary,” an
enterprise begun here in the “Scriptorium,” that made a treasured shrine
till lately destroyed by fire. Older relics are the cedars and other
fine trees, some of them said to have been planted by the hands of
Linnæus, when these grounds made Collinson’s Botanic Garden. The school
has now a chapel that would open the eyes of primitive sectaries, and a
museum representing the natural history of the neighbourhood.

While this school has thrown off all particularity of austere dissent,
Mill Hill bears a banyan-grove of Catholic institutions, which stand
prominent about the ridge, St. Vincent’s Orphanage to the east, at the
other end a Franciscan nunnery with an adjacent industrial school, and
behind it St. Joseph’s Missionary College, its tower crowned by a
conspicuous gilt statue, stamped on the memory of its _alumni_ in all
parts of the heathen world. The place seems thus to be mostly made up of
public buildings, the more so now that barracks have been built at the
east end of the ridge; but of late there appear signs of suburban
invasion towards the Midland station.

The wanderer in no hurry should by all means keep on to the west end of
Mill Hill, and thence mount to Highwood, a height running across to the
next ridge, thus gained most pleasantly when the clay bottom between is
well soaked. Highwood itself is a select hamlet, about the gates of
three mansions and their grounds. The gardens of the Moat Manor make a
sight open on Sundays, and here is another relic of old London,
ex-neighbour of Temple Bar, the Hall of Serjeants’ Inn, re-erected by
the late Serjeant Cox, on the dissolution of the society. Highwood
House, where Coventry Patmore lived in his youth, was once the home of
Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore and of the Zoological
Gardens, who had Samuel Wilberforce for a neighbour. On coming up to a
little patch of green before the “Rising Sun,” one can turn along by a
road of grand old trees hiding these mansions, which presently reaches a
stile looking over to the ridge on which Barnet stands, and here forks,
the left branch going up to Barnet Gate, the right one running airily
along the Totteridge ridge with its mile of village green. Or, a little
way beyond the “Rising Sun,” one might have taken a lane turning left by
the gate of Moat Manor, then presently a field-path to the right, which
goes down and up to the road by Barnet Gate, giving off a left fork to
reach this road nearer Elstree. So near London it is not easy to find a
stretch of country that seems so well to keep its rural innocence wedded
to squirely dignity, though, indeed, its squires are now like to have
the luck of being Metropolitan brewers or newspaper proprietors.

To get back to Watling Street from Highwood, one takes the road downhill
in the other direction, turning to the right where in doubt till Dean’s
Brook is passed, beside which a path cuts across towards the station at
Edgware. Turns to the left would have fetched Mill Hill Midland Station,
whence a path leads to the winding lane that reaches the London end of
Edgware through its dependency Hale. From Hendon the shortest line is
through Colin Dale, by which, perhaps, came a branch of the ancient way
leading over Hampstead Heath.

On the opposite side of the Edgware Road, marked ways go off towards
Kingsbury and Harrow. There is not much to say about Red Hill and the
last two miles of this road, on which the tram-line stops for the
present at the top of the village street, still looking like a real
village, with old inns that hint at its importance in coaching days. The
original name is said to have been _Edgworth_, transplanted into Ireland
by the family of the novelist. On the right turns off the way to the
station, beyond the Church, with its ancient tower. The turning to the
left, for Stanmore, leads in a few minutes to Whitchurch, where Handel
was, or was not, organist for a time; and in the churchyard is the tomb
of William Powell, that Edgware Vulcan whose rhythmic hammerings were
understood to have suggested the melody of the “Harmonious Blacksmith”;
but this legend is doubtful. Dr. W. H. Cummings, in his book on Handel,
claims to have proved it a fable. This church is notable for the Chandos
tombs and the elaborate ornamentation supplied by the prodigal Duke of
Chandos, who was Handel’s patron as well as Hogarth’s. His seat, Canons
Park, still overshadows Whitchurch and the upper end of Edgware with its
timber, but it seems about to share the fate of all “eligible building
land” so near London.

James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos, held the then profitable office of
Paymaster-General under Queen Anne, and out of its perquisites built
here what Defoe described as the most magnificent palace in the kingdom,
surrounded by gardens and canals that could be equalled only at Wanstead
Park, another English Versailles, now a playground of East-End
Londoners. The Canons household numbered over a hundred persons,
including a guard to make the rounds of the park at night, and musicians
for giving that despoiler of the public purse the luxury of a full
choral service in his chapel, to accompany a preacher who “never
mentioned hell to ears polite.” At his dinner in public state each
course was proclaimed by a flourish of trumpets. Nor was music the only
art he patronized in an outlay which seems to have given Pope a cue for
his satirical account of Timon’s Villa.

    Lo! what huge heaps of littleness around,
    The whole a laboured quarry above ground.

The Duke was also a butt for Swift’s sneering muse. The Dean asserts
that he lost by speculation what he had gained by fraud.

    His wings are clipped: he tries no more in vain,
    With bands of fiddlers to extend his train.

After his death the huge construction vanished like a South Sea bubble,
being literally treated as a quarry for less pretentious buildings, no
one caring to buy a home that had cost a quarter of a million, while the
sumptuous Duke at one time cherished a project for a town palace in
Cavendish Square.

As a relic of his expensive ways, the country hereabouts is still seamed
with green roads which he constructed for driving himself about; then,
it being no one’s business to keep them up, they have fallen into a
state of picturesque abandonment, not altogether admirable in wet
weather. The well-greaved pedestrian would find such a by-way on turning
right from the tram-line at the end of the village to a house
sentinelled by a spreading tree, where this broad, soft lane goes off on
the left. When, after a mile of green solitude, it bends back towards
the high road, he can take a path continuing its former direction, which
leads over the fields to Edgwarebury, a most sequestered hamlet, reached
on wheels by another lane from Edgware. Then beside the first house a
grassy track mounts to the ridge road near Elstree, from which one has a
wide prospect southwards. This road, leading from Elstree to Barnet, is
here the edge of Middlesex.

From Edgware to Elstree the highway mounts for three miles, in about two
gaining the top of Brockley Hill, the beauty-spot of the road, as is
Highwood of the country to its right and Stanmore Common to its left.
Brockley Hill is notable to philanthropists for Miss Wardell’s Scarlet
Fever Convalescent Home, and to antiquaries as the supposed site of the
Roman

[Illustration: RUINED CHURCH AT STANMORE]

Sulloniacæ, while all wayfarers may stop here to admire the view upon
the northern heights of London. Else, the main interest of this part of
Watling Street is its branches along the north side of Canons Park, then
again at Brockley Hill, both for Great Stanmore, that lies about a mile
to the left, Little Stanmore being an _alias_ of Whitchurch. Hence a
footpath wanders across to the larger place, at the crossways outside of
which one can turn up a most shady road to come out on the Common,
without passing through the village.

Stanmore is a roomy and bowery place, that perhaps owes a certain air of
dignified seclusion to the fact of its being reached only by a short
branch of the London and North-Western Railway. The first feature that
strikes one is the handsome new Church, standing beside the ivied shell
of its predecessor, consecrated by Laud, in which some monuments are
preserved; but there was an older church that has disappeared. One next
observes that Stanmore is uncommonly well off for wealthy inhabitants,
to judge by its mansions. The most illustrious of these is Bentley
Priory, showing stately on the side of the wooded ridge westward. This,
taking its name from an ancient monastery, has had notable owners and
visitors. A century ago it was the seat of the Marquis of Abercorn, who
entertained here many celebrities, among them Sir Walter Scott while he
was revising the proofs of “Marmion.” After the death of William IV.
Bentley Priory was occupied by Queen Adelaide, and she died here in
1849. For a time it was turned into an hotel, and when this enterprise
did not prosper, the house was taken for his own residence by a
well-known hotel proprietor. Stanmore Park, to the south, houses a
school; and a golf-ground stretches below the partly artificial mound of
Belmont, looking over to Harrow from its south edge.

On the upper side of the road, mounting beside the grounds of Bentley
Priory, spreads Stanmore Common, a fine piece of heath and copsewood,
whose knolls and hollows are the highest open ground in Middlesex. When
the west end of the Common is left behind by the road, it rises gently
to the highest point (503 feet) at the cross-roads, with an “Alpine
Coffee House” for hospice. The milestone, some 200 yards ahead, marks
the edge of Herts, in which the main road runs on to Bushey and Watford,
with turns dropping to Harrow Weald and Pinner, and ways on the other
side to Aldenham and Elstree.

At the corner of the Common behind Stanmore Hall, above the village, a
path is marked for Elstree, leading down a slope and past a curious
obelisk in a circle of trees, which, like the celebrated monument
discovered by Mr. Pickwick, bears various interpretations, local legends
varying from the tomb of Boadicea to a record of the ending of pursuit
after the Battle of Barnet. The red roofs of Elstree soon come in sight,
and, to the left of it, the Aldenham Lake, another canal reservoir which
plays a fine part in the landscape. Elstree welcomes us into Herts and
back to Watling Street, going on greenly to St. Albans, the oldest city
of England, its Roman structures beheld with such wonder by rude Saxon
invaders that they attributed it to the _Watling_ giants of their
mythology: hence the road seems to have taken on this name.

But one might choose rather to turn towards Harrow and the scenes of our
next chapter. This we can do delightfully in various ways: by the
park-bordered road coming down over Harrow Weald from the highest point
of Middlesex; by a beautiful path beginning near Stanmore Church, to
wind at the foot of the ridge under the grounds of Bentley Priory; or by
a field-way leaving the lowest road to Stanmore on the left, just as it
gets out of Edgware, and holding on past Belmont to the green lanes
about Kenton. The stranger needs no guidance where the far-seen spire of
Harrow makes a beacon.



VI

HARROW AND PINNER


The road to Harrow is as crooked as the Edgware Road is straight.
Through Paddington the former takes puzzling turns, in part forced upon
it by the great railway terminus; and only beyond the “Royal Oak”
station is its course clearly buoyed by red and yellow omnibuses.
Browning lived in this quarter, beside the Regent’s Canal, where he
found a touch of Venice; but it takes a poet’s eye to discover
picturesqueness on the first stages of the Harrow Road, as it mounts
between Westbourne Park and Maida Vale to a confluence of half a dozen
ways at the “Prince of Wales.” Now choked by a tramway, it passes Kensal
Green, London’s largest cemetery, where lie in peace all kinds of
celebrities, from princes to authors, beneath a forest of tombstones,
spaciously enclosed among streets, chimney stacks, gas-works, railway
and canal banks, public houses for the cheering of mutes and
mourners--an elaborate contrast to such a country churchyard as might
make the weary soul half in love with death.

Thence our road runs on through the town that has grown up about
Willesden Junction, which should properly be Harlesden; but, like
Clapham Junction, this labyrinth of bridged platforms has made a wide
cast for a name. A mile or two further the road is no better than a
street; and when it at last gets out into fields across the Brent, the
shades of building begin to close upon it again beside Wembley Park, its
gaps of green soon becoming more and more filled up by the spasmodic
growth of Sudbury, which seems uncertain whether it wants to tack itself
on to Wembley or to Harrow. To the north is designed for it a new growth
styled the Sudbury Model Garden City, whose placarded promises appear in
the fields through which the highway turns shirkingly along the side of
Harrow Hill. Henceforth known as the Pinner Road, this is the shortest
way to the stations at the lower north end of Harrow, and gives off
paths to its high quarters. But to them the arduous approach for wheels
is by the loop road climbing the ridge at Sudbury Hill.

An opener way on foot towards Harrow is by the Paddington Canal, that,
to the left of the road, indulges in most uncanal-like windings, so as
to supply an ornament of the landscape. This may be gained beside
Wormwood Scrubs, which, overcast by a gloomy prison, seems one of the
least attractive parks of London; nor is the canal bank for a time more
pleasant to the eye than to the nose, when one comes in wind of its
refuse-destruction stations. But about Alperton it has pretty views of
the heights of Ealing and Hanwell across the sinuous course of the
Brent; then, as it gets below Horsendon Hill, that tiny Alp may be
ascended for a prospect over green flats broken by straight
railway-lines and by the curves of the canal. The most striking feature
here is the cluster of red roofs on the wooded top of Harrow Hill, to
which we can hold on by paths and lanes. But if we keep the canal bank,
our warning to turn off for Harrow will be the group of idle chimneys at
Greenford Green, the monument of a ruined industry--those aniline dyes,
introduced by Sir W. H. Perkin, which have gone to be made in Germany.

The pleasantest way to Harrow is on the right of its titular road, by
Willesden and Neasden. From the Edgware Road one can turn up Willesden
Lane, rising as a lane of gentility, or by its loop, Brondesbury Park,
leading past the Manor House, transformed into a girls’ boarding-school.
This rejoins Willesden Lane where the latter has become the High Road,
beyond Willesden Green Station in Walm Lane; then for a time one must
bear with a tram-line and other traffic through the meaner part of the
place. But at the sign of “The Case is Altered,” leaving the church
quarter to the left, a way goes up by the “Spotted Dog” and the
Metropolitan Station of Neasden to Neasden Green, here uniting with
Dollis Hill Lane along the north side of Gladstone Park. Thence our way
on to Harrow is rural--the first mile or so, indeed, being rather
commonplace--down to the hollow of the Brent, and up, past the turning
for Kingsbury Church, to a fork of roads at the top of Blackbird Hill.
The left branch leads shadily and windingly above Wembley Park, that
ambitious attempt at a north-western pleasure palace, whose stumpy Tower
of Babel, long at a stick, will now cease to be a landmark and an
eyesore. Beside Barn Hill, on the other hand, one bears to the left
under the Metropolitan Railway, then over the London and North-Western
Railway, skirting the back quarters of Sudbury, and coming into the
highroad below Harrow at the well-named One Hundred Elms Farm. But, if
the clay soil be not too well soaked, the pedestrian may take most of
his way by field-paths through that green interval pointed out under the
head of Kingsbury as refreshingly free from suburbification. I have
walked across it on a fine summer evening without meeting a human being
once I got off the roads.[B]

[B] In my guide _Around London_, the main paths over this interval were
traced from Harrow, but not outwards, a fault that may be here repaired.
The road from Willesden and Neasden forks at the top of its ascent from
the Brent. Follow the right branch till it makes a sharp crook, opposite
which, over a gate (left), a path mounts the side of a spacious paddock.
The stile at the top opens a fine view of the Stanmore and Mill Hill
heights, and henceforth the way is most truly rural. Keep the path
downwards, which beyond the first hedge turns left over a stile, then,
with Harrow Church in view, trends right over a large slope, and wanders
into a lane beside a little bridge at Preston. A sign-post opposite
shows its continuation to Kenton, crossing two foot-bridges and coming
out on the road by a crooked green lane. Across the road, it is
continued past Kenton Lodge by a blind by-way, at the turn of which
another sign-post points the path on to Edgware. Hence its line is
almost straight, made plain by stiles and wicket-gates, over a lane,
past a group of red-brick hospital buildings and up a slope, from the
top of which one sees Whitchurch nestling among the trees of Canons
Park, and the more conspicuous tower of Edgware to the right. In the
last field, near a little brook crossed by a foot-bridge, this path
joins one from Edgware to Harrow, which of course would make a
roundabout route from Kingsbury, yet worth taking for its long stretch
of green. The direct way for Harrow is to turn left on the lane from the
bridge at Preston, going up to crossways marked by a block of buildings
that seem to have strayed out of a London street. Opposite this, on the
right, a field-path leads to Woodcock Hill, and across the road here, by
the north side of the farm, goes on to Harrow, traversing the
North-Western and Metropolitan lines near where they intersect each
other.

So, by one way or other, we come to Harrow Hill, on which stands up the
“visible church” of Charles II.‘s little joke. This hill, or isolated
ridge, not so high as Hampstead, with a slighter topping of sand, wears
a trim wig of houses and gardens instead of shaggy heath, and most of it
is enclosed. The openest part is about the north end, where the church
spire rises so conspicuously looking across the Thames Valley to Eton
and Windsor, while over smoky London the Crystal Palace may be seen, or
even the tower on Leith Hill. To the eye of faith, a dozen counties lie
in view. For enjoying this prospect, there are seats on the terrace
outside; but the consecrated view-point is that tombstone--railed in
from relic-stealing admirers, as graves in Thames-side churchyards were
fortified against the ghoulism of body-snatchers--on which Byron loved
to lie in pensive reverie, and to gaze at the setting sun. From his
_Hours of Idleness_ it may be gathered

[Illustration: HARROW]

that the discipline of Harrow was looser in that day, when his
playfellows seem to have roamed the country somewhat freely and
adventurously at risk of “the rustic’s musket aimed against my life,”
getting now and then into mischief, as the young poet confesses:

    Nor shrunk beneath the upstart pedant’s frown,
    And all the sable glories of his gown.

Their unlicensed sport of Jack-o‘-lantern hunting by night was not put
down finally till long after the abolition of the once famous Silver
Arrow contest. One feature in Byron’s amusements suggests poetic as well
as scholastic license--“the streams where we swam” and “shared the
produce of the river’s spoil.” “Ducker” was not yet made; it could
hardly be the Paddington Canal that offered “buoyant billows.” “Brent’s
cool wave,” if cleaner then, is a matter of three miles off at Perivale,
which, as we learn from prosaic authorities, was the favourite
bathing-place of that day. Such smaller streams as trickle about Harrow
could yield no better spoil than sticklebacks. The one thing wanting to
its prospects is a river like the “hoary Thames,” by which rival
scholars,

    Full many a sprightly race,
    Disporting on its margin green,
    The paths of pleasure trace.

About this height, shining in Dr. Parr’s eyes “with the united glories
of Zion and Parnassus,” cluster the buildings of a school that stands
high among “our public hives of puerile resort.” The Church had been
built by Lanfranc, when “Herga” was a manor and seat of the Canterbury
Primates. The School was founded under Elizabeth by John Lyon, that
public-spirited squireen or yeoman of Preston, at which his house still
stands, and he has a memorial in the church among other old brasses and
ornaments. The tercentenary of his school came in 1871, when a fund was
raised among Harrovians to add the new buildings that throw into shade
their old schoolroom, boasting the names of Byron, Peel, Palmerston, and
others destined to be carved on our national records. The chapel is
rather older, but till two generations ago the boys attended the Parish
Church. Scattered around are the boarding-houses that have sprung up
about a modest nucleus; then further afield come the playing-grounds,
almost as important as schoolrooms in contemporary theories of
education.

Harrow has had its ups and downs; but long ago it passed out of the rank
of a provincial grammar-school, and it now counts some 600 scholars who,
what with work and play, have not much time for lying on tombstones and
gazing at sunsets. Under rulers of Liberal sentiments, it came to be
looked on as rather the Whig public school; yet, as sign of scholastic
conservatism, the costume of the upper boys is still the absurd
swallow-tail coat of our great-grandfathers, which produces a most
incongruous effect when worn with a straw hat and flannel trousers. The
Duke of Genoa, who lived with Matthew Arnold, and had the crown of Spain
offered him as still a Harrow schoolboy, was precociously bearded while
his rank in the school kept him in short jackets; then the arbiters of
such matters were for granting him the privilege of “charity tails”; but
the young Prince is understood to have refused such a distinction till
earned by merit.

That pious founder would rub his eyes could he see to what has grown the
school he meant, no doubt, mainly for the benefit of his neighbours’
boys, though he allowed the entrance of “foreigners,” who have ousted
the natives. The sons of yeomen and tradesmen are now provided for by a
humbler seminary, an inch of the endowment being appropriated to them
rather than an ell. But as day-boys are admitted as well as boarders in
the masters’ houses, families of the better class have been brought to
settle here, to the prospering of Harrow, now expanded with a population
of over 10,000, spread out in smart streets and lines of villas that run
into once outlying hamlets.

Nearly two miles to the north lies Wealdstone, a village that gives a
sub-title to Harrow’s railway station on the London and North Western
Railway. The Metropolitan and Great Central station, distinguished as
Harrow-on-the-Hill, comes a mile nearer on the same road, at Greenhill.
Now the District Railway has an electric line to Roxeth, on the south
side of Harrow Hill. The school authorities appear not much concerned to
promote close intercourse with Metropolitan distractions; and as yet
they have been able to play Canute to the trams threatening to advance
from Harlesden. Therein they ill follow the example of John Lyon, who
left part of his endowment for improving the roads that, on this heavy
clay soil, kept waggons a whole day jolting from Harrow to London.

The meadows round the hill are traversed by foot-ways, some of them,
indeed, overlaid by new roads; but there still run many pleasant paths
through the fields, and Harrow’s learned masters profess to be able to
find their way for a dozen miles across country, with few interruptions
of macadam. By such paths, eastwards, one can make for the hamlets of
Kenton and Preston, and so on to Edgware or Kingsbury over that interval
of open country already mentioned. Westwards, over flatter ground, lie
the leafy hamlets we shall come to presently from Pinner. Southwards are
reached the still genuine villages of Northholt, Greenford, and Yeading,
in that “Pure Vale” of our next chapter. Northwards the wooded brow of
Harrow Weald makes a contrast of scenery, to which the straight way is
by the populous road through Wealdstone and the further village called
Harrow Weald, a name representing the slope of forest now trimmed and
enclosed as private parks. Through these the road leads up to the
“Hare,” where to the left opens Harrow Weald Common, and a mile further
on the cross-roads at the edge of Bushey Heath mark that highest point
of Middlesex we have already reached from Stanmore.

It is a good hour’s walk from Harrow Church to its lofty common. Feet
impatient of road-tramping can reach it a little more deviously by
turning off to the left, nearly a mile beyond Wealdstone, at the
“Alma.” This path may seem not very promising at first, but it bends as
a bit of road round an enclosure, and ends as a green lane leading up to
the road through Hatch End at the foot of the ridge. On the other side
of this road, a few paces to the right, opens a narrow path, converging
with a better one that goes off through wicket-gates at the corner in
the other direction, towards Pinner. This mounts up to a farm and thence
to a pretty hamlet bearing the nickname “Harrow Weald City,” beside
which one gets on to the Common, a broken and roughly-wooded expanse
commanding fine views from its knolls and edges. At the west end is the
park enclosure of Graeme’s Dyke House, the home of Mr. W. S. Gilbert,
who here figures as a grave magistrate and substantial squire, but
elsewhere has dealt in “magic and spells.” The name he spells so is from
Grim’s Dyke, a very ancient rampart which has been held to mark the
limit of Belgic intrusion among Celtic tribes; but the same name belongs
to similar works in other parts of England, and the origin of this one
seems uncertain. It may be traced as a slight swell in the meadows to
the right of a road hence descending to join Oxhey Lane, the way for
Watford, across which a path along the Dyke holds on to Pinner.

The highroad from Harrow to Pinner is not very pleasing in its first
stage; but here again the pedestrian may turn a little out of his way
with advantage. A lane to the right, near the Recreation Ground, brings
him up to the Headstone, now a picturesquely moated farm, once a seat
of the Archbishops of Canterbury; and thence a field-path rambles
greenly on to Pinner Church. On the other side of the highroad, one
could have taken a path, westward from the cricket field below Harrow
Church, to the rifle butts, where it ends as a lane presently crooking
north to lead into the shady outskirts of Pinner.

Pinner is a good old village that has taken a vigorous new growth on the
stalk of the Metropolitan Railway, rooted in the business quarters of
London. It still keeps an air of rustic charm among the sophistications
of villadom, and it is ringed about with parks and pretty
hamlets--Pinner Green further on the road, Eastcote to the south,
Woodridings and Hatch End to the north, connected by crooked lanes and
green paths, which, indeed, begin to be too often cut up by builders.
Its heart may be marked at the station of the Metropolitan line, which
here plays the part of landlord as well as carrier. From the railway and
the Pin brook, turns up the main street, showing some old houses, real
and artificial, as it mounts to the Church, an ancient one, altered and
restored with picturesque effect in its shady nook. In the churchyard
stands prominent the ivy-wreathed tomb of William Loudon, a Scotsman,
who a century ago had the whim of directing that he should be buried
above ground, as he is in this curious structure. It is more than a mile
on to the London and North Western station, which, near a lordly pile of
Commercial Travellers’ schools, marks the north purlieus of the place,
whence one can ascend to Harrow Weald and Bushey Heath by Grim’s Dyke
or by the path from Hatch End already mentioned.

On this rising ground it is less easy to miss one’s way; but I despair
of helping my reader not to lose himself in the labyrinth of shady
roads, muddy, grassy lanes and bowery paths that lead southwards and
westwards from Pinner, through a delightful country, difficult to
describe without a repetition of hackneyed epithets. The best I can do
is to recommend him to No. 1 of a little series of penny guides
published at the booking offices of the Metropolitan Railway, in which
he has a selection of these ways traced for him; or he might find the
west section of my guide _Around London_ of use, like other pathfinders
of the kind. But the advice I should give myself, if at leisure on a
fine day, would simply be to get lost in a leafy maze dotted with
guide-posts to keep one from going far astray, even without the help of
map and compass.

One ramble of two or three hours to be suggested is by a chain of
old-world villages, such as often surprise one in this populous county,
as do quaint, tumbledown cottages here and there preserved like flies in
the amber of a spick-and-span suburb. But how long will these hamlets
keep their rusticity, now that they are threaded by the Metropolitan
branch to Uxbridge, not to speak of the new Great Central and Great
Western joint line to Wycombe? Before the foul breath of London has
blighted them, let my client, by one of two or three ways, make for
Eastcote, a most rustic straggling of cottages a mile or two south-west
from Pinner. When he has got to the end of this village on the road to
Ruislip, a bridge on the right shows him where to take a field-path
along a brook, then under the edge of the large Park Wood, in which is
set Ruislip Lake, another of those canal reservoirs that make such a
fine show in Middlesex. It lies to the west side of the wood, through
which a way to it might be found from Pinner Green or from the “Ship” of
Eastcote.

The village of Ruislip stands to the south of Park Wood, where the
Church shows its flint tower set on a rise among fat farms, beside the
course of the brook we have followed from Eastcote. This low height
marks a watershed, for the brook wanders on by Ickenham and Hillingdon
to the Colne, whereas the streams on the other side unite to make the
Crane. Ruislip Church is dedicated to St. Martin, as may be guessed from
a niched figure on the west front representing that charitable soldier
in the act of dividing his cloak; and from its size one may understand
how it was no ordinary parish church, but connected with a monastic
community, whose land here passed into the hands of a Cambridge college.
It ranks among the finest village churches in the county, the parish
itself being larger and more populous than appears from the picturesque
knot of houses clustered about this central point. The churchyard
commands a pleasant prospect over swells of wood and meadow, that fall
to duller aspects, cut off by the Metropolitan branch passing to the
south of the village.

[Illustration: PINNER]

By a passage beside the picturesque old “Swan,” opposite the Church,
there is a way across Ruislip Park, on whose privacy the builder has set
seals of doom. This leads into the road for Ickenham, about a mile off,
beyond the Great Western Railway station for both villages, each of them
having an adjacent “halt” of the Metropolitan line, that begins to sow
suburban villas on the fields it has ploughed up, where as yet real
cottages bear their crop of ruddy cheeks and hobnailed boots. Ickenham
seems a still quieter and quainter hamlet than Ruislip; and its old
Church’s shingled spire, set among time-weathered tombs, makes a better
match with the surroundings than does the baronial pump by the pond
opposite. This, like a true country village, lies under the squirely
shadow of Swakeleys, the best-preserved seventeenth-century manor-hall
left in Middlesex, if Holland House be put out of account. It was built
by a city father shortly before the Civil War, soon after which, when in
the hands of another Lord Mayor, it came to be visited with due
admiration by Mr. Pepys, who saw there one odd sight, the body of a
black boy which his master had dried to keep in a box. The only fault
the garrulous diarist had to find with the place was as “not very modern
in the garden nor house, but the most uniform in all that ever I saw.”

Swakeleys may be brought to sight by taking a footpath opposite the
parsonage, beyond Ickenham Church, which leads into the park. After
crossing several stiles, one can follow the right branch of the path
into the drive, passing along the course of a stream that here forms an
artificial sheet of water, across which the mansion shows its mellowed
front. On coming out of the park, one finds a rising footway on the
left, marked “Uxbridge,” which in a mile or so leads to the east end of
the town by a road coming over the high ground of Uxbridge Common; or
Belmont Road, diverging on the right, would emerge near the west end,
passing the Metropolitan Station. Instead of making for Uxbridge from
the gate above mentioned, one might turn back by a track through
Swakeley Park, giving an excellent view of the mansion from the
south-west, well seen also, when the leaves are off, from the lodge on
the road between Ickenham and Uxbridge, into which this path leads. A
branch of the same road takes one through the Hillingdon Parks to the
Uxbridge tram-line, struck a mile or so short of the town, at what is
the most Arcadian reach of this rather useful than ornamental highway.

Ruislip and Ickenham may also be gained from Northwood, the next station
on the Metropolitan main line, three miles beyond Pinner, where London
has again sown a thicket of suburban avenues among patches of wild wood
and banks of sand. By the golf-links, to the left of the high-road, a
path leads past Ruislip Lake and its woods to an outlying hamlet visited
by modest tea-feasters, from which it is a short mile to Ruislip Church;
or just beyond Northwood Church, further on, one can take a road to
Ickenham or Uxbridge, passing over Duck’s Hill, through reaches of
wood, then almost touching the lake at the hamlet above mentioned,
where, by its “Six Bells,” goes off to the right a path for Harefield.
On old maps one observes how large a stretch of this leafy ground is
Ruislip Common, and it may be as well not to ask how so much of it came
to be enclosed as game preserves and such-like.

On the other side of the Metropolitan Railway at Northwood, the
Hertfordshire border is marked by the Oxhey Woods, through which one
might ramble on past the secluded Oxhey Chapel, and near the London and
North-Western main line as a guide to Watford. The high-road reaches the
edge of Middlesex at the top of the ascent beyond Northwood Church,
where it comes out on Batchworth Heath, a spacious village green about
the gates of Moor Park. Here, from an open height of about 350 feet,
there is a view over Harrow Hill upon London and the Surrey hills
beyond; and hence, by a right of way across the park, one can walk on to
Rickmansworth. But to keep in Middlesex one must turn left from the
high-road on to high ground over the valley of the Colne, with the Grand
Junction Canal running beside it as the straightest way to Uxbridge.

These are only hints of rambles in this hilly and thickly-wooded
north-western corner, which one is tempted to proclaim as the _bouquet_
of the county’s scenery. But then, one had another opinion when fresh
from the parks and meadows of the north-eastern corner beyond Enfield,
or from Hampstead Heath, or from the high ground about Stanmore.
Without attempting to adjudge the golden apple among such rivals, let us
next turn to a part of Middlesex that can put in no claim to the prize
of beauty, although Cobbett _faisait des siennes_ in spurning its flats
as “all ugly.”



VII

THE WESTERN ROADS


On the somewhat flat south-western corner of Middlesex, the most zealous
advocate may find it more difficult to call evidence to character than
on behalf of its northern heights. Yet cyclists and horses might have a
good word to say for this plain, over which three main arteries of
traffic run from the west end of London--the Uxbridge road, the Great
Western road by Slough, and the South-Western road diverging from the
latter at Hounslow. Along these highways let us string the spots of
interest and beauty that must be confessed to make oases in a part of
the county describable as attending rather strictly to business.

From Shepherd’s Bush the Uxbridge road is distinguished by the first
long line of electric trams that led out of London to the furthest edge
of Middlesex. The Metropolitan boundary is soon crossed as this tram
slides into Acton Vale, to the right of which a shabby fragment of Old
Oak Common, adjoining Wormwood Scrubs, was once a resort for its mineral
wells; and in our own generation a futile attempt was made at setting
up here a popular pleasure ground. It looks for a little as if the road
were getting into open country, but soon the streets of Acton undeceive
us, stretching on to Ealing. This _Oak Town_, whose first record is as
pasture-ground for the Bishop of London’s pigs, has had noble and
notable residents in its time, Baxter’s _Saints’ Rest_ having been
written here, as well as some of Bulwer Lytton’s novels. At present it
is not an Elysian suburb, even its open spaces being much enclosed as
athletic arenas; but it has two bits of park on either side of the
highway, and turning up Horn Lane from the rebuilt Church, one comes on
a hollow called the Steyne, that gives some hint what the place was in
its village simplicity. The pleasantest part of it seems Acton Green, a
mile to the south, bordering the “æsthetic” amenities of Bedford Park.

At the west end of Acton, just before the road reaches Ealing Common,
stood Fordhook, Fielding’s house, at one time occupied by Byron’s widow,
that only since the coming of the tram has given place to homes for
reformed Tom Joneses and respectable Pamelas of our generation. Among
these spick-and-span houses, the name of a brand-new road, Twyford
Avenue, invites the pedestrian to a rural digression. At the top of it,
what is still a hedged path leads on under the slope of Hangerhill, a
park on which golf has laid its privy paw as on so many about London.
This path debouches beside the open space enclosed as Park Royal to make
a permanent show-ground for the Royal Agricultural Society, an
experiment that proved a failure. Passing to the left, one soon reaches
Twyford Abbey on the bank of the Brent, where green slopes and the
remains of a fine avenue seem threatened on all sides. To this smallest
parish near London a tributary brook gives the name so common among
England’s double fords. The modern mansion, titled on surmise of an
abbey having once stood here, has quite recently deserved its name by
passing to a community of foreign monks, whom the whirligig of time
brings to seek refuge in our heretical island. These Catholic owners
fail to provide a parson for the adjacent extraparochial chapel or
miniature church, that does no credit to the Anglican Establishment. For
want of a congregation as well as an officiant, Twyford Church stands
secluded in silent decay, not yet come to the point of picturesqueness,
its windows broken, its graves neglected, the path leading to it choked
by weeds. Hence, turning a mile or so westward down the Brent, one
reaches another of the many “smallest churches in England,” whose name,
Perivale, has been interpreted as _Parva_; but in old books it bears
more than one _alias_, “Peryfare” and “Purevale.”

The Pure Vale seems to have been a title of admiration given to the rich
valley south of Harrow--a name which must have had a wider extent than
this tiny parish, if Drayton kept within the bounds of poetic license in
making the Colne perceive Perivale “pranked up with wreaths of wheat.”
This whole countryside was long famed for wheat, as it now is for hay;
and Fuller says of Perivale, what has also been boasted for Heston,
near Southall, that it had the honour of supplying flour for the King’s
table. Perivale Church is in very different case from its luckless
neighbour, its ancient structure well restored and well cared for; and,
while each parishioner of the tiny parish might have a couple of pews to
himself, on summer Sundays it seldom lacks an overflowing congregation
taking excuse for a stroll from Ealing. Ealing, indeed, grows towards it
across a green flat, on which the Brent makes sinuous windings as
natural hazards for a golf-course.

One might hence follow the river on a byroad, circumventing the
tram-line through Ealing and Hanwell, two adjacent places as to which
the story is told of Thackeray’s--or who was it?--suggestion to the
railway authorities that the porters should be changed who proclaimed
them as _H_ealing and ‘Anwell. Ealing is such a favourite residential
suburb that it now extends for two miles along the road, and on either
side has turned private grounds and mansions into streets and
playgrounds. On the right rises the dignified quarter of Castlebar Hill,
over which are ways to the new park on the Brent; on the left lies
Ealing Common, then, further on, Walpole Park, with its fine old timber,
thrown open since the death of Miss Perceval, sister of the murdered
Prime Minister, who survived to the beginning of this century as a link
with days when Ealing was a Middlesex village, not yet a cantonment of
Anglo-Indians and the like. It is not so over-built but that patches of
green and pleasant foot-ways are still found about a place which can
boast to be the

[Illustration: OLD MANOR HOUSE, NEAR ICKENHAM]

birthplace of Huxley and the burial-place of John Horne Tooke. A noted
private school here had in its day such pupils, destined to varied fame,
as Charles Knight, Thackeray, Newman, and the Lawrence brothers. Bulwer
Lytton also was pupil of a clergyman, with whom he seems to have got on
less ill than with most of his instructors. In the upper part of Ealing,
near its conspicuous water-tower, stands the Princess Helena College,
which has made its mark in the new education of girls; and there are
other flourishing schools that now may be rearing the philosophers,
novelists, and statesmen of the next generation.

We need not ask too closely where Hanwell begins, this suburb being a
little shy of its name, shadowed by a huge County Lunatic Asylum, which
really belongs to the more idyllic parish of Norwood, to the south.
Perhaps the cemeteries on either side of the high-road may be taken as
the junction-point, and we are certainly in Hanwell when the tram-road
makes an abrupt drop to cross the valley of the Brent. A little way
below, the river becomes merged with the Grand Junction Canal,
descending at the back of the Asylum by a chain of locks which recall
those of Trollhatta or Banavie on a small scale, beside what seems a
miniature edition of the Great Wall of China. Walking to Brentford on
the tow-path for a couple of miles, one might fancy oneself in the heart
of a rather common-place country, where straggling curls of the tamed
river show scum almost as green as its banks; but the solitude is
disturbed by a tram-line close at hand.

If that by-way is not very attractive, up the Brent one can turn through
one of the prettiest bits of Izaac Waltondom so near London. The ground
on this side is laid out as a park below the tall viaduct of the Great
Western Railway, whose passengers have such a good view of the isolated
Church. Behind the church starts a path making a chord to the vagrant
bends of the Brent, till the stream turns eastwards beside a road
towards Perivale. Across this road the path holds on to the old Church
of Greenford, that has some notable relics under its shingled spire and
tiled roof, showing through a clump of trees which help the green
meadows to bear out the name of the village. The road through Greenford
goes on to Harrow by Greenford Green, whose name does not so well answer
to its promise of rusticity. But over the fields beside Greenford Church
one may take a mile of footpath leading across the canal to Northholt,
_alias_ Northall, another of those real, quaint, roomy villages that
surprise one in out-of-the-way nooks about London, saved from the
builder, perhaps, by a heavy clay soil that makes bricks to deface less
secluded parishes. As unspoiled as the village seems its weather-worn
little Church, standing on a knoll beside the broad sward of roads
knotting themselves together here. Northwards one finds a charming path
that, ending as a green lane, leads almost into the south suburbs of
Harrow. In the other direction the canal bank would bring us back to the
road at Southall.

There was a Southholt once, which, corrupted by the evil communications
of the high-road, has changed its name as well as its nature. I can
remember Southall when it could still be called a pleasant country nook,
half village, half distant suburb; but in one generation it has waxed to
what it is now, a somewhat commonplace outgrowth of London, which for a
time was the tram terminus. It has a weekly cattle market as its most
bucolic feature; and there are still some pleasant fields to be found on
either side. And that is all to be said about Southall, unless that
beside it unite the two branches of the Grand Junction Canal, hence
running on straight to West Drayton, where it turns north up the valley
of the Colne.

Across the Paddington arm of the canal the highroad comes upon veritable
turnip-fields, as it goes on to Uxbridge, passing the hamlets of Hayes,
a scattered village whose manor-house made one of the Archbishops of
Canterbury’s many seats, the dignity of which seems to survive in the
spacious parsonage. The fine restored Church contains some old
monuments, notably, beside the altar, Sir Edward Fenner’s tomb with
coloured effigy; it has also a much-faded wall painting of St.
Christopher in the north aisle, and a discarded altar-piece representing
the “Adoration of the Magi.”

Hayes Town, as the church precinct styles itself, lies to the left of
the way, down a turning opposite the “Adam and Eve.” On the right the
Yeading brook waters a stretch where itself seems the pleasantest
feature. Here comes another of those odd blanks in the map of
Middlesex, a flat of sodden green, looking at home when wrapped in a
November mist, through which loom snug farmhouses, but it is else so
unpopulated that only one road runs across it, by Yeading to Ruislip and
Ickenham. Bold explorers, perhaps, might here find a touch of adventure
in trespassing against notices which block approach to that devious
brook, over a country of such agricultural note that it is not to be
sneezed at unless by sufferers from hay fever. The Yeading Brook,
further down promoted to the title of the Crane River, should have
observance as the largest stream belonging entirely to Middlesex. It
rises in two forks on the slopes about Harrow, and after flowing right
across the county, has two mouths into the Thames, one of them with the
by-name of the Isleworth River.

As the tram approaches Uxbridge, the scenery on the right improves in
the swelling parks of Hillingdon, through which leafy lanes and paths
wind over to Swakeleys and Ickenham. This, indeed, is one of the
pleasantest square miles in Middlesex, filled up with the grounds and
gardens of goodly mansions; and the golfers, upon whom one of its slopes
seems wasted, have a better chance of attending to their game on less
comely enclosures passed further back. Should any pedestrian doubt my
word for it, let him turn up to the right opposite Hillingdon Church, by
the “Vine,” following this by-way as far as the lodge gate of Hillingdon
House on the left, just beyond which he may take a path through the
park, to be brought back to the highroad as it enters Uxbridge, with
little deviation

[Illustration: UXBRIDGE]

from his straight way. But, first, he would do well to stop at
Hillingdon Church, a spaciously handsome one, containing brasses and
monuments, conspicuous among them the Onslow and Paget tombs on either
side of the altar. In the churchyard is the tomb of Rich, the celebrated
harlequin and lessee of Covent Garden.

Hillingdon was the mother church of Uxbridge, whose long main street is
sentinelled, a mile further on, by the tall modern spire of St.
Andrew’s; then, further along, the older Parish Church stands hidden
behind the Market Hall, so closely squeezed into the same block of
building that there is no room for a chancel. This border borough,
thriving on corn-mills and other industries, has more the look of an
independent market town than any in Middlesex. Till lately a certain
awkwardness of communications kept Uxbridge rather out of the way,
served only by a branch from the Great Western Railway at West Drayton,
as it once was by slow canal-boats; but now it has a Metropolitan line
from Harrow, besides the electric tram that runs through it to the top
of the descent by which the road falls to cross the Colne. The meaning
of the name has been matter of controversy, but probably this bridge was
christened from the Celtic word for water that appears in _usk_, _esk_,
_axe_, _uisk_, _whiskey_, and other forms.

Uxbridge has a population of some 9,000, its thickly inhabited outskirts
left out of account. The chief event in its history is the meeting here
in 1645 of Commissioners appointed by Charles I. and the Parliament to
negotiate terms of peace. The mansion in which their fruitless
deliberations were held has been much altered, and is now an inn, but it
still proudly exhibits itself as the “Treaty House” by the road at the
west end of the town, and part of the interior is preserved in its old
dignity. The sign of this inn was an inheritance from the “Crown,” at
which the King’s Commissioners lodged, those of the Parliament finding
quarters at the “George,” further back in the chief street. Beyond the
“Treaty House,” first crossing the canal by a very Piscatorish-looking
tavern and a large mill, we pass the Colne into Buckinghamshire.

The finest scenery about Uxbridge comes over the river in the county on
which we must here turn our backs. Good Pisgah views of it can be had
from the high ground of Uxbridge Common to the north of the town, by
which goes out an airy road towards Rickmansworth, with branches for the
quiet villages we visited from Pinner. Southwards the road by the river
and the canal is not so pleasant, populated by various industries about
Cowley, in whose churchyard was buried Dr. Dodd, the divine hanged for
forgery, 1777. But opener and more agreeable country is reached at West
Drayton, where, having passed its scattered hamlets on the canal, we
find houses not so thick as good old trees about its green, and
picturesque nooks by the branching swirls of the Colne. From the Church,
enclosed in a park to the left, a fine avenue leads southwards, ending
in paths and lanes that, by the villages of Harmondsworth or
Harlington, make pleasant ways into the central western highway.

This, once renowned as the Bath Road, begins for Londoners with
Piccadilly, leading by the south side of the Park to Kensington,
Hammersmith, then by Chiswick, Turnham Green, and Gunnersbury to the
busy end of Kew Bridge, lately rebuilt. Beyond, it enters the main
street of Brentford, so narrow that one calls out at finding this
thoroughfare choked with a tram-line, as it once was with flying
Roundheads in a hot fight of the Civil War.

Brentford is styled the county town of Middlesex, but has little honour
in its own country; and if its two fabulous kings were content to sit
here on one throne, the County Council prefers a more dignified seat at
Westminster. Like Washington or Ottawa, indeed, it seems to be an
artificial capital, originally having no rank but as dependency of the
adjoining parishes of Ealing and Hanwell. This dirty place, besides
bearing an old bad name for bear-baitings, election riots, and the like
disorders, has been a butt for metropolitan poets ever since Falstaff
was disguised and drubbed as the fat witch of Brentford. The author of
the _Rehearsal_ made it the scene for his burlesque. Johnson satirically
coupled its name with Glasgow, in which he showed his ignorance, as all
travellers of that century insist on the neatness and prettiness of the
Clyde city before its days of grimy wealth. Thomson, in his _Castle of
Indolence_, takes this “town of mud” to be a fit stage for pig-driving,
where motor-cars now “gruntle to each other’s moan”; Goldsmith unkindly
suggests it as goal for a race between “a turnip-cart, a dust-cart, and
a dung-cart”; and other contemporary bards affect the same nose-holding
attitude towards poor Brentford, their complaints, as a certain
guide-book dryly says, being in our day echoed by sanitary inspectors.
Of late the squalid county seat shows grace to be somewhat ashamed of
itself, and has a scheme in view for sweeping and garnishing. Let us
hurry through its show of gas-works, chimney-stacks, dingy wharves and
slums about the mouth of the Brent, only noticing that at the Church and
the Town Hall, near the bridge, the place attains a certain point of
quaint ugliness not without attraction, and that its squalid waterside
features set in relief the blooming of Kew Gardens across the Thames.
There are some pleasanter aspects to the right, where, by Old Brentford
and Boston House, the town begins to merge with the spreading outskirts
of Ealing; but as to New Brentford, as it once was, its motto should be
_Guarda e passa_.

When the road has crossed the Brent it passes, on the left side, the
noble demesne of Syon House, which the tram-traveller might flit by
unawares but for an ornate gate revealing the grounds. From a
right-of-way crossing the park to Isleworth Church on the river bank,
can be had a fuller view of the mansion, crowned by that lion so long
familiar to Londoners over Northumberland House, there said, on some
such authority as that local worthy, the late Mr. Joe Miller’s,

[Illustration: SYON HOUSE, BRENTFORD: GARDEN FRONT]

to wag its tail whenever it heard noon struck at Westminster. This
stately structure, rebuilt by the Adams, had been a rich nunnery
“conveyed” to the Lord Protector Somerset, and is now a seat of the
Dukes of Northumberland. The community of nuns long held out at Lisbon,
keeping the keys of their English home; but when, a century ago, they
showed them to the Duke of that day, he is understood to have bluntly
remarked that the locks had been altered. Another treasure of these nuns
has been brought back to their native country--the famous Syon Cope, an
elaborate specimen of mediæval embroidery now preserved at South
Kensington Museum.

On the other side of the road one may turn up to the Earl of Jersey’s
Osterley Park, first enclosed by Sir Thomas Gresham of City renown, the
house rebuilt for Childs the bankers. The park extends over a well
timbered and watered flat which Horace Walpole called the ugliest in the
world; but that in our day seems a slander. By a road through it, or
round its precinct, one can reach the villages of Norwood Green and
Heston, where Middlesex does not want its common beauty of groves and
gardens. This would be a cyclist’s or pedestrian’s pleasantest way on to
beyond Hounslow, for the highroad, skirting Isleworth, has not much to
say for itself.

Nor is there much to be said for Hounslow when we get there--a long,
unlovely town, its brightest spots of colour the uniforms of soldiers
quartered at its barracks or in a camp beside the Crane. Hounslow Heath
has been used for many camps, and it had once an ill name as
headquarters of knights of the road, whose prowess made the journey to
Bath an adventure; but there is little trace of its wildness now. It
seems to be all enclosed, except the plain to the left occupied by that
permanent camp, with its fortification of barbed wire. This was the
scene of an interesting experiment made in training a company of young
soldiers, at the expense of the _Spectator_ and its readers. Besides the
preparation of food for powder, another industry of the neighbourhood is
the powder-mills to be found along the course of the Crane, locally
known as the Powder Mill River; but they are naturally of a retiring
disposition.

In the long street of Hounslow the road forks at a spot once grimly
marked by the gibbets of highwaymen. The right branch is the Bath Road,
soon passing an inn which proclaims itself the half-way house between
London and Windsor, and in two miles crossing the Crane to Cranford.
This is not the Cranford of Mrs. Gaskell’s delightful story, but a very
pleasant village in its way, perhaps the prettiest place on the road,
which had Thomas Fuller for rector--that learned, loyal, and humorous
divine who, as the inscription on his tomb recorded in his own vein of
wit, sought after immortality while immortalizing the worthies of
England. The Church, with its monuments, is enclosed in the park of
Cranford House, where once stood a Templar preceptory that became a seat
of the Berkeleys, whose old nobility flared into a Georgian scandal now
growing dim. Thus the autobiographical sportsman, Granville Berkeley,
came to be partly brought up here, and has many tales to tell of
highwaymen adventures, including that legend of a Bishop who took to the
road and was “taken ill” on Hounslow Heath, being fatally shot through
the body. This master of hounds could remember the county as dotted with
heaths--Harlington Common, Hillingdon Heath, and others--which at one
time stretched almost continuously down to the Thames, and across it
seemed to piece together the evil repute of Hounslow and Bagshot. But he
lived to lament how “corn-fields have sprung up in lieu of furze-bushes;
villas have filled the swampy gravel-pits where, as a boy, I have shot
snipes; and blooming gardens have banished the bullrushes”; nor will the
_Spectator’s_ young warriors now make havoc among the plovers’ eggs,
which used to be noted spoil on Hounslow Heath.

Another notability of the neighbourhood was Lord Bolingbroke, Pope’s
“noble St. John,” of whose seat, Dawley Court, the name at least is
preserved near Harlington Church. A little off the high-road, to the
right, are the villages of Harlington, and Harmondsworth or Harmsworth,
both with interesting old churches, and the latter boasting the largest
church-barn in England. Between them lie the woods of Sipson. On the
other side, opposite the by-road from Harlington, could once be traced
the outlines of a Roman camp, one of the many connected with Cæsar’s
name. Then at Longford is reached the Colne, hereabout, on the flat
edge of Middlesex, splitting itself into tame branches, harnessed to
industry. Two of these are artificial, one known as the Duke of
Northumberland’s River, the other as the Queen’s, the Cardinal’s, or
sometimes as the Longford River, formed by Wolsey to supply the waters
of Hampton Court. Down the stream keeping the main name, one can find
lanes and footpaths by Stanwell, Runnymede rifle-range, and Staines Moor
to the Thames at Staines; and in favour of this walk it may at least be
said that it implies no hill-climbing. On the Slough road we must hold
on as far as Colnbrook to get out of Middlesex.

The straight road to Staines is of course by the great south-western
highway that forked to the left in Hounslow, keeping parallel to the
South-Western Railway, through a country much given up once to commons,
now to market gardens, which have the name of nursing a not idyllic
class of labourers. The chief places on the railway are Feltham and
Ashford, between which appears to astonished passengers the rigging of a
ship on dry land, planted here to instruct the boys of a large
industrial school; and other institutions help to swell the population
of this vicinity. On the road the most notable spot is Bedfont, its
ancient Church enshrining curious frescoes apparently of Stephen’s
reign, the churchyard famed for two yews trimmed into the likeness of
peacocks, in which a wholesome legend, as interpreted by Tom Hood, sees
two sisters thus transformed as punishment for their vanity.

    And where two haughty maidens used to be
    In pride of place, where plumy death had trod,
    Trailing their gorgeous velvets wantonly,
    Most unmeet pall, over the holy sod,
    There, gentle stranger, thou mayst only see
    Two sombre peacocks.

Another interesting church, with an elaborate Knyvett monument, is in
the pretty village of Stanwell close by, where the spire stands not
quite straight, about a mile to the right of the highroad. Bedfont is
understood to have been the old limit of Windsor Park; and the
neighbourhood has still some fine trees, as well as market-gardens; but
the straight road’s best prospect shows ahead in the Cooper’s Hill ridge
on the edge of Surrey, which it enters by the bridge at Staines.

This border town of three counties may be more pleasantly reached by the
Thames, to whose devious curves the road makes a chord often travelled
by Cobbett on the way to his beloved Surrey and Hampshire; then its
scenery might shape his slander of Middlesex as “all ugly,” while his
detestation of commons provoked him to call Hounslow Heath “a sample of
all that is bad in soil and villainous in look,” yet “only a little
worse than the general run.” It would be the shrinking heaths rather
than the spreading fields that moved him to such sweeping condemnation;
and if his burly ghost still jogs along the Staines road, it might want
nothing but a few acres of “Cobbett’s corn” to take this part of
Middlesex for an earthy paradise.



VIII

THE THAMES BANK


We come now to the south-western corner of Middlesex, presenting a thick
fringe of beauty and interest along the crooked course of the Thames.
The beauty, indeed, is mainly artificial, the ground being in general
flat, traversed by sluggish streams, and often apt to revert to the
condition of a flooded marsh till banked in by dykes of habitation and
ornamentation that make most of this river-edge one line of garden
suburb. When we abuse London for defiling the country, let us not forget
how plain-featured country may be disguised and pranked out under the
fancy-dress of parks, gardens, pleasure-grounds and playgrounds, to be
reckoned among the manufactures of a great city. Here, indeed, a
champaign face of nature smiles rather for Pope and Bolingbroke than for
Wordsworth and Tennyson.

We have already touched the Thames at Brentford, and since inner London
ended with Hammersmith, something might have been said of the green
tongue of Chiswick and the quaint village of Strand-on-the-Green, below
Kew Bridge, only in part overlaid by an extension of suburban
Gunnersbury. Then above Syon Park and Isleworth Church, at one mouth of
the Crane, the villas of St. Margaret’s make a transpontine dependency
of Richmond, almost joined also to the spread of Twickenham. At this
latter town I take up my tale of the riverside.

Twickenham has been growing so fast along its tram-lines that it seems
in danger of becoming a commonplace extension of London; but it cannot
forget days of dignity when Queens, Princes, and poets were at home
here. Katherine of Aragon, Katherine Parr, and Katherine of Braganza are
supposed to have occupied the manor-house that once stood beside the
Church, where lie buried Pope, Sir Godfrey Kneller, Kitty Clive the
actress, and Admiral Byron, that “Foul-weather Jack” whose story of the
_Wager’s_ wreck gave so many hints to his grandson’s verse. Queen Anne,
whose death is such a well-authenticated fact in history, was born at
Twickenham, as was her sister Queen Mary. The only one of Anne’s
seventeen children that struggled on to any prospect of surviving her,
the poor little Duke of Gloucester, was brought from Kensington to
Twickenham, as to the seaside, for change of air after an illness. In
the next century, Horace Walpole speaks of the place as the “Baiae of
Great Britain,” and quotes someone as declaring that “we have more
coaches here than in half France.” Among Pope’s noble neighbours was the
traveller of epistolary renown, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, whose
friendship with the poet went so sour in the end. Some of the fine
cedars hereabouts are said to have been raised from cones sent by her
from the East. Another householder of rank was that Lord Ferrers, hanged
for murder, according to the legend, in a silk rope, driven to the
gallows in his own coach and six, which nowadays would probably have
taken the road to Broadmoor Asylum. Writers whose works are now in every
gentleman’s library, but not in Mudie’s, such as Richard Owen Cambridge,
who seemed to his contemporaries a universal genius, and that other poet
whose fortune was to be “born a Whitehead and baptized a Paul,” could
once be counted among the notabilities of a place which, under the
shadow of Pope’s renown, has housed more enduring names, from Fielding
to Dickens. But for the long list of its celebrities and associations,
the reader must be referred to such local chronicles as R. S. Cobbett’s
_Memorials of Twickenham_.

Some of the houses thus celebrated still stand, or their names at least
are preserved. Twickenham Park, at the Richmond Bridge end, a seat of
Lord Bacon, has given place to humbler homes. But Marble Hill, built for
the Countess of Suffolk, George II.‘s mistress, and at one time the home
of Mrs. Fitzherbert, another George’s left-handed wife, has been saved
from the jerry-builder to become a public pleasure-ground, that will not
debase the view from Richmond Hill. This house is haunted by the shades
of Pope, Swift, and Gay, as its neighbour by more

[Illustration: HIGH STREET, TWICKENHAM]

recent memories of princely exiles. Orleans House was so renamed as
making an asylum for Louis Philippe, escaped from the storm of the
Revolution which Madame de Genlis had taught him to hail with youthful
enthusiasm. Half a century later, after his second banishment, this
mansion again gave refuge to the Orleans family; then for a time it was
turned into a club. Members of the same family have more than once
occupied the adjacent York House, whose earliest dignity was as home of
Lord Clarendon, by him given to his son-in-law, James II.; and so it
came to be the birthplace of two English Queens. It has now been bought
from the Duke of Orleans by a Parsee gentleman, son of the late Mr. Tata
of Bombay, that millionaire of princely public spirit who lies buried in
the next county.

This connection with our Eastern Empire is not altogether a new one for
York House. A visitor here in his day was the Brahmin reformer Rammohun
Roy, founder of the Brahmo-Somaj church, who is said to have designed
writing a philosophical dialogue with the scene laid on the terrace of
York House. For a good many years towards the end of the century it was
occupied by Sir Mountstuart Grant-Duff, ex-Governor of Madras, as will
be remembered by all readers of the later extracts from his Diaries,
published in more than a dozen volumes. These volumes, abridged as they
are, have been criticized as too voluminous; but they make excellent
reading for judicious skippers, and after a century or two, one can
imagine a further abridgment being treasured like Evelyn’s Diary or
Horace Walpole’s Letters. This diarist was a keen amateur of good
company and of good stories, which stud his pages like plums in a
pudding of political suet and botanical crumbs. His anecdotes were
collected from all quarters, even from the steps of the throne. There is
one, for instance, of a South African millionaire, whose accent led to
him being addressed in German by a very eminent personage: “_Sind Sie
Baier?_” “Not at present prices, your Majesty!” stammered the confused
courtier. In the same volume we are told how a whist player held
thirteen trumps, yet did not win a trick, for it was in the far West,
and his partner shot him dead as remonstrance against the trumping of
his own ace.

But one must not deck one’s pages with plumes borrowed from a writer
whom I met as fellow-member of two among his many clubs. I can recall a
wet afternoon we killed together shortly before his death, when, to
cheer what seemed a fit of depression, I told him all the stories I
could think of as likely to stir his sense of humour. Only afterwards
did it occur to me, in a flash of _esprit d’escalier_, that I had been
drawing on one of his own lately published volumes; and I shall never
know, on this side of Jordan, whether it were out of courtesy or
obliviousness that the old gentleman let himself appear to be amused.
With one maiden anecdote, however, now for the first time blushing in
print, I had been able to tickle him exceedingly, as it dealt with a
colonial governor, a kind of personage bulking as largely in his
interest as a schoolmaster did for Parson Adams. In the suite of such a
temporary potentate served an officer, whose wife told me how at home,
years later, making a third-class railway journey, they had brought
considerations to bear upon the guard that they should have the
compartment to themselves. But at one station he came to explain: “Very
sorry--train crowded--must put someone in with you--but I have picked
out a respectable couple--quite decent people; you won’t mind
them”--with which apology were bundled in the very decent couple my
friends had last seen viceregally enthroned in a distant clime. So much
for the transitoriness of official glory!

A tale which Grant-Duff might not have thought worth recording has been
told of Mr. Labouchere, but an older date is ascribed to it: that an
Englishman travelling in Germany, called upon to declare his _Stand_,
could describe himself by no other title than “Elector of Middlesex,”
then was astonished to be received with honours due to a prince. Mr.
Labouchere comes to mind here as for a time occupying Pope’s Villa, of
which the name survives, but little else, among the riverside mansions
at the further end of Twickenham. It stands above Eel-pie Island, a
leafy atoll of the Thames, that makes a screen or barrier-reef for this
town, and has at its lower end a ferry not unknown to song.

Pope’s nearest neighbour here was Lord Radnor, whose grounds are now
turned to public enjoyment. A little further on stands back from the
river the park of Strawberry Hill, where Horace Walpole’s “piecrust
battlements” succeeded Pope’s Villa as lion of the place. The once
famous collection of curiosities, after being dispersed, was in part
regathered into the present mansion, enlarged and improved from that
“Strawberry Hill Gothic” structure that became a proverb, not to say a
by-word, with more tasteful architects. The nucleus of it was “a little
plaything house,” which its dilettante owner, on removing there from his
“tub at Windsor,” described as “the prettiest bauble you ever saw. It is
set in enamelled meadows, with filigree hedges.... Richmond Hill and Ham
Walks bound my prospect; but, thank God! the Thames is between me and
the Duchess of Queensberry. Dowagers as plenty as flounders inhabit all
around, and Pope’s ghost is just now skimming under my window by a most
poetical moonlight. I have about land enough to keep such a farm as
Noah’s when he set up in the ark with a pair of each kind.... Lord John
Sackville pre-deceased me here, and instituted certain games called
_cricketalia_, which have been celebrated this very evening in honour of
him in a neighbouring meadow.” Still, of a summer evening, such
mysteries are celebrated on the lordly expanse of Twickenham Green; but
if this self-satisfied letter-writer’s ghost could come skimming under
what were once his own windows, Father Noah might find it no harder to
be at home in a toyshop ark than Walpole to recognize the “romance in
lath and plaster” that was his much-advertised work of half a century.

Behind Twickenham, amid more rural surroundings, stands, in a
transformed state, the mansion of Sir Godfrey

[Illustration: THE DIANA FOUNTAIN, BUSHEY PARK]

Kneller the painter, which came to be a training-school for teachers,
with the late Archbishop Temple for one of its principals, but is now
the home of another muse as an academy for army bandsmen, whose
performances are open to the public once a week. Kneller Hall was
originally Whitton House, and not far off, on the south edge of
Hounslow, survives the name of Whitton Park, where bagpipes should once
have been practised; for, in the early part of the eighteenth century,
it was a seat of the Duke of Argyll who in its grounds did so much
towards introducing alien trees, to become naturalized citizens of our
groves and gardens. This was the Duke who served with distinction under
Marlborough and as victor over the Old Pretender’s forces in 1715; while
he may be best remembered as patron of “Jeanie Deans.”

In the famous view beheld by that heroine from Richmond Hill, Twickenham
is seen imperceptibly merging into Teddington, a parish of less fame,
but it, too, has had notable inhabitants, from William Penn the Quaker
to Peg Woffington the actress; and R. D. Blackmore, the novelist of our
own time, practised the moral of Candide in a market-garden here. Both
Upper and Lower Teddington are well populated now, the latter best known
to Londoners for the first full lock on Thames tide-water, the former as
an approach to Bushey Park. This is a royal demesne of over 1,000 acres,
public access to which was secured by a local Hampden, Timothy Bennett,
shoemaker, who in the eighteenth century fought the question of right
of way at his own expense, then, in 1900, was rewarded by a curious
memorial set up at one of the entrances to the park. The last royal
personage who lived here was William IV., as Duke of Clarence; and one
of the last acts of Queen Victoria was granting Bushey House to be a
National Physical Laboratory. The park is now practically a public one,
where a Sunday in May draws throngs of Londoners to admire the flowering
of the chestnuts on its renowned avenue. But “when the high midsummer
pomps are on,” too, and in the glories of autumn decay, and, indeed, at
all seasons, Bushey, with its fine timber, its stretches of bracken, its
ponds, and its herds of tame deer, makes a sight that no visitor to
London should miss. The main avenue, a straight and broad mile, leads
from Teddington to Hampton Court, on the other side approached from
Kingston Bridge through the glades of Hampton Park, to which one could
come round by the river and the villas of Hampton Wick.

The history of this palace is, of course, familiar to every British
schoolboy; but in case any of my readers should be more at home in
Versailles or the Vatican, I will treat them as M. Jourdain desired of
his master. Hampton Court was built by Cardinal Wolsey at the height of
his power and pride, that would have cast into shade the magnificence of
Canons Park, the household of the butcher’s son being nearly ten times
as numerous as that of Queen Anne’s Paymaster-General. Extensive as his
building was, Wolsey appears not to have completed its full design when
his power became endangered by the conflagration lit at Anne Boleyn’s
eyes. He hoped to avert Henry’s wrath by presenting that too ambitious
home to the King, who, in Diomedean exchange, gave him the manor of
Richmond, where soon there were harder dealings between _Ego_ and _Rex
meus_. Henry pulled about the Cardinal’s architecture in his own
high-handed style, building the present hall and chapel; and he made
Hampton a hunting-palace, with several parishes around as preserves.
Edward VI. was born and partly brought up here. Here, too, Mary spent
her dark honeymoon--that unloved sovereign whose faults have been
excused by a schoolgirl on the plea of a temper soured under too many
stepmothers. Hampton was a favourite residence with Elizabeth also, and
with James, who held at it his famous conference of divines, from which
came our present translation of the Bible. Charles I. was much at home
at Hampton, and so in turn was Cromwell--a fact which may have caused
the mental confusion of that schoolboy quotation of him as exclaiming,
“Had I but served my God as I have served my King!” Charles II. and his
brother are found now and then at Hampton, to which William took a
special fancy, so that he had it restored and enlarged by Wren, to be a
home reminding him of Holland by its canals and gardens; and he met his
fatal fall from horseback in the park. Queen Anne’s sickly son, above
mentioned, was born at the palace, where the poet remarks how--

      “Thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey,
    Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes tea.”

The Georges seem rather to have neglected Hampton Court, which in the
last century or so occasionally housed royal guests, but has become
mainly a sort of aristocratic almshouse, the apartments being granted to
widows of distinguished public servants or ladies better born than
endowed. The inmates of these dignified quarters are liable to be
disturbed by the clatter of the adjacent barracks, by an uncertain ghost
of one or other of Henry’s wives, that does not fail to haunt here, and
most of all, perhaps, by the sightseers, who on holidays throng the
quiet courts, the galleries with their thousand pictures, the hall with
its tapestries, the gardens with their gigantic vine, the Long Walk by
the river, the banks of the Long Water in Hampton Park, and the Maze
near the Lion Gate, outside of which the palace is separated from Bushey
Park by a fair-ground of refreshment houses.

The station for Hampton Court is at Molesey, on the Surrey side of the
river, here making a string of shady islets and creeks well known to
boating parties. The tramways from London come to Hampton Green, such a
spacious and well-shaded area as beseems its royal neighbourhood. Along
this, or through the south-west corner of Bushey Park, one can pass on
to the village of Hampton, which touches the river at its rebuilt
Church; but the banks are much blocked by private residences, and soon
disfigured by huge water reservoirs. The most famous house here is
Garrick’s villa, that seems to have been designed as an understudy of
Pope’s. Besides this noble retreat, Garrick had a

[Illustration: HAMPTON COURT PALACE: SOUTH FRONT]

town-house at the Adelphi, and was lord of Hendon Manor; few actors have
managed to be so prudent, so prosperous, and so well off for “the things
that make death terrible,” as was Johnson’s comment on his old pupil’s
display. Sir Christopher Wren retired to a home on Hampton Green, about
which there remain several houses and gardens where wigs and ruffles
would look hardly out of place. New Hampton, to the north, is more
commonplace, where Hampton’s railway-station, on the Shepperton branch,
stands half an hour’s walk from the palace. About as far to the north of
this line is Hanworth, traversed by the artificial Queen’s or Cardinal’s
River formerly mentioned, and once distinguished by a Tudor
hunting-lodge which became the home of Henry VIII.‘s lucky widow.

By its Thames Street, Hampton straggles on towards Sunbury, where the
river is broken by eyots, weirs, and a deep shady cut on the Surrey
side. This village, too, contains good old-fashioned houses as well as
new ones, stretching back from its Church on the bank to the station a
mile behind, where another royal residence is believed to have stood in
Kempton Park, now degraded into a race-course. Close to Sunbury is Upper
Halliford, by which a road takes a straighter line into the neighbouring
parish of Shepperton, cutting across a bend of the river opposite
Walton-on-Thames. Shepperton is a more scattered place, containing
several hamlets and strings of villas connected by roads that seldom
want the true Middlesex wealth of hedgerow timber.

Here at last we seem to be getting into open country, and away from
riverside villas. A summer encampment at the end of Walton Bridge left
out of account, the next place reached on the river is the pretty group
of houses and inns called Lower Halliford, a little above the bridge.
This ford makes the scene of a hot antiquarian controversy as to whether
or no Cæsar here crossed the Thames, fortified against him by the Cowey
Stakes, which some take rather for an ancient fishing weir; and his
point of crossing is variously maintained to have been at Brentford,
Kingston, and Wallingford, while traces and traditions of Roman camps on
either side the river help out the case for Halliford. _Non nostrum
tantas_, etc. An authentic claim to note for Lower Halliford is as the
home of Thomas Love Peacock, an author too little known to the general
reader, though his humorous novels were spread out over nearly half a
century, from the days when he caricatured Shelley and Coleridge,
through the period of Brougham’s patronage of useful knowledge, to that
when competitive examinations gave him a fresh target for ridicule. By
an audience fit, though few, he is not forgotten; and for the sake of
his wit he may be forgiven such thoughtless gibes as that “Scotchmen
would be the best people in the world if there was nobody but themselves
to give them characters.” There is reason to believe, indeed, that even
before his deathbed this audacious writer repented the profanity with
which he bespattered our modern Athens. The plan, at least, of
Peacock’s books was revived for our generation in Mr. Mallock’s _New
Republic_; but Peacock strikes a note of more farcical fun, and his
satire seems seldom less jovial than the song put into the mouth of a
character in _Crotchet Castle_:

    After careful meditation
    And profound deliberation
    On the various petty projects that have just been shown,
    Not a scheme in agitation
    For the world’s amelioration
    Has a grain of common-sense in it, except my own!

Higher up on the bank comes the church core of Shepperton; then
Shepperton Lock is higher still, opposite the Thames end of Weybridge.
The village seems to have shifted its centre of gravity towards the
station and Shepperton Green, which stand further back, but best known
to strangers are the riverside inns and boathouses. To the right of a
road cutting across to Laleham by Shepperton Green lies the small parish
of Littleton, making perhaps the prettiest spot in this district, with
its ancient Church and timbered park, which once enclosed a celebrated
mansion destroyed by fire. This backwater of woodland, shading surely
the tiniest of Britain’s Exe or Esk streams, is pleasantly reached by a
field-path from the end of Chertsey Bridge; then the road by Littleton
goes on to less taking scenes about Feltham or Ashford.

At Shepperton Lock the tow-path crosses from the Surrey side, and
henceforth one can walk along the Middlesex bank, access to which has
hitherto been precarious. Truth to tell, one thus gains little beyond a
prospect of the stream flowing quietly between broad meadows, its bends
making an idle round off the straight road, by which little more than a
mile brings the cyclist from Shepperton to Chertsey Bridge. The green
flats have a beauty of quiet amplitude, which is at least a change after
Richmond’s manifold prospects and the tangled groves of Hampton; and
here a fine background is formed by the pine-bristled heights of Surrey,
edging the arena in which the Wey meets the Thames. William Black’s
rhapsodical pen can make no more of this scenery than “a peaceful
landscape, very English-looking; in the distance there was a low line of
wooded hill, with here and there a church spire appearing among the
trees.” A thunderstorm would get a good stage here, as did Mr. Wells’s
Martian giants when they came stalking across from Byfleet.

Beyond Chertsey Bridge the tow-path is joined by a road that leads on
along the wall of Lord Lucan’s Park to Laleham Ferry, opposite the site
of that once renowned Chertsey Abbey. The pretty village of Laleham,
with its much-patched church, is notable as the home where Dr. Arnold
took pupils in his early life. Matthew Arnold was born here, and is
buried, beside other members of the family, in the churchyard to which
his heart and his father’s always turned fondly.

    Love lends life a little grace,
    A few sad smiles, and then
    Both are laid in one cold place.

The Rugby head master had to wrench himself away from Laleham, where,
indeed, his special admiration was called forth on the Surrey side by
the striking contrast of heath scenery mingling with rich valley lands.
He could no longer rejoice in the bank up to Staines as a walk “which,
though it be perfectly flat, has yet a great charm from its entire
loneliness, there being not a house anywhere near it; and the river here
has none of that stir of boats and barges upon it which makes it in many
places as public as the highroad.” Nowadays one must search far up the
Thames for an unstirred reach.

Arnold’s roomy house has vanished, and the quiet amenities of Laleham
seem threatened by architecture of another school, though it stands a
good two miles from either Shepperton or Staines station. But the
builder is hardly needed to populate the river banks in summer, as we
see after crossing the neck of Penton Hook, a most childish vagary of a
mile or so in which hoary Father Thames thinks fit to indulge himself so
far on in his career. This loop, on the Surrey side, is buckled by an
extraordinary gathering of bungalows, house-boats, tents, and shanties
that give airy and watery shelter to an encampment of respectable
gipsies from London, a sort of amphibious picnic life come into favour
in late years. Past this, the tow-path brings us round to the more
permanent riverside quarters of Staines, reached, as usual, less
deviously and pleasantly by a flat, straight road.

Staines is one of the oldest towns in Middlesex, here or hereabouts
appearing to have stood the Roman station _Ad Pontes_, by which the road
to Silchester and Bath crossed the river. The whole vicinity has been
found rich in Roman remains. The original town lies about its parish
church in the valley of the Colne, that works its mills; but the floods
of this sluggish delta have washed a later growth to the east, and it
shows a new red church on the Thames bank, where a terrace of dignity
looks across to the boathouses lining the Surrey side. A meaner quarter
straggles on to the dull flats of Staines Moor behind the railway, from
which High Street curves spaciously down to the bridge, for long the
nearest neighbour of London Bridge. In our great-grandfathers’ day
Staines Bridge was crossed by some three dozen coaches daily; and who
can count the myriad wheels that now make this short straight cut
through Middlesex into Surrey!

Near its bridge stands what is taken for the town’s godfather, London
Stone, marking from times immemorial the limit of the City’s
jurisdiction up the Thames, as ascertained and asserted by repeated
visits of the Lord Mayor and Corporation, which seem now to have fallen
into abeyance. Here I would call up the spirit of Matthew Arnold to
rebuke for me that young lion of the _Daily Telegraph_ who, in
criticizing my book on _Surrey_, growled at its mention of a notable
Lord Mayor’s progress nearly three generations ago as made to Staines,
and not rather to Oxford. For once a critic is wrong: the goal of the
official journey was Staines, the circumgression to Oxford being tacked
on as an after-thought, or piece of by-play. Even thus let me conclude
this chapter with an excursus further up the river, to justify my
accuracy by giving a faithful account of that Thames _Anabasis_ that
might have been forgotten but for the reverend Xenophon--his Lordship’s
chaplain, to wit--who enshrined the record in a leaden volume, now worth
its weight in silver.

The civic fathers, we are told, having resolved to assert the City’s
prerogative at Staines, were tempted by an invitation to connect with
that time-honoured ceremony a pleasure-trip to Oxford. To Oxford, then,
the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress travelled by land, and the first part
of the chronicle is taken up in describing most minutely the
circumstances of this extra jaunt. A whole page goes to the start,
including a description of the coachman’s countenance, “reserved and
thoughtful” as became his important charge, and the “four high-spirited
and stately horses” which, “having been allowed a previous day of
unbroken rest, ... chafed and champed exceedingly on the bits by which
their impetuosity was restrained.” But the murmurs of the admiring crowd
were “at length hushed by the opening of the hall door”; then, “as soon
as the female attendant of the Lady Mayoress had taken her seat, dressed
with becoming neatness, at the side of the well-looking coachman, the
carriage drove away--not, however, with that violent and extreme
rapidity which rather astounds than gratifies the beholders, but at that
steady and majestic pace which is always an indication of real
greatness.” The chaplain, our author, was of the party, though he
modestly keeps himself in a back seat. Thus he can assure us that the
roads were “in excellent order, and that the whole face of creation
gleamed with joy.” It is not every day that creation sees an actual Lord
Mayor faring forth over Middlesex roads.

At Hounslow a powder-mill happened to blow up, as if to salute the
passage of the City potentate; but without further excitement he reached
Oxford, joined there by several Aldermen and officials, who were
forthwith entertained by the local municipality, while “it must here be
mentioned that the Lady Mayoress and other ladies of the party, to the
number of eight, ordered dinner at the ‘Star,’ and spent the evening in
their own society.” But let us pass over a long account of the
illustrious strangers being fêted, lionized and addressed by Town and
Gown, and come to that great day, Thursday, July 27, 1826, when the City
Barge, having taken nearly a week to make the upward voyage, lay in
waiting by the banks of Christ Church meadow, with its ten splendid
scarlet silk banners waving gently in the rising sun, beside the shallop
of the Thames Navigation Committee and another large boat, in which came
his lordship’s Yeomen of the Household, together with that most
important functionary the cook, “who was at the time of embarkation
busily engaged in preparing a fire in a grate fixed in the bow of the
boat.” So at last, “amidst shouts of reiterated applause from the
surrounding multitudes, the City Barge, manned by the City watermen in
scarlet liveries, and all the other boats in attendance on his lordship,
were simultaneously launched on the broad bosom of the princely
Thames”--a sight not to be seen by this degenerate age unless on the
front page of its _Illustrated London News_.

Punch was not such a rare show in the country as a live Lord Mayor.
Crowds of people on the tow-path escorted the procession from Oxford;
then every town and village near the banks furnished a new contingent of
eager spectators. “Distant shouts of acclamation perpetually re-echoed
from field to field, as the various rustic parties, with their fresh and
blooming faces, were seen hurrying forth from their cottages and
gardens, climbing trees, struggling through copses, and traversing
thickets to make their shortest way to the water side.” No wonder the
children ran, for the Lord Mayor and Mr. Alderman Atkins scattered
handfuls of half-pence from their stately craft. At Caversham the
condescension of true greatness was still more markedly exhibited in a
moving incident recorded with long-drawn waggery, the gist of it being
the picking out of a most uncouth and ludicrous-looking rustic mounted
upon a “gaunt and rusty pony,” whom, flinging him a piece of money, his
Lordship overwhelmed with the honour of a commission to ride on to
Reading as his _avant-courier_.

Having started from Oxford at seven, the convoy reached Reading when
“the sun had whirled down his broad disk into the west; and the evening
twilight just served to show obscurely the tranquil stream of water over
which the vessel glided, and the shapeless forms of country by which it
was surrounded.” Here the voyagers spent the night at the “Bear Inn,”
re-embarking next morning amid the ringing of bells and the firing of
guns, not to speak of a band of music now taken on board. They dined at
Clieveden, which prompts the author to a homily on the shortcomings of
Dryden’s Buckingham, balanced by a seven-page eulogium on the virtues of
the late George III. The local gentry and officials did not fail to pay
their respects to the passing Admiral of the Thames, and were invited on
board “with all the usual forms of politeness.” As we have seen, the
distinguished tourists occasionally indulged themselves in mild
jocosity; but on the whole their mood was one of becoming admiration,
and their chaplain can assure us that “no recourse was had in any single
instance throughout the voyage either to cards or dice, or to any other
of those frivolous expedients to which the evening hours of life are
sacrificed.”

The next night was spent at Windsor, where some score of pages go to
celebrate the Castle apartments in a true “God bless the Regent and the
Duke of York!” spirit of British loyalty. Delayed till noon by
sight-seeing, the procession then got afloat for Staines, and whereas,
above Windsor, the state barge had almost stuck in the mud, it now made
better way in deeper water, and “left a long, undulating track behind”
as it passed beneath that royal abode, “lifting up its lordly pile as if
to receive the prostrate homage of the surrounding country.”

Hitherto the voyage had been more of a pleasure jaunt, but at Staines
came to be enacted the real business of this Lord Mayor’s show _in
partibus_. Duly arrayed in their robes and emblems of office, to the
music of national airs, amid multitudes of the surrounding inhabitants,
our City fathers descended to the shore, and three times solemnly
circumambulated their western landmark--let us trust in true course of
the sun, though on that pagan feature of the rite its reverend
chronicler is not explicit.

     When the procession halted, the Lord Mayor took his station near
     the City Boundary; and directed the City Sword to be placed on the
     Stone, in token of his Lordship’s jurisdiction. It was also a part
     of the ceremony--which, though important, is simple--that the City
     Banner should wave over the Stone. At the request, therefore, of
     the Lord Mayor, Lord Henry Beauclerk, a lad of very prepossessing
     appearance, of the age of fourteen, dressed in naval uniform, and
     brother to His Grace the Duke of St. Albans, mounted the Stone, and
     held the City Banner during the performance of the ceremony. The
     Lord Mayor now received a bottle of wine from one of the
     attendants, and broke it, according to ancient custom, on the
     Stone. The Water-Bailiff then handed his Lordship a glass of wine,
     who drank, ‘May God preserve the City of London!’ In this he was
     joined by the young nobleman and the assembled company. Orders were
     then given that the following inscription should be engraven on the
     pedestal which supported the Stone:

                         “The Right Honourable
                           WILLIAM VENABLES,
                   Lord Mayor of the City of London
                                  and
                   Conservator of the River Thames,
                  Viewed the Western Boundary of the
                City’s Jurisdiction on the said River,
                      Marked by the Ancient Stone
                      Raised upon this Pedestal,
                          Erected A.D. 1285,
                  On the 29th day of July, A.D. 1826.
                  _God preserve the City of London!_”

     The Lord Mayor then scattered abroad some hundred newly-coined
     sixpences, and after repeated cheering, returned on board the
     barge.

We need not be surprised to hear that “at three o’clock the party sat
down in the cabin of the State Barge to a cold collation; after which
some speeches were made.” By half-past eight they landed at Richmond,
where the carriages were in waiting, and the sunburned Gilpins “returned
to their respective homes.” His lordship, it is recorded, reached the
Mansion House “a few minutes before ten” on this Saturday night; but
future ages are left to guess at what hour he went to bed. The worthy
chaplain, long laid to deeper rest, would surely turn in his grave could
he know how he had taken pains to put in a ludicrous light that truly
august Corporation, worshipful up and down the river for a hundred
miles, though its practical power be now in the farther-reaching hands
of the Thames Conservancy.

[Illustration: KEW BRIDGE FROM BRENTFORD]



IX

BEATING THE BOUNDS


Like that corporation party, both writer and reader might now go home,
having reached the limit of their companionship. But one more ramble we
may take, if not tired of each other. We have viewed Middlesex from its
most familiar eminence, and we have radiated through it by its highroads
from London. There remains to bind up our short wayfarings by
perambulating the bounds of this little county, as some future Lord
Mayor may be able to do from his state-balloon.

A barge will not serve us all the way here so well as a broomstick. On
three sides Middlesex is enclosed by natural boundaries--the Thames on
the south, the Lea on the east, and the Colne on the west. It is on the
north side that the frontier becomes an arbitrary one, and, in fact,
presents such a jagged outline as sometimes to suggest that whoever
shore off this division of England must have been staggering from one
tap of strong ale or mead to the next in any direction. A more
creditable explanation refers such irregularity to spiritual rather than
spirituous influences, the lands of two bishops, we are told, having
thus dovetailed into each other in the days when bishops had power to
bind and loose on earth. Here it must be no trivial sport to beat the
parish bounds--on the outside coincident with those of the county--as to
which the oldest inhabitant could perhaps tell us how they were
literally beaten into his memory in boyhood by blows or stripes
administered at this or that spot, a custom that still may linger in
playful survivals. What the oldest inhabitant will not know is that the
rough custom of his youth seems to have been an attenuated form of
bloodier sacrifices, which went more than skin deep in the propitiation
of invisible spirits of term and boundary.

Something of the same irregularity, indeed, we find on beginning to
trace the Middlesex bounds from Staines, above which they wander for a
few miles as if confused among the delta of branches in which the Colne
reaches the Thames. The main stream, to which Ordnance Survey maps grant
the title, is that one crawling into Staines by the east side of the
Great Northern Railway branch from Uxbridge. Here the boundary has bent
a mile or two westwards, at one point touching the Colne Brook, as the
branch is called that, from the village of this name, straggles down to
the Thames opposite Egham. A pool in the Thames used to bear the
nickname of “Colnbrook Churchyard,” the point of the grim jest being
that this frontier village had no churchyard, and that the robbers who
infested the surrounding moors were in the way of flinging the bodies of
their victims into the river. “Moorish” is Spenser’s epithet for the
Colne, moor in this part of Britain having commonly implied marshy
rather than heathy ground; and behind Staines we get on an unlovely
river flat still bearing the name of Staines Moor. But if we incline to
hurry away from the Colne as sluggish and defiled by industries, let us
remember how dear its waters were to Milton, whose home in youth was at
Horton on the Bucks side, whence he had choice of wanderings among

    “Meadows trim with daisies pied,
     Shallow brooks and river wide.”

From Colnbrook the boundary bends back towards the Colne River, with
which it presently falls in along the reach from Yiewsley to Uxbridge,
where this stream skirmishes out on the western flank of the canal’s
straighter march. On the Middlesex side, here, the world is too much
with us, and we must not be tempted over to the woods and heaths of
Iver, in Bucks. So let us hasten up the canal bank to Uxbridge, where
the border takes a crook to the east along a stream known as the Shire
Ditch, then, recrossing the canal, once more follows the river as far as
the county’s north-western corner.

This upper half of the western boundary is more picturesque than the
flats below. Now the Colne runs through a real valley, shut in to the
east by a ridge of high ground, looking over to the Bucks village of
Denham, and other spots known to artists as well as to anglers. The
ridge itself, which a road mounts by the shrunken bounds of Uxbridge
Common, has several points both of beauty and interest. Over it for
nearly half a dozen miles extends the name of Harefield, associated with
that of the Newdigate family, which has such a good chance of fame
through their annual _vates sacer_ at Oxford. One of them chose an “Adam
Bede” for land agent, whose daughter would widely renown, under an
_alias_, their Warwickshire seat, at which George Eliot had glimpses of
squirely life. Another of the Newdigates was well known to our
grandfathers as a Parliamentary Protestant champion. Their modern
mansion, Harefield Place, comes a couple of miles above Uxbridge, built
here to replace the old house, two or three miles further on, that had
been destroyed by fire. This was the seat of the Countess of Derby for
whom Milton wrote his Arcades, and whose tomb is the most sumptuous of
those ornamenting Harefield Church.

On the wooded bank behind the church the site of that defunct home is
picturesquely marked by a group of ponds and grand old trees. By what
seems to have been once an avenue, a path slopes on up the bank to
Breakspear, a still flourishing mansion, beautifully embowered, notable
because this manor is said to have belonged to the family of the one
English Pope, Adrian IV. Some few years ago, when a Catholic chapel was
being consecrated in the neighbourhood, the mason brought duly to wall
up the relics in its altar turned out to bear the name of Nicholas
Breakspear. At a social function which followed there was naturally some
talk of such a coincidence, and an inconsiderate Catholic suggested
that the man must be a descendant of his great namesake. “Don’t be
taking away a Pope’s character!” cried one jovial Irish priest; to which
another made response: “Faith! and it’s no character he had to lose
after selling us to the English.” This Pope, who gave Henry II. a title
to Ireland in consideration of the payment of Peter’s pence, has been
also claimed as a Hertford man; but if Breakspear were his cradle, it
stands a good mile within the Middlesex border, about as far to the west
of Ruislip reservoir.

Harefield Church, with its show of monuments, lies below its village,
beyond which, on the road to Rickmansworth, we come to Harefield Park
and Harefield Grove, or, descending into the river valley, we should
find a Harefield Moor and a Harefield Wharf on the canal. Harefield is
as yet a real country village with quiet inns and roomy green, but
ominous placards hold out a threat of “villa residences.” Nothing,
indeed, could at present be more unsuburban than the byroad which, at
the school-house, turns off along Harefield Park and by the hamlet of
Hillend, to wind shadily with westward bends till it drops steeply to
the canal, where a huge quarry has uncovered a chalk bank contrasting
with variegated disclosures. For at this corner, as at one other,
Middlesex shows its age in gouty knuckles of chalk as well as wrinkles
of sand.

To reach the extreme north-western nook of the county we must now leave
the ridge, to hold for a mile across the flat on which, alongside that
cart-horse canal, the Colne goes frisking and sliding in wayward
channels, by whose clear shallows the Miltons of to-day must beware how
they come angling after poetic images, as these are preserves for the
“True Waltonians” of Rickmansworth. At the ford on the further branch,
near the village of Mill End, we reach the border-line, which has been
kept in view west of the parallel ridge; but now it turns eastward,
making a dip to the south as it crosses the river flat, then soon
mounting to green bastions moated by the canal.

On this northern side it is that we may find it hard to know at any
point whether we are in Middlesex or in Herts. The line runs over high
ground a couple of miles south of Rickmansworth, passing between
Harefield Grove and Bishop’s Wood, then turning north along the road to
Batchworth Heath, that brings us past a large new consumptive hospital,
testimony to the airiness of this plateau, more than 300 feet above the
sea. The woods on either hand, with their sand-banks and pine-clumps,
are jealously fortified by wire and placards; but part of the heath is
still open, where we come to the gates of Moor Park, looking over such a
fine view southward and eastward. The border-line here passes through
the garden of the “Prince of Wales,” crosses the highroad mounting up
from Northwood, then for a little is roughly represented by the byroad
which drops from the Moor Park gates, making towards a height crowned by
the Oxhey Woods; but soon it bends back from this road, and to touch it
again we must take a path along the Metropolitan line, beside which we
should find it marked by a funereal obelisk, that seems a monument to
the rural charms of Northwood, here bleeding to death in red-brick
villas. A more prosaic explanation of such landmarks is as showing the
limits of the Port of London coal-tax, abolished in our time; but, like
the Father of History, I repeat this as told me, not as matter of faith.

From Northwood the border runs on to the bottom of the Oxhey woods,
thence trending northwards across the London and North Western line a
mile beyond Pinner Station, and keeping a little to the west of Grim’s
Dyke, as it mounts on to Harrow Weald Common, and from that to the
highest point of Middlesex at the edge of Bushey Heath. Its course now
is on the north-west side of Stanmore Common, to touch the Aldenham
reservoir, whence it ascends to Elstree, over a sweep of high ground
giving fine glimpses on either side, though I cannot make out from what
point, hereabouts, Defoe could have had the extensive prospect which set
his foreign companions exclaiming that England was all a garden.

     They had there on the right Hand, the Town of St. _Albans_ in their
     View; and all the Spaces between, and further beyond it, look’d
     indeed like a Garden. The enclos’d Corn-Fields made one grand
     Parterre, the thick planted Hedge Rows, like a Wilderness or
     Labyrinth, divided in _Espaliers_, the Villages interspers’d,
     look’d like so many several Noble Seats of Gentlemen at a Distance.
     In a Word it was all Nature, and yet look’d all like Art; on the
     left Hand we see the West-End of _London_, _Westminster-Abbey_ and
     the _Parliament-House_, but the Body of the City was cut off by the
     Hill, at which _Hampstead_ intercepted the Sight on that side. More
     to the South we had _Hampton Court_ and S. W. _Windsor_, and
     between both, all those most Beautiful Parts of _Middlesex_ and
     _Surrey_, on the Bank of the Thames, of which I have already said
     so much.

From Elstree the border-line closely follows the road to Barnet as far
as the hamlet of Barnet Gate, where it turns south-east for its most
extraordinary vagaries. Holding straight on by the road north-eastward,
in little more than a mile we should strike it again across the mouth of
that inlet, miles deep, by which Herts flows into Middlesex about the
Great North Road. A little below Barnet Gate the line bends southward
towards Highwood, then again eastward in the dip between Totteridge and
Mill Hill, so as to bring the former ridge into Herts. On the road
mounting it, the boundary is marked by a half-buried post, economically
abbreviating our county’s style as D.D.X. I stray only some few hundred
yards from my diocese in pointing out the beautiful walk along this
ridge--a long mile of broad-swarded road, or stretched-out common,
bordered by ponds, farms, cottage gardens and trees, through which one
gets fine glimpses of Barnet to the north and Mill Hill to the south.
Then comes the village and its Church, opposite which Copped Hall was at
one time occupied by Bulwer Lytton; Cardinal Manning, Richard Baxter,
and Lady Rachael Russell being other names connected with this pretty
place, only a little blighted as yet by the suburban builder. Further
on, at the “Orange Tree,” opens the cottage-bordered green, an unusually
long one, from the foot of which run most rustic paths that would soon
bring us back into Middlesex, as does Totteridge Lane, holding eastward
across the Barnet line to Whetstone.

For here the eccentric boundary, after attaining its “furthest south”
near Woodside Park station, has taken another bend north beside the
Dollis Brook, so as to stretch out a tongue of Middlesex for some two
miles along the Great North Road, across which it strikes, then again
turns south by the Great Northern Railway, till it ends its maddest
deviation in this direction near Colney Hatch Asylum, only about eight
miles from the Thames. Crossing the railway beyond New Southgate
station, and walking on eastwards to the next cross roads, one reaches
the invisible head of this crook in a field still open to the north. The
boundary stones having disappeared, the exact run of the line, by a few
feet, is at present in question, a dispute of some consequence upon
ground now “ripe” for the builder, since building regulations differ in
the two counties.

Now, as if scared from the thickening suburbs, it turns back north to
enclose Southgate and Winchmore Hill in Middlesex, leaving the Barnets
in Herts with the valley of the Pymmes Brook, here tripping like a
younker and a prodigal, yet after a few miles more to creep so lamely
into the Lea over Tottenham Marshes. At Cock Fosters the wilful line
takes a westward course along Hadley Common, at the further end of which
it wanders round the outskirts of High Barnet, so as to fall in again
with the road from Elstree; but soon it starts off on a fresh northward
tack along the county’s north-eastern headland. It would now seem to be
tired of freakish tricks, and in the woods below North Mimms it bends
eastward to run pretty steadily on between Potter’s Bar and Northaw,
beside the first stage of the road to Enfield, then a little to the
north of White Webbs Park, by the south side of Theobald’s Park, across
the New River and the high-road entering Waltham Cross, a mile beyond
which it is brought up with a round turn by the Lea.

The sluggish crooks of the Lea make the county’s eastern boundary. But
alas for that once idyllic river, loved and lost by gentle piscators!
Amateurs of Dutch scenery might here and there find a bit to their
taste; and the Essex bank has heights that show to more advantage over
Middlesex flats, where one sees how this lower course of the Lea has
been fouled into a dull Lethe, suggesting few poetical images, unless
those of Browning’s “Childe Roland to the dark tower came.” Its meadows,
on which nowadays one will hardly find a “milkmaid singing like a
nightingale,” or “young Corydon, the shepherd, playing purely on his
oaten pipe,” are more fitly described as marshes; and the wandering and
branching stream is drained into the Lea Navigation, in part coinciding
with the river’s course, but more often holding aloof from it like a
prosperous and prosaic citizen from some ne’er-do-well idler of the
family.

Not that it is altogether idle, indeed, for as it creeps and twists to
its slimy mouth behind the forlorn Isle of Dogs, “the wanton Lea” has
been pressed into the service of London’s water-supply, stored and well
filtered, let us hope. Reservoir embankments ill adorn the river
scenery; nor does a new pea-green swimming-bath excite such curiosity as
did a towering pile of faggots or brushwood, once used as rifle-butts,
that made a landmark of Tottenham Marshes till the other day it lit them
up in its moment of glory as a gigantic bonfire. The cheerfullest sight
here is the football scrimmages of would-be Hotspurs, played on gateless
flats. The creeks and channels of the river-bed are still frequented by
local Izaak Waltons, in whose breasts springs eternal hope of roach or
dace. Very hot weather tempts venturesome youth to bathe in the Stygian
stream. The sophisticated main channel is ploughed by crews of athletic
East Enders who have little need to be admonished, “Eyes in the boat!”
This river was once capable of more serious navigation, if we may trust
the legend that a fleet of Danes sailed up it for twenty miles, settling
themselves in a camp from which Alfred diverted the stream, and set on
the bold Londoners to make havoc of that stranded fleet, so that, in
Drayton’s verse, “old Lea brags of the Danish blood.”

We are here skirting close to the high-road by which we came out through
Edmonton. “But I now see Tottenham Cross, and our short walk hither
shall put a period to my too long discourse.” It is as well we are not
bound to enter the County of London, since there the Lea would bring us
to Hackney Marsh, perhaps the most unlovely spot of Middlesex soil--one
which some examiners, indeed, might propose to bracket with Staines
Moor, that at least deserves a _proxime accessit_.

Such blotches, however, are exceptional, and between those dismal flats
on the most distant edges of the county so recklessly libelled as “all
ugly,” it has been shown how one can find much pleasant and not a little
charming scenery of a truly English type. If a jury of my
fellow-countymen and gentle readers be not now ready to give a verdict
of slander against Cobbett, let them go forth to examine with their own
eyes the evidence on which I have been able faithfully to discharge my
duty as advocate for Middlesex.

    “To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new!”


                  THE END

   BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD

[Illustration: MAP ACCOMPANYING “MIDDLESEX.” PAINTED BY JOHN FULLEYLOVE,
R.I. DESCRIBED]

[Illustration: A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF. PUBLISHED BY A. AND C. BLACK,
LONDON.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

the the Alexandra Palace=> the Alexandra Palace {pg 44}

cotninuing the Green Lanes=> continuing the Green Lanes {pg 71}

surburban avenues=> suburban avenues {pg 106}





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