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Title: Thames Valley Villages, Volume 2 (of 2)
Author: Harper, Charles G. (Charles George)
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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    =The Portsmouth Road=, and its Tributaries: To-day and in Days
    of Old.

    =The Dover Road=: Annals of an Ancient Turnpike.

    =The Bath Road=: History, Fashion, and Frivolity on an Old

    =The Exeter Road=: The Story of the West of England Highway.

    =The Great North Road=: The Old Mail Road to Scotland. Two Vols.

    =The Norwich Road=: An East Anglian Highway.

    =The Holyhead Road=: The Mail-Coach Road to Dublin. Two Vols.

    =The Cambridge, Ely, and King’s Lynn Road=: The Great Fenland

    =The Newmarket, Bury, Thetford, and Cromer Road=: Sport and
    History on an East Anglian Turnpike.

    =The Oxford, Gloucester, and Milford Haven Road=: The Ready Way
    to South Wales. Two Vols.

    =The Brighton Road=: Speed, Sport, and History on the Classic

    =The Hastings Road= and the “Happy Springs of Tunbridge.”

    =Cycle Rides Round London.=

    =A Practical Handbook of Drawing for Modern Methods of

    =Stage Coach and Mail in Days of Yore.= Two Vols.

    =The Ingoldsby Country=: Literary Landmarks of “The Ingoldsby

    =The Hardy Country=: Literary Landmarks of the Wessex Novels.

    =The Dorset Coast.=

    =The South Devon Coast.=

    =The Old Inns of Old England.= Two Vols.

    =Love in the Harbour=: a Longshore Comedy.

    =Rural Nooks Round London= (Middlesex and Surrey).

    =Haunted Houses=: Tales of the Supernatural.

    =The Manchester and Glasgow Road.= This way to Gretna Green.
    Two Vols.

    =The North Devon Coast.=

    =Half Hours with the Highwaymen.= Two Vols.

    =The Autocar Road Book.= Four Vols.

    =The Tower Of London=: Fortress, Palace, and Prison.

    =The Somerset Coast.=

    =The Smugglers=: Picturesque Chapters in the Story of an
    Ancient Craft.

    =The Cornish Coast.= North.

    =The Cornish Coast.= South.

    =The Kentish Coast.= [_In the Press._

    =The Sussex Coast.= [_In the Press._

[Illustration: BISHAM CHURCH.]

                              THAMES VALLEY

                            CHARLES G. HARPER

                                 VOL. II

                    AND FROM DRAWINGS BY THE AUTHOR_

                         [Illustration: TAMESIS]

                      LONDON: CHAPMAN & HALL, LTD.

                          PRINTED AND BOUND BY
                     HAZELL, WATSON AND VINEY, LD.,
                          LONDON AND AYLESBURY.



                              CHAPTER I


                             CHAPTER II

      CLUB”—HURLEY—BISHAM                                           25

                             CHAPTER III


                             CHAPTER IV

    BRAY AND ITS FAMOUS VICAR—JESUS HOSPITAL                        69

                              CHAPTER V


                             CHAPTER VI

      AND THE KEDERMINSTERS                                        109

                             CHAPTER VII


                            CHAPTER VIII


                             CHAPTER IX

    PETERSHAM                                                      185

                              CHAPTER X


                             CHAPTER XI


                             CHAPTER XII

    PUTNEY—FULHAM BRIDGE—FULHAM                                    258

    INDEX                                                          293



    BISHAM CHURCH                                        _Frontispiece_


    SONNING BRIDGE                                                   5

    SHOTTESBROOKE CHURCH                                            13

    WARGRAVE CHURCH                                                 19


    ARCH CARRYING THE ROAD, PARK PLACE                              27

    REMENHAM CHURCH                                                 27

    HENLEY-ON-THAMES                                                31

    REGATTA ISLAND                                                  35

    MEDMENHAM ABBEY                                                 39

    THE BELL INN, HURLEY                                            43

    BISHAM ABBEY                                                    47

    “TOP O’ THE TOWN,” GREAT MARLOW                                 47

    A THAMES REGATTA                                                53

    COOKHAM LOCK                                                    57

    COOKHAM CHURCH                                                  61

    BRAY CHURCH                                                     61

    COOKHAM WEIR                                                    65

    LYCHGATE, BRAY                                                  71

    JESUS HOSPITAL, BRAY                                            79

    THE HALL, OCKWELLS                                              83

    DORNEY CHURCH: THE MINSTREL-GALLERY                             87

    THE PALMER SAMPLER, WORKED ABOUT 1620                           91

    DORNEY COURT                                                    95


      GROWN IN ENGLAND                                             103

    BURNHAM ABBEY                                                  107

    AN ENGLISH FARMYARD: BURNHAM ABBEY FARM                        111

    BOVENEY                                                        113

    THE KEDERMINSTER PEW: INTERIOR                                 117

    THE KEDERMINSTER PEW: EXTERIOR                                 121

    THE KEDERMINSTER LIBRARY                                       125

    THE ALMSHOUSES, LANGLEY                                        129

    BACKWATER NEAR WRAYSBURY                                       133

    HORTON CHURCH                                                  139

    LALEHAM CHURCH                                                 147

    MATTHEW ARNOLD’S GRAVE, LALEHAM                                147

    LITTLETON CHURCH                                               151

    INTERIOR, LITTLETON CHURCH                                     155

    SHEPPERTON                                                     159


    HALLIFORD                                                      171

    WATERSPLASH NEAR HALLIFORD                                     171

    SUNBURY                                                        175

    A BUSY DAY, MOLESEY LOCK                                       179

    TEDDINGTON WEIR                                                183

    TWICKENHAM CHURCH                                              187

    PETERSHAM POST-OFFICE                                          187

    PETERSHAM POST-OFFICE                                          191


    PETERSHAM, FROM THE MIDDLESEX SHORE                            199

    THE OLD LODGES OF PETERSHAM PARK                               203

    RIVER LANE, PETERSHAM                                          207

    ISLEWORTH                                                      213

    THE DOCK AT ISLEWORTH                                          217

    THE “LONDON APPRENTICE,” ISLEWORTH                             217

    “OLD ENGLAND”                                                  223


    STRAND-ON-THE-GREEN                                            239

    STRAND-ON-THE-GREEN: VIEW UP-RIVER                             243

    CHISWICK CHURCH                                                249


    THE TOWER, FULHAM CHURCH                                       277

    THE FITZJAMES COURTYARD, FULHAM PALACE                         281

    THE GREAT HALL, FULHAM PALACE                                  287


    Hour-Glass and Wrought-Iron Stand, Hurst                         8

    St. Lawrence Waltham                                            11

    East Window, Shottesbrooke                                      16

    Medmenham                                                       37

    From the Monument to Sir Myles Hobart, Great Marlow             52

    Brass to an Eton Scholar, Wraysbury                            136

    Bradshaw’s House, Walton-on-Thames                             165

    Brass to John Selwyn                                           167

    Walton-on-Thames Church                                        169

    Ferry Lane, Brentford                                          233

    Tomb of Edward Rose, Barnes                                    255

    The Old Toll-House, Barnes Common                              261




As Reading can by no means be styled a village, seeing that its
population numbers over 72,000, the fact of its not being treated of in
these pages will perhaps be excused. You cannot rusticate at Reading:
the electric tramways, the great commercial premises, and the crowded
state of its streets forbid; but Reading, taken frankly as a town and
a manufacturing town at that, is not at all a place for censure. The
Kennet, however, that flows through it, has here become a very different
Kennet from that which sparkles in the Berkshire meads between Hungerford
and Kintbury, and has a very dubious and deterrent look where it is
received into the Thames.

The flat, open shores at Reading presently give place to the wooded banks
approaching Sonning, where the fine trees of Holme Park are reflected in
the waters of the lock—the lock that was tended for many years, until his
death, about 1889, by a lock-keeper who also kept bees, made beehives,
and wrote poetry. Sonning, and its Thames-side “Parade,” certainly invite
to poetry.

To say there is no Thames-side village prettier, or in any way more
delightful, than Sonning is vague praise and also in some ways
understates its peculiar attractiveness, which, strange to say,
seems to increase, rather than decrease, with the years. It might
have been expected that a village but three miles from the great and
increasing town of Reading would suffer many indignities from that
proximity, and would be infested with such flagrant nuisances as wayside
advertisement-hoardings and street-loafers, but these manifestations of
the _zeitgeist_ are, happily, entirely absent.

Let us, however, halt for a moment to give a testimonial of character to
Reading itself, which is far above the average of great towns in these
and many other matters. Loafers and street-hoardings are found there,
without doubt—and can we find the modern town of its size where they are
not?—but they do not obtrude; and, in short, Reading is, with all its
bustle of business, a likeable place.

There are reasons for Sonning remaining unspoiled. They are not
altogether sufficient reasons, for they obtain in other once delightful
villages similarly situated, which have unhappily been ravaged by modern
progress; but here they have by chance sufficed. They are found chiefly
in the happy circumstances that Sonning lies three-quarters of a mile
off the main-road—off that Bath road, oh! my brethren, that was once
so delightful, with its memories of a bypast coaching-age; and is now
little better than a race-track for motor-cars, and, by reason of their
steel-studded tyres, cursed with a bumpy surface full of pot-holes.
Time was when the surface of the Bath road was perfection. Nowadays, no
ingenuity of mortal road-surveyors can keep it in repair, for the suction
of air caused by pneumatic tyres travelling at great speed tears out the
binding material and leaves only loose grit and stones. The Bath road on
a fine summer’s day has become unendurable by reason of the dust raised
in this manner. If you stand a distance away, in the fields, out of sight
of the actual road, its course can yet be distinctly traced for a long
way by the billows of dust, rising like smoke from it.

Happily, motor-cars do but rarely come into Sonning, although at the
turning out of the high road a prominent advertisement of the Bull, the
White Hart, or the French Horn—the three hostelries that Sonning can
boast—invites them hither.

The other prominent reason for this village being allowed to remain quiet
is found in the fact of Twyford, the nearest railway station, being two
miles distant.

There are many branching streams of the Thames here, and the hamlet of
Sonning Eye, on the Oxfordshire side, takes its name either from this
abundance of water, or from the eyots, or islands, formed by these
several channels, crossed by various bridges.

Sonning Bridge _par excellence_ is a severely unornamented structure of
red brick, obviously built by the very least imaginative of architects,
in the eighteenth century. If it were new it would be an offence, but
there is now a mellowness of colour in that old red brick, embroidered
richly as it is in green and gold by the lichens of nearly two
centuries, that gives the old bridge a charm by no means inherent in its
originator’s design.

Trees, great, noble, upstanding woodland trees, lovingly enclasp Sonning
village and form a background for its ancient cottages and fine old
mansions, and against the dark green background of them you see on summer
afternoons the blue smoke curling up lazily from rustic chimneys. In
midst of this the embattled church-tower rises unobtrusively; and indeed
the church is so hidden, although it is a large church, that strangers
are generally directed to find it by way of the Bull Inn: a rambling old
hostelry occupying two sides of a square, and covered in summer with a
mantle of roses and creepers. And it must, by the way, not be forgotten
that Sonning in general displays a very wealth of flowers for the delight
of the stranger.

I would it were possible to be enthusiastic upon the church, but thorough
“restoration,” and a marvellously hideous monument to Thomas Rich,
Alderman of Gloucester, 1613, and his son, Sir Thomas Rich, Bart., 1667,
forbid. There are brasses on the floor of the nave, to Laurence Fyton,
1434, steward of the manor of Sonning, and to William Barber, 1549,
bailiff of the same manor; with others.

[Illustration: SONNING BRIDGE.]

Here, too, is a monument of Canon Pearson, vicar for over forty years,
and reverently spoken of—or is it the monument that is reverenced?—by
the caretaker. I have sought greatly to discover something by which the
Canon’s career may be illustrated in these pages, but, upon my soul, the
most notable things available are precisely that he held this excellent
living for that long period, and that he sometimes preached before Queen
Victoria. These things do not in themselves form a title to reverence.

Something of the distinct stateliness of Sonning is due to the fact that
anciently the Bishops of Salisbury were owners of the manor, and before
them the Bishops of the Saxon diocese of Dorchester. Their manor-house
was in the time of Leland “a fair old house of stone by the Tamise ripe”;
but of this desirable residence nothing remains. The Deanery, too, has
disappeared, but the fine old stone and brick enclosing-walls of its
grounds remain, and there a picturesque modern residence has been built.
Those walls, of an immense thickness and solidity, are indeed a sight to
see, for the saxifrage and many beautiful flowering plants growing in and
upon them.


Sonning itself, being a place so delightful, invites those to whom
locality has interest to explore into the country that lies in the rear
of it. In a work styled _Thames Valley Villages_ we may go very much
where we please, and here the valley broadens out considerably, for it
includes, and insensibly merges with, that of the river Loddon, which
flows down quite a long way, even from the heights of northern Hampshire.
The Loddon, the loveliest tributary of the Thames, flows into it by three
mouths, from one mile to two miles and a half below Sonning, and its
various loops and channels make the four-mile stretch of country in the
rear a particularly moist and water-logged district. Here, crossing the
dusty Bath road at Twyford, which takes its name from the ancient double
ford of the Loddon at this point, the secluded village of Hurst may be
found. Its name of “Hurst,” i.e. a woodland, indicates its situation in
what was once the widespreading Windsor Forest. The village lies along
gravelly roads, scattered about fragments of village green and a large
pond; its church, hidden three-quarters of a mile away, forming, with a
country inn and some old almshouses, a curiously isolated group. To see
the interesting Norman and Early English church, with red-brick tower,
dated 1612, crowned with quaint cupola, is worth some effort; for it
contains a very handsome chancel-screen, probably placed here _circa_
1500. The repainting of it in 1876, under the direction of J. D. Sedding,
the architect who then restored the church, is, if indeed in accordance
with the traces of the original decoration then found, certainly more
curious than beautiful; but it should be seen, if only to show that our
ancestors were, after all, not a little barbaric in their schemes of
decoration. The hour-glass, with beautiful wrought-iron bracket dated
1636, should be noticed. Behind it, on the wall, is painted “As this
Glasse runneth, so Man’s Life passeth.” A queer memorial brass to Alse
Harison, representing the lady in a four-poster bed, is on the north
wall. A large grey-and-white marble monument to others of the Harison
family includes an epitaph on Philip Harison, who died in 1683. The
sorrowing author of it ends ingeniously:

    “A double dissolution there appears,
     He into dust dissolves; she into tears.”

Surely a mind capable of such ingenious imagery on such a subject cannot
have been wholly downcast.

The old almshouses by the church were founded, as appears on a tablet
over the entrance, by one William Barker:

            This Hospitall for the
      Maintenance of eight poor persons,
        Each at 6_d._ pr diem for euer, was
        Erected and Founded in ye year 1664
          At the Sole Charge of
              WILLIAM BARKER
        of Hurst, in the County of
                  Wilts, Esq.
    Who dyed ye 25th of March, 1685
        And lies buried in the South
              Chancell of this Parish.

Note you that, gentle reader, “the county of Wilts,” we being in the
midst of Berkshire? A considerable tract of surrounding country is
in fact (or was until comparatively recent years) a detached portion
of Wiltshire, and was invariably shown so on old maps. Examples of
such isolated portions of counties, and even of detached fragments
of parishes, are by no means rare: Worcestershire in England and
Cromartyshire in Scotland, forming the most notable examples; but the
reasons for these things are obscure, and all attempts at explaining them
amount to little more than the unsatisfying conclusion that they are
thus because—well, because they are, you know! That is the net result of
repeated discussions upon the subject in _Notes and Queries_, in which
publication of wholly honorary and unpaid contributions the majority of
noters, querists, and writers of replies have during the space of some
sixty years past been engaged in chasing their own tails, like so many
puppies. The process is amusing enough, but as you end where you began,
the net result is no great catch.

Apart from legends and traditions, it would seem that the explanation of
the Berkshire districts of Hurst, Twyford, Ruscombe, Whistley Green, and
a portion of Wokingham having been accounted in Wiltshire, may be found
in the fact, already remarked, that Sonning was a manor of the Bishops of
Salisbury. The question appears to have been largely an ecclesiastical
affair. The anomaly of a portion of Wiltshire being islanded in Berkshire
was, however, ended by Acts of Parliament during the reigns of William
the Fourth and Queen Victoria, by which the area concerned was annexed to

Returning from Hurst to Twyford, expeditions to Ruscombe, St. Lawrence
Waltham, and Shottesbrooke will amply repay the explorer in these
wilds—for wilds they are in the matter of perplexing roads. They are good
roads, in so far that they are level, but they would seem to have come
into existence on no plan; or, if plan there ever were, a malicious plan,
intended to utterly confound and mislead the stranger. But this is no
unpleasant district in which to wander awhile.

[Illustration: ST. LAWRENCE WALTHAM.]

Ruscombe is notable as the place where William Penn, founder of
Pennsylvania, died, in 1718. Its church stands solitary in the meadows—a
red-brick, eighteenth-century building, as ruddy as a typical beef-eating
and port-drinking farmer of Georgian days. The neighbouring St.
Lawrence Waltham is entirely delightful. The fine church tower of St.
Lawrence, the ancient brick and plaster and timbered Bell Inn, and the
old village pound, with an aged elm at each corner of it, composing a
rarely-beautiful picture.

The stone spire of Shottesbrooke church is seen, not far off, peering
up from among the trees of Shottesbrooke Park, in which it is situated.
When we see a stone church spire in Berkshire, where we do not commonly
find ancient spires, we are apt to suspect at once a modern church, and
our suspicions are generally well-founded; but here is a remarkably fine
Decorated building of the mid-fourteenth century (it was built 1337). It
stands finely in a noble park for many years belonging to the Vansittart
family, and has been well described as “a cathedral in miniature.” Its
origin appears by tradition to have been due to the unexpected recovery
of Sir William Trussell, the then owner of the estate, who had been
brought to the verge of death by a long-continued course of drunkenness.
He built it by way of thankoffering, and as he would seem to have been
intemperate in all he did, he not only built this very large and noble
church, but founded a college for five priests. This establishment
went the way of all such things, hundreds of years ago, and the great
building, standing solitary in the park, except for the vicarage and the
manor-house, now astonishes the stranger at its loneliness. He wonders
where the village is, and may well continue to wonder, for village there
is none.


A versifier in the Ingoldsby manner narrates the building of it by

        “An oath he sware
         To his lady fair,
         ‘By the cross on my shield,
         A church I’ll build,
         And therefore the deuce a form
         Is so fit as a cruciform;
         And the patron saint that I find the aptest
    Is that holiest water-saint—John the Baptist.’”

A legend of the building of the spire tells how the architect, completing
it by fixing the weathercock, called for wine to drink a health to the
King, and, drinking, fell to the ground and was dashed to pieces. The
only sound he uttered, says the legend, was “O! O!” and that exclamation
was the sole inscription carved upon his tomb, erected upon the spot
where he fell. Many have been those pilgrims drawn to Shottesbrooke by
this picturesque story, seeking that tomb. Tombstones of any kind are few
in Shottesbrooke churchyard, and the only one that can possibly mark the
architect’s grave is a coped stone on which an expectant and confiding
person may indeed faintly trace “O, O”; but as the stone is probably not
so old as the fourteenth century, and as it is extremely likely that
an expectant person will, if in any way possible, find that which he
expects, it would not be well to declare for the genuineness of it. But
it is at any rate a very old and cracked and moss-grown stone.

Of a bygone Vansittart, who filled this family living for forty-four
years, we read some highly eulogistic things upon a monument near by.
Born 1779, he died 1847, “the faithful pastor of an attached flock.
Meek, mild, benevolent. In domestic life tender, kind, considerate. In
all relations revered, respected, beloved.” One is tempted to repeat the
unfortunate architect’s exclamation, “O! O!”

The church, serving no village, and standing in a park close by the noble
country seat of the Vansittarts, is for all practical purposes a manorial
chapel. That it has long been used as such is very evident from the many
tablets to Vansittarts which line its walls. The remains of the founder’s
tomb are seen in the north transept, in a long stretch of delicate
arcading along the north wall, beautifully wrought in chalk.


A singular effigy to William Throckmorton, Doctor of Laws, “warden of
this church,” who died in 1535, is on the north side of the chancel. It
is of diminutive size, and is what archæologists call an “interrupted
effigy,” showing only head and breast and feet, the middle being occupied
by a brass with Latin inscription.

There are several brasses in the church: the finest of them, a
fourteenth-century example in the chancel, very deeply and beautifully
cut, representing two men; one with forked beard, a long gown and a
sword; the other an ecclesiastic. They stand side by side, and are
reputed to represent the founder and his brother, but the inscription
has been torn away, together with most of the canopy.

A brass in the north transept to Richard Gill, Sergeant of the
“Backhouse”—i.e. the Bakehouse—to Henry the Seventh and Henry the Eighth,
describes him as “Bailey of the Seaven Hundreds of Cookeham and Bray in
the Forest Division.” Near by is a brass to “Thomas Noke, who for his
great Age and vertuous Lyfe was reverenced of all Men, and was commonly
called Father Noke, created Esquire by King Henry the Eight. He was of
Stature high and comly; and for his excellency in Artilery made Yeoman of
the Crowne of England which had in his Lyfe three Wives, and by every of
them some Fruit and Off-spring, and deceased the 21 of August 1567 in the
Yeare of his Age 87, leaving behind him Julyan his last Wife, two of his
Brethren, one Sister, one only Son, and two Daughters living.”

Thomas Noke is represented with his three wives, while six daughters and
four sons are grouped beneath.

Returning through Twyford to Sonning, the outlet of the Loddon,

    “The Loddon slow, with verdant alders crowned,”

is found in that exquisite backwater, the Patrick Stream, where a
picture of surpassing beauty is seen at every turn. By a long, winding
course, fringed richly with rushes, and overhung with lovely trees, the
Patrick Stream wanders through meadow lands and finally emerges into the
Thames again, just below Shiplake Lock. By dint of making this long but
delightful _détour_, and thus avoiding Shiplake Lock, it is possible to
do the Thames Conservancy out of one of those many threepences for which
it has so insatiable an appetite.

Shiplake, on the Oxfordshire bank, is the place where Tennyson was
married, but the church has been largely rebuilt since then. The windows
are mostly filled with ancient glass brought from the abbey of St.
Bertin, at St. Omer. Shiplake Mill, once a picturesque feature, is now,
at this time of writing, a squalid heap of ruins.

Wargrave, on the Berkshire side, is said to have once been a market-town,
and it is now growing again so rapidly that a town it will soon be once
more. Its houses crowd together on the banks, where the George and Dragon
Inn stands, giving upon the slipway to the water: all looking out upon
the spacious Oxfordshire meadows. The sign of the George and Dragon Inn—a
double-sided one—painted by G. D. Leslie, R.A., and J. E. Hodgson, R.A.,
in 1874, shows St. George on one side, as we are accustomed to see him on
the reverse of coins, engaged in slaying the dragon; and on the other,
the monster duly slain, the saint is refreshing himself with a noble
tankard of ale.

[Illustration: WARGRAVE CHURCH.]

Wargrave church has been restored extensively, and its tower is of red
brick, and not ancient; but it forms, for all that, a very charming
picture. Here we may see a tablet to the memory of that remarkable prig,
Thomas Day, the author of that egregious work for the manufacture of
other prigs, _Sandford and Merton_. He was born about 1748, and died
1789. Of his good and highly moral life there can be no doubt; but moral
philosophers are rarely _personæ gratæ_ in a naughty and frivolous world.
We fight shy of them, and of all instructive and improving persons, and
make light of their works; and if nowadays we read _Sandford and Merton_
at all, it is for the purpose of extracting some satirical amusement from
the pompous verbiage of the Reverend Mr. Barlow, and from the respective
“wickedness” and goodness of Tommy and the exemplary Harry.

Among Thomas Day’s peculiar views was that by a proper method of
education (i.e. a method invented by himself) there was scarcely anything
that could not be accomplished. He certainly began courageously, about
the age of twenty-one, by choosing two girls, each about twelve years of
age, whom he proposed to educate after his formula, and then to marry
the most suitable of them. He, however, did not carry this plan so far
as the marrying of either. It is not clear whom we should congratulate:
the girls or their eccentric guardian, who at last met his death from
the kick of a horse which resented the entirely novel philosophical
principles on which he was training it.

In the churchyard is the grave of Madame Tussaud, of the famous waxworks,
and here lies Sir Morell Mackenzie, the surgeon who attended the Emperor
Frederick. He died in 1892. Near by is a quite new columbarium for
containing the ashes of cremated persons.

A singular bequest left to Wargrave by one Mrs. Sarah Hill is that by
which, every year at Easter, the sum of £1 is to be equally divided, in
new crown pieces, between two boys and two girls, who qualify for this
reward by conduct that must needs meet with the approval of all. The
five-shilling pieces are not forthcoming unless the candidates are known
never to have been undutiful to their parents, never to swear, never to
tell untruths, or steal, break windows, or do “any kind of mischief.”
The good lady would appear either to have been bent upon finding the
Perfectly Good Child, or to have been a saturnine humorist, with a
cynical disbelief in these annual distributions ever being made. But they
_are_ made; and we can only suppose that the vicar and churchwardens
allow themselves just a little charitable latitude in the annual judging.
And, you know, after all, is it worth while being so monumentally
good for the poor reward of five shillings a year? Consider how much
delightful mischief you forgo.

Hennerton backwater, below Wargrave, is another of the delightful
side-streams that are plentiful here, and is now, after a good deal of
litigation, pronounced free. The wooded road between Wargrave and Henley
skirts it, and is carried over a lovely valley in the grounds of Park
Place by a very fine arch of forty-three feet span, built of gigantic
rough stones.




Passing Marsh Lock, the town of Henley comes into view, heralded by its
tall church tower, with four equal-sized battlemented turrets; a quite
unmistakable church tower. The noble five-arched stone bridge here
crossing the Thames, built in 1789, at a cost of £10,000, is one of the
most completely satisfactory along the whole course of the river. The
keystone-masks of the central arch show sculptured faces representing
Isis and Thames. Isis appropriately faces up-river, and Thames looks
down-stream. These conventionalised heads of a river-god and goddess
are really admirable examples of the sculptor’s art. They adorn the
title-pages of the present volumes, which display Isis with a woman’s
head, and Father Thames, bearded, with little fishes peeping out of the
matted hair, and bulrushes decoratively disposed about his temples. These
masks were the work of that very accomplished lady, the Honourable Mrs.
Anne Seymour Damer, who at the time when Henley bridge was a-building
resided at Park Place. She was cousin to Horace Walpole, for whom she
carved an eagle so exquisitely that he wrote under it—enthusiastic
cousin as he was—_Non Praxiteles sed Anna Damer me fecit_. One terrible
thing, however, stamps the lady irrevocably as a gifted amateur: she
_gave_ her work to the bridge authorities. Most reprehensible! The
recipients were duly grateful, as witness the Bridge Minutes. True, they
do but acknowledge one mask: “May 6, 1785. Ordered that the thanks of the
Commissioners be given to the Honourable Mrs. Damer for the very elegant
head of the River Thames which she has cut and presented to them for the
Keystone of the centre arch of the bridge.”

This conventional head of Father Thames is that made familiar by the
eighteenth-century poets, who personified everything possible. It is that
Father Thames who

                “From his oozy bed
        … advanced his rev’rend head;
    His tresses dropped with dews, and o’er the stream
    His shining horns diffused a golden gleam.”

Only, as we see, bulrushes here take the place of his “shining horns.”
The head of Isis was a portrait of Miss Freeman of Fawley Court.


[Illustration: REMENHAM CHURCH.]

Henley is, of course, famed, above all else, for its Regatta, established
as an annual event since 1839, following upon an Oxford and Cambridge
boat-race here in 1837. It is now pre-eminently _the_ function of the
river season, whether we consider it from the point of view of sport or
fashion. Here every June the best oarsmanship in the world is displayed
over this course of one-and-a-quarter miles: indisputably the best for
anything up to that distance, for the regatta is now attended by the
best oarsmen of the New World as well as of the Old. The regatta is,
from a social and hospitable point of view, very much what the Derby is
among horseraces; and the house-boat parties and riverside house-parties
for the Henley Week dispense much hospitality and champagne. There is
yet another side to the regatta: it is, almost equally with Ascot and
Goodwood, recognised as an opportunity for the display of fine dresses.
The Oxfordshire bank is at such times the most exclusive, and to the
Berkshire shores are principally relegated the pushing, struggling crowds
of humbler sportsmen and sightseers. But here, where every point is
legally open to all, except where private lawns reach down to the river,
the real exclusiveness of Goodwood or Ascot is, of course, impossible.
Henley town is at such times anything but exclusive, and is thronged to
excess. In these later times of motor-cars it is also apt to be a great
deal more dusty than ever it used to be. To see Henley in Regatta Week,
and again Henley in any other week, affords an astonishing contrast; for
at all other times it is, as a town, among the dullest of the dull, and
its broad High Street a synonym for emptiness.

I do not propose in this place to enlarge further upon Henley, but to
mention Henley at all and not its famous old coaching-inn by the bridge,
the Red Lion, has never yet been done; and shall I be the first to make
the omission? No! It is a famous old inn, and of enormous size. Every
one knows it as the hostelry where Shenstone the poet, about 1750,
scratched with a diamond upon a window the celebrated stanza about “the
warmest welcome at an inn,” but that window-pane has long been lost;
and it is really doubtful if the inscription was not rather at another
Henley: i.e. Henley-in-Arden. I have fully discussed that question
elsewhere,[1] and so will not repeat it in this place.

Mr. Ashby-Sterry is quite right in his description of the Red Lion,
standing red-brickily by the bridge:

    “’Tis a finely-toned, picturesque, sunshiny place,
       Recalling a dozen old stories;
     With a rare British, good-natured, ruddy-hued face,
       Suggesting old wines and old Tories.”

Remenham, a mile or so along the Berkshire shore, is typically Berkshire,
but with a church still looking starkly new, as the result of “thorough
restoration” in 1870. Its semicircular apse, really ancient, does not
look it. The tower is of the Henley type, though smaller. Henley church
tower, in fact, seems to have set a local fashion in such, for that of
Hambleden conforms to the same design. Regatta Island, with its effective
temple, marks the old starting-point of the races.

[Illustration: HENLEY-ON-THAMES.]

Hambleden is on the Buckinghamshire side; a pretty village situated about
one mile distant from the river along the lovely and retired valley
of the Hamble. From it the widow of W. H. Smith, of the newspaper and
library and bookstall business of W. H. Smith & Son, and of Greenlands,
near Henley, takes her title of Viscountess Hambleden. Liberal, Radical,
and Separatist journals were never tired of satirically referring to W.
H. Smith, when a member of a Unionist Government, as “Old Morality,”
deriving that term from the stand he took in the House of Commons upon
his “duty to Queen and country.” His idea of his duty in those respects
was exactly that of an average responsible business man. He had no axe
to grind, no job to perpetrate; and that being so, the nickname of “Old
Morality” was in effect a great deal more honourable than those satirists
ever suspected. They, indeed, conferred upon him a brevet of which any
one might well be proud, and incidentally covered themselves with shame,
as men to whom a sense of rightness and of duty towards one’s sovereign
and one’s native land was a subject for mirth. But of course these quips
and cranks derived from the party notoriously friends of every country
save their own.

In the very much restored church of Hambleden, among various tombs, is
one in the chancel to Henry, son of the second Lord Sandys, with a quaint
inscription, owning some nobility of thought:

    “Nature cryeth on me so sore,
       I cannot, Christ, be too fervent,
     Sith he is gone, I have no more,
       And yt, O God, I am content.
     I believe in the Resurection of Life
       To see you again at the last day,
     And now, farewell, Elizabeth my wife,
       Teach mye children God to obey
     But now let us rejoyce in heart
       To trymphe never cease
     Sith in this life wee only part
       To joyce agen in heavenly peace.
         Parted to God’s mercy, 1540.”

The elaborate oak screen under the tower, carved with Renascence designs,
is said to have once been part of Cardinal Wolsey’s bedstead. It bears
the arms of Christ Church and of Corpus Christi, Oxford; and those of
Castile, with the rose badge of York.

At some little distance downstream is Medmenham Abbey. The building, that
looks so entirely reverend and worshipful from the opposite shore, is
really, in the existing buildings, little enough of the original Abbey
that was founded towards the close of the twelfth century by one Hugh
de Bolebec. It was never very much of a place, and seems to have been
something of a dependency of Bisham Abbey. Just prior to its suppression,
Henry the Eighth’s commissioners reported that it had merely two monks,
with no servants, and little property, but no debts; but, on the other
hand, no goods worth more than £1 3_s._ 8_d._, “and the house wholly

[Illustration: REGATTA ISLAND.]

Nothing remains of whatever church there may have been, and the only
ancient portions are some fragments of the Abbot’s lodgings. The “ruined”
tower, the cloisters, and much else are the work of those blasphemous
“Franciscans” of the Hell Fire Club who, under the presidency of
Francis Dashwood, Lord le Despencer, established themselves here about
1758. There were twelve of these reckless “monks,” who, having built
the “cloisters,” reared the now ivy-mantled tower, and painted their
licentious motto, “Fay ce que voudras,” over one of the doors, sat down
to a series of orgies and debaucheries whose excesses have been perhaps
exaggerated by the mystery with which these “monks of Medmenham” chose
to veil their doings. Among them were Bubb Dodington, Lord Melcombe, Sir
John Dashwood King, John Wilkes, the poet Churchill, and Sir William
Stanhope. Paul Whitehead was “secretary” to this precious gang of

[Illustration: MEDMENHAM.]

Devil-worship was said to have been among the impious rites celebrated
here; and one of the party seems to have played a particularly
horrifying practical joke upon his fellows during the progress of these
celebrations. He procured an exceptionally large and hideous monkey and,
dressing it in character, let it down the chimney into the room among
his friends, who fled in terror, and were for long afterwards convinced
that their patron had really come for them. This incident is said to have
broken up the fraternity.

The explorer by Thames-side could, until quite recent years, do very
much as he liked at Medmenham, and the more or less authentic ruins were
open to him; but now they are enclosed within the grounds of a private
residence, and a hotel stands beside the ferry. The very small village
at the back is to be noted for the highly picturesque grouping of some
ancient gabled houses (restored of late) with the little church and a
remarkable hill crested by an old red-brick and flint house that looks
as though it owned, or ought to own, some romantic story. The hilltop
is said to be encircled with the remains of a prehistoric encampment.
It is with sorrow that here also one notes the builder’s prejudicial
activities. Directly in front of the church, and entirely blocking out
the view of it, there has been built a recent red-brick villa, with the
result that the effective composition illustrated here is almost wholly

[Illustration: MEDMENHAM ABBEY.]

The lovely grass-lands over against Medmenham are glorious in June,
before the hay-harvest. One may walk by them, beside the river, all
the way to Hurley. On the left, or Buckinghamshire, bank, the ground
rises into chalk-cliffs, surmounted by the great unoccupied house of
Danesfield, staringly white, popularly said to contain as many windows
as there are days in the year. This is the handiwork of Mr. R. W. Hudson,
of “Hudson’s Soap.”

Hurley, to which we now come, is a historic spot. Here, by the waterside,
was founded in 1087, by Geoffrey de Mandeville, the Benedictine Priory
of Our Lady of Hurley, which remained until 1535, when, in common with
other religious houses, it was suppressed by Henry the Eighth. To the
Lovelace family came the lands and buildings of this establishment, and
here, on the site of it, Sir Richard Lovelace built, with “money gotten
with Francis Drake,” a splendid mansion which he called Lady Place. His
descendant, Richard, Lord Lovelace, was in 1688 one of the somewhat
timorous nobles who met secretly to plot the deposition of James the
Second. They had not the courage, these pusillanimous wretches, to take
the field in arms, as Monmouth and his brave peasants had done, three
years earlier, and must needs find cellars to grope in, and then invite
over that cold, disliked Dutchman, William of Orange, to do for them what
they dared not do for themselves. Macaulay, in his richly-picturesque
language, refers to these meetings, but it will be observed that he calls
those who met here “daring.” They were anything but that.

“This mansion,” he says, “built by his ancestors out of the spoils of
Spanish galleons from the Indies, rose on the ruins of a house of our
Lady in this beautiful valley, through which the Thames, not yet defiled
by the precincts of a great capital, rolls under woods of beech, and
round the gentle hills of Berks. Beneath the stately saloon, adorned by
Italian pencils, was a subterranean vault, in which the bones of ancient
monks had sometimes been found. In this dark chamber some zealous and
daring opponents of the Government held many midnight conferences during
that anxious time when England was impatiently expecting the Protestant

This Lady Place no longer exists, for the great house was demolished
in 1836, and the house so-called is of modern build. But the old-time
gardens remain, and the refectory; and here is the old circular
pigeon-house, with the initials on it, “C.R.,” and the date, 1642.

A curious story tells how one of the last occupants of Lady Place was
a brother of Admiral Kempenfelt, and that he and the Admiral planted
two thorn-trees in the garden, in which he took great pride. One day,
returning home, he found that the tree planted by the Admiral had
withered away, and he exclaimed: “I feel sure this is an omen that my
brother is dead.” That evening, August 29, 1782, he received news of the
loss of the _Royal George_.

Hurley church is a long, low building, of nave without aisles, of Norman,
or some say earlier, origin. “It was probably ravaged by the Danes
towards the close of the ninth century,” say the guide-books. This may
have been so, but it could hardly have been worse ravaged by them than
it was by those who “restored” it in 1852 “at a cost of £1,500,” and
incidentally also at the cost of all its real interest.

[Illustration: THE BELL INN, HURLEY.]

The village of Hurley straggles a long way back from the river, in one
scattered, disjointed line of cottages, past the picturesque old Bell
Inn, apparently of fifteenth-century date, heavily framed with stout
oaken timbers.

Below Hurley, leaving behind the ancient red-brick piers of the old-world
gardens of Lady Place, the river opens out to Marlow reach, with Bisham
on the right hand, and the tall crocketed spire of Marlow church closing
the distant view.

“Bisham” is said to have been originally “Bustleham,” but the present
form will be preferred by every one. Strangers call it “Bish-am,” but for
the natives and the people of Marlow the only way is by the elision of
the letter h—“Bis-am”; and thus shall you, being duly informed of this
shibboleth, infallibly detect the stranger in these parts.

Bisham village is quite invisible from the river, nor need we trouble to
seek it, unless it be for climbing up into the lovely and precipitous
Quarry Woods, in the rear. To those who knew Bisham when Fred Walker
painted his delightful pictures, and among them, some studies of this
village street, there comes, when they think of the Bisham that was and
the Bisham that is, a fierce but impotent anger. The humble old red-brick
cottages remain, it is true, and their gardens bloom as of yore, but
what was once the sweet-smelling gravelly street is now a tarred
abomination, smelling evilly, and wearing a squalid and disreputable
look. This is the result of the coming of the motor-car, for Bisham is
on the well-travelled road between High Wycombe, Great Marlow, Twyford,
and Reading, and the village has now the unwelcome choice of two evils:
to be half-choked with billows of dust, or to coat its roads with tar

Of what was originally a Preceptory of the Knights Templars, and then an
Augustine Priory, and finally a Benedictine Abbey, nothing is left but
the Prior’s lodgings, now the mansion of the Vansittart-Neales, called
“the Abbey.” The parish church stands finely by the waterside, encircled
by the trees of the park, and there remains a monastic barn. Such are
the few relics of the proud home of monks and priors, enriched during
hundreds of years by the benefactions of the wicked, endeavouring by
means of such gifts to atone sufficiently for their evil lives, and so
escape the damnation that surely awaited them.

Such complete destruction is melancholy indeed, when we consider the
great historic personages who were buried here: among them the great
Nevill, “Warwick the Kingmaker,” slain at last in the course of his
tortuous ambitions, in the Battle of Barnet, fought on Easter Day, 1471,
and laid at Bisham, hard by his own manor of Marlow.

When the Abbey was finally dissolved, it was granted by Henry the Eighth
to Anne of Cleves, his divorced fourth wife, who exchanged it with the
Hoby family for a property of theirs in Kent. Here the Princess Elizabeth
was resident for three years, during the reign of her half-sister, Mary,
really under surveillance; and to that period the greater part of the
“Abbey,” as we see it now, is to be referred.

[Illustration: BISHAM ABBEY.]

[Illustration: “TOP O’ THE TOWN,” GREAT MARLOW.]

Bisham Abbey is, of course, famed above all other things for the story
of the wicked Lady Hoby, who so thrashed her son for spoiling his
copy-books with blots that he died. A portrait of her, in the dress of
a widow, is still in the house, and her ghost is yet said to haunt the
place.[2] She was wife of Sir Thomas Hoby, Ambassador to France, who died
in 1566, aged 36. The elaborate altar-tomb in Bisham church to him, and
to his half-brother, Sir Philip, with effigies of the two knights, is
worth seeing; and the rhymed epitaph written by her worth reading. The
early death of the Ambassador, in Paris, was not without suspicion of
poison. The sculptured figures of hawks at the feet of the brothers are
“hobby”-hawks, a punning allusion to the family name.

Lady Hoby was a grief-stricken widow, and supplicated Heaven, rather
quaintly, to “give me back my husband, Thomas,” or that being beyond
possibility, to “give me another like Thomas.” She captured another,
eight years later, when she married John, Lord Russell; but whether
Heaven had thus given her one up to sample we are only left idly to
conjecture. At any rate she outlived him too, by many years, and elected
to be buried beside her Thomas. An elaborate monument to this fearsome
lady discloses her in a wonderful coif, surmounted by a coronet.
Before and behind her kneeling figure are the praying effigies of her
children. It is recorded that she was particularly interested in mortuary
observances, and that she even found it possible to be absorbed, as she
lay dying, at the age of 81, in her own funeral rites; corresponding with
Sir William Dethick as to precisely the number of mourners and heralds
that were her due.

A little monument to two children in Bisham church is the subject of a
very old legend to the effect that Queen Elizabeth was their mother! More
scandal about Queen Elizabeth!

Bisham passed from the Hobys in 1768 to a family of Mills, who
assumed the name; but in 1780 it again changed hands and was sold to
the Vansittarts, of whom Sir H. J. Vansittart-Neale is the present
representative. The old belief in disaster befalling families who hold
property taken from the Church has been curiously warranted here from
time to time, in the untimely death of eldest sons or direct heirs, and
here indeed, upon entering Bisham church, the stranger is startled by
the white marble life-size effigy confronting him of a kneeling boy, in
a Norfolk jacket-suit; an inscription declaring it to represent George
Kenneth Vansittart-Neale, who died in 1904, aged fourteen.

[1] _The Old Inns of Old England_, vol. ii., pp. 299-303.

[2] More fully discussed in _Haunted Houses_, pp. 36-42.



Marlow town is well within sight from Bisham. It is very much more
picturesque at a distance than it is found to be when arrived near at
hand; and the graceful stone spire of its church is found to be really
a portion of a very clumsy would-be Gothic building erected in the
Batty-Langley style, about 1835. A fine old Norman and later building
was destroyed to make way for this; and now the present church is in
course of being replaced, in sections, by another, as the funds to
that end come in. An interesting monument in the draughty lobby of the
present building commemorates Sir Myles Hobart, of Harleyford, who, when
Member of Parliament for Marlow, in 1628, distinguished himself by his
sturdy opposition to the King’s illegal demands; and with his own hands,
on a memorable occasion, locked the door of the House of Commons, to
secure the debate on tonnage and poundage from interruption. For this he
suffered three years’ imprisonment.

The monument, shamefully “skied” on the wall of this lobby, was removed
from the old church. Hobart met his death in 1652 by accident, the four
horses in his carriage running away down Holborn Hill, and upsetting it.
A curious little sculpture on the lower part of the monument represents
this happening, and shows one of the wheels broken. The monument is
further interesting as having been erected by Parliament; the first to be
voted of any of a now lengthy series.


[Illustration: A THAMES REGATTA.]

In the vestry, leading out of this lobby, among a number of old prints
hung round the walls, is an old painting of a naked boy, with bow and
arrow, his skin spotted all over, leopard-like, with brown spots. This
represents the once-famous “Spotted Negro Boy,” a supposed native of the
Caribbean Islands, who formed a very attractive feature of Richardson’s
Show in the first decade of the nineteenth century. We shall probably not
be far wrong in suspecting Mr. William Richardson of a Barnum-like piece
of showman humbug in putting this child forward as a “Negro Boy.” The
boy, one cannot help thinking, was sufficiently English, but was a freak,
suffering from that dreadful skin disease, _ichthyosis serpentina_. He
lies buried in the churchyard.

There are a few literary associations in Marlow town, and by journeying
from the riverside and along the lengthy High Street, to where that
curious building, the old Crown Hotel, stands, facing down the long
thoroughfare, you may come presently to the houses that enshrine them.
Turning here to the left you are in West Street, otherwise the Henley
road, and passing the oddly named “Quoiting Square,” there in the
quaintly pretty old Albion House next door to the old Grammar School,
lived Shelley in 1817. A tablet on the coping, like a tombstone, records
the fact. He divided his time between writing the _Revolt of Islam_, and
in visiting the then degraded, poverty-stricken lower orders of the town
and talking nonsense to them. As no report of his conversations survives,
we can only wonder if they were as bad as the turgid nonsense of that
poem. Does any one nowadays ever read the _Revolt of Islam_, or know why
Islam did it, or if, in so doing, it succeeded? In short, it will take
a great deal of argument to convince the world that Shelley was not the
Complete Prig of his age, and in truth the house is much more delightful
and interesting for itself than for this association. In Shelley’s time
it was very much larger than now, and comprised the two or three other
small houses which have been divided from it.

At “Beechwood” lived Smedley, author of _Frank Fairleigh_ and _Valentine
Vox_, and on the Oxford road resided G. P. R. James, romantic novelist,
whose romances were said, by the satirists of his methods, generally to
commence with some such formula as—

“As the shades of evening were falling upon Deadman’s Heath, three
horsemen might have been observed,” etc.

Marlow Weir is, to oarsmen not intimately acquainted with this stretch of
the river, the most dangerous on the Thames, so it behoves all to give
the weir-stream a wide berth in setting out again from Marlow Bridge;
that suspension-bridge, built in 1831, which, like the neighbouring
church, looks its best at a considerable distance. River-gossipers will
never let die that old satirical query, “Who ate puppy-pie under Marlow
Bridge?” the taunt being directed, according to tradition, against the
bargees of long ago, who, accustomed to raid the larder of a waterside
hotel at Marlow, were punished admirably by the landlord, who, having
drowned a litter of puppies, caused them to be baked in a large pie, and
the pie to be placed where it could not fail to attract the attention of
the raiders, who stole it, and consumed it with much satisfaction, under
the bridge.

[Illustration: COOKHAM LOCK.]

Two miles below Marlow, past Spade Oak ferry, is Bourne End, on the
Buckinghamshire side; a modern collection of villas clustered around a
delightful backwater known as Abbotsbrook, and by the outlet of the river
Wye—the “bourne” which ends here and gives rise to the place-name. It
comes down from Wycombe, to which also it gives a name, and Loudwater.

Cookham now comes into view, on the Berkshire shore. Here the village
is grouped around a village green; rather a sophisticated green in
these days, and combed down and brushed up smartly since those times
when Fred Walker began his career. Then the geese and ducks roamed
about that open space, and in the unspoiled village; and old gaffers in
smock-frocks and wonderful beaver-hats with naps on them as thick as
Turkey carpets sat about on benches in front of old inns, and smoked
extravagantly long churchwarden-pipes. The old gaffers have long since
gone, and the Bel and the Dragon Inn has become a hotel, and Walker is
dead and already an Old Master. You may see his grave in the churchyard,
and read there how he died, aged thirty-five, in 1875. There is, in
addition, a portrait-medallion within the church itself, which gives him
a half-drunken, half-idiotic expression that one hopes did not really
belong to him.

Behind the organ a curious mural monument to Sir Isaac Pocock, Bart.,
dated 1810, represents the baronet “suddenly called from this world to a
better state, whilst on the Thames near his own house.” He is seen in a
punt, being caught while falling by a personage intended to represent an
angel, in tempestuous petticoats, while a puntsman engaged in poling the
craft looks on, in very natural surprise.

From Cookham, where the lock is set amid wooded scenery, the transition
to Cliveden is easy.

Clieveden, Cliefden, Cliveden—you may suit individual taste and fancy in
the manner of spelling—looks grandly from the Buckinghamshire heights
down on to the Berkshire levels of Cookham and Ray Mead. Perhaps the most
beautiful view of all is from Cookham Lock. Ray Mead, that was until
twenty years ago just a mead—a beautiful stretch of grass-meadows—is now
the name of a long line of villas with pretty frontages and gardens, but
deplorable names—“Frou-Frou,” “Sans Souci,” and the like—and inhabited,
often enough, as one might suppose by the Frou-frous of musical comedy
and their admirers.

[Illustration: COOKHAM CHURCH.]

[Illustration: BRAY CHURCH.]

Cliveden, sometime “bower of wanton Shrewsbury and of love,” and now
residence of the highly respectable and remarkably wealthy Mr. William
Waldorf Astor, looks in lordly fashion upon such. With the proceeds of
his New York rent-roll that Europeanised American in 1890 purchased the
historic place from the first Duke of Westminster, and has resided here
and at other of his English seats ever since. Those who are conversant
with American newspapers are familiar with the scream every now and again
raised against this and other examples of American money being taken
and spent abroad. The spectacle of that bird of prey raging because
of the dollars riven from it is amusing, but the situation may become
internationally serious yet, for when some great financial crisis arises
in the United States and money is scarce, it is quite to be expected that
the question of the absentee landlords will become acute, and talk of
super-taxing and expropriation be heard. I believe this particular Astor
is now a naturalised Englishman, and I don’t suppose him to be the only
one. Suppose, then, that the Government of the United States at some
future time seized the property of such, how would the international
situation shape?

Cliveden, when it was thus sold, had not been long in the hands of the
Grosvenor family; having been, a generation earlier, the property of the
Duke of Sutherland, for whom the present Italianate mansion was built
by Sir Charles Barry in 1851, following upon a fire which had destroyed
the older house, for the second time in the history of the place. The
original fire was in 1795. In the mansion then destroyed the air of
“Rule, Britannia,” had first been played in 1740, as an incidental song
in Thomson’s masque of _Alfred_, the music composed by Dr. Arne.

Boulter’s Lock, the water-approach to Maidenhead, is the busiest lock
on the Thames, and now busier on Sundays than on any other day. How
astonishingly times have changed on the river may be judged from an
experience of the late Mr. Albert Ricardo, who died at the close of 1908,
aged eighty-eight. He lived at Ray Mead all his long life, and was ever
keen on boating. When he was a comparatively young man, he brought his
skiff round to the lock one Sunday. His was the only boat there, and he
was addressed in no measured terms by a man who indignantly asked him
if he knew what day it was, and telling him, in very plain language,
his opinion of a person who used the river on Sunday. Since then a wave
of High Churchism and irreligion (the two things are really the same)
has submerged the observance of the Sabbath, and aforetime respectable
persons play golf on the Lord’s Day.

A quaint incident, one, doubtless, of many, comes to me here, in
considering Boulter’s Lock, out of the dim recesses of bygone reading.

Says Mr. G. D. Leslie, R.A., in his entertaining book, _Our River_:
“I came through the lock once simultaneously with H.R.H. the Duke of
Cambridge. He was steering the boat he was in, and I am sorry to say I
incurred his displeasure by accidentally touching his rudder with my
punt’s nose.”

Oh dear!

He does not tell us what H.R.H. said on this historic occasion; but
a knowledge of the Royal Duke’s fiery temper and of his ready and
picturesque way of expressing it leads the present writer to imagine
that his remarks were of a nature likely to have been hurtful to the
self-respect of the Royal Academician. But it is something—is it not?—to
be able to record, thus delicately, by implication, that one has been
vigorously cursed by a Royal Duke. Not to all of us has come such an

[Illustration: COOKHAM WEIR.]

And now we come to Maidenhead town, a town of 12,980 persons, and yet a
place that was, not so very long ago, merely in the parishes of Cookham
and Bray. (It was created a separate civil parish only in 1894.) Its
growth, originally due to its situation on that old coaching highway,
the Bath road (which is here carried across the river by that fine stone
structure, Maidenhead Bridge, built in 1772, to replace an ancient
building of timber), has been further brought about by the modern vogue
of the river, and by the convenience of a railway station close at hand.

“Maidenhead” is, according to some views, the “mydden hythe,” the “middle
wharf” between Windsor and Marlow. Camden assures us that the name
derived from “St. Ursula,” one of the eleven thousand virgins murdered at
Cologne. But St. Ursula and the eleven thousand maiden martyrs, who are
said to have been shot to death with arrows, A.D. 451, are as entirely
mythical as Sarah Gamp’s “Mrs. Harris.”

But there is plenty choice in the origin of this place-name. There are
those who plump for “magh-dun-hythe,” the wharf under the great hill (of
Cliveden). The place is found under quite another name in Domesday Book.
There it is “Elenstone,” or “Ellington.” It is first styled “Maydehuth”
in 1248; and it has been thought that the name is equivalent to “new
wharf”; the wharf, or its successor, mentioned by Leland in 1538 as the
“grete warfeage of tymbre and fierwood.”

We need not, perhaps, expend further space upon the town of Maidenhead,
for it is almost entirely modern. Its fine stone bridge has already been
mentioned, and another, and a very different, type of bridge, a quarter
of a mile below it, now demands attention.

Maidenhead Railway Bridge, completed in 1839, one of those greatly
daring works for which the Great Western Railway’s original engineer,
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was famous, is the astonishment of all who
behold it. Crossing the river in two spans, each of 128 feet, the great
elliptical brick arches are the largest brickwork arches in the world,
and of such flatness that it seems scarcely possible they can sustain
their own weight, even without the heavy burden of trains running across.
Maidenhead Railway Bridge astonishes me infinitely more than the great
bridge across the Forth, or any other engineering feats. Yet sixty
years have passed, and the bridge not only stands as firmly as ever,
but nowadays sustains the weight of trains and engines more than twice
as heavy as those originally in vogue. Moreover, in the doubling of the
line, found necessary in 1892, the confidence of the Company was shown
by their building an exact replica of Brunel’s existing bridge, side by
side with it. Yet the original contractor had been so alarmed that he
earnestly begged Brunel to allow him to relinquish the contract, and
although the engineer proved to him, scientifically, that it must stand,
he went in fear that when the wooden centreing was removed the arches
would collapse. A great storm actually blew down the centreing before
it was proposed to remove it, but the bridge stood, and has stood ever
since, quite safely. It cost, in 1839, £37,000 to build.



Beyond this astonishing achievement comes the delightful village of
Bray, whose name is thought to be a corruption of _Bibracte_, an obscure
Roman station. Bray is scenically associated with the eight—or are they
ten?—tall poplars that stand in a formal row, all of one size, and each
equidistant from the other, and form a prominent feature in the view
as you approach, upstream or down; and with the weird shapes of the
eel-bucks that occupy a position by the Berkshire bank. Composing a
pretty view with them comes the square, embattled church-tower, together
with some feathery waterside trees—and always those stark sentinel
poplars in the background. You see them from almost every quarter, a
long way off; and even from the railway, as the Great Western trains
sweep onwards, towards Maidenhead Bridge, they come rushing into sight,
and you say—and you observe that the glances of other passengers say
also—“There’s Bray!”

Bray is, of course traditionally, the home of that famous accommodating
vicar who, reproached with his readiness to change his principles,
replied: “Not so; my principle is unaltered: to live and die Vicar of

Every one knows the rollicking song that sets forth, with a musical
economy of some five notes, the determination of that notorious person,
despite all changes and chances, to keep his comfortable living, but not
every one knows the facts about him and that familiar ballad.

Fuller says: “He had seen some martyrs burnt (two miles off) at Windsor,
and found this fire too hot for his tender temper”; and further says,
respecting his guiding principle in life—to remain Vicar of Bray—“Such
are many nowadays, who, though they cannot turn the wind, will turn their
mills and set them so that wheresoever it bloweth, their grist shall
certainly be grinded.”

The reputation of being that vicar has been flung upon Simon Alleyn, or
Aleyn, which were, no doubt, the contemporary ways of trying to spell
“Allen,” who appears to have derived from a family settled at Stevenage,
Hertfordshire, and, graduating at Oxford in 1539, to have been instituted
to the living of Bray in 1551, upon the death of William Staverton, vicar
before him. Two years later he became also vicar of Cookham. In 1559 he
was made Canon of Windsor, and held all three offices until his death in
June 1565.

[Illustration: LYCHGATE, BRAY.]

If we inquire into the history of Church and State between 1551 and 1565,
we shall not find that the period covered by those fifteen years was
remarkable for so many great religious changes. The changes were great,
indeed, but not numerous. Edward the Sixth was living, and the Reformed
Church established, when Aleyn first became vicar, who, when the young
King died and the reactionary reign of Mary began, doubtless “became a
Roman”; but there is no doubt that many others did the like at that time.

When Queen Mary died, in 1558, Aleyn naturally conformed to the
Protestant religion, then re-established: and, as we see, died
comparatively early in the reign of Elizabeth, while that religion was
yet undisputed. There was thus, supposing him to have been originally
instituted as a Protestant, only one violation of conscience necessary to
his retaining his post: a small matter! As he could scarcely have been
more than about twenty years of age when he graduated, it is seen at once
that when he died, in 1565, he was comparatively young—some forty-six
years of age. By his will, he directed that he should be buried in St.
George’s Chapel, Windsor; and as there is no reason to suppose that his
wishes in that respect were wantonly disregarded, it follows that the
small monumental brass, now without an inscription, here, in the church
of Bray, cannot mark his resting-place. It has, indeed, been identified
as to the memory of Thomas Little, his successor, who died so soon
afterwards as 1567.

The injustice, therefore, done to Simon Aleyn by identifying him with
the song, the “Vicar of Bray,” is obvious; for there were very many men,
born at an earlier date than he, and living to a much greater age, who
certainly did change their official beliefs, for professional purposes,
several times, between 1534, when the Reformation was accomplished,
and the reign of Elizabeth. There would have been more scope for such
a tergiversating person in the reigns of Charles the Second, James the
Second, William the Third, Queen Anne, and George the First—in all of
which it would have been easily possible for a not very long-lived
clergyman to flourish—than in Aleyn’s time; and the ballad in its present
form distinctly specifies that period, long after Aleyn was dead. But
the ascription to Bray at all can clearly be proved a late one, for the
original words, traced back to 1712, when one Edward Ward published a
collection of miscellaneous works in prose and verse, make no mention of
any particular place. The verses, eighteen in number, are there entitled,
“The Religious Turncoat; or, the Trimming Parson.” Among them we find a
reference to the troubles under Charles the First, by which it appears
that the trimmer’s constitutional, as well as religious, opinions were
moderated according to circumstances:

    “I lov’d no King in Forty-one,
       When Prelacy went down,
     A cloak and band I then put on
       And preached against the Crown.

     When Charles returned into the land,
       The English Crown’s supporter,
     I shifted off my cloak and band,
       And then became a courtier.
     When Royal James began his reign,
       And Mass was used in common,
     I shifted off my Faith again,
       And then became a Roman.


     To teach my flock I never missed,
       Kings were by God appointed;
     And they are damned who dare resist
       Or touch the Lord’s anointed.”

The familiar refrain was, of course, added later:

    “And this is law, I will maintain,
       Until my dying day, sir,
     That, whatsoever King shall reign,
       I’ll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.”

The air to which the song is set is equally old, but originally belonged
to quite another set of verses, called “The Country Garden.” It was,
later, used with the words of a ballad known as “The Neglected Tar”; but
it certainly appeared set to the words of “The Vicar of Bray” in 1778,
when it was published in _The Vocal Magazine_.

Who, then, was he who first associated Bray with the song, and with what
warrant? and by what evidence did Fuller advance his statement that
Aleyn was the man? The question may well be asked, but no reply need be

It may be worth while in this place to give another, and perhaps an even
better, version of the famous ballad, which gives the Vicar a run from
the time of Charles the Second to that of George the First; thirty years,
at least:

    “In good King Charles’s golden days,
       When loyalty had no harm in’t,
     A zealous High Churchman I was,
       And so I got preferment.
     To teach my flock I never miss’d,
       Kings were by God appointed,
     And they are damned who dare resist,
       Or touch the Lord’s anointed.

     When Royal James obtained the throne,
       And Popery grew in fashion,
     The penal laws I hooted down,
       And read the Declaration.
     The Church of Rome I found would fit
       Full well my constitution,
     And I had been a Jesuit,
       But for the Revolution.

     When William, our deliverer, came
       To heal the nation’s grievance,
     Then I turned cat-in-pan again,
       And swore to him allegiance.
     Old principles I did revoke,
       Set conscience at a distance;
     Passive resistance was a joke,
       A jest was non-resistance.

     When glorious Anne became our Queen,
       The Church of England’s glory,
     Another face of things was seen,
       And I became a Tory;
     Occasional conformists’ case—
       I damned such moderation,
     And thought the Church in danger was
       By such prevarication.

     When George in pudding-time came o’er,
       And moderate men looked big, sir,
     My principles I changed once more,
       And so became a Whig, sir,
     And thus preferment I procured
       From our Faith’s great Defender,
     And almost every day abjured
       The Pope and the Pretender.

     The illustrious House of Hanover,
       And Protestant Succession,
     By these I lustily will swear,
       While they can keep possession,
     For in my faith and loyalty
       I never once will falter,
     But George my King shall ever be—
       Until the times do alter.”

Another vicar of Bray distinguished himself in rather a sorry fashion,
according to legend, in the time of James the First. He was dining
with his curate at the Greyhound, or, by another account, the Bear,
at Maidenhead, when there burst in upon them a hungry sportsman, who
expressed a wish to join them at table. The vicar agreed, but with a
bad grace, but the curate made him welcome, and entertained him well in
conversation. When the time came to pay, the vicar let it be seen that,
so far as he was concerned, the stranger should settle for his share,
but the curate declared he could permit no such thing, and paid the
sportsman’s score out of his own scanty pocket. Presently, as they stood
taking the air at the window, other sportsmen came cantering along the
street, and seeing the first, halted, and one, dismounting, dropped upon
one knee, and uncovered. It was the King.

The vicar, too late, apologised, but the King, turning to him, said:
“Have no fear. You shall always be vicar of Bray, but your curate I will
set over you, and make him Canon of Windsor.”

One of the queerest and quaintest of entrances conducts to the church,
beneath a picturesque old timbered house: charming on both fronts, each
greatly differing from the other. There are as many as eight brasses
in the church, a fine Early English and Decorated building, somewhat
overscraped and renewed in restoration. An early seventeenth-century
brass has some delightful lines:

    “When Oxford gave thee two degrees in Art,
     And Love possessed thee, Master of my Heart,
     Thy Colledge Fellowshipp thow leftst for mine,
     And novght but death covld seprate me frõ thine.”

This is without a name, but has been identified as to the memory of
Little, Aleyn’s successor.

Not so delightful are the self-sufficing lines upon William Goddard,
founder of the neighbouring almshouses. Let us hope that, although
couched in the first person, he did not write them himself:

    “If what I was, thov seekst to knowe
     Theis lynes my character shal showe,
     These benifitts that God me lent
     With thanks I tooke and freely spent.
     I scorned what playnesse covld not gett,
     And next to treason hated debt.
     I lovd not those that stird vp strife
     Trve to my freinde, and to my wife.[3]
     The latter here by me I have.
     We had one Bed and have one grave.
     My honesty was such that I
     When death came, feared not to dye.”

[Illustration: JESUS HOSPITAL, BRAY.]

In the churchyard lies John Payne Collier, the Shakespearean critic, who
died in 1883. His funeral was the occasion of a curious mistake in _The
Standard_, of September 21. The newspaper correspondent had written:

“The remains of the late Mr. John Payne Collier were interred yesterday
in Bray churchyard, near Maidenhead, in the presence of a large number of

This became, at the hands of the sub-editor, who had never heard of
Collier, “The Bray Colliery Disaster. The remains of the late John Payne,
collier,” etc.

Jesus Hospital, founded in the seventeenth century by William Goddard, of
the City of London, fishmonger, and Joyce, his wife, for the housing and
maintenance of forty poor persons, faces the road outside the village, on
the way to Windsor. Fred Walker, in his most famous picture, _The Harbour
of Refuge_, exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1872, took the beautiful
courtyard of the Hospital for his subject, but those who are familiar
with that lovely painting, now in the National Gallery, will feel a keen
disappointment when they find here the original, for the artist added a
noble group of statuary to the courtyard which does not, in fact, exist
here, and has generally added details which make an already beautiful
place still more lovely than it is.

The courtyard is, indeed, in summer a mass of beautiful homely flowers,
and all the year round the noble frontage that looks upon the dusty
highroad is inspiring. From an alcove over the entrance the statue of
William Goddard, in cloak and ruff, looks down gravely upon wayfarers.

[3] But that’s of course, surely.



[Illustration: THE HALL, OCKWELLS.]

In a remote situation, two miles from Bray Wick, and not to be found
marked on many maps, is situated the ancient manor-house of Ockwells. The
hills and dales on the way to it are of a Devonshire richness of wooded
beauty. The manor was, in fact, originally that of “Ockholt,” that is to
say, “Oak Wood,” and oaks are still plenteously represented. Ockholt,
as it was then, was granted in 1267 to one Richard de Norreys, styled
in the grant “cook” in the household of Eleanor of Provence, Queen of
Henry the Third. In respect of his manor, Richard de Norreys paid forty
shillings per annum, quit rent; but there is nothing to show what his
house was like, the existing range of buildings dating from the time of
John Norreys, first Usher of the Chamber to Henry the Sixth, Squire of
the Body, Master of the Wardrobe, and otherwise a man of many important
offices, eventually knighted for his services. He died in 1467. His
grandson was that Sir Henry Norreys who was, with others, executed in
1536, on what appears to have been a false charge of unduly familiar
relations with Anne Boleyn. His body rests in the Tower of London, where
he met his untimely end, but his head was claimed by his relatives,
and buried in the private chapel of Ockwells. The chapel has long since
disappeared. The son of this unfortunate man became Baron Norreys of
Rycote, and the family thence rose to further honours and riches and
left Ockwells for even finer seats. It then came into the hands of the
Fettiplaces, and thence changed ownership many times, exactly as old
Fuller says of other lands in this county: “The lands of Berkshire are
skittish, and apt to cast their owners.” The old mansion finally came
down to the condition of a farmhouse, and so remained until some fifty
years ago, when it was restored and made once more a residence. Since
then it has again been carefully overhauled, and is now a wonderfully
well-preserved example of a brick-and timber-framed manor-house of the
fifteenth century. Oak framing enters largely into the construction,
for this was pre-eminently a timber district; and massive doors, much
panelling, and even window mullions in oak testify alike to the abundance
of that building-material, and to its lasting qualities, far superior,
strange though it may seem to say so, to stone. Even such exceptionally
exposed woodwork as the highly enriched barge-boards to the gables is
still in excellent preservation. With age they have taken on a lovely
silver-grey tone, not unlike that of weathered stone itself. In the Great
Hall the heraldic glass yet remains, almost perfect, its colours rich and
jewel-like, with the oft-repeated Norreys motto, “Faythfully serve.”

It is somewhat singular that another exceptionally interesting old
manor-house of like type with that of Ockwells should be found within
three miles. This is the beautiful residence of Dorney Court, on the
opposite side of the river, in Buckinghamshire. The village of Dorney
lies in a very out-of-the-way situation, and in fact, although the
distance from Ockwells is so inconsiderable, the route by which you get
to it makes it appear more than twice that length. The readiest way is
through Maidenhead, and over the bridge to Taplow railway station, and
thence along the Bath road in the direction of London for over a mile,
when a sign-post will be noticed directing to Dorney on the right hand.


The village is small and scattered, consisting of the Palmer Arms, some
cottages and farmsteads; and the little parish church stands in an
obscure byway, divided from Dorney Court only by a narrow lane leading
nowhither. The church has ever been, and may still be considered, a
mere appendage of the Court, as a manorial chapel. Its red-brick tower,
apparently of early seventeenth-century date, is added to the west end
of a quite humble building, the greatly altered survival of an early
Norman structure, whose former existence may easily be deduced from the
remains of a small, very plain window built up in the south wall of the
chancel with later work in chalk. Entering by a brick archway in the
south porch, you find yourself in one of those little rural churches
of small pretensions which in their humble way capture the affections
much more surely than do many buildings of more aspiring kind. It is a
church merely of aisleless nave and chancel, with a chapel—the Garrard
Chapel—thrown out on the north side. A great deal of remodelling appears
to have taken place in the early part of the seventeenth century, for not
only is there the western tower of that period, and the south porch, but
the interior was evidently plastered and refitted with pews at the same
time. A very quaint and charming western gallery in oak would seem to
fix the exact date of these works, for it bears the inscription in fine,
boldly cut letters and figures, “Henry Felo, 1634.” That date marked a
new era at Dorney, for the Garrards, who had for some time past owned
the Manor, ended with the death of Sir William Garrard in 1607. His
monument and that of his wife and their fifteen children is in the north
chapel, and is a strikingly good example of the taste of that period
in monumental art, with kneeling effigies of Sir William and his wife
facing one another, and the fifteen children beneath, in two rows—the
boys on one side, the girls on the other. The mortality among this family
would seem to have been very great, for about 1620 Sir James Palmer,
afterwards Chancellor of the Garter, married Martha, the sole survivor
and heiress, and thus brought Dorney into the Palmer family, in whose
hands it still remains. The Palmers themselves were of Wingham, in Kent,
and of Angmering and Parham, Sussex, and have numbered many distinguished
and remarkable men. Tradition declares them to be of Danish or Viking
origin, while a very curious and interesting old illuminated genealogy
preserved at Dorney declares that the family name originated in the
ancient days of pilgrimage, when the original Palmer “went a-palmering.”
If that were indeed the case, the old heraldic coat of the house might be
expected to exhibit an allusive scallop-shell. But we find no badge of
the pilgrim’s way-wending on their heraldic shield, which bears instead
two fesses charged with three trefoils; a greyhound courant in chief. The
crest is a demi-panther argent, generally represented “regardant” spotted
azure, with fire issuant from mouth and ears. This terrific beast is
shown holding a holly-branch. An odd, but scarcely convincing attempt to
account for the greyhound declares it to be “in remembrance, perchance,
of their pilgrimage, a dog, that faithful and familiar creature, being a
pilgrim’s usual companion.”

A remarkably large and interesting sampler, worked probably about
1625, has recently come to Dorney under rather curious circumstances.
It appears to have been sold so long ago that its very existence was
unknown, and it only came to the knowledge of the present representative
of the Palmers through a photographic reproduction published in an
illustrated paper, illustrating the stock of a dealer in antiques. It
was readily identified as an old family possession by reason of the
many Palmer shields of arms worked into it. On inquiry being made, a
disappointment was experienced. It was found that the sampler had been
sold; but in the end the purchaser, seeing that its proper place was in
its old home, with much good feeling resold it to Major Palmer.



This beautiful piece of needlework, done in coloured silks, has
the unusual feature of presenting, as it were, a kind of Palmer
portrait-gallery of that period. In the midst is a shield of the Palmer
arms impaling those of Shurley of Isfield, Sussex. This identifies
that particular Palmer as Sir Thomas, of Wingham, the second Baronet,
who married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir John Shurley, and
succeeded his grandfather in the title 1625. That baronetcy became
extinct in 1838.

There are eight needlework portraits of men in this sampler, obviously
Palmers, since each holds a shield of the family arms; and evidently
portraits, because each one is clearly distinguished from the others in
age, costume, and features, and the first is easily to be identified by
the wounded right arm he bears in a sling. Among those other quaintly
attired men, who yet are made to seem so very real to us, one notices
a figure with a tilting-lance, another, in the lower range, holding a
weapon probably intended to represent the axe carried by the honourable
corps of gentlemen pensioners in attendance upon the Sovereign; while
the last carries a bunch of keys, in allusion to some official position.
The sampler appears to have been carried out of the Palmer family by the
marriages in the eighteenth century of the two daughters and heiresses of
a Sir Thomas Palmer with an Earl of Winchilsea and his brother.

But to revert to the figure with the wounded arm. This personage was Sir
Henry Palmer, Knight, second of the famous triplet sons of Sir Edward
Palmer, of the Angmering family, who were born in 1487, according to
tradition, on three successive Sundays. This remarkable parturition
is still famous at Angmering, where the rustics readily point out the
identical house, now divided into cottages, near the Decoy. It was this
Henry who established the Wingham line that ascended from knighthood to a
baronetcy and became extinct in 1838, having in the meanwhile thrown off
a branch now represented at Dorney. Let us take the triplet brothers in
their proper sequence. John, the eldest, who inherited Angmering, came
to a bad end. He was much at the dangerous Court of Henry the Eighth,
and was particularly intimate with that monarch, not only playing cards
continually with him, but always winning. A careful courtier in those
times did well to lose occasionally. It was not well to be always winning
from the Eighth Henry, and that fierce Tudor did in fact hang him on some

Henry Palmer, the second brother, was a distinguished soldier, and Master
of the Ordnance. He received a shot-wound in the arm at Guisnes, of which
he eventually died, at Wingham, in 1559. The sampler clearly shows this
wounded soldier, with his arm bound up, and supporting himself with a
stick. The third brother, Thomas, died on Tower Hill, by the headsman’s
axe, as an adherent of the Lady Jane Grey. He suffered with the Duke of
Northumberland and Sir John Gates, and chroniclers tell how the unhappy
trio quarrelled to the last as to whose was the responsibility for
the failure of that rising. But Palmer made the boldest exit of all,
declaring with his last breath on the scaffold that he died a Protestant.

[Illustration: DORNEY COURT.]

Sir James Palmer, Chancellor of the Garter, who married the heiress of
Sir William Garrard, and thus founded the Palmer family of Dorney, was a
younger son of the Wingham Palmers. He died in 1657, and was succeeded by
his son, Sir Roger, created Earl of Castlemaine, who died 1705, without
acknowledged children, and left the property to his nephew, Charles, from
whom the present family are descended.

Dorney Court is a picturesque mansion, chiefly of the period of Henry the
Seventh. It was once much larger, as appears from old drawings preserved
in the house, in which it is shown as groups of buildings surrounding
two large courts and one smaller. The construction is largely of oak
framing filled with brick nogging, disposed sometimes in herring-bone
fashion, and in other places in ordinary courses. There are no elaborate
and beautiful verge-boards to the gables, such as those extremely fine
examples seen at Ockwells, but, if a distinction may be drawn between the
two houses, Dorney Court is especially attractive in the fine pictures it
gives from almost every point of view. It forms a strikingly picturesque
composition seen from the north-east, a grouping in which the great gable
of the entrance-front and its two remarkable flaunting chimneys come well
with the three equal-sized gables of the north front, the church-tower
rising in its proper association in the background, emphasising the
ancient manorial connection.

A good deal of work has recently been undertaken, in the direction of
correcting the tasteless alterations made at some time in the eighteenth
century, when sashed windows here and there replaced the original
leaded lights. The plan adopted has been that of acquiring such old oak
timbering as could be picked up from houses demolished in neighbourhoods
near and far, and of setting it up in the reconstructed doors and
windows. If it may be permitted to speak of the interior, it can at any
rate be well said that it does by no means belie the exterior view.
The panelled and raftered rooms are in thorough keeping, and the hall,
neglected for generations, has been brought back to something of its
ancient appearance. From those walls the panelling had disappeared, but
it has now been replaced with some genuine old work of the same period,
acquired by fortunate chance at Faversham in Kent, from an old mansion in
course of demolition. The hall greatly resembles that of Ockwells; but
whatever heraldic glass may have been here has long vanished, leaving
no trace. Here, among the many family portraits, hangs a fine example
of a helmet brought from the church, an unusually good piece of funeral
armour, removed from the church to prevent its rusting away. The family
portraits include some Lelys, Knellers, and Jamesons, and a number of
early-eighteenth-century pastel portraits, many of them displaying a
facial characteristic of the Palmers, constant through the successive
generations: that of a somewhat unusually long nose.


_The seventeenth-century sampler hangs on the panelling._]

It is one of the greatest charms of our long-settled English social
order, that we have in this England of ours a not inconsiderable number
of ancient homes that have been “home” to one family throughout the
changes and chances of centuries, and in Dorney Court we see such a
house. Here, on the old woodwork, are painted the heraldic shields of the
Palmers, with their greyhound courant conspicuous, and the devices of the
families with whom they have intermarried.

An interesting incident in fruit-growing history belonging to Dorney
Court is alluded to in the model on a gigantic scale of a pineapple,
shown in the hall. It recalls the fact that the first pineapple grown
in England was produced here in the reign of Charles the Second by the
Dorney Court gardener. A panel-picture at Ham House, the seat of the Earl
of Dysart, near Richmond, illustrates this first English-grown pineapple
being presented to the King in the gardens of either Ham or Hampton
Court, by Rose, the royal gardener. The rendering of the architecture
in the picture makes it uncertain which of the two places is intended.
It will be observed by the illustration that there has been a great
improvement in the art of growing hot-house pineapples since that time,
for it is a very small specimen that is being offered to the King.

Foremost among the thirty or more portraits at Dorney are the two large
Lelys hanging in the hall, representing Roger Palmer, Baron Limerick, and
Earl of Castlemaine, and his wife Barbara, the beautiful and notorious
Barbara Villiers. They are half-lengths. She is curiously shown, holding
what looks like the model of a church-steeple in her left hand. Lely
intended it for a castle, and thus is seen to be guilty of painting an
Anglo-French pun; “Castle_main_.” The beautiful Barbara is better known
in history as “Barbara Villiers,” her maiden name, and by the title of
Duchess of Cleveland. Born in 1641, she married Palmer in 1659. He was
shortly afterwards raised to the peerage. There were no children of
this marriage, for it was very shortly afterwards that Lady Castlemaine
began that extraordinary career of vice which has made her name eminent
among even the notorious beauties of Charles the Second’s scandalous
Court. The first of her seven children was a daughter, Anne, born in May
1661, and at first acknowledged by Palmer, although Lady Castlemaine had
undoubtedly been mistress of Charles the Second since May 1660. There
are three portraits of Anne Palmer, or Anne Palmer Fitzroy, as she was
afterwards known, at Dorney, the earliest of them exhibiting a romantic
hilly landscape for background, with a beacon or fire-cresset along the
winding road, such as were placed on the more obscure ways in those times
for the guidance of travellers. She married in 1675 Thomas Lennard, Lord
Dacre and Earl of Sussex.


_From the painting at Ham House._]

Castlemaine, shortly after the birth of this putative daughter, became
a pervert to the Roman Catholic religion, and his wife, seizing upon
this as a pretext, finally left him and lived openly as the King’s
mistress. Several of her children were acknowledged by Charles, and two
of them were created dukes, her second son, Henry Fitzroy, becoming
Duke of Grafton, her third, George, Duke of Northumberland. She was,
with an astounding display of cynical humour, in 1670 created Baroness
Nonsuch, “in consideration of her own personal virtues,” and Duchess of
Cleveland; and as Duke of Cleveland her eldest son succeeded her. Thus,
with Barbara, with Nell Gwynne, and others, Charles the Second abundantly
recruited the ducal order and other ranks of the peerage; thus giving
point to the Duke of Buckingham’s joke. The King had been addressed at
Court as the “father of his people.”

“Of a good many of them,” observed Buckingham behind his hand.

The Earl of Castlemaine lived to see a good many changes. It was
not necessary in those times to live to a great age to witness many
revolutions and counter-revolutions. He was committed to the Tower
shortly after the accession of William the Third, and remained a prisoner
there from February 1689 until February 10, 1690. He died in 1705.

A little to the north of Dorney, between it and the Bath road, are the
remains of Burnham Abbey, a house for Benedictine nuns founded in 1265
by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and titular King of the Romans, brother
of Edward the Third. There were an abbess and nine nuns when the
establishment was surrendered to Henry the Eighth’s Commissioners. The
ruins are now amid the rickyards and agricultural setting of the Abbey
Farm, and although the church has wholly disappeared, the remains of
the chapter-house and the domestic buildings form an exquisite picture,
untouched by any busybodying “tidying-up” activities. The seeker after
the picturesque, who finds historical evidences destroyed by well-meaning
“restorers”; the artist, who generally discovers the artistic negligence
of his foregrounds abolished in favour of neatly kept flower-beds and
gravel paths and the feeling of ruin and decay thus utterly disregarded,
will be rejoiced here, and will find the ruins still put to farming uses,
just as Girtin and Turner and the other roaming artists of a hundred
years ago were accustomed to find the castles and abbeys of their day.
There is more pure æsthetic delight in such scenes as this, left in their
natural decay and put to the uses to which they in the logical order
of things descended, than in the same place swept and garnished to be
made a show. The Lady Chapel and the refectory are stables, where the
cart-horses shelter and form a picture so exactly like Morland’s stable
interiors that the place might well have been a model for him. Every
detail is complete in the Morland way, even to the old stable-lantern
hanging on a post. Much of the ruined buildings is of the Early English
period, and the horses come and go through pointed doorways. Gracious
trees richly surround and overhang the scene.

[Illustration: BURNHAM ABBEY.]



Between Dorney and Eton stretches an out-of-the-way corner of land
devoted chiefly to potato-fields and allotments bordering the river. Here
stands Boveney church, or “Buvveney,” as it is locally styled, a small
building so altered at different periods as to be quite without interest.
The river glides past, between the alders, that dark, strong current the
subject of allusion by Praed in his “School and Schoolfellows”:

    “Kind _Mater_ smiles again to me,
       As bright as when we parted;
     I seem again the frank, the free,
       Stout-limbed and simple-hearted:
     Pursuing every idle dream,
       And shunning every warning;
     With no hard work but Boveney stream,
       No chill except Long Morning.”

A circle of tall elms closely surrounding the church casts a perpetual
shade upon the building; Windsor Castle looking down from the opposite
shore in feudal majesty upon it and the humble activities of these level

That majestic pile indeed overlooks some remarkably mean surroundings
which on close acquaintance derogate strangely from its dignity. Thus,
resuming the road on the Berkshire side, from Bray to Windsor, the long,
straight, uninteresting miles lead directly to Clewer, a village of
disreputable appearance, now, to all intents, a Windsor slum; and what
was a rustic churchyard has become something more in the likeness of
a cemetery. In the roads, strewn with rubbish and broken glass, dirty
children play.

Besides an inscription to “ye vertuous Mrs. Lucie Hobson, 1657,” who
was, we learn, “a treu lover of a Godly and a Powerful ministry”—_i.e._
probably of a preacher who could bang the pulpit and punish the
cushions—there is little of interest in Clewer church, with the one
exception of a curious little brass plate, inscribed,

    “He that liethe vnder this stone
     Shott with a hvndred men him selfe alone.
     This is trew that I doe saye
     The matche was shott in ovld felde at Bray.
     I will tell yov before yov go hence
     That his name was Martine Expence.”

Local history tells us nothing of this hero, who apparently did not
really shoot himself, as the inscription states, but seems at some period
to have won a particularly hard archery contest, which was ever after his
title to fame in this locality.


[Illustration: BOVENEY.]

From Clewer the pilgrim of the roads mounts into Windsor by way of grim
and grimy slums, and therefore those who would come to Windsor had by
far the better do so by water, from which the slums look picturesque.
The view of Windsor, indeed, from the windings of the Thames (Windsor is
the Saxon “Windlesora,” the winding shore) is one of the half-dozen most
supremely grand and beautiful views in England.

Of Windsor, in Berkshire, and Eton, in Bucks, joined by a bridge that
here spans the Thames, I here propose to say little or nothing. To treat
of them at all would, within the scope of this book, be inadequate, and
to deal with them according to their importance would demand a separate
volume. Moreover, to write of them with an airy assurance requires not a
little expert local knowledge of the kind to be expected only of those
who have made them places of long residence or study.

There was once a man who falsely claimed to have been educated at Eton,
and was stumped first ball. They asked him if he knew the Cobbler.
“Yes,” he said, “I know the old fellow very well.” Is it an unconscious
invention of my very own, or did he further proceed to say that he had
often helped the old fellow when he was in low water? At any rate, ’twill
serve; and will doubtless divert those who know the “old fellow” in
question, whom no one could aid under those circumstances, except perhaps
the Clerk of the Weather and the lock-keepers above and below, who,
between them, might serve him sufficiently well. Not to further mystify
readers overseas, who know not Eton, let it at once be said that the
“Cobbler” is an island; and that the famous person who claimed to have
known him must be placed in association with the pretended traveller who
knew the Dardanelles intimately, had dined with them often, and had found
them jolly good fellows.

Eton has for centuries been _the_ public school of all others, where the
sons of landed and of moneyed men have been educated into the belief
that they and theirs stand for England, whereas, if it were not for the
great optimistic, cheerfully hard-working middle-class folk, who found
businesses, and employ the lower orders on the one hand, while on the
other they pay rents to the landowning and governing classes, there would
not be any England for them to misgovern, you know.

Eton is now so crowded with the sons of wealthy foreigners and German and
other Jews, learning to be Englishmen (if that be in any way possible),
that it is now something of a distinction not to have been educated
there, nor to have learned the “Eton slouch,” nor the charming Eton
belief that the _alumni_ brought up under “her Henry’s holy shade” are
thus fitted by Heaven and opportunity, working in unison, to rule the
nation. It is a belief somewhat rudely treated in this, our day, when the
world is no longer necessarily the oyster of the eldest sons of peers and
landowners. And in these times, when it is said that Eton boys funk one
another and fights under the wall are more or less “low,” it is no longer
possible that Etonians shall have the leadership in future stricken
fields—leadership in finance, possibly, seeing how Semitic this once
purely English foundation is becoming; but in leadership when the giving
and receiving of hard knocks is toward; no!


I would, however, this were the worst that is said of Eton College in
these degenerate times. That it is not, _The Eton College Chronicle_
itself bears witness. Attention is there called to a custom of “ragging”
shops, now become prevalent among the young gentlemen. This, we learn,
is carried to such an extent that they will pocket articles found lying
about and walk off with them, “for fun.” One of the most “humorous” of
these incidents was the disappearance of cricket balls to the value of
nearly £1. The assistants at the shop where this mysterious disappearance
occurred had to make good the loss; so it will readily be perceived how
completely humorous the incident must have been from the point of view
of those who had to replace the goods. Were these practices prevalent in
such low-class educational establishments as Board Schools, a worse term
than “ragging,” it may be suspected, would be given them.

Two miles in the rear of Datchet is Langley, a small and very scattered
village which, although unimportant in itself, has a station on the Great
Western Railway. The full name of it, rarely used, is Langley Marish,
which is variously said to mean “Marshy Langley,” “Langley Mary’s,” from
the dedication of the church to the Virgin Mary, or to derive from the
Manor having been held for a short period in the reign of Edward the
First by one Christiana de Mariscis.

Few would give a second glance to the humble little church, with its
red-brick tower of typically seventeenth-century type, and with other
portions of the exterior quite horribly stuccoed; but to pass it by
would be to miss a great deal, for it contains a most curious family pew
and parish library. This library, originally containing between 500 and
600 volumes, was given by Sir John Kedermister, or Kederminster, under
his will of 1631, to “the town” of Langley Marish. The worthy knight was
also builder of one of the two groups of almshouses for four inmates, who
were appointed joint custodians of the books. An ancient deed, reciting
the gift, says: “The said Sir John Kedermister prepared a convenient
place for a library, adjoining to the west end of the said chapel, and
intended to furnish the same with books of divinity, as well for the
perpetual benefit of the vicar and curate of the parish of Langley as for
all other ministers and preachers of God’s Word that would resort thither
to make use of the books therein.”

The Kederminsters first settled at Langley in the middle of the sixteenth
century, when one John Kederminster, who appears to have been a kinsman
of Richard Kydermynster, Abbot of Winchcombe, became ranger of the then
royal park of Langley and “master of the games” to Henry the Eighth. He
died at the comparatively early age of thirty-eight, in 1558, leaving
two sons and three daughters. His son Edmund was father of the John
Kederminster who founded the library and initiated other works here. He
also was ranger of Langley Park, and was knighted by James the First in
1609, who also conferred upon him the Manor of Langley.


This was a short-lived family, and Sir John died in 1634, a deeply
pious but much stricken man, who had lived to see his children, except
one daughter, predecease him, and his hopes thus disappointed of the
Kederminster name being continued.

As lord of the manor of Langley, and a knight, Sir John Kederminster
obviously felt it behoved him to establish himself in considerable state,
in the church as well as at his mansion. He therefore secured a faculty
granting him the right to construct an “Ile or Chappell”; otherwise, as
we may see to this day, a private family pew, in the south aisle, and a
parish library to the west of it.

This family pew is perhaps the most curious remaining in England,
alike for its construction and for the instructive light it throws
upon the lofty social heights from which a lord of a manor looked upon
lesser mortals. We have royal pews in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor
and elsewhere; but their exclusiveness is not greater than this of the
Kederminsters, which is singularly like that of the latticed casements
familiar to all who have visited Cairo and other Oriental towns. Yet it
is obvious that there was a vein of humility running through Sir John
Kederminster’s apparent arrogance; though a rather thin vein, perhaps.
Thus he wrote, for the stone closing the family vault under his pew: “A
true Man to God, his King, and Friends, prayeth all future Ages to suffer
these obscure Memorials of his Wife, Children and Kindred to remain in
this Place undisturbed.”

The pew remains in its original condition, looking into the church from
the south aisle through very closely-latticed wooden screen-work,
elaborately painted, and crested with an open-work finial bearing the
arms of the Kederminsters and their connections. The worshippers within
were quite invisible to the congregation, but could themselves see and
hear everything. Within the pew, the wall-decoration, in Renascence
designs, includes many panels painted with the all-seeing eye of God,
with the words “Deus videt” inscribed on the pupil. This scheme of
decoration is continued over the ceiling.

A passage leads out of this singular pew to the library, on the western
side. This is an entirely charming square room, constructed in what was
formerly the west porch. It is lined throughout with bookcases with
closed cupboard doors, all richly painted in characteristic Jacobean
Renascence cartouche and strapwork designs, with the exception of those
next the ceiling, which are landscapes of Windsor and its neighbourhood.
The inner side of one of the cupboard doors has a portrait of the pious
donor: the corresponding door once displayed a likeness of his wife, but
it has been obliterated. An elaborate fireplace has a fine overmantel
with large central cartouche, _semée_ with the Kederminster arms: two
chevronels between three bezants, marshalled with those of their allied
families. The original Jacobean table still stands in the centre of the
room, with the old tall-backed chairs, too decrepit now for use.


Kederminster strictly enjoined the most careful precautions for the due
care of the books, of which an old catalogue dated 1638, engrossed on
vellum, and framed, still hangs on the wall. One, at least, of his four
bedesmen (who are now women) was to be present when they were in use:

“The said four poor persons should have a key of the said library, which
they should for ever keep locked up in the iron chest under all their
four keys, unless when any minister or preacher of God’s Word, or other
known person, should desire to use the said library, or to study, or to
make use of any books in the same, and then the said four poor people,
or one of them at the least, should from time to time—unless the heirs
of Sir John Kedermister, being then and there present, should otherwise
direct—attend within the door of the said library, and not depart from
thence during all the time that any person should remain therein, and
should all that while keep the key of the said door fastened with a chain
unto one of their girdles, and should also take special care that no
books be lent or purloined out of the said library, but that every book
be duly placed in their room, and that the room should be kept clean; and
that if at any time any money or reward be given to the said poor people
for their attendance in the library as aforesaid, the same should be to
the only use of such of those poor people as should at that time then and
there attend.”

Clearly, this care has not been always exercised, for the books are
now reduced to some three hundred, and those that are left have
suffered greatly from damp and rough handling. The books are chiefly
cumbrous tomes, heavy in more than one sense, and mostly works on
seventeenth-century religious controversies.

Although this library has for long past been either forgotten or regarded
merely as a curiosity, there was once a time when the books in it were
well used, as would appear from the notes made on the end-papers of a
Hebrew and Latin Bible, printed at the office of Christopher Plantin, in
Antwerp, 1584. It was one J. C. Werndly, vicar of Wraysbury from 1690 to
1724, who made these notes, and he seems to have been indeed a diligent
reader. Thus he wrote:

    1701/2 Jan. the 17. I began again the Reading of this Hebrew
    Bible (wʰ is the sixth time of reading it) may the Spirit of
    Holiness help me and graciously Enable me to peruse it again to
    the Glory of God, and to the sanctification of my sinful and
    im’ortal soul. Amen, Lord Jesus, Amen.

The last record of his reading appears thus:

    1701. xxxiii. 8ᵇʳᵉ the 3rd. I finished the ψalms again by the
    mercy of my Savʳ.

The numerals for “thirty-three” appear to indicate his thirty-third

The almshouses on the north side of the churchyard, their front facing
the sun, are pleasant with old-fashioned gardens. They were built by
Henry Seymour, who in 1669 purchased the Kederminster estates from the
son of Sir John Kederminster’s daughter and heiress, who had married Sir
John Parsons, sometime Lord Mayor of London. Thus, in less than forty
years the Kederminster hopes faded away and the property passed into the
hands of strangers.




By Datchet meads and the continuously flat shores of Runnymede, the river
runs somewhat tamely, after the scenic climax of Windsor. The Datchet of
Shakespearean fame it is, of course, hopeless to find. There is nothing
Shakespearean in the prettily rebuilt village with suburban villas and
railway level-crossing; and the ditch that used to be identified with
that into which Falstaff was flung, “glowing hot, like a horseshoe,
hissing hot,” has been covered over. At Old Windsor, the site of Edward
the Confessor’s original palace, the little churchyard contains the
tomb of Perdita Robinson, one of George the Fourth’s fair and foolish
friends; and down by the riverside stands the old rustic inn, the Bells
of Ouseley, whose sign puzzles ninety-nine of every hundred who behold
it. Writers of books upon the Thames either carefully avoid doing more
than mentioning the sign, or else frankly add that they do not understand
what it means, or where Ouseley is—and small blame to them, for there is
_not_ any place so-called. What is meant is “Oseney,” the vanished abbey
of that name outside Oxford, whose bells were of a peculiar fame in that

Runnymede is, of course, an exceptionally interesting stretch of
meadow-land, for it was here, “_in prato quod vocatur Runnymede inter
Windelsorum et Stanes_,” that at last the barons brought King John to
book, and it was on what is now called “Magna Charta Island,” on the
Bucks side, that the King signed the Great Charter, June 15, 1215.

There are many disputed etymologies of “Runnymede,” including
“running-mead,” a scene of horseraces; and “rune-mead,” the meadow of
council; but the name doubtless really derived from “rhine” a Saxon
word that did duty for anything from a great river to a ditch. Compare
the river Rhine and the dykes or drains of Sedgemoor, still known as
“rhines.”[4] The meadows on either side of the Thames here have always
been low-lying, water-logged, and full of rills.

The army of the Barons had encamped, five days before the signing of this
great palladium of liberty, on one side of the river, and the numerically
smaller supporters of the King on the other, the island being selected as
neutral ground.


The island is occupied by a modern picturesque cottage in a Gothic
convention, standing amid trim lawns and weeping willows, near the
camp-shedded shore, its gracefulness entirely out of key with those rude
times. A little cottage contains a large stone with an inscription
bidding it to be remembered that here that epoch-making document was
executed, and further, that George Simon Harcourt, Esq., lord of the
manor, erected this building in memory of the great event. It is an
excellent example of a small modern person seeking to wring a modicum of
recognition out of great historic personages and events.

Adjoining this famous isle is Ankerwyke, where are some few remains, in
the form of shapeless walls, of a Benedictine nunnery, founded late in
the twelfth century; and behind that is a village with the very Saxon
name of Wyrardisbury: long centuries ago pronounced “Wraysbury,” and now
spelled so. We hear nothing of the Saxon landowner, Wyrard, who gave his
name to the place, but Domesday Book tells us that one Robert Gernon held
the manor after the Conquest. “Gernon,” in the Norman-French of that age,
meant “Whisker,” a name which would seem to have displeased Robert’s
eldest son, for he assumed that of Montfitchet, from an Essex manor of
which he became possessed.

The river Colne flows in many channels here, crossed by substantial and
not unpicturesque white-painted timber bridges, with here and there a
secluded mill. Wraysbury church, restored out of all interest, stands
in a situation where few strangers would find it, unless they were very
determined in the quest, through a farmyard; and having found it, you
wonder why you took the trouble incidental to the doing so. But that is
just the inquisitive explorer’s fortune, and he must by no means allow
himself, by drawing blank here and there, to be dissuaded from seeking
out other byways. But stay! there is some interest at Wraysbury. Outside
the church is the many-tableted vault of a branch of the Harcourt family,
and among the names here you shall read that of Philip, “youngest brother
of Simon, Viscount Harcourt, sometime Lord High Chancellor of Great
Britian” (_sic_). Thus, you perceive, that although not the rose, Philip
found some satisfaction in kinship with it, and doubtless lived and died
happily in the glow of glory radiating from that ennobled elder brother.


There are brasses lurking unsuspected under the carpeting of this
unpromising church; notably a very small and curious example on the south
side of the chancel, protected beneath a square of carpet about the size
of a pocket-handkerchief. It represents a boy in the costume worn by Eton
scholars in the sixteenth century. The inscription runs:

    Here lyeth John Stonor, the sone of Water Stonor squyer, that
    departed this worlde ye 29 day of August in ye yeare of our
    Lorde 1512.

This Walter Stonor—or “Water” as the inscription has it—squire of
Wraysbury, was afterwards Lieutenant of the Tower of London, and was
knighted in 1545. He died in 1550.

Horton, beyond Wraysbury, and even more secluded, is at once a
charming and an interesting place: a village made up of old mansions
and old cottages, all scattered widely amid large grounds and pretty
gardens. The church, too, is fine, chiefly of Norman and Early English
work, with a tower built in chequers of flint and stone; a fine
timber fifteenth-century north porch, and an exceptionally good and
lavishly-enriched Norman doorway.

Horton has a literary as well as a picturesque and an architectural
interest, for it is closely associated with Milton, who resided here as a
young man. Milton’s father had retired in his seventieth year, with a not
inconsiderable fortune, derived from his business as a scrivener; that is
to say, the profession of a public notary, to which was added the making
of contracts and the negotiation of loans. He had left the cares and the
money-making at Bread Street for the quiet joys of a country life, and
had settled at Horton, a place perhaps even then not more remote from the
world than now.

Hither, on leaving Christ’s College, Cambridge, came his son, John,
rather a disappointing son at this period, a son who had disregarded the
dearest wish of his parents’ hearts, that he should enter the Church; and
proposed, instead, to lead the intellectual life of study and meditation.
We may quite easily suspect that this would seem, to the hard-headed man
of business, used to placing money out to usury, and to naturally look
in every direction for an increase, for some tangible result of pains
taken and capital expended, a singularly barren prospect. It might even
have appeared to him the ideal of a lazy, feckless disposition. But the
ex-scrivener and his wife hid their disappointment as best they could,
and suffered their son to take his own course. They were, after all,
wealthy enough for him to do without a lucrative profession.

Therefore, for a period of nearly six years—from July 1632 to April 1638,
to be exact—the poet lived with his parents and his books at Horton,
occupying the time from his twenty-fourth to his thirtieth year with
study and music.

Here he composed the companion-poems, _L’Allegro_ and _Il Penseroso_, a
portion of a masque entitled _Arcades_, the complete masque of _Comus_,
and _Lycidas_, a long, sweetly-sorrowing poem to the memory of a friend
and fellow-colleger at Cambridge, one Edward King, who had lost his
life by shipwreck in August 1637, on crossing to Ireland. In April 1637
his mother died. We may still see on the floor of the chancel in Horton
church the plain blue stone slab simply inscribed: “Here lyeth the body
of Sara Milton, the wife of John Milton, who died the 3rd of April 1637.”

[Illustration: HORTON CHURCH.]

In 1638 Milton left Horton, accompanied by a man-servant, for a long
term of continental travel, and Horton ceased to be further associated
with him. It would be vain to seek, nowadays, for the Milton home here,
for the house at Horton, where his parents and himself and his younger
brother Christopher lived, was demolished in 1798.

The town of Staines, supposed to be the site of the Roman station of
_Ad Pontes_, and to derive its present name from its position on the
Roman road to the west—that is to say on the stones, or the stone-paved
road—stands at the meeting of Middlesex and Bucks. It is also the western
limit of the Metropolitan Police District, and a stone standing in a
riverside meadow above the bridge, known as “London Stone,” properly
and officially “the City Stone,” until modern times marked the limits
of the City of London’s river jurisdiction. Staines was also a place of
importance in the coaching age, for it stood upon the greatly travelled
Exeter road. To-day it is, in spite of those varied claims to notice, an
uninteresting place.

The neighbourhood of Staines is one of many waters. They divide
Middlesex and Bucks in the many branches and confluent channels of the
Colne, and they permeate those widespreading levels westward of what
was once Hounslow Heath known broadly as Staines Moor. This watery
landscape, now so beautiful, was once, doubtless, a very dreary waste.
All moors and heaths carry with them, in their very name, the stigma of
dreariness, just as when Goldsmith wrote. The name of a heath could only
be associated with footpads and highwaymen, and to style a scene in a
play “Crackskull Common” seemed a natural and appropriate touch. This
ill association of commons long ago became a thing of the past, but we
still couple the title of a “moor” with undesirable places, generally of
an extreme sterility and associated in the mind’s eye with inclement
weather of the worst type. The sun never shines on moors, except perhaps
so fiercely as to shrivel you up. On moors no winds blow but tempests,
probably from the north or east, and the only rains known there are cold
deluges. A moor is, in short, by force of a time-honoured tradition not
yet quite outworn, a place good to keep away from; or, being by ill-luck
upon it, to be left behind at the earliest possible moment.

Whatever Staines Moor may once have been, it no longer resembles those
inimical wilds. It is, in fact, a corner of Middlesex endued with much
beauty of a quiet, pastoral kind. In midst of it and its pleasant
grasslands and fine trees with brooks and glancing waters everywhere, and
here and there a water-mill, is Stanwell. At Stanwell the many noble elms
of these parts are more closely grouped together and grow to a greater
nobility, and at the very outskirts of the village is a finely-wooded
park—that of Stanwell Place. The especially fine water-bearing quality of
those surroundings is notable in the scenery of that park, and has led of
late years to the building of an immense reservoir, now controlled by the
Water Board. It is unfortunate that it should have been thought necessary
to form this reservoir on a higher level than that of the surrounding
country, and thus to hide it behind a huge embankment like that of a
railway, for the artificial lake so constructed is rather much of an
eyesore. It might, if built upon the level, have proved an additional
beauty in the landscape.

Stanwell is situated in the Hundred of Spelthorne, an ancient Anglo-Saxon
division of Middlesex. It is still a Petty Sessional division, but no man
knows where the ancient thorn-tree stood that marked the meeting-place
of our remote forefathers—that “Spele-Thorn,” or Speech Thorn, where the
open-air folk-moot was held.

It is a pleasant village, with a very large church, whose tall, shingled
spire rises amid luxuriant elms. Near by is a seventeenth-century
schoolhouse with a tablet inscribed:

    This House and this Free Schoole were founded at the charge of
    the Right Honourable Thomas, Lord Kynvett, Baron of Escricke,
    and the Lady Elizabeth his wife. Endowed with a perpetuall
    revennew of Twenty Pound Land. By the yeare. 1624.

A stately monument in the singular taste of that time to Knyvett and his
lady is found in the church. Against black marble columns are drawn back
stony curtains, disclosing the worthy couple kneeling and facing one
another across a prayer-desk, with the steadfast glare of two strange
cats on a debatable roof-top. At the same time, although the taste is not
that in favour to-day, the workmanship is very fine. It is the work of
the famous sculptor, Nicholas Stone, who, it is recorded, received £215
for it.

In the churchyard is a very elaborate tomb, all scroll, boldly-flung
volutes, and cherubs gazing stolidly into infinity, recording the
extraordinarily many virtues of a person whose name one promptly forgets.
It is melancholy to reflect that only in the centuries that are past was
it possible to write such epitaphs, and that such supermen in goodness
no longer exist. Or is it not rather that we have in our times a better
sense of proportion in these mortuary praises?

The manor of Stanwell was granted to the then Sir Thomas Kynvett by James
the First, in 1608. It had been a Crown property since 1543, when Henry
the Eighth took it, in his autocratic way, from the owner, Lord Windsor.
The story is told by Dugdale, who relates how the King sent a message
to Lord Windsor that he would dine with him at Stanwell. A magnificent
entertainment was accordingly prepared, and the King was fully honoured.
We may therefore perhaps imagine the disgust and alarm with which His
Majesty’s host heard him declare that he liked the place so well that he
was determined to have it; though not, he graciously added, without a
beneficial exchange.

Lord Windsor made answer that he hoped His Highness was not in earnest,
since Stanwell had been the seat of his ancestors for many generations.
The King, with a stern countenance, replied that it _must_ be;
commanding him, on his allegiance, to repair to the Attorney-General
and settle the business without delay. When he presently did so, the
Attorney-General showed him a conveyance already prepared, of Bordesley
Abbey in Worcestershire, in exchange for Stanwell, with all its lands and

“Being constrained,” concludes Dugdale, “through dread of the King’s
displeasure, to accept of the exchange, he conveyed this manor to His
Majesty, being commanded to quit Stanwell immediately, though he had laid
in his Christmas provision for keeping his wonted hospitality there,
saying that they should not find it _bare Stanwell_.” But the deed of
exchange, still in existence in the Record Office, is dated nearly three
months later, March 14, 1543.

Two and three-quarter miles below the now commonplace town of Staines,
and past Penton Hook lock, the village of Laleham stands beside the
river, on the Middlesex side, in a secluded district, avoided alike
by railways and by main roads. Laleham—in Domesday Book “Leleham”—has
altered little for centuries past, and although quite recently the park
of Osmanthorpe, by the riverside, has been cut up and built upon, the
building speculation does not appear to have been very successful.

The old church, barbarously interfered with, as most Thames Valley
churches within some twenty miles of London were, in the eighteenth
century, has suffered only in respect of its tower, rebuilt in
monumentally heavy style, in red brick; and a dense growth of ivy now
kindly mantles it, from ground to coping. It is a picturesque church,
with queer little dormer windows in the roof, and the interior shows it
to be much more ancient than the casual passer-by would suppose; heavy
Norman pillars and capitals with billet mouldings proving it to date from
some period in the twelfth century. It was, in fact, the mother-church
of the district, and Staines and Ashford were mere chapelries to it, and
so they remained, in ecclesiastical government, until the middle of the
nineteenth century.

There is little in the way of interesting monuments in the church,
except that of George Perrott, which is perhaps mildly amusing. He died
1780, “Honourable Baron of H.M. Court of Exchequer.” By his decease,
we learn, “the Revenue lost a most able Assessor of its legal rights.”
The coat-of-arms of this able personage shows three pears, in the old
heraldic punning way, for “Perrott,” but the joke was not pressed to its
conclusion, for they are shown as quite sound pears.

Laleham is notable for its literary associations, for here lived Dr.
Arnold for some years, before he became headmaster of Rugby; and here
was born, in 1822, Matthew Arnold, who, dying in 1888, lies buried in
the churchyard. Here, too, is the tomb of Field-Marshal George Charles
Bingham, third Earl of Lucan, who also died in 1888. He was in command
of the Heavy Brigade in the Crimea. It was entirely due to the personal
animosities of the Earls of Lucan and Cardigan, and of Captain Nolan,
that the mistake leading to the sacrifice of the Light Brigade at
Balaclava was made.

[Illustration: LALEHAM CHURCH.]


The quiet of Laleham was sadly disturbed some years ago, when there
descended upon the village that extraordinary person—a curious compound
of mystic and humbug, who called himself “Father Ignatius.” With some
seven or eight of his “monks,” he established himself at Priory Cottage.
Here they so outraged the feelings of the neighbourhood with their
fantastic proceedings in the back-garden, in which they had established
a “Mount of Olives,” and other blasphemous mockeries, that the place was
on the verge of riot, and the aid of a strong force of police had to be
secured to restore order.

Another charming village, more charming and even much more secluded than
Laleham, is Littleton, not quite two miles distant, across these flat
fields of Middlesex. It is well named “little,” for it consists of only
a little church, a fine park and manor-house beside a pretty stream, and
some scattered rustic houses. Nothing in the way of a village street, or
shop, or inn, is to be discovered, and the place is delightfully retired
amid well-wooded byways, all roads to anywhere avoiding it by some two
miles. The Early English church has been provided with an Early Georgian
red-brick tower, of a peculiarly monstrous type, and in skeleton,
roofless form. The interior of the church is so plentifully hung with old
regimental colours that it looks almost like a garrison chapel. There are
twenty-four in all, chiefly old colours of the Grenadier Guards, and were
placed here in 1855 by their commandant, General Wood, who had served in
the Peninsular War, and afterwards resided at the adjoining Littleton

A tiny window, little, if at all, larger than a pocket-handkerchief, is
filled with stained glass, representing a fallen, or sleeping, shepherd,
with a lion looking upon a dead sheep and the rest of the flock running
away. An inscription says: “This panel was designed by Sir John Millais,
R.A., and presented to Littleton church by Effie, Lady Millais, 1898.”

Returning from this _détour_, Chertsey—Anglo-Saxon “Cearta’s ey,” or
island—next claims our attention. It is a town, and a dull one, duller
now that suburban London has influenced it. Of the great Abbey—one of
the greatest in the land—that once stood here, nothing is left except a
few moss-grown stones and bases of pillars, situated in the garden of a
villa that occupies part of the site. Excavations of the ground in years
gone by disclosed the size and disposition of the Abbey church and the
monastery buildings, and a few relics were then found, including some
remarkably fine encaustic tiles, now to be seen in the Architectural
Museum at Westminster. That is all Fate and Time have left. It is an
extraordinarily complete disappearance. Stukeley, a diligent antiquary,
writing in 1752, was himself astonished at it:

“So total a dissolution I scarcely ever saw. Of that noble and splendid
pile, which took up four acres of ground, and looked like a town, nothing
remains. Human bones of abbots, monks, and great personages, who were
buried in great numbers in the church, were spread thick all over the
garden, so that one might pick up handfulls of bits of bone at a time
everywhere among the garden-stuff.”

A fragment of precinct-wall is left, and the “Abbey Mill” of to-day is
the direct descendant of that which occupied the same site in the old
times, while the cut originally made by the monks to feed it still flows
from near Penton Hook to the Thames again, near by, under the old name of
the “Abbey River.”

[Illustration: LITTLETON CHURCH.]

Weybridge, two miles below Chertsey, is a place of which it is difficult
to write with enthusiasm in pages devoted to villages. It is no longer a
village, and yet not a town; and is, indeed, like most of the places to
which we shall henceforward come, a suburban district.

What constitutes such? The answer is that it largely depends upon the
distance from London. Here we are some twenty miles from town, and by
reason of that fact, and all it means, the suburban residences are
expensive and imposing, and stand, many of them, in their own somewhat
extensive grounds. Thus, the original village and village green, to which
these developments of modern times have been added, remain not altogether
spoiled, and come as a pleasant surprise to that explorer who first makes
acquaintance with Weybridge from the direction of the railway station,
from which a typically conventional straight suburban road leads,
lengthily and formally. On the village green stands a memorial column to
a former Duchess of York, who died in 1820, at Oatlands Park, near by,
and has another monument in the church. The column is intrinsically much
more interesting for itself than as a monument to a duchess whom every
one has long since forgotten, for it is nothing less than the original
pillar set up at Seven Dials in London, about 1694, and thrown down in
1773. It remained, neglected and in fragments, in a builder’s yard, until
it was purchased for its present use, and removed hither in 1822. Another
memorial of that forgotten duchess is found in Weybridge church, a great
modern building, built in 1848, and enlarged in 1864, with an additional
south aisle. It stands on the site of an older church, is remarkable
rather for size than excellence, and contains some really terrible
stained glass. The sculptured memorial to the Duchess is by Chantery, but
it is not a very good example of his work. She is represented kneeling,
with her coronet flung behind. This, and other memorials removed from the
older building, are all huddled together in the tower. Among them is a
truly dreadful brass, representing three skeletons—among the very worst
products of a diseased imagination to be found in the length and breadth
of the land. It ought to be destroyed; and it really seems as though some
one had entertained the idea, for the head of one of the figures has

The river winds extravagantly at Weybridge, where it receives the waters
of the river Wey and the Bourne, and is full of islands and backwaters.
Some way downstream, and on the Middlesex shore, is little Shepperton,
one of the most secluded places imaginable, consisting of a church,
a neighbouring inn—the King’s Head—and some old-fashioned country
residences. It forms a pretty scene. In the churchyard there will be
found a stone with some verses, to

    Margaret Love Peacock, Born 1823, Died 1826, one of the
    children of Thomas Love Peacock who lived many years at Lower
    Halliford, and died there, 1866.

[4] The battle of Sedgemoor was fought beside the Bussex Rhine.




There are some very pleasant places on this Middlesex side of the river:
Shepperton Green and Lower Halliford notable among them; Lower Halliford
fringing the river bank most picturesquely and rustically. Between this
and Walton is the place known as “Cowey, or Coway, Stakes,” traditionally
the spot where Julius Cæsar in 54 B.C. crossed the Thames, in his second
invasion of Britain. Cæsar himself, in his _Commentaries_, writing, as
was his manner, in the first person, says: “Cæsar being aware of their
plans, led his army to the Thames, to the boundary of the Catuvellauni.
The river was passable on foot only at one place, and that with
difficulty. When he arrived there he observed a large force of the enemy
drawn up on the opposite bank. The bank also was defended with sharpened
stakes fixed outwards, and similar stakes were placed under water and
concealed by the river. Having learnt these particulars from the captives
and deserters, Cæsar sent forward the cavalry, and immediately ordered
the legions to follow. But the soldiers went at such a pace and in such a
rush, though only their heads were above water, that the enemy could not
withstand the charge of the legions and cavalry, and they left the bank
and took to flight.”

Many of these ancient stakes have been found, during the centuries that
have passed—the last of them about 1838—and they have been for many years
the theme of long antiquarian discussions. Formed of young oak trees, “as
large as a man’s thigh,” each about six feet in length, and shod with
iron, their long existence under water had made them almost as hard as
that iron, and as black as ebony.

It was Camden, writing early in the seventeenth century, who first
identified Coway Stakes as the scene of Cæsar’s crossing, for Bede,
writing in the eighth century and describing the stakes in the river,
mentions no place. They were said by Bede to be shod with lead and to
be “fixed immovably in the bed of the river.” Camden was quite certain
that here he had found the famous passage by Cæsar’s legionaries, and
expressed himself positively: “It is impossible I should be mistaken in
the place.”

[Illustration: SHEPPERTON.]

But later investigators are found to be more than a little inclined to
dispute Camden’s conclusions; and it is certain that whatever may now be
the possibilities of fording the Thames hereabouts, between Walton and
Halliford or Shepperton, and however deep the river may now be elsewhere,
this could not, as Camden supposes, have been the only possible ford. In
Cæsar’s time—it is a truism, of course, to say it—there were no locks or
weirs, and the Thames, instead of being what it is now, really to a great
degree canalised, flowed in a broader, shallower flood along most of
its course, spreading out here and there into wide-stretching marshes,
through which, however difficult the crossing, the actual depth of water
would tend to be small. But in any case, arguments for or against Coway
Stakes must needs be urged with diffidence, for the windings of the
Thames must necessarily have changed much in two thousand years.

There are not now any of the stakes remaining here, but the disposition
of them in the bed of the river has been fully put upon record. They
were situated where the stream makes a very pronounced bend to the
south, a quarter of a mile above Walton Bridge, and were placed in a
diagonal position across it, not lining the banks, as might have been
expected. But whether this disposition of them was original, or due to
one of the many changes of direction the river has undergone, it would
be impossible to say. It seems certain that in the level lands between
Chertsey, Weybridge, and Walton the present course of the Thames is not
identical with that anciently traced, and that the river has cut out for
itself between Shepperton and Walton a way considerably to the north.
There still exists a lake, very long and very narrow, in the grounds
of Oatlands Park, between Weybridge and Walton, which is reputed to be
a part of the olden course of the Thames. It has been pointed out, as
a proof of these changes, that there are in this neighbourhood several
instances of detached portions of parishes, situated, contrary from
expectation, on opposite sides of the river. Thus Chertsey and Walton,
both in Surrey, own respectively fourteen and eight acres in Middlesex.
Laleham, in Middlesex, possesses twenty-two acres in Surrey, and
Shepperton twenty-one acres. Eighteen of these more particularly concern
this discussion, since they are part of the ancient grazing-ground of
Coway Sale. The name “Coway” has been assumed by some, having reference
to the ford, or supposed ford, at Coway Stakes, to be a corruption of
“causeway,” while others find in it, according to the spelling they
adopt, Cowey = Cow Island, or Coway = Cow Way. The supporters of the
last-named form are those who refuse to recognise this place as the true
site of Cæsar’s crossing. They point out—ignoring the diagonal course of
a ford at this point, heading down river, instead of straight across—that
the placing of the stakes more resembled the remains of an ancient weir
or wooden bridge than the defences described by Cæsar, and say, further,
that their being shod with lead or iron is a proof that they formed
part of some deliberately constructed work and not a hastily thrown up
defence. The position of the stakes, four feet apart and in a double
row, with a passage of nine feet between, has given rise to an ingenious
speculation that they formed an aid to fording the river, both for
passengers and cattle, instead of being designed as an obstruction. This,
then, according to that view, was the Cow Way, principally devoted to
the convenience of the cattle belonging to Shepperton, to go and return
between that place and the detached grazing-grounds of Coway Sale on the
Surrey side of the river.


But that there has been fighting hereabouts is evident enough in the
name of a portion of the grounds of Shepperton Manor House, known from
time immemorial as “War Close.” At the time when Coway Stakes were driven
into the bed of the river, to form a safe passage for the cows, or in
the futile hope of withstanding the advance of the masterful Romans,
the river must have spread like some broad lagoon over the surrounding
meadows, and would have been much more shallow than now. Walton Bridge,
in its great length, much of it devoted to crossing those low-lying
meadows, gives point to this contention.


The village of Walton-on-Thames is at the end of its tether as a
village, and the only interesting things in it are its church, and what
is known as the “Old Manor House.” Dark yews form a fine setting to
the old church, whose tower of flint and rubble, with repairs effected
in brick, survives untouched by the restorer of recent years. The
interior, although greatly suburbanised, discloses some as yet unspoiled
Transitional-Norman portions. Here, in the stonework near the pulpit, is
cut the famous non-committal verse ascribed to Queen Elizabeth, on the
sacramental bread-and-wine:

    Christ was the worde and spake it;
    He took the bread and brake it;
    And what the Worde doth make it,
    That I believe and take it.

Here is preserved a scold’s, or gossip’s, bridle, otherwise “the branks,”
an old English instrument of punishment and repression for a scolding or
gossiping woman. On it is, or was, the inscription,

    Chester presents Walton with a bridle
    To curb women’s tongues that talk too idle.

The instrument is now so rusted that it is difficult, if not impossible,
to trace the words. The date of it, and who this Chester was, are
not known; but legend has long told that he was a gentleman who lost
a valuable estate in the neighbourhood through the malevolence and
irresponsibility of a lying woman.

The bridle, originally of bright steel, was made to pass over the head,
and round it, and is provided with a flat piece of metal, two inches in
length and one in breadth, for insertion in the mouth, the effect being
to press the tongue down and to prevent speech. It is duly provided with
hinges and a padlock.

For many years it hung by a chain in the vestry, and thus became injured
and rusted; but in 1884 it was enclosed in an oaken, glass-fronted
cabinet; so its further preservation is assured.

[Illustration: BRASS TO JOHN SELWYN.]

On a board suspended against the chancel wall are four small brasses of
the Selwyn family, showing John Selwyn and his wife Susan, and their
eleven children. He was keeper of the royal park of Oatlands, and died in
1587. On one of them, Selwyn himself, is represented mounted on a stag
and in the act of plunging a hunting-knife through the animal’s neck.
This traditionally represents an actual occurrence. It seems that when
Queen Elizabeth was once hunting at Oatlands, a stag stood at bay and
made as if to attack her; whereupon Selwyn jumped from his horse on to
the stag’s back, and killed it in the manner shown.

Several elaborate monuments are to be seen here, including that of
Richard Boyle, Viscount Shannon, who died in 1740. The life-size statues
of himself and his wife are by Roubiliac.

The “Old Manor House” has of late years been rescued from its former
condition of slum tenements. It stands off some bylanes, where there
is a good deal of poor cottage property, and was long subdivided into
small dwellings. A long, low building of timber, lath, and plaster, it
dates back to the time of Henry the Eighth, and was then probably the
residence of the keeper, or ranger, of Oatlands Park; and perhaps the
residence one time of that John Selwyn of whose notable deed mention has
just been made. In after-years it was associated with Ashley Park, and
in Cromwell’s time was occupied by Bradshaw, President of the Council,
and one of the signatories of Charles the First’s death-warrant. If one
were to credit the old rustic legends and tales of wonder, this would be
a historic spot indeed; for the old Surrey peasantry firmly believed that
Bradshaw not only lived here, and was a party to the King’s execution,
but that he executed him with his own hands, on the premises, and buried
him under the flooring. English history, it will be perceived, written
from the rustic point of view, should be entertaining.


[Illustration: HALLIFORD.]


Leaving Walton behind, the Thames Valley is seen to have become the
prey of those many water companies which some few years since were all
merged into the Metropolitan Water Board. Between them and the spread of
London, the once beautiful scenery of the reaches of the Thames has in
long stretches been completely spoiled. Not sheer necessity, only bestial
stupidity, has caused this truly lamentable condition of affairs. With
the immense modern growth of the metropolis, it is specially desirable
that the beauty of the river at its gates should have been jealously
safeguarded, but it has been given over to those true spoilers, the
waterworks engineer and the speculative builder; and the interesting
and beautiful old-world villages and forgotten corners that survive do
but increase the regret felt for those others that have been wantonly
extinguished. The Surrey side of the river between Walton and Molesey has
been made monotonously formal with the embankments of great reservoirs;
and it is only when Molesey Lock is reached that their depressing
society is shaken off. On the Middlesex-side, that part of Sunbury
where the bizarre semi-Byzantine modern church of the place stands is
the only unspoiled spot until Hampton Court comes in sight, and between
the two we have perhaps the very worst exhibition of those outrages of
which the water companies have been guilty. There, on either side of
the road, a long, unlovely line of engine-houses and pumping-stations
stretches; but hideous though it may be from the road, it is worse when
seen from the river. There is always an entirely gratuitous ugliness
in a water company’s engine-houses, and these examples are not by any
means exceptions; being built in a kind of yellow-white brick, with a
long series of chimneys and water-towers that have already been proved
insufficiently tall and have each in consequence been lengthened with
what look like exaggerated twin stove-pipes. It is a distressing and
unlovely paradox that the buildings and precincts of waterworks are
invariably dry and husky, gritty and coaly places, and these bring no
variation to that rule. The roads are blackened with coal-dust, the
chimneys belch black smoke, and the poor little strips of grounds that
run beside the river, with lawns, and some few anæmic trees, seem parched
up. The Thames Ditton and Surbiton front of the river is in the same
manner defiled with engine-houses and intakes, with coal-wharves and
filter-beds, and with nearly half a mile of ugly retaining-wall. The
especial pity of all these things is that they were not at all necessary
where they are. They would have been just as efficient if placed in some
position out of sight, away from the river bank, and could so have been
placed, with a small expenditure for additional piping, instead of being
the eyesore they are.

[Illustration: SUNBURY.]

The village of Thames Ditton still keeps its rustic church, with curious
old font, and the Swan by the waterside stands very much as it did
when Theodore Hook wrote enthusiastic verses about it; but Surbiton,
and Kingston, Hampton Court, Teddington, and Twickenham—what shall we
make of these, now that electric tramways have girded them about with
steel? Only by the actual riverside is Nature left very much to herself,
and there, where the water roars over the weir of Teddington, you do
find the river unspoiled. But it is only necessary to walk a few steps
back from the river, into Teddington village that was, and is, alas! no
longer—for a sadness to take possession of you. There you see not only
a surburbanised village, but even perceive the original suburbanisation
(an ugly word for an ugly process) of about 1870 to be now down upon its
luck, in the spectacle of the villas of that date offered numerously to
be let, with few takers. What is the reason of this? you ask. Electric
tramways. They are the reason. Also, if you do but explore farther
inland, you shall find more reasons, in the discovery that Teddington
is now quite a busy town, and therefore offers no longer that charm of
comparative seclusion it possessed when those villas of the seventies
were built.

But there are yet other reasons, chief among them the very bulky and
imposing one of the modern parish church of St. Alban, which rises
like some great braggart bully, and utterly dwarfs the poor old parish
church opposite, now degraded to the condition of a mortuary chapel,
or the like, and doubtless to be demolished so soon as ever public
opinion is found to be in an indifferent mood. It is not a beautiful old
church, being indeed an Early Georgian affair of red brick, but it is
representative of a period, and, with the Peg Woffington almshouses near
by, is all that remains of old Teddington.

The neighbourhood of the great new church, built handsomely in stone,
in a Frenchified variant of that First Pointed style we are accustomed
to name “Early English,” is sufficient to frighten away any would-be
resident, for it is as large as many a cathedral, and will be larger yet,
when foolish people are found to subscribe toward the completion of its
tower. If all this stood for religion instead of merely for religiosity—a
very different thing—there would be nothing to say; but when we perceive
the clergy, all over the country, striving for funds towards heaping
up of stone and brick and mortar, all intended towards the end of
aggrandising their own discredited order, and of again bringing about the
imprisonment of men’s consciences, we can only imagine that the devil
laughs and the Saviour grieves. Meanwhile, the great unfinished building
dominates the place, and its long unbroken roof helps to spoil the view
up-river, nearly two miles away.

If we may call Teddington a town, then, by comparison, Twickenham,
adjoining it, is a metropolis. All this Middlesex side of the river
is, in fact, spoiled, but the river itself, and the lawns and parks
fringing it, are, happily, little affected, and none, wandering along
the towing-paths, would suspect the existence of those great populations
on the other side of quite a narrow belt of trees. The only inkling of
them is when the wind sets from the streets and brings the strains of a
piano-organ, the cries of the hawkers, or the squeaking of tramcar-wheels
against curves, yelling like damned souls in torment.

[Illustration: A BUSY DAY, MOLESEY LOCK.]

The older part of Twickenham centres about the church, one of those pagan
eighteenth-century boxes of red and yellow and grey brick that are so
familiar along these outer fringes of London. The old church sank into
ruin in 1713, but the tower of it remains.

In the churchwardens’ accounts of some two hundred years ago we gain some
diverting glimpses of an older Twickenham. Thus, in 1698, we find, “Item:
Paid old Tomlins for fetching home the church-gates, being thrown into ye
Thames in ye night by drunkards, 2_s._ 6_d._”; and “Item: To Mr. Guisbey,
for curing Doll Bannister’s nose, 3_s._”

The old and slummy lanes that here lead down to the waterside are
bordered with houses that date back to the time of those entries.

In the church is a monument to Pope, with an epitaph written by himself,
“For one who would not be buried in Westminster Abbey”: the last scornful
effort of his bitter spirit. The stone in the floor that marks his actual
resting-place is covered over, and many therefore seek his grave in vain.
I have, in fact, myself thus vainly sought it; questing in the first
instance among the tombs in the churchyard, to the puzzlement of a group
of working-men engaged upon a job there.

“What you looking for, guv’nor?” asked one.

“I want to find Pope’s grave.”

“Don’t know the name,” said he. “’Ere, Bill”—raising his voice to one
of his mates a little way off—“d’ye know where a bloke named Pope is

O! horror.

An epitaph upon Kitty Clive, the actress, who died in 1758, may be seen
here, among those to other notabilities.

From the crowded streets of Twickenham let us escape by means of
Twickenham Ferry. Crossing the river at this point, Twickenham is seen
at its best; for here the gardens of the three or four great mansions
that yet remain entirely mask the ravages of late years. But even so,
those who have known the scene from of old cannot look upon it altogether
without regrets for the noble cedars of the estate known as “Mount
Lebanon,” among the very finest—perhaps _the_ very finest—in the land,
wantonly cut down some few years since.

[Illustration: TEDDINGTON WEIR.]



The most complete oasis in all these developments is Petersham, on the
Surrey side: Petersham, and Ham, and Ham Common. There railways come not,
nor tramways. At Petersham are few but old houses and the time-honoured
mansions of the great of bygone centuries, inhabited nowadays by the
small and futile. So, at any rate, I gather them to be from the sweeping
remark made to me some years ago by a man whom I discovered leaning
meditatively over a fence, contemplating the view across Petersham

“Purty place, ain’t it?” said he.

“It is indeed,” said I.

“Ah!” he resumed, “boy and man, I’ve lived here forty year. I remember
the time when the people as lived here _was_ people. Now there’s nobody
here worth a damn.”

The Duke of Buccleuch lived near by in those halcyon times.

Pleasant hearing, this, for a new-comer who had just taken over a long
lease in this region of souls so worthless. This shocking old cynic was——
But no matter; suffice it that he was one who ought to have put it

Yet there are some of the elect, the salt of the earth, who pleasantly
savour the lump. Indeed, I live at Petersham myself.

But even here there are woeful changes. Instead of the three inns that
formerly graced the village, there are now but two: the Petersham Arms
went about fifteen years ago, and now there are but the Dysart Arms and
the Fox and Duck. If you want further variety, you must resort to the
Fox and Goose, at Ham, or the New Inn, Ham Common. Besides this grievous
thing, the landscape is seared by an undesirable novelty, in the shape
of a new, very red, red-brick church, which partakes in equal parts of
the likeness of a pumping-station and a crematorium. Woodman, spare those
trees that grow around it, and Nature, kindly mother, do thou add yet
more to their height and size, that we may not, in our going forth and
our return, have it, and all it means, constantly before eyes and mind.
It has, in addition, lately been furnished with bells, of sorts, that
commence early in the morning and wake one untimeously from sleep, often
with an air associated with the words of that pagan hymn, “A few more
years shall roll.” Pagan, I say, because it tells us that when those few
years shall have rolled

        … we shall be with those that rest
    Asleep within the tomb.

[Illustration: TWICKENHAM CHURCH.]


It is a godless teaching. We shall _not_ be asleep within the tomb. Our
poor bodies, yes, but they are not us. In any case, it is not a pleasant
reminder, several times a day, that we shall soon be dead. Church-bells,
whatever the legal aspect of the case, are in fact licensed nuisances,
established without consulting those who have to hear them, and
continually rung without any necessity, in spite of indignant protests.

In this rustic spot we have two churches, two inns, one general shop, a
decreasing population, and a general post-office which will hold, all at
once, if they are not very big people, and if they stand close together,
quite six persons. Exactly what it is like, let this illustration show.
It will be seen at once, and without any difficulty whatever, that it
is a very humble relation indeed of the General Post-Office in St.

There are some curious survivals at Petersham, the more curious because
they survive at these late times in such comparatively close proximity
to London. Adjoining the Fox and Duck Inn—one of the two aforesaid—is
a little wooden building that looks like nothing else than an outhouse
for gardening tools. It is really an old village lock-up for petty
misdemeanants, such as may often be seen in remote rural places. Behind
it is another old institution, equally disused, although it is not so
very long since a strayed donkey was placed there. It is the village
pound for lost and wandering cattle found upon the road and placed in
the pound—impounded—until a claimant appears and pays a shilling to the
beadle for release. The present condition of the pound is such that no
animal placed in it could well be kept there, for the fence is decayed,
and all attempts at maintaining the old institution appear to have been
given up. A magnificent crop of nettles and thistles now grows within,
and would make it an ideal place for any donkey that might chance to be
impounded: donkeys being reputedly fonder of them than of any other kind
of food.

    “Why does a donkey prefer thistles to corn or grass?
       Because he’s an ass.”

Close by this quaint corner the two old curiously gabled Dutch-looking
cottages pictured here are seen. The space between them is now merely
a yard occupied by the Richmond Corporation for storing carts and
road-making materials, but these were once the lodge-gates to the
entrance of Petersham Park, in the old times when it was a private estate
containing old Petersham Lodge, the mansion of my Lord Harrington, that
peer to whom the poet Thomson, of “The Seasons,” alluded in his lines on
the view from Richmond Hill:

    “There let the feasted eye unwearied stray;
     Luxurious, there, rove through the pendant woods
     That nodding hang o’er Harrington’s retreat.”

The view in these pages shows a glimpse of those pendant woods, still
flourishing up along the ridge of Richmond Park, but it is now the better
part of a hundred years since the Commissioners of Woods and Forests
purchased that peer’s old estate, demolished the mansion, and added the
land as a very beautiful annexe to Richmond Park. The cottages, with
their little gardens, are charming, and would be even more so were they
red bricks of which they are built, instead of common yellow stock brick.


I have just now remarked that there are at Petersham those who are
numbered of the elect. But it must sadly be admitted that not all in
the borough of Richmond, in which we have the doubtful honour of being
included, are of the opinion that Petersham is inhabited by the children
of light and grace. Indeed, the following remarks of a deleterious and
poisonous character, lately brought to my notice, convince me that
there exists among some misguided folk up yonder an idea that this most
delightful of surviving villages within a short distance of London is
inhabited wholly, or at least largely, by the mentally afflicted. This
desolating and alarming belief was brought home to me by a friend, who
hired a conveyance at Richmond station, to be brought down to our idyllic

“Where to, sir?” asked the flyman.


“Ah!” exclaimed the driver—this was entirely uncalled-for, you know—“you
mean balmy Petersham.”

“Yes,” rejoined the unsuspecting stranger, “the air there _is_ good, I

“I don’t mean the hair,” he was astonished to be told, “but the
people what lives there. Don’t you know that they’re all balmy on the
crumpet—what you call ‘off it’?”

My poor friend looked a little astonished at this. I am afraid he is not
intimately acquainted with the language of the streets.

“Oh! _you_ know!” continued the man, noticing this air of bewilderment:
“they’re dotty, that’s what they are.”

“You mean _non compos mentis_,” rejoined my friend at last, comprehending
what was meant, and heroically and waggishly endeavouring to get a
bit of his own back, and in turn to mystify this derogatory licensed

The man, convinced that he had happened upon a “sanguinary German,” said:
“Yus, I suppose that’s what you call it in your country,” and mounted his
box, and in silence drove down to this asylum for the “balmy.”


It should be said that we in Petersham, who live quietly and engage
in delightful pursuits—such as writing books, flower-growing, and
criticising our neighbours—do by no means endorse this opinion of our
surroundings. As we are of the elect, so also are we exceptionally sane,
even among the level-headed. But there is a reason to be found in most
things, even in the remarks above quoted. That reason is sought and
discovered in the fact that our village is unique: the only place within
its easy radius from London in which the surroundings are unspoiled, the
air pure, and the means of communication with the great neighbouring
roaring world primitive and not readily at command. The nearest railway
station is a mile and a quarter away, and such services of omnibuses
as have run between Kingston and Richmond, through Petersham, have
ever been fugitive and evanescent, and have generally run at intervals
of not less than twenty minutes. The peculiar humour or the peculiar
tragedy—according to point of view—of these omnibus services is that in
fine weather every one wants to walk, and in rain all want to ride; so
that in the first case the omnibuses are empty, and in the second cannot
cope with the sudden and unlooked-for demand, and one has perforce to
walk home and get wet through, or alternatively to wait until the rain

And during the last remarkable summers there have been occasions when it
has rained in torrents, without ceasing, for four days!

My pen, entered upon the woes of the would-be passenger by omnibus, has
run away with me, and I must at once disclaim the dawning conclusion
that the alleged “balminess” of Petersham is due to rain and the lack of
conveyances other than the comparatively expensive flys. Those are not
the reasons. Petersham, being entirely rural, even though surrounded by
great populations, and yet being near London, it is found by the medical
profession to be a convenient district for recommending to patients to
whom, for a variety of reasons, it would be inconvenient to go remotely
into the provinces. Here, then, qualified somewhat of late years by
fleeting irruptions of motor-cars, and by brake-loads of mischievous and
bell-ringing children who are brought down from London in summer for
school-treats in Petersham Park, invalids may hope to obtain a happy
recovery, even though the air, instead of being sharp and bracing, is
steamy and languorous. Thus the expression “balmy Petersham,” whether
used in the literate sense, or in the regular way of slang, if duly
analysed, is found to be essentially a proud title to consideration,
instead of a term of reproach. The neighbouring village of Ham is a
co-partner in these things, perhaps even in a greater degree, for it is
equally distant from a railway station, and fringes a wide common whose
remotest corners are at all times extremely secluded.

I spoke just now of mischievous and bell-ringing children, but there
are others not intentionally mischievous, who are yet, perhaps, apt to
be a little wearing to the nerves of quiet folk who live within gardens
behind tall wooden fences overhung by flowering shrubs, such as lilac and
syringa. These are a great temptation in their flowering season to all
kinds of persons who ought to be able to enjoy the sight of them without
tearing off branches; but the Goth and the Vandal we have always with
us on Bank Holidays and fine Sundays and Saturday afternoons. We expect
them, and our expectations are commonly realised. But sorrow’s crown of
sorrow is reached when, hearing a crash of boards, you rush out and find
a dismayed child standing among the ruins of a part of your fence, and
explaining that she “didn’t mean it, and was only reaching up to pick
a bit of syringa for nyture study.” And to this the modern attempt to
inculcate the study and the love of Nature brings us!


Before reluctantly I leave Petersham, let something be said as to its
name. And, firstly, let it be duly borne in mind that we who reside here
are perhaps a little concerned that the place-name shall be properly
pronounced. Petersham, we like to think, is the real thing, with no sham
about it at all. Hence the particularity with which “Peters-ham” is
enunciated by the nice in these things; even as the villagers of Bisham,
near Marlow, say “Bis-ham,” or (the tongue being ever at odds with the
letter H) “Bis-sam.”

Petersham obtained its name as long ago as those dim Saxon times when
the great mitred Abbey of Chertsey was founded and dedicated to St.
Peter. In charters of those times the land here is noted as the property
of that Abbey, and the place is called “Patriceham” and “Patricesham.”
In the Cartulary of Merton Abbey, in 1266, it becomes “Petrichesham.”
It thus would appear fairly conclusive that the name originated with
the land becoming the property of St. Peter’s Abbey at Chertsey, and
in no other way. But none of those who delve deeply into the origins
of place-names is ever satisfied with things as they are; and it would
now appear that an effort has been made to derive “Petersham” from a
supposititious early Saxon landowner, a certain—or as we find no real
documentary or other evidence of his existence here, it would be better
to say an uncertain—“Beadric,” whose “ham” it is thus assumed to have
been. This is a heroic attempt to argue from the old original name of
the town we now call “Bury St. Edmunds,” which was in its beginning
“Beadric’s-worth.” Although the Saxon name of “Beadric” was not uncommon,
it is surely something of an effort to drag this East Anglian example
out of Suffolk arbitrarily to fit a place in Surrey; even though, in the
course of the same argument, in citing the well-known parallel derivation
of “Battersea” from the land there having anciently been the property of
the Abbey of St. Peter at Westminster, it is found that in the original
charter of A.D. 693 the place-name is spelled “Batricesege.” This
becomes, in a charter of 1067, “Batriceseie” or “Patriceseia.”


One somewhat speculative blocked-up lancet window of the Early English
period is the remotest thing that remains to Petersham old church;
which is, for the rest, chiefly of George the First’s time. It is, of
course, dedicated to St. Peter. Nowhere do we find the slightest real
trace of the ancient cell of Chertsey Abbey which is supposed to have
existed here, on the Abbey lands. The curious mass of brickwork along
the footpath leading out of River Lane and between the gardens of Church
Nursery and the filter-beds of the Richmond waterworks, is commonly
said to have been a portion of those ancient ecclesiastical buildings,
but no one has ever discovered the slightest hint of church or monastic
architecture about that problematical fragment, nor has its purpose been
hinted at. The footpath rises sharply between somewhat high walls, and
is indeed carried over an arch. The old village folk long knew the spot
as “Cockcrow Hill”; but during the last two years, in course of the
works undertaken for the neighbouring filter-beds, the brickwork has
been patched and the pitch of the lane leading over the arch lowered;
so, doubtless, the name of “Cockcrow Hill” will become among the things
forgot. If a theory may be entertained where no facts are available, this
building was probably a bridge across some long-vanished or diverted
stream which at one time flowed from the high ground of what is now
Richmond Park, across these level meadows, and so into the Thames.

But if there be indeed no architectural features in this brickwork,
there is an almost monastic air of seclusion about the rather grim and
very picturesque old seventeenth-century gazebo that stands beside this
self-same lane. There is some speculative interest in it, for no one can
certainly declare to what this old four-square two-storeyed building of
red brick, with the queer peaked roof, belonged. The presumption is that
it was at one time a gazebo, or garden-pavilion, attached to the walled
garden of Rutland Lodge, adjoining, an early seventeenth-century mansion,
the oldest house in Petersham. Presumably, when it was built, its upper
windows, some of them long since blocked, had a clear look-out across
the unenclosed meadows to the river. The meadows are still there, but a
fenced-in garden and an orchard now intervene, and by some unexplainable
changes, the building, although at the angle of the walled garden of
Rutland Lodge, has no communication with it, and is in fact included
within the grounds of Church Nursery and the garden of the modern house
called since 1907 “Rosebank,” presumably for the usual contradictory
reasons that roses have ever been conspicuously absent from that garden,
and that the site is a dead level. Much patching and altering has been
done at times to the old gazebo, and attempts have been made to convert
it into a cottage. Hence the added fireplaces and the chimney, not
requisite in a garden summer-house, but indispensable for living in.
Otherwise, the lot of the old building has been the common and almost
invariable fate of such—neglect, and a surrender to spiders. The cult
of the gazebo came in originally with the Renascence from Italy, and as
it was not an indigenous, so it was neither a hardy growth in this land
of ours, where the sunshine is never oppressively hot for the house,
and chills all too often are the portion of the garden-dweller. Thus
the numerous, and often highly picturesque, gazebos and pavilions to be
found attached to old English gardens are most often seen to be deserted
and in the last stages of disrepair. The gallant fight against climatic
conditions has had to be abandoned.

[Illustration: RIVER LANE, PETERSHAM.]

Another hopeless fight against overpoweringly adverse conditions ended
here in 1907, when the famous Star and Garter Hotel on Richmond Hill
was closed. We who make Petersham our home know well that the “Star and
Garter” is closed, if only for the reason that, it being situated in the
parish, the loss to the local rates incidental to the closing meant a
sudden rise of ninepence in the pound. We are thus hoping, without in the
least expecting it, that some greatly daring person or corporation will
be good enough to take and open it again. This increased demand, added
to the hungry re-assessments recently made, and to the other increases,
caused by the extravagant proceedings of the Richmond Corporation, which
would appear to carry on the business of the town on behalf of the
tradesmen instead of the residents, is rendering the neighbourhood an
increasingly costly one to live in. Every one would now seem to share the
fallacious belief that to live in Richmond one must necessarily be rich.
True, one will presently need to be if things continue on the lines of
recent developments.

Meanwhile, will no one take the poor old “Star and Garter”? It really
seems as if no one would, for at least two unsuccessful attempts have
been made to dispose of it at auction. The property was stated by the
auctioneer to have cost £140,000. He described it in a phrase which
sounds like a quotation, as “a far-famed hostelry, a palace of pleasure
on a hill of delight.” He also declared the view from it to be “the
finest prospect in England, perhaps in the world.” But he was not
prepared, it seems, to assure the purchaser of a much finer prospect
still: that of a dividend from the purchase, and so the result was a bid
of only £20,000. The second attempted sale resulted in no bid being made
at all.

The “Star and Garter” was ever noted for its high charges, framed to
match its lofty situation and the exalted station of many of the guests
who of old patronised it. Louis Philippe, King of the French, and Queen
Amélie resided there for months at a time, and were frequently visited by
Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. The unhappy Napoleon the Third,
the ill-starred Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, the equally ill-fated
Prince Imperial, and other crowned, or prospectively crowned, heads were
the merest every-day frequenters; but the “Star and Garter” long since
discovered that there were not enough crowned heads to go round. Nor did
the enterprising Christopher Crean, sometime cook to the old Duke of
York, who took it and re-opened it after an old-time disastrous interval
of five years, in 1809, find that he could secure constant relays of
visitors to pay him, as some were stated to have done, half a guinea for
the mere privilege of looking out from the windows upon the beauties of
the Thames Valley.

It would seem, in conclusion, that the coming of motor-cars has finally
rendered the huge “Star and Garter” impossible. Time was when the drive
to Richmond was a delightful and leisurely affair, occupying in the
coming and the going a considerable part of the day. Motor-cars and
taxicabs have rendered it a matter of minutes only, and those who used
to lunch or dine at Richmond now do the like, just as luxuriously, and
almost as quickly by modern methods of travel, at Brighton, Hastings, or

I have written much elsewhere of Petersham, in a little book called
_Rural Nooks round London_, and so will now leave the subject for the
last Thames-side nooks that can by any means claim to preserve to
this day any relics of their old village life. The first of these is
Isleworth, in Middlesex.



Isleworth, an ancient and almost forgotten village overlooking the
Thames, is not by any manner of means to be confounded with the station
of that name, or with the better-known outlying portion of the parish
known as Old Isleworth. The reason of this popular ignorance of Isleworth
is easily to be found in the pronounced bend of the river by which
it stands, the great roads in the neighbourhood going approximately
direct, and leaving Isleworth in a very rarely travelled nook, not often
penetrated, except by those who have some especial reason for calling at
Isleworth itself. It is thus a singularly old-world place, and, strangely
enough, it is more often seen from afar, from the towing-path on the
Surrey side, than at hand.

The village, however little known it may be to-day, was sufficiently well
known to the compilers of Domesday Book, in whose pages it appears in
the grotesque spelling, “Ghistelworde.” Afterwards it is found written
Yhistleworth, Istelworth, Ysselsworth, and at last, before the present
formula was found for it, “Thistleworth.” A vast deal of contention has
raged around the meaning of the place-name, and with such an orthographic
choice you could give it almost any meaning you chose; but there can
be little question but that it comes from two words, the Celtic _uisc_
for water, and the Saxon _worth_ for village. It is, indeed, distinctly
a water-village, for not only does the Thames flow by it, but here the
Crane, rising near Northolt, and coming down through Cranford, falls
into the Thames, near by a little nameless brook that rises on Norwood
Green. It is indeed the confluence of the Crane and the Thames that
contributes so largely to the picturesqueness, the somewhat squalid
waterside picturesqueness, of Isleworth; for the outlet of the smaller
into the larger river is closed by little dock-gates, and the space thus
shut in is presided over by the huge, and in themselves unbeautiful,
flour mills of Messrs. Samuel Kidd & Sons. There is, however, always a
something attractive about flour-mills, let the builders of them build
never so prosaically; and here, where the little stream comes sliding out
beneath the massive buildings, and where the road passes over the little
dock, the sight of the barges coming up, each laden with their thousand
or so quarters of wheat for the mills, is found generally interesting,
especially to boys sent about some urgent business; the more immediate
and pressing the errand, the more attractive the mills; which have their
historical interest to the well-read in local story, for they are the
successors, on this same spot, of the ancient water-mills of the Abbey of

[Illustration: ISLEWORTH.]

Most of the houses at Isleworth are old brick structures, with heavily
sashed windows, and the humbler houses and cottages are very much out of
repair. There is a look of the passive mood and of the past tense about
the place, and you expect (and probably would find if you inquired) holes
in the stockings of every other inhabitant, patches on their posteriors,
and mere apologies for soles on their footgear; while shocking bad hats
are the only wear. The artist who knows what’s what will already have
perceived that Isleworth is a place likely to have pictorial qualities,
and in his supposition he will be quite correct. It would certainly have
captivated Whistler. Imagine the parish church on the river-bank, at
the end of this rather feckless street of houses; imagine a very large
old inn, the London Apprentice, almost dabbling in the water, and then
conceive two large islands, or eyots, or aits, as they may with equal
correctitude be called, off-shore, dividing the stream of Thames in two.
They are extremely interesting eyots, for they grow to this day abundance
of osiers, whose periodical harvesting, for the making of baskets, is a
by no means negligible local industry. Lately I walked through Isleworth
on the day before Christmas, and there, stepping down between two rows of
little tenements forming Tolson’s Almhouses, and looking down upon the
river from the railed wall at the farther end, could be seen lying six or
eight great barges that had come, not from foreign climes, but from the
creeks and ports of the Essex and the Kentish coasts, from the Swale, the
Medway, the Blackwater, or the Crouch. Each and all of them had at their
mastheads a bundle of holly fastened to a spar, in honour of the coming
Day. Beyond them rose the ivy-clad tower of the church, and an occasional
pallid gleam of sunshine broke upon the river. It was a pretty and a
touching scene.

A great deal of very unreliable and really unveracious “history” has
been written about the inn, the London Apprentice, said to have been a
favourite haunt of highwaymen, among whom our ubiquitous old friend, Dick
Turpin, of course figures; but we may disregard such tales. It was once,
however, a favourite resort for water-parties from London.

The tower of the church is a really beautiful and sturdy pinnacled stone
Gothic building, but the body of the church was rebuilt in 1705, from
designs left, so it is said, by Sir Christopher Wren; and it is, within
and without, typical of the style then prevalent: that well-known type of
exterior of red brick, pierced with tall, factory-like windows, and an
interior modelled after a “classic” type, with galleries, and painted and
gilded more like a place of amusement than a place of worship.

A few much-worn brasses remain from an older building, notably one to
Margaret Dely, a Sister of Sion during the brief revival of the Abbey
under Queen Mary.

[Illustration: THE DOCK AT ISLEWORTH.]


But the most interesting monument is one of ornate design, in marble,
placed in the west entrance lobby, under the tower. This is partly to
the memory of Mrs. Ann Tolson, and partly to Dr. Caleb Cotesworth, and
narrates, in the course of a very long epitaph, a romantic story. Ann
Tolson was the donor of the group of almshouses already mentioned,
for six poor men and an equal number of poor women. She married, as
the epitaph very minutely tells us, firstly Henry Sisson and then one
John Tolson. When he died “she was reduced to Narrow and Confined
Circumstances, and supported herself by keeping School for the Education
of Young Ladies, for which She was well Qualified by a Natural Ingenuity.
A strict and Regular Education, and mild and gentle Disposition. By the
loss of Sight She became unfit for her Employment, and a proper object
to receive that Charity, She was Sollicitous to Distribute.” In the
midst of these misfortunes, Dr. Caleb Cotesworth, a connection of hers
by marriage, died. As the epitaph, with meticulous particularity goes on
to report, he “had By a long and Successful practice at London” amassed
a fortune of “One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds and upwards.” A part
he distributed by his will among relatives, “and the residue, One Hundred
and Twenty Thousand Pounds and upwards he gave to his Wife.

                   They both died on the 2nd May, 1741
                            BUT SHE SURVIVED,

and Dying Intestate, her Personal Estate became Distributable among her
three next Of Kin, one of whom was the above Ann Tolson. With a sense of
this Signal Deliverance and unexpected Change from a State of Want, to
Riches and Affluence, She forthwith appointed the Sum of Five Thousand
Pounds to the establishment of Almshouses for Six men and six women,”
and then the giddy old thing went and married a third time, although over
eighty years of age, one Joseph Dash, merchant, of London. She died, aged
89, in 1750; and this monument, for which she had left £500, for the
narration of her interesting story, was soon afterwards duly placed here.

Opposite the monument of this lady is that of Sir Orlando Gee, a factotum
of Algernon, Duke of Northumberland and Registrar of the Admiralty, who
died in 1705. It is a very fine marble monument, with a half-length
portrait effigy of Sir Orlando himself, in the costume and the elaborate
wig of his period. He is represented in the act of reading some document

The Middlesex shore, when once past Sion Park, now grows thickly
cumbered with buildings, and the view of the Surrey side from Middlesex
is distinctly preferable to that of Middlesex from Surrey. For on the
opposite shore stretch the long reaches of Kew Gardens, whose beauties no
one, I suppose, has ever yet exhausted; the grounds are so extensive and
their contents so varied, so rich and rare.

But, after all, I see, the extent of Kew Gardens is not so great,
measured by acreage instead of their riches. I detest mere facts,
and love impressions; but here is a fact, for once in a way books of
reference give the size of Kew Gardens as some 350 acres only.

The Director and his colleagues in botany and arboriculture look across
to the factory chimneys of Brentford with dismay, and write alarming
things in annual reports about the effects of the noxious fumes from
those chimneys upon the trees and plants of the gardens, so Brentford, we
may take it, is a menace, and since the Brentford Gas Company is a highly
prosperous and expanding business, and is certainly in the front rank
as a fume-producer, the menace we may further suppose to be increasing.
The end of these things no man can foresee, but the passing away of Kew
Gardens would be a thing too grievous to contemplate.

Brentford, it is true, cannot by any means be styled a village, and
it owns indeed the dignity of the county town of Middlesex. Thus it
would find no place in these pages, were it not that Brentford sets
up as the rival of Coway Stakes near Walton, for the honour of being
that historic spot where Julius Cæsar crossed the Thames. It is only of
recent years that this claim has been put forward, and until then Coway
Stakes scarcely knew a competitor. But at different times during dredging
operations in the bed of the river, and in the course of building new
wharves and other waterside structures, great numbers of ancient oak
stakes have been discovered, extending with intervals, from about
four hundred yards below Isleworth ferry down to the upper extremity
of Brentford eyot. Near Isleworth ferry they were found in 1881, in
a threefold line, interlaced with wattles and boughs, and continue,
generally in a single line, at intervals, under the river banks, with
advanced rows in the bed of the river, past the places where the river
Brent falls into the Thames in two branches. The stakes, that have been
numerously extracted in these last thirty years, are in fairly good
preservation, and measure in general fifteen inches in circumference.

The criticism, of course, arises here, How could the Britons at such
necessarily short notice have executed so extensive a work to impede
the passage of the Romans, who came swiftly up from Kent and who could
not have been confidently expected at any one point? The stakes extend
for about two miles and appear to have been thoroughly and methodically
arranged. The wattling, too, is evidence of care and deliberation. Doubts
must arise. They may have been already long in existence before Cæsar
came, and have been intended for defence against rival tribes; or again,
they may not really be so ancient as supposed; and their object merely
for the protection of the banks from being eroded by the current.

[Illustration: “OLD ENGLAND.”]

The name, Brentford, refers of course to a ford across the Brent near its
confluence with the Thames, which is broad and deep here; but there was
also, doubtless, a ford across the Thames, at this place, for the present
depth of the river has been produced in modern times by the industrious
dredging works of the Thames Conservancy. But still at low tide between
Brentford ferry and Kew bridge the river has normally only three feet
depth of water, and in summer sometimes much less. Children can at such
times often be seen wading far out into the bed of the stream. There must
evidently have been a ford across the Thames here in ancient days, as
well as across the Brent, and we know from later historic events that
undoubtedly took place here that this junction of rivers was always an
important point.

Thus much may be said in support of the modern contention that it was
here Cæsar crossed on his way to Verulam, and it may be conceded to those
who hold this view that the delta formed by the two outlets of the Brent
is curiously named “Old England.” It will be found so called on large
Ordnance maps, and by that name it has been known from time immemorial.
Much significance may be found in that title in such a place as this.
Nothing is known as to the origin of it. It has just come down to us
from the old, dim ages of oral tradition, and is now fixed by printed
maps. The significance of the name is, however, strangely supported by
that of a spot far indeed removed from it, but (if we accept the theory
that Brentford is really the scene of Cæsar’s crossing) most intimately
correlated in history. This second name has also been handed down in like
manner out of the misty past. We need not wonder at it. Tradition was
everywhere strong in times before the people could read, but their memory
has become gradually atrophied since they have become literate, and the
wisdom and the legends of our forefathers are fading away. Fortunately,
the art of printing, which, in conjunction with the widespread ability to
read, has destroyed much oral tradition, has at the same time fixed and
perpetuated many floating legends and memories.

This fellow traditional name is “Old England’s Hole,” the title given
by many generations of rustics to a hillock on the summit of Bridge
Hill, beside the Dover road between Canterbury and Dover, and adjoining
Barham Downs, where Cæsar fought with and defeated the Britons, July 23,
54 B.C. It is a hillock with a crater-like hollow in the crest, and was
one of the forts in which the Britons long held out. Cæsar himself, in
his _Commentaries_, describes these forts and the storming of them by
his soldiers; and the rustics of the neighbourhood have fixed upon this
particular spot, and say in effect “This is Old England’s Hole, and here
a last stand for freedom was made by your British forefathers.”

“Old England,” on the banks of Brent and Thames, is partly included
within Syon Park and in part extends over the squalid canal outlet
and the sidings, docks, and warehouses the Great Western Railway has
established here; but the name more particularly attaches to the meadow
just within the park. It forms from the Surrey shore a charming picture
not at all injured by those commercial activities of docks and railways
adjoining: perhaps even gaining by contrast. There the earthy banks of
the Thames, in general hereabouts steep and some ten or twelve feet high,
are lower and shelve gradually; and in the meadows a noble group of bushy
poplars stands behind a few willows that look upon the stream. There are
trees, too, in the background, and the spire of the modern church of St
Paul, Brentford, forms a not unpleasing feature on the right.


Brentford Ferry, down below “Old England,” commands an extensive view
down river, towards Kew Bridge and along the northern channel of
the Thames, divided here into two channels by the long and narrow
Brentford Eyot, thickly grown with grass and underwood, and planted with
noble trees. It is acutely pointed out by Mr. Montagu Sharpe that the
boundary-line dividing the counties of Middlesex and Surrey is not at
this point made to follow the stream midway, as customary elsewhere, but
is traced along the northern channel; and he sees in this fact a hint
that the original course of the river was along that branch, and assumes
that the main stream is of later origin; that the river at some time
later than the era of the Romans made this new way for itself.

On the steep bank above Brentford Ferry there was placed in May 1909 a
sturdy granite pillar with inscriptions setting forth the historical
character of the spot. The events known to have taken place at Brentford,
and the crossing here by Cæsar, now boldly assumed, form a very
remarkable list, as this copy of those inscriptions will sufficiently

                                 54 B.C.

    At this ancient fortified ford the British tribesmen under
    Cassivellaunus bravely opposed Julius Cæsar on his march to

                               A.D. 780-1

    Near by, Offa, King of Mercia, with his Queen, the bishops, and
    principal officers, held a Council of the Church.

                                A.D. 1016

    Here Edmund Ironside, King of England, drove Cnut and his
    defeated Danes across the Thames.

                                A.D. 1642

    Close by was fought the Battle of Brentford, between the forces
    of King Charles I. and the Parliament.

                                A.D. 1909

    To commemorate these historical events this stone was erected
    by the Brentford Council.

This memorial has certainly been placed in a most prominent position, and
challenges the attention of the passer-by along the footpath past Kew
Gardens, on the opposite shore. As you approach by the ferry-boat, the
crazy old stone and brick stairs leading steeply up, beside the broad and
easy incline of the shingly ferry-slip, look most imposing, and group
well with their surroundings.

Where the old original ford across the Brent was situated no man knows,
but perhaps near to its junction with the Thames, at a spot where the
waters from the greater tidal river rendered the ford impassable except
at the ebb. That was the awkward situation of Old Brentford, and one
not for very long to be endured by travellers along the great West of
England road that runs through this place. Thus it gave way at a very
early period to a new ford, somewhat higher up the Brent; and around
it in the course of time rose the town of New Brentford, whose being
and name in this manner derived directly from the needs of travellers
for a ford passable at all hours. The ford was replaced by a bridge in
1280, and that by later stone bridges, or patchings and enlargements
of the original. The present representative of them is a quite recent
and commodious iron affair, built over the stone arch: very much more
convenient for the traffic, but not at all romantic. New Brentford church
stands near by; that of Old Brentford is a good quarter of a mile along
the road, back towards London, but there is nothing old or interesting
about it, seeing that it was entirely rebuilt a few years ago.

The Brent, as it flows through the town, is not easily to be
distinguished amid the several canal cuts, where the close-packed barges
lie, but it may with some patience be traced at the western end of the
broad and retired road called “The Butts,” an ancient name significant of
a bygone Brentford, very different from the present aspect of the place.
“The Butts” is a broad open space, rather than a road, and the houses,
old and new, in it are of a superior residential character that would
astonish those—and they are far the greater number—who know Brentford
only by passing through its narrow and squalid and tramway-infested main
street. “The Butts” would appear to have been an ancient practice-ground
in archery.

The Brent appears at the extremity, down below a very steep bank, and
barges lie in it, on the hither side of a sluice. It goes thenceforward
in a pronounced curve, to fall into the docks, and passes by the backs of
old houses and some still surviving gardens, with the church-tower of St.
Leonard’s, New Brentford, peering over old red roofs and clustered gables.

In an old-world town such as this there are many charming village-like
corners and strange survivals, when once you have left the main arteries
of traffic. Brentford is, of course, a byword for its narrow, congested,
squalid High Street, down which the gasworks send a quarter-of-a-mile of
stink to greet the inquiring stranger; but it is a very long High Street,
and the gasmaking is in Old Brentford; and at the westward end, New
Brentford, you are far removed from those noisome activities and among
the barges instead. It is largely a bargee population at this end; and
the bargee himself, the cut of his beard (when he has one it is generally
of the chin-tuft fashion affected by the Pharaohs, as seen by the ancient
statues in the British Museum), the style of his clothes, and his manner
of living his semi-amphibious life are all interesting. It would need a
volume to do justice to the history, the quaintnesses, and the anomalies
of Brentford, which, although the “county town” of Middlesex, and thus
invested with a greater if more nebulous dignity than London—merely
the capital of the Empire—is not even a corporate town. If I wanted to
justify myself for including it in a book on villages, I should feel
inclined to advance this fact, and to add that, although the traditional
“two Kings of Brentford,” with only one throne between them, are famous
in legend, no one ever heard of a Mayor of Brentford, either in legend
or in fact. When it is added that Old Brentford owns all the new things,
such as the gasworks, the brewery, and the waterworks, and that the
old houses are mostly in New Brentford, the thing is resolved into an
engaging and piquant absurdity. It is to be explained, of course, in the
fact of Old Brentford being so old that it has had to be renewed.

[Illustration: FERRY LANE, BRENTFORD.]

The very names of Brentford’s streets tell a tale of eld. It is only in
these immemorially ancient places that such names as “Town Meadow,” “The
Butts,” “The Hollows” “Old Spring Gardens,” “New Spring Gardens,” “The
Ham,” “Ferry Lane,” or “Half Acre” are met with. They are names that tell
of a dead and gone Brentford little suspected by the most of those who
pass by. No unpleasing place this waterside town when the “Town Meadow,”
that is now a slummy close, was really a piece of common land green with
grass and doubtless giving pleasantly upon the river. And when Old and
New Spring Gardens first acquired their name, perhaps about the age when
Herrick wrote his charming poems, or that era when Pepys gossiped, they
were no doubt idyllic spots where the springs gushed forth amid shady
bowers. To-day they are old-world alleys, with houses declining upon a
decrepit age that invites the attention of improving hands. There was
an ancient congeries of crooked alleys and small cottage property near
the corner of Half Acre known as “Troy Town.” It stood hard by where
the District Council offices are now placed, but tall hoardings facing
the road now disclose the fact that Troy Town is in process of being
abolished. The name is curious, but not unique. It is found frequently in
England, and seems generally to occur as the name of an old suburb of a
much older town; some place of picnicking and merry-making, where there
were arbours, and above all, a maze, either cut in the turf or planted in
the form of a hedge, like that most glorious of mazes at Hampton Court.
Such were the original “Troy Towns”; and whatever once were the clustered
alleys in Brentford that were called by that name, certainly they have
carried out to the full, and to the last, the mazy, uncharted idea.

But this old suburb of Old Brentford must at an early date have been
swallowed up in the growth of New Brentford and at a remote time have
lost everything of its original character except its old traditional
name. Names, we know, survive when all else has vanished or been utterly

Ferry Lane is one of Brentford’s many quaint corners. There is an old inn
there, the “Waterman’s Arms,” and a stately old mansion, “Ferry House.”
And there is a curious old malthouse, too, which, in the artistic way,
simply makes the fortune of Ferry Lane, so piquant are the outlines
of its roofs and its two ventilating shafts, like young lighthouses.
Buildings of such simple, yet such picturesque lines do not come into
existence nowadays.

And so to leave Brentford, with much of its story untold. To tell it were
a long business that would lose the sense of proportion which to some
degree, let us hope, distinguishes these volumes. So nothing shall be
said of those two mysterious “Kings of Brentford” who shared, according
to tradition, the throne; nothing, that is, but to note that a brilliant
idea has of late occurred to antiquaries, puzzled beyond measure by
these indefinite kings. It is now conceived that the legend originally
was of the two kings _at_ Brentford, and that so far from sharing one
throne happily together, they were Edmund Ironside, the Saxon king, and
Canute the invading Dane (or Cnut, as it seems we are expected to style
him now), who was severely defeated here by Edmund, and driven out of
Brentford across the river.



There is a waterside walk from Brentford to Kew Bridge, commanding a full
view of that new and solid, perhaps also stolid, structure of stone,
opened May 20, 1903. The old bridge was a more satisfactory affair to the
eye, although its roadway was steep, rising sharply as it did from either
end to an apex over the middle arch. The arches, boldly and beautifully
semicircular, were delightful to look upon, not like the flattened-out
segmental spans of the new bridge, which have a heavy and ungraceful
appearance, looking for all the world as though they had settled heavily
in the making upon their haunches and would presently fall, flop, into
the river.

Things change, after all, but slowly here. Much has gone of late years,
but much is still left. Here, for example, stands a riverside inn the
“Oxford and Cambridge,” with a delightful little lawn, exquisitely green,
behind a low wall that gives upon the towing-path. It has a very rural
look, amid urban surroundings, and at the rear you may yet see a range of
old malthouses, with cowled ventilators upon their old richly-red tiled
roofs, in every way resembling their fellows far down in Kent. But they
are to be let or sold, and for long past the side of them giving upon
the road has served the purpose of an advertising station; so the end of
these things is at hand.

Kew—called on some old maps “Cue”—across the bridge into Surrey, stands
grouped around its green, as of old; the curious church, which is half
Byzantine and half of the Queen Anne method, presenting an outline so
remarkably suggestive of an early type of locomotive engine that one
would scarce be surprised to find some day that it had steamed off.

Kew Green is charming, but there is a dirty little slum down by the
riverside, with labyrinthine alleys and corners where children make
dust-and mud-pies and women in aprons stand at doorways with arms akimbo
and gossip. Here is a street of modern cottages with an odd old name:
“Westerly Ware.”

I do not think Kew can be condemned as being go-ahead and ultra-modern.
Time was, somewhere about 1880, when a tramway was laid along the Kew
Gardens road from the foot of Kew Bridge into Richmond. It was regarded
when new as a very rash and deplorable and innovating thing, and the
tinkle of its horse-bells was anything but pleasing to the ears of the
wealthy residents of the mostly peculiarly ostentatious villas on the
way. But “circumstances alter cases,” as the old adage tritely tells us,
and now that few provincial towns of any size are without their electric
tramways, this little single-line horsed tramway is come to be regarded
almost in the nature of a genuine antique. You take your seat upon one
of the little cars and wait and wait, and still wait. It is very pleasant
and drowsy in summer to wait until the next tram down has left the way
clear at one of the occasional sidings, but if you are in a hurry, it is
quicker to walk. I do not think any one really wants electric tramways
into Richmond, though, no doubt, they will come.

When they do, there will be introduced an altogether undesirable element
of hurry into a road that at present veritably exhales leisure. There is
a certain æsthetic pleasure in lingering along this road, for although
the architecture of those villas is perhaps not the last word in art,
their gardens are beautiful and are easily to be seen. Would that Kew
Gardens were so readily visible. But the churlish Government department
that formerly had the management of the gardens built a high and ugly
brick wall the whole length of the road, so only the tree-tops are
visible over it, even to travellers on tramcar roofs; and no one has yet
had the public spirit to demolish the useless thing and to substitute an
iron railing in place of it. One opening, indeed, was made, about 1874,
when a charming red-brick building by Eden Nesfield was erected, just
inside the grounds, and the peep it gives into Paradise, so to speak,
only makes one the more inclined to ask why any of the wall should be
allowed to remain.

[Illustration: STRAND-ON-THE-GREEN.]

Strand-on-the-Green is the name of the picturesque waterside row of
houses of many shapes and sizes that extends along the Middlesex
foreshore from Kew Bridge towards Chiswick. It is a kind of home-grown
Venice, and sometimes, when the Thames is in flood, its feet are dabbled
in the water, and ingenious ways with planks and clay are resorted to
for the keeping of the river out of ground floors. But since the Thames
has become more and more curbed and regulated, these occasions have
grown and are still growing fewer. I do not know where is the “Green”
of Strand-on-the-Green, and the “strand” itself that stretches down to
the river at low tide from the brick-and-asphalted walk in front of
the village, or hamlet—by whichever name we are rightly to entitle the
place—is mostly mud, where the rankly-growing grass ceases. Old boats and
barges that long since grew beyond any more patching and mending, and
were not worth even breaking up, have been left here to lie about, half
in mud and half in water, grass growing in them.

And an island lies in mid-stream; an island on which, for many years
past, men may have been observed wheeling barrows to and fro and engaged
in other apparently aimless activities that certainly during the last
thirty years have had no beginning and no end. It is a picturesque
island, with flourishing trees, and it looks a most desirable Robinson
Crusoe kind of a place, especially when viewed from the trains, that
just here cross the river on an ugly lattice-girder bridge. A timber
gantry projects from one side, and things are done with old boilers and
launches. Repairs are occasionally made to the banks of this island, and
they have at last resulted in making it a very solid and substantial
place, faced upstream and down and round about with bags of concrete; so
that no conceivable Thames flood that ever was, or can be, could possibly
wash it away.

There is half a mile of Strand-on-the-Green. It is a fairly complete
and representative community, comprising in its one row of houses those
of an almost stately residential class, including Zoffany House, where
the painter of that name lived and died at last in 1810; some lesser
houses, a number of cottages housing a waterside population, three inns,
the “Bull’s Head,” the “City Barge,” and the “Bell and Crown”; and
some shops of an obscure kind, such as one might expect to see only in
remote villages. A highly-sketchable old malthouse or two and a row of
almshouses complete the picture. As to the almshouses, they are going on
for the completion of their second century, as a tablet on them declares:

    Two of these Houses built by R. Thomas Child, one by M. Soloman
    Williams, and one by William Abbott, Carpinter, at his own
    Charge for ye use of ye Poor of Chiswick for Ever, A.D. 1724.

Also the Port of London Authority has an office overlooking the river,
and a firm of motor-boat builders has established works here, amid the
ancient barges—a curious modern touch.


Strand-on-the-Green is a hamlet of Chiswick, long a delightful retreat
of the Dukes of Devonshire, whose stately mansion of Chiswick House in
its surrounding park dignified the old village. But when a suburban
population grew up around the neighbourhood of that lordly dwelling-house
the owners left it. There is an antipathy between dukes and democracy
comparable only to oil and water. Even the neighbourhood of a
highly-respectable (and highly-rented) suburb renders the air enervating
to ducal lungs, even though the ducal purse be inordinately enriched by
the ground-rents of it. It seems that when a man becomes a duke the sight
of other men’s chimney-pots grows unendurable; unless indeed they be the
chimney-pots of another duke; and so he is fain to seclude himself in the
middle of his biggest park, in the most solitary part of the country he
can find. The higher his rank in the peerage, the more cubic feet of air
he requires.

What I should like to see—but what no one ever will see—would be a duke
graciously continuing to reside in the midst of the suburb that has grown
up around him, and to which he owes a good part of his living, and being
quite nice to his neighbours. Not only patronising and charitable to the
poor, but just as human and accessible as middle-class snobbery would
allow him to be.

It cannot be said that the local developments have been at all swift, or
more than very moderately successful. For example, as you proceed from
Strand-on-the-Green to Chiswick, you come first of all to Grove Park,
where there is a railway station of that name which, together with an
ornate public-house and a few shops and houses, wears a look as though
left in the long ago to be called for, and apparently not wanted. I have
known Grove Park for forty years, and it is just the same now as then.
“The last place made” was the description of it long ago given me by a
railway official there, pleased to see a human being; and although many
places have come into existence since then, it still wears that ultimate

In the long ago, when I went to school in the Chiswick high road at
Turnham Green, at a boarding-school that occupied an old mansion called
“Belmont House,” we fronted almost directly opposite Duke’s Avenue, which
still remained at that date just an avenue of trees, with never a house
along the whole length of it, until you came to the noble wrought-iron
gates leading into the awful ducal sanctities themselves. One might
freely roam along the delightful avenue, but the great iron gates were,
it seemed, always jealously shut; and even had they not been, one’s vague
ideas of a something terrible in unknown ducal shape would have prevented
trespass. I have seen not a few dukes since then, and haven’t been in the
least frightened, strange to say.

Nowadays the needs or the greed, I know not which, of their successive
Graces have caused the land along either side of Duke’s Avenue to be let
for building upon; and although, as already remarked, the trees remain,
and are indeed finer than of yore, numerous very nice villas may be found
there; a little dank perhaps in autumn and in wet weather generally, when
those trees hold much moisture in suspense, but still, quite desirable

The wonderfully fine old wrought-iron gates were really much finer in
the artistic way than one ever suspected, as a schoolboy, and they were
flanked by rusticated stone piers surmounted by sphinxes. Exactly what
they were like you may see any day in London, for they were removed
in recent years to Piccadilly, there to ornament the entrance to the
Duke’s town house, and to render the exterior of that hideous building,
if it might be, a thought less hideous. They have had their adventures,
having originally formed the chief entrance to Heathfield House, Turnham
Green, inhabited about the middle of the eighteenth century by Viscount
Dunkerron. A Duke of Devonshire acquired them in 1837.

There were very frequent grand spreads and entertainments of various
gorgeous kinds at Chiswick House in the distant days when one went
to school at Turnham Green. His late Majesty Edward the Seventh, of
blessed memory, occasionally, as Prince of Wales, had Chiswick House in
summer-time between 1866 and 1879. He was not perhaps so universally
popular then; for those were the days when Sir Charles Dilke was posing
as a red-hot Radical, and furious persons of that kidney talked of
republics and all that kind of nonsense. But at anyrate, rank and fashion
were to be observed flocking to the princely garden-parties here; and
very stunning the carriages and the horses, the harness and the liveries
looked; and very beautiful, it seemed, the ladies with their sunshades
and dainty toilettes. Those were days long before any one could have
predicted the present motor-car era, and no one could ever have imagined
that the daughters of those daintily attired ones would be content
to drive along amid dust and stinks, and to tie up their countenances
with wrappings that sometimes look like fly-papers, and at others like
dishclouts. And those, too, were the days not only before electric
tramways, but also before even horsed trams, along the Chiswick high
road; and Turnham Green (the worthy proprietor of our school called it
“Chiswick,” because it looked better) was a quite rustic place, and the
distance of five miles to home in London seemed to one person at least a
very far cry.

These be tales of eld, and now Turnham Green is, to all intents and
purposes, London, and shops have long been built where the school stood,
and that dark high road—upon whose infrequent pedestrians, certain
schoolboys, packed off to bed all too early, and not in the least tired,
were used to expend all the available soap and other handy missiles,
from lofty windows—has become a highway even more than a thought too
brilliantly lit at night.

[Illustration: CHISWICK CHURCH.]

What remains of the park and gardens around Chiswick House now looks
sorry enough. The place came into the hands of the Dukes of Devonshire
in 1753, when William Cavendish, the fourth duke, who had married the
daughter and heiress of the third and last Earl of Burlington, succeeded
on that nobleman’s death. It was this Earl of Burlington who had created
the glories of Chiswick. A princely patron of the arts, especially those
of architecture and sculpture, he had brought home with him from his
travels in Italy a taste for the grand exotic manner in the building of
mansions and the planning of gardens; and built the house here in 1729,
after the Palladian model. It has been somewhat altered since, but the
general idea remains, and sufficiently proves that the grand manner,
learned abroad under summer skies, is not the comfortable manner as
evolved by the necessities of a less ardent clime. English architects
have been slow to unlearn the classic fallacy, but the home-grown
architecture wins in the end, not from any appreciation of the artistic
merits or demerits of the many methods, but on the score of sheer comfort
or discomfort in living.

The gardens of Chiswick House abounded in formal walks and long vistas,
with conventional “ruins” and groups of antique statuary, but most of
these are now gone.

Chiswick House, deserted by its owners, became a lunatic asylum, and
stands at last more than a little forlorn, with new streets and roads
everywhere around its grounds, and a newer suburb with the projected
name of “Burlington” arising by piece-meal, instead of being created
_ad hoc_, as the intention originally was. Burlington is an excellent
name; substantial people, with good bank balances should surely reside
at such. It radiates respectability; no one could be ashamed of it.
I can easily imagine confiding tradesfolk giving unlimited credit to
residents at Burlington; but it has not yet come into being, and the vast
wilderness-like expanse of Duke’s Meadows, projecting far southward, like
a great cape between two bends of the river, remains a tussocky place of
desolation, looking over to Mortlake.

In Burlington Lane, which is an old name, is a new length of villas,
“The Cresent,” its name so misspelled, and kept so with the valiance of
ignorance, uncorrected, for at least five years past.

What remains of the old village of Chiswick lies considerably to the
east of all these developments, and beside the river. There, past
Hogarth House, where that famous painter lived and worked—now a museum
and showplace at sixpence a head, in memory of him—stands old Chiswick
church. Restorations and additions have left really very little of the
original building, but it wears a very plausible appearance of age. The
weather-vane exhibits a figure of St. Nicholas, to whom the church is
dedicated, standing in a boat and holding a staff surmounted by a cross.

A strange inscription may be seen on the churchyard wall, at the east
end. It seems to tell of a time when Chiswick was a village in every
rustic circumstance:

    This wall was made at ye charges of Ye right honourable and
    Truly pious Lorde Francis Russell, Earle of Bedford, out of
    true zeale and care for ye keeping of this church yarde and ye
    wardrobe of godds saints whose bodies lay theirin buryed from
    violating by swine and other prophanation so witnesseth William
    Walker V. A.D. 1623.

                    Rebuilt 1831. Refaced 1884.

No one appears to know who was William Walker the Fifth, and history is
equally silent on the subject of the others of that dynasty.

The neighbourhood is now one of remarkably striking contrasts. By the
church stands the “Burlington Arms,” an old inn claiming a remote origin,
early in the fifteenth century, and with obvious honesty, for the
ancient oaken timbers remain to bear witness to the fact. It is a quite
humble, but cosy, little inn, astonishingly dwarfed by a great towering
fortress-like brewery at the back; as though Beer had withdrawn itself
into a final stronghold, there to defend itself to the last vat. Opposite
the inn and this Bung Castle stands a stately red-brick mansion of early
in the eighteenth century, with fine wrought-iron garden-gates. Up the
street are other fine old mansions, mingled with squalid streets; and
round by the riverside is Chiswick Mall, with other noble houses of the
olden times. Osiers are cut even to this day on Chiswick Eyot, the reedy
island opposite.

Such are the contrasts of Chiswick, one of the last outposts of rural
things in these parts. To find the last we must travel on through the
Mall and on to the more sophisticated Mall of Hammersmith; thence
proceeding across the bridge and along the Hammersmith Bridge Road to
Barnes. That is the very last village. Near by is Mortlake. No one has
ever satisfactorily explained that place-name, nor attempted to define
the _mortuus lacus_—the dead, or stagnant lake—that would seem to have
originated it. Nowadays it is rather to a dead level of commonplace that
Mortlake is descending, in the surrounding jerry-building activities.
All that is left of the old church is the tower, apparently restored
in the time of Henry the Eighth, for a tablet on the western face is
inscribed “Vivat R.H. 8, 1543.”


To speak of Barnes in these days of suburban expansion as a “village”
may at the first mention appear to be unduly stretching a point, but
although Suburbia spreads for miles in every direction, and although
Barnes is completely enfolded by modern developments, the ancient
village is still where it used to be. It is true that a frequent service
of motor-omnibuses does by no means tend to the preservation of the
old-time rural amenities of Barnes, nor do those who remember the Barnes
of thirty or forty years ago welcome the sudden irruption of modern
shops and flats opposite the old parish church; but very much of old
Barnes is left embedded within these twentieth-century innovations;
and while Barnes Common remains, it is not likely that the place will
decline to the common characterless condition of an ordinary suburb.
Of the original Barnes—the “Berne” of Domesday Book—the place owned by
the canons of St. Paul’s, before the Reformation, nothing, of course,
is left; and we may but dimly picture that rural riverside manor, then
considered remote from London, with its great _spicaria_, or barns (the
barns that were so much larger, or more numerous, than the usual type
that they gave the place its name); but there is a half squalid, half
quaint appearance in the narrow, winding streets and lanes that hints,
not obscurely, of the eighteenth or even of the seventeenth century. The
church, too, although an examination of the interior proves it to have
been, in common with most other once rural churches round London, swept
almost entirely bare of ancient features, is picturesquely placed, and
its sixteenth-century red-brick tower, partly clothed with ivy, looks
venerable. There is little of interest within the church, beyond the
somewhat curiously-worded epitaph to a former parson, which deserves the
tribute of quotation:

                    Merentissimo Conjugi
                    Coniux Moerentissima.

    To the best of hvsbands Iohn Sqvier the
    Late Faithfvll Rector of This Parish; the only
    Soñ to That most strenvovs Propvgnator of Pietie
    and loyaltie (both by Preaching and Svffering) John
    Sqvier, sometime Vicar of St. Leonards, Shoreditch near
    London: Grace Lynch (who bare vnto him one only
    Davghter) Consecrated This (such as it is) small
    Monvment of Theyr mvtvall Affection.
    He was invested in This Care An: 1660 Sept: 2,
    He was devested of all Care An: 1662, Jan. 9,

                    Aged 42 yeares.

The really most sentimentally interesting thing here is something that
might well be overlooked by ninety-nine of every hundred whose curiosity
prompts them to enter the churchyard; and it _is_ probably so overlooked.
This is the not at all striking tomb of one Edward Rose, citizen of
London, who died in 1653, and lies buried in the churchyard, against the
south wall of the church, by the great yew tree. He left £20 for the
purchase of an acre of land, from the rent of which he ordained that his
grave should be maintained in decent order, and bequeathed “£5 for making
a frame or partition of wood” where he had appointed his burying-place;
and further ordered three rose-trees, or more, to be planted there. The
bequests were to the minister, churchwardens, and overseers for the time
being, so long as they should cause the wooden partition to be kept in
repair and the rose-trees preserved or others planted in their places
from time to time, as they should decay.

Thus it is that, duly honouring his sentimental fancy, rose-trees are to
this day to be seen here, enclosed within a low wooden railing.



The way from Barnes into Putney is now, when once you have passed the
Common, wholly cut up into a suburb of streets originally mean, and at
last, by contact with the stern squalors of life in a striving quarter
of London town, become little removed above the level of slums. But
Barnes Common remains something considerable in the way of an asset,
and through it still runs the Beverley Brook along the last mile or two
of its nine-miles course from Cheam to its outlet into the Thames at
Barnes Elms. I should say it would be a sorry business attempting to
fish nowadays in the Beverley Brook; but regrets on that score are the
sheerest futilities, and it should rather be a matter for congratulation
that the brook has not been piped, and so altogether hidden from the
eye of day. One, to be sure, regrets many things within this sphere of
change; notably the very considerable slices the London and South-Western
Railway has been allowed to appropriate from the very middle of the
Common, not only for the purpose of running the line through it, which,
it might possibly be argued, was a geographical necessity, but also
for the building of its Barnes station there, which was nothing less
than a sublime piece of impudence. What is left of Barnes Common is
particularly beautiful in the way of towsled gorse and some pretty clumps
of silver-birches. On a byroad leading off it into Putney—a route called
Mill Hill road—is something very much in the nature of a surprise in
these parts, nothing less than an old toll-house; a queer little building
picturesquely overhung by bushy poplars. Its unexpected presence here (it
must be now the nearest survival of its kind to London) hints that the
days when Putney was really a village are not, after all, so long gone by.

Presently we come into Putney, and to the tramway terminus hard by the
bridge and under the shadow of the church-tower, whose great sundial
warns all and sundry that “Time and Tide Wait for no Man.” Is it a
result of laying to heart this maxim, truism, self-evident proposition,
or whatever else you choose to call it, that the tramway-cars and the
motor-omnibuses hustle so impatiently round the corners of the bridge?

Those two church-towers, that stand so prominently here on either side of
the river and seem to bear one another close company, although divided,
as a matter of fact by a quarter of a mile, with the broad river running
between, belong to the churches of Putney and Fulham, both now to be
regarded as parts of London.

Putney Church, standing with its churchyard actually on the river bank,
was almost wholly rebuilt about 1856, the exterior disclosing walls built
of what was once white brick, reduced now to a subdued neutral tint. The
old tower is left, and some few small and late and much-battered brasses,
now preserved on the walls of a little north-eastern chancel chapel,
which is a survival from an earlier building, and has a fine, though
small, vaulted ceiling.

The usual absurd legends that seek to explain place-names to the ignorant
and the credulous are, of course, not lacking here. The names of Putney
and Fulham, and their situation directly opposite one another, on the
Surrey and the Middlesex sides of the river, both so prominently marked
by their church-towers, seem to the popular mind to need some story.
The writer on places becomes tired in course of time at meeting those
familiar rival “sisters” of legend, who are always found, in these
strictly unveracious tales, to have been the competitive builders of the
two churches occasionally found in one churchyard, of the twin towers
possessed by some few parish churches, and indeed of most buildings
which, for no very immediately apparent reason, have been duplicated
within sight of one another.


Here, therefore, we learn of two strange sisters of gigantic stature
who, in the conveniently vague period of “once upon a time,” lived on
these opposite banks of the Thames. One is almost ashamed to repeat the
stupid tale of their having agreed to build the towers of the respective
churches, and having only one hammer between them, being accustomed to
throw it across from one to the other when required. When the sister on
the Fulham side needed the hammer, she asked the other to throw it over
“full home.” When it was returned, it was flung with a will, in response
to the request “put nigh!” The flinging back and forth with every stone
bedded must have been very wearing, and the shouting terrific. At last
the hammer got broken, and had it not been for the help of a blacksmith
up-river, who promptly mended it, the building must have ceased. Of
course you guess where this kindly craftsman lived. Where else than at
the place ever after called, in memory of him, “Hammersmith”?

The expansion of Putney from the likeness to a country village which
it wore until quite recent times well within the memory of many who do
not yet call themselves old, dates from the completion of the new and
commonplace bridge that spans the river here in five flattened arches,
and is seven hundred feet in length, and cost over £240,000. Handbooks
and guides of various sorts will tell those who know nothing about it
that the old wooden bridge which this replaced in 1886 was “ugly and
inconvenient.” The inconvenience we may readily enough grant, but no
artist who ever knew old Putney Bridge will agree to its having been
ugly. Indeed, so picturesque was it, in its maze of timbering, that every
one who knew it, and at the same time owned the artistic sense, bitterly
regretted its clearing away to give place to the present commonplace,
though convenient, stone structure. Old Putney Bridge was the first to
span the river between Fulham and Putney, and was originally projected
in 1671. The proposal to build a bridge here was in the first stage
discussed in Parliament, and there met with such opposition and ridicule
that the scheme failed and was not revived until 1722, finally meeting
with the approval of the House and receiving the Royal sanction in the
early part of 1726. It is well worth while, after that space of time,
to recover some of the discussion in 1671 respecting the providing of a
bridge in place of the immemorially old ferry. It was not only honest
ridicule, but also a good deal of the fear and jealousy felt by “vested
interests,” that at first prevented a bridge being built here. And what
person, or what corporate body, think you, was threatened so seriously
by a bridge between Putney and Fulham? The owner of the ferry? the
local watermen? my Lord Bishop of London, whose palace was and still
is, on yonder bank? None of these were in such near prospect of being
overwhelmed; but it would appear that the great, ancient, and prosperous
City of London, more than five miles downstream, was in that perilous
state, on the mere threatening of a bridge at Putney. It was a Mr. Jones,
representative of the City of London in that honourable House, who caught
the Speaker’s eye and thus held forth, in mingled appeal, warning, and

“It is impossible to contemplate without feelings of the most afflictive
nature the probable success of the Bill now before the House. I am
sensible that I can hardly do justice by any words of mine to the
apprehensions which not only I myself personally feel upon the vital
question, but to those which are felt by every individual in the kingdom
who has given this very important subject the smallest share of his
consideration. I am free to say, Sir, and I say it with the greater
freedom, because I know that the erection of a bridge over the river
Thames at Putney will not only injure the great and important city which
I have the honour to represent, not only jeopardise it, not only destroy
its correspondence and commerce, but actually annihilate it altogether.”

It might be thought that this ludicrous extravagance of language would
have aroused derisive laughter; but no, the House appears to have taken
him seriously, for, “Hear, hears” are reported at this stage. Apparently
fortified by them, he continued in the same strain:

“I repeat, in all possible seriousness, that it will question the very
existence of the metropolis; and I have no hesitation in declaring
that, next to pulling down the whole borough of Southwark, nothing can
destroy more certainly than building this proposed bridge at Putney.
(Hear, hear.) Allow me, Sir, to ask, and I do so with the more confidence
because the answer is evident and clear, How will London be supplied
with fuel, with grain, or with hay if this bridge is built? All the
correspondences westward will be at one blow destroyed. I repeat this
fact boldly, because, as I said before, it is incontrovertible. As a
member of this honourable House, I should not venture to speak thus
authoritatively unless I had the best possible ground to go upon, and I
state, without the least fear of contradiction, that the water at Putney
is shallow at ebb, and assuming, as I do, that the correspondences of
London require free passage at all times, and knowing, as I do, that if
a bridge be built there not even the common wherries will be able to
pass the river at low water, I do say that I think the Bill one which
only tends to promote a wild and silly scheme, likely to advantage a few
speculators, but highly unreasonable and unjust in its character and
provisions; because independently of the ruin of the City of London,
which I consider inevitable in the event of its success, it will effect
an entire change in the position and affairs of the watermen—a change
which I have no hesitation in saying will most seriously affect the
interests of His Majesty’s Government, and not only the interests of the
Government, but those of the nation at large.”

Mr. Jones was followed by a member arguing with almost equal extravagance
and vehemence in favour of the proposed bridge. It appeared to him
that, if built, it “could not fail to be of the greatest utility and
convenience to the whole British nation.”

Then presently arose Sir William Thompson, who considered this project
“romantic and visionary.” He added, “If a bridge be built at Putney,
London Bridge may as well be pulled down. (Hear, hear!) Yes, Sir, I
repeat it—because this bridge, which seems to be a favourite scheme
of some honourable gentleman whom I have in my eye—if this bridge be
permitted, the rents necessary to the maintenance of London Bridge will
be annihilated; and therefore, as I said before, the bridge itself must
eventually be annihilated also. But, Sir, this is not all. I speak
affectionately of the City of London, and I hope I shall never be
forgetful of its interests (‘Hear, hear,’ from Mr. Jones); but I take
up the question on much more liberal principles, and assume a higher
ground, and I will maintain it. Sir, London is circumscribed—I mean the
City of London. There are walls, gates, and boundaries, the which no
man can increase or extend; those limits were set by the wisdom of our
ancestors, and God forbid they should be altered. But, Sir, though these
landmarks can never be removed—I say, _never_, for I have no hesitation
in stating that when the walls of London shall no longer be visible and
Ludgate is demolished, England itself shall be as nothing; yet it is in
the power of speculative theorists to delude the minds of the people
with visionary projects of increasing the skirts of the City so that it
may even join Westminster. When that is the case, Sir, the skirts will
be too big for our habits; the head will grow too big for the body, and
the members will get too weak to support the constitution. But what
of this? say honourable gentlemen; what have we to do to consider the
policy of increasing the town while we are only debating a question about
Putney Bridge? To which I answer, Look at the effects _generally_ of the
important step you are about to sanction: ask me to define those effects
_particularly_, and I will descend to the minutiæ of the mischief you
appear prone to commit. Sir, I, like my honourable friend the Member for
the City of London, have taken opinions of scientific men, and I declare
it to be their positive conviction, and mine, that if the fatal bridge
(I can find no other suitable word) be built, not only will quicksands
and shelves be created throughout the whole course of the river, but the
western barges will be laid up high and dry at Teddington, while not a
ship belonging to us will ever get nearer London than Woolwich. Thus,
not only your own markets, but your Custom House, will be nullified;
and not only the whole mercantile navy of the country be absolutely
destroyed, but several west-country bargemen actually thrown out of
employ. I declare to God, Sir, that I have no feeling on the subject but
that of devotion to my country, and I shall most decidedly oppose the
Bill in all its stages.”

All this reads sufficiently absurdly nowadays, but it is surpassed in
curious interest by the remarks added by a Mr. Boscawen, who, after
declaring that, before he had come down to the House he could not
understand what possible reason there could be for building a bridge at
Putney, went on to say that “now he had heard the reasons of honourable
gentlemen, he was equally at a loss to account for them.”

And then, with concentrated satire, he proceeded: “If there were any
advantage derivable from a bridge at Putney, perhaps some gentleman would
find that a bridge at Westminster would be a convenience.”

It should be remembered here that the first bridge at Westminster was
not opened until 1750. Until that date there was not any bridge between
London Bridge and Putney. Hence the true inwardness of the sarcasm in Mr.
Boscawen’s remarks already quoted, and of those now about to be set forth.

Thus he continued: “Other honourable gentlemen might dream that a bridge
from the end of Fleet Market into the fields on the opposite side of the
water would be a fine speculation; or who knew but at last it might
be proposed to arch over the river altogether and build a couple more
bridges; one from the Palace at Somerset House into the Surrey marshes,
and another from the front of Guildhall into Southwark (great laughter).
Perhaps some honourable gentlemen who are interested in such matters
would get up in their places and propose that one or two of these bridges
should be built of iron. (Shouts of laughter.) For his part, if this
Bill passed, he would move for leave to bring in half a dozen more Bills
for building bridges at Chelsea, and at Hammersmith, and at Marble Hall
Stairs, and at Brentford, and at fifty other places besides.”

Bridges at all those places have long since been built, and, of course,
many of them in iron; so the foolishness of one generation becomes the
sober commonplace fact of the next.

The bridge thus hotly debated and rejected and at last permitted to
be built, was eventually begun in 1729. It was wholly a commercial
speculation. The Company interested in it had at the beginning to satisfy
the claims of the Duchess Dowager of Marlborough, Lady of the Manor of
Wimbledon, and of the Bishop of London, Lord of the Manor of Fulham,
for the extinction of their respective rights in the ancient ferry. The
Duchess received £364 10_s._, and the Bishop the meagre amount of £23.
The three tenants of the ferry, however, received altogether as much as
£8,000; and at the same time the Bridge Act provided for £62 per annum to
be paid by the Company, in perpetuity, to the churchwardens of Putney and
Fulham; to be divided between the watermen, their widows and children,
for the loss of the Sunday ferry.

On November 27, 1729, the bridge was fully opened. The cost was
remarkably small. Including Parliamentary expenses and the amounts paid
to persons interested in the ferry, it totalled only £23,084 14_s._ 1_d._
The old building, narrow, and patched, and crazy-looking, but strong
enough to have stood for many more long years, remained to the last in
all essentials the bridge of 1729. It had twenty-nine openings, and at
the top of the cut-waters of every pier a sanctuary for foot-passengers
to step into when wheeled traffic occupied the narrow road. The modest
sum of one halfpenny freed the pedestrian, except on Sunday, when the
discouragement to gadding about on the Sabbath was a doubled toll. In
1880 the Metropolitan Board of Works purchased the bridge for £58,000,
and on June 26 of the same year it was declared free of toll. The last
chapter of its long story was concluded on May 29, 1886, when, upon the
opening of the new bridge, it was closed.


Putney Bridge is found sometimes referred to as “Fulham” Bridge,
but those references are few, and there has never been any general
disposition to style it other than the name it bears by common usage.
Yet it is as much Fulham Bridge as Putney. The present costly structure,
built at such great expense in 1886, is already of insufficient width
for conveniently carrying the great press of traffic that now uses it,
especially since electric tramways have been laid across. The cynical
indifference to the comfort and even the safety of other users of the
road often displayed by public bodies and by the engineers who lay
tram-rails, is shown markedly here, where the London County Council’s
lines run for a considerable distance within two feet of the kerb. It is
already so evident that the width of the bridge is insufficient that the
ordinary observer would not be surprised to find the necessary widening
works soon begun.

Fulham Church was rebuilt in 1881, and only the ancient tower of
the former building remains. It is in the Perpendicular style of
architecture, of a quite common type, and greatly resembles in general
style that of Putney Church, at the other end of the bridge; but is on a
much larger scale. It contains a peal of ten bells, of which the Fulham
people used to be very proud, but an inordinate fondness for ringing them
in crashing peals has destroyed any liking; and, in any case, Fulham of
to-day, as a part of London, has lost that sense of individuality which
used to take a proud interest in local possessions.

The interior of the church, which has weathered so greatly in the few
years of its existence that it resembles an ancient building, is rich
in monuments, but at one time possessed many more. The oldest is a
lozenge-shaped Flemish brass dated 1529 to one Margaret Svanders, with a
curious head-and-shoulders representation of the lady herself; but the
oddest of all the memorials here is that to John, Viscount Mordaunt,
including a statue of that nobleman, rather larger than life-size,
in white marble. It has now been banished to the tower, from the
prominent position it formerly occupied in the south aisle, and is not
a little startling, seen suddenly and unexpectedly in a half light. The
weird-looking figure is like that of a lunatic policeman standing on a
dining-room table in his socks, and pretending to direct the traffic,
with a sheet wound partly round his nakedness, and something like a
rolling-pin in his hand.

It stands on a raised slab of polished black marble, with a black
background throwing it into further relief. This extraordinary effigy was
sculptured by Bird, author of the original statue of Queen Anne in front
of St. Paul’s Cathedral, of which an exact replica by Richard Belt now
occupies the same spot.

The mad-policeman idea is due, of course, to the sculptor having chosen
to represent that distinguished nobleman as a Roman, with a truncheon,
which he is seen to be wielding with a mock-heroic gesture. The truncheon
typifies the official position he held as Constable of Windsor Castle.

Lord Mordaunt was a younger son of the first Earl of Peterborough.
Born in 1627, he was active among the younger Royalists, and figured
at last in the restoration of Charles the Second, who created him
Viscount Aviland, a title which seems to have been somewhat thrust into
the background. He died of a fever in 1675, and appears to have led an
active and an honourable life, which ought to have excused him from this
posthumous grotesquery. The whole monument is indeed a prominent example
of the fantastic taste of its period, and is set about with marble
pedestals bearing epitaph and family genealogy, and sculptured gauntlets
and coronets.

A number of very distinguished personages lie in the great churchyard.
Prominent among the later monuments, as you enter along Church
Row and past the Powell almshouses, is that of the fifth and last
Viscount Ranelagh and Baron Jones, who died November 13, 1885, in his
seventy-third year. There are still very many who well recollect the
distinguished-looking figure of Lord Ranelagh: a tall, slim, bearded man,
with his hair brushed in front of his ears in an old-world style, a silk
hat rakishly poised at an angle, a tightly buttoned frock-coat, in which
always appeared a scarlet geranium, throughout the year, and light-tinted
trousers. He gave the general impression of one who had seen life in
circles where it is lived rapidly; and to this his broken nose, which
he had acquired in thrashing a coal-heaver who had been rude to him in
the street, picturesquely contributed. He looked in some degree like a
survival from the fast-living age of the Regency, although, as a matter
of fact, he was born only when that riotous period was nearly over. The
very title “Ranelagh” has something of a reckless, derring-do sound. He
was one of the early Volunteers, and raised the Second (South) Middlesex
corps, of which he remained colonel until his death. The military
funeral given him by his men would have been of a much more imposing,
and even national, character, befitting the important part he took in
the Volunteer movement, had it not been that a general election was in
progress at the time. At such times the military and auxiliary forces are
by old statutes not allowed to assemble. The theory is the old one of
possible armed interference with the free choice of electors.

Numerous monuments to long-dead and forgotten Bishops of London are
found here. A group of them, eight in number, chiefly of the eighteenth
century, is found to the east of the church. They are a grim and
forbidding company. Amid them is found the meagre headstone and concise
inscription to a humorist of considerable renown: “Theodore Edward Hook,
died 24th August, 1841, in the 53rd year of his age.” Efforts to provide
a better monument have failed to secure support. Perhaps it is thought by
those who withhold their subscriptions that the reading his books is the
best memorial an author can be given.


Immediately to the west of the church extend the grounds of Fulham
Palace, which run for some distance alongside the river, where a strip
has been modernised and provided with an embankment wall, and opened to
the public as the “Bishop’s Park”; Fulham Palace and its wide-spreading
lands forming the “country seat” of the Bishops of London, whose “town
house” is in St. James’s Square. The Bishops of London have held their
manor of Fulham continuously for about nine centuries, and are said
in this respect to be the oldest landed proprietors in England. Here
they have generally maintained a considerable degree of state and
secluded dignity, hidden among the luxuriant trees and enclosed within
the dark embrace of a sullen moat, which to this day encircles their
demesne, as it probably has done since the time when a body of invading
Danes wintered here in A.D. 880-1. This much-overgrown moat is a mile
round, and, together with the surrounding ancient muddy conditions
which were remarkable enough to have given Fulham its original name of
the “foul home,” or miry settlement, must have proved a very thorough
discouragement to visitors, both welcome and unwelcome.

Fulham Palace does not look palatial, and its parts are very dissimilar.
The two principal fronts of the roughly quadrangular mass of buildings
face east and west. That to the east was built by Bishop Howley in 1815,
and has the appearance of the usual modest country mansion of that
period; while the west front, which is the oldest part of the Palace,
and dates from 1502-1522, when the then dilapidated older buildings were
cleared away, is equally typical of the less pretentious country-houses
of the age. It was Bishop Fitzjames who rebuilt this side, and his
approach gateway and the tower by which the Palace is generally entered,
remain very much the same as he left them. A modest, reverend dignity of
old red brick, patterned, after the olden way, with lozenges of black,
pervades this courtyard, upon which the simply framed windows still look,
unaltered. The sculptured stone arms under the clock upon the tower are
those of Bishop Juxon, more than a century later than the date of these
buildings, and have no connection with the position given them here in
modern times.

The Great Hall is immediately to the left of this entrance. It is in many
ways the most important apartment in Fulham Palace. Here, while it was
yet a new building, the ferocious Roman Catholic Bishop Bonner sometimes
sat to examine heretics, while on other occasions they would appear to
have been questioned in the old chapel, a structure that seems to have
been situated in the eastern, rebuilt, portion of the groups of offices.
The boldness of those sturdy men, many of whom became martyrs and
confessors for righteousness’ sake, reads amazingly. They were brought
here in custody to the enemy’s own precincts, and questioned for their
lives, with preliminary tastes, in the shape of burning on the hands, of
greater torments to come if their answers were deemed unsatisfactory. Yet
we do not find that they often faltered. On September 10, 1557, there
were brought before Bonner, in his private chapel here, Ralph Allerton
and three other religious suspects. To one of these Bonner propounded the
singular question, “Did he know where he was?” The answer came swiftly,
“In an idol’s temple.” This was bold indeed, but awfully injudicious,
according to modern ideas. But expediency and time-serving were cast
aside then, and men were earnest though they died for it. I do not know
what happened to the person who made that bitter repartee, but I suspect
he suffered for it.


In the Great Hall occasionally used by Bonner in his examination of those
who were not of his way of thinking in religious matters, Thomas Tomkins
had his hand burned over the flame of a candle. He perished at Smithfield
in February 1555.

This hall, after various changes, was converted into a domestic chapel
by Bishop Howley, who had demolished the old chapel in the course of his
rebuilding works. And so it remained until Bishop Tait had completed
his modern chapel, in 1867; when it became again the Hall, and the
marble flooring in black and white squares, with which it was paved, was
replaced by oak.

Among the several changes that followed upon Bishop Howley’s rebuilding
of a portion of the Palace was that by which the old dining-parlour was
converted into a kitchen. In the time when Beilby Porteous was Bishop of
London, 1787-1809, there hung over the mantelpiece an object that aroused
the curiosity of all the Bishop’s visitors; not because they did not know
what it was—for it was nothing more than a whetstone, a sufficiently
common object outside the dining-room of a Bishop—but because they could
not understand its being here. And when the Bishop further mystified his
guests by telling them it had been given to him on one of his journeys
as a prize for being an accomplished liar, they gave up wondering, and
waited for the story obviously belonging to it.

The particular journey on which he accomplished these supposed prodigious
feats of lying and prize-winning took him to Coggeshall, in Essex, which
appears at that time to have rejoiced in the possession of a “Liars’
Club.” The tale is well told in the old _New Quarterly Magazine_: “There
is a story that Bishop Porteous once stopped in this town to change
horses, and, observing a great crowd in the streets, put his head out
of the window to inquire the cause. A townsman standing near by replied
that it was the day upon which they gave the whetstone to the biggest
liar. Shocked at such depravity, the good Bishop proceeded to the scene
of the competition, and lectured the crowd upon the enormity of the sin,
concluding his discourse with the emphatic words: ‘I never told a lie
in my life,’ whereupon the chief umpire exchanged a few words with his
fellows, and, approaching the carriage, said: ‘My Lord, we unanimously
adjudge you the prize,’ and forthwith the highly objectionable whetstone
was thrust in at the carriage window.”

This inimical article in course of time disappeared from these walls,
later Bishops being less appreciative of the peculiar humour of
the situation, or perhaps feeling themselves to be unworthy of the
exceptional honour; for, after all, if Bishop Porteous “never told a lie
in his life,” surely he must have ranked with the only other personage
reputed to have been naturally truthful, George Washington. But it is
to be remarked that we have these statements from suspect sources—from
the personages themselves. The Bishop said he had never done such a
thing, and Washington as a boy declared he “could not.” Now, it has
been declared on eminent authority which no one will care to dispute
that “all men are liars,” and it would seem, therefore, that these two
were superhuman. They were not, on account of that alleged natural
truthfulness, one whit the better than their fellow-men, for there is
more joy in one sinner that sees the error of his ways and repents than
in a hundred just men.

On the north side of the old courtyard are the rooms especially
associated, according to tradition, with Bonner, whose ghost is said to
haunt the corridors and the apartment still known as his bedroom. This
part of the Palace is appropriately dark, and the passages narrow. These
rooms are now occupied by the servants, as also are those on two other
sides of the quadrangle, generally known as Bishop Laud’s rooms. Until
a few years ago—and perhaps even yet—the servants were wakened in the
morning by a man known as the “knocker-up,” who went round the courtyard
with a long wand, and tapped sharply with it at the upper windows.

In these days of pageants, the picturesque wooded grounds of Fulham
Palace have witnessed some striking reconstructions of the brave and the
terrible days of old. There was, for example, the Church Pageant, in
which numbers of participants enjoyed themselves immensely as in a long
bout of private theatricals, all in aid of some deserving charity. The
charity did not, it would appear, benefit after all, for those doings
resulted in a deficit, and a Military Pageant was held the following year
to make up the loss. What was done to abolish the loss that probably
resulted from this is not within my knowledge.

The Bishops of London, or the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, are now
making some profit by letting or selling land for building upon, around
the outskirts of the park. If any kind friend can help an overburdened
Bishop who cannot without difficulty make two ends meet, let him remember
the occupant of Fulham Palace. His bitter cry has appeared in the
newspapers, so that there can be no breach of delicacy in mentioning the
subject here.

Not the least of his burdens is the large sum it is necessary to
disburse before he can finally style himself “London.” Thus, the
Reverend Winnington Ingram, when installed Bishop of London, found his
accession to the Episcopal Bench and his coming to Fulham Palace a little
expensive. Other newly made Bishops had ever found the like, but they had
never before taken the public into their confidence, nor raised a howl of
despair at the fees customarily payable by new-made Right Reverend Father
in God. But this is an age of publicity, in which very few unexplored
or secret corners survive; and Dr. Ingram is essentially at one with an
epoch which has produced General Booth and the Reverend Wilson Carlile.
We should, however, be grateful for this, for by favour of it we learn
some curious ecclesiastical details that beset those unhappy enough to
have obtained high preferment in the Church.


Thus, on filling up a vacancy on the Bench of Bishops, the first step,
it seems, is that taken by the Crown Office, which confers upon Dean
and Chapter the Sovereign’s _congé d’élire_, or leave to elect; not, be
it said, the leave to elect whom they please, but permission to elect
whomsoever it shall please the Sovereign (or the Prime Minister at the
head of the Government at the time in power) to select, in place of the
right reverend prelate recently gathered to Abraham’s bosom. The warrant
for this humorous “leave” to elect is paid for by the Bishop who is
presently elected. It costs £10, and is but the first of a series of
complicated costs that come out of his pocket, and in the end total £423
19_s._ 2_d._

The initial warrant is followed by a certificate, costing £16 10_s._, and
that by letters patent, costing another £30, with 2_s._ for the “docquet.”

So far, your Bishop is only partly made. He is “elected by Dean and
Chapter.” Thereupon, through the Crown Office, the assent of the
Sovereign to the choice himself has made through his Prime Minister, is
graciously signified, and the original costs are reimposed, plus 10_s._
The chapter-clerk of the Bishop’s own cathedral then requests fees
totalling £21 6_s._ 8_d._

A technical form of procedure, known as “restitution of temporalities,”
has then to be enacted, not without its attendant fees, which include
£10 for a warrant, £31 10_s._ 6_d._ for a certificate, £30 for letters
patent, and 2_s._ for another “docquet.”

Next comes the Home Office, clamouring for Exchequer fees: £7 13_s._
6_d._ for the original _congé d’élire_, and the like for letters
recommendatory, Royal assent, and restitution of temporalities. The oath
of homage costs £6 6_s._ 6_d._

The new Bishop has then to reckon with the Board of Green Cloth, with
its homage fees to the Earl Marshal and the heralds, totalling £15 0_s._

Your Bishop is not yet, however, out of the wood of expenditure. When he
takes his seat in the House of Lords the Lord Great Chamberlain’s Office
wants £5—and gets it. When he is enthroned the precentor pockets £10
10_s._, and the chapter-clerk £9 14_s._ 8_d._, the bell-ringers of the
Cathedral ring a merry peal—fee £10 10_s._ The choir then chorify at a
further expense of £6 17_s._ 4_d._

Have we now done? Not at all. The clerk of the Crown Office is tipped
half a guinea, plus two guineas for “petty expenses”; and takes £14 when
the Bishop takes his place among his brethren in the House of Lords.

When all these various officers of Church and State are busily picking
the new Bishop’s pockets, in advance of their being filled, as an
Irishman might say, the Archbishop himself is not behindhand. His turn
comes when the archiepiscopal fees for confirmation are demanded; and
they are heavy, costing in all £68 4_s._ 10_d._ These imposts are
made up of the following items: Secretary, with Archbishop’s fiat for
confirmation, £17 10_s._, Vicar-General, £31 0_s._ 10_d._, fees at
church where confirmation is made, £10 5_s._, and to Deputy Registrar,
for mandate of induction, £9 9_s._ To the Bishop’s own secretaries a
sum of £36 5_s._ is then payable. The Bishop may then, surveying these
devastations, at last consider himself elected, and in every way complete.

Let us hope that although the spreading tentacles of London town have
enfolded Fulham and abolished its old market-gardens and numerous stately
mansions in favour of commonplace streets, the evident episcopal wish to
be rid of Fulham Palace will not lead to it being alienated. It remains
one of the very few things that connect this now populous suburb with the
village that many still remember; and the romantic-looking moat, often
threatened to be filled up, is a relic of remote antiquity it would be
vandalism to destroy. “No one,” as Sir Arthur Blomfield remarked in 1856,
“could say that the Bishops of London had constructed that defence. We
may well hesitate to believe that any prelate, however rich and powerful,
would have in any age undertaken to dig round his house a moat of such
extent that, if intended as a means of defence, it would require a very
large force to render it effective; still less can we believe that it
was ever dug with any other object than that of defence.” The Danes
constructed it, and the bishops found it here when they came. It is fed
by a sluice communicating with the river, and was until recent times a
stagnant, malodorous place, owing to the sluice being rarely raised, the
ditch cleansed, or the water changed. On the rare occasions when the mud
was cleared away, the cost varied from £100 to £150, owing to the great
accumulation of it. Those were the times when lilies grew in the moat.
The Fulham people called them “Bishops’ wigs.” In 1886 the then Bishop of
London received a communication from the Fulham Vestry, requiring him to
fill up the evil-smelling moat, or to cleanse it. He had it cleaned out,
and it looks no less a place of romance than before. It is too greatly
overgrown with trees and brushwood to make a picture for illustration,
but while it lasts, with the woodland park it encloses, Fulham will still
keep some vestige of its olden condition of a Thames-side village.


    Abingdon, i. 159, 216-33

    Ashton Keynes, i. 22-30

    Augustine, St., i. 47

    Bablockhythe, i. 161

    Bampton, i. 121-4

    Barnes, ii. 253-8

    Basildon, i. 295

    Benson, i. 268

    Besselsleigh, i. 157-60

    Beverley Brook, ii. 258

    Binsey, i. 190-92

    Bisham, ii. 45-50, 201

    Bourne End, ii. 56

    Boveney, ii. 109

    Bray, ii. 69-81

    Brentford, ii. 220-36

    Brightwell, i. 268

    ⸺ Salome, i. 268

    Buckland, i. 118-21

    Burford, i. 105-7

    “Burlington,” ii. 251

    Burnham Abbey, ii. 105

    Buscot, i. 89-92

    Cæsar, Julius, ii. 157, 221-9

    Cambridge, H.R.H. Duke of, ii. 64

    Carfax Conduit, i. 215

    Castle Eaton, i. 50-58

    Caversham, i. 304-7

    Chamey Brook, i. 124

    Chertsey, ii. 150, 161, 201

    Chiswick, ii. 245-53

    Cholsey, i. 293

    Churn, River, i. 17-19, 45, 94

    Cirencester, i. 9-13, 18

    Clanfield, i. 107-9

    Clewer, ii. 110

    Clifton Hampden, i. 247, 252-6

    Cliveden, ii. 60-64

    Coln, River, i. 66, 73, 74

    Colne, River, ii. 141

    Cookham, ii. 59

    Cote, i. 124-7

    Coway Stakes, ii. 157-65, 221

    Cricklade, i. 30-46, 69

    Crowmarsh Gifford, i. 283

    Cumnor, i. 161-85

    Damer, Anne Seymour, ii. 25

    Datchet, ii. 131

    Day’s Lock, i. 256, 259

    Dorchester, i. 259-68

    Dorney, ii. 86-105

    Down Ampney, i. 47

    Dudley, Robert, Earl of Leicester, i. 171-85

    Eaton Weir, i. 92

    Eisey Chapel, i. 50

    Eton, ii. 115-19

    Ewen, i. 21

    Eynsham, i. 186-9

    Fairford, i. 66, 73-85

    “Fair Rosamond,” i. 193-6

    Faringdon, i. 102, 110-17

    Folly Bridge, i. 197-9

    Fulham, ii. 259, 273-92

    ⸺ Palace, ii. 276-92

    Gathampton, i. 290

    Gaunt’s House, i. 141-5

    Godstow, i. 193-6

    Goring, i. 284-90

    Great Faringdon, i. 102, 110-17

    ⸺ Marlow, ii. 51-6

    Grove Park, ii. 245

    Halliford, ii. 158

    Ham, ii. 185

    Hamble, River, ii. 30

    Hambleden, ii. 30-4

    Harcourt family, The, i. 146-9, 155, 186; ii. 136

    Harcourt, Sir William, i. 207, 212

    Hart’s Weir, i. 92

    Hell-Fire Club, The, ii. 34-8

    Henley, ii. 22-30

    Hennerton Backwater, ii. 22

    Hoby, Lady, ii. 49

    Horton, ii. 137-41

    Hurley, ii. 41-5

    Hurst, ii. 8-10

    Iffley, i. 200-7

    ⸺ Mill, i. 22, 203

    Inglesham, i. 64-6

    ⸺ Round House, i. 64-6

    Isis, River, i. 16, 69; ii. 5

    Isleworth, ii. 210-20

    Jesus Hospital, ii. 81

    Kederminster family, The, ii. 120-8

    Kelmscott, i. 66, 93

    Kemble, i. 19-21

    Kempsford, i. 58-64, 91-8

    Kew, ii. 237

    Kew Gardens, ii. 220, 230, 237

    Kit’s Quarries, i. 106

    Laleham, ii. 145-9, 162

    Langley Marish, ii. 119-28

    Latton, i. 47

    Leach, River, i. 66, 94

    Lechlade, i. 66-73, 85

    “Lertoll Well,” i. 47-9

    Leslie, G. D., R.A., ii. 64

    Little Wittenham, i. 247, 251

    Littleton, ii. 149

    Loddon, River, ii. 7, 17

    Long Wittenham, i. 241, 251

    Maidenhead, ii. 64-8

    Mapledurham, i. 300-4

    Marlow, ii. 51-6

    Marsh Lock, ii. 25

    Medley, i. 190, 196

    Medmenham, ii. 34-8

    Milton, John, ii. 137-41

    Mongewell, i. 268, 283

    Morris, William, i. 94-8

    Mortlake, ii. 253

    Moulsford, i. 293

    New Bridge, i. 138-41

    Newnham Murren, i. 283

    Norreys family, The, ii. 82-5

    North Stoke, i. 283

    Northmoor, i. 124, 145

    Nuneham Courtney, i. 207-15

    Oaklade Bridge, i. 29, 94

    Oatlands, ii. 161, 167

    Ockwells, ii. 82-6

    “Old England,” ii. 225

    “Old Man’s Bridge,” i. 117

    Old Windsor, ii. 131

    Osiers, i. 132-6

    Palmer family, The, ii. 89-105

    Pangbourne, i. 5; ii. 296-9

    Patrick Stream, The, ii. 17

    Penton Hook, ii. 150

    Petersham, ii. 185-211

    Pope, Alexander, i. 151, 304

    Purley, i. 307-11

    Putney, ii. 259-63

    ⸺ Bridge, ii. 263-73

    Pye, Henry James, Poet Laureate, i. 113-15

    Radcot Bridge, i. 101-7, 117

    Ray, River, i. 50

    Reading, i. 304, 307; ii. 1

    Richmond, ii. 193, 209, 210, 237

    Robsart, Amy, i. 172-85

    Runnymede, ii. 132

    Ruscombe, ii. 11

    Rushes, i. 137

    Rushey Lock, i. 118

    St. Augustine, i. 47

    St. Frideswide, i. 190, 192

    St. John’s Lock, i. 89

    St. Lawrence Waltham, ii. 11

    Seacourt, i. 190

    Seven Springs, i. 17

    Shelley, Percy Bysshe, ii. 55

    Shepperton, ii. 154, 158, 162

    Shifford, i. 127

    Shillingford, i. 268

    Shiplake, ii. 17

    ⸺ Mill, i. 25

    Shottesbrooke, ii. 11-17

    Sinodun, i. 247-251, 256

    Smith, Rt. Hon. W. H., ii. 30

    Somerford Keynes, i. 21

    Sonning, ii. 1-7, 10

    Sotwell, i. 268

    South Stoke, i. 283

    Staines, ii. 141, 145

    Standlake, i. 141

    Stanton Harcourt, i. 146-56

    Stanwell, ii. 142-5

    Steventon, i. 234

    Strand-on-the-Green, ii. 238-45

    Streatley, i. 290-5

    Sutton Courtney, i. 234-41

    Swillbrook, The, i. 29, 94

    Swinford Bridge, i. 186

    Tadpole Bridge, i. 118, 121

    Thame, River, i. 16

    Thames and Severn Canal, i. 14, 45, 59, 64

    Thames Head, i. 8, 14-18

    Thames, River, i. 16-18; ii. 25

    “Torpids,” i. 199

    Trewsbury Mead, i. 15

    Turnham Green, ii. 246-8

    Twickenham, ii. 178

    Twyford, ii. 8

    Upper Somerford Mill, i. 21

    Vicar of Bray, ii. 69-77

    Villiers, Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland, ii. 101-5

    Walker, Frederick, ii. 45, 59

    Wallingford, i. 272

    Walton, ii. 158, 161, 165

    Warborough, i. 268-83

    Wargrave, ii. 18-22

    Water Eaton, i. 50-3

    Water Hay, i. 29

    Wey, River, ii. 154

    Weybridge, ii. 150-4, 161

    Whitchurch, i. 5; ii. 290

    Willows, i. 128-32

    Windrush, River, i. 141

    Windsor, ii. 110-15

    Wittenham, Little, i. 247, 251

    ⸺ Long, i. 241, 251

    Wraysbury, ii. 135-7

    Wye, River, ii. 59

    Wytham, i. 166, 186-90

_Printed and bound by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury._

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