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Thames Valley Villages - Both Volumes — £ 7.99

Go to the eBook Shop A huge two-volume illustrated guide and 600 page tour round the villages in the Thames valley by travel writer and cyclist Charles G. Harper. Over 150 drawings and photographs of the most picturesque and interesting places and buildings.

Written in his characteristically honest and knowledgeable style he describes the history, notable events and best bits to visit, as he found them in 1910.

These eBook versions contain the entire text and all the illustrations. Too big to be combined in one book, buy either volume individually for £4.99 each, or both at the same time for £7.99.

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Here is the list of all the places mentioned.

Abingdon, Ashton Keynes, Bablockhythe, Bampton, Barnes, Basildon, Benson, Besselsleigh, Binsey, Bisham, Bourne End, Boveney, Bray, Brentford, Brightwell, Buckland, Burford, Burlington, Buscot, Castle Eaton, Caversham, Charney Brook, Chertsey, Chiswick, Cholsey, Cirencester, Clanfield, Clewer, Clifton Hampden, Cliveden, Cookham, Cote, Cricklade, Crowmarsh Gifford, Cumnor, Datchet, Day's Lock, Dorchester, Dorney, Down Ampney, Eaton Weir, Eisey Chapel, Eton, Ewen, Eynsham, Fairford, Faringdon, Folly Bridge, Fulham, Gathampton, Godstow, Goring, Great Faringdon, Great Marlow, Grove Park, Halliford, Ham, Hambleden, Henley, Hennerton Backwater, Horton, Hurley, Hurst, Iffley, Inglesham, Isleworth, Kelmscott, Kemble, Kempsford, Kew, Laleham, Langley Marish, Latton, Lechlade, Little Wittenham, Littleton, Long Wittenham, Maidenhead, Mapledurham, Marlow, Marsh Lock, Medley, Medmenham, Mongewell, Mortlake, Moulsford, Newnham Murren, North Stoke, Northmoor, Nuneham Courtney, Oatlands, Ockwells, Old Man's Bridge, Old Windsor, Pangbourne, Penton Hook, Petersham, Purley, Putney, Reading, Richmond, Runnymede, Ruscombe, Rushes, Rushey Lock, Seacourt, Seven Springs, Shepperton, Shifford, Shillingford, Shiplake, Shottesbrooke, Sinodun, Somerford Keynes, Sonning, Sotwell, South Stoke, Staines, Standlake, Stanton Harcourt, Stanwell, Steventon, Strand-on-the-Green, Streatley, Sutton Courtney, Trewsbury Mead, Turnham Green, Twickenham, Twyford, Upper Somerford, Wallingford and Walton.

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Contents - Volume One

Chapter I
Cirencester – Source of the Thames – Kemble – Ashton Keynes – Cricklade – St. Augustine’s Well
Chapter II
Castle Eaton – Kempsford – By the Thames and Severn Canal to Inglesham Round House – Lechlade – Fairford – Eaton Hastings Weir – Kelmscott – Radcot Bridge
Chapter III
Great Faringdon – Buckland – Bampton-in-the-Bush – Cote – Shifford
Chapter IV
Harvests of the Thames: Willows, Osiers, Rushes
Chapter V
New Bridge, The Oldest on the Thames – Standlake – Gaunt’s House – Northmoor – Stanton Harcourt – Besselsleigh
Chapter VI
Cumnor, and the Tragedy of Amy Robsart
Chapter VII
Wytham – The Old Road – Binsey and the Oratory of St. Frideswide – The Vanished Village of Seacourt – Godstow and “Fair Rosamond” – Medley – Folly Bridge
Chapter VIII
Iffley, and the Way Thither – Nuneham, in Storm and in Sunshine
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Sutton Courtney – Long Wittenham – Little Wittenham – Clifton Hampden – Day’s Lock and Sinodun
Chapter XI
Dorchester – Benson
Chapter XII
Wallingford – Goring
Chapter XIII
Streatley – Basildon – Pangbourne – Mapledurham – Purley

Contents - Volume Two

Chapter I
Sonning – Hurst, “In the County of Wilts” – Shottesbrooke – Wargrave
Chapter II
Henley – The Bridge and its Keystone-Masks – Remenham – Hambleden – Medmenham Abbey and The “Hell Fire Club” – Hurley – Bisham
Chapter III
Great Marlow – Cookham – Cliveden and its Owners – Maidenhead
Chapter IV
Bray and its Famous Vicar – Jesus Hospital
Chapter V
Ockwells Manor-House – Dorney Court – Boveney – Burnham Abbey
Chapter VI
Clewer – Windsor – Eton and its Collegians – Datchet Langley and the Kederminsters
Chapter VII
Datchet – Runnymede – Wraysbury – Horton and its Milton Associations – Staines Moor – Stanwell – Laleham and Matthew Arnold – Littleton Chertsey – Weybridge – Shepperton
Chapter VIII
Coway Stakes – Walton-on-Thames – The River and the Water Companies – Sunbury – Teddington – Twickenham
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Isleworth – Brentford and Cæsar’s Crossing of the Thames
Chapter XI
Strand-on-the-Green – Kew – Chiswick – Mortlake – Barnes
Chapter XII
Putney – Fulham Bridge – Fulham


     The Thames we all know intimately, for the river was discovered by the holiday-maker in the ’seventies of the nineteenth century; but we do not all know the villages of the Thames Valley, and it was partly to satisfy a long-cherished curiosity on this point, and partly to make holiday in some of the little-known nooks yet remaining, that this tour was undertaken. To one who lives, or exists, or resides – the reader is invited to choose his own epithet – beside the lower Thames, there must needs at times come a longing to know that upper stream whence these mighty waters originate, to find that fount where “Father Thames” starts forth in hesitating, infantile fashion; to seek that spot where the stream, instead of flowing, merely trickles. To such an one there comes, with every recurrent spring, the longing to penetrate to the Beyond, away past where the towns and villages, the water-works and breweries cluster thickly beside the river-banks; above the town of Reading, the Biscuit Town, and town of sauce and seeds; beyond the fashionable summer scene of Henley Regatta, and past the city of Oxford, to the Upper River and its unconventionalised life.
     When spring comes and wakes the meadows with delight, and the osiers and the rushes again feel life stirring in their dank roots, the old schoolboy feeling of curiosity, of mystery, of a desire for exploration, springs anew. You walk down, it may be, to some slipway or draw-dock by Richmond or Teddington, or wander along those shores contemplating the high-water-marks left by the late winter floods, which not even the elaborate locking of the river seems able to prevent; and observing the curious line of refuse of every description brought down by the waters, and now left, high and dry, a matted mass of broken rushes, water weeds, twigs, string and the like, marvel at the wealth of corks that displays itself there. Children have been known to make expedition towards the distant hills, seeking that place where the rainbow touches the ground; for the sly old legend tells us that on the spot where the glorious bow meets the earth there lies buried a crock of gold. An equally speculative quest would be to fare forth and seek the Place whence the Corks Come. There (not for children, but for “grown-ups”) should be, you think, the Land of Heart’s Desire.
     There are, I take it, three chief things that the world of men most ardently wishes for. An unregenerate man’s first desires are to wealth, to a woman, and to a drink; or, in the words attributed to Martin Luther:

Who loves not woman, wine, and song,
He is a fool his whole life long;

and the valley of the Thames, from Oxford to Richmond, would seem, by the evidence of these millions of corks of all kinds, to be a place flowing with champagne, light wines, all kinds of mineral waters, and bottled beers.
     Corks, rubber rings from broken mineral-water bottles, and big bungs that hint of two- or three-gallon jars, abound; these last telling in no uncertain manner of the magnificent thirsts inspired among anglers who sit in punts all day long, and do nothing but keep an eye on the float, and maintain the glass circulating.
     A thirsty person wandering by these bestrewn towing-paths must sigh to think of the exquisite drinks that have gone before, leaving in this multitude of corks the only evidence of their evanescent existence. Shall we not seek it, this land of the foaming champagne, that comes creaming to the brim of the generous glass; shall we not hope to locate those shores, far or near, where the bottled Bass, poured into the ready tumbler, tantalises the parched would-be drinker of it in the all-too-slowly-subsiding mass of froth that lies between him and his expectant palate? Shall we not, at least if we be of “temperance” leanings, quaff the cool and refreshing “stone-bottle” ginger-beer; or, failing that, the skimpy and deleterious “mineral-water” “lemonade” that is chiefly compounded of sugar and carbonic-acid gas, and blows painfully and at high-pressure through the titivated nostrils? Shall we not — but hold there! Waiter, bring me – what shall it be? – an iced stone-bottle ginger!
     That was the brave time, the golden age of the river, when, rather more than a generation ago, the discovery of the Thames as a holiday haunt was first made. The fine rapture of those early tourists, who, deserting the traditional seaside lounge for a cruise down along the placid bosom of the Thames, from Lechlade to Oxford, and from Oxford to Richmond, were (something after the Ancient Mariner sort) the first to burst into these hitherto unknown reaches, can never be recaptured. The bloom has been brushed from off the peach by the rude hands of crowds of later visitors. The waterside inns, once so simple under their heavy beetling eaves of thatch, are now modish, instead of modest; and Swiss and German waiters, clothed in deplorable reach-me-down dress-suits and lamentable English of the Whitechapel-atte-Bowe variety, have replaced the neat-handed – if heavy-footed – Phyllises, who were almost in the likeness of those who waited upon old Izaak Walton, two centuries and a quarter ago.
     To-day, along the margin of the Thames below Oxford, some expectant mercenary awaits at every slipway and landing-place the arrival of the frequent row-boat and the plenteous and easily-earned tip; and the lawns of riparian villas on either hand exhibit a monotonous repetition of “No Landing-Place,” “Private,” and “Trespassers Prosecuted” notices; while side-channels are not infrequently marked “Private Backwater.”
     All the villages immediately giving upon the stream have suffered an equally marked change, and have become uncharacteristic of their old selves, and converted into the likeness of no other villages in this our England, in these our times. There is, for example, a kind of theatrical prettiness and pettiness about Whitchurch, over against Pangbourne; and instead of looking upon it as a real, living three-hundred-and-sixty-five-days-in-the-year kind of place, you are apt to think of what a pretty “set” it makes; and, doing so, to speak of its bearings in other than the usual geographical terms of east and west, north and south; and to refer to them, indeed, after the fashion of the stage, as “P.” or “O.P.” sides.
     But if we find at Whitchurch a meticulous neatness, a compact and small-scale prettiness eminently theatrical, what shall we say of its neighbour, Pangbourne, on the Berkshire bank of the river? That is of the other modern riverain type: an old village spoiled by the expansion that comes of being situated on a beautiful reach of the Thames, and with a railway station in its very midst. Detestable so-styled “villas” and that kind of shops you find nowhere else than in these Thames-side spots, have wrought Pangbourne into something new and strange; and motor-cars have put the final touch of sacrilege upon it.
     Perhaps you would like to know of what type the typical Thames-side village shop may be, nowadays? Nothing easier than to draw its portrait in few words. It is, to begin with, inevitably a “Stores,” and is obviously stocked with the first object of supplying boating-parties and campers with the necessaries of life, as understood by campers and boating-parties. As tinned provisions take a prominent place in those holiday commissariats, it follows that the shop-windows are almost completely furnished with supplies of tinned everything, festering in the sun. For the rest, you have cheap camp-kettles, spirit-stoves, tin enamelled cups and saucers, and the like utensils, hammocks and lounge-chairs.
     Thus the modern riverside village is unpleasing to those who like to see places retain their old natural appearance, and dislike the modern fate that has given it a spurious activity in a boating-season of three months, with a deadly-dull off-season of nine other months every year. We may make shift to not actively dislike these sophisticated places in summer, but let us not, if we value our peace of mind, seek to know them in winter; when the sloppy street is empty, even of dogs and cats; when rain patters like small-shot on the roof of the inevitable tin-tabernacle that supplements the over-restored, and spoiled, parish church; and when the roar of the swollen weir fills the air with a thudding reverberance. Pah!
     The villas, the “maisonettes” are empty: the gardens draggle-tailed; the “Nest” is “To Let”; the “Moorings” “To be Sold”; and a general air of “has been” pervades the place, with a desolating feeling that “will again be” is impossible.
     But let us put these things behind us, and come to the river itself; to the foaming weir under the lowering sky, where such a head of water comes hurrying down that no summer frequenter of the river can ever see. There is no dead, hopeless season in nature; for although the trees may be bare, and the groves dismantled, the wintry woods have their own beauty, and even in mid-winter give promise of better times.
     But along the uppermost Thames, from Thames Head to Lechlade and Oxford, the waterside villages are still very much what they have always been. All through the year they live their own life. Not there do the villas rise redundant, nor the old inns masquerade as hotels, nor chorus-girls inhabit at week-ends, in imitative simplicity. A voyage along the thirty-two miles of narrow, winding river from Lechlade to Oxford has no incidents more exciting than the shooting of a weir, or the watching of a moor-hen and her brood.
     Below Oxford, we have but to adventure some little way to right or left of the stream, and there, in the byways (for main roads do not often approach the higher reaches of the river), the unaltered villages abound.


     Abingdon, some three miles distant, now claims attention; and a good deal of leisured attention is its due. That pleasant and quietly-prosperous old town is one of those fortunate places that have achieved the happy middle course between growth and decay, and thus are not ringed about with squalid, unhistorical, modern additions. Its population remains at about 6,500, and therefore it is not, although possessing from of old a Mayor and Corporation, a town at all in the modern sense. Thus shall I shift to excuse myself for including it in these pages. In these days of great populations we can scarce begin to think of a place of fewer than ten thousand inhabitants, as a “town” at all.
     The origin of Abingdon, whose very name is said to mean “the Abbey town,” was purely ecclesiastical, for it came into existence as a dependency of the great Abbey founded here in the seventh century. Legends, indeed, tell us of an earlier Abingdon, called “Leavechesham,” in early British times, and make it even then an important religious centre and a favourite residence of the kings of Wessex, but they – the legends and the kings alike – are of the vaguest.
     Leland, in the time of Henry the Eighth, wrote of the town: “It standeth by clothing,” and it did so in more than one sense, for it not only made cloth, but a great deal of traffic between London and Gloucester, Stroud, Cirencester, and other great West of England clothing centres, came this way, and had done so ever since the building of Abingdon (or Burford, i.e. Boroughford) bridge and the bridge at Culham Hithe in 1416, had opened a convenient route this way. The town owed little to the Abbey, for the proud mitred abbots, who here ruled one of the wealthiest religious houses in England, and sat in Parliament in respect of it, were not concerned with such common people as tradesfolk, and did not by any means encourage settlers. They trafficked only with the great, and aimed at keeping Abingdon select. From quite early times they had adopted this attitude: perhaps ever since William the Conqueror had entrusted to the monastery the education of his son Henry, afterwards Henry the First – an education so superior that, by reason of it, Henry the First lives in history as “Beauclerc.”
     It was a highly-prosperous Abbey, and smelt to heaven with pride, and had a very bad reputation for tyrannical dealings with those who had managed to settle here. The Abbot refused to allow the people to establish a market, and in 1327 the enmity thus caused broke out into riot. From Oxford there came the Mayor and a number of scholars, to help the people of Abingdon in their quarrel, and part of the Abbey was burnt, its archives destroyed, and the monks driven out. But this was a sorry, and merely a temporary, victory; for the Abbot procured powerful assistance and regained his place, and twelve of the rioters were hanged.
     The scandalous arrogance and state of the Abbots of Abingdon aroused the wrath of Langland, a monk himself, but one of liberal views, who some few years later wrote that prophetic work, The Vision of Piers Plowman, in which the downfall of this great Abbey is directly and specifically foretold:

“Eke ther shal come a kyng,
And confesse yow religiouses,
And bete you as the Bible telleth
For brekynge of your rule.

And thanne shal the abbot of Abyngdone.
And al his issue for evere,
Have a knok of a kyng,
And incurable the wounde.”

     When the Abbey was suppressed in 1538, its annual income was £1,876 10s. 9d., equal to about £34,000, present value.
     With the disappearance of the Abbey, the town of Abingdon grew, and continued to prosper by clothing and by agriculture until the opening of the railway era. When the Great Western Railway was originally planned, in 1833, it was intended to take it through Abingdon, instead of six miles south, as at present, and to make this, instead of Didcot, the junction for Oxford. But Abingdon was strongly opposed to the project, and procured the diversion of the line, and so it remains to this day an exceedingly awkward place to reach or to leave, by a small branch railway. It has thus lost, commercially, to an incalculable degree, but in other ways – in the preservation of beauty and antiquity – has gained, equally beyond compute.
     An architect might find some stimulating ideas communicated to him by the quaint and refined detail observable in many of the old houses. There is, among other curious houses near the Market House, the “King’s Head and Bell,” in an odd classic convention.

     Of the great Abbey church nothing is left. The townsfolk had such long-standing and bitter grievances against the Abbey that they must have rejoiced exceedingly when the fat and lazy monks were at last cast out upon the world; and they seem to have revelled in destruction. The Abbey precincts are now largely built over; but, such as they are to-day, they may be found by proceeding out of the Market Place, past St. Nicholas’ church, and through the Abbey gateway, now used as part of the Town Hall, and restored, but once serving as a debtors’ prison.
     Here a mutilated and greatly time-worn Early English building will be found, with a vaulted crypt, and two rooms above. To this has been given the (probably erroneous) name of the “Prior’s House.” Its curiously stout Early English chimney, with lancet-headed openings, under queer little gables, is a landmark not easily missed The successor of the original Abbey Mill is itself very picturesque. Adjoining is the long, two-storeyed building often styled the “Infirmary,” and sometimes the “Guest House”; perhaps having partaken of both uses. It can only have been used for humble guests, or patients, for it is merely a rough-and-ready wooden building, rather barn-like, divided into dormitories.

     The charming little Norman and Perpendicular church of St. Nicholas has been very severely dealt with by “restoring” hands, but its quaintness and charm appear indestructible. An especially peculiar feature of the altogether unconventional West front is seen in the curious little flat-headed window under a gable roof to the north side of the tower, giving a curiously semi-domestic appearance to the church. The windows light a staircase turret, which is perhaps the remaining part of some priest’s residence formerly attached to the church.
     But, far or near, the chief feature of Abingdon is St. Helen’s church, whose tall and graceful spire has the peculiar feature of being built in two quite distinctly different angles: the lower stage much less acute than the upper. It is what architects call an “entasis.” A band of ornament marks the junction of the two stages. This spire is of the Perpendicular period, built upon an Early English tower. The rest of this exceptionally large and beautiful church, which has the peculiarity of being provided with a nave and four aisles, is Perpendicular. It should be noted that what are now the two extra aisles were originally built by the town guilds, as chapels. The five aisles form a noble vista, looking across the church. They are named, from north to south, Jesus Aisle, Our Lady’s, St. Helen’s, St. Catharine’s, and Holy Cross. The great breadth of the church originated a local saying, by which either of alternative courses of any action, supposed to have little to choose between them, may often be heard referred to as “That’s as broad as it’s long, like St. Helen’s church.”

     Brasses and monuments of Abingdon’s old merchants and benefactors are numerous: among them this curious inscription to Richard Curtaine, 1643:

“Our curtaine in this lower press
Rests folded up in Natur’s dress;
His dust perfumes this urn, and he
This towne with liberalitie.”

     Here, too, is the tomb of John Roysse, citizen of London, and mercer, who founded here “Roysse’s Free School,” and died in 1571. The slab covering his tomb came from his London garden.
     The town is singularly rich in old and interesting almshouses, the churchyard being enclosed on three sides by various charitable foundations of this kind. Of these the oldest and most remarkable is the almshouse founded about 1442 by the Guild of Holy Cross, and refounded after the Reformation, in 1553, as Christ’s Hospital, by Sir John Mason, an Abingdon worthy who rose from the humblest beginnings to be Ambassador to the French Court, and Chancellor of the University of Oxford. The chief feature of Christ’s Hospital, as regards its front, is the long half-timber cloister, with no fewer than one hundred and sixty little openings in the woodwork, looking out to the churchyard. A picturesque porch projects midway, and from the steep roof rises a quaint lantern, crowned with cupola and vane. Old black-letter and other texts and paintings cover the walls of the cloister. Under the lantern is the hall, or council-chamber, an old-world room with a noble stone-mullioned bay window looking out upon the almshouse gardens in the rear. In this window are set forth the arms of benefactors towards the institution, and their portraits further adorn the walls, together with a curious contemporary account of the buildings of Abingdon and Culham Hithe bridges. As the value of endowments increased, so the buildings of Christ’s Hospital have been from time to time added to; and in addition there are Twitty’s and Tomkins’s almshouses. A gable-end of Christ’s Hospital abuts upon St. Helen’s Quay, on the river-side, with inscriptions curiously painted under protecting canopies: “God openeth His hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness; be we therefore followers of God as dear children. 1674”; and “If one of thy Brethren among you be poore within any of thy Gates in thy land which the Lord God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor Brother. 1674.”

     Abingdon is full of noble old buildings, both of a public and a private character, and prominent among them must be reckoned the imposing Market House. There is nothing else quite like it, in style or in dignity, in England, and it is not too much to say that it would, by itself, ennoble any town. It was built 1678-84, and followed in plan the old conventional lines of such buildings: i.e. an open, arcaded ground floor, supporting an upper storey; but in design it is one of the purest examples of revived classic architecture in the land. The upper storey in this case was intended for use as a sessions-house.
     The design has been variously attributed to Inigo Jones, to Webb, his successor in business, or to Sir Christopher Wren, without any other evidence than that it partakes of the known style of all these. But Inigo Jones died in 1652, and Webb in 1674, and so they are both out of the question. There are at present time in private possession at Abingdon a few old documents, preserved by merest chance, which abundantly prove who built the Market House, if not precisely who designed it. They detail payments made to Christopher Kempster, whom we have met earlier in these pages. He was, or at this time had been, clerk-of-works and master-mason to Wren, in his rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the City churches, and afterwards retired to Burford, where he owned quarries. He would have been forty-eight years of age at the time when this Market House was begun. Unless we are prepared to assume him a transcendental clerk-of-works and a very Phoebus of a master-mason, it seems scarce likely that he designed, as well as built, this exceptionally fine structure; and the inference therefore to be drawn is that he induced Wren to sketch out the design and built to it, either with or without the supervision of that great architect.

Great Marlow – Cookham – Cliveden and its Owners – Maidenhead

     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.

     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 serpentine. 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.
     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.
     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 honour!

     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.

Combined Index

Abingdon – Vol. I Ch. 5, Ch. 9
Ashton Keynes – Vol. I Ch. 1
Augustine, St. – Vol. I Ch. 1

Bablockhythe – Vol. I Ch. 6
Bampton – Vol. I Ch. 3
Barnes – Vol. II Ch. 11
Basildon – Vol. I Ch. 13
Benson – Vol. I Ch. 11
Besselsleigh – Vol. I Ch. 5
Beverley Brook – Vol. II Ch. 12
Binsey – Vol. I Ch. 7
Bisham – Vol. II Ch. 2, Ch. 9
Bourne End – Vol. II Ch. 3
Boveney – Vol. II Ch. 6
Bray – Vol. II Ch. 4
Brentford – Vol. II Ch. 10
Brightwell – Vol. I Ch. 11
Brightwell, Salome – Vol. I Ch. 11
Buckland – Vol. I Ch. 3
Burford – Vol. I Ch. 2
Burlington – Vol. II Ch. 11
Burnham Abbey – Vol. II Ch. 5
Buscot – Vol. I Ch. 2

Cæsar, Julius – Vol. II Ch. 8, Ch. 10
Cambridge, H.R.H. Duke of – Vol. II Ch. 3
Carfax Conduit – Vol. I Ch. 8
Castle Eaton – Vol. I Ch. 2
Caversham – Vol. I Ch. 13
Charney Brook – Vol. I Ch. 3
Chertsey – Vol. II Ch. 7
Chiswick – Vol. II Ch. 11
Cholsey – Vol. I Ch. 13
Churn, River – Vol. I Ch. 1, Ch. 2
Cirencester – Vol. I Ch. 1
Clanfield – Vol. I Ch. 2
Clewer – Vol. II Ch. 6
Clifton Hampden – Vol. I Ch. 10
Cliveden – Vol. II Ch. 3
Coln, River – Vol. I Ch. 2
Colne, River – Vol. II Ch. 7
Cookham – Vol. II Ch. 3
Cote – Vol. I Ch. 3
Coway Stakes – Vol. II Ch. 8
Cricklade – Vol. I Ch. 1
Crowmarsh Gifford – Vol. I Ch. 12
Cumnor – Vol. I Ch. 6

Damer, Anne Seymour – Vol. II Ch. 2
Datchet – Vol. II Ch. 7
Day's Lock – Vol. I Ch. 10
Dorchester – Vol. I Ch. 10
Dorney – Vol. II Ch. 5
Down Ampney – Vol. I Ch. 1
Dudley, Robert, Earl of Leicester – Vol. I Ch. 6

Eaton Weir – Vol. I Ch. 2
Eisey Chapel – Vol. I Ch. 2
Eton – Vol. II Ch. 6
Ewen – Vol. I Ch. 1
Eynsham – Vol. I Ch. 7

Fairford – Vol. I Ch. 2
Fair Rosamond – Vol. I Ch. 7
Faringdon – Vol. I Ch. 2
Folly Bridge – Vol. I Ch. 7
Fulham – Vol. II Ch. 12
Fulham Palace – Vol. II Ch. 12

Gathampton – Vol. I Ch. 12
Gaunt's House – Vol. I Ch. 5
Godstow – Vol. I Ch. 7
Goring – Vol. I Ch. 12
Great Faringdon – Vol. I Ch. 2
Great Marlow – Vol. II Ch. 3
Grove Park – Vol. II Ch. 11

Halliford – Vol. II Ch. 8
Ham – Vol. II Ch. 9
Hamble, River – Vol. II Ch. 2
Hambleden – Vol. II Ch. 2
Harcourt Family, The – Vol. I Ch. 5
Harcourt Family, The – Vol. II Ch. 7
Harcourt, Sir William – Vol. I Ch. 8
Hart's Weir – Vol. I Ch. 2
Hell-Fire Club, The – Vol. II Ch. 2
Henley – Vol. II Ch. 1
Hennerton Backwater – Vol. II Ch. 1
Hoby, Lady – Vol. II Ch. 2
Horton – Vol. II Ch. 7
Hurley – Vol. II Ch. 2
Hurst – Vol. II Ch. 1

Iffley – Vol. I Ch. 8
Iffley Mill – Vol. I Ch. 1, Ch. 8
Inglesham – Vol. I Ch. 2
Inglesham Round House – Vol. I Ch. 2
Isis, River – Vol. I Ch. 1
Isis, River – Vol. II Ch. 1
Isleworth – Vol. II Ch. 9

Jesus Hospital – Vol. II Ch. 4

Kederminster Family – Vol. II Ch. 6
Kelmscott – Vol. I Ch. 2
Kemble – Vol. I Ch. 1
Kempsford – Vol. I Ch. 2
Kew – Vol. II Ch. 11
Kew Gardens – Vol. II Ch. 10
Kit's Quarries – Vol. I Ch. 2

Laleham – Vol. II Ch. 7
Langley Marish – Vol. II Ch. 6
Latton – Vol. I Ch. 1
Leach, River – Vol. I Ch. 2
Lechlade – Vol. I Ch. 2
Lertoll Well – Vol. I Ch. 1
Leslie, G.D., R.A. – Vol. II Ch. 3
Little Wittenham – Vol. I Ch. 10
Littleton – Vol. II Ch. 7
Loddon, River – Vol. II Ch. 1
Long Wittenham – Vol. I Ch. 10

Maidenhead – Vol. II Ch. 3
Mapledurham – Vol. I Ch. 13
Marlow – Vol. II Ch. 3
Marsh Lock – Vol. II Ch. 2
Medley – Vol. I Ch. 7
Medmenham – Vol. II Ch. 2
Milton, John – Vol. II Ch. 7
Mongewell – Vol. I Ch. 11
Morris, William – Vol. I Ch. 2
Mortlake – Vol. II Ch. 11
Moulsford – Vol. I Ch. 13

New Bridge – Vol. I Ch. 5
Newnham Murren – Vol. I Ch. 12
Norreys Family, The – Vol. II Ch. 5
North Stoke – Vol. I Ch. 12
Northmoor – Vol. I Ch. 3
Nuneham Courtney – Vol. I Ch. 8

Oaklade Bridge – Vol. I Ch. 1
Oaklade Bridge – Vol. II Ch. 5
Oatlands – Vol. II Ch. 8
Ockwells – Vol. II Ch. 5
Old England – Vol. II Ch. 10
Old Man's Bridge – Vol. I Ch. 3
Old Windsor – Vol. II Ch. 7
Osiers – Vol. I Ch. 4

Palmer Family, The – Vol. II Ch. 5
Pangbourne – Vol. I Ch. 13
Patrick Stream, The – Vol. II Ch. 1
Penton Hook – Vol. II Ch. 7
Petersham – Vol. II Ch. 9
Pope, Alexander – Vol. I Ch. 5, Ch. 13
Purley – Vol. I Ch. 13
Putney – Vol. II Ch. 12
Putney Bridge – Vol. II Ch. 12
Pye, Henry James – Vol. I Ch. 3

Radcot Bridge – Vol. I Ch. 2
Ray, River – Vol. I Ch. 2
Reading – Vol. I Ch. 13
Reading – Vol. II Ch. 1
Richmond – Vol. II Ch. 9
Robsart, Amy – Vol. I Ch. 6
Runnymede – Vol. II Ch. 7
Ruscombe – Vol. II Ch. 1
Rushes – Vol. I Ch. 4
Rushey Lock – Vol. I Ch. 3

St. Augustine – Vol. I Ch. 1
St. Frideswide – Vol. I Ch. 7
St. John's Lock – Vol. I Ch. 2
St. Lawrence Waltham – Vol. II Ch. 1
Seacourt – Vol. I Ch. 7
Seven Springs – Vol. I Ch. 1
Shelley, Percy Bysshe – Vol. II Ch. 3
Shepperton – Vol. II Ch. 7
Shifford – Vol. I Ch. 3
Shillingford – Vol. I Ch. 11
Shiplake – Vol. II Ch. 1
Shiplake Mill – Vol. I Ch. 1
Shottesbrooke – Vol. II Ch. 1
Sinodun – Vol. I Ch. 10
Smith, Rt. Hon. W. H. – Vol. II Ch. 2
Somerford Keynes – Vol. I Ch. 1
Sonning – Vol. II Ch. 1
Sotwell – Vol. I Ch. 11
South Stoke – Vol. I Ch. 12
Staines – Vol. II Ch. 7
Standlake – Vol. I Ch. 5
Stanton Harcourt – Vol. I Ch. 5
Stanwell – Vol. II Ch. 7
Steventon – Vol. I Ch. 10
Strand-On-The-Green – Vol. II Ch. 11
Streatley – Vol. I Ch. 12
Sutton Courtney – Vol. I Ch. 10
Swillbrook, The – Vol. I Ch. 1, Ch. 2
Swinford Bridge – Vol. I Ch. 7

Tadpole Bridge – Vol. I Ch. 3
Thame, River – Vol. I Ch. 1
Thames and Severn Canal – Vol. I Ch. 1
Thames Head – Vol. I Ch. 1
Thames, River – Vol. I Ch. 1
Thames, River – Vol. II Ch. 1
Torpids – Vol. I Ch. 7
Trewsbury Mead – Vol. I Ch. 1
Turnham Green – Vol. II Ch. 11
Twickenham – Vol. II Ch. 8
Twyford – Vol. II Ch. 1

Upper Somerford Mill – Vol. I Ch. 1

Vicar of Bray, The – Vol. II Ch. 4
Villiers, Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland – Vol. II Ch. 5

Walker, Frederick – Vol. II Ch. 2
Wallingford – Vol. I Ch. 12
Walton – Vol. II Ch. 8
Warborough – Vol. I Ch. 11
Wargrave – Vol. II Ch. 1
Water Eaton – Vol. I Ch. 2
Water Hay – Vol. I Ch. 1
Wey, River – Vol. II Ch. 7
Weybridge – Vol. II Ch. 7
Whitchurch – Vol. II Ch. 12
Willows – Vol. I Ch. 4
Windrush, River – Vol. I Ch. 5
Windsor – Vol. II Ch. 6
Wittenham, Little – Vol. I Ch. 10
Wittenham, Long – Vol. I Ch. 10
Wraysbury – Vol. II Ch. 7
Wye, River – Vol. II Ch. 3
Wytham – Vol. I Ch. 6


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Other books by Charles G. Harper
Cycle Rides Round London
The Brighton Road


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