The descriptive view of any principal river naturally comprehends an account of the most
interesting and picturesque portion of the country through which its course is directed.
Towns and cities are always found upon its banks, and where Nature has not embellished its precincts, the display of art in raising the princely fabric, or rich domain, have assisted in beautifying its margin.
In ancient times, the castle reared its embattled walls to protect its fords, and the lonely cloister and stately abbey were usually erected near the sequestered meanderings of its silent waters.
The history of a river, therefore, offers to the observation all objects of interest : from the magnificence of a capital, to the simplicity of a hamlet ; from the abode of royalty, to the cabin of the peasant ; from the ruined remains of the baronial hall, to the elegant modern villa ; from the dark umbrageous forest, to the light and verdant grove.
The effects of Nature, in her wild and sublime character, are accompanied with sensations of astonishment and awe, where, clothed in picturesque and rustic beauty, the feelings that are given birth to, are those of pleasure.
The Thames, "the most loved of all the Ocean's sons," possessing none of the former qualifications, but a profusion of the latter, is formed, therefore, only to please.
It vaunts no grand outline of composition, no bold romantic features, "where giant rocks in proud defiance" frown on the pigmy-Man.
No mountainous scenery, or "cloud-capp'd tower," stand forth in "majesty supreme," but sylvan landscapes, rich and luxuriant meadows, sloping hills, and woody heights, succeed each other in delightful perspective.
Instead of the foaming torrent, roaring cataract, and troubled wave, it presents a smooth and silvery stream —
Though deep, yet clear - though gentle, yet not dull
Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.
Nature, who so elegantly and beautifully defines her works, and by the slightest touch
varies to infinity her creative powers, can give a constant succession of pastoral scenery,
charming in its detail, and harmonising with the purer dictates of the human heart, which,
in the spot, we at once acknowledge and admire ; yet, in portraying these delicate distinctions,
and nice gradations, so intimately blended with each other, where a peculiar tint of the foliage
or a sudden curve of the bank serves to destroy the uniformity, and gratify the eye in distinguishing, any graphic delineation of the pen,
or mimic art of the pencil, must fail, in conveying to the mind of the reader an adequate idea.
As has been classically observed, "the ponderous muscular strength of the Farnesean Hercules may be represented without any uncommon exertion of language, or curious arrangement of phraseology ; but where can we find expressions to describe or illustrate the form of the Medicean Venus - a statue that adorns the world."
We have been more particularly induced in this instance to dwell upon the subject, feeling deeply impressed with the difficulties which arise in the present undertaking, and that the sameness of prospect, frequently occurring without any prominent character to vary the portrait, renders the indulgence of the reader necessary, in pardoning a repetition of phrases, or tautology of expression, which may consequently ensue.
I wish -
My pen could flow like Thames, and make its stream
My great example, as it is my theme.
The want of variety of diction must be attributed to the anxiety we have experienced in rendering a genuine picture, rather than,
for the sake of making the delineation piquant, of
otfering an imaginary representation.
Respecting the identity of the scenes, we feel confident, as the whole description is the result of attentive personal inspection.
We can speak with equal assurance concerning the various engravings which enrich the work : the drawings are all copied from Nature, and no former designs of any part of the river, however admired, have been adopted.
Often, with the idea of rendering a view picturesque, the Artist introduces subjects foreign to the reality, in order to bestow a pictorial effect, not allowing Nature to rest upon her own merits ; and thus it is, in various illustrated works, that the landscape and scenery are beautiful and pleasing to the eye, but fail entirely in conveying a just conception of that portion of the country, which they are intended to describe.
The Artist, in confining the powers of his pencil to the prescribed limits of the present work, has endeavoured, without any fictitious aid, faithfully to portray those views of the river, which have struck him, during a tour along its banks, as most likely to exhibit its peculiarities, and the various subjects of local interest connected with its stream.
All the objects of antiquity, natural curiosities or geological remains occurring in the neighbourhood, - the numerous churches with their tapering spires, which rise continually in peaceful beauty from the enamelled banks, - the classic ground of Oxford, - the royal and splendid castle of Windsor, - Eton, "famed for tutor'd lore," - and all places of any note, will meet with a lengthened detail.
As we approach the metropolis, particular description must be rendered subservient to a more comprehensive narrative of the ancient state and modern improvements of London, its commercial and statistical history, and other minute information, useful to the english or foreign traveller.
In the panoramic map, on the same scale as that annexed to "The Views on the Rhine," every city, town, village, church, bridge, lock, and wear, will be correctly delineated.
Mention will be likewise made of the respective sources of the various tributary rivers and streams, and the line of country through which their waters flow, "in eager race," to lend their influence to the parent flood.
Amongst the numerous publications issuing from the press, descriptive of different interesting and picturesque portions of the kingdom, it is matter of astonishment that no account has of late years attempted to familiarise to the public each wandering of the noble Thames.
While sources of foreign rivers are explored, and historical views and designs presented of their course, yet the majesty of this "sovereign of British rivers" is comparatively unknown, and many an Englishman is less acquainted with the beauties which grace his native Thames, than those of the distant banks of the Ganges, or the Nile.
The Thames, exclusive of the national interest attached to it, is one of the most remarkable rivers in the world.
From its fountain-head, it is constantly acquiring importance, until swelling to a vast expanse, the waters lose their designation in the conflux with the German ocean.
What country can boast, on the bosom of a river, such power and grandeur as are displayed on passing London, the emporium of the world ?
The proud forest of lofty masts crowding its waters - the flags of every nation fluttering in the breeze - ships from each quarter of the globe, bearing their wealth on its deep and broad stream - innumerable vessels of all sizes, from the "trim-built" wherry, to the mighty wooden castles of England - from the heavy barge and scudding fishing-smack, to the huge and stately ships employed in traffic with the Indies.
In the following address to the Thames, the various objects of admiration it possesses are correctly and concisely described.
The b1ood stain'd scourge no tyrants wield.
No groaning slaves enrich the field,
But Health and Labour's willing train.
Crowns all thy banks with waving grain;
With beauty decks thy sylvan shades.
With livelier green invests thy glades;
And grace, and bloom, and plenty pours,
On thy sweet meads and willowy shores.
The field where herds unnumber'd rove,
The laurell'd path, the beechen grove,
The oak, in lonely grandeur free,
Lord of the Forest and the Sea;
The spreading plain, the cultured hill,
The tranquil cot, the restless mill.
The lonely hamlet, calm and still;
The village spire, the busy town.
The shelving bank, the rising down.
The fisher's punt, the peasant's home.
The woodland seat, the regal dome,
In quick succession rise to charm
The mind, with virtuous feelings warm ;
Till where thy widening current glides.
To mingle with the turbid tides ;
Thy spacious breast displays unfurl'd
The ensigns of th' assembled world.
In expatiating, however, on the varieties and beauties of the Thames, due mention will be made of its twin-flood, the Medway.
A river, although not equal to the Thames in magnitude and importance, yet may claim a superiority in point of bold and diversified scenery.
The short and abrupt reaches, and the continual change of objects afforded in its progress through the luxuriant and fertile county of Kent, cannot fail to impart gratification and delight to every lover of Nature.
The peculiar sinuosity of its stream has been described with much truth, by one of the older poets : -
Whose wanton tide in wreathing volumes flows,
Still forming reedy islands as it goes,
And in meanders to the neighbouring plain,
The liquid serpent draws its silver train.
The four principal sources will be noticed, and the direction of these tributary streams
Penshurst, famed for "noble Sydney's birth," will meet a copious description, as well as Tunbridge, where the navigation commences, Maidstone, Rochester, and the royal dock-yards of Chatham and Sheerness, until its waters, in union with those of the Thames, are mingled with the ocean.
We have only further to remark, that the same attention will be paid to the Medway, in regard to the detail of the various subjects of natural, historical, and antiquarian interest, as will be bestowed upon the Thames.
Ihe Thames, unlike the mighty rivers of America, cannot claim extent of stream or expanse of water to render it conspicuous in history ;
its importance has however become celebrated from sphere to sphere, through bearing on its daily tides vessels laden with the produce
and riches of every clime, thus concentrating the commerce of the globe within our own
island, and constituting the vast metropolis of England, the emporium of the world.
In this respect all foreigners acknowledge the supremacy of the Thames, and every Englishman looks with pride and veneration on his native river, whose banks are always fraught with the liveliest interest, connected as they are with the most remote annals of his country, and to many ever convey some fond remembrance, blended with the earlier or later period of life.
The origin of the river, like that of many men of note and high renown, is traced from a secluded and humble source, gradually gliding on from obscurity and insignificance to distinction and importance; until, as the ancients said of the Euphrates, it both plants and waters Britain.
The word "Thames" has been the subject of much literary controversy, and in taking therefore an historical review of the river, it is essential that the various opinions brought forward on its etymology should be thoroughly investigated.
Bishop Gibson and Mr. Gough, the learned commentators on the works of the great antiquarian Camden, treat as fiction the popular notion that the river from its source was designated Use, Ouse, or Isis, until at its conflux with the Tame, near Dorchester, in Oxfordshire, it assumed the name of Tamisis, or Tamesis, since corrupted into Thames, and think that this idea, originating more in poetical imagery than reality, has perpetuated the error, investing it with a kind of classical sanctity, and that in fact the river, even from its spring head, has always been known by the appellation of Thames.
The authors of the few histories extant on the river, and most of the modern topographers, have coincided with or rather copied these respected authorities, placing without the pale of doubt any deviation from their dictum.
We have, however, with considerable care and attention, consulted all the earliest historians who have descanted on the name, and feel convinced that the proofs adduced by Camden's annotators are not sufficiently conclusive to refute the more ancient opinion that two rivers existed, the union of whose names formed the word Thames.
We will first cite Bishop Gibson's remarks, in his translation of Camden's Britannica, which Mr. Gough has followed verbatim.
"Upon this first mention of the river Thames, it will not be improper to observe, that though the current opinion is, that it had that name from the conjunction of Thame and Isis, it plainly appears that the river was always called Thames, or Tems, before it came near the Thame.
Thus, in an ancient charter granted to the Abbot Aldelm, there is particular mention of certain lands on the east side of the river, 'cujus vocabulum Temis juxta vadum qui appellatur Somerford,' and this ford is in Wiltshire."
We will merely note that the passage is incorrectly quoted; according to William of Malmesbury, in his Life of the Abbot Aldelmus, it should be, on the east side of the river, "quod appellatur Temys juxta vadum cujus vocabulum est Summerforde.
Dr. Gibson then proceeds, "the same appears from several charters to Malmesbury and Evesham Abbeys, and from the old deeds relating to Cricklade.
And perhaps it may be safely affirmed, that it never occurs under the name of Isis, which indeed is not so much as heard of, but among scholars; the common people, from its head to Oxford, calling it by no other name than that of Thames.
So also the Saxon word Temes, whence our Tems or Thames immediately comes, shows plainly that that people never thought of any such conjunction.
Further, all our historians who mention the incursion of Ethelwold into Wiltshire, A. D. 905, or of Canute, A. D. 1016, tell us, they crossed the Thames at Cricklade."
This criticism of the venerable Bishop is in direct opposition to the statement of his learned author Camden, who, in his description of the county of Gloucestershire, mentions the river as
"Isis vulgo Ouse, &c. Hic ille Isis, qui postea recepto Tama, Tamisis, composito vocabulo dicitur fluminum Britannicorum regnator."
"The Isis, commonly called the Ouse, rises from a continual spring in the south side of this county.
This is that Isis which afterwards receiving the Tame, by adding the names together, is called Tamisis, the chief of British rivers."
Again, speaking of Oxfordshire - "The Isis, afterwards called Tamisis, in a long course washeth the south side of this county.
The river Tame waters and fructifies the eastern parts, till at last both those rivers, with several other little streams, are received into the Isis;"
again, "Near Dorchester, Tame and Isis with mutual consent join, as it were in wedlock, and mix their names as well as their waters, being henceforth called Tham-Isis, or the Thames, in like manner as the rivers Jor and Dan in the Holy Land, and Dor and Dan in France, from which compositions are Jordan and Dordan;" and concludes with extracts from a Latin poem, called the Marriage of Thames and Isis, which, by his biographers, is attributed to the pen of Camden himself.
Dixerat; unito consurgit et unus amore
Lastior exultans nunc nomine Tamisis uno,
Oceanumque patrem, quaerens jactantior undas
Thus sang the Goddess; straight Tamisis stream,
Proud of the late addition to its name.
Flows briskly on, ambitious now to pay
A larger tribute to the sovereign sea.
On reference to the manuscripts of the earlier monkish historians, as edited by Dr. Gale,
we find that Ranulphus Higdenus, monk of Chester, who lived in the reign of Richard the second, and died 1362, in his Polychronicon,
De rebus Britannicis et Hibernicis usque ad Conquestum, thus mentions the Thames.
"Tamisia videtur componi a nominibus duorum Huminum, quae sunt Thama et Ysa aut Usa.
Thama currens juxta Dorcestriam cadit in Ysam, inde totus fluvius a suo exortu usque ad mare orientale dicitur Thamisia ; nempe juxta Tetteburiam, quae tribus millibus ad Boreara Malmesburiae ponitur, nascitur Thamisia exfonticulo versus orientem decurrente, &c."
"Tamisia seems composed from the names of two rivers, the Ysa, or Usa, and the Thama.
The Thama, running by Dorchester, falls into the Ysa; thence the whole river, even from its source to the eastern sea, is called Thamisia, &c.
" In relating the history of Dorchester, he says,
"villam humilem, ad austrum Oxonia juxta Wallingford, inter collapsus duorum fluminum Thamae et Ysae sitam."
In the ancient and beautiful MS. Eulogium Britanniae, in the Cottonian Library, by Nennius, who flourished, according to some in the year 620, and others in 858, the river is also written Tamisia, as well as in the MS. Chronicles of England, by Brompton, Abbot of Ioreval, Gervasis, monk of Canterbury, and Simeon of Lindisfarn.
In the "Chronica Joannis Wallingford, " it is termed Thamisa.
In an anonymous manuscript, stated to have been written in 699, containing a history of the abbey of Ramsey, in Huntingdonshire, the river is designated Thamise.
Julius Caesar, in his Commentaries, mentions the river as Tamesis, - Tacitus and Dion Cassius as Tamesis and Tametis.
Claudius Ptolomæus, in his Geographia, when describing Britain, names the river and its debouchement, the mouth of Iamissa, or Jamissa ; which designation M. D'Anville, in his Ancient Geography, has also cited.
The venerable Bede, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Henry of Huntingdon, and Roger of Hoveden, in their Histories of Britain, as well as the "sapient" Gildas "De excidio Britanniae," render the word Tamesis, Tamisis, and Tamasis.
It appears, therefore, in all the earlier records, that the river is never even alluded to as Thames, or Tems, but invariably under the compound word of Thamisia, Tharoisis, or Thamesis.
We would here note, that had the river been "always known" as Tems, the compound appellation would have become superfluous, as well as erroneous.
It is true the river is termed Tamisis and Tamesis by the few historians who mention its passage at Cricklade ; and they justly estimated, we apprehend, in making use of the local or provincial name of Ouse, or Usa, in recording facts that occurred on its banks during the campaigns of Ethelwold and Canute, that the designation of the river would not, in those days, have been generally recognised, unless spoken of as the Tamisis, the name applied to the most important portion of the stream, whose narrow and small current, in its infant state, hardly deserved the mention as a separate river; by the figure of synecdoche, they took a part for the whole, and in writing of any division of its waters, thus included the whole current under the name of Tamisis, in order to identify its course.
The antiquarian and traveller Leland, justly styled the father of English antiquaries, was
librarian to Henry the eighth, and at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries had the
king's permission to travel through the kingdom, with his sign manual, to search all monastic
records and manuscripts, thus mentions the river's source :
"Isis riseth at 3 myles from Cirencestre, not far from a village cawlled Kemble, within half a mile of the fosseway, wher the very hed of Isis ys.
In a great somer drought there appereth very little or no water, yet is the stream servid with many of springes resorting to one botom.
The learned Welshman, Lhwyd, in his "Breviary of Britayne," on mentioning Dorchester, situated on the Thame, states, "Neere where the Thame dischargeth himselfe into Isis, from whence the name Tamesis, the Thames, proceedeth."
The same author, in speaking of Leland, says, "Against whom, as one having very well deserved of ye Britaynes, and much exercised in ancient histories, I dare not contend."
Holinshed, in his Chronicles of England, alluding to the source of the Thames, says,
"where it is sometime named the Isis, or Ouse, althoughe dyvers doe ignorauntlye call it Thames, even there, rather of a foolishe custome than of any skill, because they eyther neglect or utterly are ignoraunt how it was named at the first."
"where joyning with the river Thame, it loseth the name of Isis or Ouse, and from thenceforth is called Thamisis."
Stowe, in his Annals of England, referring to the Thames, writes,
"that most excellent and goodly river hath first the name of Ise, and beginneth in Coteswold, in Glocestershire, about a mile from Titbery, and as much from the hie-way called Foosse ; and it taketh first the name of Tamise, neere to Dorcester-bridge, where the river Tame and the foresaid Ise meete ; and so with a marvellous quiet course it passeth by London, and then breaketh into the French ocean by maine tides."
Speed, in his "Theatre of Great Britayne," speaking of the county of Oxford, and the rivers which "sportingly there-thorow make their passage," says, "the Evenlode, Churn, Thame, and Isis are chief; which two last, making their bed of marriage near unto Dorchester, run thence together in one channel and name, Thamisis."
In other parts of his description of the same county, he calls the river Thame-Isis; and in speaking of the name Ouse, he says, "by the Latines called Isis."
Regarding the origin of the name Ouse, we find in different parts of England, several rivers of the same appellation, the principal of which are those in Yorkshire and Huntingdonshire.
Flaccus Alcwinus, in his poem, "De Pontiticibus et Sanctis Ecclesiae Eboracensis, or, an Ecclesiastical History of York and its Cathedral," written about the year 780, describing the city, alludes to the river Ouse as "Piscosa Usa" ; and in the MS. History of Ramsey Abbey, before alluded to, the Ouse in Huntingdonshire is termed also Usa.
Hence the Ouse of Gloucestershire was named Usa, and we can readily conceive the name, in lapse of years, to have been corrupted into that of Ysa and Ise ; more particularly if, as according to Speed, the Romans translated Ouse, Isis.
Nor is it at all improbable that, in passing Oxford, one of the earliest seats of learning in the kingdom, it attained the same classic cognomen, to which the general name Usa and Ysa so nearly assimilated.
In Hebrew, the word us, pronounced Owse, denotes speed - haste ; and in the early days of the church, the monkish brethren may have thought this word not an inappropriate term to represent the quick passage of the current ; and we observe that on the banks of both chief rivers thus named, two of the most ancient monastic edifices in the country have been situated.
Adverting once more to Bishop Gibson, he remarks, that the word Thame seems plainly
to be British, there being many rivers in England, of almost the same name ; as Tame, in
Staffordshire, - Teme, in Herefordshire, - Tamar, in Cornwall, &c.;
and Lhwyd afirms it to he the same with Tâf, which is the name of many rivers in Wales, the Greeks as well as Romans changing the pronunciation of f into m ; as Ptolemaeus, in his Geographia, mentions Pembrokeshire under the name of Demetia, or Dymetia which is, in Welch, Dyfed; the Temd in Shropshire is thought also to have the same British etymology ; or the word may be derived from the British Tavuys, which implies "a gentle stream."
We find, however, that the name is not confined to rivers or places in our own kingdom, and therefore is not "so plainly British."
In Hungary, the river Temes runs into the Danube.
Stephanus, in his work "De Urbibus," mentions the city and river Tamese, in Italy : - [Greek]
Polybius also refers to it as Temese.
The principal town of the Brutii was called Temesa : Pliny mentions it as Temsa, sometimes named by the Greeks, Temese.
Temese, or Tamasa, was also a city of Cyprus, famous for brass, and is mentioned by Homer :- [ Greek]
It is also alluded to by Strabo, Ovid, and Statius, as Tamasis, Tamasa, Tamese, and Temesa.
The definition of the original meaning of the word is not material in corroborating any point of the argument we have in view, as it appears more like an adopted, than a primitive term: we will, however, now briefly recapitulate the premises on which we have based our opinion.
It is apparent that the upper portion of the river is mentioned, in the earliest MSS., by a distinct designation from that of Tamesis : - that the single allusion to it in the records of Malmesbury Abbey, is not by any means conclusive of the general fact; more particularly, as it is well known that in ancient writings the copying of names was frequently left to the judgment of the scribe, and in very many instances, through elisions and omissions, they have been rendered extremely difficult even to decipher, and consequently it becomes very hazardous to deduce any facts from a solitary instance of MS. orthography ; the same inferences may be also drawn from the application of the word Temys, added to the remarks we have before brought forward respecting the use of the term, by the historians recounting the passage of Ethelwold and Canute.
The erroneous quotation likewise from William of Malmesbury, "cujus vocabulum Temis, &c.
" as cited by Camden's commentators, instead of "quod appellatur Temys," whether intentional or otherwise we pretend not to say, alters to a certain degree the signification ; as the appellative "appellatur" does not define the name so distinctly as the word "vocabulum," and Temys is more than probably written in the MS. with an abbreviatory mark for Temyse, as the terminal vowels, in writing names, were often omitted, the final consonant being only marked.
That the compound word Tamesis does not originate from "poetical fiction," must be acknowledged, from
the various historical accounts we have quoted ; and that the marriage of Isis and Thame, and
other "fanciful allusions," were adopted from historical facts, and not the facts from poetry,
and that therefore "it cannot be safely affirmed, it never occurs under the name of Isis.
As to the common people, from its head to Oxford, calling it by no other name than that of Thames, we know not what the "good people" might have termed it in the days of Bishop Gibson, but from personal knowledge we can vouch, that at present Isis stream is synonymous with that of Thames; the inhabitants in the vicinity of the river making use of both designations, but more commonly that of Isis, even below Oxford.
We have, we trust, satisfactorily proved, that the modern word Thames is a corrupted abbreviation of Thamisis, or Thamise, and if spelt, as in German, Themse would have better exemplified the original orthography.
Many of our readers, we fear, will be apt to exclaim with Juliet, "What's in a name ?" and we confess the dissertation, perhaps by some deemed desultory and prolix, has lengthened to a greater extent than we had at first anticipated; differing, however, in toto ccelo, with all the later authorities, it required considerable research and quotation to substantiate our grounds of opposition, more particularly as the opinion which we have now revived has been so often previously denounced as "vulgar," "evidently erroneous," "absurd," "visionary," and "without any foundation," &c.
These expressions, though strong, and to many conclusive, have arisen, we apprehend, from one or other of the causes assigned by Holinshed, that "dyvers doe ignorauntlye call it Thames, even at the source, rather of a foolishe custome than of any skilly because they eyther neglect or utterly are ignoraunt how it was named at the first".
Having endeavoured to elucidate the name of this Sovereign of British rivers, we must now invoke the genius of the stream to assist us in the arduous task of tracing the meanders of this favoured son of Ocean, and of displaying all the beauties of pastoral and woodland scenery, stately dome and Gothic spire, that enrich its banks through the various counties watered by its flood ; that flood which has so often witnessed the chivalrous deeds of early British heroism, and been dyed with the blood of the Roman, Saxon, Dane, and Norman: and though the glorious struggle for native liberty was for a time suppressed, yet has it ultimately burst forth with irresistible power, bestowing on our island the proud designation of "The Land of Freedom".
The numerous garlands and chaplets, blooming fresh with flowers culled from Parnassus, which have been entwined round the temples of father Thames, are so familiar to the general reader, as to render almost trite any reference or quotation ; yet, in attempting to describe the river's source and tributary streams, we cannot refrain from extracting that elegant and poetical allusion made by Pope to our favourite god : -
From his oozy bed
Old father Thames advanced his rev'rend head.
His tresses dropp'd with dews, and o'er the stream
His shining horns diffused a golden gleam:
Graved on his urn appear'd the moon, that guides
His swelling waters and alternate tides:
The figured streams in waves of silver roll'd,
And on his banks, Augusta, robed in gold;
Around his throne the sea-born brothers stood,
Who swell with tributary urns his flood:
First, the famed authors of his ancient name.
The winding Isis and the fruitful Thame.
Like the source of the Nile, and the natal city of Homer, the honour of giving birth to the infant spring of the Thames
has been claimed by different districts both of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.
A limpid spring, in the neighbourhood of Cricklade, and not far from Malmesbury, has by some been denominated "Thames' Head";
others have asserted, that the streams flowing by Swindon and Highworth are entitled to the distinction;
and many again have maintained that the Churn, which rises from seven wells in Gloucestershire, also termed Thames' Springs or Heads, and passing Cirencester in a south-easterly direction, joining the Isis near Cricklade, is the primitive river.
Dr. Campbell, in his Political Survey of Great Britain, states the sources to be four rivulets, rising in different parts of the Coteswold Hills, - the Lech, Coln, Churn, and Isis ; which, having skirted Wiltshire and united their waters in one channel near Lechlade, form a deep and copious stream.
This remark is perfectly correct, with the exception that the three former rivers are tributary to the Isis, lending merely their influence to swell the current of the parent stream ; as their course being extremely devious, branching widely to the right and left, leaves the more direct and upper portion of the country to be traced by their sovereign Isis.
But, it must be acknowledged, that though the county of Gloucester justly commands precedence in producing the honoured spring, yet it is in Wiltshire that the river first becomes navigable, and consequently of importance.
In Trewsbury meadow, in the parish of Cotes, on the confines of Gloucestershire, about a mile from the village of the same name, not far from Tarlton, and a quarter of a mile from the ancient Ackman street, or Bath fosseway, still the main road from that city to Cirencester, is situated "Thames or Isis' Head": the spring bubbles forth in a confined vale, from amidst a layer of loose flat stones, of the oolitic series, distinguished by the provincial name of Stone-brash or Corn-grate, and surrounded by a limited range of pastoral scenery.
The numerous little fountains rise in infantine playfulness, four to five inches in height, at the foot of some rising ground planted with picturesque shrubs and trees.
This eminence bears the vestiges of a Roman encampment, which appears to have consisted of a double fosse, known as Trewsbury Castle : in all probability a Roman station, as it is only three miles from Cirencester, which was occupied by the Romans ; Pliny mentioning this city as Corinium, and Antoninus, in his Iter Britannicum, as DuroComovium.
Several Roman coins and tesselated pavement have been found in the neighbourhood.
By the Britons it was called Cymceastre, and was, during the Heptarchy, a city of Mercia.
Mr. Peacock, in an able and highly classic poem, entitled "The Genius of the Thames," has placed, in happy antithesis, the incipient and final course of the river; depicting at the same time, with considerable truth, feelings almost allied to veneration, which naturally arise on beholding the rural and sequestered spot to which our majestic Thames owes its origin:
Let fancy lead, from Trewsbury mead.
With hazel fringed, and copsewood deep;
Where, scarcely seen, through brilliant green,
Thy infant waters softly creep.
To where the wide-expanding Nore
Beholds thee, with tumultuous roar,
Conclude thy devious race ;
And rush, with Medway's confluent wave,
To seek, where mightier billows rave,
Thy giant Sire's embrace.
Thames! when beside thy secret source,
Remembrance points the mighty course,
Thy defluent waters keep;
Advancing, with perpetual flow,
Through banks still widening as they go,
To mingle with the deep;
Emblem'd in thee, my thoughts survey
Unruffled childhood's peaceful hours.
And blooming youth's delightful way
Through sunny fields and roseate bowers;
And thus the scenes of life expand.
Till death draws forth, with steady hand,
Our names from his capacious urn;
And dooms alike the base and good
To pass that all-absorbing flood
O'er which is no return.
The line of country where "Isis' Head riseth," forms a continuation of the Coteswold,
or chain of hilly downs, famous for their sheepwalks and long-wooled sheep ; indeed, there
is a prevailing tradition, that the Spaniards originally procured their breed of fine-wooled sheep from hence,
though the point is contested by many modern writers.
Drayton, however, in his Poly-Olbion, only awards to these wolds one excellence: -
But Cotswold, be this spoke to th' onely praise of thee,
That thou of all the rest, the chosen soyle should bee,
Faire Isis to bring forth, the mother of great Tames,
With whose delicious brooks, by whose immortal streames,
Her greatnesse is begun.
The stream having trickled with feeble strength through grass and sedge for a quarter
of a mile, in nearly a straight direction, is assisted by the contribution of another spring
flowing from a large hollow or basin in the open mead ; when, diverging a few yards to
the right, it passes underneath the Cirencester road, through a narrow arched watercourse,
and entering the parish of Kemble and county of Wilts, pursues through the mead its gentle current for the space of about fifty yards,
and is met by a sister spring, rising in various small jets d'eau, from a well on the left ; the situation of which is not marked with
any other feature of landscape than the cultivated uplands and square tower of Cotes church
appearing in the back ground, with an expanse of meadow intersected by the high road.
On the right are a few trees, with a wall of loose stone, "Corn-brash", beneath which, through iron gratings, the stream seeks its union with the main rivulet ; and close on the left extends the formal bank of the Thames and Severn Canal, and by some this place is erroneously designated "Thames' Head".
"These streams", "tria juncta in uno" proceeding a short distance, arrive at another well, a much more copious spring than the other three, where a small reservoir and aqueduct are formed, in order to supply the neighbouring steam-engine pump, which throws an immense body of water into the canal during the dry months of the year, to prevent the liability of the navigation becoming impeded.
The engine, which is equal to the power of one hundred and forty horses, has been erected about thirty-six years, and draws, it is estimated, sixty hogsheads of water every minute.
The view from the bank, as well as from the rising ground on the opposite side, affords an agreeable rural scene, with the tapering spire of Kemble church embowered in rich and verdant foliage, which the annexed engraving pleasingly delineates.
[Not in any edition I can find.]
The bridge near here, with its single arch, is called "Thames'
Head Bridge," and bears the same character with the other numerous bridges built over the
canal; and as the Thames and Severn Canal has been the subject of much public attention,
and traverses on the left the same direction as the Isis, a short detail of its construction and
utility will not, we trust, be deemed uninteresting.
The union of the " fair Sabrina," or Severn, and the " lordly Thames," was for a succession of years a favourite theme of speculation on the part of the London and Bristol merchants.
During the reign of Charles the Second, a bill was introduced into the House of Commons to effect this desirable object; and Mr. Joseph Moxon, hydrographer to the king, and an excellent mathematician, surveyed the ground, with the view of ascertaining the feasibilitv of the undertaking.
No practical result, however, at that time ensued, though it continued the frequent topic of mercantile conversation, more particularly in the districts through which it was to be directed, as is exemplified in one of Mr. Pope's letters, written in the year 1772, to the hon. Mr. Digby, during his stay at Lord Bathurst's, at Cirencester.
The ideas are dictated with that powerful and poetic spirit, which is ever diffused through his productions :-
"I could pass whole days in only describing the future, and as yet visionary, beauties that are to rise in these scenes ; the palace that is to be built, the pavilions that are to glitter, the colonnades that are to adorn them ; nay more, the meeting of the Thames and Severn, which, when the noble owner has finer dreams than ordinary, are to be led into each other's embraces, through secret caverns of not above twelve to fifteen miles, till they rise and celebrate their marriage in the midst of an immense amphitheatre, which is to be the admiration of posterity a hundred years hence."
In 1730, a canal was formed by act of Parliament, from Framilode on the Severn to Walbridge near Stroud, and called the Stroudwater Canal, a distance of rather more than eight miles, in which space there is a fall of eight hundred and two feet.
By acts of the 22d, 31st, and 36th of George the Third, leave was granted to put into execution the important plan of bringing the Stroud Canal into junction with the Isis and Thames.
In 1782, several opulent individuals in London, chiefly merchants, engaged the noble and intelligent engineer, Mr. Robert Whitworth, to make a draught and estimate of the expenses ; and in 1783, when the act was finally obtained, it was specified that the sum of £ 130,000 would be sufficient to complete the work; but that, in case of emergency, the sum of £60,000 was to be raised on mortgage.
The citizens of the metropolis, sanguine in the success of the enterprise, subscribed the requisite amount ; and so zealous were many in the cause, that the connexions of one mercantile house alone contributed £23,000, and others £10,000.
In less than seven years the canal was completed, and on the 19th of November, 1789, the first vessel passed from the Severn into the Thames, amidst the acclamations of a large assemblage of people, attracted not only by the novelty of the sight, but in order also to witness the important accomplishment of a scheme deemed for many years visionary, that of uniting the two principal rivers of the kingdom ; the result of which, in conjunction with the various canals branching in all directions through the country from a common centre, they hailed as the joyful harbinger of considerable advantage to themselves and their posterity.
A communication thus opened with Wales, Bristol, Gloucester and Shrewsbury, bringing into connexion the canals of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, offered sufficient grounds on which a lucrative return for the original outlay might have been reasonably calculated ; but we fear these anticipations have not latterly been realised, as the amount of the dividend has now become extremely limited.
The formation both of this and the Stroudwater Canal met with numerous obstacles prior to their completion, as well from interested parties as from natural causes.
The water, in its course from Stroud through the beautiful and luxuriant vale of Chalford to Sapperton, or Salperton, a distance of seven miles three furlongs, is raised, by means of twenty locks, two hundred and forty-one feet three inches.
At Sapperton, the country becoming hilly, a subterranean channel or tunnel was cut through Sapperton Hill, extending four thousand three hundred yards, or about two miles and three-sevenths : in making the excavation, the hill was found to consist chiefly of stone, and considerable time and expense was incurred in blasting it.
The passage was eventually effected by Mr. Clowes, the acting engineer, on the 20th April, 1789.
The tunnel is fifteen feet in breadth, and two hundred and fifty feet below the highest portion of the hill ; with an arch of masonry at the top, and an inverted arch at the bottom, except where the rock rendered it unnecessary.
The cost was about eight guineas the cubic foot.
From hence the canal pursues a devious course through Gloucestershire and Wiltshire to Ingelsham, near Lechlade, a distance of twenty miles three furlongs; during which the water falls one hundred and thirty feet six inches, and is upheld by fourteen locks.
The general width of the canal at top is forty-two feet, thirty feet at the bottom, and five feet in depth.
The banks and towing-paths are made from the soil dug out of the canal, having warehouses, with cranes, placed at convenient distances.
A branch connects the navigation with the city of Cirencester.
The barges are generally twelve feet broad, eighty feet long, and draw, when freighted, about four feet water ; their burden being about seventy tons.
The whole length of the canal is thirty miles, and seven and a half chains ; which, added to the length of the Stroudwater, makes the distance from the Severn to the Isis about thirty-nine miles.
The exhaustion of all the neighbouring springs and drains, by the constant suction of the steam-pump, renders "Thames' Head," and the other tributary streamlets, perfectly dry in summer ; the course of the winter rivulet being only discovered through the dell by the spilge weeds, and ranker species of grass: during the wet and rainy months, however, all the springs burst forth, and their rills are often even swelled into floods, overflowing the adjoining meadows.
We will now leave the engine and reservoir, and retrace, through Kemble meads, the "marked remains" of the winter's course.
For some little distance the grass is quite dry; by degrees, water is seen oozing forth, and soon after it assumes a fluvial form.
In this meadow a few large stepping-stones are placed across the streamlet, for the convenience of passengers to and from Kemble, and in this simple and rustic mode is the passage of the infant Isis first effected.
Soon receiving the seasonable assistance of another rill from the left, and then the contribution of a fine and limpid stream, whose waters freely rise from a level source near the canal, the river, flowing over beds of water-cresses, expands into a broader current, eight to ten feet in width, and one to two feet in depth, with two small wears or dams to check its swelling tide.
Skirting the village of Kemble -
here Kemble's wood-embosom'd spire
Adorns the solitary glade,
And ancient trees, in green attire.
Diffuse a deep and pleasant shade.
Thy bounteous urn, light murmuring, flings
The treasures of its infant springs,
And fast, beneath its native hill,
Impels the silver-sparkling rill,
With flag-flowers fringed and whispering reeds
Along the varicoloured meads.
The rivulet bends circuitously to the left, and reaching the high road from Kemble to Cireucester, flows beneath a foot-bridge, from fifty to sixty feet in length, between three small loose stone piers ; and the annexed wood engraving will convey the picturesque effect of this primeval bridge erected over the river
Viewing this early and humble attempt at the construction of a bridge, our memory
vividly contrasts the incipient river timorously gliding beneath these rude and compressed
arches, compared with the mighty volume of water, rushing with irresistible impetuosity
through the wide expanse of those numerous arches, gracefully bending their beautiful and elliptical forms in architectural splendour across the Thames,
- the admiration of the world.
The rivers in England, it may here be remarked, are peculiarly favourable for the display of this architectural elegance, as the depths are generallyr moderate, and not so wide as to make ferrying absolutely requisite.
Stowe justly remarks, "these structures are accounted amongst our English excellences;" and we seem actuated in this instance with the same feeling as that of the Romans, who considered the accommodation and safety of the public so much concerned in the due repair and erection of bridges, that an officer called Pontifex like our bridge-master, was especially appointed for their inspection.
The village of Kemble, about six miles distant from Malmesbury, is prettily situated on
a gentle eminence on the northern extremity of the county of Wilts.
The manor, at an early period, was given to the monks of Malmesbury, and is mentioned in Domesday-book under the name of Kemele.
The church contains a monument of some antiquity, and described by Aubrey as follows :
"In the south aisle, in an old gothic nich, lies the effigies in grey marble of a chevalier, mailed and cross-legged; at his feet a woolf: they say his name was Allam or Hallam, and in this parish is a place yet called Allam's Court."
The spiral steeple of the church, which has long attracted attention as a prominent point of view from various parts of the surrounding country, was struck by lightning in December 1823, and so much shattered by the electric fluid, that it was found necessary to take it down ; since which, however, it has been re-erected.
The river, passing over the Kemble road, hastily reseeks the adjoining meadows;
pursuing a narrow and irregular current to the hamlet of Ewen, where a small wooden
bridge again crossing it, its stream acquires some degree of force, and traverses unconfined the Ewen road,
winding abruptly to the left for a short space, and then taking a contrary direction, resumes for some length its pastoral course,
a few lonely willows partially
relieving the uniformity of the banks, until its waters are, for the first time, brought into
utility by impelling a flour-mill near Somerford.
As it is the first instance of one of those numerous mills, whose useful machinery is put into action by the river, the annexed sketch will not prove uninteresting.
The whole body of the stream is concentrated on the wheel of the mill, and the waters, escaping in foamy irritation, soon resume their wonted calmness, flowing peacefully on through a continuation of rich pastoral country, interspersed with a few cultivated fields and uplands.
On some rising ground to the left, is situated Somerford-Keynes,
containing, by the census of 1831, 327 inhabitants.
It was originally the lordship of Ralph de Kaineto or Keynes, who, by marriage, had this manor given him by King Henry the First, and hence arose the adjunct of the word Keynes to the original name of the village.
We have before noted that a ford existed here in the time of Abbot Aldelm, towards the close of the seventh century, which most likely was only available during the summer or somer months.
The church, which is dedicated to All-Saints, rises prettily amidst the trees, with a square tower, whose corners terminate in small minarets.
The river, at this point, has a small dam across it, to impede the sudden swelling of the water from the accession of the rising springs or wintry rains.
On the right is a small farmer's house, the first rustic building that decks the banks of the youthful Isis; and though no comparison can be formed between the humble appearance of this cottage and those numerous villas, reared with all the wealth and elegance of modern taste, which crowd the banks of "Thames's stream," yet is its rural simplicity, with the roses growing in wild luxuriance around the door, far preferable to those vitiated specimens of castellated and gothic erections, ornamented with close trimmed trees - "Nature by barbarous arts left spoiled," and leaden Nymphs or Naiades spouting forth a thread of limpid water, which meet the eye near our metropolis.
A pretty dazied lawn before each door,
A circle of three feet, not one inch more;
Two yellow sentinels of broad sun-flower,
To guard a lattice fringed wth virgins bower;-
So have we seen, upon a linnet's cage,
The shy and flutt'ring warbler to assuage,
The chickweed and the groundsel thickly spread,
To form a shady covering o'er its head.
We must for a moment further digress, in order to acknowledge the hospitality experienced from the inmates of this country abode, and to admonish all tourists to provide themselves with refreshment before commencing their pedestrian task of tracing the river's course ; for though in the midst of a country that may be likened to Canaan, flowing with milk and honey, yet, except at Cricklade, the procuring of animal food is extremely uncertain, until arriving at Lechlade, a distance of twenty-five to thirty miles.
The river, on leaving Somerford, passes on a short distance, and is employed to work
another mill, called Kemble Mill, an extreme point of that parish extending in this direction.
The Isis, though not more than twelve to fifteen feet in width, has now assumed the decided appearance of a perennial stream ; and which, after performing various serpentine meanderings, for a space of two or three miles, winds abruptly to the left, and, becoming much broader but shallower, flows with all the soft stillness of a transparent lake, bordered by a cool overhanging copse.
The eye, having constantly gazed on an uninterrupted expanse of meadow, is agreeably relieved with the pleasing variety of foliage.
scenery is rather confined ; but its sylvan character, with the church and village of Ashton
Keynes, is rendered very
picturesque and interesting, - more particularly as it is the first spot, after leaving the source of the river,
that affords any pictorial line of beauty.
The village path, which is on the very margin of the stream, leads in about half a mile direct to Ashton Keynes.
The waters are lost here for a short time, in a flour-mill, resuming soon, however, their current through the village in a circuitous course -
they glide lingering ; loth
To leave such scenes of sweet simplicity.
Ashton Keynes is a very pretty rural village, containing, with the chapelry of Leigh,
The church, which is dedicated to the Holy Cross, is situated at the end of an avenue of fir-trees, whose bright and verdant tone of colouring form a pleasing contrast with the white and ancient square tower of the church.
The vicarage-house has a small stone tablet, with an inscription bearing the date 1584.
There are also in parts of the village three remains of crosses, but too much mutilated and defaced by the hand of time and man to afford any correct delineation.
One of the causes to be assigned for their erection may be the dedication of the church to the Holy Cross.
The river, on quitting the village, bends circuitously to the right for two miles through
the meadows, when it approaches a small bridge, called Water Hayes, near which some
shrubs and bushes partially destroy the flat and uniform appearance of the banks.
This rustic bridge is composed of five small stone arches, and is the first elliptical arch that the Isis glides beneath.
The country begins to assume a more interesting character.
On the right we observe a rich and sloping height, over which the road passes, leading from Malmesbury to Cricklade, and at the foot the silent stream winds in playful turns,
[N.B. Not the Thames and Severn Canal ]
until it arrives at the Thames and Severn Canal, underneath which it finds a subterranean
course through an aqueduct built of brick and stone.
The bed of the canal is about six feet above the centre of the three arches of the conduit, which are narrow and low.
This point may therefore be called the Alpha and Omega of the river ; all communication with the source here ceasing, and from hence re-commencing.
In the neighbourhood both of the canal and river, as well as on the other side of the town of Cricklade, which is about a mile distant, the disciples of Isaac Walton can enjoy excellent trolling.
The pike "run large," and have been caught exceeding thirty pounds in weight.
The Isis now flows tamely on, with the banks of the river Churn approximating on the left ;
and on the right, a little in advance, the borough-town of Cricklade, affording an
interesting view, situated on a gentle declivity, the houses rising one above the other
in picturesque gradation, with the old ivy-mantled church of St. Mary in the fore-ground,
and the lofty and stately tower of St. Sampson on the verge of the rising ground
to the right.
Passing the extensive flour-mill, belonging to Mr. Jennor, the river arrives at Cricklade Bridge, having completed a devious course for the space of about fifteen miles.
Cricklade is a town of great antiquity.
The name has given rise to much literary doubt and uncertainty.
By the earlier historians it is mentioned as Cricgelada, and sometimes Creckanford.
In a MS. in Trinity-hall Library, cited in the notes on Spelman's Life of Alfred, it is called Greekislake.
In a monkish narrative, entitled "Historiola Oxoniensis," it is asserted that the Britons commenced an university, which the Saxons removed to Oxford ; and in Brompton's Chronicles it is even stated that 632 B.C. certain schools for Greek were established at Greeklade, but afterwards removed to Oxford or Bellositum on account of the "pleasantness of the place."
In Mr. Leland's Commentaries, "de Scriptoribus Britannicis," speaking of King Alfred he says, that on the banks of Isis it was stated there existed two towns, one called Græcelade or Greeklade, now corrupted to Cricklade, thus designated on account of the Greek language being taught by the learned in the tongue, and the other Latinelade, where scholars were instructed in Latin and the art of Medicine, since altered to Lechlade, but that both universities were removed at an unknown date to Oxford.MS.
The monkish historians generally corroborate this account, and Sampson, afterwards Archbishop of York, is stated by Rossus Verovicensis, in his book, "de Academiis Britannicis," following the authority of Tavanus, to have studied at Græcolade.
The learned Leland, however, himself seems to have doubted the authenticity of the derivation of these names; Camden and later historians have perhaps, with justice, treated these etymologies rather as fanciful than original.
The name may have arisen from the Saxon words cpæcca, a brook, and ladean, to empty, as both the rivers Churn and Rey here discharge themselves ; but perhaps there is more probability, that it is derived from the old British word Cerigwlâd, denoting a stony country which corresponds with the nature of the soil of this district, for we find that the under-stratum of a large portion of North Wilts, in a direction from Cirencester and the Coteswold hills, consists of a loose irregular mass of flat broken stones, called provincially corn-grate.
The stones are usually found in horizontal beds, mixed with the earth ; in some places they are thin enough to be applied as slates to cover houses, and in some they assume the quality and shape of freestone.
In general, however, they lie in loose flat pieces, which are well calculated for building the dry walls so generally used for fences both in this part of the country as well as Gloucestershire.
The top soil of this corn-grate is chiefly a kind of reddish calcareous loam, mixed with irregular flat stones, and called usually stonebrash.
It runs for some miles, approaching the river both in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire.
In Doomsday Book the town is mentioned as Crichelade, and also Celewrde, and the church held by the church of St. Peter's at Westminster.
William of Worcester writes, that Cricklade was formerly called Chelysworth, and that the parish was six miles in circumference.
At present the two tythings of Great and Little Chelworth belong to the church of St. Sampson.
Cricklade, no doubt, has been a place of considerable importance ; and we read in the Red Book of the Exchequer, that there appertained to it 1300 hide-lands, or about 13,000 acres.
It now contains 1642 inhabitants, and consists chiefly of one long street.
It is thought by Dr. Stukely to have been a Roman station, from its situation on the Roman road, which connected Corinium or Cirencester with Spincæ, now Spene.
It is mentioned at an early period of our English history, when Ethelwald, the cousin-german of Edward the Elder, insisting on his preferable right to the throne of his uncle Alfred, raised an army of Danes and East Anglians, and overran the land of Mercia, until they came to Cricklade, in 905, where they forded the Thames.
In 1015-16, at the close of the reign of Ethelred, Canute made an incursion into England as far as Wilts and Dorset, and crossed the river at Cricklade into Mercia ; and a MS. in the Bodleian Library, mentions the various depredations and cruelties committed at that time in this neighbourhood. The town is a borough by prescription, governed by a bailiff, who is annually chosen at the court leet.
It first enjoyed the privilege of sending two members to Parliament in the reign of Edward the First, which it continued to do, with a few intermissions, until the year 1782, when, owing to some flagrant instance of bribery and corruption, the elective franchise was, in 1784, extended to the freeholders of the hundreds of Cricklade, Highworth, Staple, Kingsbridge, and Malmesbury.
Cricklade is divided into two parishes, St. Sampson's and St. Mary's.
The church of St. Sampson is a large and ancient structure, built principally of the corn-grate stone, in a cruciform shape, with a handsome square tower in the centre, supported by four pointed arches.
On the top is an embattled parapet, with ornamented pinnacles at the angles ; the interior part of the tower is open to a considerable height, and is decorated with several shields with armorial bearings ; among which are those of the Nevils, Earls of Warwick, one of whom is said to have contributed liberally towards the expenses of the erection.
On the south side of the church is a chapel built by one of the Hungerfords, and now the entrance porch.
The north aisle is called Widhill aisle, belonging to the Radnor family.
A tablet records the death of Robert Jennor, Esq., in 1651, who founded a free school here.
The endowment has since lapsed, and the building is converted into tenements for paupers.
There is also a large and ancient stone coffin, with a Maltese cross, but bearing no inscription.
At the southern base of the tower, on the roof of the church, sculptured in stone, is the annexed curious and antique representation of a dragon and "belted knight".
The history of the design is involved in considerable obscurity.
An old traditionary account relates that Cricklade, being surrounded with woods, the inhabitants and neighbouring peasantry were much infested with the sanguinary ravages of a dragon, and that a "belted knight," in relieving the country from the depredations of this monster, fell a sacrifice to the chivalrous attempt : or it may have reference to the prowess and deeds of chivalry performed by Sir Guy of Warwick, one of the heroes of the wild romance of the days of knight errantry, and whose descendants, as we have before stated, were instrumental in the erection of the church.
The two crosses, which are also engraved, are very ancient specimens of this early mode of exemplifying the emblem of our religion.
The engraving on the right portrays the
cross which formerly stood in the High Street, but has been since removed to the churchyard of St. Sampson.
The top is plain, with double compartments, without any effigies, and the base only ornamented.
The capital of the other is richly embellished with gothic niches, containing sacred and other representations, some of which are still in good preservation.
St. Mary's is called the Mother Church, and presents an ancient and venerable appearance.
The low tower, covered with ivy, the growth of many ages, has an highly interesting effect.
In the interior, between the nave and the chancel, is an early Saxon arch with zigzag mouldings.
Tanner, in his "Notitia Monastica," and cited by Dugdale in his "Monasticon," states that a hospital was founded at Cricklade, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, under the government of a warden and prior, early in the reign of Henry the Third, and that it stood near the bridge.
No remains, however, are now extant, but some land belonging to the hospital, in the parish of St. Sampson, is still called Spital.
Robert Canutus, who flourished in the year 1170, was born in this town; his name, however, seems to imply that he was of Danish extraction.
He afterwards received his education at Oxford, and became one of the canons of St. Frideswide's Priory in that city.
He dedicated a work called "The Garland," to King Henry the Second, being "The Flowers" or selected parts of Pliny's Natural History, and also wrote commentaries on the greater portion of the Old and New Testament.
The angler and aquatic tourist will no doubt deem serviceable the mention of the
different inns on the banks of the river, where the best accommodation is afforded;
we shall, therefore, notice them throughout the present work.
At Cricklade, the Greyhound is an excellent inn.
Cricklade Bridge is constructed of brick and stone, and consists of one broad arch.
The Thames and Severn Canal passes to the north of the town, and previous to its formation, the first navigation of the river here commenced, barges, carrying from six to seven tons, being freighted with corn, malt, bacon, &c.
Since the opening of the canal, all traffic has ceased ; and, save the miller's skiff, or fisher's punt, no boat is seen disturbing the peaceful bosom of the gentle Isis.
A few yards beyond the bridge, the Churn affords a copious and
welcome contribution to the parent stream.
This river rises at Cubberly, in Gloucestershire, about ten miles north of Cirencester, and passing through that city joins the Isis at this point.
The name of the river was anciently written in compound words Cori, Corin, and Ceri, ; as Caercori, Corinium (now Cirencester), &c.
The word is of British origin, Chwyrn signifying rapid.
A short distance in advance, the Rey, which commences near Swindon, in Wiltshire, lends also its rivulet force to render the Isis navigable.
The river now throws off the languid and sluggish ripple which has hitherto marked its character, and assumes a more active and rapid pace, indicatory of that intense commercial life and bustle, which its waters are eventually engaged in.
Pursuing its course still through meadows, it receives a small streamlet called "Stockham Lake," on the left,
having flowed rather more than a mile from Cricklade, reaches Eisey Bridge, composed of wood, for foot passengers.
On the left, on a pleasing eminence, stands the humble but picturesque church of Eisey, dedicated to St. Mary.
The parish is small, containing, with the township of Water Eaton, only 167 inhabitants.
The stream, wandering through
continued pastures, with numerous cattle, consisting principally of the fine long-woolled
Cotswold or Leicestershire sheep, and the long-horned and Gloucestershire breed of cows, grazing on the banks, forms, about a mile distant,
an inlet, termed the Cow's Neck, from the similarity of its shape, and where the water being too deep to allow the use of the
casting net, a mode of taking fish much adopted in this district of the river, becomes a kind of preserve for,
the larger portion of the "finny tribe," especially pike.
The spot therefore affords good sport to the angler.
A fisherman resident at Cricklade, has, however, a novel mode of securing the fish, superseding the use of rod, line, hook, and net.
The water having excavated the lower part of the bank, and created holes and crannies, the fish lodge themselves therein.
The man dives into the water, and by this subaqueous method catches the fish with his hand.
We not only heard the story, "strange though true," from the individual himself, but had the fact corroborated by respectable eye witnesses.
Before reaching the next village of Castle Eaton, the width of the river has rather
increased, and its banks become more sheltered by foliage.
Near the bridge, comprising six small stone arches, composed of corngrate, two islets have been made and planted with alders and willows, and a fresh direction thus given for a short space to the river.
The islets, though artificial, are pleasing to the eye, as being the first to assist in breaking the dull uniformity of the stream's surface, and thus rendering the prospect more rural.
On the right, close to the bridge, is a large meadow, where a castle in olden times reared its proud and lofty walls, and, according to Leland, when he made his Itinerary towards the close of the sixteenth century, "greate ruines of a building yet remayne on the Isis at Eiton, the Lord Zouche's castelle, and called Eiton Castelle," and whence the present name has arisen.
Within these thirty years, the few ancient and mouldering stones which continued to mark the site of the erection, have been removed and otherwise appropriated, and the spot is now merely occupied by a bed of thistles.
The neat little village of Castle Eaton contains 302 inhabitants ; and its church, dedicated to St. Mary, has a low square tower.
The river, which has now widened to the extent of fifty or sixty feet, sweeps boldly to the left, through the meadows ;
and then, bending towards the right, flows, within a
short distance, parallel to the canal, for two miles, until it arrives at Kempsford.
Before reaching this village the river regains its native county of Gloucester, and continues for a few miles, between the two shires of Wilts and Gloucester.
The pasturage that borders the Isis, during its course through North Wilts, is exceedingly rich, and has given rise to the adage, "That an ox left to himself, would, of all England, choose to live in the north of Wiltshire."
The meadows of Gloucestershire, which here nearly unite and assimilate with those of Wiltshire, are equally exuberant in dairy produce.
By the earlier chronicles, the county is reported to have been as fruitful as the land of Gerar, wherein Isaac sowed and reaped an hundredfold ; and "the pasturage so rich, that, in spring time, let it be bit bare to the roots, a wand laid along therein, over night, would be covered with new grown grasse by the next morning."
This part of the country was also formerly thought, from its fecundity, to be more favoured by God's presence than any other; it had, likewise, more mitred abbeys and sacred edifices than any other two shires, whence arose the ancient proverb of, "As sure as God's in Gloucestershire".
The village of Kempsford, in Gloucestershire, contains 800 inhabitants.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, consists of a nave, with a lofty and handsome square gothic tower, and is prettily situated on a slight acclivity, near the margin of the river, presenting a commanding and interesting object to the neighbouring country.
It was erected partly at the expense of Henry Duke of Lancaster, in the fourteenth century, whose arms, with those of Edward the Confessor, and the cognizance of the houses of Clare and Plantagenet, are displayed upon the capitals of the columns which support the roof.
The name of the place was anciently written Chenemeresford, Chene or Kyn, signifying, in a compound word, great or principal, - Mer denoting a sea or large water, and Mere also a boundary.
The name, therefore, implies the ford of the principal river or great boundary, which the Isis may be justly denominated in this part of the country.
The manor was, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, the property of Earl Harold, but was afterwards granted by the Conqueror to Hernulf de Heseling, a Norman soldier, who had accompanied him to England. After some years it came, by marriage, into the possession of Henry Earl of Lancaster ; and his son, Henry Duke of Lancaster, occupied here an extensive mansion, "whose walls were washed by Isis' purling stream".
Owing, however, to the unfortunate death of his only son, which took place at Kempsford, he quitted the village, and granted the property, in 1355, to the college of St. Mary the Great, at Leicester.
On his departure, his horse cast a shoe, which the peasantry nailed over the church door as a memorial of the event, where it now remains.
The manor ultimately devolved to the Coleraine family, by whose orders the mansion was levelled with the ground, towards the close of the last century, and the materials purchased by Mr. Loveden, of Burscott[sic] Park, near Lechlade, who used them in the structure of the present elegant house belonging to that family.
The outer walls, by the side of the river, as well as the entrance porch and gateway, are yet standing, and also the stabling and out-houses, which are used for farming purposes and a dwelling.
The mansion, or palace, was a quadrangular building of considerable dimensions, in the style of the ornamented architecture prevalent in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
Near the river is a picturesque mill, in a dilapidated state, and forms the subject of the accompanying engraving.
Mill at Kempsford
[ The steel plate images are surrounded by floral scrolls which do not reproduce well. ]
It was erected by the farmer, who resides on the premises, for his private use.
Bigland observes, there is a well founded tradition that Kempsford was the site of a royal palace in the Saxon times, and that the Chaworths and Plantagenets resided here in their castle.
The vicinity, also, by some authors, is supposed to have been the place where a battle was fought, about the year 800, between Ethulmund, chief of the Wiccii, or inhabitants of Gloucestershire, and Werstan, Earl of Wiltshire ; Ethulmund is reported to have crossed the river at this ford.
Rudder, however, with more probability, thinks that this hostile meeting took place at Cummersford, near Calne, where large entrenchments still remain.
Both Generals were killed, but the men of Gloucestershire were victorious.
The river Coln passes through part of the village.
The river having skirted the village, winds circuitously to the right, and flowing for a
mile and a half, reaches Hannington Bridge, one extremity of which is situated in the county of Wilts and the other in Gloucester ;
it is constructed of wood, with three arches on stone piers, the centre of which is considerably the largest.
The village, containing 415 inhabitants, is on the confines of Wiltshire, and retired from the stream.
From hence, and the neighbourhood, a considerable quantity of the different kinds of North Wiltshire cheeses are transported to London by the canal barges as well as waggons.
A distant but pretty view is obtained of the town and church of Highworth, in Wilts.
The Isis, receiving in the neighbourhood a small brook from the Wiltshire side of its banks, flows towards Inglesham,
a distance of about three miles, owing to the sinuosity of
With the exception of two or three rustic weirs, there are few objects of attraction, until the waters, expanding and deepening, approach Inglesham, the last place the river passes in Wiltshire.
The country now becomes more enclosed and enriched with foliage ; and, on the right, the ground is formed into pleasing slopes.
The houses of Inglesham lie scattered a mile inland from the banks, but the unassuming little church stands close to the river, with an old belfry, remarkable from the peculiarity of its form.
The whole parish comprises only 133 inhabitants.
The river, after rounding to the right, bordered by tall and shadowy trees, inclines again to the left, and arriving at the confines of Berkshire and Wiltshire, quits for ever the county of Wilts.
It now sweeps boldly to the right, and passes on the left the large flood-gates of the Thames and Severn
canal with a singular circular building on its banks, in which the lock-keeper and watchman
reside ; a slight wooden bridge is also thrown over the canal, forming altogether a pleasing group.
From hence the navigation of the Isis may be said to commence, and a free communication opened with the metropolis.
The river in its course to Lechlade, a distance of about a mile, increases its body of water, both in width and depth, as well by the accession of the river Colne, as by the care and attention paid in clearing the weeds, and preventing any obstruction to the passage of barges, which carry generally a freight of from fifty to seventy tons.
The frequent scarcity of water however in the summer months, and the consequent shallowness of the stream, added to the floods during winter, have rendered the navigation of these upper districts of the river very precarious, and deprived the towns and villages of many advantages which they might otherwise be supposed to derive from their locality.
The river Colne, celebrated for the number and size of its trout, rises near Brockhampton in Gloucestershire, and passing Sevenhampton, Withington, Foss-Bridge, Bibury, Coin St. Aldwin's, and Fairford, unites with the main stream near the junction of the Thames and Severn canal.
In the neighbourhood of the latter town of Fairford, the fly fisher can procure very excellent sport.
As we approach the town of Lechlade, the tapering
spire of the church, the bridge, and surrounding country, present an interesting and
Leachlade, or Lechelade, was constituted a market town by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother to Henry the Third, and is situated on the borders of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and near the conflux of the river Lech.
This river rises in the parish of Hampnet, in the Coteswold district of Gloucestershire, and, flowing by Northleach and Eastleach, forms an union near here with the Isis.
The name of the town originates in the word Lech, an old British term, signifying a stone, from the cold and petrifying nature of the waters of this stream, and Lade, a contraction of the Saxon word ladean, to empty.
This derivation is much more reconcileable to reason than the constrained etymology adduced by the monkish fathers of Latinelade, which we have alluded to when speaking of Cricklade.
The parish, including the hamlet of Linhill, in Oxfordshire, contains 1,244 inhabitants.
The town and manor of Lechlade was, at the date of Doomsday Book, the property of Henry de Ferreres, - "Henricus de Ferreres tenet Lecelade; tenuit Siuuard Bar:"
and stated as having a fishery for cc anguillae or eels, minus xxv.
This is the Baron Siward, of whom the following fabulous account is related:
The daughter and heiress of an earl of the royal blood of Denmark, while walking in a wild forest, was ravished by a bear, and bore a son with ears like his father.
This son of a bear succeeded his mother in the earldom, and was father of Siward, who, quitting Denmark, came to England, where he was hospitably received by King Edward the Confessor.
In a quarrel with Tosti, Earl of Huntingdon, Siward slew him and carried his head to the king, who, in reward, gave him the earldom of Huntingdon and Northumberland, and made him governor of the northern counties, and, among other grants, he came into possession of the town and manor of Lechlade.
Henry Ferreres was ancestor of Ferrers, Earl of Derby, by whom, on the marriage of Lady Isabel, an heiress, the manor and town were conveyed to Roger Mortimer, progenitor of the Earls of March.
Afterwards reverting to the crown, it was given in 1252 by King Henry the Third to his brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and Senchia his wife, on the death of whose son it again came into the possession of the crown ; and passed in succession through the families of Talbot, De Spencer, Holland, and Grey, until granted by Edward the Fourth to his mother Cicely, duchess of York.
It afterwards became part of the dowry of Catherine of Arragon, on her marriage with Henry the Eighth, but has since descended into the possession of the family of Sir Jacob Wheate, and latterly of Mr. Churchill.
Leland, in his Diary, says,
"Lechlade is a praty olde towne, and hath a pratie pyramis of stone at the west ende of the church."
The church, now dedicated to St. Lawrence, was formerly sacred to St. Mary, and was rebuilt, during the reign of Henry the Seventh, at the joint expense of the vicar, Conrade Ney, the priory of St. John, and the inhabitants.
It is a handsome building, in the pointed style of architecture, embellished with grotesque heads and figures, as prevalent in the fifteenth century.
The nave is spacious, with double aisles, supported by two rows of light fluted columns.
At the west end is a square embattled tower, terminated by a well-proportioned spire.
A substantial stone bridge, composed of five arches, unites the town with the county of Berkshire, and is the first structure crossing the Isis that bears the character of being erected for traffic and durability.
The annexed engraving, taken from the Berkshire side of the river, embraces the town, church, and bridge, which are the only objects worthy of note.
[I can't find that engraving anywhere. The very misleading "five arches" may account for difficulties in identification. There is only one main arch (and three, or more tiny arches). Send me a copy if you can find it! It probably looked something like this ]
Towards the close of the last century, a subterranean room
of large dimensions was discovered in a meadow near the town, which appeared to have
been a Roman bath.
It was supported by pillars of brick, curiously inlaid with composition of various colours.
At the New Inn very comfortable accommodation is afforded, and good trolling obtained in the vicinity.
In 1784 a canal was projected from Lechlade to Abingdon, which was to have passed near Buscot, Eaton Hastings, Farringdon, Hinton, Longworth, Fyfield, and Marcham, but the measure was successfully opposed in the House of Commons, by parties interested in other speculations of the same nature.
St. John's Bridge, which is accounted one of the earliest erections across the Isis, is about half a mile distant from Lechlade.
The river, before it reaches the bridge, has been divided, in order to assist the navigation ; and a canal or cut formed to the left, with a lock or flood-gates-the first we meet with on the stream.
The main current pursues its course to the right, flowing through two pointed stone arches of rather singular construction, which compose the ancient bridge ; and the canal passes beneath a flat elliptical arch.
The waters now united, forsake their native county of Gloucester, and become the boundaries of Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
Beyond the bridge, a large meadow lies on the left, where the Priory or Hospital of Black Canons stood, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and from whence the bridge received its name, part of the lands of the priory being appropriated to its repair.
The land was given by the Lady Isabel de Ferrers, in 1245, and the priory most likely established through her munificence, though Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and his wife Senchia, are generally regarded as the founders; but they, in all probability, only completed or improved the hospital, which the Lady Isabel had commenced.
The same lady is also said to have built a nunnery in the neighbourhood.
In 1473 the priory was suppressed, and the revenues applied in endowing a perpetual chantry of three priests in the parish church of St. Mary, Lechlade.
Leland mentions, -
"As I rode over Isis, at the very end of St. John's bridge, on the right hand, I saw a chapelle in a medow and great enclosures of stone waulles.
Heere was, in hominum memoriá, a priory of Blake Chanons.
When this priory was suppressed, there were three cantuaries erected in the church of Lechlade, and there remained, until of late days one Underwood, dean of Wallingford, found means that two should be removed to Wallingford College."
Some of the foundation-stones of the priory have lately been dug up near the bridge, but at present there are no visible remains of the hospital.
The river, soon bending to the right, forms various playful curves, and the banks,
though more compressed, afford a pleasing prospect of the village of Buscot in Berkshire,
containing 416 inhabitants, and formerly called Burwardscott or Burscott, with the church
rearing its square and turreted tower amidst rich and green foliage, and some interesting
views of the bridge and spire of Lechlade.
The stream, passing the pretty vicarage house, inclines to the left, and seeks a more direct course, until its progress is impeded by the rustic and picturesque lock and weir of Buscot, the latter of which is represented in the accompanying sketch.
Buscot "lock and weir" Open?
It is the first instance of the lock and weir being thus in connexion, and exemplifies the general character of the means employed on the Isis of retarding the flow of water.
On the right, the delightful undulating grounds of Buscot Park, with plantations and picturesque groups of trees, gratify the sight;
the family seat of Mr. Loveden occupying a delightful situation enveloped in trees.
The remains of the palace at Kempsford were employed, as we have before mentioned, in the erection of the present mansion.
The estate of Buscot Park was purchased from the family of the Stonors in 1557, by Walter Loveden, in the possession of whose descendants it still remains.
It is asserted, that in the title-deeds, dated the twenty-ninth year of the reign of Edward the Fourth, the river, which forms a boundary to the grounds, is described as the Thames, and this circumstance has been strongly urged as an exemplification that the name Isis was imaginary, and not historically correct.
The faets, however, we have adduced to the contrary will, we trust, be deemed a sufficient confutation of this erroneous opinion, as this allusion merely proves the general, not the identical or authentic appellation of the upper district of the river.
We must here observe that the name of the late worthy owner of Buscot Park deserves to be enrolled in the annals of the Thames and Isis, as one of the most active and intelligent Commissioners of the Thames Navigation, and principal promoter for carrying into execution the Thames and Severn canal ; and as a member of Parliament, he was the zealous Chairman of the Committee appointed by the House of Commons, in 1793,
"to inquire into the progress made towards the amendment and improvement of the navigation of the Thames and Isis, in consequence of the several acts passed for that purpose, and also of the state of the trade of the said rivers."
Owing to this investigation and report, an act was passed in 1795, explaining and amending those of 1771 and 1775, and giving new powers to improve the Thames.
Since which, the navigation has been materially facilitated, particularly by the removal of shoals, and the building of new locks.
Much, however, remains to be done ; the communication with the metropolis being still tedious and uncertain, particularly for the larger description of barges.
Leaving the wooded slopes of Buscot, the banks of the stream become more level, with an expanse of rich meadow on either side;
and after various meanders, the distant
hills of Farringdon rise in view, which, with the cultivated land in the neighbourhood,
aided by the picturesque weir of Eaton Hastings, convey no unpleasing idea of the
placid and rural beauties of English landscape.
Eaton Hastings occupies a retired situation remote from the water, and contains only 167 inhabitants.
The village of Kelmscott borders the river on the opposite bank, with a population of 140.
The church, dedicated to St. George, with its ancient tower, is almost entirely concealed by the number of trees which surround it.
A large family house, now somewhat dilapidated, which belonged to Mr. Turner, stands near the stream, shaded by tall and stately elms.
As the river advances, the banks become more sheltered with shrubs and hedges, and the prevailing flatness is agreeably relieved.
The little village of Heighton, in Berkshire,
skirts prettily a portion of the stream ; and the small chapel, situated among the trees,
assumes more the appearance of an humble dwelling than a place consecrated to the Deity.
The commanding heights of Farringdon, as the river proceeds, and the hill richly crowned with a verdant cluster of wood, constantly attract attention ; and some of the sudden turns which its course forms, display many interesting and varied points of scenery.
The strong and ancient bridge of Radcot, formerly called Ratcote, is now observed, on
approaching which, part of the river is diverted into another and broader channel in order
to assist the navigation, and which was carried into effect in 1787.
The old and deserted course continues its current, slowly and sullenly to the right, through the three original arches of the bridge, as portrayed below.
Old Radcot Bridge
The navigable branch is directed to
the left, over which one arch is extended.
The building of the bridge and construction of the arches bear the character of considerable antiquity, and it is, doubtless, one of the earliest erections of the kind over the Isis or Thames; the exact date of its building however is uncertain, though it appears that a causeway was commenced in the neighbourhood as early as the reign of William the Conqueror, probably by Robert d'Oyley, who erected Oxford castle.
Exclusive of the various beauties of the neighbouring scenery, the spot is rendered interesting from historical anecdote.
Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, one of the most distinguished favourites of Richard the Second, having been created marquis of Dublin and duke of Ireland, excited the jealousy and envy of some of the more ancient branches of the nobility.
The refractory barons headed by the duke of Gloucester and earl Derby, afterwards Henry the Fourth, resorted to arms, for the purpose of humbling the king through the destruction of his favourite.
The earl was not backward in opposing their hostile intentions, and the rencontre took place in 1387 at Radcot Bridge; but his troops being routed, de Vere saved his life by plunging his horse into the Isis, and swimming to an obscure point of the opposite bank.
He fled the realm, and died about three years afterwards at Louvain.
His body, however, was brought to England by order of the king, and interred with great pomp at Colne, in Essex, His Majesty attending the funeral in person.
Between the bridge and Farringdon Hill, is Farringdon House, built by Henry James
Pye, the poet laureate, and occupying a very delightful situation.
The laureate has celebrated the beauties of the adjacent country in one of his minor poems, which possesses more merit than the generality of his works.
The old family house was garrisoned for King Charles during the civil wars ; which Sir Robert Pye, the owner, who had married Hampden's eldest daughter, and was a colonel in the Parliament army, attacked with Cromwell's troops ; at the same time the spire of the church was demolished by the artillery.
There are no remains at Farringdon of the ancient castle : and Leland mentions,
"I asked for the castle that the favourers of Matilda Empress erected at this place, and King Stephen after pulled down, but they could tell me nought of it."
The prospect from the hill affords a rich extensive view over parts of Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire.
Leaving Radcot Bridge, the river flows silently on, and the banks on either side afford few points of natural beauty,
the country being marshy and level, until on a sudden turn
of the stream we arrive at Clarke's Bucks, or Radcot Weir.
It may perhaps be necessary to explain more minutely the utility and character of these weirs, without locks, which are frequently met with in the upper districts of the river.
They consist of artificial dams, carried across the stream, in order to confine the water to a certain height, for the services of the mill, fishery, or navigation.
A large range of framework, which resembles the railings of a bridge, rises from the bottom of the river, and supports a number of small flood-gates, like square paddles, sliding in grooves, and connected with a sill at the bottom.
When drawn up, or as it is provincially termed, giving a flash, the whole body of the stream, being collected into a narrow space, rushes through with great rapidity, and gives a temporary depth to the water ; by which barges are forced over the shallows.
The weirs also, are always connected with various accessory circumstances, as the mill, the fisherman's hut, or the cottage of the person who collects the tolls : breaking the line of the river, they heighten and vary the character of the scene, which is increased by the water in parts spouting through the apertures of the flood-gates, in others, fretting among the mossy timbers, or rushing over aquatic plants that cling to the frame-work; and thus, broken into a thousand rills, continue the current of the river.
Clarke's-Weir forms a very picturesque example of these necessary appendages to the navigation.
On the right, the landscape continues picturesque ; while, on the other bank, the line of country is flat and uninteresting.
The river, after passing a small weir with merely a hut, designated
Old Nans Weir, and forming various curvatures, reaches Rushy-Weir and Lock, where
the stream, gliding between shady trees, pursues its course to the right ; but a cut, or
small canal with a lock, has been made to the left for the convenience of barges.
The coup d'oeil of the islet on which the house of the keeper of the lock is situated, sheltered with foliage, and the water clear and unruffled, adding to the serenity of the scene, creates a charming rustic picture.
The Isis now makes various windings, and presents
the spire of Bampton Church, in Oxfordshire, frequently to view.
Though the town is removed from the principal course of the river, yet a small branch passes by it.
Before the Conquest, it was a place of some importance ; at present the population of the whole parish does not exceed 2514.
The market is noted for fellmonger's wares, few towns in England having had so great a trade in leather-jackets, gloves, &c.
The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a large and handsome cruciform building, with a fine Norman tower in the centre, surmounted by a lofty spire.
Not far westward from the church, are the remains of the castle ; no part of which seems to be of earlier date than the reign of Edward the Second, when Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, had a licence to embattle his mansion at Bampton.
The parish includes the chapelry of Shifford, and the hamlets of Aston, Cote, and Chimney.
The town likewise possesses interest in being the birth-place of the poet Philips, author of the Splendid Shilling, and a poem on Cider.
The former has the uncommon merit of an original design; and the latter, written in imitation of the Georgics, is, as Dr. Johnson justly observes, a "work of entertainment and science".
The river now soon passes beneath the bridge of Tadpole, composed of one strong
stone arch, of limited span, as the banks, near the village, become more compressed.
A short distance beyond the bridge, is Kent's or Tadpole-Weir.
The fine and richly wooded heights of Buckland are seen rising on the right, ranking amongst the loftiest scenery that borders the Thames, and causing an agreeable change from the uninterrupted flat and level country, which so much abounds in the upper districts of the river.
The square tower of the church rears its ancient front with much beauty from the deep green of the surrounding trees, and forms a continuation of the high ground stretching from Farringdon.
This range of hills ascends gradually from the vale of the White Horse, in Berkshire, which derives its name from the enormous figure of a white horse that is cut on the side of one of the chalk hills, and supposed to be in commemoration of a victory obtained by Alfred over the Danes at Ashdown, in the year 871.
Buckland House, the family seat of the Throckmortons, occupies a charming situation amidst a thicket of stately trees.
The house is of stone, built after an elegant design of Mr. Wood, of Bath, and has, on a nearer approach, the appearance of a Palladian villa.
The parish, with Carswell, contains 946 inhabitants.
The river now diverges from the hilly tract of country, and again directs its course through meadows, its boundaries being only denoted by a few solitary willows; and for some distance it lingers among green luxuriant pastures, affording various views of Farringdon hill, Buckland woods, and Bampton spire, which are the only objects that enliven this uninteresting portion of the stream.
Passing the small hamlet of Chimney, in a marshy and exposed situation, containing only 42 inhabitants, the river, after numerous
meanders, approaches the chapelry of Shifford or Sifford.
In the records of the family of de Zouche, to whose estate it belonged in the reign of Edward the Second, it is written Sibford.
This was once a place of considerable note ; at present, however, there are no vestiges to point out the extent or importance of the town ; the whole population not exceeding 47, and the only remaining church, dedicated to the mother of St. Paul, is hardly distinguishable from the few humble cottages and houses that surround it.
In a neighbouring meadow was held one of the earliest parliaments recorded in Britain.
From a MS. in the Cottonian library, it appears that at Sifford an assembly of the chief men of the kingdom was convoked by King Alfred ; and the curious orthography of the notification merits a verbatim copy.
"There sate at Sifford many Thanes many Bishops, and many learned men, wise Earls, and awful Knights.
There was Earl Elfrick, very learned in the law ; and Alfred, England's herdsman - England's darling.
He was King of England : he taught them that could hear him, how they should live:"
we apprehend "could hear him", means "could understand him".
The manor remained in the family of de Zouche ; but at the dissolution of the abbeys, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, being found to appertain to St. Frideswide's at Oxford, it came into the king's possession, who settled it upon the new college of Christ Church.
The river, gliding on, flows through Shifford Weir, and soon assumes, from its breadth and expanse, a much more imposing aspect ; a small ait or islet, springing up from the glassy bosom of the stream, agreeably relieves the uniformity of the waters.
The country on the right is extremely pretty, and the hills in the distance well wooded ; amidst a portion of which the house of Mr. Simmonds occupies a pleasant site, at Hinton two miles inland, where there are the remains of a Saxon fort, consisting of a mound with a deep ditch, and which most likely served as an out-post or watch-tower to the large camp at Cherbury.
After various short and diagonal windings, the stream takes a sharp angular turn to the left, and presents the appearance of a serene and beautiful lake.
The deep reflection of the hanging coppice on the right affords a cool refreshing shade, and imparts the idea of a rural and sheltered retreat which the eye has sought for in vain through the open and level scenery which has latterly constantly characterised the margin of the river.
Limbre's-Weir, which is not far distant, is rather picturesquely situated; and from the compressure of the current, there is generally a fall of water, forming, in the rainy season, a kind of cascade, and dangerous, without due caution, to the progress of small boats.
The river, after bending to the left, resumes its course to the right, and arrives at the ancient bridge of New Bridge, composed of seven pointed arches, each decreasing from the centre.
The line of the bridge across the meadows on the Berkshire side is extended over five, and on the Oxfordshire side, over two arches.
The account given by Leland of this place nearly accords with the present appearance.
"The ground all about Newbridge lyeth in low meadows, often overflown by rage of rain.
There is a large causeway of stone at each end of the bridge."
The river Windrush, which rises near Guiting, among the Cotswold hills in Gloucester,shire, and passing by Bourton on the Water, Windrush, and Barrington, enters Oxfordshire, near Burton, and, flowing through Witney, falls into the Isis near Newbridge.
The waters are of a nitrous quality, and so impregnated with that abstersive salt, that the blankets manufactured at Witney acquire a degree of whiteness superior to those made in any other part of the kingdom.
The river abounds with trout, pike, and crawfish.
The village of Newbridge consists only of five or six houses, and affords little accommodation to the traveller.
The banks of the river, on quitting this place, become more enclosed and sequestered ; and the several abrupt meanderings of the stream present the neighbouring landscapes under various pleasing forms.
The village of Northmoor
lies on the left, in Oxfordshire, on the verge of an extensive moor, and contains 360
The parsonage house, which was built in 1558, is picturesque.
reaching Cock's-Weir, little variety of scenery occurs until the arrival at Hart's-Weir, or Noah's Ark,
where the banks become more wooded, and the river is divided into three
separate streams ; between the two broadest is an ait, with a pretty rustic cottage.
On one side is the sluice, through which the water, having attained more body, rushes with considerable noise ; another branch flows through the open weir, and the third forms a back-water.
Not far distant is a small ferry,
and about a mile in advance, Langley-Weir,
from either of which points a direct road leads to Stanton Harcourt, a place "venerable from its antiquity, classical,
as the scene of Pope's poetic studies, and dignified, from its noble possessors."
The manor has remained in the family of the Harcourts for more than 600 years.
Queen Adeliza, daughter of Godfrey, duke of Brabant, and second wife of King Henry I. granted the manor of Stanton to her kinswoman, Milicent, whose daughter, Isabel, marrying Robert de Harcourt, it assumed, from that period, the name of Stanton Harcourt; and the deed of gift was afterwards confirmed by King Stephen and Henry II.
The house, chapel, gateway, and other buildings, all bear the character of high antiquity.
The house has not been occupied by the family since 1688; - the bailiff, at present, making use of the habitable rooms.
The private chapel, situated at the end of the house, has two rooms over it, about thirteen feet square.
The upper chamber, from whence a fine view is obtained of the surrounding country, is called Pope's Study ; -Pope having passed a portion of two summers at Stanton Harcourt, for the sake of retirement; and on a pane of stained glass, in the window of the room, he wrote the following inscription:
"In the year 1718, Alexander Pope
Finished here the Fifth Book of Homer."
The glass has been since removed to Nuneham Courtenay.
As an instance of the Licentia vatum claimed by those, whose thoughts and conceptions are "winged through the airy region of poesy," we would adduce the description, given by Pope, of the large and ruinous mansion of Stanton Harcourt, in a letter to the duke of Buckingham.
Though it is fraught with that luminous wit for which this celebrated poet was justly deemed pre-eminent, and written in an amusing and flowing style, yet, in the detail, it deviates materially from the fact.
"The kitchen is of very early erection, and in its form and general appearance bears some resemblance to the abbot's kitchen at Glastonbury ; according to antiquarian conjectures, it was repaired, and the present windows inserted, about the reign of Henry IV.
The building is square, without any chimney, and the walls thirty-nine feet in height.
A winding staircase, in a turret, leads to the roof, beneath the eaves of which are shifting blinds or shutters, in order to give vent to the smoke, according to the direction of the wind ; and underneath are numerous tenter-hooks, where the wild boar and bacon were hung and smoked.
The porter's lodge and gateway, which exhibit but slightly the defacing effects of time, were built by Sir Simon Harcourt, in 1547.
Stanton church is a handsome building, erected in the form of a cross.
The windows in the lower part of the tower are of Saxon architecture, but the upper and turreted portions appear of later date.
The side windows, in the north and south transepts, are of the lancet form, which prevailed in the reign of Henry III.
The church contains several ancient monuments and tablets, commemorative of the death and titles of various branches of the Harcourt family.
The Harcourt chapel, annexed to the south wall of the chancel, is a good specimen of the ornamental Gothic, and appears to have been built about the reign of Edward IV.
Among other curious monuments are those of Sir Robert Harcourt, and his wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Byron, and widow of of Sir William Atherton.
Sir Robert was installed a knight of the garter, in the early part of the reign of Edward IV.
His lady has a veiled head-dress, falling back, and the order of the garter on the left arm, granted her by the king, on the death of her husband.
Likewise the tomb of Sir Robert, grandson of the former, and standard-bearer to King Henry VII. at the battle of Bosworth.
William, earl of Harcourt, and field-marshal of England, who died in 1830, also lies buried here, and on whose death the title became extinct.
The mural inscriptions are rendered distinguished by being graced with the lines of Pope and Congreve.
A tablet, on the exterior of the north wall, records a remarkable circumstance, as mentioned by Gay, in a letter to Pope, dated Stanton Harcourt, 9th August, 1718.
The inscription runs thus,-
"Near this place lie the bodies of John Hewet and Sarah Drew, an industrious young man and virtuous maiden of this parish, who, being at harvest work, were in one instant killed by lightning, the last day of July, 1718."
The catastrophe was rendered more pathetic by the parties having been fondly attached to each other, and on the morning of that very day had obtained the consent of the parents to their union.
Mr. Pope, on hearing of the melancholy occurrence, wrote the following lines, which are affixed on the tablet as an epitaph, and evince that the sublimity and inspiration of the Grecian muse did not elevate his mind beyond the real events of humble life
Think not by rig'rous judgment seized,
A pair so faithful could expire;
Victims so pure, Heaven saw well pleased,
And snatched them in celestial fire.
Live well, and fear no sudden fate,
When God calls virtue to the grave;
Alike 'tis justice - soon or late,
Mercy alike, to kill or save.
Virtue unmoved can hear the call,
And face the flash that melts the ball.
In the fields adjoining Stanton Harcourt are three monumental stones, known by the name of the Devil's Quoits,
reared to commemorate an engagement fought near Bampton,
in the year 614, between the Britons and Saxons, when the Saxon princes, Cynegil and
Cwhicelon, slew more than two thousand of the natives.
The largest of these natural obelisks is nine feet in height and six in breadth, though it is evident that the size has been considerably diminished by the effect of the elements.
These stones have for ages been regarded by the peasantry with a degree of superstitious awe.
Their rude and irregular formation attracted attention, and excited the curiosity of the inhabitants, who, unable to account for their origin, attributed them to supernatural agency ; -and thus has historical fact been frequently clothed in a mysterious garb, and the powers of reflection, unaided by education, finding it fruitless to attempt to penetrate the mist and obscurity that surrounded the object, rested satisfied with the delusion.
Hence the belief has been prevalent, that the powerful arm of Lucifer had hurled, as disks, these immense stones from Cumner Hills, in Berkshire, about three miles distant, to mark the spot of some sanguinary event.
Frequently, when ploughing or digging for gravel in their vicinity, Saxon coins, swords, spear-heads, and armour are found. On leaving Skinner's or Langley-Weir, the landscape bordering the river on the right is pleasantly interspersed with wood and cultivated uplands ; but on the left the country retains its former level character.
In the mean time, the stream pursues its silent course
until impeded, at the distance of about a mile and a half, by Pinkle Lock and Weir, to which no toll-house being attached,
it is necessary for the aquatic tourist to be provided
with a winch to open the gates, or much trouble and inconvenience may be otherwise
The bank on the Berkshire side now displays a delightful line of undulating scenery ; and the height of Cumner Hurst, partly wooded and partly arable, with various cattle browsing on its highest verge of down, presents a highly picturesque effect; and the approximating hills of Wytham, richly covered with foliage, continue the range of elevated ground. Quitting the Lock, the river becomes more expansive, and its waters present the appearance of a calm unruffled lake, at the extremity of which a small greencrested islet arises.
The boundaries of the current become much narrower; and soon
after the stream, forming numerous meanders, flows through Ensham Bridge, a handsome
stone structure, erected by the earl of Abingdon about the year 1777.
Cumner Hurst cannot fail to attract the attention, as forming a leading object in the scenery on approaching Ensham; but being also in the vicinity of Cumner Place, a much more lively interest is excited, since the magic pen of Sir Walter Scott, in his delightful novel of Kenilworth, has portrayed in such vivid colouring the sufferings and trials that the lovely and unhappy Amy Robsart, countess of Leicester, experienced in that place.
The name of Cumner has been brought into such general notice, that it becomes necessary to give a more detailed description than our limited space will generally admit, more particularly as the place is removed from the banks of the river.
The village was originally of great extent ; at present, however, with different tithings and the chapelry of Wootton, it contains only 1364 inhabitants.
The manor belonged, from an early period, to the opulent abbots and convent of Abingdon, by whom it appears to have been used as a lazaretto.
At the dissolution of the abbey, Cumner Place was granted by Henry VIII. to Thomas Pentecost, the last abbot, for his life.
It then came into the possession of the notorious Anthony Forster, who considerably improved the building, and made it his residence.
The Hall House, as it was subsequently termed, occupied a gentle eminence on the south side of the road, towards the eastern extremity of the village, and abutted on the church-yard; but in 1810 the whole structure was pulled down, and part of the materials employed in the erection of Wytham Church.
The principal portions of the house exhibited, in their architectural features, the style prevalent in the time of Edward III.
Its form was quadrangular, enclosing a court yard.
The entrance arch to the Hall is now in the porch of Wytham Church.
At the northern extremity of the west side was a large room, projecting beyond the line of the other buildings, called the buttery.
Over this was a spacious chamber, the entrance to which was by a pointed arched doorway in the corner of the quadrangle, opening upon a flight of stone steps, carried round a newel, which led to an apartment having but one window, the largest in the whole mansion, and which has been carefully re-erected at the east end of the chancel of Wytham Church.
According to tradition, this was the identical chamber occupied by the countess of Leicester, previous to her melancholy decease ; -a certain degree of probability was also attached to it, from the manner in which it communicated with the stairs, corresponding so accurately with the description given by Ashmole.
The whole building had, however, prior to its total demolition, been for some time in a state of great dilapidation.
The church is one of the handsomest in the neighbourhood, and contains the tomb of Anthony Forster.
Returning to Ensham, we observe that the main road from Oxford to Gloucestershire passes over several minor arches connected with the bridge, and erected across the meadows, which are flooded during the winter months.
The town is of considerable antiquity, and several Roman remains have been found in the neighbourhood.
It was conquered from the Britons by the Saxon prince, Cuthwulph, and became afterwards a royal villa.
The Saxon name was Egonesham, afterwards written Eynesham, Einsham, or Eynsham; and Sir Henry Spelman alludes to it as Ænham.
The town is mentioned in the earliest periods of our national history, as a place of considerable note ; and, in 1005, it acquired an accession of importance from an abbey founded by ^Æthelmar, or Ailmer, earl of Cornwall, in honour of the Virgin Mary, St. Benedict, and All Saints ; the foundation was confirmed by charter of King Ethelred, "who signed," says Camden, in the words of the original, "the privilege of liberty with the sign of the holy cross"; the town is also styled in the charter, locus celebris, or, celebrated place.
The king continued to bestow marks of favour on the town, and, in 1009, held a council of state, at which many ecclesiastical as well as civil ordinances were enacted.
The abbey, which was falling to decay, was repaired, and received several rich benefactions in the time of Henry I. and during the succeeding reigns ; but, at the dissolution of the monasteries, in 1539, it fell into the rapacious hands of Henry VIII; since which it has gradually gone to decay, and the remains now extant give a very faint idea of its former extent and magnificence.
The present church, dedicated to St. Leonard, is a handsome gothic edifice, situated near the meadows, about half a mile from the river.
Its fine square tower adds a picturesque effect to the rural and interesting scenery of the neighbourhood ; near the church is an ancient cross, with an elegant taper shaft.
The parish contains 1858 inhabitants, and has an endowed school for fourteen poor children.
The air and situation of the town are reckoned particularly salubrious, and, in consequence, several respectable seminaries have been established here.
On quitting Ensham Bridge, the river winds to the right, passing through Boldes' Weir.
The country, on the right, is pleasingly relieved by cultivated acclivities, ascending gradually from the banks ; and the range of Wytham heights presents a fine display of forest scenery.
On the left, rising above the trees which embower the village of Cassington, is seen the ancient spire of the church, which owes its origin to the munificence of Geoffry Clinton, chamberlain to Henry II.
A short distance from the weir, on the left, are two large floodgates, where
the Evenlode unites its current with that of the Isis.
This river rises in a parish of the same name in Worcestershire; and, passing the south-east corner of Gloucestershire, enters Oxfordshire, when, after a devious and sequestered course, its stream having put m action several mills, and fertilized the meadows of many a village, passes the confines of Blenheim Park, where it receives the waters of the Glyme, a rivulet whose name would have remained unnoticed in history, had it not contributed to form one of the finest artificial and most ornamental waters in Great Britain.
The Glyme commences its obscure course in the north-western part of Oxfordshire, not far distant from Enstone; And, passing through the village of Kiddington, which has acquired a degree of celebrity from the historical account of the learned Dr. Warton, it flows through Glympton, Wootton, and Woodstock, into Blenheim Park.
Brown, with his usual taste, perceived the propriety of expanding the limits of its confined banks, but of retaining the original direction and elegant meandering of the stream, which nature had bestowed with peculiar care, and art could hope in vain to equal.
He therefore swelled its trickling current into a splendid sheet of water, covering a superficial space of 250 acres, adorning a park of twelve miles in circumference, and affording relief, lightness, and elegance to a magnificent structure, which had been previously considered heavy and cumbrous, inducing modern critics to eulogise this grand architectural effort of Sir John Vanbrugh, in direct contradiction to the censures of his contemporaries.
Brown was so well satisfied with the effect of his labours, that he has been heard to boast,
"the Thames would never forgive him for what he had done at Blenheim."
The Isis now flows on for the space of about two miles, and, passing King's Weir, the width of the stream considerably expands,
and its calm surface is dotted over with green islets of willows.
The river, prior to its assuming a rectangular direction, becomes divided; a small streamlet, branching to the left, glides by the village of Woolvercott, and unites with the parent stream, below Godstow; another winds to the right by Wytham and the chapelry of Seacourt, where its banks originally formed the boundaries of the Dobuni and Attrebatii, and the altered course of the main stream, bending to the right, exhibits, for the space of another mile, the luxuriant scenery of the Wytham woods under a new and more pleasing aspect, until, again contracting its current, it reaches Godstow or Woolvercott Bridge.
Between this spot and Boldes' or Swithin's-Weir, the Isis, according to Dr. Plott, in his Natural History of Oxfordshire, "gave, in 1674, ample testimony of its abounding with fish.
In two days' fishing of M. Maior and the bailiffs of Oxford, between Swithin's-Weir and Woolvercott Bridge, a space of about three miles, 1500 jacks were caught, besides other fish."
We doubt if an equal distance, in any part of the Isis or Thames, would, at the present day, afford such sport.
The Trout at Godstow, Godstow Weir, and Godstow Bridge
The antiquity of Godstow Bridge, added to the gothic simplicity of the two arches passing over the now neglected stream,
and a small islet partially covered by a picturesque
group of foliage, which, in overshadowing the bridge, casts a pleasing and mellow tone of
colouring, contrasted with the grey and time-worn stones of which it is composed,
combines, with the farm-house on the banks, in producing a highly interesting picture
the beauty of which is considerably enhanced by the ruins of Godstow Abbey, and the wooded scenery contiguous to the village of Wytham.
In order to assist the navigation, a canal or cut has been made, running nearer and more parallel with the crumbling walls of the abbey than the river, over which an arch has been constructed, making a continuation of the original bridge.
The remains of the abbey and convent of Godstow, or place of God, are situated in Oxfordshire,
on the island formed by the branch of the Isis which flows by Wytham.
Towards the close of the reign of Henry I., John de St. John gave this parcel of ground to a religious and inspired matron of Winchester, named Editha, Ida, or Ediva, who, with the assistance of charitable contributions, erected on it an abbey for Benedictine nuns, and which was consecrated in the year 1138, to the honour of the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, in the presence of King Stephen, Matilda his queen, Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, and other dignitaries of the Church.
King Henry II. became a distinguished benefactor to the abbey, generally supposed on account of "fair Rosamond," who was buried here.
King John bequeathed a considerable sum for masses, that the holy sisterhood might relieve by their prayers -
"The soules of his father King Henrie, and of Lady Rosamond";
and this religious sanctuary seems to have been an object of much esteem and importance ; for we find that "a remission of forty days was granted to all those who visited the church in devotion on the days of the Virgin or St. John the Baptist."
At the dissolution of the abbey, the site, with the greatest part of the adjoining estates, were granted by King Henry VIII. to his physician, Dr. George Owen ; and Hearne mentions, in one of his volumes of Diaries at Oxford,-"1718. - The Earl of Abingdon hath the site of the nunnery now, from the Duke of Marlborough by purchase"; since which the property has continued in his lordship's family.
A considerable portion of the building existed at the period of the parliamentary wars, when it was occupied by King Charles's troops, but was afterwards destroyed by fire.
The remains now chiefly consist of ranges of walls on the north, south, and east sides of an extensive area, and a small building, the Chapter House, at one of the angles near the river, a view of which is given in the annexed wood engraving.
At the western extremity of the high north wall are fragments of two buttresses, and where, from an early and curious engraving still extant, we find there was formerly a massy tower, beyond which protruded a range of embattled wall, communicating with the principal entrance, over which, in a lateral direction, was a lofty round tower.
The principal domestic buildings occupied the western division of the area, and had ranges of cloisters underneath.
The church was on the north side, and part of the church tower was standing in the early part of the present century.
This venerable and interesting relic was, however, taken down by order of Lord Abingdon, and the materials appropriated in the erection of the present parish church of Wytham.
The remains of the abbey, though fraught with interest to the antiquary, poet, and moralist, possess in themselves little grandeur, or few points of pictorial attraction.
in viewing these solitary and deserted ruins, we feel impressed with the sombreness of the
scene, and trace, on memory's page, the earlier history and incidents connected with these mouldering walls.
The tenderest associations, allied to melancholy, naturally arise in reflecting on the life of the fair but frail Rosamond; when, in the pride of youth, beauty, and innocence, she was wont to grace these precincts with her presence ; and the gallant and enamoured Henry, with all the ardency of early affection, first whispered to the beauteous maid his tale of love.
Images like these dazzle in the eye, and lead the fancy captive.
On reversing the visionary picture, we behold her pale emaciated corpse, the mortal remains of deluded innocence and beauty, consigned prematurely to the cold and narrow tomb.
Our feelings then revolt at the recollection that even the quiet of the grave was denied, by an austere and bigoted prelate, to this wreck of loveliness ; -and learn, "that sermons may indeed be found in stones, and a pointed moral be drawn from mouldering relics."
The circumstances attending King Henry the Second's connexion with Rosamond, have been either treated with indifference, or studiously concealed by the writers of that period, as an impenetrable shade involves the historical facts.
It is, however, certain, that Rosamond, the daughter of Walter, Lord Clifford, was placed as a boarder in the nunnery of Godstow, in order to receive her education.
The sisterhood, it appears, were allowed considerable license ; in the gardens were embowered recesses and shaded walks ; and, to prevent the possibility of these becoming tiresome, from want of variety, the fair inmates and devotees were permitted to visit several neighbouring places.
One of the most favourite resorts was Medley, on the opposite banks of the Isis, between Godstow and Oxford, which belonged to Osney Abbey; and, according to Wood, "the Canons built here a fair house, with a little oratory or chapel, and made it a retiring place up the water for the abbot."
There is now merely a lonely building on the spot, which has been converted into a farm-house.
Binsey was also often favoured with their company.
It is supposed that Henry first saw Rosamond in 1149, during one of these excursions, at which time she was not more than fifteen years of age, and the prince very young.
Her surpassing beauty and other accomplishments captivated the heart of her royal admirer; and, as expressed by Camden, "drove the thoughts of all other women from his heart, and made her commonly called, Rosa mundi, the Rose of the world."
If the account handed down of the discipline of the nunnery is correct, opportunities of overture were not unfrequent.
It is more than probable that Henry reconciled the scruples and softened the fall of his victim by promises of honourable retribution; and his solicitations are stated to have been but too successfully abetted by a female confidante.
The love, however, of princes, as well as the purer dictates of their consciences, are too often sacrificed at the shrine of political expediency.
"The repudiated queen of France, Eleanor of Guienne, held the support of a sceptre in her hand," and the pretensions of beauty ensnared, and innocence subdued, were of trivial moment compared with the claims of state necessity.
For some time after Henry's marriage, Rosamond continued to reside in Blenheim Park, where, in order to conceal her from the jealous eye of his Juno queen, who, as Virgil says, "æternum servans sub pectore vulnus" was bent on her destruction, the king had caused to be constructed round her dwelling a labyrinth, whose various turnings rendered it an inextricable maze.
There is every reason to believe that, after the lapse of a few years, being convinced that her honour was irrevocably forfeited by her sovereign's marriage, she returned to the convent, and died there in penitence and seclusion.
The story of her being poisoned by the queen is of modern invention.
Brompton, Knighton, and Higden, historians of repute, all agree that she died a natural death.
The Ariadne account of the clew of silk, by which the queen was enabled to obtain possession of her person in the labyrinth, is more traditionary than authentic.
Henry showed an undeviating predilection for the nunnery; and when Bernard de St. Walery, who possessed the advowson of Godstow and adjacent manor of Woolvercott, presented them as a peace-offering to the king, whom he had offended, Henry immediately bestowed them on the prioress and nuns.
The body of Rosamond was interred by her parents before the high altar with considerable pomp, and a costly monument erected, of which, according to Ranulph Higden, the enamoured monarch was lavish in the decoration.
The following quaint epitaph is recorded to have been inscribed on the tomb:
Hic jacet in tumbâ, Rosa mundi, non Rosa munda,
Non redolet, sed olet, quæ redolere solet.
"Hugh, bishop of Lincoln," says Stowe, "came, A.D. 1191, to the abbey to the nunnes, and when he had entered the church to pray,
he saw a tombe in the middle of the quire, covered with a pall of silke, and set about with lights of waxe, and demanding whose
tombe it was, he was answered, it was the tombe of Rosamond, some time lemman to Henry II.,
who, for the love of her, had done much good to the Church.
Then quothe the bishop : Take this harlot from hence, and bury her without the Church, lest, through ' her, the Christian religion should be scandalized, and that other women, warned by her example, may refrain from unlawful love.
When the mouldering body of Rosamond was removed, it was placed, according to Hoveden, in the nuns' chapter house, who also states Ihat the sisters collected the bones and put them in a perfumed leather bag, enclosing them in lead, and laid them again in the church, under a fair large gravestone ; which corresponds with Leland's account of its situation after the dissolution of the nunnery.
He says, "Rosamunde's tumbe at Godstowe nunnery, taken up a late, as a stone with this inscription witnesseth: Tumba Rosamundæ.
Her bones were closid in lead, and within that the bones were closid in letter (leather) ; when it was opened, a swete smell came out of it."
Mr. Allen, of Gloucester Hall, describes this tomb as "having on it interchangeable weavings, drawn out and decked with roses, red and green, and the picture of the cup out of which she drank the poison given her by the queen, carved in stone."
But Gough very justly criticises this erroneous account of the emblematical devices, by saying,-
"I confess myself strongly inclined to believe this ornament was intended for a cross-fleuri, such as was frequently on the coffin lids of ecclesiastics, and the cup for a chalice, as often found thereon."
Rosamond had two sons by King Henry, Richard, surnamed Longespée, from the length of the sword he usually wore, and Geoffery Plantagenet, archbishop of York.
Both were treated with much consideration by their royal father, which they repaid, by their filial affection, to the latest hour of his existence; exhibiting a striking contrast, when compared with the conduct of his legitimate offspring, Kings Richard and John.
In the area, near the ruined walls of the chapter-house, are two remarkably large hazeltrees, the stems of which measure from eighteen to twenty-four inches in circumference; and the fact of their bearing apparently fine fruit, though always without kernels, has led to a provincial superstitious notion, that they are types of the beauty, but frailty of Rosamond; the peasantry not being aware that the law of nature prescribes sexes to the vegetable kingdom ; and that both being female trees, they cannot produce perfect fruit without the farina of the male plant.
The village of Wytham, anciently written Witteham and Wigthham, is about half a
mile from the river, behind the abbey, situated at the foot of the fine range of woods
before alluded to, with a small bridge passing over the branch of the river that flows by.
The parish contains about 218 inhabitants.
As early as the eighth century, mention is made of a convent having been established here.
Cissa or Cilia, sister to Abbot Heane, founded a nunnery at Abingdon, in the year 690 ; and on her death, the "sisterhood removed higher up the river, to "Witteham, where they remained until the place becoming a frontier position between the contending forces of Kinewulph, king of the West Saxons, and Offa, king of Mercia, the nuns, terrified by "war's alarms," forsook their holy seclusion.
On the summit of Wytham Hills have been found the massive fragments of a fortress, supposed to have been erected by Kinewulph ; which afterwards falling into the hands of Offa, was constituted a regal residence.
The present mansion, or castle, of the earl of Abingdon was built about the reign of Henry VI.
The gate-house, in the centre of the front of the building, and the hall, are interesting specimens of early architecture.
The hall, remaining nearly in its original state, conveys a good idea of baronial splendour.
The castle is still partially surrounded by a moat, and the grounds are laid out with considerable taste, and afford some fine views of the county and city of Oxford.
The church was originally erected by the monks of Abingdon ; but after various reparations, would again have fallen to decay, had not the earl of Abingdon lately rebuilt it with materials from the abbey of Godstow and Cumner Place.
It has a square embattled tower.
The window at the east end of the chancel, and the Saxon arches of the porch and gateway, leading into the churchyard and garden contiguous, have been brought from Cumner.
The arch over the entrance into the churchyard has this inscription:
Janu vitæ, verbum Domini. H. 7. 1571.
In the vicinity of Wytham, nearer Oxford, is situated Seacourt, formerly denominated Seckworth, Senkworth, and Seke-Court.
It was anciently a large town, and contained several inns, - as many, it is stated, as twenty-four, - for the reception of pilgrims to the church of Binsey and St. Margaret's Well.
This place, which is also related to have once maintained the Roman army, has dwindled into insignificance, and comprises now only five houses and 25 inhabitants.
Some remains of its buildings are still visible, on the margin of the river ; and, when the water is low, fragments of the bridge which crossed the Isis at Binsey are discernable.
About half a mile from Godstow Bridge is the village of Woolvercott, in Oxfordshire,
situated two miles north of the city of Oxford, on the banks of a branch of the river, at the extremity of Port Meadow,
and contains 524 inhabitants.
The church, dedicated to St. Peter, is a neat gothic building, with a low embattled tower.
According to legendary accounts, it was in a wood near this spot that Memphric, the supposed founder of Oxford, was, while enjoying the pastime of hunting, destroyed by wolves.
Having passed through Godstow Lock and Canal, the scenery assumes a novel and highly
The river, swelling its ample bosom, seems proudly urging its flood to offer homage to that ancient and noble receptacle of learning, Oxford, whose venerable towers, steeples, and lofty domes, "mid academic groves enshrined," rise in changeful succession above the level plain, and present a combination of objects unrivalled in grandeur and beauty.
The country on the right consists of meadow land, with a bold sloping background, interspersed with rich foliage, and on the left is an extensive pasturage, reaching from Woolvercott to Oxford, containing 439 acres, called Port Meadow, or Portman's Mead, given by William the Conqueror to the citizens as a free common.
In [opposite] this meadow, not far distant from Oxford, is situated the small village of Binsey,
where the holy virgin, Frideswide, about the year 730, constructed a chapel, with "watlyns and rough hewn timber," to the honour of St. Margaret ;
in the solitary shades and seclusion of the neighbourhood, afterwards built a church with
adjacent buildings, as a retirement for herself and sister nuns.
Near Binsey, also, was the celebrated well of St. Margaret, which, in conjunction with several miraculous relics contained in the church, attracted crowds of votaries in long and weary pilgrimage.
Medley, which adjoins Binsey on the south, had also a religious sanctuary, which we have before referred to as belonging to Osney Abbey.
As the stream advances, the cupola of the Oxford Observatory first arrests the attention,
then the dome of Christchurch, the elegant spire of St. Mary, that of All Saints,
Magdalen tower, with its lofty pinnacles, Merton College, and others of equal note, crowd
on the observation, until the distance is closed by Shotover Hill.
The river now separates into different channels, which all reunite before quitting the city.
The principal stream pursues its narrow course to the right, and soon arrives at High Bridge, termed provincially South or Botley Bridge, forming one of the principal entrances to the city.
It is a stone structure of three arches.
The original name being Hythe Bridge, the Saxon word Hythe signifying a small haven.
The stream, winding in a serpentine direction, skirts the south-western boundary of the city.
On the right is a continuation of meadow, and on the left is the parish church of St. Thomas, and the grey, solitary, and massive round tower of Oxford Castle.
The church was originally built by the canons of Osney, in 1141,, which, with its embattled tower, has been lately repaired.
In this parish, near the river, the magnificent abbey of Osney, or Ouseney, once reared in all the pride of gothic architecture, its stately fabric.
But the notoriety of its riches and splendid hospitality seems almost to have faded away with those who possessed the one, and dispensed the other.
The name of Ouseney does not unnaturally lead to the supposition that it was derived from the abbey's situation nigh the river Ouse, or Usa, and might be adduced in confirmation of the opinion we urged at the commencement of the present work, as to the original designation of this portion of the stream.
We find that the style of architecture was so exquisite, full of variety, fine workmanship, and curious carving, that the abbey excited the wonder of all beholders, and Anthony Wood adds, "was not only the envy of all other monastic foundations in England, but also of those in foreign countries".
Robert D'Oyley, nephew to the distinguished favourite of William the Conqueror, and constable to King Henry I. at the solicitation of the king, married Edith Forne, a lady of great beauty, who had been mistress to that monarch.
At her instigation, her husband founded, in 1129, a priory of canons, Augustines, on one of the islands not far from the castle of Oxford, and which was soon after constituted an abbey.
In 1247 it was rebuilt, the monks, authorised by the pope's legate, having raised a considerable sum of money by the proclamation of forty days' indulgence and forgiveness of sins, to all who contributed.
At the dissolution, its yearly revenue amounted to £551. 18s. 6d.
In 1542, upon the erection of the new bishoprics, the church of the abbey was made the cathedral church of Christ.
In 1546, however, the episcopal chair was transferred to the conventual church of St.Frideswide, called Henry the Eighth's college, which became the cathedral of the See, and called Christ Church, and the bishopric of Osney converted into that of Oxford.
During the reign of Queen Mary, masses were performed in the abbey ; after which it gradually declined, until its demolition was completed by the depredations of the republican parties during the Commonwealth.
An arched window in the upper part of a barn, is now the only vestige of this once splendid edifice.
In the western suburbs of the city, close to the Coventry Canal, at the back of High Bridge-street, and in the parish of St. Thomas, are a few remains of Rewley Abbey, formerly called Roy-lieu, or regalis locus.
It was founded for Cistercian monks, in 1280, by Edmund, earl of Cornwall, in accordance with the will of his father, Richard, emperor of Germany, and second son of King John.
The ancient castle of Oxford, of which there is now only one mouldering and time-worn tower standing to mark the site, was built by Robert D'Oyley in 1071, with the intention, most probably, of intimidating the inhabitants of the neighbouring country, who had manifested considerable opposition to the ascendency of the Norman king.
Towards the close of the year 1142, the Empress Maud, with her adherents, bravely defended themselves in the castle for three months, against the aggression of Stephen and his army.
After suffering extreme privation, and resolving not to trust her life in the hands of the king, her enemy, she made a chivalrous effort to escape.
The river happened to be frozen over, and the ground covered with snow.
Accompanied by three knights, all clothed in white, they passed the warders unobserved, crossed the river, and traversed the country on foot to Abingdon ; where, taking horse, the empress arrived safely at Wallingford, and was joined by her son, Henry, and her half-brother, the gallant earl of Gloucester.
The day after her flight the castle surrendered.
In the reign of Edward III. the castle was repaired and strengthened.
In the succeeding reigns, however, it became dilapidated, though in 1619 the stately towers, which are represented as having been highly ornamental to the western portion of the city, were still remaining ; but the castle being soon afterwards garrisoned by part of the parliamentary forces, the towers were pulled down and the fortifications improved.
In 1651, when Charles II. arrived at Oxford, after his defeat at Worcester, the castle was entirely demolished, without apparent reason, in the short space of four days, and the garrison removed to New College.
At present, the ground is occupied by the county gaol, erected under the direction of the architect, Moneypenny, who has given the exterior the form of a castle, as congenial to the spot on which it was reared.
The boundary wall encloses a space of three acres, and the prison, for strength and convenience, is not surpassed in the kingdom.
A wing of the gaoler's house adjoins the ancient tower, in the basement of which is a cell for refractory prisoners, as there formerly used to be in the castle for refractory clerks.
The stream now glides on through a commodious lock, and passing, in its devious meanderings a newly erected gasometer on the left,
its further progress becomes impeded by a broad and well constructed weir, near which have been lately established some works
for supplying the city with water.
Here the river again divides ; a small navigable branch directing its course to the left through another weir, and the main stream passing beneath the arches of South or Grandpont Bridge, now called Folly Bridge.
The waters having skirted the sides of a small islet, soon reunite and flow uninterruptedly on, laving the classic grounds and meadows of Christchurch,
until they receive the tributary river of
This latter stream passes on the eastern side of Oxford, through Magdalen Bridge, the two rivers thus nearly insulating the city.
In reference to the ancient and celebrated city of Oxford, at once the pride of our own
country and the admiration of foreigners, so many excellent and elaborate works have
been written, that it is nearly impossible to advance any thing new on the subject.
In its twofold capacity of a city and a university, it merits a distinct narration ; which, however, the confined limits of our present undertaking will preclude the possibility of giving in detail.
We have, however, endeavoured to lay before our readers a succinct account, from the earliest historians who have treated of its origin and antiquity.
According to the authority of Miles Winsore, "it deserves to be reckoned not only among the first and most ancient cities of Britain, but of all Europe;" it was formerly surrounded by a wall of an oblong form, with towers at about 150 feet distance from each other, including a space of about two miles in circumference ; at present, the extent of the city is more than a mile in length, from east to west, including the suburbs ; nearly the same from north to south, and about three miles in circumference, comprising 20,434 inhabitants.
It is situated in Wootton hundred, in Oxfordshire, fifty-four miles west from London by way of High Wycombe, and fifty-eight by way of Henley.
The city occupies a gentle eminence, rising from a luxuriant vale, encompassed with rich meadows and fertile fields, bounded by a pleasing range of hilly country.
Towards the east is a gradual ascent of two miles to the summit of Shotover Hill.
The soil is an excellent sandy loam, with a substratum of gravel.
It is almost impossible to convey to the reader, who has not visited Oxford, the effect created on the mind on first entering the city.
The magnificent colleges and noble edifices give an indescribable grandeur to the streets.
The delightful walks - elegant gardens - invaluable libraries and public display of learning - the beauty of the meadows and river, which constantly refreshen the sight, added to the salubrity of the air, conspire to render the city one of the ornaments of the kingdom.
The ancients entertained for it the greatest degree of veneration, bestowing on it the highest encomiums, and distinguishing it by the appellation of Bellositum quasi a belle situm from the beauty of its situation.
Poets even made it a kind of Elysium:
Qui videt Oxoniam, peregrinas visere Terras
Desinet, est nihil quod præpossuisse potest
Si Deus in terris aliquando habitaret, opinor,
Sedibus Oxonii se voluisse frui. -
From the various histories of the earliest writers, it would appear, that in the 1009th
year before Christ, and in the year of the world 2954, Memphric, king of Britain, grandson
of Brutus, whose origin and descent, Milton observes, "is defended by many, and denied
utterly by few," first founded the city, whence it derived the Celtic name of Caer-Memphric, or city of Memphric.
According to the historian, Ross, the original site occupied the west end of the present city, in the quarter where the ruins of the castle stand : and its erection was not completed until A.M. 2960, the tenth year of the reign of Memphric, which, according to the genealogical tables, would be coeval with David, king of Judea, thirty-eight years before the building of Solomon's temple, and 298 antecedent to Rome.
According to the profound Dr. Burley, certain philosophers, who came out of Greece, had the ordering of the situation of the town by Memphric's command.
It is often alluded to in early writings, under the old British denomination of Caer Pen Halgoit, or coit, meaning a city situated on an eminence, between rivers, adorned with groves or woods, answering likewise the characteristic given it by the Romans.
During the space of 1146 years, the place is mentioned by Winsore, Twyne, and other historiographers, as being "the glory of cities, the seat of princes and the muses," until the reign of Claudius, the Roman emperor, whose general, Plautius, waging a continual warfare with the Britons, the city was eventually destroyed, and few vestiges left remaining, save its name of Rhyd-ychen, signifying, in the Celtic or British language, a ford for oxen.
In the year 170, it arose Phoenix-like, from its ashes, and appears to have commanded attention, being cited by Claudius Ptolomeus, under the name of "Caleva" vulgo Oxonia, applying to the ancient Galena of Antoninus, from the Celtic word Gal, bordering on, and Len, a river.
According to Symmachus, Vortigern, in 449, restored the city to its ancient dignity, in whose honour it was called Caer-Vortigern.
Leland, however, states, that it did not long retain its new appellation, being reduced by the Saxons, "by hard usage, to a village".
When the Saxons, in 689, had subjugated
Britain, Fitzherbert mentions that they formed the name of Rhyd-ychen after their own
familiar etymology, and translated the word into Oxonaford, or Oxeneford, and encouraged the advancement of the city,
as a place set apart for the progress of learning.
This attention to letters, on the part of the Saxons, may be attributed to their previous conversion to Christianity, an important epoch in this century.
In 889, during the reign of Alfred, it was the residence of himself and his three sons, Edward, Athelward, and Alfward ; money was also coined here in the king's name, called Ocsnafordia, or Oksnafordia.
In 910, Ethelfleda, sister of Alfred, fortified the city against the Danes, whom she repulsed ; they, however, destroyed it by fire in 979.
The Oxonians, it would seem, exclaimed with Claudius, regarding Rome, that "the city should be eternal"; and, by great exertion, aided with contributions, it soon reappeared.
During the reign of the Danish king, Swain, it was partly burnt and pillaged, but again revived; and, in 1015, King Ethelred held here a conference with the Danes.
In 1022, Canute convoked an assembly in the city of the nobles of the land, when the laws of King Edward were ordered to be translated into Latin ; and, in 1026, Canute confirmed, by his royal authority, "in Parliament at Oxford," the laws of King Edgar.
In 1036, Harold I., surnamed Harefoot, was crowned here ; and, in 1039, died in the city.
In 1067, soon after the coronation of William the Conqueror, the king arrived at Oxford on his road to the north to quell the revolts in that part of the kingdom.
The city refusing to offer him allegiance, was stormed on the northern side, and an easy entrance effected.
The king gave the greatest portion of the town to his favourite, Robert d'Oyley, with a command to fortify it with a castle on the west side.
In 1068, the citizens were calculated at 1200, and had the liberty granted of coining money.
At the same time several fraternities and mercatorial guilds existed, with a constable to preside over them.
These advantages are attributable to the number of students, as also for the sake of artificers, and convenience of merchants.
In Doomsday-book, the city is mentioned as Oxeneford, in Oxenefefscyre, and stated to have suffered much dilapidation, "having
been a populous city," and at that time the population and students did not amount
to more than one-third of the number which inhabited it in more prosperous times.
In proof that Oxford was, at this early period, renowned, not only in Europe, but also in Asia, Sherif el Edrifi, an Arabian philosopher of the eleventh century, makes particular allusion to it under the name of Ozeford, adding, that it stood on the same river, Tamitz, as London.
Having now arrived at an era of our national history, when the system of internal government became more civilised, and the country was freed from the inroads of foreign enemies, the succession of civil and political events in which Oxford was afterwards connected, have been so often and ably recorded by those historians of our country, whose works are perused by all who consider its history an object of utility, curiosity, or accomplishment, that it would be superfluous to trespass on the reader's attention by citing these familiar subjects with those of more ancient research.
We shall, therefore, content ourselves, by briefly noticing the ancient buildings which have acquired notoriety, but now cease to exist ; and make a cursory mention of the municipal and collegiate government of the city, with the churches and universities.
The name, however, of Oxford, has excited so much literary discussion, that we cannot entirely pass over in silence the etymology of the word,
which, by several antiquarian writers, has been deduced from a ford leading to Hengesey, now called Hinxey [Hinksey], behind Osney,
about a quarter of a mile west of the city,
where oxen were accustomed to pass and be watered, and termed, in the old British language, Rhyd-ychen, or ford of Oxen,
which receiving the Saxon appellation and translation of Ochsenfurt, or Oxeneford, became corrupted to Oxford.
The plausibility of this etymology we are inclined entirely to reject, coinciding as we do with Leland and the learned Lhwyd, who thus alludes to the subject : -
"On the north side of the river is the city called, by Englishmen, Oxenford, and by our countrymen, the Welch, Rhyd-ychen, but what name it had in old time is altogether unknown.
Our friend, Leland, the antiquary, earnestly defendeth that it should be called Ouseford, or the ford of Ouse or Isis, against whom, as much exercised in ancient histories, I dare not contend ; for it is certain that the city standeth on Isis, and tract of time corrupteth the names of many places."
It appears much more probable, that the city should have taken its designation from one of the principal passages of the river, which existed at this spot, called Ouseford, or Ouseneyford, the ford at or near Ouseney, or Osney, or the meadows of Ouse, than from the mere circumstance of the watering or passage of oxen, to which genus of animals it could not have been specifically set apart.
In all the earliest orthographies of the word, we invariably find the letter e, or a, after n, in the second syllable, a fair presumptive proof that the term Oxen was not originally a component part.
Besides, there are other places in England now called Oxenford, deriving their radix from the same cause from whence we are maintaining that of Oxford originates.
Ouse, or Ouze, was a very general name for rivers, as we have before alluded to at the commencement of the volume.
A place formerly belonging to Waverley Abbey, is, on the authority of Dugdale, spelt Oxeneford in an instrument written in 1147; and, in a charter of King Athelstan's, to Wilton Abbey, dated 937, in the possession of the earl of Pembroke, a ford over the river is mentioned and written OxnaforD. We doubt not that the primitive meaning of the name being lost sight of, Oxeneford, whence Oxenford, and Oxford, afibrded a familiar definition, which the pedantry of the ancients rendered Vadum Bourn, and the Britons Rhyd-ychen.
We would here suggest the probability that, as bos was used by many Roman writers, to denote not only an ox, but likewise a heifer at cow, as Horace mentions, " Bos intacta" and Ovid, " Forda ferens Bos est" it is possible, the heathen mythology having become the favourite theme of the students at Dxford, that the lo of the Greeks, who was transformed into a heifer, and worshipped a3 Isis by the Egyptians, may have given rise to the more elegant and classical allusion to the goddess, as the designation of the river ; thus adhering to the earlier appellation of Oxen-ioxdi, and obliterating the original name of Usa, or Owse-forD. The translation of Rhyd-ychen appears to have emanated from the inventive genius of Geofeey of Monmouth, the first author who, we find, uses the term, and whose predilection for legendary lore probably induced him to seize any new or fanciful explanation of the worD. The early historian was more likely to fall into the common error, of corrupting the etymologies of names, arising from a natural propensity, which exists, to substitute, in the place of a difficult or obscure meaning, an appellation more trite and familiar, and which is often suggested and authorized by affinity of sound.
The government of the city is at present vested in a mayor, high-steward, recorder, four aldermen, eight assistants, two bailifis,
a town-clerk, two chamberlains, and twenty-four
The magistracy, however, are subject to the chancellor, or vice-chancellor of the university, in all affairs of moment.
The mayor, by virtue of the charter of the corporation, claims the right of service at the coronation feasts, in the butlery, with the Lord Mayor of London, and to receive three maple cups as his fee, for which a silver gilt bowl and cover has, of late years, been substituted.
The city returns two members to parliament ; a privilege granted by the 23rd of Edward I.
The city, with its suburbs, comprises thirteen parishes, which, with the exception of Saint Giles's and St. John's, were consolidated by an act of parliament, passed in 1771, for the improvement of the city.
The following are the names of the different churches ; - St. Aldate's, or St. Old's; All-Saints; St. Ebbe's; St. Giles's; Holywell; St. John the " Baptist ; St. Mary's ; St. Mary Magdalen's ; St. Martin's ; St. Michael's ; St. Peter le Bailey; St. Peter in the East; St. Thomas, and Christ-church Cathedral.
Most of them owe their erection to a remote period ; but our limits preventing their respective detail, we have only noticed those which possess more peculiar interest.
All-Saints' church is situated in High-street, on the site of All-Hallows, which, owing to its total decay, fell down in 1699.
The present, one of the principal churches in Oxford, was built in 1708, from designs of Dr. Henry Aldrich, dean of Christ-church.
The beauty and elegance of its Corinthian architecture has acquired general approbation.
At the west end a very fine tower supports a fine peristyle of Corinthian colmnns, terminating in an obelisk.
St. Mary's church stands in the High-street, of which it forms one of the principal ornaments, and is the university church.
In the reign of Henry VII the old church was so dilapidated, that it was found expedient to take it down ; and the present light and elegant structure was reared, in 1498, by voluntary contributions.
The south porch in the High-street is a singular specimen of the use of Corinthian columns with twisted shafts, and was built in 1637, at the expense of Dr. Morgan Owen, chaplain to archbishop Laud.
Over the entablature is introduced a statue of the Virgin Mary, to whom the church is dedicated.
The erection of this statue was made one of the articles of impeachment against the archbishop, when tried for papistry and high treason.
The spire forms one of the most striking objects in the different views of the university, being, from the basement, 180 feet in height.
The beautiful proportions and symmetry of the tower are almost lost in the exuberance of the ornaments at its base.
On the north side of the chancel is the Common-Law school.
St. Martin's church, commonly called Carfax, a designation corrupted from the French
word Quatrevois, owing to its situation near the meeting of four ways.
The old church was demolished in 1819, and the new structure completed in 1822.
It is the corporation church, and is attended by the mayor and other city officers.
Near St. Martin's formerly stood the Carfax Conduit, at the meeting of the four main streets of the city, and was erected in 1610, through the munificence and public spirit of Mr. Otho Nicholson, for the convenient supply of water to the university ; the water being conveyed to it from a reservoir on South-Hinksey hill, for the convenience of the colleges.
This curious and elegant piece of architecture is enriched with numerous statues of the cardinal virtues-worthies of the world-Apollo and the muses, &c., and beneath the arches in the centre, and over the space which contained the cistern, is a figure of queen Maud, riding on an ox, over a ford, alluding to the name of Oxenford.
During the improvements of the city, in 1771, it was removed, and presented by the citizens to the earl of Harcourt, who had it reconstructed in his beautiful grounds of Nuneham-Courtenay.
It is justly observed that, though it might have been an improvement to remove it from the High-street, there could have been no real necessity for the corporation suffering this highly-ornamental structure to be carried out of the city, when a situation so extremely appropriate presented itself as the centre of the great quadrangle at Christ-church, where there actually is a fountain supplied from the same source.
"The act almost amounted to a sacrilegious spoliation of the city."
St. Peter's church, situated near Queen's College, is considered one of the oldest churches in the kingdom, and to have been founded by St. Grymbald, in the 9th century.
It was granted by William the Conqueror to Robert D'Oyley ; but, having returned by escheat to the crown, it was bestowed by Henry III on Merton College.
It was originally the university church, and possesses some highly-interesting architectural beauties.
Christchurch Cathedral was originally attached to the monastery of St. Frideswide,
which formerly stood in part of Christ-church quadrangle, and was founded by Didan, earl of Oxford, in 720, at the request of his daughter,
Frideswide, who was the first abbess,
and to whom, at her death, it was dedicated.
The greater part was rebuilt by Guimonde, first regular prior of the monastery of the church, about the year 1130, in the reign of Henry I.
It is constructed in the form of a cross, with a square tower, surmounted by a steeple.
The choir is ornamented with a splendid gothic roof, erected by Cardinal Wolsey at the time he founded the college of Christ-church, and exhibits, in a striking degree, the elegance of his princely taste.
King Henry VIII translated the episcopal see from Osney abbey (where it had been originally established) to this church, and endowed the bishopric of Oxford out of the estates of the dissolved monasteries of Abingdon and Osney.
The cathedral has a dean, a chancellor, an archdeacon, a treasurer and eight canons.
The university consists of twenty colleges and five halls, each having its own students,
teachers, revenues and regulations, while at the same time they are all united under one
The earliest charters were granted by king John, but the university, as a corporate body, exists under a charter of Charles I, and is styled " the chancellor, masters and scholars of the imiversity of Oxford."
It has two separate assemblies : the house of Convocation and the house of Congregation.
The former consists of the vice-chancellor, proctors, and all doctors and masters who have taken out their regency ; and the latter is composed of the vice-chancellor, the proctors or their deputies, all doctors or masters of arts, for the first two years after they are admitted to their degrees, all public professors, lecturers and heads of colleges and halls, the masters of the schools, the pubhc examiners and deans and censors of colleges.
The chancellor is elected by the members of the convocation, and, since the fifteenth century, the appointment is for life.
The vice-chancellor is always the head of a college, and is annually nominated by the chancellor, subject to the approval of the convocation.
He is the highest resident officer.
The high-steward is appointed for life by the chancellor, and approved by the convocation.
The proctors are two masters of arts, chosen annually out of the colleges in rotation, each nominating two other masters of arts, from any college or hall, as their deputies or pro-proctors.
There is also a public orator, chosen by the convocation, who retains office during life, and is charged with the receipt of the rents of the university.
He is also keeper of the archives and charters.
Each college is governed either by a dean, rector, provost, warden, president, master, or principal.
The members of the different colleges consist of noblemen, gentlemen-commoner, commoners, and students of Christ-church, chaplains, bible-clerks, exhibitioners (who receive support during their residence at college) and servitors ; tutors, who direct the studies of the junior members ; and bursars or treasurers.
Each member of the university must be matriculated; and for this purpose he appears before the vice-chancellor, and declares his rank in life, subscribes to the thirty-nine articles of the church of England, and takes the oaths of allegiance and supremacy.
The total number of members on the books of the university is about 3000 ; 1000 of whom are maintained out of the revenues of the colleges, and the remainder pay their own expenses.
The university sends two members to parliament; a privilege granted by James I, when the elective right was conferred on the doctors and actual masters.
The earliest authenticated foundation college is that of Merton, which was established in 1264, at Maiden in Surry, by Walter de Merton, bishop of Rochester and chancellor of England, and was removed to Oxford in 1274.
It consists of a warden, twenty-four fellows, fourteen post-masters, four scholars, two chaplains and two clerks.
University College is erroneously stated to have been founded by Alfred the Great in 872.
It was however endowed by William of Durham, archbishop of Rouen, who died in 1249.
In 1280 a body of statutes was framed, and from that period the college dates its legal establishment.
It consists of a master, twelve fellows, seventeen scholars and exhibitioners.
Baliol College was incorporated as a society in 1282, from the bequest of John Baliol, of Barnard-castle, in 1263, father of Baliol king of Scotland.
It consists of a master, twelve fellows, fourteen scholars, and eighteen exhibitioners.
Exeter CoUege was founded in 1314, by Walter Stapledon, bishop of Exeter, and called Stapledon Hall ; but in 1404, Edmund Stafford, bishop of Exeter, becoming a liberal benefactor, obtained leave to give the college its present name.
It consists of a rector, twenty-five fellows, one scholar and ten exhibitioners.
Hertford College, formerly called Hert-Hall, was also founded by Walter Stapleton, in 1312.
It consists of a principal, four senior and eight junior fellows, eight probationary students, twenty-four actual students, and four scholars.
The buildings are incomplete, and the college ceased to have a principal in 1805.
Mr. Fox was educated here.
Oriel College, founded in 1325, by king Edward, at the suggestion of Adam de Brome, his almoner.
It consists of a provost, eighteen fellows, and thirteen exhibitioners.
Queen's College, founded in 1340, by Robert Eglesfield, confessor of Queen Philippa, consort of Edward III.
It consists of a provost, sixteen fellows, eight taberders (so called from the tabard or short gown they used to wear), sixteen scholars, two clerks, and forty exhibitioners.
Among other singular customs in this college, is that of serving up, on Christmas day, in the haU, at dinner, a boar's head ushered in with an old monkish carol.
The origin of the custom is said to have arisen from the circumstance of a taberdar or scholar of the society walking in the vicinity of Oxford, reading Aristotle's Logic, where he was encountered by a wild boar, and, in defending himself, thrust his Aristotle down the animal's throat, and choked him.
Instead of avoiding the mouth of the beast, "He cramm'd in a volume, and cried 'Graecum est'."
This legendary account was, in all probability, invented as a satyr on the effect of logic, which is often forced into the mouth of the student, and, instead of facilitating his powers of reasoning, frequently bewilders them.
New College, founded in 1379, by William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, consists of a warden, seventy fellows and scholars
(who are elected from Winchester-school), ten chaplains, three clerks, and sixteen choristers.
The garden, which is laid out in excellent taste, is partly surroxmded by the old city walls.
Lincoln College was founded in 1427, by Richard Flemmyng, bishop of Lincoln, and in 1479 was considerably endowed by Thomas Scot, surnamed Rotherham, bishop of Lincoln.
It consists of a rector, twelve fellows, eight scholars, twelve exhibitioners, and a bible-clerk.
All-Souls' College, founded in 1437 by Henry Chichele, archbishop of Canterbury, consists of a warden, forty fellows, two chaplains, and six clerks and choristers.
The rest of the Colleges are as follows :
Magdalen, founded by Waynflete, bishop of Winchester, in 1458, remarkable for its fine situation, its romantic walks, and its superb tower.
Cardinals Wolsey and Pole, Hampden, Addison, and Collins were educated here.
Brazen-nose, founded in 1509.
Corpus- Christi, founded in 1516.
Christ-church, founded by Cardinal Wolsey, in 1525, on the site of the monastery of St. Frideswide.
The taste and magnificence displayed in some parts of the building of this college, which were planned by Wolsey himself, excite admiration.
The dining-hall, with its princely entrance (over which is placed the statue of the cardinal in his robes), is in a style of grandeur unequalled in this part of the world.
The tower, over the gate of the great quadrangle, contains the celebrated bell (Great Tom), which tolls every evening, at nine o'clock, to announce the closing of the college gates throughout the university.
Trinity, founded in 1554.
St. John's, founded in 1555.
Jesus, founded in 1571.
Pembroke, founded in 1628.
Worcester, founded in 1714.
The five Halls are, Alban Hall, St. Edmund Hall, St. Mary Hall, and St. Mary Magdalen Hall.
These have no regular endowments.
The Bodleian Library, one of the richest of Europe in MSS and rare books, was
founded by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, but was of little note until the time of Sir Thomas Bodley (1595),
to whom it is chiefly indebted for its present celebrity.
This building, in the form of the Roman letter H, is one of a splendid group, which occupies a large space, nearly in the centre of the university ; namely:
- the Public Schools, adjoining the library, forming a handsome quadrangle, on the second floor of which is the picture Gallery, containing many curious and valuable paintings ;
- the Sheldonian Theatre, constructed in imitation of a Roman circus, (with a painted cieling, representing the descent of the Muses), in which are delivered the university public orations ;
- the Ashmolean Museum, highly worthy of inspection:
- the Clarendon Printing-Office, built out of the profits of lord Clarendon's History of the Rebellion :
- and Radcliffes Library, remarkable chiefly for its dome and the general beauty of its architecture.
The Clarendon printing office, not being sufficiently capacious for the present undertakings of the university, is now used for other purposes, and the printing business is removed to an elegant new and commodious building, on the north-west side of the city.
It appears, from respectable authority, that Oxford was in many reigns the chief residence of the sovereigns of England.
Henry I. built the palace, in 1128-9; some remains of which were extant as lately as the year 1774, and amongst them the very chamber in which was born Richard Coeur-de-Lion, then converted into a pig-sty!
Even this humiliating monument of the instability of human splendor was swept away, with other incumbrances, by the improvements which the city underwent at that period.
On the Folly-bridge stood, not many years since, one of the ancient gateways of the city, over which was an apartment, said to have been the study of the renowned friar Bacon, whose wonderful proficiency in natural philosophy had obtained for him the reputation of a necromancer.
Magdalen-bridge, one of the most elegant of modem times, is
built over the Cherwell, between the city and the suburb of St. Clement's (through which
passes the high-road to London), by the architect Gwynn, in 1779, at an expense of nearly 8000 pounds.
Its length is 526 feet, and its breadth sufficient for three carriages abreast, with a convenient pavement on each side, for foot-passengers.
The view from it of the long and stately avenue of lofty and wide-spreading ancient trees, called Christ-church walk on one side, and the water walk of Magdalen college on the other, together with the botanical garden, the rich meadows of Christ-church and the well-wooded hills beyond them, surpasses description.
Leaving with regret this interesting city, and at the same time lamenting that our confined limits will not admit of a more extended
description of the university, we now follow the course of the river to Ifley lock, distant from Oxford about a mile.
The village of Ifley is pleasantly situated on the left.
Its church is a fine, but diminutive, specimen of Anglo-Norman architecture.
Its western entrance is constructed in a highly ornamental and elegant style, of which a view is here presented.
Iffley Church door
Proceeding downwards with the stream, we soon perceive on the left the hamlet of LittleMoor,
where there was formerly a Benedictine convent, founded in the reign of Henry II.
In 1524, a certain portion of its revenues was appropriated by Henry VIII. at the instigation of Wolsey, in aid of that cardinal's new foundation at Oxford ; and at the time of the general suppression of monasteries, in 1539, the whole was confiscated, and given by the king as part of his endowment to Christ-church college, which had then lost its munificent founder.
H aving passed this place, the stream flows gaily along, through rich meadows and cultivated fields, to Sandford, in the neighbourhood of which village the eye is delighted with varied beauties of hill and dale, bounded by the luxuriant woods of Nuneham-Courtenay, the seat of the late lord Harcourt.
The river, on approaching Sandford lock and paper-mill, situated on the left, becomes narrow, but widens somewhat before it arrives at the village of Sunningwell.
Its banks now assume those soft and elegant features which, from time to time, delight the eye in the course of its windings to the ocean
The "deep embowered shades" of Nuneham are now seen on the left ; and as we
approach them, the profusion of charms which nature and art have spread around seem to
realize the most vivid poetic descriptions of fairy scenes.
The noble mansion of the Harcourts soon opens upon the view, delightfully seated on an eminence, at a short distance from the river ; its park and verdant lawns flanked by rich shrubberies and lofty and luxuriant woods, in which the dark cedar of Lebanon and other exotics, of a thousand different shades of colour, are blended with the no less attractive productions of our native forests.
The old church of Nuneham stood on the site of the present splendid gardens of the mansion, and its burying-ground was stripped of the mortal remains of many generations, to make way for the works of the landscape gardener.
A new church was built in another place, from a design of Stewart, which is chiefly remarkable for the singularity of its style.
For many years, the impression made on the "village train" by the violation of the tombs of their ancestors, could not be forgotten ; and even now, the aged inhabitants shake their heads and heave a sigh whenever the circumstance is mentioned to them.
All the attention and kindness which the Harcourt family afterwards bestowed on the inhabitants (and they were many and highly benevolent) could not entirely reconcile them ; and so general was the absurd idea that the grounds were haunted, that few of the rustics would dare to approach them by night.
The title of the earldom is now extinct.
The woods and parks are ever open to visiters, and the magnificent house, with its valuable pictures and furniture, may be inspected, if application be made to the steward.
On an eminence, near the verge of the park, is seen the before-noticed Carfax-Conduit, of which the above engraving is an accurate representation.
Having passed another lock, near the extremity of the park of this domain, called Nuneham-lock,
the river flows on, for more than a mile, in a wide and placid stream, to the Wyers, a kind of water-pound,
constructed in the flourishing days of the abbey, to turn off a part of the current of the Isis towards Abingdon,
for the use of the mills, then being the property of the celebrated and rich monastery which we shall soon have
All the river craft were therefore under the necessity of passing the Wyers,
until the new lock was constructed, at some distance lower down, which opens a direct navigable course to Abingdon bridge, where [opposite the marina] the waters again unite with the mill-stream.
The Isis, thus diminished, now steals along, over its sandy, shallow bed, bounded on the left by a woody range of elevated land, called Mill-hill, and on the right by a rich plain [Andersey Island], of about a mile in extent, which lies between the river and the town, until it arrives at Cullum bridge [Old Culham Bridge opposite the Marina], where it recovers its importance.
Abingdon bridge is a structure of very ancient date.
Its principal features are represented in the wood-cut below.
The town of Abingdon contains nearly 6000 inhabitants, and has two parish churches,
the principal one dedicated to St. Helen, and the other to St. Nicholas.
It was known in the time of the Anglo-Saxons by the name of Shoevesham, but after the foundation of the abbey, it received the appellation of Abandun, or town of the abbey.
The ancient town was destroyed by the Danes, in the reign of Alfred, and remained a mere heap of ruins until the year 954, when king Edgar caused it to be in part restored.
Ethelwold, the abbot at that period, erected and embellished the church of St. Helen ; and successive abbots contributed to its improvement.
It consists of three aisles evidently built at different periods, and its pinnacled tower and spire particularly excite admiration.
The alms-houses on three sides of the church-yard (some of them cloistered) are worthy of attention.
The church of St. Nicholas was built by an abbot of that name during the reign of Edward I, and endowed with sufficient funds for the performance of divine service twice a day throughout the year.
It consists of only one aisle, - a chancel or choir, and a vestry.
At the western end stands the tower, containing six very musical bells and chimes, given by a cooper of the name of Alder, who, by one of those freaks of fortune, which we sometimes witness, obtained the prize of twenty thousand pounds in the lottery, about eighty years ago.
The ticket was purchased in a drunken freak, with a sum which he should have paid to an urgent creditor.
The principal entrance of this church, which is at the west end, under the tower, is enriched with a chevron moulding of curious workmanship.
It has another entrance on the south side, under the gateway of the abbey.
This gateway is one of the most perfect remains of the monastery, and, with the ancient gate-house, has served for many years as the town prison.
In the church is a very curious monument of a liberal contributor to the charities of the town, well worthy of inspection.
Opposite the south side of the church is the town-hall, where the summer assizes are held, for the county of Berks, and at the back of it is the grammar-school, founded by John Royse, Esq. for the education of a certain number of boys, sons of burghers, the senior of whom goes off annually to Pembroke college, Oxford, with an allowance sufficient to finish his education.
The town, in general, is not well built, except the part called St. Helen's Forestreet, which contains several elegant houses, with gardens extending to the river.
The market-place and market-house are superior to most others in England.
Abingdon is noted for the manufacture of sackcloth.
The abbey was founded by Cissa, in 675, for monks of the order of St. Benedict, and was dedicated to the Virgin-Mary.
Having suffered, at different periods, in common with the town, from the invasions of the Danes, it at length was enabled to enjoy a long season of prosperity, and became one of the most wealthy and splendid monastic establishments in Europe, until the time of the general reform, under Henry VIII, when its lands were confiscated, and its honors trodden in the dust.
At the present day there exist but few indices of its great extent.
In the brewhouse of Mr. Spenlove are seen some curious apartments, and the ancient refectory and kitchen, situated near the mills, have been long used as the town bridewell.
Several other remains prove that the whole establish ment occupied a space of at least three miles in circumference.
In a niche, over the gate above mentioned, an ancient statue of the Virgin Mary still remains unmolested, and, comparatively, not much defaced by the hand of Time.
The Isis, having swept rapidly along the south-eastern side of the town, inclines to the left until it again joins the parent stream, westward of the old bridge of Cullum, erected as long since as the reign of Henry V.
Soon after this confluence of the waters, another deviation from the old course takes place,
near a new bridge, with a single arch, through which the stream passes on to a lock [Culham Lock],
constructed not long since, on the left of the village
Before this alteration, the river craft continued in the bed of the Isis, rounding Sutton, and leaving it on the left [right].
The diverted current now winds along, through flowery meads, to the fruitful village of Appleford, in Berkshire, celebrated for its orchards and pastures ; then sweeping boldly to the left, and passing Day's lock, falls again into the Isis near Long-Wittenham,
[Can't make sense of this. There might have been an old course from Sutton Courtney to Long Wittenham but thousands of year previous to 1830.
The Culham Lock Cut rejoins the Sutton Courtney weir stream just below Sutton Bridge, Tollgate Road and the main river goes under Appleford Railway Bridge.]
which village [Long Wittenham] is now perceived on the right
[now bypassed by Clifton Lock, then after Clifton Hampden Bridge comes Days Lock],
nearly at the foot of an eminence, called Wittenham-Hill, formerly a Roman fortress, destroyed, as is reported, by the Danes.
For particulars respecting this picturesque spot we refer our readers to a poem of much merit, intitled, "Wittenham-Hill," Written by a learned and amiable clergyman of Wallingford, about sixty years since.
the village of Little-Wittenham, which is almost hidden by clusters of fruit-trees, the
river bends suddenly eastward, bounded on the right by an extensive wood, and the antique conventual tower of Dorchester is seen
amidst rich pastures on the left.
Dorchester, now an inconsiderable village, was once a city of great note, and, in the 7th century, was an episcopal see, established by Birinus, the apostle of the West-Saxons.
We find it mentioned, under different names, by several ancient authors.
It is here that the veritable river Thames[sic], or Thamesis, claims our attention.
This river rises in the eastern part of the Chiltern Hills, in the county of Buckingham, and, after winding through the southern part of the vale of Aylesbury, enters Oxfordshire, passing on the north side of the town of Thame, from which its appellation of Thames[sic] is, without doubt, derived.
Thence meandering along through the country, it reaches Dorchester, and, passing under the old and picturesque bridge of that town, continues its devious course, in a very narrow bed, for the distance of about a mile, and then falls into the Isis.
Camden, in his quaint style, wrote a poem on the marriage of the two rivers, wherein, after mentioning some particulars respecting Thame, he says,
With streams conjoined now Isis and Tame[sic]
Flow on exulting in united Name.
Soon after this junction, the river, much increased in depth and activity, and seeming
indeed to exult at its newly-acquired importance, arrives at Shillingford bridge,
which is handsomely built of stone, and occupies a charming site, at the foot of a gentle rising, on
the right or Berkshire side.
The high-road to Wallingford passes here, and forms a beautiful object, as it ascends from the bridge to the woody brow of an eminence.
square white tower of Bensington, commonly called Benson, a thoroughfare on the great
London road, is seen on the left : the village is ancient.
Having passed Benson lock,
the stream flows slowly along, in a serpentine course, to the massive bridge of Wallingford, consisting of nineteen arches,
built in a style which plainly demonstrates it to be of very high antiquity.
The town of Wallingford, which is pleasantly situated on the right bank of the river, was, in days of yore, one of the principal places of the Attrebatii, mentioned in Caesar's Commentaries.
Here are some curious remains of la castle, said to have been built by the Romans, destroyed by the Saxons and Danes, and afterwards rebuilt by William I, who fortified it so strongly as to enable it to resist many terrible assaults made on it, at various periods.
During a number of reigns, it was a favorite resort of royalty, until the time of Cromwell, by whom it was probably dismantled ; as from that period it gradually fell into decay.
The town was originally of great extent, containing, according to Leland, fourteen parish churches, now reduced to four ; namely, St. Peter's, St. Mary's, St. Leonard's and All-Hallows.
It is said that the town was depopulated bj the plague, in the year 1348.
Formerly, two members were sent hence to parliament; but, by the operation of the late reform-bill, one of them was loped off; the population not amounting to more than 2476.
The Thames, on leaving Wallingford, widens its stream, flows on circuitously to the
left, and soon reaches the villages of Newnham-Murrell and Mongewell, situated on th»
left bank, at a short distance from each other.
In the vicinity of the latter is seen the Roman Valium, now called Grimes-Dike.
About two miles below this is New Stoke, in Oxfordshire, where the river becomes much deeper and broader, and the country, on each side, presents some charming scenery, on which we would willingly expatiate ; but, necessitated, as we are, to constrain ourselves within the prescribed limits of the work, and feeling at the same time the difficulty of avoiding repetition and prolixity in the description of verdant meadows, woods and hills and flowery dales, which are presented on the banks of the Thames almost to satiety, we shall henceforth be more concise in our notices thereon.
At the distance of a mile from the last-mentioned village, we arrive at South or Abbot
Stoke, having passed Moulsford, which lies on the right.
The river here acquires a greater breadth, and, flowing placidly along, reflects on its glassy bosom the shady banks by which it is bounded.
The romantic hills and woods of Streatley now rise to view,
and we soon pass through Clive[sic] lock, by the side of its picturesque mill,
to Goring lock, and to the twin villages of Goring and Streatley.
The former is in Oxfordshire, and anciently had a priory of Augustin nuns, founded in the reign of Henry II.
The church of Goring is remarkable for its Anglo-Norman architecture.
Near this place, at the very margin of the river, is a medicinal spring, called Springwell, or Goring spring, which was formerly in great estimation for diseases of the eye and cutaneous eruptions.
Streatley derives its name from its situation near the Icknald-street Tossway[sic! Ickneild Fosse Way], which entered Berkshire at this point.
The village lies on a gentle slope, and is sheltered by a bold range of verdant hills, which contribute to render the landscape here uncommonly beautiful.
Quitting, as if with reluctance, this charming neighbourhood, the Thames flows slowly along, and, passing on
the left the pleasant village of Gathampton, arrives at Basildon, on the right.
This village is noted for the great extent and fertility of its surrounding farms.
Basildon-park, formerly the property and residence of viscount Fane, was purchased by Sir Francis Sykes, from whom it descended to the present occupant.
The park is about three miles in circumference, and the mansion, erected in the year 1767, has a handsome exterior, and is tastefully fitted up within.
The Thames, now passing the fine hanging wood, called Hart's-lock wood, and the beautiful plantations of Coombe lodge,
soon approaches the [Whitchurch] lock and weir of Pangbourn,
and, having passed them, glides with accelerated pace through a handsome wooden bridge,
of recent construction, consisting of sixteen small arches (a large one in the centre), which
connects the two pleasant villages of Pangbourn and Whitchurch.
In this delightful spot the angler finds abundant sport ; and the waters being farmed by mine host of the Elephant inn, for an extent of two miles, his guests may be supplied with the means of piscatory recreation and the best of entertainment "for man and horse".
On leaving the bridge, at a short distance, the retrospective view is uncommonly picturesque.
Looking forward, a succession of sylvan beauties delights the senses, and, as we approach Mapledurham
the banks are finely covered with wood.
Having passed through the lock of this place, the weir is seen on the left, between an island (on which is the lock-house) and some extensive chalk-pits, and the stream, rushing through with violence, produces a cascade of uncommon beauty.
The village of Maplediurham is nearly obscured by stately trees, and its church, peering above them, adds much to the highly picturesque effect of the surrounding scenery.
The church contains the tombs of several of the Blounts, an ancient catholic family, whose mansion is delightfully situated near the river.
The house was built in 1581, by Sir Michael Blount, lieutenant of the tower, and still retains its original form.
The river now takes a sweep to the right and left, and then pursues a direct course, between thickly-wooded hills and verdant islets,
to within a short distance of Caversham bridge, which is chiefly constructed of wood, with fifteen arches, of various forms and dimensions,
as represented in the annexed engraving.
It is divided into two parts by an islet, on which is an old-fashioned low house.
The building on the right has been, for many generations, a respectable tavern, much resorted to by the lovers of angling.
Caversham is situated on the left side of the bridge, in Oxfordshire, and is justly considered one of the neatest and most salubrious villages in England.
The church is distant about a quarter of a mile north from the bridge, on an elevation, which commands a fine view of the town of Reading and the country to the southward and westward.
A gate on the lower side of the church-yard communicates with an ancient mansion, formerly belonging to the monks of Nutley Abbey in Buckinghamshire, and appears to be coeval with the church.
Its gardens extend, en pente, to the Thames, and are remarkable for a beautiful combination of the ancient and modern style.
Soon after passing the bridge, the stream is divided by an island of some extent, prettily shaded by willows,
on which is situated the lock-house.
[Presumably Fry's Island (de Montfort Island) but the lock house was not there.
The lock and lockhouse was on Bohun Island where it still is.]
The principal part of the river flows to the left, through a picturesque weir, but the navigable branch passes on the right, by Caversham lock.
The ancient town of Reading is now seen to advantage on the
right, and the eye is delighted, as the river winds along in short and rapid curves, with
the interesting objects that alternately present themselves.
The majestic old tower of St. Lawrence, the Forbury-hill and its wide-branching elms, the grey mouldering remains of the abbey walls, and the county goal, are the nearest prominent points to the Thames.
In the middle of the town appears the broad square tower of St. Mary's, and beyond it the curious little spire of St. Giles's.
Reading is a place of considerable antiquity.
Stow mentions, in his Survey of London, that, "in times past," it was called Pontium, from the number of bridges built over the Kennett, a small river, which runs through the town.
The abbey, whereof the solitary remains are the gate and a few isolated buildings, was founded by King Henry I, in 1121, for 200 Benedictine monks and for the refreshment of travellers.
It was endowed with ample revenues; many valuable privileges were annexed to it, and, amongst the rest, that of coining money.
The abbot, being mitred, sat with the lords spiritual in Parliament.
Henry died in Normandy; his body was embalmed, and buried in the abbey church, in the year 1135.
Few religious establishments in the kingdom possessed wealth and honors in so great a degree as this abbey; and, at its dissolution, under Henry VIII, its annual income was found to be £1938 14s. 3d. an enormous sum in those days.
On removing part of the ruins some years since, for the building of the new goal (which now occupies the former site of the abbey), a broken sarcophagus was found, supposed to be that of the founder, king Henry.
It is preserved in a large hall, still remaining of the old buildings, now occupied as a national school.
The town of Reading has a population of 15,595, and, from its lying on the Bath and Bristol road, is at all times gay.
The streets are chiefly handsome and spacious, and are kept in excellent order.
The salubrity of the air here occasions a great influx of visitors during the summer months ; the charming walks in the neighbourhood adding much to its attractions.
This town is celebrated, like Abingdon, for the number of its charitable establishments; amongst which is the Free-School, situated near the church of St. Lawrence, founded by Sir Thomas White (the liberal founder of St. John's College, Oxford), and endowed by him with funds for the future benefit of the boys on the foundation.
Archbishop Laud and many other celebrated men were brought up in this school, which was much distinguished under the late Dr. Valpy, one of the best classics of his time.
As early as the reign of Edward I the manufacture of woollen cloths flourished here ; and it is said that an opulent clothier, of the name of Cole, obtained from that monarch a standard measure, then called a bras, the French word for arm ; being exactly the length of his majesty's arm.
In later times, although much had been done by various encouragers of the woollen trade, it gradually fell off, chiefly owing to the mal-administration of funds destined to assist the clothiers.
At present the manufactures are confined to coarse linen, silk ribbons and galloons, in a very small way : and the chief trade is in flour, of which a great quantity is sent to London.
Reading is a borough by prescription, sending two members to parliament.
It has three parish churches.
Having received the waters of the Kennet, the Thames winds slowly along to Sunning
lock, beyond which appears, on the right, the rural church of the village of Sunning, and a
small distance farther on is seen the bridge, composed of six arches, the two largest of which are on the Berkshire side of the water,
as there the channel of the river is the deepest, affording a safer passage for vessels of burthen.
This village is said to have been in early times a place of great note.
No vestige, however, remains to prove the assertion unless it be an old chapel, at the eastern end of the church, dedicated to St. Sarick, which was much resorted to by pilgrims for the cure of insanity!
Three miles beyond Sunning the river flows in almost a direct course to Cotterell's Weir.
On the right, between these two places, a branch of the Lodden, a small river, discharges
itself into the Thames.
Another branch glides through Windsor forest, and is mentioned in a well-known poem of Pope ; affording also the subject of the beautiful fable of Lodona.
Near Cotterell's lock is the village of Shiplake, in Oxfordshire, the small gothic church of which, curiously covered with ivy, is much admired.
A short distance in advance is the pleasant village of Wargrave, whose church is also thickly covered with verdure.
The stream now takes a more northerly direction, and the scenery on each side, blending the beauties of well-wooded hills and blooming valleys, together with the tasteful seats which stud the banks on each side, keep attention awake till we arrive at Marsh lock, where the delightfully situated town of Henley opens to the view on the left, the princely mansion of Park-place crowning the bold heights on the right,
Park Place Henley
and between them the bridge, remarkable for lightness and elegance.
It is composed of five elliptical arches ; the keystones of the centre arch being adorned with sculptured masks, by the chisel of the honourable Mrs. Damer.
Henley, denominated, by way of distinction, Henley-on-Thames, is considered by antiquarians to be the most ancient town in the county of Oxford.
Dr. Plot conjectures that it was the capital of the Ancalites, who revolted to Caesar.
The church is a spacious and handsome gothic structure : its embattled tower is said to have been erected at the expense of cardinal Wolsey.
The situation of the town is highly picturesque, and, from its being a great thoroughfare, is very lively.
Its neatness and salubrity are inviting to strangers, and lovers of fishing may here find ample amusement.
Its population is 3,618.
The steep chalk-hill, on the London side of the bridge, has been for many years formidable to the traveller : stage-passengers generally alight, and walk to the top of it.
The labour is amply compensated by the retrospective glances they occasionally take at the valley below, which presents such a variety of natural beauties as cannot often be found in any country of the world.
This eminence forms a part of a ridge of hills which extends from opposite Henley through the southern part of Buckinghamshire, and terminates at Tring in Hertfordshire, consisting mostly of chalk.
These hills give the name to the Chiltern hundreds; Chilt, in the Saxon tongue, meaning chalk.
The nominal office of steward of these hundreds is made use of for the convenience of those members of Parliament who wish to vacate their seats in the house.
A visit to Park-place, now the property of the Maitland family, and once the residence of George IV, when prince of Wales, will be found uncommonly gratifying, not only for its extensive woods, lawns, and superb views, but for the taste displayed in the mansion and pleasure grounds, wherein are seen some interesting ruins of a druidical temple, found in the island of Jersey, and transported hither at a great expense.
Having passed the bridge of Henley, the river occupies a wider bed, and exhibits a fine expanse of silvery stream,
flowing gracefully by a thickly-wooded islet, on which is
erected an elegant summer-house.
The view of Henley and its neighbourhood from this spot is truly delightful.
On the right is seen the pretty village of Remenham,
Temple Island Henley
and a little farther on is the small and simple parish church of Fawley, in Buckinghamshire.
Fawley court, the seat of Mr. Freeman, with its lawns and thick woods, has a noble appearance : the mansion was erected from the designs of Sir Christopher Wren.
The river near this place forms the boundary line of the counties of Buckingham and Berks, and,
making several bold sweeps, takes a more easterly direction.
On approaching Hambleden the reaches increase in length and become wider.
Their banks are well wooded and undulating, and the lock of this place, with its twofold wiers, adds considerably to the beauty of the landscape.
The church of Hambleden (a handsome edifice) contains an antiquated baptismal font.
Near the river is Greenland-Lodge, the seat of the D'Oyley family, built in 1604.
At a short distance below, the stream is divided by an island : the navigable part being on the right.
Flowing on for about two miles, it reaches the picturesque ruins of Medmenham abbey.
This monastery was founded in the year 1200, by Hugh de Boliber, for Cistercian monks, and as a cell to the more considerable abbey of Woburn, which owed its existence also to that nobleman's munificence.
A clump of willows, near the river, marks its former extent ; the foundation walls being in part still discemable, and also a solitary column, in a neighbouring meadow.
The abbey house, with its ivy-mantled walls, is an interesting object, and its effect is heightened by the addition of a modern antique tower, cloisters, and other erections, corresponding with the style of the former building, and executed with great taste ; so that when the hand of Time shall have rubbed off the sharp edge of the masonry, and covered it with a verdant mantle of ivy and moss, some future historian may class the modern with the ancient pile.
During the last century this abbey acquired great notoriety as the place of meeting of a club of debauche of rank and fashion, who held their unhallowed orgies within its venerable walls ; some idea of which may be formed from a perusal of "Chrysal, or Adventures of a Guinea," a work much esteemed for its critical acumen at the time, when its allusions were understood.
The river, now deviating a little to the left, meanders along, through scenery of a unique character, to New-lock wear,
situated at Hurley, a pleasant village on the Buckinghamshire side, where the venerable remains of a monastery,
founded in the reign of William the Conqueror are still seen ;
the church being entire, and exhibiting a fine specimen of carved-work in the doorway : the ancient refectory is converted into stables.
In a mansion built here by the Lovelace family, in 1600, many curious objects are preserved, which belonged to the former building.
The family was ennobled by Charles I.
John, the first lord, was instrumental in promoting the revolution of 1688.
In an immense vault, underneath the house (which probably had been, formerly, well stored with the good cheer of the monks) were held frequent meetings, for the purpose of concerting measures necessary to be adopted for securing the liberties of the country, which were put in danger by the hypocrisy of one monarch and the avowed despotism of another, it is even stated that the most important papers relating to the revolution were signed in a recess at one end of the vault.
Hurley Manor House
The Thames now makes a bold sweep to the right, and widens in its course until it arrives at Temple lock, where it rushes through an extensive weir, in front of Temple-Hall the seat of Mr. Williams, member of Parliament for the town of Marlow, to whom belong the copper-mills here erected, which are esteemed the most complete and powerful in England.
The range of luxuriant hanging woods of Bisham now rise in all their splendour, and,
as we approach them, the abbey is seen, on the Berkshire side, near the church, at the very edge of the water.
This abbey formerly belonged to the Knights Templars; but, on the reformation of that order, in the time of Edward II, the whole was given to the Augustin friars.
After the dissolution of monasteries, it fell into various hands, and was at length purchased by the Hoby family, who, some time previous to the year 1592, built the present house, attached to the ruins of the abbey.
The property now belongs to lord Bexley.
Within the grounds of the estate, close upon the wier, stands the modest church of Bisham, containing some interesting monuments.
Bisham Church & Abbey,Tombleson 1830
The stream now flows on in almost a straight line to Marlow, situated on the left, in the midst of marl beds (whence, probably, its name),
and passes under the fine iron suspension bridge, which connects, with one span, the counties of Bucks and Berks.
The Thames here branches out into two channels, one of which, on account of the stream being arrested by Marlow-lock, rushes over the weir to the right, forming a pleasing cascade, and adding much to the highly beautiful features of the surrounding scenery.
Marlow Suspension Bridge
The waters from this place to Battersea abound in lampreys, which, caught in the spring of the year, were formerly sold to the Dutch,
in almost incredible numbers.
Five hundred thousand were disposed of to them in one season ; being, it is said, about one half of the total number taken in the Thames in the course of a year.
In the time of queen Elizabeth, it appears that there were seventy locks between Abingdon and London, sixteen flood-gates and seven weirs ; and not more than ten or twelve barges proceeded farther up the stream than Marlow or Bisham.
On quitting Marlow lock, the river winds to the left, and the square embattled tower of Little-Marlow church is seen amidst the foliage on the left.
A convent of Benedictine nuns was founded here about the time of Henry II, of which, however no remains are now visible.
Leaving the bold hills and towering woods of Marlow,
the river flows on between low banks, and the heights of Hedsor and Cliefden are seen in the horizon, about five miles distant, forming a beautiful boundary to the prospect.
Before we approach those places, we pass near a large farm-house on the left, called Coare's Bournes or Bones End,
near which the rivulet Wyke, or Wick, merges its name and its waters in those of the Thames.
This small stream rises near West-Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, and, flowing by High-Wycombe and Woburn, skirts Hedsor parish, until it reaches the Thames.
A little in advance is seen the square tower of Cookham church, in Berks, separated from the village by a line of trees.
The village of Cookham was formerly a market town, and the tolls of the "New Market" are noted in the Domesday-book, as amounting to £20.
The manor has, time immemorial, appertained to the crown, and the tenants, as belonging to the ancient royal demesne, are toll-free in all markets, and exempt from serving on juries.
The parish extends to part of the town of Maidenhead.
After passing Cookham ferry, the Thames is separated into three branches, the principal of which forms a sudden and bold sweep to the left, flowing rapidly by Hedsor wharf;
the middle stream pursues a direct course, and has been rendered more commodious for navigation, the strength of the current being checked by flood-gates.
These two branches
assist in forming the largest island on the river, comprising about 54 acres.
On it the late Sir George Young erected a pleasant villa called, "Formosa Place".
The remaining branch directs its course to the right, by the extensive paper-mills of Mr. Venables.
The scenery now becomes extremely beautiful; the Hedsor heights rising from their chalky beds with the hanging woods above,
connected with the bolder and more richly variegated foliage of
Hedsor church occupies a highly picturesque situation, embosomed in trees and placed on a hillock near the summit of the heights.
Hedsor Lodge, the seat of lord Boston, stands on a commanding eminence, overlooking some of the most picturesque parts of Berks and Bucks.
His lordship's estate joins that of Cliefden,
Cliefden, which the witty and profligate Villiers, duke of Buckingham, purchased of the ancient family of Manfelds.
The estate came afterwards into the possession of lord Orkney.
The family mansion was destroyed by fire in 1795, and on the site Sir George Warrender, who now owns part of the estate, has lately erected a noble mansion.
[ Note this was the 2nd House 1824-1849 ]
Beneath Cliefden-house is a delightful spring near the river, whose waters are remarkably transparent and cool ;
on the margin is a capacious summer-house, and the beauty of this sequestered spot attracts many pic-nic parties to visit its retired shade in summer.
The Thames now pursues its unrufiled course for some distance in peaceful serenity, beneath the shadowy and refreshing coolness of Cliefden woods ;
View from Cliveden Park
it then arrives at Boulters lock and weir.
This, in earlier times, was the final impediment the current of the stream received from artificial means.
On the left we observe Taplow paper-mills.
The small village of Taplow lies in Buckinghamshire, removed a short distance from the river, and Taplow-Court is the seat of viscount Kirkwall.
The river is divided into two branches by a small ait,
View from Maidenhead Bridge
and, again uniting,
Maidenhead bridge, which consists of seven large semicircular arches, built of stone, and
three smaller ones on either side, composed of brick.
The bridge, as a structure, possesses considerable merit, and was erected in 1772, from designs by Sir Robert Taylor.
The importance of Maidenhead as a town may be attributed to the erection of the original bridge, which took place about the time of Edward III, as it was the means of carrying through it the great western road.
The town is called South Allington by Leland, and Sudlington by Stow ; but in the 26th year of the reign of Edward III, it was incorporated under the name of Maydenhithe, and which, no doubt, is the correct appellation ; Mayden being often used to signify great or large, corrupted from the old French word Magne, great, and hithe, the Saxon for haven or port.
Camden is of opinion it derived its present designation from the veneration paid to the head of a British maiden, which legendary writers have made one of the eleven thousand virgins, said to have been martyred with St. Ursula, on the banks of the Rhine, near Cologne.
On quitting the bridge, the river flows by a small island and some delightful pleasure-grounds on the right,
and soon arrives at the village of Bray, within whose parochial limits Maidenhead is
Camden supposes this place to have been inhabited by the Bibroci.
It is considered part of the royal demesne, and possesses the same privileges as Cookham.
The church is an ancient structure, composed of various materials, and exhibiting a mixture of almost every style of architecture.
Bray has, however, been rendered memorable by the accommodating conscience of one of its early vicars, named Symond Symonds, who possessed the benefice in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and queens Mary and Elizabeth ; having become twice a papist and twice a protestant ; and when reproached for his want of moral principle, which allowed him to alter his religious creed in accordance with the different political changes of the times, replied, that he governed himself by what he thought a very laudable maxim, never, on any terms, to part with his vicarage.
The current, on leaving Bray, widens and, flowing to the left, passes Monkey-Island,
which owes its name to a rustic building, erected by Charles, duke of Marlborough, as a
The interior of the refreshment-room was decorated with ludicrous groups and figures of monkeys, similar to the amusing and clever designs in the Monkeyana of the talented Landseer.
It is a favorite place of resort of the Etonians, in their aquatic excursions from Windsor,
as well as Surley Hall, an excellent inn, which lies a little in advance, near Willows, the delightful seat of the late H. Townly Ward, Esquire.
As the river progresses, it passes the elegant villa of Down Place, originally occupied by Mr. Jacob Tonson, the celebrated bookseller, whose name is associated with that galaxy of genius and wit, which, like another Augustan age, illuminated the early part of the 17th century.
The formation of the kit-cat club was first suggested at a convivial meeting at this house.
The stream, which in part is extremely rapid, hastens its course towards Windsor.
As we approach this celebrated town, the castle becomes more and more a distinct and imposing object, until, at the winding of the Thames at Clewer, near a rich and stately cluster of elms, situated at the extremity of a fine meadow, called the Brocas, famed in the annals of cricketting, the various parts of this regal and splendid building are blended into one rich architectural mass, rising from the town, which forms its base, and displaying simultaneously its extent and magnificence.
The several abutments and massive towers appear from hence more pictorially arranged and grouped than at any other place on the river, as they unite in forming a splendid coup-d'oeil, in which beauty, dignity and grandeur are equally combined.
Eton college also, with its fine gothic towers, greatly enriches the scenery, as it stands unencumbered by the contiguous buildings, and in such a situation as to bring it within reach of the eye in the general disposition of objects.
The humble spire of Clewer church, together with the village, which lies on the right forcibly contrasts its sylvan simplicity with the proud and beautiful scenery beyond it.
The place designated New Windsor, in contradistinction to the village of Old Windsor, which is of higher antiquity, is a borough and market town ; situated at the east end of the county of Bucks, and containing 7103 inhabitants.
The name is derived from the serpentine directions of the river, which in Saxon is Windleshora, or Winding shore or banks.
It is about twenty-two miles from London by land, and forty-six by water.
The delightfull situation of the place has made it the favorite resort of most of our monarchs, even from the time of William the Conqueror.
Edward I, in 1276, made it a free borough ; since whose reign it has sent two members to parliament.
The Castle, which has been not inaptly termed a type of the British constitution, in its strength, its grandeur and its antiquity, is erected on the summit of a hill, on whose declivity the town has been built.
Edward the Confessor granted the site of the town and castle to the abbey of St. Peter,
at Westminster ; but the eligibility of the spot as a military post was immediately perceived by William the Conqueror, who exchanged it with the abbey for some lands in Essex, and constructed a fortress of considerable size.
Henry I enlarged the building, and erected a chapel.
Edward I and II made Windsor their principal residence, and that " very mirror of chivalry," Edward III, was bom here.
This enterprising monarch nearly rebuilt the whole of the castle, under the superintendence of WilUam of Wykeham, and there instituted the order of the Garter.
Many alterations took place during the succeeding reigns, until an important addition was made by order of queen Elizabeth, in the formation of the terrace walk.
This noble promenade was enlarged by Charles II, and is now 1870 feet in length, and commands a finely varied and extensive prospect.
The castle was the principal place of residence of George III, who, amongst other alterations, partly restored the north front to its original appearance.
During the reign of George IV, numerous and expensive additions and improvements were commenced under the management of Sir Jeffry Wyatville, which have, during his present majesty's reign, been completed.
The parish-church, which is newly erected, is a fine gothic structure.
The small town of Eton is connected with Windsor by a new and handsome iron bridge of three arches.
This place is indebted for its notoriety to the venerable and celebrated seminary,
at which, for nearly four centuries, the germs of knowledge have been implanted
in the expanding minds of youth ; and the effect of the liigh and classical education here
attained is to be witnessed in the after life of many individuals, who have rendered themselves conspicuous in literature, the cabinet and the fielD. The college was founded by
Henry VI, in 1440, and contains at present on its establislunent a provost, vice-provost,
six fellows, a master, under master, assistant, seventy king's scholars, seven lay-clerks and
The chapel, constructed in all the elegance of gothic architecture, forms an interesting and beautiful object on the Buckinghamshire side of the river.
Soon after passing through Windsor bridge the stream divides ; the main body of the water flowing over a weir to the left, and washing the meadows of Eton college, while a canal has been formed to the right, thrdugh a lock, for the accommodation of the navigator.
Datchet Bridge [1812-1851]
The current now increases its rapidity, skirting the walls of Windsor little-park, and passing through Datchet bridge, which is a substantial wooden structure, with nine arches, on stone piers.
Old Windsor Lock
[not to be confused with Romney Lock which is the old lock at Windsor!]
The river, after a long and widened reach, meanders to the
On the right, a lengthened canal and lock have been formed, in order to shorten the navigation and avoid the force of the stream.
The conflux of the waters again takes place near old Windsor, whose ancient church, grey with the hoar of many a Saxon frost, has been lately repaired. The Saxon kings, from an early period, had a palace at this place, in which Edward the Confessor held his court.
It was occasionally inhabited by the kings of England, until the year 1110, when Henry I kept his court, for the first time, at Windsor castle ; after which it is supposed to have lost its attractions.
The site of the palace is not known.
The river, passing Lions Green on the right, a small hamlet on the verge of the counties of Berks and Surry, winds to the left,
and flows between Runnymede and Magna Charta island, places that must be ever hallowed in the memory of Englishmen ; as from
the period when king John signed the Magna Charta may be dated the first dawning of
The small island opposite Runnymede, now covered with willows, was the temporary fortified residence of the barons, where, in 1215, they retired from the pressure of their surrounding army, personally to receive the signature of the king to the great palladium of Enghsh liberty.
Runnymede is on the confines of Surry and Berks, and forms an excellent race-course, on which Egham races are annually held.
On the opposite side of the river, in Buckinghamshire, is Ankerwyke-House, formerly a nunnery of the Benedictine order, founded in the reign of Henry II : few vestiges however of the original building are now remaining.
The stream, passing through the weir of Egham lock, arrives at Staines bridge.
As we approach Staines, in the meadows on the left, which form the boundary of the counties of Berks and Middlesex, stands the London / Mark-Stone, the ancient limits of the jurisdiction of the city of London on the Thames, with the inscription "God preserve the City of London, A. D. 1280."
The towns of Staines and Egham are united by a new and elegant stone bridge of three broad elliptical arches.
The new church of Staines is a handsome edifice, and occupies a commanding situation.
Egham is a small town, with a church also recently erected.
Sir John Denham resided in this parish, whose son acquired the just and merited rank of an original author, by an excellent poem he composed, and to which he gave the title of "Cooper's Hill," the name of an eminence situated in the neighbourhood, near the London road.
The Thames now glides hastily on, and, forming some delightful reaches, passes Laleham.
In the parish-church is an altar-piece, painted by Harlow, of Peter walking on the sea.
Laleham-park is the property of the earl of Lucan, and was the residence of Donna Maria, queen of Portugal, when in England.
The river, becoming very shallow, runs with considerable strength, until it reaches Chertsey weir and lock, on escaping from which it passes through Chertsey-bridge, which is built of stone, and consists of five principal and two collateral arches.
The ancient market-town of Chertsey, formerly written Cheortesy,
and called by Bede Ceroti Insula, or Cherotuss Island, is situated in Surry, about a mile from the river ;
previous to the dissolution of monasteries it was a place of considerable importance.
The abbey was originally founded in 666, by Erkenwald, bishop of London.
It was afterwards destroyed by the Danes, but refounded for Benedictine monks by king Edgar and bishop Ethelwold.
It appears to have been a noble structure ; its extensive precincts occupying a space of four acres.
Some of the outer walls are the only remains of this once celebrated edifice.
Cowley, the poet, was an inhabitant of the town, and died here in 1667, in an old mansion, called the Porch-house part of which is still preserved.
Camden is of opinion that Julius Caesar, when he first invaded Britain, crossed the Thames at Chertsey.
About a mile westward of the town, on the declivity of St. Ann's Hill, where formerly was a priory of that name,
is the seat of the late Right Hon. Charles James Fox.
After several circuitous windings, the river reaches Weybridge lock and weir, close to which the river Wey unites with the parent stream.
The rural village of Weybridge lies on the right, about a mile from the Thames, at the extremity of Oatlands-Park, whose finely-wooded grounds form a beautiful line of scenery along the banks, as far as Walton bridge, before arriving at which
Shepperton and Halliford
we pass the village of Shepperton on
the left, where, at the parsonage house, the learned Erasmus spent many of his earlier days with his preceptor, William Grocyn, the then incumbent.
Contiguous to this village is the hamlet of Lower-Halliford.
These latter places are much frequented by the disciples of Isaac Walton, and the name of the Purdies, as fishermen and punters, are enrolled in the piscatory annals of this portion of the river.
Between Halliford and Walton-bridge,, at a short turn of the stream, is Coway Stakes, a spot where several piles of hardened oak have been found, sixteen feet in length, and shod with iron, supposed, by some writers, though without much probability, to have been placed there by the Britons, under Casswelaunus,[sic], to prevent the passage of Caesar's troops.
Walton bridge, which was erected in 1787, is composed of four broad arches across the
river, and seven over the land, to which are annexed 15 arches, continuing the main road
over the meadows.
The rustic village of Walton is prettily situated, a short distance from the river.
The church, which was erected in the 12th century, has been lately repaired, and within its walls lie the remains of William Lilly, astrologer to Charles I.
The monument of Mrs. Sarah D'Oyley, patroness of Chantrey, is one of the earlier specimens of that eminent sculptor's performance.
Oatlands Park, the favorite residence of queen Elizabeth, is rich in foliage and picturesque groups of trees.
The palace, of which no vestiges are now remaining, stood near the celebrated grotto, constructed at considerable expense by the duke of Newcastle, and considered one of the most beautiful specimens of the kind in England.
The present mansion, erected after designs by Holland, was long the residence of the duke and duchess of York.
The river, on quitting Walton, assumes a more
direct course mth a deepened current, and soon reaches Sunbury lock and weir : Sunbury
lies on the left.
A short distance in advance is the residence of tlie St. Quentin family: the house appears an epitome of i\\e facade of Hampton-Court, and has often been compared to that palace in miniature.
The stream now becomes rapid, and quickly arrives at Hampton, whose new and elegant church has often afforded an interesting object at the different windings of the stream.
On the Surry bank is a long-extended line of common, called Moulsey-Hurst, once famed in pugilistic history, and on which annual races are lielD.
The river, meandering to the right by a small cut, laves with its limpid waters the lawn of Hampton-House, the delightful villa of the late David Garrick.
On the verge of the Thames he erected a small but elegant temple, dedicated to Shakspeare, and placed within it a statue of the " immortal bard" by Roubillac.
The channel of the river now
becomes very confined, until it attains Hampton lock and weir, when the current rushes
with considerable impetuosity through Moulsey, commonly called Hampton-Bridge.
East Moulsey, or Molesey, is situated in Surry, nearly opposite Hampton-Court, at the confluence of the river Mole or Moule with the Thames.
Hampton Court Bridge
The village was granted by Charles II to Sir James Clarke, grandfather to the late lord of the manor, who had a ferry thence to Hampton-Court, in the room whereof he built a bridge, which, in 1753, was replaced by the present light wooden structure.
The palace of Hampton, which stretches its mass
of red brick building along the left bank of the Thames, was originally erected by cardinal Wolsey, and fitted up with the usual magnificence of the cardinal's princely taste.
In order to avoid the invidious feeling which this superb mansion excited, he presented it to Henry VIII, in 1526, who, in return, graciously permitted him to i-eside in his palace at RichmonD. The principal part of the old palace was taken down in 1690, and the present structure raised by king William III, under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren.
The park, including Bushy-Park, with the gardens and the grounds on which the palace now stands, are three miles in circumference.
The gardens, consisting of forty-four acres, laid out by London and Wise, in the reign of King William, still retaining the mathematical precision and fashion of that perioD. In a grape-house is a vine, of the black Hamburg kind, which is much celebrated for its size and the abundance of its produce.
The collec- tion of pictures are numerous and interesting, comprising the cartoons of Raphael.
A pasture, near the palace, designated, in an old survey, the " toying-place," forms the site of the present " Toy Inn," at the foot of the bridge.
The stream now, with shallow and rapid current, winds circuitously along the walls of the park to Hampton-Wick and Kingston.
On the Surry side we pass Thames-Ditton, where the Swan Inn, pleasantly situated on the margin of the river, and divided from the main part of the Thames by two smaU islets, is much frequented by anglers, who are at- tracted by the barbel and ground fishing obtained in the vicinity.
The ancient market-town of Kingston-on-Thames is connected with the village of Hampton-Wick, in Middlesex, by a handsome stone bridge of five broad arches, erected in 1825.
Kingston was a place of importance as early as the union of the Saxon heptarchy ; a council having been, held here, at which Egbert and his son Ethelwolf presideD. In the record noticing the assembly, the town is designated Kyningenstun, famosa ilia locus.
Several of the Saxon kings were crowned in the St. Mary chapel, attached to the church ; but which fell down in 1730.
Close to the north side of the church is a large stone, on which, according to tradition, the kings were placed during their inauguration.
The summer county assizes are generally held in the town-hall, and formerly the town sent members to parliament, until the inhabitants petitioned to be relieved from the onerous privilege.
The church is a spacious edifice, and appears to have been erected in the reign of Richard II.
Returning again to the banks of the river, we find the current, with quickened pace, hastening towards Teddington lock and weir,
which are the last impediments offered to the
free flowing of the stream ; and at this place all influence from the diurnal influx of tide ceases to be experienced.
The village of Teddington is prettily situated on the left, and removed a short distance from the water.
The name has been supposed to owe its origin to the ending of the tide - Tide-end-town.
Mr. Lysons, however, shrewdly remarks, that there can be no other objection to this etymology than that, for several centuries after its name first occurs, the place is called, in all records, Totyngton.
In the neighbourhood are several delightful seats. The river now, with expanded current, freed from all restraint, pursues its course towards "famed Richmond Hill," embellishing with its mazy and silvery tide the varied beauties of the prospect.
On approaching Twickenham, we pass Strawberryhill, the elegant villa of the late Horace Walpole, earl of Oxford.
This beautiful mansion was built by his lordship, after the most select parts of Gothic architecture. Great taste is displayed in the numerous ornaments of the edifice, and in the choice collection of pictures, sculptures, antiquities and curiosities which it contains.
By the late lord's will this mansion was appointed the residence of the Hon. Mrs. Damer, whose genius and taste, as a sculptress, are generally acknowledged. The next residence which attracts our attention is the classic abode of Pope. During the poet's lifetime, the house was humble and confined ; but veneration for his memory has caused its present enlarged dimensions. Near the edge of the river, propped with peculiar care, are the two weeping willows planted by Pope himself: slips of these trees have been transported to various parts, and, in 1789, Catherine, empress of Russia, had some planted in her garden at St. Petersburg. The once celebrated grotto is now only remarkable, as having been erected under the immediate direction of our bard.
The effect of time, added to the pious thefts of visitors, who have selected the spars, ores, and even common flints, as so many sacred relics, have almost brought it into ruins.
In Twickenham church Pope and his parents lie buried.
In quick succession we glide by the delightful residence of the baroness Howe (Richmond-House),
Seat of Mr Drummond, Twickenham
Mr. Drummond's pretty villa and other charming summer retreats,
and then pass Twickenham ait, on which is an excellent inn, for the
accommodation of aquatic parties, called the "Eel-pye house," and where steam-boats from
London, during the summer months, daily arrive.
Below Twickenham church is Yorke House, and on the site of the earl of Stafford's house a noble seat has been erected by the
late lady Anne Conolly.
In advance is a pretty cottage, called "Rayman's castle," Marble hill, Spencer Grove, and Marble-hill Hall.
The river, on quitting the island, forms a bay to the right, skirting the grounds of Ham House, belonging to the earl of Dysart.
The beautiful groves and walks which environ the mansion have been celebrated by many of our poets.
The fine and stately row of shadowy elms, which adorns the banks of the river on the right, casts a refreshing coolness over the stilly surface of the stream, and, in softening and harmonizing the feelings, prepare them more fully to relish all the various beauties of sylvan scenery displayed on reaching the lovely village of Petersham and the commanding heights of Richmond Hill.
Seat of the Duke of Buccleugh, Richmond
At the further extremity of Petersham meadows, beneath the sloping line of hill on which the town of Richmond stands, lies the beautiful and sequestered summer villa of the duke of Buccleugh : the verdant lawn forms the very bank of the river, and is partly moistened by its waters every flow of the tide.
The town of Richmond, in Surry, was anciently designated Sheen, signifying resplendant,
and, from the peculiar beauty of its situation, has been termed the Frascati of England.
At an early period of our history, the kings of England had a palace here, and, according to Holinshed, "weary of the city, used customarily hither to resort, as to a place of pleasure."
Several public acts are dated at Sheen, during the reigns of the first and second Edwards.
Edward III died in the palace, in 1377.
Queen Ann, the beloved consort of Richard II, also expired within its walls.
This monarch was so much affected at his queen's death, that he quitted the royal abode, and the building became partly demolished.
King Henry V, however, restored it, but, in 1498, it was destroyed by fire, and rebuilt by Henry VII, "after the most exquisite way of architecture," say Aubrey " of the age, and gave it his own name of Richmond."
Henry VIII occasionally occupied the apartments, and queen Elizabeth made the palace one of her favorite places of residence ; and here she closed her illustrious career.
It fell into decay during the revolution, and, after the reign of Charles II, went rapidly to ruin.
During the last century the remains were taken down and the site granted to various noblemen and gentlemen.
The buildings occupied a space of ten acres, extending between Richmond-green and the river.
The duke of Queensbury's and the countess of Northampton's houses were built on part of the site, as well as the beautiful villa of the late Witshed Keene, esquire.
The old or little park was adjoining Richmond-green; a portion of which constituted afterwards the royal gardens.
The new or great park, at the extremity of the hill near Petersham, was made by Charles I, and is eight miles in circumference.
At the hamlet of West-Sheen, Henry V founded a Carthusian priory for forty monks.
It was suppressed in the reign of Henry VIII, and, in 1770, the only remaining vestige, the ancient gateway, was taken down, and the hamlet rendered extinct ; the site being formed into a lawn, and added to the king's enclosures.
View from Richmond Hill
The extensive prospect from Richmond-hill, which calls forth universal admiration, is so rich in cultivation and luxuriant in foliage, that, as Mr. Maurice, in his classic poem on the subject, observes "the boldest sketch from the pencil of the most sublime artist could only feebly pourtray the charms of the vast, the varied, the delightful landscape," which at one burst presents itself to the enraptured sight.
Opposite the town is Twickenham-Park, late the residence of lord Frederic Cavendish,
and where Sir Francis Bacon spent much of the earlier part of his life.
In the meadows between the house and the river was originally founded Sion convent, previous to its removal to the spot now occupied by Sion House.
Below the park the river Crane unites with the Thames, which, on quitting Richmond bridge, is divided by a small islet with a fine group of trees, and, skirting the meadows and Richmond gardens, soon reaches Isleworth, passing on the left the delightful villa of the marquis of Aylesbury.
Seat of the marquis of Aylesbury
Isleworth church is a
modern structure, though the venerable tower belonging to the former church, covered with
ivy, forms an interesting objet.
The current now winds to the right, flowing by Sion-House, the seat of the duke of Northumberland.
The name is derived from a convent, founded in 1414, by Henry V, at Twickenham, and removed here in 1432, for sixty nuns, of the order of St. Bridget.
After the dissolution it remained in the possession of the crown, and the unfortunate queen Catherine Howard was confined here.
Edward VI granted it to the protector, the duke of Somerset, who, in 1547, caused the building of the present edifice.
Queen Mary restored it to the Bridgetines, who were expelled by Elizabeth, and, after wandering through Flanders, eventually settled at Lisbon.
In 1604 the mansion was granted to the earl of Northumberland ; in the possession of whose family it now remains.
The town of Brentford next appears on the left, and the village of Kew on the right.
Brentford receives its appellation from a brook, called the Brent, which here flows into the Thames.
In 1016, king Edward Ironside defeated the Danes at this place with great slaughter.
The present palace at Kew was formerly the seat of Mr. Samuel Molyneux,
secretary to king George II, became the property of Frederick, prince of Wales, and
was long the residence of George III.
The gardens, which contain 120 acres, were orna mented by Sir Wm. Chambers with a number of buildings, both in the European and Asiatic style.
The botanical gardens rank the finest in the kingdom.
Kew-bridge is a stone edifice of seven arches, and was opened in 1789.
Leaving the hamlet of Strand-on-the-Green on the left, the river winds circuitously by Mortlake and Barnes.
The church at the latter village is one of the most ancient structures in the vicinity of London.
The river, sweeping boldly to the right, leaves Chiswick on the left.
Chiswick-house, the celebrated seat of the duke of Devonshire, was built in 1729, by Richard, earl of Burlington, after a well-known villa of Palladio, and is universally allowed to be a model of taste.
The river, divided by a small islet, unites at Hammersmith, and flows through the spacious arches of a new and elegant suspension iron bridge. [The first suspension bridge replaced in 1885]
A little in advance stood Brandenburg house, the residence of the margravine of Anspach.
The house was originally built by Sir Nicholas Crispe, a celebrated merchant, soldier, and royalist, in the reign of Charles I.
It became the property of prince Rupert, but was afterwards purchased by the margravine of Anspach, and was finally assigned by the government as a residence for queen Caroline, who ended in it her eventful life ; since which it has been razed to the ground.
A fine expanded reach now appears, delightfully shaded on the right by lofty trees, near the spot
called Barn-Elms, which has been made the theme of many a past poet and has also acquired
notoriety from two houses situated here, one, an ancient mansion, called "queen Elizabeth's
dairy," where Jacob Tonson lived and died ; and in a gallery which he annexed was held the
celebrated kit-cat club.
The other, the Manor-house, was granted by Elizabeth to Sir Francis Walsingham, who, in 589, entertained the queen and the whole of her court.
It was afterwards purchased by Sir Richard Hoare, whose family still retain possession of the property.
On the left bank is a beautiful thatched cottage, called Rose-Mount.
winding gently to the left, arrives at the villages of Putney and Fulham, united by a wooden
bridge, erected by subscription in 1729.
The origin of the name of Putney is involved in much uncertainty.
In Domesday-book it is denominated Putlelei, and is written in subsequent records, Puitenheth.
The place, however, is of great antiquity, and lies pleasantly situated on the Surry shore of the river, at the foot of the rising ground leading to Wimbledon.
Bishop West's chapel, annexed to the south side of the ancient parish-church, is an object of considerable architectural interest and beauty.
The name of the twin village of Fulham in Middlesex derives its etymology from Fullenhanme, or Fullenholne signifying volcrum domus, or the resort of fowls, "because, being marshy, many waterfowls used to harbour here".
The church has been the burial place of nearly all the bishops of London since the restoration ; and the episcopal palace, which is situated here, has been, from an early period, their summer residence.
The mansion is of brick, and was built by bishop Fitzjames, in the reign of Henry VII.
The celebrated gardens, with the house, and a field called the warren, comprise about thirty-seven acres, surrounded by a moat.
Bishop Grindall, one of the earliest encouragers of botany, and bishop Compton, rendered the gardens remarkable by the introduction of many new plants, shrubs, and forest trees.
The tower and small wooden spire of the old church rise prettily from amidst the surrounding foliage.
A new church was also erected in 1828.
On passing through the bridge, the large red house, with a fine verdant lawn, situated on the right, was originally the residence of Sir Joshua Vanneck, and once the boast of the river ; but so many elegant villas have of late years adorned the banks, that this respectable mansion appears to have lost its former consideration.
A white house, standing near the bridge, and which has been lately repaired and altered as the parsonage-house, was inhabited by Richardson, at the time he composed his celebrated novel of Sir Charles Grandison.
The broad and ample stream now winds majestically to the left, and reaches Wandsworth;
a range of common fields uniting the village with that of Putney, On the left, as far as Parson's-green ferry,
are situated some delightful summer residences, from whence a continuation of meadows and kitchen gardens, for which the neighbourhod is famed, extend
along the banks as far as Chelsea.
Wandsworth or Wandlesworth, is situated "on the blue transparent Vandalis," or river Wandle, which rises near Croydon, whose waters are of considerable importance in a commercial point of view ; as several printing-grounds, various mills and extensive dye-houses are situated on the banks.
The church, with the exception of the square tower, which is of early date, was rebuilt in 1780.
On St. Ann's Hill, at the south-eastern extremity of Wandsworth, a new church was erected in 1824, from designs by Smirke.
The Ionic portico is copied from the temple of Ilyssus.
Garrat lane, between this village and Tooting, was formerly the scene of a mock election for a "Mayor of Garrat," after every new parliament.
The custom was kept up by a subscription of the neighbouring publicans, and to which Foote, in his amusing dramatic farce, has given no small celebrity.
Leaving Wandsworth, and passing on the right a large distillery and silk-ribbon manufactory, the river, bending to the left,
forms an open expanse of water, called Battersea reach.
Gardens, fields and a few pretty villas occupy the ground between the last village and Battersea.
This place, in the Conqueror's survey is mentioned
as Patricesey ; in later writings, Battrichsey, Battersey and Battersea ; Patricesey denoting in Saxon, Peters water, or river ;
and the record in which it is thus written alludes
to its having been given to St. Peter ; the manor being granted to the abbey of St. Peter, at Westminster, in exchange for Windsor.
Battersea is remarkable as having been the birth-place of Henry St. John, viscount Bolingbroke, who died here in 1751.
The family seat was a venerable structure, and contained forty rooms on a floor.
On the site of the partly demolished buildings has been erected an horizontal air-mill and malt-houses.
The only portion of the original building now extant is the house attached to the mill ; one of the parlours of which, fronting the Thames, is lined-with cedar and inlaid, having been the favourite study of Pope, and the scene of many a literary conversation between him and his friend, St. John.
York-House, near the river, is supposed to have been built by Laurence Booth, archbishop of York, and annexed to the see as a residence.
The church, which is situated close to the water, was rebuilt in 1777.
On the opposite bank is a pretty villa, occupied by the late Lord Cremorne, and now converted into a place of public amusement, called the Stadium.
The river is here, in parts, extremely shallow at low water ; having expanded its surface in forming a bay on the Chelsea side.
The retrospective view is very picturesque : the fine reach, conducting the eye to the Wandsworth hills, backed by the woods of Wimbledon park and the bridge of Battersea in front, creates this spot an interesting portion of the stream.
View near Battersea
The bridge, which connects Chelsea with the Surry banks, is built of wood ; and it is much to be lamented, where the river possesses such an ample breadth, and the situation is so contiguous to the metropolis, that the Thames cannot boast a more elegant and commodious structure.
Chelsea, which extends from the foot of the bridge along the Middlesex shore, was formerly written Chelche-hith and Chelsyth, which
Somner derives from ceale, signifying, in Saxon, chalk, and hythe, a harbour.
Camden calls it Chelsey, as if it were Shelfsey, from the shelves of sand near it.
Another derivation alludes to it as ceald and hythe, or cold harbour, "on account of its bleak situation, standing open to the river, which is of considerable breadth."
The original parish church was erected in the reign of Edward the 2nd, or about the beginning of the fourteenth century.
The present structure was built in 1667.
It contains, among other interesting monuments, that of Sir Thomas More, who resided in a handsome edifice, which occupied the site of the present range of houses, called Beaufort-row.
Here the capricious Henry used frequently to resort, to partake of his subject's festive board and enjoy his learned and eloquent conversation.
Holbein also resided three years with the chancellor, and was here first introduced to Henry VIII.
Erasmus has given an excellent description of his friend's domestic establishment.
One of the distinguishing features also of the village are the medicinal and botanical gardens, containing four acres of ground, enriched with a variety of plants, both domestic and exotic, and adorned with two fine cedars of Lebanon, of considerable size, planted in 1685.
This freehold piece of ground was the gift of Sir Hans Sloane to the Apothecaries' company.
In Cheyne walk, which owes its name to lady Jane Cheyne, who is buried in the church, stood the episcopal palace of the see of Winchester, purchased by Parliament in 1664, on the alienation of the demesnes belonging to the bishopric in Southwark and Bishop's Waltham, and has since been pulled down.
Towards the middle of last century a famous manufactory for china-ware was established, which in England has never been excelled in the perfection of its designs or the beauty of its colour, but it was too expensive for that period, and did not reward the ingenuity of its proprietor.
[Editor: Cox is to blame, but the hysterical reaction of the crew might cause a capsize! ]
The principal object, however, at Chelsea, of attraction, as well as national pride and gratification,
is the receptacle for those brave veterans, who, wounded and maimed in defending the liberties of their country,
find within its walls an asylum of peace and comfort,
afforded by a grateful country, as a reward for the dangers incurred during many perilous
The building of the royal military hospital was commenced by king Charles II, and completed in 1692, during the reign of William and Mary, after designs by Sir Christopher Wren.
Its origin is generally ascribed to Sir Stephen Fox, grandfather of the late honorable Charles James Fox, one of its most munificent benefactors, though a tradition exists, that it is indebted for its establishment to Nell Gwynn, who might doubtless have employed her influence with the king, to the furtherance of an object so honorable to her royal protector.
A little in advance of the gardens belonging to the hospital, is the spot once occupied by the splendid amphitheatre of Ranelagh, long the favorite place of fashionable amusement, and formerly the property of the earl of Ranelagh.
The deserted grounds have been purchased by the commissioners of the hospital, as a place of resort for the pensioners ; and lately lord John Russell, to make it more attractive, has caused a large portion to be dug up, and arranged in little plots for gardens ; thus affording to the old soldier a source of amusement at once novel and interesting.
The river, after flowing
through Battersea bridge, forms a broad expanse of water, known as Chelsea reach, and,
during particular winds, is fatally notorious for the agitation and roughness of its waves.
It is bordered on the right by Battersea fields where, on the banks, is a place of public resort, called "the Red-house," a resting-place for aquatic parties, and celebrated of late from the numerous pigeon-matches here decided.
As we approach Vauxhall, a neat gothic church
attracts the sight, lately erected at the extremity of the fields, as a chapel of ease to the
parish of Battersea.
Winding to the left, the Thames flows through the light and elegant arches of Yauxhall bridge, composed of iron, on stone piers.
The miserable and unpicturesque appearance which the Surry shore presents is fully compensated by the prospect which offers itself more in advance, comprising the venerable form of Lambeth palace on the right, with the grey and weather-beaten tower of the church.
Westminster abbey, rearing its stately mass of gothic architecture, with the "hall of Rufus," on the opposite
banks, while Westminster bridge stretches its ample arches across the stream,
the dome of St. Paul's, and many a lofty tower and tapering spire rising in rapid succession beyond it ;
near the bridge on the left is a heavy pile of building, called the penitentiary prison, and further on the four massive towers of St. John's church.
The prescribed limits of the present work, which the proprietors are unwilling to extend,
as they are desirous of preserving their faith with the public, in not exceeding the specified
number of monthly parts, has necessarily prevented digression, and materially abridged
It is therefore impracticable to attempt giving any detailed account of the immense metropolis of the British empire, at which we have now arriveD. We may, however, briefly allude to some of the facts which have contributed to render it the most extensive and opulent capital in Europe.
The situation of London, regarding the circumstances of traffic, is admirably chosen, possessing, by means of the " noble Thames," every advantage that can be derived from sea-port, without its dangers, uniting in itself all the benefits arising from navigation and commerce with those of a metropolis, at which all the public business of a great nation is transacted, becoming the mercantile and political head of the three kingdoms.
The extent of its commercial operations, aided by improved machinery, immense capital, and speculative enterprise, has increased its wealth and strengthened its resources, rendering the power and influence of the country almost paramount over the whole world.
Before quitting the city of Westminster, which was formerly separated a mile distant from that of London,
we must more particularly allude to that splendid edifice, Westminster-abbey ; the venerable splendor of its gothic architecture, the antiquity and beauty of
its monumental sculpture, and the illustrious and revered ashes it incloses, rendering it the most interesting religious edifice in the kingdom.
Henry VII's chapel, which approximates nearest the river, is, as a recent author justly remarks, "the admiration of the universe," such inimitable perfection appears in every part of the whole composition, which looks so far exceeding human excellence, that it appears knit together by the fingers of angels, pursuant to the direction of Omnipotence.
The river, on leaving Westminster-bridge, winds circuitously to the right, passing on the left part of the ancient palace of Whitehall,
Hungerford New Market
and a little in advance the elegant and newly erected market of Hungerford,
as well as a fine row of houses, called Adelphi terrace,
flows through the splendid arches of Waterloo bridge, a structure acknowledged by Canova as unrivalled in Europe.
On emerging from the arches, the stately building of Somerset house, with its noble terrace, presents an imposing and beautiful object.
The erection of the present edifice was commenced in 1774, from designs by Sir William Chambers, on the site of one of the most beautiful remains of the architecture of the 16th century - the palace of the protector Somerset.
The Surry banks of the river are ocupied by wharves, foundries, breweries and different manufactories.
As we progress, the delightful gardens belonging to the Temple Inns of Court attract our attention on the left.
This spot, as the ancient Alsatia, has been of late years rendered familiar to the public by the interesting account detailed in the excellent novel of "the Fortunes of Nigel," by Sir Walter Scott.
The Thames continues bending in a serpentine direction to the right, passing through the stone arches of Blackfriars-bridge.
St Pauls from Bankside
St. Paul's cathedral, whose lofty cupola and mass of beautiful architecture has long excited admiration, now appears to considerable advantage, towering
in supremacy above the dwellings and numerous steeples with which it is environed.
In 1675, the foundation-stone of the present structure was laid, on the site of the ancient abbey of St. Paul, and was finished in 1710, under the guidance and superintendence of Sir Christopher Wren.
It is 2,292 feet in circumference and 340 feet in height.
The whole expense of rebuilding the cathedral was £736,000, which was almost entirely raised by a small duty on coals.
In magnificence of exterior architecture it is only surpassed by St. Peter's at Rome ; and though this famed cathedral is of larger dimensions than that of St. Paul, yet It is worthy remark, that St. Peter's was 145 years erecting, was the work of twelve succesive architects, and exhausted the revenues of nineteen popes.
We now approach the Southwark-bridge,
the stupendous iron arches of which unite, with three spans,
the city of London and the borough of Southwark.
The centre arch extends 240 feet ; being 38 feet wider than the monument is high.
Southwark, having been granted to the city by Edward III, for the annual payment of £10, in the reign of Edward VI was formed into a twenty-sixth ward, by the name of "Bridge-Ward-Without".
The falling tide, which, on passing London bridge, is relieved of all obstruction from the different bridges, begins to acquire more force,
and we quickly glide beneath the arches of the new London-bridge, which rivals in beauty
of design and solidity of architecture the celebrated bridge, we have before referred to, of Waterloo.
It has five immense semi-elliptic arches, the centre embracing 152 feet, and the two narrowest 130 feet each, which latter exceeds in extent the span of any other stone bridge in Europe.
New London Bridge with ruins of Old bridge
Immediately on leaving the bridge are seen the picturesque ruins of the old London-bridge, erected between the years 1176 and 1209, and the first that crossed the river at the metropolis, and from whence the port of London originally commenced.
View from London Bridge: The Pool of London
The view which now meets the astonished gaze at once impresses the mind with the prodigious extent of the commercial interests of Great Britain.
The numberless vessels moored in the pool seem, in the mazy winding of the stream, to become a dense forest of lofty masts, beyond which the eye cannot penetrate.
The average number of British ships and vessels lying in the river and docks is estimated at 13,000 to 14,000, and for which 3000 to 4000 barges and other small craft are employed in loading and unloading.
Nearly 3000 barges and other craft are engaged in the inland trade, and 3000 wherries and small boats for passengers.
About 10,000 labourers are employed in lading and discharging ships, and 8000 watermen in navigating the wherries and small craft.
About 20,000 coasting vessels annually enter the port of London ; 7000 of which, it is calculated, are laden with grain, 6000 with coals, and 7000 with various goods.
The value of merchandize[sic] annually received and discharged is computed at between £60,000,000 and £70,000,000, and the official value of goods warehoused is about £19,000,000.
The scene of this enormous traffic occupies a space of more than four miles in length, reaching from London-bridge to Deptford, and from 400 to 500 yards in average breadth, consisting of the upper, middle, and lower pools and the space between Limehouse and Deptford ; the river also averaging in depth about twelve feet; the navigation of which, exclusive of the constant arrival and departure of the numerous vessels, is now annually obstructed by about 11,000 voyages, performed by various steam-boats.
It is calculated that, including the imports and exports, as well as the receipts from the inland markets, &c., that a sum of £120,000,000 worth of property is annually moving to and from the metropolis.
London comprises 1,453,662 inhabitants, and 178 parishes, which extend from east to west, that is from Poplar to Knightsbridge, seven miles and a half in length, and in breadth, from north to south, or from Islington to Walworth, about five miles ; the circumference of the whole being computed at about thirty miles, including an area of 12,000 square acres, of which the Thames occupies about 1120, leaving 11,880 square acres as the space employed by the buildings and streets, the latter of which, including the lanes and courts, comprise about 8000.
Resuming our course on the river, we observe the ancient fish-market of Billingsgate on the left,
Click for print border
and the magnificent building of the Custom-house, stretching in lengthened line its mass of
stone architecture, the river front extending 488 feet, with a fine wharf, skirting the Thames.
The first stone was laid in 1813, and the whole building was completed in 1817, after designs by Mr. David Laing and Mr. Smirke.
In 1268 the half-yearly amount of the customs for foreign merchandize was only £75 6s. 10d. since which it has rapidly augmented, until, at the present period, the annual revenue exceeds £9,000,000.
Tower of London
At a short distance in advance appear the four small cupola turrets of the Tower of London ;
a fortress which must ever be fraught with interest to the English spectator, as being intimately connected with the earliest annals of his country.
For the space of five centuries the Tower was the residence of the court, but ceased to be honored by the royal presence on the accession of queen Elizabeth [I].
The white-tower, which is the most ancient and complete portion of the edifice, was built by William the Conqueror.
The fortifications occupy a space of nearly thirteen acres, surrounded by a moat 3156 feet in circuit, supplied with water from the Thames.
On the river side is a broad and handsome esplanade, separated by a fosse from the Tower.
St Catherine Docks
Quickly passing St. Catherine's and the London docks, with the parish of Wapping,
we leave on the right Horsleydown, which formerly was a meadow for feeding cattle,
and now forms the communication between Southwark
and Rotherhithe, which latter place derives its name from the Saxon word rother, a sailor, and hithe, a haven.
The river now becomes a vast and watery avenue, formed by tiers of ships, whose thick and lofty masts obsciure, in great measure, the various objects on the shore.
The banks, however, being chiefly occupied with warehouses, granaries and wharves, afford few interesting points of view.
A little to the eastward of St. Mary's church, Rotherhithe, is the opening to the Thames-tunnel, an undertaking projected by the eminent and enterprising engineer, Mr. Brunel, and which, though only partially carried into effect, through accident and want of funds, will, if finished, form an extraordinary completion of the bold and novel attempt of boring a subaquean communication between Middlesex and Surry, and will extend 1300 feet; being 38 feet in width and 20 in height, with 15 feet thickness of earth between the crown of the arch and the bed of the river.
right bank is the parish of Shadwell, with the hamlets of Ratcliffe and Poplar, and, removed from the river, the heavy tower of St. Anne's,
Limehouse, forms a conspicuous but inelegant object.
The channel of the Thames now becomes considerably straightened, and, passing the immense granary of Messrs.
Scott, Garnett and Palmer (which is capable of containing 50,000 quarters of grain) the river sweeps round by Cuckold's-point, passing on the left the flood-gates of the Regent's-canal, Limehouse-cut, which unites wth the river Lea at Bromley, the entrance basin to the West-India docks, and also the city-canal, which was formed by Act of Parliament, in order to save the circuitous navigation round the Isle of Dogs ; but the advantages anticipated not having been realised, it has been purchased by the West-India dock company and composes now the timber-dock.
On the right are the commercial docks, and a little lower is Earl-Sluice, which divides Surry from Kent ; a small house, covered with ivy, marking the boundaries of the two counties.
The river, becoming less encumbered with shipping, exhibits a fine open expanse of water, called Limehouse-reach, and in advance appears Deptford church, with the royal dock-yard, built in the reign of Henry VIII, and in the back ground Flamsteed-house, with the rich foliage of Greenwich park.
As the river gently winds to the left, the splendid building of Greenwich
hospital gradually develops its architectural beauties.
This stately edifice was erected in 1694, by king William and queen Mary, for the maintenance and support of aged and wounded seamen, on the site of the ancient palace of Placentia, built by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, in the 15th century.
Charles II, finding the old palace in a state of decay, from the want of necessary repairs during the usurpation, ordered it to be taken down, and began to execute the design of a very magnificent residence on the spot, of which one of the present wings of the hospital was the only part completed, and which, at the suggestion of Sir Christopher Wren, king William granted, with nine acres of land, for the present building.
The name of Greenwich is derived from the Saxon words Grena-wie, or Green Bay.
View from Greenwich Park
King Charles also caused to be pulled down the tower,
called Greenwich castle, and with part of the old materials erected a house or observatory,
for the use of Mr. Flamsteed, the celebrated astronomer, whose name the building still retains,
and forms a back-ground to the hospital, when viewed from the river.
From the meridian of Greenwich, all English astronomers make their calculations.
View near Greenwich
The reach formed at Greenwich by the Thames is broad and open, being bordered by a line of marshy ground,
esteemed one of the richest pasturages in England, denominated the Isle of Dogs,
the name of which is traditionally derived from the circumstance of king Edward III, when
the court resided at Greenwich, having kept there his hounds.
Towards the centre of the isle was formerly a small chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, supposed to have been founded as a hermitage by some devout person, for the purpose of offering up masses for the souls of mariners : the spot is now occupied by a few cottages and a small farm-house, called "Chapel-House Farm".
The commanding height of Shooter's-hill, in Kent, richly clad with foliage, and which
is 482 feet above the level of the sea, continues to bound a very limited horizon for a long
extension of the river, and is supposed to have received its appellation from having been
formerly chosen by archers, as a place of exercise.
The hill is surmounted by a tower, called Severndroog castle, erected in commemoration of a conquest of a fort of that name, on the coast of Malabar, in 1755, as well as other victories obtained in the East-Indies, by Sir William James.
Blackwall, which lies on the confines of Middlesex and Essex, and is situated in a bay formed by the river, before it rounds into Woolwich reach, does not afford any picturesque attractions, though endeared to gastronomists, as a spot famed for the provision of that much-esteemed luxury among connoisseurs in fish, called White Bait.
The vast docks of the East-India Company and the eastern entrance to the West-India docks are also situated here, and, a little in advance, near the Trinity-buoy wharf.
Bow creek, formed by the river Lea, unites itself with the Thames, dividing the two counties of Middlesex and Essex.
On the Kentish banks, the church of Charlton, with the neighbouring scenery, forms a pleasing prospect.
At the extremity of the reach is seen Woolwich, with its fine dock-yard,
established by Henry VIII, and at the lower end of
the town is situated the royal arsenal, the grand national repository of every species of
military and naval ordnance and stores.
Near the arsenal are moored the hulks, for the reception of convicts.
Part of the parish of Woolwich extends to the opposite bank, and is included in the county of Kent, on which side of the river is the "Devil's-house" being all that remains of a mansion, formerly belonging to the family of Devall, whose name has suffered so unnatural a corruption from the seafaring characters by whom it is seen.
The Thames now forms a long reach, called Gallions, and, passing the mouth of the river Roding, called Barking-creek, and then Dagenham, soon arrives at Erith.
The dull unvarying aspect of the Essex coast, which is only momentarily relieved by the herds of cattle, sometimes seen pasturing on the marshy levels, forms a striking contrast with the uplands of Plumstead, which rise from the Kentish meadows in various hills and wooded undulations.
The town of Erith derives its name from Errl-hithe, or old harbour, and lies very prettily in a small bay,
the ivy and moss-grown tower of the church creating a picturesque object.
On the brow of a finely-wooded hill is seen the beautiful seat and grounds of lord Say and Sele, called " Belvidere".
About two miles in advance, on the opposite side of the river, is Purfleet, formerly called Pourtefleet,
containing large public magazines for gunpowder.
The chalk-quarries serve to relieve for a moment the flat uninteresting scenery of this side of the Thames.
Passing through Long-Reach, we have the Dartford marshes on our right, through which the river Darent flows, called Dartmouth-creek, rendering its waters to the parent stream.
Approaching the delightful hamlet of Greenhithe, whose chalk cliffs, as well as those at Northfleet, rise from 100 to 150 feet perpendicularly, breaking the uniformity of the scenery, and convey the feeling of a partially romantic character.
The Thames, again winding, forms St. Clement's reach, and, leaving on the
left the village and church of West-Thurrock, we obtain a fine view of an elegant
mansion in Essex, with its embattlements and pleasure-grounds, called Belmont-castle,
removed from the water, on the summit of a gentle eminence.
In advance is Grey's Thurrock, where the river, bending to the right, flows through the reach termed the South-Hope, which bounds a marshy peninsula on the Kentish side,
and soon washes the side of Northfleet,
deriving its name from a small fleet or arm of the river, which flows from hence southwards,
The village is pleasantly situated on the margin of the river, and is becoming a favorite summer retreat for the citizens of London, being about a mile distant from Gravesend.
The town of Gravesend is a place of considerable importance on the Thames, being the first port on the river,
and consequently immediately connected with its navigation.
The name is derived from Gerefa, signifying a ruler or portreve, termed in German Greve; hence Gravesend indicates the limit or bound of a certain jurisdiction or office.
The port of London terminating just below the town, an office of customs is estabhshed in it, and all homeward-bound vessels are obliged to lay to, until visited by the proper authorities.
The contiguity of Gravesend to the metropolis and the ready access afforded by the numerous steam-boats daily running to and fro, together with the new and elegant buildings in the environs, particularly at the delightful village of Milton, for the accommodation of visitors and those wishing a partially saline bath, have much improved the town, and ranked it among the fashionable watering-places of the kingdom.
The view of the surrounding counties obtained from the Windmill-hill is rich, beautiful, and diversified, and the river, covered with vessels of various forms, and in as many directions, affords detached groups of naval objects at once pleasing and picturesque.
A new stone pier was opened on the twenty-ninth of July, 1834, for the convenience of passengers, and will prove a great accommodation to the town.
A short distance beyond Gravesend is the entrance to the Thames and Medway-canal.
About three miles from the town, near the rural
village of Shome, at the foot of a sloping eminence, crowned with trees, called "the Warren," is situated a mild chalybeate spring,
reputed highly effective in the cure of scorbutic and other diseases, but at present entirely neglected.
The view from the height is beautiful and extensive, and the spot possesses all the natural requisites for being rendered a highly attractive and fashionable place of resort.
Opposite Gravesend is Tilbury fort, built by Henry VIII, to protect the upper part of the Thames, but was enlarged
and made a regular fortification by Charles II.
Here was encamped the army of Elizabeth, in 1558, in order to oppose the anticipated landing of the troops of the Invincible Armada.
After passing East-Tilbury, with its church and tapering spire, the Essex shore exhibits a succession of low grounds, until the river separates from it an island, containing 3,500 acres, anciently called Convennos, and by Ptolemy Counos, and still retains the appellation of Convey or Canvey island, skirting part of the Lower-Hope reach.
The southern side of the Lower-Hope is bounded by the Gravesend and Milton marshes and the parishes of Higham and Cliffe,
together with the Isle of Grean or Grain.
This island is divided from the main land by a very narrow channel, called the Scray, which, in former years, was sufficiently wide to admit the passage of small vessels from the Medway to the Thames, and was called Yenlet or Yenlade in the Hoo.
As we enter Sea-Reach, the
last of those broad expanses of water for which the Thames is celebrated, Leigh church
and village appear, pleasantly situated on the Essex banks.
Between Leigh and Southend is placed the city stone ; the jurisdiction of the lord-mayor of London terminating at this spot.
A short distance in advance is Southend, which, previous to the modern attraction of Gravesend, was much frequented in summer, as a bathing-place ; and the woody character of the adjacent country, the vast breadth of the river, with its moving scenery and the mouth of the Medway, form a bright and interesting break on the Kentish shore, and create for the spot much picturesque beauty.
A terrace, erected on some rising ground, called New-Southend, has an elegant appearance from the water.
Some distance below this town the beacon, called the "Nore-Light," is placed, being an immense lamp, fixed in the hulk of a Dutch-built vessel, moored nearly in the centre of the Nore, between what is termed Shoebury Ness and the Isle of Sheppey, in order that vessels should know the bearing of the different shoals, which render the navigation dangerous at the entrance of the Thames.
The breadth between the western extremity of the Isle of Grain and Shoebury Ness may be denominated the mouth of the river,
and is six miles in extent.
At this point the majestic Thames, having preserved that air of placid dignity and imposing grandeur which distinguish so eminently this monarch of British rivers, blends its immense volume of waters with those of the Medway, losing designation and destination, is engulphed in the mighty depths of the ocean, having flowed in an easterly course for a space of two hundred and thirty miles, of which one hundred and eighty-eight are navigable, and having expended the ebb and flood of a tide for seventy miles.
This river, though inferior to the mighty Thames in volume of water, extent of
navigation, and mercantile importance, is yet endued with its own peculiar and attractive beauties,
which render it preeminent in point of picturesque and romantic scenery.
The sudden meandering of its stream, as it flows through the middle of the rich and fertile county of Kent, is constantly presenting fresh and diversified points of view ; the luxuriance of the vales being relieved by bold undulations and fertilised hills, delighting the pictorial eye with the beautiful arrangements of the numerous landscapes, and the richness of the soil illustrating the beau ideal of a land "flowing with milk and honey".
The river was denominated by the early Britons the Vaga, a name descriptive of its sinuous wanderings.
The Saxons annexed the additional syllable of med, signifying mid or middle, denoting its course through the centre of the county, and hence, from Medvaga or Medwage, the present name has arisen.
The Medway is formed by the confluence of four streams ; two of which rise in Sussex, one in Surrey, and the other in Kent.
The principal source springs in the parishes of Godstone and Home, near Bletchingly; and, having been joined by several rills in its course, passes eastward into the county of Kent, a short distance above Eaton bridge.
This village, though small, is rural and prettily situated on the banks of the infant stream.
In 1758 a slight shock ofan earthquake was felt in this parish, and three years previously, on the same day that the great earthquake occurred at Lisbon, the waters of a pond, covering about an acre of ground, are related to have been considerably agitated.
With trickling current the river pursues its devious course to the fine and venerable remains of Hever castle, which
is nearly perfect in its exterior form.
It was erected in the reign of Edward III, by William de Hevre, and afterwards came into the possession of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, the great grandfather of Anne Boleyn, the ill-fated queen of Henry VIII, who resided here during the halcyon days of her courtship.
On the death of her father Sir Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, Henry seized the estate, in right of his wife, and afterwards granted it to his repudiated consort, Anne of Cleves, who here ended her days.
The stream, after meandering for some distance through fertile and varied scenery, passes near
Penshurst-place, the celebrated seat of the Sydneys.
The mansion adjoining the village is a large irregular pile of building, and exhibits a specimen of those castellated dwellings which immediately succeeded the more gloomy residence of the 13th and 14th centuries.
It afterwards came into the possession of the crown, and was granted by Edward VI to Sir William Sydney, one of the heroes of Flodden field.
Here the "Incomparable" Sir Philip Sydney was born, in 1554, whose brilliant talents and extensive accquirements obtained him universal admiration.
Here also were born Algernon Sydney and the lady Dorothy, afterwards countess of Sunderland, the famed Sacharissa of the poet Waller.
The park includes 400 acres of ground, finely diversified by gentle eminences, lawns and woods; the oak, beech and chesnut trees being of luxuriant growth.
In the park stands the celebrated oak, said to have been planted at the birth of Sir Philip Sydney, and is upwards of 22 feet in girth.
Below Penshurst, the stream is joined by one of the four branches, which rise at Gravely in Sussex, and, after a sequestered and lonely course, proceeds by Cowden, Groombridge and Ashurst, to the main stream, which, augmented by various smaller rivulets, pursues its mazy course with accelerated current
towards Tonbridge or Tunbridge.
On approaching this town, which contains 10,380 inhabitants, the river divides into several channels, the northermost of which becomes navigable and is again joined by the other divisions about two miles below Tonbridge.
The five streams which pass the town have each a bridge of stone ; and hence, in all probability, originated the name of Town of Bridges or Tonbridge.
The Medway was made navigable to this place by the provisions of an act of Parliament, passed in 1740.
The northern or principal stone bridge, which is neat and substantial, was commenced in 1775.
The extensive ruins of the castle, with its moss-grown walls and ivy-mantled towers, appear above the bridge, in a very picturesque form.
The castle was erected by Richard Fitz-Gilbert, Earl of Clare, soon after the conquest, and enclosed six acres of ground.
Leaving Tonbridge, the streams having united, the Medway passes through Hartlake bridge to the village of Brantbridge.
In this neighbourhood the scenery
is highly pastoral and diversified : the river, flowing amidst a rich line of meadow land,
famed for the breed of cattle, attains the ancient stone bridge of Twyford.
The village, from whence the bridge is named, is written in Domesday book Tuiferde, from the two fords which formerly existed across the stream and the remaining principal branches of the Medway, and which unite at the populous village of Yalding with the main rivers.
One flows from Hockenbury-Panne, in Waterdown Forest, Sussex, and, passing Bayham
abbey and Lambenhurst, is increased by the Bewle and Theyse rivulets.
The other, taking its source at Goldwell, near great Chart, in Kent, receives several small contributory streams, in its progress by Romeden, Smarden and Hedcorne, and unites with the waters of the Sussex branch above Hunton.
Quitting Yalding, which has a population of 2,460, the stream flowing within confined limits, and winding to the left,
reaches the ruins of Nettlested, the ancient seat of the family of the Pimpes, who held the manor in the reign
of Edward I.
The Medway now passes the village and church of Wateringbury.
The mansion, called the Place, is the property of the descendants of Sir Wm. Style.
About a mile and a half in advance, we approach Teston, with its picturesque bridge of stone,
consisting of seven arches, three of which are cycloidal, and the others gothic.
The village is situated in a beautiful and hightly cultivated district, gradually rising from the banks of the river, and, with the picturesque church and spire, have afforded the interesting subject of the annexed engraving.
Below the bridge, on a beautiful eminence, is seen Testonhouse, formerly called Barham Court, surrounded with delightful and varied scenery.
The approximating village of Barming, anciently called Barmelinge, "from its moist situation amidst many springs," lies prettily on the Northern-bank
of the stream.
The soil in the neighbourhood produces the Kentish ragstone, which is found extremely congenial to the growth of hops, the plantations of which greatly add to the beauty of the country.
The parish is also much celebrated for its orchards of cherries and apples, and its growth of filberts.
Nearly opposite, on the other bank, is West-Farleigh ; the two villages being divided by the river.
Flowing through a small bridge, the stream winds through diversified and pleasing scenery, until it reaches East-Farleigh.
The ancient Gothic bridge, tufted with moss, and in parts shadowed with ivy, with the adjoining lock, and, on a gentle eminence, the village church, combine in forming a picturesque effect, and which has been attempted to be portrayed in the accompanying plate.
The country now assumes the appearance of a richly cultivated garden, when, passing the pleasant village of Tovil, situated on some rising, ground and commanding a wide extent of scenery, the stream becomes compressed by the opposing banks, though it retains considerable depth of water, until its course is impeded by Maidstone lock : previous, however, to its erection the current was affected by the tide as high as Farleigh, and occasionally, under peculiar circumstances, has ascended the stream as far as St. Helen's, Barming ; now it only reaches Maidstone lock.
Shortly curving to the left, the Medway now pursues its course through the ancient bridge of Maidstone.
This town is supposed to be the Caer-Meguiad, or Megwad, mentioned by Nennius, and the Vagniaces of Antoninus.
It occupies a sloping eminence on the eastern bank of the river, and is delightfully situated in the midst of a well-wooded and finely cultivated country, watered in every part by the river or the rill.
The soil adjoining the town and its neighbourhood is well adapted to the growth of fruit and the culture of hops, the prosperity of the place being much indebted to this branch of agriculture.
Its central situation has rendered it well adapted for a county town, and for the purposes of provincial meetings and public business.
It is an ancient borough by prescription, returning two members to parliament, and containing 15,387 inhabitants.
The river Len flows through the town into the Medway, of which it may be considered one of the minor sources, rising at Ewel, adjoining Bigon-heath, in the western part of the parish of Lenham, and in its course gliding by Leeds castle.
The Medway, on quitting the bridge,
is for a time shaded by a range of trees ; and at the distance of about two miles the stream
flows by the venerable ruins of Allington castle, situated on the southern banks, which is partly concealed
from the water by the surrounding shrubs and trees.
The remains, however, are extremely interesting, as delineated in the annexed illustration.
The castle is stated to have been built by the earl of Warrenne after the conquest, on the site of one erected in the Saxon times by the noble family of Columbarij, but which was razed by the Danes.
After passing through Allington locks, with their picturesque waterfall,
the stream winds its mazy course through the ancient Gothic stone bridge of Aylesford.
The sudden rise of the ground on the eastern side of the village, with the church and its square embattled tower, situated on the summit, affords no small addition to the picturesque character of the scenery.
Aylesford seems perfectly sequestered in the midst of a primeval district, into which one would hardly imagine the anxieties and turmoils of the world could intrude.
At a short distance to the left is the Priory, a seat of the marquis of Aylesford, but now commonly called the Friars, and which enriches one of the most beautiful spots on the river.
The Medway soon makes a very sudden and bold meander,
flowing through banks thickly planted with forest-trees.
At the extremity of the bend is the hamlet of New-Hythe, where the river, having exhausted its expanse of water, assumes the appearance of a stream, finding its course through a beautifully cultivated garden.
Burham church and village next attract our attention ; the high chalk and gravelly banks, forming the margin of the stream,
create a pleasing foreground, backed by a
line of hills, running nearly parallel with the river ; the vicinity being famed for its abundant pits of potters' clay.
Leaving Snodland, situated on the opposite bank, the glassy bosom of the stream soon reflects the ruined walls of Hailing-House, which, in the reign of Henry II, was one of the four stately palaces of the bishops of Rochester, who, in all probability, resided here before the conquest.
The river, which is here expanded into a considerable breadth, with increased current passes the ancient, but picturesque, village of Woldham, and, winding in different curves, reaches the village of Cuxton, formerly called Coclestane, on the left,
and we soon obtain an imposing view of the majestic ruins of Rochester castle,
its ancient Gothic bridge and venerable cathedral.
On the left is Temple-Farm, in the parish of Strood, where, in the reign of Henry II, stood a mansion belonging to the Knights-Templars, and on the opposite bank is the church of St. Margaret, in the parish of Rochester ; its ivy-clad tower and picturesque situation forming an attractive object.
The origin of the name of Rochester does not appear to have been clearly defined.
A location was, very probably, established here as early as the year of Our Lord 43, when Plautus first landed.
The castle was built by the Romans, to guard this important pass of the Medway, and was repaired by William the Conqueror.
The keep was erected by Gundulf, bishop of Rochester, in the reign of William Rufus, and is still called Gundulf's tower.
It is constructed of rag-stone, and, exteriorly, is nearly perfect, being the principal part of the castle now extant, and presenting one of the most interesting and curious specimens of Norman military architecture in the kingdom.
The See of Rochester (founded in 600) is one of the most ancient in England.
The church attached to the priory of St. Andrew having become neglected and delapidated, bishop Gundulph commenced the new cathedral, about the year 1077, although the dedication of the whole structure did not take place until 1130.
It now exhibits specimens of the architecture of at least four distinct eras.
The western entrance of this interesting pile arrests the attention of every beholder by the magnificence of its design and the richness and beauty of the decorations.
The whole length of the cathedral, from east to west, is 306 feet, that of the nave and aisles 75, and the height of the great tower is 156 feet.
The bridge was erected in the reign of Richard II, about the year 1394, at the expense of Robert Knolles and baron John de Cobham.
It consists of eleven pointed arches, the largest of which is forty feet in width: the whole length of the bridge is 560 feet. The population of Rochester, including Chatham, Brompton, and part of Strood, is 9891, and the town has returned two members to parliament since the twenty-third of Edward I. The corporation consists of a mayor, twelve aldermen, twelve common-councilmen and a recorder.
Close to the town the Thames and Medway canal, running from Gravesend, unites with the Medway, which flows with rapidity, and sometimes like a "mountain torrent," through the bridge.
On the left is the picturesque church of Fundsbury, formerly called &AEslingham, occupying a commanding eminence, from whence an extensive view of the adjacent county is obtained.
The river here abruptly turns to the right, and hastens its
course past the large but irregular and ill-built town of Chatham.
The notoriety of the place has entirely arisen from its dock-yard and arsenal, which extend for nearly a mile in length on the north side of the town, and are defended by strong fortifications.
The Medway, now becoming broader, washes with its lengthened and sportive waves
the meadows of either bank, leaving on the left the village of Gillingham, called in
The houses are prettily situated on elevated ground, removed a short distance from the water, and afford an attractive appearance.
The church is a large ancient edifice, in the chancel of which are remarked a few vestiges of Norman architecture.
This edifice was much frequented in catholic times by pilgrims, to pay their devotions to the statue of Our Lady of Gillingham, whose miraculous powers were much celebrated.
The meadows and marshes on the right are intersected with small creeks, and backed by wooded and cultivated uplands : on the left lies the hundred of Hoo, slightly elevated, with pasturage and arable land. Passing the village of Hoo, which is removed from the river,
we leave Rainham creek on our right, and soon observe Colemouth creek,
which separates the Isle of Grain, and formerly emptied itself into the Thames at Yenlade.
As the encreased body of water rolls its tide toward the sea, bearing on its ample bosom those splendid specimens of naval architecture, those Leviathans of oak, the British men of war - "Old England's best defence" - our attention, absorbed by those magnificent objects, scarcely allows us to notice Stangate creek, on the right, where vessels perform quarantine,
before we reached Sheerness, at the extremity of the Medway.
The new dock-yard of this place, when completed, will be one of the most perfect and splendid constructions of the kind in the world.
The Swale, a narrow arm of the sea, about twelve miles in extent, separates the Isle of Sheppey from the other part of Kent, and is navigable for vessels of 200 tuns burthen.
Sheppey, the Toliatis of Ptolemy, was called by the Saxons Sceapige, or Ovinia, signifying the Island of Sheep, from the numerous flocks of sheep which found pasturage there, and was afterwards called by our ancestors SheepIsle, or Shepey. The island, including the isles of Elmley and Harty, is about thirtytwo miles in circuit, and is rich in the produce of corn. The cliffs, which extend for about six miles, are principally composed of loose friable marl, abounding in fossils, &c.
On the banks of the Swale, previous to its joining the Medway, is situated the ancient
town of Queenborough, anciently called Cyningburg, from belonging to the Saxon kings,
who had here a castle.
On or near the site of this fortress Edward III erected a new and magnificent castle, "for the strength of the realm and for refuge of the inhabitants of the Isle of Shepey."
Edward resided here several days on its completion, and made it a free borough, ordering it to be called Queenborough, in honor of the queen, Philippa of Hainault.
During the Commonwealth the castle was demolished, as being use less, and the materials were sold.
The Medway, after having flowed eighty miles, from its first entrance into Kent, nearly sixty of which it is rendered navigable, at length unites its waters with those of our noble Thames, having, from Tonbridge, passed through twenty bridges and fifteen locks. The principal channel runs N. N. E., the rivers and brooks that supply it overspreading a surface of nearly thirty miles, and, taking into consideration its length, is perhaps one of the deepest rivers in Europe, forming at the same time the safest harbour in England.