Stage 1 - Hampton Court Palace to Staines-upon-Thames Pier (13 miles)
Reference TQ 15618 68480 Post Code KT8
(Interactive Map of
this walk - you can also download this route to your phone at the link)
(Interactive Map of this walk - you can also download this route to your phone at the link)
If you just want to print out the "Route" instructions of stage 1 of this walk,
without all the blurb on the website, you can download this as a
Word Docx by clicking on the link.
If you just want to print out the "Route" instructions of stage 1 of this walk, without all the blurb on the website, you can download this as a Word Docx by clicking on the link.
The start is inside the main entrance to Hampton Court Palace. The leg is mainly on the Thames Path and flat. It crosses the Thames at two points, Hampton Court and Walton Bridges. Diverts on road, through Lower Halliford, Old Shepperton and then again along the Thames, past, Shepperton, Chertsey and Penton Hook Locks to finish at Staines Pier and behind Staines Town Hall.
out through the gate and turn left to a pelican crossing. Cross over the road
and turn left over
Hampton Court Bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge turn right
along River Bank staying on the right-hand side and
soon veer right onto a path, signed Thames Path, next to the river. After 200
yards stay straight
on past the war memorial and along a pedestrian area called Barge
Walk, soon passing Molesey Lock to
The route follows the Thames Path for the next 4.7 miles to Walton Bridge
Hampton Court Palace
is magnificent on the banks of the River Thames. The
Knights Hospitaller of St
John of Jerusalem
had a farm on the site from 1236. They were a religious order formed in the late
11th Century to protect pilgrims on visits to
King Henry VII
and his wife Elizabeth visited in 1503. Two years later Sir Giles Daubeney, the
Lord Chamberlain, took out a lease on the property but died in 1508. A new lease
was granted to Thomas Wolsey by the Knights Hospitaller in 1515.
1530), son of an
King Henry VIII was fond of Wolsey and appointed him Bishop of Lincoln in 1514 and Archbishop of York in the same year. In September 1515 he was promoted to Cardinal by Pope Leo X, and on Christmas Eve the same year was made Lord Chancellor by the king.
heir and ascended to the throne on the death of his father Henry VII on 21st
April 1509. One of his father's
last wishes was for Henry to take his older brother's
widow Catherine as his queen. Shortly after his father's
death he married Catherine on 11th June 1509, thirteen days before
his coronation. He stayed married (but not faithful) to Catherine for 18 years.
Catherine was getting older and although had gave him a daughter in
Princess Mary (later Queen Mary), she had not secured his main aim of a son as
heir. Henry believed that without a male heir the Tudor dynasty may not
Henry by now
had fallen for
1536), a lady in waiting to Catherine and the younger sister of Mary Boleyn, one
of his previous mistresses. With the annulment he could legally marry Anne and
hopefully produce a male heir. Wolsey and Anne were at odds. She saw him as an
obstacle to her becoming queen and he could see the many implications if this
royal love affair was allowed to continue.
In 1529 after
a further effort by Wolsey to obtain an annulment also resulted in failure, Anne
became angry and blamed Wolsey. He was stripped of his office of Lord
Chancellor. In a last desperate attempt to buy his way back into royal favour,
he presented most of his property including .
Here's a taster for Hampton Court Palace, a video by Historic Royal Palaces entitled Hampton Court Palace: an introduction. I'll cover more of the history of this wonderful place below.
dead, Anne became the most powerful member at court. When William Warham
(Archbishop of Canterbury) died in 1532, Anne had her family chaplain
1556) appointed to the vacant position. During this time the Pope's
influence over the Church in
Anne gave birth to Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) on 7th September 1533. Their marriage was not a smooth one and Anne failed to produce the male heir which Henry wished for. His affairs and flirtations with ladies of the court would irritate Anne and cause much friction between them. Eventually his attention was more focused on Jane Seymour, one of Anne's ladies in waiting. Anne's behaviour did not help things and she made many enemies. Henry's chief minister Thomas Cromwell used the king's new affection for Jane as a catalyst to have Anne investigated. Although nothing was proved, Anne was eventually convicted of adultery, incest with her brother George and treason. She was executed at the Tower on 19th May 1536. The following day Henry married Jane Seymour.
1537) gave birth to Edward Tudor (later
King Edward VI)
Anne of Cleves
1557) was to become Henry's
fourth wife. She was a German noble and this would prove to be an important ally
was 49 years old when he married his fifth wife, 19 years old
1542) on 28th July 1540 in the Chapel Royal at
his sixth and final wife
1548) in the Queen's
Closet, next to the Chapel Royal, at the palace on 12th July 1543.
She helped to reconcile Henry with his first two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth,
which resulted in them being put back in line after Edward, though they were
still deemed illegitimate. Henry died on 28th January 1547 at
Apparently, many ghosts haunt the palace. You can
watch a video of this at
Apparently, many ghosts haunt the palace. You can watch a video of this at YouTube.
Between 1529 and 1540 Henry remodeled and enlarged Wolsey's palace. All of his six wives spent time there.
Although a lot
of the original
The original Royal Tennis Court dates was built c1529. This was rebuilt by Charles I in 1625 and is the oldest 'Real Tennis Court' in the world still in use today. The present one the original external wall next to the viewing gallery. According to the link above:
'Anne Boleyn was gambling on a game of tennis when she was arrested to be taken to the Tower of London. She even complained that she couldn't collect her winnings!'
In the Lower Orangey, Andrea Mantegna's Triumphs of Caesar has been on display since shortly after Charles I acquired them in 1629. They are now part of the Royal Collection.
From 1689, under William & Mary, Christopher Wren was employed to redesign much of the palace including the King's and Queen's apartments (see photo below). They were completed in 1700. Unfortunately, Mary died in 1694 and was never able to enjoy them. William died in 1702 only a couple of years after their completion.
Wren's Banqueting House, overlooks the River Thames on the south side of the grounds. It was commissioned by William III and completed in 1700. The main room is above the kitchens and was decorated by Italian painter Antonio Verrio (1636 - 1707), who is also responsible for many of the wall and ceiling paintings in the palace. The ceiling depicts Minerva as the Goddess of Wisdom surrounded by figures from art and science. The wall paintings show the loves of Jupiter. Alexander Pope once said of the painter:
"On painted ceilings you devoutly stare
Where sprawl the saints of Verrio and Laguerre"
In the grounds are many ornamental gardens, with much of the layout dating back to Henry. Many direction signs done in good taste show the way to them all.
planted in c1700, covers a third of an acre and has half a mile of paths. It is
where Harris, one of Jerome K. Jerome's
Men in a Boat",
got hopelessly lost along with 20 followers and a keeper. The excerpt from the
book is below, it maybe a bit long, but it's
funny and I hope you may enjoy it, and it's
where we eventually finish the whole walk.
asked me if I'd
ever been in the maze at
'We'll just go in here, so that you can say you've been, but it's very simple. It's absurd to call it a maze. You keep on taking the first turning to the right. We'll just walk round for ten minutes, and then go and get some lunch.'
They met some people soon after they had got inside, who said they had been there for three-quarters of an hour, and had had about enough of it. Harris told them they could follow him, if they liked; he was just going in, and then should turn round and come out again. They said it was very kind of him, and fell behind, and followed.
They picked up various other people who wanted to get it over, as they went along, until they had absorbed all the persons in the maze. People who had given up all hopes of ever getting either in or out, or of ever seeing their home and friends again, plucked up courage at the sight of Harris and his party, and joined the procession, blessing him. Harris said he should judge there must have been twenty people, following him, in all; and one woman with a baby, who had been there all the morning, insisted on taking his arm, for fear of losing him.
Harris kept on turning to the right, but it seemed a long way, and his cousin said he supposed it was a very big maze.
'Oh, one of the largest in Europe,' said Harris.
'Yes, it must be,' replied the cousin, 'because we've walked a good two miles already.'
Harris began to think it rather strange himself, but he held on until, at last, they passed the half of a penny bun on the ground that Harris's cousin swore he had noticed there seven minutes ago. Harris said: 'Oh, impossible!' but the woman with the baby said, 'Not at all,' as she herself had taken it from the child, and thrown it down there, just before she met Harris. She also added that she wished she never had met Harris, and expressed an opinion that he was an impostor. That made Harris mad, and he produced his map, and explained his theory.
'The map may be all right enough,' said one of the party, 'if you know whereabouts in it we are now.'
Harris didn't know, and suggested that the best thing to do would be to go back to the entrance, and begin again. For the beginning again part of it there was not much enthusiasm; but with regard to the advisability of going back to the entrance there was complete unanimity, and so they turned, and trailed after Harris again, in the opposite direction. About ten minutes more passed, and then they found themselves in the centre.
Harris thought at first of pretending that that was what he had been aiming at; but the crowd looked dangerous, and he decided to treat it as an accident.
Anyhow, they had got something to start from then. They did know where they were, and the map was once more consulted, and the thing seemed simpler than ever, and off they started for the third time.
And three minutes later they were back in the centre again.
After that, they simply couldn't get anywhere else. Whatever way they turned brought them back to the middle. It became so regular at length, that some of the people stopped there, and waited for the others to take a walk round, and come back to them. Harris drew out his map again, after a while, but the sight of it only infuriated the mob, and they told him to go and curl his hair with it. Harris said that he couldn't help feeling that, to a certain extent, he had become unpopular.
They all got crazy at last, and sang out for the keeper, and the man came and climbed up the ladder outside, and shouted out directions to them. But all their heads were, by this time, in such a confused whirl that they were incapable of grasping anything, and so the man told them to stop where they were, and he would come to them. They huddled together, and waited; and he climbed down, and came in.
He was a young keeper, as luck would have it, and new to the business; and when he got in, he couldn't find them, and he wandered about, trying to get to them, and then HE got lost. They caught sight of him, every now and then, rushing about the other side of the hedge, and he would see them, and rush to get to them, and they would wait there for about five minutes, and then he would reappear again in exactly the same spot, and ask them where they had been.
They had to wait till one of the old keepers came back from his dinner before they got out.
Harris said he thought it was a very fine maze, so far as he was a judge; and we agreed that we would try to get George to go into it, on our way back."
The Great Vine, planted in 1768 by Capability Brown, is the oldest known living vine in the world and still produces up to 700lbs (320 kg) of grapes each year. They are harvested in August and are sold in the palace shops.
From the reign of George III in 1760 the palace ceased to be a royal residence.
Under Queen Victoria (1810 - 1901) a lot of restoration was carried out and she opened the palace to the public in 1838.
March 1986 (Easter Monday) a fire caused much damage to the King's
Apartments. This resulted in another program of restoration to the palace and
some extras. It included the recreation of the
nowadays is run by the Historical Royal
Palaces, whose headquarters are based at
Not all of Hampton Court Palace is open to the public. However, you can watch a video, entitled Secrets of Hampton Court Palace, which does show some of these places.
the grounds of the Palace there are many other places to see.
lived close to the main entrance; his
is the second on the left, past the roundabout and facing The Green. The great
architect died in his sleep on 25th February 1723 at the age of
House is just two doors past that of Wren's. He was born near Elephant & Castle
To the north of the palace is Bushy Park, a royal hunting ground during Tudor times and now the second largest Royal Park covering an area of almost 1,100 acres. Its history can be traced back over 4,000 years. Within its walls herds of deer stroll freely, keeping the grass in check and the tree branches above a certain height. The central avenue of chestnut trees was laid out by Wren, with the Diana Fountain as its centerpiece. This dissects the park in two and was created to provide a fitting approach to the palace. The Woodland Gardens with the Totem Pole and Canadian Glade which remember Upper Lodge as a home to Canadian Convalescents during World War I, the artificial Longford River built in 1639 by Charles I to provide water for the palace, the 18th century Brewhouse which provided ale for all the workers, the Stockyard Buildings, Bushy House now home to the National Physical Laboratories, the numerous cricket clubs and playing fields, the huge children's playground and the quaint Police Station of the 'Royal Park's Constabulary' at Lion Gate all blend together with the wide open spaces to make a wonderful place for people to visit and enjoy for free.
On the western
edge of the park near
During World War I some of the lands in the park were used as allotments in 'the Dig for Victory', and between the wars it hosted a camp for undernourished children. During World War 2 the park became the site of a large US base, later renamed Camp Griffiss in memory of Lieutenant Townsend Griffiss who was killed when the aircraft he was travelling in was mistakenly shot down by the Royal Air Force on 15th February 1942 and was the first US Airman to die in the line of duty in Europe. General Dwight Eisenhower made the park Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) - the center for planning Operation Overlord, the 1944 D-Day Invasion of France.
after the war the park came up as a site for a
The rules for modern day game of Hockey are thought to have been developed by Teddington Cricket Club in Bushy Park in about 1871. Some members went on to set up Teddington Hockey Club, which claims to be the world's oldest.
Hampton Court Bridge,
opened by the Prince of Wales in 1933, was designed by Lutyens. It is concrete,
but so as to blend with the Palace, is faced with narrow red bricks and great
quantities of Portland stone for dressings and balustrades .
To the left, after crossing the bridge and turning right along the river, is what till recently was the Streets of London Pub. This is now a restaurant and originally built by Thomas Tagg in 1887 as The Thames Hotel. A few yards later, just before joining the Thames Path is the East Molesey War Memorial. Across the river many expensive boats are moored at the Thames Motor Yacht Club.
On joining the
is to the right. It was built in 1815. In 1865 fish ladders were added to the
weir and in 1871 boat rollers were added to the lock. The footbridge across the
weir is used by residents of
Around 1850 there was a pub on the island, called the Angler's
Retreat. Within two years the pub was moved to the larger neighbouring island
(later and still called Tagg's
Care must be taken as soon to the left is the busy boat house of Molesey Boat Club. It was founded in 1866 and is famous for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Gold winners, the Searle Brothers and their crying cox, Gary Herbert. Their win is commemorated by a large decorated wooden board attached to the front of the boathouse. To read more about the club's achievements, visit their entry at Wikipedia.
river just after
people live on or next to the Thames, the exact number I wouldn't like to guess,
but I'm sure it's enough to populate a small city. One of the first river
communities passed is that of Tagg's
was born into a working-class family in Exeter in 1866. He had ambitions to be
an acrobat and went to
By 1903 Karno
had acquired enough money to buy his houseboat. He prospered greatly by forming
more and more troupes and his fame and fortune grew. In 1912 no one with enough
money was interested and he was persuaded to take over the lease on the island.
He also decided to build the biggest and grandest houseboat on the river. In
1913 it was completed and moored at the island. He named it the
in 1914 war soon broke out in
After a few unsuccessful attempts at rebranding and relaunching the resort, the island came into the ownership of AC Cars of Thames Ditton in 1941. They used it to make munitions during World War II (1939 - 1945) and a road bridge was built from the Middlesex bank. After the war AC Cars continued to use the factory to manufacture three wheeled automobiles and novelty train carriages until 1965 when the bridge was declared unsafe.
In the 1960s Tagg's Island became a popular haunt for 'Hippies' Many music acts played here in the late 1950a and the 1960. These included, Acker Bilk, Ken Coyler, Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, George Melly, The Rolling Stones and Jeff Beck. Pink Floyd played here on 16th March 1968.
'The Billyboy gang fight', a scene from the movie 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971), was filmed in the Palm Court Ballroom at the Karsino. The film was produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and adopted from a book of the same name by Anthony Burgess,
Soon afterwards the Karsino was eventually demolished and the island went back to a wildlife sanctuary with a few island dwellings and surrounded by houseboats.
The day before
the Karsino was demolished a band of old music hall stars held a party and
salvaged many items, including parts of the stage, to remember this great resort
and the enjoyment it had given to so many. One attendant was Jack Melville who
was celebrating his 88th birthday that day and had joined Karno's
company in 1904. He had performed on this stage many times. He proposed a toast
man who put more laughs into
In 1980 one of
the residents, Gerald Braban, formed Taggs Island Limited in order to protect
and regenerate it. He funded a new road bridge from the Middlesex side and
constructed a lagoon in the centre. He lived on the island for 23 years and died
in 1993. A few years later the New Millennium Sundial was erected in
February 2012, Taggs Island featured on the BBC's
To watch the relevant section of the programme visit the link at
Also, you may enjoy this silent film from 1924,
Father Thames to Shepperton'.
It starts at Kingston-Upon-Thames
and travels upstream past Hampton Court and Taggs Island to Old Shepperton.
In contrast to the busy Tagg's Island, the next island is Swan's Nest Island or Duck Eyot. Aptly named, it is only inhabited by swans and a few other birds.
After a short
distance along the towpath is
LITTLE RACE-COURSE at
Horses were raced here from the early 18th Century to the last race held on 10th October 1962. All that remains of the race-course is the four tall brick pillars and black gates on Graburn Way which were once used to close off the road to create a straight mile for the horses to race on - see Google Earth.
'The Hurst' (see photo below) as it was called was also well known for many other sports which were played here including cricket, bare-knuckle boxing, pistol duels, golf, archery, rowing, ballooning and cockfighting.
has been played here since the early 18th Century. One of the
earliest recorded includes
In 2004 a
tasteful memorial to this area's
history was built next to the river. It gives the history from over 6,000 years
ago until the present day. It records the first known name of the area as
(1249), this changed to
in the 18th Century. The present name
river is Hampton (settlement on the
bend of a river) clustered around its church, St Mary the Virgin. Hampton House
(aka Garrick's Villa) can be seen facing the river and is where actor
retired to in 1754. Garrick employed the Adam Brothers to improve the house on
two distinct phases (1775-6 and 1772-4). Capability Brown was consulted over the
grounds and suggested building the still existing, grotto-like tunnel under the
road joining the house to the riverside gardens. In 1755-6 the octagonal
was constructed to entertain visitors and as a tribute to Shakespeare, Garrick
commissioned Louis-Francois Roubiliac to make a statue of the Bard to be housed
Garrick was visited by some friends from
On the right
just before Hampton House sits the
The next island is Garrick's Ait. It was once, like all other islands along this stretch of river, covered with willows and osiers used for the local basket making industry. Although some willows still remain, in the 1920s the island was divided up into plots and developed as residences. There are now about 20 houses on the island and many boats surrounding it.
river, immediately after Garrick's Ait is
Hampton Sailing Club.
It was built in 1962 on another island, Benn's Ait, and connected to the
riverbank by a hand operated chain ferry. Before they acquired the island, their
clubhouse was a boat moored on the Middlesex bank. For over 500 years a ferry
has carried passengers across the
Just past the
sailing club is the start of the
Hampton Waterworks. They were a
consequence of the Metropolis Water Act of 1852 which stated all water used for
human consumption must be filtered and also prohibited using water from the
The next island is Platts Eyot. Like its neighbours, it was used to grow osiers and in the 1860s became known for its boatbuilding, which still continues today. The island is part of the River Thames Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and part of it is listed as green belt. The current owners wish to develop the site, but because of its status permission is almost impossible to attain.
There are many old pictures and lots of history of the river at Molesey that can be viewed on the www.moleseyhistory.co.uk website.
Platts Eyot the housing development of
The concentration of islands in this part of the Thames is great and with shoring up and being looked after they have all managed to survive intact, even when the river is at its most ferocious.
The next island passed is called Grand Junction Island after the water company who owned it. Today it has a few holiday homes and some boats moored around it and is now owned by Thames Water. Soon after and shortly before the end of the reservoir's wall is Sunbury Court Island, another river community with 35 private dwellings. The island is reached by a footbridge from the Middlesex side and is named after the large mansion house which overlooks it. Sunbury Court (see photo below) was built in 1723 by John Witt. Subsequent residents included George Fermor, 2nd Earl of Pomfret, and Jack Needham, the Lord Kilmorey. In 1921 it was purchased by the Salvation Army who turned it into a conference centre and it was here their first Army High Council was held in 1929. Today it is a Grade 1 listed building, still owned by the Salvation Army and it is where they elect their General each year.
Rivermead Island is only separated from Sunbury Court Island by a narrow channel. It is uninhabited and joined to the north bank by two footbridges and a ford. It's open to the public for everyone to enjoy. Up until 1980 there an open-air swimming pool on the island. The Sunbury Amateur Regatta, established in 1876, is held on the river here in August each year.
After passing the wall of the Molesey Reservoirs there is soon what looks like a mile post on the left. This is the first of a number of coal and wine tax posts (or "coal posts") that we will pass. Mostly they are white painted metal posts, but this one is stone, marked with the City of London arms and '14&15 VIC C146', a reference to the Act of Parliament under which the tax was imposed.
Soon after the wall of the reservoirs is an enclosed footpath going off to the left. This leads Hurst Road (A3050) and a few yards to the right is the entrance to Apps Court Farm. The farm was once the site of a large manor house which owned most of the lands in this area. The grounds of the farm extend down to the Thames Towpath and continue for a few hundred yards after Sunbury Locks. Today, there's lots going on at Apps Court Farm, including, archery, camping, car-boot sales, etc.. and I'll come back to write about the history of Apps Court below.
In a further 300 yards Sunbury Locks are to the right. The original lock was built in 1812 with the newer, smaller lock added in 1925. There is also a Lock Keeper's Cottage on the towpath, next to the locks. The Old Lock Keeper's House is on the left just after the lock and beyond this is Sunbury Lock Cut Bridge which gives foot access to Sunbury Lock Ait (or island). The island existed before the widening if the lock cut and there was an older lock here. The island was previously known as Sunbury Church Ait.
According to the River Thames website:
"The Queen's Swan Uppers begin thneir annual journey "Royal Swan Upping" up the Thames from here, every July, recording the swan population. Sunbury Lock is mentioned in Jerome K. Jerome's book Three Men in a Boat. Visit at weekends during summer and you'll find a tea shop on the lockside. As it is inaccessible from the road it has become a haven for wildlife with swans ofter nesting. You can spot other birdlife such as Egyptian geese and you might even see the pipstrell, Britain's smallest bat".
Across the river from here is Lower Sunbury. This is a pleasant village with the oldest part spread out along Thames Street which runs parallel to the river. It was originally, just named Sunbury, but changed to Lower Sunbury to distinguish it from it's more modern part, Sunbury-on-Thames, which is actually set back a mile from the river.
Soon to the left is The Weir Hotel, with its pleasant beer garden which looks out across the river to Sunbury Weir. It's not the first pub on the route and it won't be the last. The pub sign may not look anything like its local weir, but it is tasteful and painted by a well-known local artist. On the upstream side of the weir is Wheatley's Ait. Another island owned by the Environment Agency. It is joined to the north bank of the river by both foot and road bridges. There are some works on the island and there are plans to redevelop it and make a foot crossing of the river here.
Just past The Weir Hotel is an interesting small house on the corner of two paths, and soon after this, to the left is the recently built Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub. This is an impressive facility with football pitches, a running track and a pavilion. It is home to Walton Casuals Football Club. and Walton Athletic Club. Immediately after this and set back from the river is Elmbridge Leisure Centre. The leisure centre originally opened in 1976. It was rebuilt in 2006 and renamed The Elmbridge Xcel Leisure Complex. It was on the towpath here in 1995 where the first Green Belt Relay around London started. It was from organising this which encouraged me to develop the London Green Belt Way long distance footpath, and why you are now reading this.
and just above the towpath for a short distance is a grassy and slightly wooded
picnic area (4 miles
into the stage). Follow the path straight on through some trees to where it
opens out to give a great view of the river looking upstream. To the left of the
Walton Rowing Club,
founded in 1927 and moved here in 1953. Its members have won many awards
including a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 by
in the men's eight. In 2008 at
The stretch of the river from here to near Walton Bridge is known as "The Walton Mile" (see photo). It's mainly straight, it's wide and many regattas have been held here since the 18th Century.
For the next half mile houses and water activity clubs line both sides of the Thames, only broken twice to the left - firstly, by a recreation ground and later by a small public park reached by climbing some steps. A large red brick house sits at the upstream end of the park. This is River House and during the late 19th Century was home to composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (part of the famous duo Gilbert & Sullivan). An interview with the composer at the house in 1897 can be read by following the link.
Just behind River House, and hidden from view from the towpath, is Riverhouse Barn. This 18th Century barn has been converted to an arts centre with a "sensory garden" containing some interesting features. It is managed by The Walton-on-Thames Community Arts Trust and is largely run by volunteers from the local community. The strange looking sculptures you see from the towpath form part of its gardens.
Shortly after River House is The Anglers, a public house which dates from the 19th century and looks onto the river. Across the river the houses form part of the River Ash Estate and behind them is the London Shepperton Holiday Inn Hotel, a Swan Sanctuary and the large expanse of Shepperton Marina.
Just past the Anglers and set back from the river is The Swan, a Young's Pub with a "secret beer garden" overlooking the river. It dates from 1770 and gets its name from "Swan Upping" a "swan marking" event which takes place in the third week of July each year. It starts at Sunbury Lock on the Monday and proceeds up river to finish at Abingdon on the Friday. I suppose the old pub has many stories to tell, but one of the best is of American composer Jerome Kern (1885 - 1945). In 1909 he was visiting Walton with two friends and went into the Swan Hotel for some food and refreshments. They stayed for many hours with Jerome playing the hotel's piano. They were served by Eva Leale (1891 - 1959) the landlord's beautiful daughter and he fell in love with her. They married in St Mary's Church at Walton the following year. He spent a lot of time at the pub and wrote some of his songs there - a blue plaque on the front wall remembers his time here. During his lifetime he wrote almost 1,500 songs and is arguably the father of American musical theatre. His songs including "Ol' Man River", "Rock a Bye Baby", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "Sunny" and many others which are still commonly sung today. The couple were happily married for 34 years and his wife Eve and their daughter were at his bedside when he died at the age of 60 in New York, the city where he was also born. US President Ronald Regan declared 27th January 1985, one hundred years after his birth, to be Jerome Kern Day and it was celebrated throughout the country. A memorial concert was also held in St Mary's Church to mark the occasion. Today on a wall inside The Swan pub you can see a framed copy of Eva and Jerome's marriage certificate.
A few yards to the right, past the front of The Swan, and on the opposite side of Manor Road is The Old Manor Inn. To the left of the Inn is a gap leading to a tiny park with an information board. The board tells where the pub gets its name and by looking over the wall there is a great view of the well-hidden Old Manor House. It dates from the 14th Century and the long timber-framed structure still looks today as it did when it was built over 600 years ago. The house is believed to have been a home of John Bradshaw, President of the court which sentenced Charles I - he may have even signed the king's death warrant in the house. It was once the Manor House of Walton Leigh, and in the 19th Century fell on hard times when it was divided into tenements and a number of poor families lived here. Today the Old Manor House is Grade 1 listed. It was restored by Ronald Segal who lived there up to his death on 23rd February 2008. He was an anti-apartheid activist, and a writer. He founded the Penguin African Library and was also Honorary Life President of The Walton Society.
Walton is Anglo-Saxon in origin and is believed to mean 'farm of the Britons' or 'Saxon settlement'. Even before the Romans and the Saxons were present, there was a Celtic settlement here. The Anglo-Saxon word for the Celtic inhabitants who lived here then is 'Wealas'.
Over the years
Walton had many large houses with surrounding estates. The largest on record was
Apps Court. It lay about a mile and
a half to the north east of Walton Village. The manor is mentioned as far back
as 675 AD at
there are lots of mentions on here. A large house and was originally built in
1332 by the Lord of Apps. In 1602 it was bought by Francis Leigh who turned the
estate into a
was one of the most important houses at Walton. It was built between 1602 and
1605 for Lady Berkeley, wife of the 7th Lord Berkeley. The Jacobean
house was the first of its design to be built in England and stood for over 300
years. Its grounds extended to 440 acres and the main drive, an oak tree lined
"Grand Drive", ran through what is now the High Street to opposite WH Smith. The
house passed through a number of families including the 1st Earl of
Benjamin Weston and Field Marshal
2nd Viscount Shannon.
Sir Henry Fletcher
acquired the house in 1786 and it remained in Fletcher family until the 1860's
when it was sold to
When the last
died, without an heir, the house was demolished and the land broken up to make
way for a private housing development in the 1930s .
In 1899 Cecil Hepworth (1874 - 1953) opened a small film studio called Hepworth Picture Plays in Walton on Hurst Grove. The studio produced many films, but closed down in 1923 due to Hepworth becoming bankrupt. In 1926 the studios were bought by Archibald Nettlefold who rebuilt and renamed them Nettlefold Studios. Productions included "Scrooge" (1951) with Alastair Sim. In 1955 the studios were taken over by Sapphire Films and renamed Walton Studios. As well as making movies they also produced television series including 143 episodes of the hugely successful "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1955 - 59) with Richard Greene in the lead role and its catchy theme song which was sung by children all over the country. You can listen to the song by following the link to the website. The studios closed in 1961 and all that remains is the old power generating house which was converted to a theatre in 1925 called The Playhouse. It is still used as a theatre today by the Walton & Weybridge Amateur Operatic Society, is available for rent and is on Hurst Grove just off Hepworth Way. Today the theatre is named the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse after the early film pioneer.
Walton-on-Thames has lots of other connections with television and cinema. Many of the scenes for Monty Python's Flying Circus were shot around the town centre.
was born at Rodney House maternity home on
(born Walton-on-Thames, 24th October 1934) developed a successful
career as a costume designer and won many awards including an Academy Award in
and an Emmy for the 1985 TV version of
"Death of a Salesman". He has received
many Oscars and BAFTA nominations, and funnily enough, one for Mary Poppins in
1964. Julie and Tony remained married until 1967; they had a daughter, Emma
Walton born in
Other famous people connected with Walton include, Nick Lowe singer and songwriter born here 24th March 1949. Current and previous residents include, singer-songwriter Mick Hucknall and lead singer of band Simply Red, snooker player Cliff Thorburn, ballroom dancer Camilla Dallerup and former US President Herbert Hoover.
Just past The
Playhouse on the junction of
owes its name to Walton's connections with New Zealand during World War I.
a large mansion overlooking the Thames near Walton Bridge, had been rebuilt in
the middle of the 19th century by Sir Charles Barry for the 5th
Earl of Tankerville. However, it was taken over by the New Zealand War
Contingent Association in 1915 and converted to a hospital for
at Walton (which ran down to the
New Zealanders were cared for here during the Great War. The people of Walton
took the young soldiers into their homes and their hearts, and in 1921 a plaque
was erected to remember them. In 1966
"THIS TABLET IS ERECTED AD 1921 BY THE INHABITANTS OF WALTON-UPON-THAMES TO
COMMEMORATE THEIR 27000 FELLOW SUBJECTS FROM THE DOMINION OF
A brass plaque was put up on the wall in the local St Mary's Church in 1921 to record their stay at Walton and as a memorial to the seventeen of them who died here and are buried in the graveyard. Another memorial can be seen in the middle of the car park of Homebase, just off New Zealand Avenue, a Kowhat Tree given by the New Zealand High Commission in 1970 was planted with a small brass plaque next to it.
All that now remains of Mount Felix is the Clock Tower on Bridge Close which has been converted to office use and the gate pillars on Bridge Street at the junction of Hepworth Way.
St Mary's Church is a Grade 1 listed building and stands at the highest point in Walton and only a short walk from the river. The church has eight bells, the oldest cast in 1606 - see links to Bell Ringing and Church Tour. It has many monuments, including one to Field Marshall Viscount Shannon (who died in 1740), and is one of the best works by Francois Roubiliac. It was commissioned by his daughter Lady Middlesex. To the right of Shannon Memorial is a glass box containing a Scold's Bridle (see photo). The original, stolen in 1965, was dated 1633 and came to the parish in 1723 from Chester (or in some versions from a man called Chester who lost a fortune due to women gossiping). It is inscribed:
To curb women's tongues which talk too idle"
There are brasses (dated 1587) dedicated to John Selwyn, once a keeper of the
Stevens was employed as a gardener at
Csarevitch Nicholas II of Russia, later to be the last Tsar, stayed with Prince and Princess Louis of Battenberg, at Elm Grove in June 1894 on a visit to meet his fiancee and future wife Princess Alexandra. On a visit to St Mary's Church, Nicholas was reported to have been amused on seeing the Scold's Bridle in the church. A few days later the couple moved on to Windsor to stay with, Alexandra's grandmother, Queen Victoria attend a dinner in their honour. You can read more about the visit at Royal Menus.
Elm Grove is just off the southern end of Walton High Street. This former home to the Mountbatten family has gone through many uses, including a courthouse, local council offices and a recreational facility. It is now a listed building and belongs to Elmbridge Borough Council.
Walton and St
Mary's have also connections with the
Surrey Diggers (or
as they called themselves). This was a movement started in 1649 by
two months after the execution of King Charles I. He was a cloth trader from
Lancashire whose business in
"When this universal law of equity rises up in every man and woman, then none shall lay claim to any creature and say, This is mine,
and that is yours. This is mywork, that is yours. But everyone shall put their hands to till the earth and
bring up cattle, and the blessing of the earth shall be common to all; when a man
hath need of any corn or cattle, take from the next storehouse he meets with.
There shall be no buying or selling, no fairs or markets, but the whole earth shall
be a common treasury for every man, for the earth is the Lord's...When a man hath eat, and drink, and clothes, he hath enough."
He earned a following through his radical views, believing common land belonged to everyone and thus everyone had a right to earn a livelihood from it. With people from Walton and Cobham he set up a commune at St Georges Hill on 1st April 1649. They built places for their families to live and dug the land to plant their crops. They were poor and at first thought harmless, so were left to their own devices. It wasn't long before wealthy landowners and people in power realised their threat. Those who felt threatened by the Diggers paid local thugs to beat them up, destroy their crops and burn their houses. They and their families were taken prisoner and locked up in St Mary's at Walton. They were eventually released as there were no grounds to hold them. They moved to Cobham and gained support from other corners of the country where communes were also set up. However, they never stood a chance against the might of those in control and within three years of starting they were quashed and became a part of history.
this was a part of
The local council eventually agreed for a memorial stone to "Gerrard Winstanley a True Leveller" to be erected on Cobbett's Hill just opposite Weybridge rail station and on the fringes of St Georges Hill.
Some more links to the Surrey Diggers are below.
Songs: The Diggers Song (World Turned Upside Down) - follow the link to read the words and download different versions or click on DICK GAUGHAN to get his version of The Diggers Song' courtesy of Seedstar, original lyrics by Leon Rosselson.
The St Mary's website is well worth a visit to read its tour of the church and the history associated with it. The British History Online website contains a detailed early history of Walton-on-Thames.
In recent years the centre of Walton-on-Thames (area between Hepworth Avenue, the High Street and New Zealand Avenue) has been mostly redeveloped with the building of a new centre called "The Heart". It is an up-market shopping centre with many restaurants and flats above.
Continue along the towpath, past the Anglers pub and through a parking area.
next to a wall on the left gives information on the local history of the area.
On the river next to it is
320 yards after the Anglers stay right to cross a footbridge over the entrance of Walton Marina.
The path to the right leads past the back of the marina to Bridge Street and the western end of Walton viaduct. On crossing the footbridge, over the boat entrance to Walton Marina, look across the river to see the entrance to Shepperton Marina. Immediately over the footbridge is Walton Marina shop and on the river next to it is a small pier with some boats for sale.
Stay straight on and under Walton Bridge (at 5 miles). Then for another 100 yards and with a small pier to your RHS, turn left, signed Thames Path and through metal bollards. Turn left along a wide pavement with a road to your RHS.
Just across the road from where you turn left along the road is a new cafe and some toilets. Though you may have to pay to use the use the toilets.
The pavement leads up, over the entrance to the road to Walton Marina, then on up to the bridge. Then left, along the pavement, and over Walton Bridge.
Once over the river, follow the pavement as it turns left into Walton Lane.
The 6th Walton Bridge was opened on 22 July 2013. The previous bridge stayed in place as a cycle and pedestrian path until shortly afterwards. Originally the only crossing point was a ford a few hundred yards up river.
There was a
ferry at Walton from the 15th Century until the
first bridge was built here between
1748 and 1750. It was designed by William Etheridge and commissioned by Samuel
Dicker, a wealthy landowner and MP for
The second bridge was a six arch brick and stone structure built by James Paine in 1788. It was painted by Turner in 1805 and the original painting can be seen at the Tate today. The bridge lasted for 73 years when in August 1859 the two centre arches fell into the River. The collapse was thought to be due to settlement of the central support pier and the account below appeared in a local newspaper at the time.
'On Thursday morning at half past five o'clock the bridge leading from Walton to Halliford, Middlesex was observed to be cracking across the highway of the bridge over the centre arch and the crack kept increasing so much as to allow parts to fall into the River and so it remained dropping bit by bit until twelve o'clock when the arch fell with a violent crash into the bed of the River. In a short time afterwards the other arch fell in.....'
The third bridge was built in 1862. It designed by E.T. Murray and was made of iron and rested on brick and stone piers. On the Walton side a brick viaduct was also built over the flood plain - this still stands today. In 1940 the third bridge was damaged in a German air raid. It remained opened to light traffic until 1953 when a fourth bridge was built next to it on its downstream side. Cyclists and pedestrians continued to use the older bridge until 1985 when it was eventually demolished.
The fourth bridge was a temporary measure and not pleasant to look at. It remained in use to traffic up to December 1999 when a fifth bridge was built upstream next to it in the position of the older bridges. This explains why the road then went straight over the old viaduct and onto the new bridge. Once again, the older bridge remained open to cyclists and pedestrians, but once was just a temporary measure until the new 6th Walton Bridge was completed.
In January 2011 Surrey County Council gave the go-ahead to build a new road bridge across the Thames next to the two older Walton bridges. It was estimated to cost 32.3 million pounds and will be the first road bridge to be built over the river in 20 years - the previous one was the QE2 Bridge at Dartford which opened in 1991.
The sixth bridge was opened on 22nd July 2013. On YouTube you can watch a video of Walton Bridge being built in 3 minutes, plus another showing the opening ceremony. The two older, downstream, bridges have been demolished.
You can read the whole history of Walton Bridge at Wikipedia, and view photos of the different bridges, plus lots more, on the Thames.me.uk website.
On entering Walton Lane stay on the pavement on the left-hand side, soon across the entrance to Thames Meadow. The lane, for the next 420 yards, is one way until Dunally Park.
after Dunally Park are some desirable residences on the left with gardens onto
Directly across Walton Lane is an 18th century weather-boarded house named Dunally Cottage, and according to a document dated 2004 from Spelthorne Borough Council it appears to have also been once owned by Peacock:
"Dunally Cottage was originally a barn built in 1720 and Poet's Cottage was built in 1833 and both have weather boarded end elevation. Dunally Cottage and Poet's Cottage were two separate dwellings until Poet's Cottage was bought in 1985 from Steve Holley, Paul McCartney's drummer in "Wings" and combined with Dunally Cottage to create one dwelling...
"Mary Shelley (1797 - 1851) author of "Frankenstein" once lived in Dunally Cottage which was lent to her by Thomas Love Peacock circa 1820, before her husband died in 1822."
George Meredith, novelist and poet, married Peacock's daughter Mary Ellen and they lived for a period at Vine Cottage, just across the green to the right on Russell Road.
(holy ford) got its name from a hermit, a holy man who lived here in Anglo-Saxon
times by the ford, and is said to have performed miracles. Legend has it that
the Romans, under Julius Caesar crossed the
Peacock House turn left onto a path across a small riverside park. On reaching
This short stretch along Russell Road from the green to Shepperton Cross once had four pubs, now only one remains - The Red Lion. According to British History Online parts of the building dates back to the 17th century. The pub website states:
"The oldest part of the pub lies back from the road and is now used as our 'Snug'. This was the building occupied by the first known licensee, Robert Reed, between 1722 and 1730. In 1864, when the railway came to Shepperton, this little riverside pub saw a roaring trade from people coming down from London at the weekend to spend time on or near the River Thames. It was around this time that the Shepperton & Halliford Regatta commenced and took place in front of the pub largely down to the influence of Edward Rosewell the landlord at the time.
The pub expanded in the late 1950s to incorporate Eyot Cottage, which was home to the Rosewell/Rixon boating business, which let boats and operated a ferry from the 'shore' next to the Red Lion riverside garden."
It has beer gardens on both sides of the road and the riverside beer garden has recently been refurbished.
A few yards further along on the right is Halliford School and opposite this is Gibbs Boatyard and just past it a small road to a private car park.
On passing Halliford School, to your RHS and a private road to a boatyard on your LHS, the narrow pavement runs out and you can veer left to walk along the grass and parallel to the road.
After 60 yards cross over a lane and straight on along a worn grass path. (NB. There are small Thames Path way-markers along here). The path soon becomes enclosed between trees (now at 6 miles), When the path merges back alongside the road, fork left to follow the path over a small footbridge and turn right down the wooden ramp (the Brownies & Guides Hut away to your left-hand side).
At the bottom, turn left into the car park of Shepperton Cricket Club, then sharp left through the car park (the cricket pitch is to your RHS) and onto a footpath. Follow this wide path through a wood to the river Then turn right with the river now to your LHS and trees to your RHS.
This backwater of the River Thames is peaceful and well hidden from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There is a timeless feel about it, and this makes it popular with film companies. The route is an alternative and slightly longer version of the Thames Path National Trail.
The path eventually emerges into Manor Park car park. Go straight on through the vehicle exit and turn left along the pavement (Church Road) and eventually into Old Shepperton.
You can also choose to follow the official route of the Thames Path. This
The village signs on both sides of the road are a recent addition where the route enters Old Shepperton. The old houses along the winding road into the centre of village are well preserved. Two of them were converted to a restaurant. First opening as the original Blubeckers in 1977, later changing names to Edwinns, then Castello, and currently (2019) Shepperton Wine Bar & Grill.
"shepherds' settlement" and this place is quite unique as it
can trace its origins back to over 5,000 years ago. In 1989 at Staines Road
Farm, just north of
Another significant find at Laleham Road in Halliford was uncovered in 1950. This was a simple pottery urn containing 360 coins cast in tin and bronze and a designed derived from Greek coins of Marseilles. They are known as "the Sunbury Hoard", are believed to have been buried around 100 - 50 BC and now in the Museum of London.
At the time of the
(1086), Shepperton was known as Scepertone, and was owned by Westminster Abbey.
Early Saxon cemeteries on the north of
Church Square at Old Shepperton, soon passed on the left, is a prime example of village survival. There has been a wooden church here since the 7th Century and a stone one since the 12th Century. Although some of the foundations of the older church are still thought to be in place, the current church dates from 1614. The rectangular bell tower was added in the early 18th Century. North of the church is the rectory, parts of which date from the 15th Century. The excellent Queen Anne front was added around 1700. Like many old building, stories of ghosts have emerged. In this case the ghost is said to be Erasmus, 15th Century Dutch renaissance scholar, a friend of William Grocyn, Rector of Shepperton from 1504 - 1513.
On the north side of St. Nicholas Church is the solitary grave of Margaret Love Peacock (died 1826). She was the daughter of Thomas Love Peacock and died when just three years old. Peacock wrote a poem to his little daughter which he had inscribed on the headstone on the grave. The grave and headstone are well preserved. For historical purposes it is classified as a Grade 2 listed building and although over 190 years old you can just about still read the poem.
'Long night succeeds thy little day
Oh blighted blossom can it be
That this grey stone and grassy clay
That this grey stone and grassy clay
That this grey stone and grassy clay
That spoke a mind beyond thy years
The song the dance by nature caught
The sunny smile the transient tears.
The symmetry of face and form
The age with light and life replete
The little heart so fondly warm
The voice so musically sweet.
Around the hearts that loved the cling
She leaving with long and regret
The in promise of thy spring.'
The grave, like many other parts of the river along here, is mentioned in Jerome K Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat".
"There is a tomb in Shepperton churchyard, however, with a poem on it, and I was nervous lest Harris should want to get out and fool round it. I saw him fix a longing eye on the landing-stage as we drew near it, so I managed, by an adroit movement, to jerk his cap into the water, and in the excitement of recovering that, and his indignation at my clumsiness, he forgot all about his beloved graves."
Two old pubs
stand on either end of the Square. Nell Gwynne is said to have lodged in the
Kings Head, and Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton to have visited the Anchor Hotel.
The square is well known for illegal bare-knuckled fights being held here in the
18th and 19th Centuries. Through the years many famous
people have lived (or stayed) in the village, including Charles Dickens, H G
Wells, Jerome K Jerome, Gilbert and Sullivan, Judy Garland, Richard Burton,
Elizabeth Taylor and Charlie Chaplin are just some of them. A
in the entrance hall of The Anchor reads,
'Through these Portals have passed
The Rich, the famous. Prime Ministers, Statesmen, Politicians.
Notorious Personages of dubious character, Wenches, Pugilists,
the Colonies (including the
Vagabonds, Glamorous Artistes from the World of Motion Pictures, -
But the Most Important of Them All is You!'
The Anchor Hotel dates back over 400 years. It was a haunt of highwayman Dick Turpin. This may explain why after one of his visits a pistol was found in the rafters inscribed "Dick's Friend". It is also claimed to be the place where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's romance first blossomed. They stayed here in 1964 whilst he was filming "Becket" at the nearby Shepperton Film Studios. The hotel has also been used as the setting for many TV dramas.
Many famous movies have been made at Shepperton Studios over the years and many of the actors have stayed in the two hotels in the Square. It's a shame the hotels do not have a log of this as it would be extensive. The studios are just a mile to the north, near the vast Queen Mary Reservoir.
Opposite the church on other side of the Square is the Warren Lodge Hotel and is owned by the same company as The Anchor Hotel. The hotel website states:
Lodge Hotel started life as a private house and the oldest parts of the hotel
date from around 1700. However, the most historic feature of the Hotel is the
Mulberry Tree that dominates the garden. In the 16th Century,
Cardinal Wolsey, the then Lord Chancellor of England, rebuilt Hampton Court
Palace, which sits a few miles downstream from the Hotel. He ordered that
Mulberry Trees be planted along the Thames so that, in season, he could always
partake of his favourite fruit as he made his way up and down the river."
In 1964 the hotel was bought by Douglas Gordon as his first business venture. It only had a few rooms and a bar. He made a huge success of it and enlarged. Later he went on to buy The Anchor Hotel and another, The Ship at Weybridge, to form Shepperton Hotels Ltd. The Warren Lodge also has an extensive list of famous visitors. The history section of the hotel website lists a few and an article, dated April 2018 from The Terence Rattigan Society (on page 4) tells more about Douglas Gordon, his famous visitors and his life - it's a great read.
When I visited the Warren Lodge Hotel, in the late 1990s there was a few music memorability hanging on the walls, including Roger Daltry's gold disc for sales of "Tommy".
The car park of the hotel was known as Ferry Square. There was a ferry here from the 14th century. In 1970 the square was handed over to the people of Shepperton by the Lord of the Manor for them to enjoy. The occasion is commemorated by a plaque on the wall of the car park.
Next to the Warren Lodge is The King's Head. This was an old coaching inn and dates from the 15th Century. The stables have long gone and have been incorporated into the pub. Again, the pub website lists some of the well-known visitors and even has a photo of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor leaving. The pub claims to be haunted, one of the ghosts is said to be a headless monk from Chertsey Abbey. He gave up his holy vows to live with a woman at Shepperton, but was beheaded for doing so by his holy brothers (see link).
Iain Sinclair's circumnavigation of
published in 2000 he sometimes visits
2009) at Shepperton. The book is about a walk around
main road through the village as far as
A field next
On reaching the river turn right along the road. For the next mile we basically follow the road, but there are opportunities to use a path next to the river.
gets its name from the
Shepperton to Weybridge
at the end of the lane and next to the
A ferry has crossed the
There are many
islands on the river, in this area, and it's behind some of these where the
River Wey and the Wey Navigation join the
The Domesday Book of 1086 records a weir at Shepperton. The first lock was built of wood in 1813 and was replaced by the current one in 1899. In "Our Mutual Friend" (1865), by Charles Dickens, the lock at Plashwater Mill is based here. In "The Wars of the Worlds" (1898), by HG Wells, one of the main battles is fought between Weybridge and Shepperton Lock.
The road soon passes Pharaoh's Island. It was given to Lord Nelson after the Battle of the Nile (1789) and he used it as a fishing retreat. Today the island only reachable by boat and many of the properties still have Egyptian names. In January 2011, a small dinghy ferrying people from the island capsized with the loss of two lives. The fatalities were named as university professor Dr Rex Walford OBE and record producer Keith Lowde. You can read the BBC News website report on the tragedy.
stretch there are many desirable properties on both banks of the river. Those on
the opposite side form part of the Hamm Court Estate and were built on what was
the old Manor of Hamm Court. The road by now is one way (in the opposite
direction) and within half a mile becomes
As the road turns right go straight on along the towpath which is now enclosed between the river and farmland (also a flood plain).
There is the
odd dwelling set back from the river on the right and some isolated houseboats
moored on to the left. Across the river, for the next mile, are
a 175-acre site of open grassland with wildlife habitats, walks and picnic
areas. A leaflet about the meads can be downloaded from Runnymede Borough
Council or by following
path passes through a kissing gate and into a large open field called Dumpsey
Meadow. A short footpath off to the right leads to
covers 24 acres (see
information board), is classified as a
"Site of Special Scientific Interest"
and is open to the public. It is a haven for wildlife, usually has cattle
grazing on it and in summer is awash with yellow ragwort. On the approach to
At 9.1 miles the route passes under Chertsey Bridge, a sign shows the way. The first bridge built here was in 1410 and was maintained by Chertsey Abbey. The current bridge was built between 1780 and 1782 by James Paine and is certainly one of the most tasteful on the river. The bridge is a stone's throw from the well-preserved lock, a pub on both sides, a riverside campsite and large open pastures to explore next to the river.
Across the river in Chertsey Town a curfew bell in the church commemorates Blanche Heriot who, in 1471 and at the time of the Wars of the Roses, knowing her lover was to be executed at curfew, climbed the church tower and hung on to the clapper of the bell until he was reprieved, but she died through her actions.
Her courage inspired the ballad 'Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight' by the American poet Rose Hardwick Thorpe. The poem is set during a later date, the 17th Century during the time of the English Civil War and Cromwell. A memorial to Blanche has been built on the Chertsey side of the bridge.
Windsor Street in Chertsey is the site of an old abbey (Chertsey
Abbey). This Benedictine monastery was in Saxon Times as important as
Parts of the
Chertsey Abbey, including walls, moat, Abbey River, fish ponds and
still survive. These are now classified as a
Scheduled Monument. The famous Chertsey Curfew bell, (cast around 1310 and
recast following damage in 1374) was saved from the Abbey and now rings as
number 5 bell in
Peter's Church in the town .
in the centre of the town is a fine Regency house and has many interesting
displays including some of the 13th Century Abbey Tiles
on display at the British Museum. They are described by some as the most famous
By Chertsey Bridge, there is another Coal Tax Post - this is one of the usual white metal posts. There is another one a little further on, as you'll see below, and a third one on the right of the road, shortly before the gates to the Angling Club
Continue straight on under the bridge and along the footpath on the left-hand side of the road and next to the river.
Next to the bridge is the Kingfisher Pub, and just past it are two adjoining white houses. The top window between the two is painted, on the inside, with the bridge and two young lovers walking along the river on a fine summer's day. I found out from the lady of the house that the glass painting was done by her daughter. In the garden of the second house (No 242) is a well preserved "coal post" and in front of the other is what may also be a different type of coal post. All are classified as Grade 2 listed for their historical importance.
Across the river next to the bridge is The Bridge Pub & Hotel and just upstream from it is the Chertsey Campsite.
On approaching Chertsey Lock, it is plain to see some recent work has been done shoring up the island. This was carried out by the Environment Agency who is responsible for maintaining the locks.
After passing the lock the route soon passes under the M3 road bridge over the Thames. There is a constant hum of the traffic from above, but from the tranquility of the riverside it seems a long way away.
beyond the motorway bridge is an area of gravel pits and reservoirs. Most of the
pits have filled with water and some are used as fishing and boating lakes.
There are parks, recreational areas popular for barbeques and picnics, riverside
beaches for paddling and swimming, a solitary boathouse, two ice-cream vans,
gaps in riverbank for anglers to test their skills, car-parks to rest vehicles
and 15 sleeping policemen to slow down the traffic along the narrow road. It is
about a mile and a half from
2003, because of heavy rainfall, the
Soon to the
right is a large car park with public toilets, an ice-cream van and a child's
play area. The grassy area around it is
The park was originally part of the gardens of Laleham Abbey (earlier known as Laleham House). The Abbey is set back from the river and shortly after passing the campsite is visible from the route. It has been converted to flats, but was once home of the Earls of Lucan, a title associated with misfortune. The Lucan Family moved to Laleham in 1803, the third earl giving the disastrous order to the Light Brigade to attack at Balaclava on 25th October 1854, and the seventh earl still missing after a murder in 1974.
After passing Burway Rowing Club is a second and smaller riverside car park. It also has an ice-cream van, a barbeque area and small beachy areas next to the river. At the back of the car park at the base of a tree and always surrounded by flowers is a metal plaque on a tiny concrete base. The inscription remembers Tony Kembery, known as 'Kim' to his loved ones.
Soon the road
turns right and away from the river towards
Many other famous people lived in Laleham, including actress Gabrielle Anwar (born here 4th February 1970), and Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales, was a regular visitor at the Three Horseshoes public house when he stayed with the Lucan Family at Laleham House.
The route past Laleham stays on the towpath, and because of this many of the interesting features of Laleham Village are missed. For a historic walk around the village just follow the link. You can also read about Laleham at British History Online and its entry in the Domesday Book.
On reaching Laleham the road turns right towards the centre of the village (now at 10.4 miles). DO NOT turn right with the road, instead follow the towpath straight on along the narrow river road to Penton Hook Lock, at 11.2 miles. Go straight past the lock staying next to the river.
A short distance before Penton Hook Lock the towpath crosses an outlet from the Thames. By looking at the bank of the river you should see the sluice gates. Each day something like 200 million gallons of water are fed through here, then east along a channel for half a mile and there pumped uphill into the huge Queen Mary Reservoir.
Penton Hook the main river doubles back on itself around
Penton Hook Island.
The lock, when built in 1815, created the island and shortened the journey for
boats along the Thames by two-thirds of a mile. The island itself is accessed by
crossing the lock and then two weirs. It is uninhabited and has many wooded
paths with benches and picnic tables, lots of places to fish, and at the
opposite side has an area to paddle which overlooks the outlet of the
Abbey River and Penton
Hook Marina, the largest inland marina in the UK.
houses, flats and riverboats line the river to
passing a grassy open area
and then following the towpath as it turns right, and at 11.8 miles into the
stage, across the river is
This is joined to the Surrey bank by a small bridge and remembers the City of .
To our right at 12.6 miles is St Peters Church, finished in 1895 by architect George Fellowes Prynne. The Lych Gate opens onto the towpath.
Sir Edward Clarke
(1841 - 1931) was a Conservative politician and a barrister. He served as
Solicitor-General (1886 - 1892). In 1895 he famously represented
in Wilde's disastrous prosecution of the Marquess of Queensbury for libel. After
the trial Wilde was arrested and prosecuted for homosexual practises. Clarke
sold his house and its grounds downstream to K S Ranjitsinhji (1872 - 1933),
Indian cricketer, politician and "Prince" (more about K S Ranji below). He built
himself a large house on the river, next to St Peters. The house still exists
today as The Vicarage.
Sir Edward Clarke and his wife were a huge influence on Staines during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were the most prominent couple here then. They gave a lot to the town and also took much pleasure in the years they lived in Staines. At www.Archive.org you can read Edward's autobiography about his early life, as a barrister, a politician and as someone who used his own money and time to help the community he enjoyed living amongst.
The quote below is from Edward Clarke's autobiography.
"I am speaking of my pleasures at Staines, so it would be affectation to omit one of the greatest. That was the building of St. Peter's Church. When I bought Thorncote, the only place of Church of England worship within a mile of the house was a very uncomfortable iron building, too hot in summer and much too cold in winter, in the Edgell Road. Someone suggested that a church should be built, and a subscription list was opened. Two or three sums of 500 each were promised, but after that only small amounts were talked of, and it was clear there would be much difficulty in raising the required sum. A little higher up the river than Thorncote there was a charming site, where a row of fine elms stood along the river-side of a field which it was proposed to let in building plots. I was afraid these trees would be cut down, so I told my neighbours that if they would buy the site I would build a church upon it. The site was secured, and I employed Mr. George Fellowes Prynne, the son of my dear old friend and supporter at Plymouth, the famous Vicar of St. Peter's there, to design the church..."
K S Ranjitsinhji was a very successful first-class cricketer; he played for Cambridge University, Sussex and England. In India he succeeded to Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar in 1907. With the outbreak of World War I, in August 1914, he declared the resources of his estate could be used by Britain, including "Jamnagar House" at Staines. The house was converted to a hospital (The Prince of Wales Hospital for wounded officers) run by the Red Cross and with a gift of 50,000 pounds to pay for running costs. As Maharaja he sent several squadrons of the Nawanagar Lancers to the Western Front. He became Chancellor of the Indian Chamber of Princes and represented India at the League of Nations after the war. Later, Ranjitsinhji moved back into his house at Staines. After the formation of the newly founded Irish Free State in 1922, he became the first head of state to officially visit. He bought the 50,000-acre Ballynahinch estate in Connemara and moved there in 1924. This helped popularise tourism in the state at a tumultuous time in Irish history. He died at Jamnagar Palace, India in 1933, aged 60. Ranji is remembered in India by the Ranji Trophy, a national cricket tournament inaugurated in 1934. At Staines his house has been demolished, but the lodge still remains. Mid-20th century residences now cover the large grounds it stood in. Jamnagar Close is one such development built on the site and remembers his time here.
One thing I have always thought strange about St. Peters is the church backs onto the road and the front proudly overlooks the river, with the lych-gate immediately adjacent to the Thames Path. The gate was presented by Sir Edward & Lady Clarke in 1908 on their Silver Wedding anniversary. It is where the congregation is supposed to pass through on their way to the church, but I'm sure most don't come from the direction of the towpath. However, people passing by in boats and walking can appreciate it more than the cars speeding by on the Laleham Road.
In the grounds of the church, next to the lych-gate, is a small memorial garden remembering those who served in the Burma Campaign (1941 - 1945) during World War II.
St. Peters featured in the 1976 movie "The Omen" in a scene where Ambassador Thorn tried to kill his son, after being convinced of the diabolical origins of young Damien.
Houseboat Reach was the name given in Edwardian Times to a half mile stretch of the Thames, on the Surrey bank, opposite St Peters and downstream from the railway bridge. It was lined with luxurious houseboats and many parties went on in the evenings. Servants were brought in from the posh London homes and entertainers were hired. Boats were illuminated with lanterns and it was a wonderful sight to behold. Today, all the large houseboats have gone, there is no path along the river, on the Surrey side, and the only boats are the small launches moored at the bottoms of gardens belonging to private houses facing onto the river.
With the coming of the railway to Staines in 1848, the town became a popular "country" resort on the river, away from the hustle, bustle and smog of London. For the less well-off, they would only come here on a day ticket and have to travel back to their humble homes and drab life in the evenings. For the better-off they could stay overnight in one of the town's hotels or inns. However, for the wealthiest, they could buy or rent a large houseboat on "Houseboat Reach" and entertain guests and have them to stay.
After we continue along the towpath we pass the small Jubilee Memorial Gardens, opened in June 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The stone base of the cast iron lamp post is inscribed:
"This ground was purchased out of public subscriptions raised by the Staines Committee for the Commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. June 1897"
You can also take a break here by having a seat in one of the old benches. Most are really well preserved and have lasted the effects of time. They were all made in Johnson & Sharp Foundry which was situated next to the Blue Anchor Inn, on the corner of the High Street and Thames Street.
In 1977 another memorial "The Jubilee Stone" was erected in the High Street to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II - I can only suppose the local towns folks didn't want to make her feel left out.
NOTE: This is the nearest point in this stage to Staines Station (see Map). I have also put a link to a map from Staines Pier to Staines Station at the end of this write-up.
Boatbuilding along the Thames has been a tradition going back to at least the Prehistoric period. Rafts and dugout canoes from tree trunks were most likely the earliest forms. A preserved dugout canoe was found at Shepperton in 1812, and another at Beasley's Ait, Sunbury, in 1966.
Across the River Thames from here, you can see Tims' Boatyard. As far as I know the last remaining boatyard in Staines. Tims started in the late 1870s when John Tims set up a boat building business in Church Street. In 1928 the firm of John Tims & Son moved to the south bank of the River Thames, just downstream from the railway bridge. Here they continued to build a variety of boats, hire out smaller craft and later hired out launches and cruisers by the week, thus allowing people to journey up the river as far as Lechlade and downstream to London.
In 2012 we saw the new royal barge, the Gloriana, built as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee. Tims, for years, held the honour of being entrusted to repair and renovate an older royal barge. The King's State Barge was a huge boat made of English oak and built in 1689 as a gift from William III to Mary II. John Tims is buried at St. Mary's in Staines. His grave is quite unusual, but very appropriate see photo.
Staines Railway Bridge was completed in 1856. It carries the London Waterloo to Reading Line and the London Waterloo to Chertsey via Hounslow. Staines Station was opened eight years earlier (1848) on the London Waterloo to Windsor Line. Hence with the coming of the second line Staines became a junction and for many years the station was named Staines Junction.
On the riverside face of the railway bridge abutment are three
attached to the lower part of the buttresses on the towpath. These date from the
early 19th century and were to prevent the towropes of the barges
from fraying and causing damage to the buttresses by wear. They could also be
used as a gentle friction braking system if required. As they are relevant to
local history they are classified as a listed building.
As you can see from photos of the railway bridge, there is a yellow stripe painted along the top of the bridge. This was added in the 1980s to make it more visible to swans and stop them from flying into the bridge.
Artist Douglas Elston Myers worked on a ten-year project to paint all 110 bridges over the navigable Thames. He did this between 1996 and 2006. If you visit his wonderful website you can see all of these, including the Staines Rail Bridge and Staines Bridge.
After crossing under the rail bridge the path comes up to the pavement, just before the Thames Lodge Hotel. Across the road next to the old BUPA building is a white metal obelisk. This dates from 1837 and is a "Coal & Wine Tax Pole". This obelisk, like the city posts also included (qv) marks the point at which the City of London boundaries began. The inscription on the post reads "14 & 15 VICT Cap 146".
Immediately after passing under Staines railway bridge and before reaching and next to the Thames Lodge Hotel, turn left through a gate and behind the hotel to continue upstream along the river. The path leads past a riverside car park, then onto the finish at Staines Pier, next to the London Stone and behind the Staines Town Hall.
For some reason I have always thought the footpath behind the Thames Lodge Hotel was the Thames Path as it's the first opportunity to get back to the river. However, there is no direction sign from the road as the official Thames Path continues along the pavement, past the hotel, and then turns left to re-join the river.
The two adjoining cottages immediately upstream from the bridge date from the 19th century and are named 'Hook on' and 'Shoot off'. Here the towpath switched banks and the process of getting the barges across the river was known as "Shooting Off". It involved making the horses gain maximum momentum before casting off the tow-rope to shoot the barge across the stream. The horses were walked around via Staines Bridge or taken across by ferry, then re-hitched on the other side. Coming downstream, the barge crossed using the help of the current.
The Thames Lodge Hotel dates from 17th century (or maybe earlier) and was originally The Woolpack, named after the wool carrying barges. The cottages 'Hook on' and 'Shoot off' were renovated and incorporated into the hotel. It changed names to the Packhorse Hotel and later to the Thames Lodge Hotel - a bit posher I suppose. You can see an old photo, dated 1895, of the Packhorse Hotel, from the river, at Francis Frith - it's not a lot different from today. Follow the links to see photos of the footpath down the side of it to the river and the path behind it.
The Packhorse Hotel does hold a dark secret not known to many. In 1955 two from the London Underworld booked in. Alfred Charles Ady and Countess Thelma Madeleine Noad-Johnston (aka Black Maria and Black Orchid) died in a suicide pact. They were on the run after a Hatton Garden robbery, the other accomplice had already been caught at the scene of the crime. Before she died, she wrote a letter to her son. Ady killed her, delivered letters to reception and returned to the room to kill himself. You can read more at Google Books.
While walking behind the Thames Lodge Hotel look across the river and you will see Staines Boat Club. According to their club website Staines Boat Club was founded in 1851. Old results from the Henley Regatta show Staines had prize-winners in 1858 and 1871. We learnt earlier the first Staines Regatta was in 1850 and the Staines Amateur Regatta is now organised by Staines Boat Club.
The Thames Path is a long distance
opened in 1996. It follows the River Thames for 184 miles, from its source near
Kemble in the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier in Greenwich. The route of the
National Trail comes along the Thames from the west through Egham, crosses over
Staines Bridge and continues along the northern bank, through Staines and on
If you look to your right you'll see a small round building in the eastern side of the Riverside car park. This is the Sweeps Ditch Pump House. Sweeps Ditch was originally an ancient man-made mill stream which flowed through Staines. In Roman & Medieval Times it formed the western and northern boundary of Town Island (sometimes referred to as High Street Island). It was fed by the waters of the River Colne, but with the High Street redevelopment and the building of the Elmsleigh Centre in the 1970s the water source was cut. A new water source was provided when Thames Water installed a pump house here in 1982 and this takes water from the Thames. The stream no longer goes through the centre of the town, instead it goes underground in a pipe across Thames Street and South Street, the pipe then goes in a straight line for 300m along the south side of South Street to feed the original open channel between the Elmsleigh Shopping Centre car park and the railway. This heads south to enter the Thames, just below Penton Hook Lock. Probably, the best places to view the old watercourse is on Gresham Road or as it flows south along the east edge of Staines Park.
To the left of the footpath and immediately past the car park, the sails canopies look down over a circular viewing gallery. A series of circular stone terraces lead down to a planked platform, with a rail next to, and overlooking the River Thames. Disabled access is provided by a ramp which leads down from the right-hand side. To the right, and along the edge of the garden area, is a straight narrow water channel with a circular fountain at either edge (I believe called the Life-line Fountain). This extends for almost 60 m directly towards the swan arch at Thames Street.
Soon to your right and just set back from the Thames Path is the red brick Staines Methodist Church. On the wall overlooking the Memorial Gardens is a relief carving of a dove that symbolises peace in biblical tales.
According to British History Online the famous preacher and the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, once preached in Staines:
"John Wesley visited Staines in 1771 and preached in a house which had just been fitted up for the purpose. He recorded an enthusiastic reception and according to the Anglican authorities the number of Methodists increased between 1778 and 1810."
The first Methodist chapel at Staines was built in 1854 on the south side Kingston Road and in the vicinity of the new police station. In 1890 it was replaced by a larger spired Gothic church on the opposite side of Kingston Road. The present church, overlooking the Memorial Gardens, was completed in 1987. Staines also once had a "Primitive Methodist" chapel, built in Richmond Road in 1878. This also closed in 1890, but the building has been preserved and is now a private dwelling.
sculpture by Tom Brown (c2002) is made of folded polished sheets of mirror steel
and depicts a swan and her signets. The swan represents the symbol which appears
on the Borough coat of arms. The steel mirrors reflect the sparkling waters of
the River Thames.
Staines Town Hall was designed by John Johnson, architect and District Surveyor of East Hackney, and was completed in 1880 in a Flemish Renaissance style with Italian and French motifs. It took nine years to build and cost a princely sum of 5,000 pounds. To make way for it the old small spired market-house was pulled down, as were a number of buildings to the east. This widened the street to form the Market Square and provided the site for the Memorial Gardens which were completed in 1897. However, there does seem to be a slight flaw - if you look closely at the front dial on the clock you will notice two XI, one at 9 and one at 11.
The reason we have the Town Hall is due to the Rennie Brothers choosing a site 200m upstream from earlier bridges to build the present bridge. It left a dead-end onto the river at a space where the bottom of old High Street led to the bridge. Locals complained by building the Town Hall with its back to the river, Staines had turned its back on the river. We are still lucky to have this wonderful building as in the early 1970s Staines Urban Borough Council voted by just one not to knock it down. It was thanks to a campaign by concerned local residents which tipped the balance. This led to the formation of the Staines Town Society, a charity whose purpose is to protect the old buildings and heritage of the town.
According to Exploring Surrey's Past:
"HER 777 - Site of Staines Town Hall or Market House (Pre 1603 - Post 1712)
Staines Town Hall, or market house, originally stood in the middle of the highway and was afterwards removed to its later site. There in the Autumn of 1603 Sir Walter Raleigh was indicted before Commissioners and Middlesex jury. The current Town Hall was built in 1880/81 to replace a smaller one in a miserable and low thoroughfare known as Blackboy Lane. The original position has been sited to a widening of the High Street. The site of the meeting house lies just south of this part of the High Street. Sometime post 1712, the town hall or market house was moved to Blackboy Lane, which ran from where the present town hall stands south-eastwards to the river. It may be presumed that the present building stands very near to the site of the earlier one. The 1st edition of the OS 25' does not show it by name, but there is an isolated building in the centre of the roadway on the west side where the present Town Hall stands."
Sources claim Sir Walter Raleigh was tried here, but this is not correct. It was here he was committed in 1603, before his trial at Winchester.
Over the years the Town Hall was used for many public events, including boxing
tournaments, the local archaeological group, opera and stage plays. Famous rock
bands who played here during the 1960s and 70s included,
and The Jaywalkers (with Richie Blackmore). The town hall was used for the court
scene in the 1982 film
where Judge Bloomfield sentences Ghandi to six years imprisonment for
sedition. It also featured in the 2002 film
Ali G Indahouse
Staines Town Hall was mainly occupied by the local council, under different names from it opened until 1972, when Staines Urban District Council moved to new offices at Knowle Green. The local Magistrates Court was based her between October 1967 and March 1976, when it also moved to new offices at Knowle Green. The Old Town Hall opened as new Arts Centre in 1993; officially opened on 15 April 1994 by actor and director Kenneth Branagh. In 2004 the building became a "Smith & Jones" pub. However, when I went there recently at lunchtime, it seemed to have been abandoned and signs on the windows were advertising the leasehold of the building being up for sale.
Both of the red telephone kiosks at the front of the Town Hall, although looking a bit shabby at present, are grade II listed. The Old Fire Engine Shed, at the back right of the hall, was built c1880 and housed Spelthorne's first museum from 1980 to 2003. You can read more about Staines Town Hall on the British Listed Buildings website.
On the side of the Town Hall, as we pass, look up to see a plaque which remembers "The Trafalgar Way". This was the 271 mile route taken "express by post-chaise" by Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere between 4th & 6th November 1805. He travelled from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London, carrying the news of the momentous victory and the death in action of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. In total he took 37 hours and made 21 stops at coaching inns to change horses; the 20th of these stops was at the Bush Inn at Staines. The Bush was behind where the Town Hall no sits and next to the old Staines Bridge. Ironically, as you can see from the second plaque below, Lord Nelson stayed at the Bush Inn (apparently with Lady Hamilton) in July 1801 and just four years before his death.
Two Swan Arches which mark entrances to the riverside Memorial Gardens. They were hand-made from stainless steel by Anthony & Simon Robinson. The motifs on the legs were designed by pupils of Kingscroft Junior School, each depicting images of the town. Both arches have a single swan in flight at the top - the swan represents the symbol of Staines. Kingscroft Junior School was amalgamated with Knowle Park Infant School and Shortwood Infant School in September 2011 to form Riverbridge Primary School.
The Dancing Fountains were erected here in 2006. The centre-piece is a sculpture of five swimmers mounted on a plinth. It was created by David Wynne in 1980, originally as the centre-piece to the Elmsleigh Shopping Centre which was opened the same year by Queen Elizabeth II. Some locals found the naked figures in the sculpture distasteful and downright rude. The council decided to remove it and put it into storage, at one point it came close to being disposed of. Luckily, this didn't happen and it stayed in storage until it was placed here as important part of the Memorial Gardens. Apparently, before it was moved here, the male appendages were reduced - I suppose to keep some residents happy.
Enhancement of the Memorial Gardens along the riverside, between the Town Hall and the Thames Lodge Hotel, commenced in October 2001 and was completed in September 2002. This meant decreasing the size of the Riverside Car Park, increasing the area covered by the gardens and adding many new features. Since then many new features have also been added.
In 2001, and before additions to the Memorial Gardens, some archaeological work was carried out just south-east of the Town Hall, in the Riverside car park and the Market Square. This unveiled evidence of flood defenses going back through the years to the 1st century AD when the Romans were first here.
On the river behind The Town Hall sits a
replica of the London
The original stone is thought to be a Roman Altar stone and stood in Staines
near this same spot since 1285. It marked the Corporation of City of London's
former limit of jurisdiction on the Thames. They gained these rights in 1197,
during the reign of
and held them until the formation of the
in 1857. This was the highest point at which the tide could be detected (that
pleasure now belongs to Teddington Lock). In the 18th Century the
stone was moved upstream, to what is now Lammas Park, and this in turn was
replaced by the replica in 1986. In 2003 I found the original London Stone
sitting unprotected under some scaffolding in what seemed to be an abandoned
Town Hall. In 2012 the replica was moved back down river to where it is now,
between the Town Hall and the Town Pier, and near to its original site. You can
now see the original stone in Spelthorne Museum, behind the library on Thames
Street. According to the display at the museum:
"...The London Stone is actually a stack of six layers of stones, of varying dates. The topmost one was reputed to be a Roman altar stone, although its actual origin is unknown. On the top part are the words "God preserve ye City of London AD 1285".
The local museum has recently been re-housed behind Staines library in Elmsleigh Road. Spelthorne Museum has a lot of information about the history of the borough and displays include Prehistoric Spelthorne, Roman Staines, Brewing & Bottling, Staines Linoleum Industry and the original "London Stone" is also on display.
Spelthorne Museum first opened in 1980 in the Old Fire Station next to the Town Hall. Towards the end of 2003, the Old Fire Station was sold as part of the Town Hall regeneration and the museums contents went into storage. On 30th July 2005 the museum re-opened in temporary offices. Then on 21st October 2006, the new professionally designed Spelthorne Museum was opened by television presenter Michael Aspel. It sits overlooking Thames Street with the entrance around the corner in Friends Walk and through Staines Library. The museum contains the original London Stone, plus a replica of the reconstructed face of "Shepperton Woman" (c3640 - 3100BC), sometimes referred to as the first lady of Britain. There are many other exhibitions telling the history of the area through the centuries. These include Prehistoric Spelthorne, Roman Staines, Brewing & Bottling, Fire, Iron Foundries, and Staines Linoleum Industry.
On the wall of the Library, next to the entrance of the museum is a ceramic
mural of Staines depicting places of interest and historical information about
to the town. It is dated 2002 and was made by pottery students at Staines Adult
A poster in the museum explains where many of the names of the local areas
originated from and their links still held from Saxon Times. From my research, I
have added a few extras, plus links to Wikipedia for further reading.
The area of Middle Saxons (between the three kingdoms of Essex, Wessex
Spelthorne: - "Speech Thorne", a tree where the elders of the community would meet, believed to have been in the Ashford Common area.
Ashford: - Originally called Exford, a ford across the River Axe (possibly once known as the River Ex).
Charlton: - Derived from the word "Ceredentone", meaning the property of a man called Ceolred.
Halliford: - From the Saxon word Helyaforda, meaning a holy ford, perhaps with a shrine. Another source claims Halliford (holy ford) got its name from a hermit, a holy man who lived here in Anglo-Saxon times by the ford, and is said to have performed miracles.
Laleham: - A water meadow with willows, or a river settlement by willow trees.
Littleton: - Originally from "Lytleton", meaning just what it says, a small town.
Shepperton: - Saxon word is "Scepertone", meaning a settlement of shepherds - Sheep Walk still exists as a road name.
Staines: - From the word "Stana", meaning "stones", perhaps the remains of the Roman town or road. Alternatively, it may have derived from an ancient stone circle which is believed to have been where the roundabout is now just south of Staines bridge - the nine stones or "Negen Stanes".
Stanwell: - From "Stanwelle", a stony well or spring.
Sunbury: - From "Sunnanbyrig", meaning the stronghold of a Saxon chief named Sunna.
been an important crossing point on the
the production of
"lino" formed an important part of
North of the
Next to the
town hall is the site of the old market hall, where Sir Walter Raleigh was
committed in 1603 before his trial at
On the riverbank next to the London Stone and behind the Town Hall is "Staines Town Pier" where we finish this stage. It was opened in 2002. This has steps and stone ramps leading down to a planked mooring area. The pier has been a really positive addition as it means Staines has now a docking station for river cruises. From June 18th to August 30th, on Monday, Tuesdays & Thursdays, French Brothers provide boat trips from here to Hampton Court and back. The boats depart the Town Pier at 10am and return at 5.45pm.
For more information about Staines see the entries at British History Online and at the Domesday Book. On Britain From Above there are many old photos of Staines taken from the air. Also, I have compiled a set of five short walks around Staines with a thorough history of everything passed, you can visit this at Staines History Walks.
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