Kingston’s Coronation Stone

Kingston’s Coronation Stone stands slightly ignored outside the Guildhall.

In The Daily Telegraph Philip Johnson compares it to the Stone of Scone which fits under the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey but is kept in Scotland.

He suggests that, should the Scots vote yes, the Kingston stone should get a higher profile.

What he does not mention is that this Saxon stone is soon to be moved back to its original site within the area now occupied by Kingston parish church.

Bishop of Oxford inaugurates a Thames Pilgrim Way

Thursday 18 September has long been in the calendar as Scotland’s Referendum Day.

But is also the start the much-planned 104 mile Thames Pilgrim Way walk being undertaken by the soon to retire Bishop of Oxford.

Over ten days there will be a lot of people walking downstream with the Bishop through the Oxford Diocese.

Bishop John Pritchard starts out from remote Radcot Bridge on Thursday morning. Here the water is flowing into the Oxford Diocese from the Gloucester Diocese.

Radcot has the river’s oldest bridge. It dates from 1393 and is the work of monks from Normandy.

The intention is that the Thames Path within the diocese should be followed in the future by others aware of the historic parishes they pass through.

The first church seen is tiny Shifford Church on a spot where King Alfred is said to have held a very early version of an English parliament.

On pilgrimage’s the last day, Sunday 28 September, the party will reach Wraysbury parish which has deep associations with Magna Carta agreed on the Runnymede riverside in 1215.

The Rt Revd Paul Williams, Area Bishop of Kensington, will greet the walkers at the London boundary.

Thames Crossings on BBC Radio 4

Piers Plowright’s delightful Thames Crossings series can be heard this week daily at 1.45pm on BBC Radio 4.

Today he explores Port Meadow.


Richmond towpath in early September

Here are some pictures of the Richmond area towpath this month.

View of the towpath from Kew Palace

View of the towpath from Kew Palace

The Thames from Kew Gardens

The Thames from Kew Gardens

Richmond Bridge

Richmond Bridge

London's tallest plane tree by the towpath at Richmond

London’s tallest plane tree by the towpath at Richmond

Parallel path for use at high tide just behind the flood wall at Petersham Meadows

Parallel path for use at high tide just behind the flood wall at Petersham Meadows

Marble Hill House seen from the towpath

Marble Hill House seen from the towpath

Hammerton's Ferry carries visitors to Orleans House and Marble Hill House across the river

Hammerton’s Ferry carries visitors to Orleans House and Marble Hill House across the river

Food in Kew, Richmond & Petersham

My weekend in Richmond allowed me time to find some places to include in the Thames Path refreshment list.
First, there is of course the wonderful Maids of Honour teashop in Kew which is well worth a visit. This is a real teashop with the additional attraction of its tarts made to a secret Tudor recipe. Jamie Oliver visited recently and praised the original Maids of Honour tart.

A new attraction I did not know about is the bed and breakfast in the old family rooms upstairs. What a perfect overnight stop on the Thames Path -have tea and stay the night.

A Maids of Honour tart as made to a secret Tudor recipe for Henry VIII

A Maids of Honour tart as made to a secret Tudor recipe for Henry VIII


Step out of the station and you find several food outlets.

For a good healthy sandwich and drink there is Cook & Garcia across the road. The Coronation chicken version is delicious and generous.

Almost opposite is Pizzeria Rustica which offers a £7 set lunch. The service is quick without being rushed. In the evening the restaurant is crowded with an informal atmosphere indicating good value and quality.


Petersham Nurseries is hard to find but it’s worth it. From the towpath walk up River Lane and at the Old Stables (left) go left down a very narrow alley.

Inside the nursery there not only a cafe (meaning table service restaurant) but The Tea House. Here there are filling salades for under a tenner as well as tempting cakes. You take your food into a greenhouse where there are antique tables and chairs amongst lemon trees bearing fruit at this time of the year and olive trees.

Unlimited tap water is available which is the best drink for walkers.

Lunchtime at Petersham Nurseries

Lunchtime at Petersham Nurseries

Staying on Richmond Hill

View from Richmond Hill terrace

View from Richmond Hill terrace

Should you stay in a comfortable hotel or the nearest bed and breakfast when walking the Thames Path?

There is a trend for people to want luxury after a long day of walking although walking need not always be a hardship.

Thanks to a surprise win in a Britain magazine competition I have just spent two nights in the four star Richmond Hill Hotel. It has been an interesting experience.

The great attraction of the Thames Path is that it is a flat waterside route except for one diversion up a hill west of Reading.

So does the walker want a hotel at the top of the hill when the Thames Path is below with the river?

The Richmond Hill Hotel stands across the road from a glorious view up the Thames. This is the view reproduced by many artists including Constable and Turner. Sir Joshua Reynolds enjoyed the view daily from his home opposite the hotel. Richmond in the USA, the capital of Virginia, owes its name to this view seen by a tobacco farmer who was reminded of the River James.

It’s England’s only view to be protected by an Act of Parliament so stepping out to see this view is a good start to the day you are due to start walking out of (or into) Greater London.

Opposite the hotel a path runs alongside Wick House, Reynolds home, and down steep Petersham Common towards the Thames. But if a steep climb up on your arrival seems too much after a long walk there is always a very handy and frequent bus 371 from Richmond Station which takes you up the back of the hill.

I often say never swim in the river even on a hot day. It is too dangerous. The hotel has a swimming pool which is open in the evening and before breakfast.

Night rescue of man in water by St Mary’s Battersea

A man has been saved by Chiswick RNLI lifeboat crew who pulled him from the River Thames at Battersea where he was clinging onto a houseboat mooring chain.

The lifeboat was led by a beam from a police helicopter to the man who was placed on board and handed to ambulance staff waiting on the slipway by St Mary’s Church.

The man’s injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

The film from on board can be seen here.

Thames relay: Benson to Henley for Bank Holiday Monday

A bottle filled with water from near the Thames source is making its way downstream as part of the Totally Thames programme.

Totally Thames is the rebranded and much extended annual Thames Festival.

The journey started last Sunday 17 August.

This bank holiday weekend 23-25 August the bottle travels from Benson Lock to Henley.

On Saturday swimmers are taking the bottle from Benson to Goring.

On Sunday rowers are responsible for getting the bottle to Caversham.

On Bank Holiday Monday it’s in the hands of traditional boat owners who will deliver the bottle to the River & Rowing Museum for safekeeping overnight.

The bottle reaches London at the end of the month.

RNLI: 25 years after Marchioness disaster

Next Wednesday 20 August those who died in the Marchioness tragedy will be remembered during the services at Southwark  Cathedral. It will be 25 years since the early morning accident on the River Thames.

The cathedral, which is a short distance downstream from the scene of the collision, has the memorial just inside the main door.

Today, as a result of a recommendation following the inquests, the RNLI has a lifeboat station at Waterloo Bridge. It is the busiest  in the country.

Today’s Telegraph Magazine has a good profile of the service run by donations and mainly volunteers.

Thames Estuary Path opens

Mucking Creek

Mucking Creek

Visitor centre cafe

Visitor centre cafe

Launch ribbon on kissing gate at Mucking Creek

Launch ribbon on kissing gate at Mucking Creek

This week has seen a glimpse of the future. A ribbon across a kissing gate on Mucking Marshes was cut on Thursday marking the ‘opening’ of the Thames Estuary Path.

The route is about 30 miles long starting at Southend and ending at Tilbury Ferry. Two sections are awaiting confirmation and fencing.

The ceremony was on the west bank of Mucking Creek and a short walk from a new visitor centre on the Thameside Nature Park Reserve. The Cory Environmental Visitor Centre has not only toilets, a bookshop and a cafe but a flat roof allowing walkers to enjoy panoramic views down the estuary and across to Kent. The high ground of Mucking Marshes is the result of the dumping in the 20th century of London’s rubbish.

Now the swooping sea gulls are out numbered by the return of other birds. This year the blackberries are ripening early.

At Mucking, the estuary path runs briefly by the shoreline before crossing Mucking Creek and heading for the redundant Mucking Church on the way to Tilbury Fort.

The Thames Estuary Path leaflet lacks detail and to me remains confusing even when read alongside an OS map. There is still a lot of work to do and the new signage needs enhancing.

But there is enough to see which raises a real possibility that the start of the Thames Path could one day be in Southend. Whatever the problems in Essex there are many more on right bank – the Kent side.

Tilbury Ferry carries you across the River Thames to Gravesend from where the Thames Path could continue upstream towards Erith. The biggest investment will be a footbridge at the mouth of the River Darent.

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