Diversion at Greenwich

Cutty Sark seen from line of diversion

The path diversion at Greenwich, announced last year and postponed in April, is suddenly in place until October.

DIVERSION

On passing the Cutty Sark (left) go left inland towards the town centre. On reaching Welland Street (right; flanked by toilets and M&S Food) go right.

Walk to the end of this road and continue ahead through the traffic free area to enter Thames Street. At a junction go right into Horseferry Place to regain the river.

Turn left upstream into covered Wood Wharf.

At the junction with Horseferry Place go right to rejoin the river

Turn left upstream to enter the covered Wood Wharf.

MORE INFORMATION

The closure is to allow work on a flood defence.

More details can be found on the Environment Agency website.

The 853 website has a full report.

Osney Abbey: Oxford Synod 800

Poster for special service at Christ Church Oxford
View from Osney Lock towpath bridge: The steep roof building incorporates all that is left of the Osney Abbey buildings.

This year is the 800th anniversary of the Synod of Oxford held at Osney Abbey which stood by the Thames next to today’s Osney Lock.

The gathering at Oxford in 1222 was a special church council for all England with Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton, of Magna Carta fame, in the chair.

It has been best remembered for declaring St George’s Day 23 April to be a lesser holiday which eventually led to multi-cultural saint George becoming England’s patron.

However, another decision resulted in Jews being told not to employ or mix with Christians and to wear a special badge. Although these anti-Jewish edicts, originating in Rome, were not immediately enforced it was a seminal moment and the the Church of England is marking the anniversary by making a public repentance in Oxford of this anti-semitism.

There will be a special service at Christ Church cathedral, the successor of nearby Osney, on Sunday 8 May at 2pm. Members of the Oxford Jewish Congregation have been involved in preparations and will be present along with the Bishop of Oxford and the Lord Mayor.

The service is being live streamed on the Oxford Cathedral YouTube channel.

Osney Abbey was an Augustinian monastery founded in 1129 at the prompting of Edith who was regretting having been Henry I’s mistress. Geoffrey Chaucer who knew Osney in the late 1300s mentions the abbey in The Canterbury Tales.

The main river channel was cut by monks to drive their mill.

After the dissolution of the monastery in 1539 all that is left is a 14th-century stone barn with a high roof (just visible from Osney Lock) and a blocked window.

A 20th-century plaque on the stonework mentions Robert of Reading suffering for his Jewish faith earlier in 1222.

The remains of Osney Abbey among the mill buildings.
Surviving Onsey Abbey window.

Runnymede claims the bells

There is a reminder on the Thames Path of Osney Abbey long before you reach Oxford. The riverside Bells of Ouzeley pub is on the towpath at Runnymede.

The name is a corruption of Osney due to the claim that Osney Abbey’s bells are here in the river having been brought downstream in 1538 by monks trying to save them from Henry VIII who was about to close the monastery.

Their rafts allegedly ran aground leaving the bells to be sucked into the muddy riverbed and lost for ever.

However, the Great Tom bell heard every evening at Christ Church Oxford is said to be a bell which remained hanging in Osney’s tower when Henry VIII briefly turned the closed abbey into Oxford’s first cathedral. Two other Christ Church bells dated 1410 are thought to be part of a bells transfer from Osney to Christ Church found in a record dated 1546.

The Runnymede inn’s name was at first spelt Ouseley without the z which more reflects the original Oxford spelling Oseney.

The inn existed at least in the 18th century and was painted by Thomas Rowlandson in about 1800. Today’s building dates from 1929 when the main road was moved from behind the pub and laid alongside the towpath.

Bells of Ouzeley by Richard Allam c1878 (Chertsey Museum)
The present bells of Ouzeley by the river.
The new sign has replaced one depicting the bells.
The towpath below the pub is by the reach where the bells are alleged to be submerged.

Fritillaries out in Cricklade’s North Meadow

Fritillaries in North Meadow this week.

North Meadow alongside the Thames Path at Cricklade has the largest number of the rare Snakeshead fritillary.

Now is suddenly peak time for seeing the flowering.

Most of the fritillaries are purple although in the last fifty years there has been an increase in the number of white flowers.

Within living memory the flowers were picked for local use or sent to Covent Garden but now picking is forbidden and visitors must keep to the footpaths.

The riverside path tends to have dandelions along its side but the fritillaries are close by. In the distance there is a feeling that the floodplain is ploughed but this is an illusion created by the dark purple flowers.

This weekend there is a temporary tea shop for visitors in Thames Hall by Cricklade Bridge.

Stacey’s cafe in the High Street has just closed due to retirement but nearby C & R Family Grocers is open weekdays and Saturday morning with a cafe. A £6 breakfast is served from 8am.

The tower of Cricklade’s St Sampson’s Church seen beyond the fritillaries in North Meadow

A new neighbour for the Anchor

The Anchor, proposed Red Lion Court and the former FT building

After the surprise approval for the high buildings on London’s South Bank TV studio site there is news of another possible change downstream.

Bankside’s ancient Anchor pub could be overshadowed by LandSec’s Red Lion Court plan.

The redevelopment would have the former Financial Times building on its upstream side.

The original riverside Anchor inn existed in William Shakespeare’s time on Bankside and later Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London from outside.

Dr Johnson briefly lived there when The Anchor Brewery occupied the next door Red Lion Court site. The present building was known to Charles Dickens.

South Bank’s ITV home is changing

The proposed replacement for the ITV studios on London’s South Bank.

The former London Television Centre on London’s South Bank is due to be replaced by high buildings.

ITV has vacated the existing building although the river backdrop still appears on ITV London news programmes.

London Television Centre was home to Carlton, LWT and GMTV. ITV’s This Morning also had a live river backdrop when broadcasting from next to Gabriel’s Wharf.

The decision on the proposed replacement structure is expected to be made next Tuesday by Lambeth Planning Committee.

A large number of local residents are objecting to the scheme which has been described as ‘excessive, overbearing and overly dominant’.

The Thames Path in front of the London Television Centre site was to have been narrowed for the Garden Bridge until the project was abandoned following opposition by residents and many others worried about crowds and loss of river views

The back of the proposed buildings in Upper Ground seen from the behind Oxo Tower Wharf.

St Saviour’s Dock Bridge open & working

Looking upstream to Butler’s Wharf

You can now expect to find the St Saviour’s Dock Bridge open during the day.

The bridge takes the Thames Path from Bermondsey Wall to Butler’s Wharf just downstream of Tower Bridge.

There has been four years of on and off closure with a two month diversion announced last autumn.

FM Conway, the infrastructure services company with ‘Going the Extra Mile’ slogan, worked with the London Borough of Southwark to deliver what the company described as ‘a complex refurbishment’.

The bridge first opened in 1995 but in recent years had only been open to riverside walkers as the crossing had ceased being able to swing open for craft to enter the dock.

After the overcoming of numerous problems the crossing will serve both pedestrians and those arriving by water.

The bridge was designed by local resident and architect Nicholas Lacey who also devised the nearby floating gardens.

View of the bridge with St Saviour’s Dock beyond

William Morris book update

This year is the 150th anniversary of William Morris signing the tenancy of Kelmscott Manor which makes it appropriate for the V&A to publish a new edition of its William Morris exhibition catalogue.

It is 25 years since the exhibition was staged for the William Morris centenary but interest has only increased with new discoveries and research.

There were two important Thames-side Morris exhibitions in 2019.

In 1878, seven years after moving into Kelmscott Manor, William Morris found a riverside house at Hammermith for his London home which he called Kelmscott House. It was on the left bank like the country house.

Morris, we are told, was delighted that both his residencies were near the Thames. George Bernard Shaw called the London home ‘a magical house’ due to its mix of furnishing.

The book has a wonderful photograph showing the interior of Inglesham Church on the Thames Path near Kelmscott.

Morris took part in the campaign to preserve this church ‘as found’. It is not restored but safeguarded and so retains, even with its box pews, a feeling of reaching back to the pre-Reformation era.

In 1888 Kelmscott also gave its name to the Kelmscott Press at Hammersmith.

2034 will be the bicentenary of William Morris’s birth when maybe the V&A will stage another exhibition featuring new insights.

William Morris edited by Anna Mason (V&A/Thames & Hudson; £50).

The Punter at Osney

View from the towpath.

What has changed since the pandemic hit us? On the Thames Path it is mainly the pubs which have been most affected.

A good stop just before reaching Oxford Station and crowded tourist eateries is now The Punter pub on Osney Island.

You pass the door shortly after walking through Osney Lock and over its weir bridges.

The Punter is the end house in a lovely terrace of waterside cottages. It dates from 1871 and for most of the time has been The Waterman’s Arms. There is still a Morland of Abingdon brewery tile in the brickwork.

The change of name came recently and since the lockdown the quiet pub has adopted a vegetarian and vegan menu with an emphasis on local seasonal ingredients.

The star must be the very filling mushroom & lentil burger with beef tomato, red onion marmalade and stout mayonnaise served with fries (£14). The bun includes charcoal.

For pudding there is the intriguing parsnip, macadamia and olive oil cake with duck egg & bay leaf custard (£7).

There are lots of tables, art and flowers inside and an outdoor area at the side.

This is a rare case of a pub improving despite a change of name and management. It is pleasure to visit and not just a refuelling stop.

The Punter, 7 South Street, Osney Island OX2 0BE. Open weekdays noon to 11pm. Food: until 2.30pm & 5pm – 9pm; weekends noon to 9pm.

A glimpse of the willow tree by the river.

Scuptures honouring NHS at Southwark Cathedral

NHS Heroes by Sandra Russell sponsored by Poundfield Precast

Fifty-one figures looking like giant skittles are standing in Southwark Cathedral churchyard this week.

Gratitude is a public art installation honouring the ongoing courage and dedication of NHS staff and key workers during the pandemic.

The exhibition is curated by Southwark-based Dame Zandra Rhodes and continues until Saturday 10 October.

Some of the figures on the south side of the cathedral.

Brindisa opening on Richmond riverside

Up steps from the Richmond towpath to Brindisa.

Spanish tapas bar Brindisa has a strong presence behind Southwark Cathedral in Borough Market where it was founded.

From Wednesday 13 October walkers will find another Brindisa fifteen miles upstream at Richmond.

It will be difficult to miss with its distinctive awning and logo on the restored 18th-century Holtham House.

Inside there is an open kitchen and good views of the river. In warm weather around sixty people will be able to eat outside.

If Richmond is too far from London Bridge for one day (and it probably is if you want to enjoy the walk) there is a smaller recently opened Brindisa on the Thames Path at Battersea Power Station.

The familia logo is on the awning.
Brindisa in Borough Market

From the Sea to the Source