Candida Lycett Green takes a look at Inglesham Church as part of her ‘Unwrecked England’ series in Christmas issue of The Oldie.
The writer, who is the daughter of John Betjeman, recalls joining her parents rowing up from Lechlade past the Roundhouse and landing at the farm behind the church. This is the same stretch enjoyed by an earlier poet Percy Shelley.
Her description and appreciation of the river and church is a delight.
See pages 196-197.
Last August I wrote about the pleasure of lunching at the Surrey Docks Farm cafe. Now it’s closed.
The cafe is shut “until after Christmas” I am told by farm manager Kath. There are not enough winter visitors.
But it’s worth calling in on Sunday 13 December for the Christmas Fair when the cafe will be open.
See page 21.
Eel Pie Island is a mystery to most of us.
It hides Twickenham from the walker on the towpath but most of us are not sure what happens on the only inhabited island in the tidal Thames. There are myths about what used to happen.
Today it is best known as a former pop concert venue which suffered several serious fires. Only last September there was yet another when Min-y-Don, home of architect Clive Chapman, was burnt down.
A new book Eel Pie Island (Frances Lincoln; £16.99) records all known facts about the island. The main author is former Times foreign correspondent Dan van der Vat who has lived on the island for thirty years.
He insists that the 550 yard long island is in Middlesex and not Surrey, reveals that it once belonged to the nuns at Syon, examines claims about Henry VIII calling in for eel pies and explodes other such myths. He records the dates of the fires and access changes from chain barge ferry to toll bridge to new bridge.
The second author is Michele Whitby who holds a unique collection of documents, programmes and tickets from famous concerts.
She records what really went on at those pop concerts when the performers included Acker Bilk, Long John Baldry and the Rolling Stones. She also explains the role of Michael Snapper, last owner of the hotel, and generous concert promotor Arthur Chisnall.
There is the best map I have ever seen of the island and beautiful photography alongside historic photographs.
So what is it like to live on Eel Pie Island today? Its famous resident Trevor Baylis says it is just “120 drunks clinging to a mudbank”.
After reading this book you will want to live there too. It’s a delightful and important contribution to the Thames history.
Today MV Havengore which carried Winston Churchill’s body upstream after his funeral was back on the Thames.
The vessel by chance retraced the same route as it sailed from its mooring at St Katharine’s Dock to anchor outside the Palace of Westminster where a short service took place prior to the two minute silence.
The London SE1 website has a report.
The situation at Surrey Docks Farm near Rotherhithe, downstream from Tower Bridge, has always been rather confused. There are not many public footpaths in the capital and the towpath does not exist here.
A planning application for path improvements at the farm makes it clear that the Thames Path route will be open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm. The path will only be open daytime on Mondays when funds allow for separating the path completely from the farm.
Regrettably there has been an arson attack at night which caused huge and still unresolved problems.
There is an alternative route for Mondays and summer evenings. The farm remains a good place to stop off for lunchtime refreshment.
See page 21.
The slight and brief diversion away from the water between Shiplake and Sonning has ended now that the bank has been repaired.
Pre-planted rolls have been installed along the top of piling to encourage natural vegetation.