Cycle Rides Round London
CYCLE RIDES ROUND LONDON
WORKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
The Brighton Road: Old Times and Newon a Classic Highway.
The Portsmouth Road: And its Tributaries,To-day and in Days of Old.
The Dover Road: Annals of an AncientTurnpike.
The Bath Road: History, Fashion, andFrivolity on an old Highway.
The Exeter Road: The Story of the Westof England Highway.
The Great North Road: The Old MailRoad to Scotland. Two Vols.
The Norwich Road: An East AnglianHighway.
The Holyhead Road: The Mail CoachRoute to Dublin. Two Vols.
The Cambridge, Ely, and King’s LynnRoad.
[In the Press.
& ILLUSTRATED BY
CHARLES G. HARPER
AUTHOR OF “THE BRIGHTON ROAD” “THE PORTSMOUTH ROAD”“THE DOVER ROAD” “THE BATH ROAD”“THE EXETER ROAD” “THE GREAT NORTH ROAD”“THE NORWICH ROAD” and “THE HOLYHEAD ROAD”
London: CHAPMAN & HALL LTD. 1902.
(All Rights Reserved)
When that sturdy pioneer, John Mayall junior, first rodehis velocipede from London to Brighton in 1869, in muchphysical discomfort, and left his two would-be companionsbehind him in a crippled condition, no one could haveforeseen the days when many thousands of Londonerswould with little effort explore the Home Counties onSaturdays or week-ends, and ride sixty or seventy miles aday for the mere pleasure of seeking country lanes andhistoric spots.
There are, indeed, no more ardent lovers of the country,of scenery, of ancient halls and churches, of quiet hamletsand historic castles than London cyclists, who are often,in fact, recruited from the ranks of those pedestrians who,finding they could by means of the cycle extend theirexpeditions in search of the venerable and the beautiful,have cast away staff and stout walking-boots, and havelearnt the nice art of balancing astride two wheels.
So much accomplished, the ex-pedestrian has at oncewidened his radius to at least thrice its former extent, andplaces that to him were little known, or merely unmeaningnames, have become suddenly familiar. Even the sea—thatfar cry to the Londoner—is within reach of an easysummer day’s ride.
Few have anything like an adequate idea of how richin beauty and interest is the country comprised roughlyin a radius of from twenty to thirty miles from London.To treat those many miles thoroughly would require longstudy and many volumes, and these pages pretend to donothing more than dip here and there into the inexhaustibleresources, pictorial and literary, of the hinterland that lieswithout the uttermost suburbs.
To have visited Jordans, where the early Quakersworshipped and are laid to rest; to have entered beneaththe roof of the “pretty cot” at Chalfont St. Giles thatsheltered Milton; to have seen with one’s own eyesPenshurst, the home of the Sidneys, and Chenies, theresting-place of the Russells; to have meditated beneaththe “yew tree’s shade” at Stoke Poges; to have seen ordone all these things is to have done much to educate one’sself in the historic resources of the much-talked-of butlittle-known countryside. The King’s Stone in Kingstonmarket-place, Cæsar’s Well on Keston Common, the“Town Hall” at Gatton, the Pilgrims Way under the leeof the North Downs, and the monumental brasses of theD’Abernons at Stoke D’Abernon have each and all theirengrossing interest; or, if you think them to savour toogreatly of the dry-as-dust studies of the antiquary, thereremain for you the quaint old inns, the sleepy hamlets,and the tributary rivers of the Thames, all putting fortha never-failing charm when May has come, and with itthe sunshine, the leaves and flowers, and the song of thebirds.
CHARLES G. HARPER.
Petersham, Surrey, April 1902.
|Chenies and the Milton Country||1|
|Surbiton to Leatherhead||22|
|Ightham Mote and the Vale of Medway||36|
|The Darenth and the Crays||53|
|Croydon to Knockholt Beeches and the KentishCommons||63|
|In Old-World Essex||75|
|Among the Essex Hills||86|
|Abinger, Leith Hill, and Dorking||97|
|Ripley and the Surrey Commons||111|
|Under the North Downs||131|
|The Suburban Thames||155|
|The Southern Suburbs: Kingston to Ewell, Warlingham,and Croydon||169|
|Ewell to Merstham, Godstone, and Lingfield||177|
|Hever Castle, Penshurst, and Tonbridge||186|
|To Stoke Poges and Burnham Beeches||199|
|Dartford to Rochester, Aylesford, and Borough Green||218|
|Middlesex and Hertfordshire Byways||231|
|The Back Way to Brighton||251|
|Barking to Southend and Sheppey||260|
|The Old Lychgate, Penshurst||Frontispiece|
|Milton’s Cottage, Chalfont St. Giles||13|
|Jesus Hospital, Bray||20|
|Esher Old Church||26|
|Brass to Sir John D’Abernon||30|
|The Hall, Slyfield House||31|
|The “Running Horse”||32|
|Sign of the “Running Horse”||35|
|Sign of the “Sir Jeffrey Amherst”||39|
|The Courtyard, Ightham Mote||45|
|The Dumb Borsholder||50|
|The Quintain, Offham||51|
|The Waterside, Erith||54|
|On the Thames, near Erith||55|
|Purfleet, from the Darenth Meadows||57|
|The Fool’s Cap Crest of Sir John Spielman||62|
|The Little Church of Woldingham||66|
|The Stocks, Havering-atte-Bower||76|
|Blackmore Church||[xi] 81|
|Two Churches in one Churchyard: the Sister Churchesof Willingale Spain and Willingale Doe||83|
|Ewell Old Church Tower||98|
|The Little Church of Perivale||123|
|A Mysterious Monument||128|
|The Little Church of Wotton||137|
|An Old Weir on the Wey||141|
|The Guildhall and High Street, Guildford||143|
|The Seven-Dials Pillar, Weybridge||157|
|The Ruins, Virginia Water||164|
|The “Town Hall,” Gatton||180|
|The Hollow Road, Nutfield||181|
|An Iron Tomb-Slab||183|
|The Ancient Yew, Crowhurst||184|
|The Gatehouse, Hever Castle||189|
|Sunset on the Eden||196|
|A Crest of the Sidneys||197|
|Shoeing Forge, Penshurst||198|
|The “Bicycle Window,” Stoke Poges||208|
|At Burnham Beeches||[xii] 211|
|Early English Doorway, Stone Church||220|
|Interior, Stone Church||221|
|High Street, Rochester||225|
|The Church Bell, Shenley||237|
|The North Downs and Marden Park||253|
|The “Sackville Lodging,” East Grinstead||255|
|Leigh Marshes and the Mouth of the Thames||271|
|Sketch Maps to each Route.|
Sight-seeing with ease and comfort is the ideal ofthe cycling tourist, and this run into a corner ofBuckinghamshire and the Milton country comes as nearthe ideal as anything ever does in a world of punctures,leakages, hills, headwinds, and weather that is eithersultry or soaking.
Starting from Southall Station, which will probablystrike the tourist as in anything but a desirable locality,we gain that flattest of flat highways—the Oxford road—justhere, and, leaving the canal and its cursingbargees, together with the margarine works, the hugegasometers, and other useful but unlovely outposts andnecessaries of civilisation, speed along the excellentsurface, past Hayes End and the hamlet Cockneys arepleased to call “’illingdon ’eath,” until within a mile anda half of Uxbridge, where a turning on the right handwill be noticed, properly furnished with a sign-post,pointing to Ickenham, Ruislip, and Pinner. Here weleave the dusty high road and its scurrying gangs ofclubmen, whose faces, as they scorch along, are indicativeof anything but pleasure. It is a pleasant by-roadupon whose quiet course we have now entered, going ina mile-long descending gradient, past the grand oldtrees of Hillingdon Court overhanging the way, downtowards Ickenham. It is a perfectly safe and thoroughlydelightful coast down here, far away from the crowds,along a lane whose leafy beauty and luxuriant hedgerowsmight almost belong to Devonshire, instead of beingmerely in Middlesex. At Ickenham, one of thosesingularly tiny and curiously old-world villages thatare, paradoxically enough, to be found only in this mostpopulous of English counties, are a village green, a pond,and a pump. The pond is, perhaps, not so translucentas it might be, for the reason that the ducks are generallybusily stirring up the mud; and the green, being mostlyloose gravel, is not so verdant as could be wished; butthe pump, occupying a very central position, is at onceornate and useful, and, in appearance, something betweena Chinese joss-house, a County Council band-stand, anda newspaper kiosk. Also, it still retains on its weathercockthe tattered and blackened flag of some loyalcelebration or another, which may mean loyalty inexcelsis or merely local laziness. The very interestingold church, with whitewashed walls and with odddormers in the roof, has some excellent windows anda little timbered spirelet that shows up white against adense background of trees, and is, altogether, just sucha place as Gray describes in his “Elegy,” in whosechurchyard sleep the rude forefathers of the hamlet.Suburbia has not yet disturbed this “home of ancientpeace,” and it is still worth the very earnest attentionof the artist, as also is that grand old Jacobean mansionof Swakeleys, standing in its park, near by.
A mile onward is Ruislip, best reached by bearing tothe right at the next turning, and then sharply to theleft. Round about “Riselip,” as its inhabitants call it,they grow hay, cabbages, potatoes, and other useful, ifhumble, vegetables; and, by dint of great patience andindustry, manage to get them up to the London market.It is only at rare intervals that the villagers ever see arailway engine, for Ruislip is far remote from railways,and so the place and people keep their local character.