Cycle Rides Round London

Cycle Rides Round London
Title: Cycle Rides Round London
Release Date: 2019-01-24
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 45
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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.






London: CHAPMAN & HALL LTD. 1902.
(All Rights Reserved)



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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.

Petersham, Surrey, April 1902.



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Chenies and the Milton Country1
Surbiton to Leatherhead22
Ightham Mote and the Vale of Medway36
The Darenth and the Crays53
Croydon to Knockholt Beeches and the KentishCommons63
In Old-World Essex75
Among the Essex Hills86
Abinger, Leith Hill, and Dorking97
Ripley and the Surrey Commons111
Rural Middlesex121
Under the North Downs131
The Suburban Thames155
The Southern Suburbs: Kingston to Ewell, Warlingham,and Croydon169
Ewell to Merstham, Godstone, and Lingfield177
Hever Castle, Penshurst, and Tonbridge186
To Stoke Poges and Burnham Beeches199
Dartford to Rochester, Aylesford, and Borough Green218
Middlesex and Hertfordshire Byways231
The Back Way to Brighton251
Barking to Southend and Sheppey260


List of Illustrations

List of Illustrations
The Old Lychgate, Penshurst Frontispiece
Ruislip 4
Milton’s Cottage, Chalfont St. Giles 13
Jesus Hospital, Bray 20
Esher Old Church 26
Horseshoe Clump 28
Brass to Sir John D’Abernon 30
The Hall, Slyfield House 31
The “Running Horse” 32
Elynor Rummyng 33
Sign of the “Running Horse” 35
Crown Point38
Sign of the “Sir Jeffrey Amherst” 39
Cromwell’s Skull40
Ightham Mote 43
The Courtyard, Ightham Mote 45
The Dumb Borsholder 50
The Quintain, Offham 51
The Waterside, Erith54
On the Thames, near Erith 55
Purfleet, from the Darenth Meadows 57
The Darenth 58
Eynesford 60
The Fool’s Cap Crest of Sir John Spielman 62
The Little Church of Woldingham 66
Knockholt Beeches 71
Cæsar’s Well 73
The Stocks, Havering-atte-Bower 76
Navestock Church 79
Blackmore Church[xi] 81
Two Churches in one Churchyard: the Sister Churchesof Willingale Spain and Willingale Doe 83
Stock Church 89
Laindon Church 91
Parslowes 96
Ewell Old Church Tower 98
Evershed’s Rough 103
Leith Hill 107
Claremont 113
Newark Priory 119
The Little Church of Perivale 123
A Mysterious Monument 128
Reigate Heath 134
Westcott 136
The Little Church of Wotton 137
Postford Ponds 139
An Old Weir on the Wey 141
The Guildhall and High Street, Guildford 143
Puttenham 151
The Seven-Dials Pillar, Weybridge 157
Pyrcroft House 160
The Ruins, Virginia Water 164
Carshalton 173
Leaving Carshalton 175
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
Hever Castle191
Chiddingstone 195
Sunset on the Eden 196
A Crest of the Sidneys197
Shoeing Forge, Penshurst 198
Gray’s Monument 205
The “Bicycle Window,” Stoke Poges 208
At Burnham Beeches[xii] 211
Stone 219
Early English Doorway, Stone Church 220
Interior, Stone Church221
High Street, Rochester 225
Temple Bar 233
Gough’s Oak 235
Shenley Round-House236
The Church Bell, Shenley 237
Water End 242
Flamstead 245
Mackery End247
The North Downs and Marden Park 253
The “Sackville Lodging,” East Grinstead 255
Lewes 258
Barking 263
Eastbury House 267
Hadleigh Castle 269
Leigh Marshes and the Mouth of the Thames 271
Minster-in-Sheppey Church 277
Warden Point 283
Newington 285
The End 288
Sketch Maps to each Route. 



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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 we[2]leave 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.[3]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.

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