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|Conflict between Ridiculous and Sublime|
|Author: Gallop, Published: 14 Jul 2015||Walk rating : Rating:|
|The walk starts in the streets of Teddington, a suburbanised ‘village’, taking in some popular culture trivia (verging on the ridiculous), then meanders through Bushy Park, second largest of the royal parks. Here is a concentration of more recent history, much of it relating to ‘conflict’ (especially WWII and the influence of ingenuity on the art of war). Mixed in are some nuggets from posh peoples’ pasts and one or two minor struggles of the proletariat. On the far side of the park we attain the sublime, in the form of Hampton Court, a very grand former royal palace and home to some serious stiffs, amongst the intellectual and artistic greats of the past. |
IMPORTANT NOTE: One part of the walk follows paths through the Woodland Gardens within Bushy Park. Dogs are NOT allowed in these gardens.
A Brief History: Left to its own devices a large river, nearing its mouth, will carve out a broad flat valley for itself, meandering over centuries back and forth across the valley bottom and laying down the soil beloved of farmers. The lower Thames is no exception, flowing through a wide flat valley formed first as a sideshow from the Alps mountain-building episode, then by the Anglian epoch Ice Age event. This latter caused the river to change its seaward route from north of the Chilterns to its present southern course through the London Basin. Jumping forward a few thousand years to the Middle Ages, greedy locals (farmers, fishermen and particularly millers) began to stop the river’s wanderings with banks and mills and weirs, fixing its route for ever. Wealth came to the area due to London’s proximity, also attracting rich and important people. Around this same period powerful landowners worked hard to protect their parcels of the most desirable land, enclosing them with fences and walls. The deer park, which later became the royal park, was first fully enclosed by Cardinal Wolsey in 1514 but much further jinking and weaving over the next two hundred years enlarged Bushy Park and Home Park to their present sizes. Finally, kick-started by the arrival of the railways, capitalism moved in, to make more money from the land by burying whatever they could buy under a weight of buildings. Fortunately for the diversity of this walk no single powerful group was able to have its own way entirely so elements of this whole process survive and can be glimpsed everywhere. But this walk through history follows these processes backwards through time (approximately).
The walk starts at Teddington Lock and finishes at Hampton Court train station.
|Start to Teddington Lock|
Start point: 51.4288 lat, -0.3241 long
From the bus stop head east to Teddington Lock itself.
|High Street to WWII Heroes|
Start point: 51.4288 lat, -0.3242 long
Return to the bus stop and head west up the High Street. Teddington is a quiet, unremarkable, now affluent suburb in South West London, not particularly famous for anything but home to some intriguing nuggets of trivia. Right by the bus stop are two churches on opposite sides of the road. The small one on the right is the original parish church, dating from the early medieval period but on the site of a Saxon chapel. The larger religious building opposite is now the Landmark arts centre. Modelled on Notre Dame in Paris and billed as the Cathedral of West London, building began during a religious revival in late nineteenth century. But funds ran out before the building was half finished. It remained unused and derelict until the 1960’s when a number of music videos were made there, exploiting its gothic appeal, and its future as an arts centre was secured.
|WWII Heroes to Longford River|
Start point: 51.4229 lat, -0.3511 long
When you reach the end of the copse (where the park wall reaches a corner), the path forks. Head straight on across the grass towards the corner of a straight sided copse on the right.
|Longford River to Woodland Garden|
Start point: 51.422 lat, -0.3526 long
Just before the round Waterhouse Pond take a path to the left which leads through a woodland garden with ornamental streams and fine trees and shrubs (masses of azaleas in spring time). After much meandering the path emerges into the park through a gate. Just go straight ahead through another gate into another woodland garden and continue ahead to the right of a small lake to find a footbridge on the left, leading to the Pheasantry café before turning right by the bridge to exit through the woodland garden gate.
|Woodland Garden to Bushy Park|
Start point: 51.4145 lat, -0.3508 long
Follow the path around the end of the woodland garden, going straight ahead across a road, heading parallel to the edge of a sports field. On the right is Chestnut Avenue. When you near the gate out of the park cross this road and take a path parallel to the park wall.
|Bushy Park to SHAEF Memorial|
Start point: 51.4174 lat, -0.338 long
After about 200 metres you will see a small memorial off to the right. This is the site of General Eisenhower’s SHAEF HQ in the lead up to D-Day in 1944. From a temporary camp here, the final stages of the invasion of France were planned, the first step in the decisive road to the end of WWII.
|SHAEF Memorial to Teddington Barrow|
Start point: 51.4189 lat, -0.3277 long
Prehistory has been pretty effectively wiped from the landscape around here. A 4000 year old Bronze Age barrow survived just here on the edge of the park until around 100 years ago. It was excavated in Victorian times and yielded interesting grave goods which now are in the British Museum. The barrow itself was removed for road widening….
|Teddington Barrow to Heron Pond|
Start point: 51.418 lat, -0.3237 long
Turn right off the path to head towards a small copse of trees (Warren plantation). Continue past the left-hand side and then turn right towards the end of Heron Pond. You cross a path just before reaching a bridge over a stream. This is known as Cobblers Path, commemorating an episode in the 18th century when a local shoemaker won a modest campaign to reopen a path through the park from Hampton Wick to Hampton. This ancient way had been closed for 20 years since the park was enclosed in 1734 by Lord Halifax.
|Heron Pond to Diana Fountain|
Start point: 51.4151 lat, -0.3222 long
Cross the small bridge and turn right along the edge of Leg of Mutton Pond then continue alongside the larger Heron Pond, heading towards a round pond with a gilded statue in the middle. It’s known as the Diana fountain (and Diana would be appropriate for a deer park) but the figure is actually of a water nymph.
|Diana Fountain to Garrick Lodge|
Start point: 51.4104 lat, -0.3348 long
Walk around to the far edge of the pond to admire the long tree-lined avenue stretching towards the white painted Garrick Lodge at the Hampton end of the park, close to Hampton Church.
|Garrick Lodge to Hampton Court|
Start point: 51.4102 lat, -0.3382 long
Turn left to take a path towards the Lion Gate, the exit from the park, and cross over the road to enter the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. There is the famous maze (you have to pay to get in) and a cafe in the Tiltyard. Walk ahead to the main gate of the palace and admire the Tudor chimneys etc.
|Hampton Court to More Blue Plaques and End|
Start point: 51.4067 lat, -0.3371 long
Turn right to walk alongside the terraced grace and favour residences to exit onto Hampton Court Bridge. Cross the road, go right then left to find several beautiful and historic houses on the left, one previously lived in by Michael Faraday and another by Christopher Wren, both sporting English Heritage blue plaques. But no mention of another famous resident, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, a prominent suffragette and keen cyclist.
Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author Gallop and may not be reproduced without permission.
The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.
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