Thursday, 22 April 2010

GC meets Twickenham's Naked Ladies

I took the train to Syon Lane, Brentford on Tuesday. My intention was to walk from Syon House four or five miles along the River Thames, where I could, passing through the old village centres of Isleworth and Twickenham when I was forced inland.
It is a part of London never before visited by me and my goal was Strawberry Hill, the “little Gothic castle” built by writer Horace Walpole in the second half of the 18th century.
To begin at the end, this was a disappointment. The whole building was swathed in scaffolding and plastic sheeting as it is subject to extensive renovation.
This was not the only time my 11-year-old guidebook was to lead me astray. There must be a big future for travel ebooks that can be continually updated. It wasn’t the fault of my dog-eared library book that, for example, a lot of pubs that were used by the author as landmarks had changed their names or even disappeared over the intervening decade.
So note to myself when I next venture abroad – insist on collecting the most up-to-date information. Second note to myself – find time to go back and properly visit Syon Park – the house has associations with Henry VIII – and its beautiful gardens and parkland are a haven of tranquility. At least they were that day with Heathrow closed because of the Icelandic volcanic eruption.
There was much to see on the walk – and, being a hot day, Thameside pubs to visit including The London Apprentice, which traces its origins back to Tudor times. Fine views were to be had of Richmond Hill on the far bank and a quick trip across the bridge on to Eel Pie Island where the youthful Rolling Stones played in the Sixties.
But the star turn of the walk – and completely unknown to me – were the water nymph statues in York House Gardens, Twickenham. Access to these peculiar kitsch naked ladies is free. The story how they fetched up in the gardens is intriguing given they were imported from Italy at the beginning of the last century by a financial fraudster who committed suicide in prison by swallowing cyanide


  1. What a delightful fountain! That goes to show sometimes it is best to go with the flow and not follow a printed guide. I wonder how many other stolen goods are tucked away in places where the guide books don't take us?
    I am sure your day turned out a whole lot better in the company of the nymphs. Thank you for posting the link to the 'story' too.

  2. Thank you for your comment. My quest for London's treasures has taken me recently to the Chelsea Physic Garden and the Saatchi Gallery. Now I'm off to walk from the villages of Highgate to Hampstead stopping off at Kenwood House for tea.


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