The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

Hampstead Park scenery

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From the garden scenery on the declivity we went down to the Vale of Kennet, in which, on the centre of a broad expanse of the river, where the water is 14 ft. deep, is an octagon bathing hut surrounded by a rustic veranda. This is connected with both banks of the river by wooden bridges, from the ends of which proceed gravel walks for fishing from. These lead to a fishing house, and to stews, in which we were shown some remarkably large trout, pike, and numerous eels; and chub, which is only used here for feeding the other fish, though it is sometimes sold in London for carp, which it greatly resembles. The scales of this fish were sold, a few years ago, to the London jewellers for 10s. 6d. a pint. We also saw here, for the first time in England, the crawfish, of which we had seen, in 1813, great numbers in the moist meadows on the Vistula at Warsaw and Cracow. They are here in little esteem, and are seldom used, though they are there considered as delicate as shrimps, and are thought to make one of the best of soups. We were surprised to find that, though the trout and the pike may be fed advantageously in stews, eels cannot. The manner in which the fish are caught at the weirs here is very simple and ingenious. Below the sluices is placed an iron grating the whole breadth of the stream, and rising nearly to the height of the water in the dam. Beyond the rise it declines into a gutter, which leads to a tank or box at the side. The large fish which are let out by the sluices are thrown over into this gutter, which is also grated, so as to prevent their escaping otherwise than down a slope on one side to the box or chest. In this way as many fish are caught as are wanted, and no more, especially eels.