54. FROM LONDON TO TILBURY AND
The Thames from Westminster to Tilbury.
Tilbury and Gravesend, situated opposite each other on the Thames estuary, about 26 miles below London Bridge, are connected by steam-ferry; so that the journey may be made either via Tilbury to Gravesend or via Gravesend to Tilbury. The shortest, but not the most attractive, route to Tilbury is, of course, by the railway on the north bank. The steamer route is agreeable in fine weather.
A. By RAILWAY.
I. Via Woolwich and Dartford (Southern Railway; North Kent Line). The trains start either from Charing Cross or from Cannon St., but they all stop at London Bridge. To Gravesend, 24+ miles in about 1 hour (5/, 3/; return 7/10, 5/3).
From London to Woolwich Arsenal (9+ miles from Charing Cross), see Walk 49. On the right, beyond Woolwich, is a range of low wooded hills; on the left, the marshes bordering the Thames, with numerous works and factories. 10 miles Plumstead, a populous suburb of Woolwich. Plumstead Marshes, on the left, are used for gun-testing. 11+ miles Abbey Wood. On the right, behind a farm near the foot of the hill, are the very scanty remains of Lesnes or Lessness Abbey, an Augustinian foundation dating from 1178. At the top of the hill, + mile to the south, are Bostall Heath and Woods, 134 acres in area, secured for the public in 1892. Omnibus No. 99 plies thence to Upper Belvedere, Erith, and Dartford; tramway also from Abbey Wood to Belvedere and Erith. At (13miles) Belvedere is a mansion erected in 1764 in the classical style, now the Royal Alfred Institution for aged merchant seamen. 14+ miles Erith, a small but ancient town, is an important yachting station, with a picturesque old church (Early English) and geologically interesting sandpits. 15+ miles. Slades Green.
17+ miles Dartford (Bull Hotel), 'the ford over the Dart or Darent,' is a market-town (26,005 inhabitants) with paper-mills, engineering works, gunpowder factories, a large lunatic asylum, etc. Wat Tyler's rising originated here in 1381, and his house stood traditionally on the north side of the High St. The interesting parish church has good 14th century tracery in the west window, an old fresco of St. George in the south aisle (late 15th century), and, to the left of the altar, a fine monument to the wife of Sir John Spilman or Spielmann (died 1607), with an inscription in German. Spielmann, who came from Lindau on the Lake of Constance, built at Dartford one of the earliest papermills in England; according to popular belief (but without authenticated evidence), 'foolscap' paper is so called from the figure of a jesrer ('spielmann') forming part of his arms and used for many years as a watermark. Tramway to (2 miles) Horn's Cross (for Stone Church); motor-omnibus every hour to Horn's Cross, Greenhithe, and Gravesend. - 19+ miles Stone Crossing (few trains) is the nearest station to Stone Church.
20 miles. Greenhithe is pleasantly situated by the river, with numerous old chalk-pits. Here lies the training ship 'Warspite.' In 1845 Sir John Franklin started hence, in the 'Erebus,' on his ill-fated voyage to the Arctic regions. About + miles to the west, with a low square tower and a chancel higher than its nave, is Stone Church, a remarkable east east structure of the 13th century, richly sculptured in the interior (key at the first house up the steps at the adjacent cross-roads). According to Street, who restored it in 1860, the church was built by the architect of Westminster Abbey. Ingress Abbey, a fine mansion a little to the east of Greenhithe, partly built with the stone from old London Bridge, was once owned by the father of Sir Henry Havelock, and is now the Royal Worcester Naval Training College. At (22 miles) Northfleet are large chalk-pits and cement works. The old parish church of St. Botolph contains a carved rood-screen in the early Decorated style. Tramway thence to Rosherville and Gravesend.