The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 55 Epping Forest. Waltham Abbey

Waltham Abbey

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The entrance (admission 6d.; when the door is locked, apply at 27 Romeland) is at the west end, by the Decorated doorway inserted in the later tower. Within the tower are preserved a pillory and a whipping-post and stocks. The impressive early-Norman nave, with its triforium and clerestory, is now generally (though not universally) regarded as the pre Conquest work of Harold. Several of the massive columns supporting the seven broad bays are channelled with chevrons or spirals. The two west bays were altered in the 14th century, the triforium arches being made pointed, but the alteration seems to have been stopped for structural reasons. The octagonal font of Purbeck marble (on the right of the entrance) is late-Norman (altered). The ceiling was painted by E. J. Poynter; the east windows are by Burne-Jones. To the left of the altar, on the fine altar-tomb of Captain Smith (died 1697), lies a fragment of black marble said to have come from Harold's tomb, which was probably in the original choir. Opposite is the sumptuous monument of Sir Anthony Denny (died 1599), next to which is the alabaster effigy of Lady Greville (died 1619), cousin of Lady Jane Grey. On the south side of the church, separated from it by a modern oaken screen, is the Decorated Lady Chapel (14th century), which now contains a number of relics and traces of old frescoes. Near the south door of the church is an elm, 20 feet in girth. The abbey buildings stood on the north side of the church; but nothing of them remains except a small vaulted chamber in the Abbey Gardens and part of the gateway (1370). Beyond Waltham Cross the local trains go on to Hertford. At (14 miles) Cheshunt Richard Cromwell died in 1712. The Market Gardeners' Experimental Station here may be viewed by appointment. Cheshunt Theological College (founded in 1792) was removed to Cambridge in 1905. The much modernized Great House, on the Cuffley road, is said to have been built by Henry VIII. for Cardinal Wolsey (apply to caretaker). Near (17 miles) Broxbourne is Haileybury College, a well-known public school. At (19 miles) Rye House are the scanty remains of the manorhouse that gave name to the so-called 'Rye House Plot' of 1683 for the assassination of Charles II. and his brother James. Algernon Sidney and Lord William Russell were among those executed for complicity in this alleged conspiracy. The adjacent Rye House Inn, with its teagardens, is a popular place of amusement, one of the attractions of which is the 'Great Bed of Ware' (12 feet long and 12 feet wide), mentioned by Shakespeare ('Twelfth Night,' iii. 2). At (20 miles) St. Margaret's a branch-line diverges for Buntingford. 22+ miles Ware, the limit of John Gilpin's unwilling ride. Ware Priory is a relic of a 14th century Franciscan monastery. Charles Chauncey, vicar of Ware, became president of Harvard College in 1654 (tablet in the church). 24+ miles Hertford (Dimsdale Arms, R. & B. 8/, D. 5/), an ancient county town (10, 712 inhabitants), with an old castle (admission 3d.), is connected by railway with Hatfield and Hitchin and with London (King's Cross) by another line (19+ miles) via Enfield Chase and Cuffley. In the vicinity is Panshanger, a mansion once famous for its picture gallery.