1. Three Prisons and a Ferryman’s Seat
  2. Windsor Great Park

Three Prisons and a Ferryman’s Seat

We started from Peckham Square on a dull, dry, mild November morning. Eleven riders headed down the Canal Path, round Burgess Park and along the East Walworth Green Link to the New Kent Road. Quick loop around Trinity Square then our first stop on Newington Gardens. This small park is on part of the site of Horsemonger Goal that operated from 1791 to 1878 and was the principal place for executions in Surrey. Executions were in public and the gallows were erected on the Gatehouse roof (see photo of the etching on the information board at the park entrance). Prisoners were tried in the adjacent Sessions Court, just to the west of the prison. The Inner London Crown Court now occupies that site. Built in a neo-classical style in 1921 the postal address still refers to it as Sessions House. Interesting contrast between the prosperous houses of Trinity Square, built in the early 1800s, with the fate of prisoners in the nearby Horsemonger Goal.

From NewingtonGardens a short ride north to the Borough and the small gardens that are bounded on the north side by the actual wall of the Marshalsea Prison. This prison has a long history dating from the 1300s. In 1824 the father of Charles Dickens was sent there for debt. Charles Dickens memorably describes the Marshalsea in his novel Little Dorrit. The prison closed in 1842.

Next the group headed further north to the river at Bear Gardens. Several riders swopped their saddles for a brief rest on the Ferryman’s Seat. They found it rather narrow and cold! No-one knows the exact history of the seat, but ferries would have been busy here certanly until 1769 when Blackfriars Bridge was built. From Bear Gardens we started the return leg of the ride, passing the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern and eventually reaching Kings Bench Street. In earlier times this street would have led to the Kings Bench Prison. All trace of the prison has long gone. It occupied a large area much of which is now the 1970s Scovill Estate. This was the last stop on our brief journey through late Georgian and early Victorian social history. Final stretch of the return route utilised a stretch of Cycleway 10 and the Canal Path. Back at Peckham Square just before 12.

Route map at: https://tinyurl.com/eafmcnf5. This ride was devised by Harry Clark whose information sheet is attached below.

Windsor Great Park “Awayday” Ride

Report from Jamie who organised and led the ride.

We were fortunate with the trains today as they had added some more carriages because of the rugby and as a result all 19 of us managed to get on the first train (p.20 from Waterloo) and by 10:15 we were inside Windsor Great Park. Like many of the Royal Parks Windsor does not win any awards for welcoming cyclists. For example insisting that cyclists travel everywhere in groups of no more than 6.

That aside, the park was relatively quiet and we had a delightfully relaxing cycle all over the park taking in most of the key monuments and viewpoints not to mention the breath taking autumn colours of the forests. We arrived at the Fox and Hounds pub on the Royal Estate and all enjoyed our extremely delicious lunches outside before locking our bikes together under the watchful eyes of one of the Rangers and proceeding for a while onfoot. We walked through the stunning Deer Park and down to the beginning of the famous Long Walk that leads to Windsor Castle. Then climbed up to the amazing Copper Horse Statue viewpoint where we had unbroken views over Windsor Castle, Berkshire and various London features including to our surprise The Shard.

We returned to find our bikes safe and sound and cycled on to the Savill Gardens and Cumberland Memorial before spending half an hour at the Savill Garden Centre and shop where we all enjoyed some refreshments. We wound our way back along the lakeside track and left the Park about 3.30pm to cycle back to Virginia Water where we again had a comfortable run back to Waterloo.

Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy our SC ‘Away Day’ event which as we all know had one overriding and vital ingredient, the people who attended and who made it all so enjoyable.

Have received some feedbacks from riders.   Jean said “Many thanks Jamie for a great outing today. So amazing to be led through such a beautiful circuit resplendent in the Autumn colours.
Thank you so much for all the recce s you did that enabled us to make the most. The Virginia Water lake was very beautiful in the sunshine. Interesting to see the polo grounds. Great pub you found for lunch, lovely walk to the copper horse, and the Savill Garden centre was a great end to the outing.”

While Jane commented: “It was fabulous. We didn’t pull any statues down (unnecessary though they were). We experienced some very strange attitudes towards cyclists from the Range Rover localists, but, we laughed and cycled.”

Bruce wites. “As ride co-ordinator I know how much work went into preparing for this ride. Southwark Cyclists Healthy Rides had never attempted a long distance, all day ride before.  It is terrific that the ride went well. There was great interest in this ride.  All 13 places were booked within hours of posting the details. Another 14 people were on the wait list at one point.  Many riders will be attracted by the mix of getting to a new location and a relatively short, easy-paced ride.  The challenge for those of us involved with the Healthy Rides will be to do more “awayday” rides.  We will all need to think about how we integrate these rides into the existing programme of local rides.  And come forward with ideas for interesting locations to visit.”

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