For a change, the walk this month is a linear affair starting at Cookham in Berkshire and ending at Marlow in Buckinghamshire, using the train to get back to Cookham.
The famous English painter Sir Stanley Spencer spent most of his life in Cookham and used scenes from the village as the background to many of his paintings; one of his most famous, The Resurrection, was set in the village churchyard. To learn more about the painter visit the Stanley Spencer Gallery (01628 471885). Further afield, more of Stanley’s work can be seen at the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere (Hampshire) where he painted a set of murals, considered to be ‘one of the most remarkable artistic achievements of English Painting’, showing scenes from everyday military life, culminating in the Resurrection of the Soldiers.
Next up is the Holy Trinity Church; dating from Norman times, the church houses a copy of Sir Stanley Spencer’s, The Last Supper. From here we follow the Thames Path National Trail upstream through meadows before crossing the river into Buckinghamshire and continuing, to arrive at Marlow.
Once a Saxon market town, Marlow has always been a prosperous place and during the 18th- and 19th-centuries became a fashionable place to live. Famous residents have included the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife, Mary Shelley – famed for writing Frankenstein; the couple lived for a time at Albion House in West Street. A century later, the poet TS Eliot lived in same street. The town was also the original home of the Royal Military College for 10 years before it moved to Sandhurst in 1812.
Marlow’s most famous landmark is William Tierney Clark’s early 19th century suspension bridge spanning the River Thames; Clark also designed suspension bridges at Hammersmith, Shoreham and, the largest and most famous, the Széchenyi Bridge over the River Danube at Budapest.
Overlooking the bridge is All Saints Church with its tall, slender spire rising 170 feet; the church was built in 1835, replacing a much earlier building.
From the church the final leg of the walk passes a statue in memory of Charles Frohman, a theatrical impresario who went down with the RMS Lusitania in 1915, before heading to the railway station for trains back to Cookham; published in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life, November 2017.