New background reading on the River Lea comes from Jim Lewis who has written many years writing about the valley.
Although this book claims to look at the river as a canal and has been promoted as being handy for those on the water it brings together Dr Lewis’s latest research.
He stresses that it is the Lea Valley and the River Lea but the navigation when a canal is the Lee. Hence the book’s title London’s Secret Canal: The River Lee Navigation.
There is a summary of the Lea Valley heritage with new information including a very compelling claim that Ponders End is ‘the birthplace of the post industrial revolution’.
Whilst the author is best known for his championing of the valley’s industrial heritage this book also dwells in sections on the remarkable amount of wildlife in the green corridor running down the side of the capital.
The launch of this latest work was appropriately at Myddelton House, HQ of the park authority, but the book rightly embraces the entire flow from Luton to Limehouse.
Waterstones at Enfield, Walthamstow and Liverpool Street, and other branches, are stocking the book.
Behind the late 17th-century Ferry Boat Inn at Tottenham Hale is an ancient apple orchard with water on two sides.
The annual wassailing takes place in the orchard on Sunday evening 15 January.
Wassailing, usually associated with Somerset and the west Country, involves singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year. The ceremony is often, as at Tottenham, accompanied by much noise to wake up the trees for springtime. So you are invited to bring pots and pans to bang in between enjoying warm spiced cider.
People will gather from 5pm and pub food will be available during the evening.
The Ferry Boat Inn with its stone floor is in Ferry Lane and east of Tottenham Hale Lock. It is just over the border on the Essex bank of the Old Lea.
The pub is a handy and pleasant lunch stop when walking down the valley in summer.
There will also be wassailing the day before, Saturday 14 January, upstream at Waltham Abbey between 3.30pm and 5.30pm.
Wassailing mostly takes place on or near Old Twelfth Night 17 January. The Julian Calendar was replaced by the Gregorian Calendar in 1751 when 11 days were lost in the readjustment.
The pilgrim road from London to Walsingham in Norfolk before the Reformation was the for much of the way the road built by the Romans.
The new route being launched this Saturday 3 September avoids that now polluted main road by directing pilgrims up the Lea Valley Walk to Ware with use also being made of the parallel New River.
Highlighted are Waltham Cross and Waltham Abbey, both associated with pilgrimage and travel, and Great Amwell’s 11th-century church.
Walsingham is a draw for its restored shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. This takes the form of a chapel to the dimensions of the outer home of the Virgin Mary in Nazareth -the little house built at the entrance to the cave home. It is similar to the original now reassembled at Loreto in Italy.
Taking a safe car-free route to Ware is significant says Andy Bull who has written the guide. He quotes the rector of Waltham Abbey as claiming that in the past the abbey community, and arriving pilgrims seeking Waltham’s Holy Cross, followed the river for travel.
The riverside town of Ware was a major stop on the way to Walsingham as it was considered to be a day’s journey out of London.
The suppression of the pilgrimage in 1538 under Henry VIII hit Ware badly and, in desperation during the reign of his daughter Elizabeth, the inn keepers resorted to inventing a new tourist attraction. This was the giant Great Bed of Ware which was so successful that it featured in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Ben Jonson’s Epicoene.
Almost three hundred years later it was still attracting tourists to the Lea Valley at downstream Rye House. The bed is now on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The new guide has plenty of good photographs and a clear explanation of the Walsingham heritage.
Tanya Landman’s latest novel has an appropriately ‘striking’ cover by Chaaya Prabhat which may encourage an instant purchase.
Lightning Strike seeks to tell to younger readers the true story of the terrible working conditions which led to the Matchgirls Strike in 1888. This was a turning point in Bow and the development of trade unionism.
Today the rebuilt factory is an unmissable outline seen by walkers passing down the Olympic park.
However, it may be a pity if the novel ends up turning a myth into fact in the minds of young people. The matchgirls’ story is dramatic enough without need for embellishment.
The book weaves in the 20th-century myth that the landmark statue of William Gladstone in Bow was paid for by the workers having money deducted fro their wages.
There is no record of this.
The story is linked to the fact that in recent years the former prime minister’s right hand, nearest the factory, has been painted red.
Historian Richard Jones has a looked closely at this myth and explains why the statue was erected. The Gladstone government had responded to public opinion.
There is a new footbridge spanning the River Lea navigation at Tottenham Hale.
The wood and ‘wood effect’ crossing, found between Stonebridge Lock and Tottenham Lock, links new housing on Hale Wharf on the left bank with Hale Village on the right.
Hale Wharf Bridge spans the Lea, its towpath and parallel Pymmes Brook alongside the new Hale Village on the site of the Harris Lebus furniture factory.
The towpath has its own separate new bridge over Pymmes Brook to allow easy access to the village’s shops, cafe and new church. It also provides a traffic free route to Tottenham Hale Station.
The Hale Wharf 249 new home scheme, being delivered by Waterside Places, is a joint venture between the Canal & River Trust, Muse Developments, the Mayor of London and the London Borough of Haringey’s Green Link initiative.