This is Sunday and it dawned glorious – warm enough to eat breakfast in the garden! What a treat!
We booked a canal trip for today on the Wey and Arun Canal which is very local to where we are staying. This canal was opened to great fanfare in 1816. It linked the Wey Navigation near Guildford to the south coast via the Arun Navigation. The canal was conceived during the Napoleonic Wars and was intended to provide a safe, efficient rote from London to Portsmouth to carry goods supplying the dockyards. In its heyday the canal carried many tons of cargo, but the end of the war with France and the arrival of the railways sounded its death knell and by 1871 it was formally closed.
The canal fell into disuse but 200 years after it first opened 3,000 members and volunteers worked to reopen the canal for leisure. The canal is now in use by small boats, canoeists and the Trust’s own trip boats. It was one of their canal barges that we went on for our trip:
200 years after it opened, over 3,000 members and volunteers of the Wey and Arun Canal Trust are working to reopen the Wey & Arun Canal for leisure. With your help we can achieve this seemingly impossible task, and already several miles of the Canal are in regular use by small boats, canoes, and the Trust’s own trip boats.
A bit of traditional barge decoration:
Graham looking forward to the trip:
We’ve been on canal boats before but never been through a lock, so it was fascinating to watch how it worked. We went through 2, one of which is known as the Devil’s Hole. On our way out, the lock had to be filled and on the way back emptied. Here is the first lock filling up step by step:
Then the heavy gates are opened and the barge floats through.
It did start to rain while we were on the barge, but we were under cover, so it didn’t matter. At least one of the children on board had a go at steering, so there was a bit of veering about, but they didn’t do too badly at all. The trip was very relaxing and we enjoyed it. The rain had stopped again by the time we were getting off and it was still nice an warm, so no complaints about that!
We finished the day with a meal in a pub called Sir Roger Tichborne. Anything named after a person tickles my curiosity, so who was Sir Roger Tichborne?
According to Wikipedia:
The Tichbornes, of Tichborne Park near Alresford in Hampshire, were an old English Catholic family who had been prominent in the area since before the Norman Conquest. After the Reformation in the 16th century, although one of their number was hanged, drawn and quartered for complicity in the Babington Plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, the family in general remained loyal to the Crown, and in 1621 Benjamin Tichborne was created a baronet for services to King James I.
In 1803, the seventh baronet, Sir Henry Tichborne was captured by the French in Verdun during the Napoleonic Wars and detained as a civil prisoner for some years. With him in captivity were his son, James and a nobly born Englishman, Henry Seymour of Knoyle. Despite his confinement, Seymour managed to conduct an affair with the daughter of the Duc de Bourbon, as a result of which, a daughter, Henriette Felicite, was born in about 1807. Years later, when Henriette had passed her 20th birthday and remained unmarried, Seymour thought his former companion, James Tichborne might make a suitable husband. Although James was close to his own age and physically unprepossessing, the couple were married in August 1827; on 5th January 1829 Henriett gave birth to a son, Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne.
There were 3 more children after Roger’s birth, but the marriage between Henriette and James was unhappy so the couple spent much time apart, he in England and she in Paris with Roger. As a result, Roger spoke mainly and his English was heavily accented. In order to remedy this, his father decided he should complete his education in England so in 1845 he placed him in the Jesuit boarding school, Stonyhurst College, where he remained until 1848. In 1849 after completing his education he sat the British army entrance examinations and then took a commission in the 6th Dragoon Guards in which he served for 3 years, mainly in Ireland.
When on leave, Roger often stayed with his Uncle Edward at Tichborne Park and became attracted to his cousin Katherine Doughty, four years his junior. Sir Edward and his wife, though they were fond of their nephew, did not consider marriage between first cousins desirable. At one point the young couple were forbidden to meet, though they continued to do so clandestinely. Feeling harassed and frustrated, Roger hoped to escape from the situation through a spell of overseas military duty; when it became clear that the regiment would remain in the British Isles, he resigned his commission. On 1 March 1853 he left for a private tour of South America on board La Pauline, bound for Valparaiso in Chile.
Roger travelled through various parts of South America and then he secured a berth on a ship, the Bella, which sailed for Jamaica on 20 April. On 24 April 1854 a capsized ship’s boat bearing the name Bella was discovered off the Brazilian coast, together with some wreckage but no personnel, and the ship’s loss with all hands was assumed. The Tichborne family were told in June that Roger must be presumed lost, though they retained a faint hope, fed by rumours, that another ship had picked up survivors and taken them to Australia. Sir James Tichborne died in June 1862, at which point, if he was alive, Roger became the 11th baronet. As he was by then presumed dead, the title passed to his younger brother Alfred, whose financial recklessness rapidly brought about his near-bankruptcy. Tichborne Park was vacated and leased to tenants.
Encouraged by a clairvoyant’s assurance that her elder son was alive and well, in February 1863 Lady Tichborne, Roger’s mother, began placing regular newspaper advertisements in The Times offering a reward for information about Roger Tichborne and the fate of the Bella. None of these produced results; however, in May 1865 Lady Tichborne saw an advertisement placed by Arthur Cubitt of Sydney, Australia, on behalf of his “Missing Friends Agency”. She wrote to him, and he agreed to place a series of notices in Australian newspapers. These gave details of the Bella‘s last voyage and described Roger Tichborne as “of a delicate constitution, rather tall, with very light brown hair and blue eyes”. A “most liberal reward” would be given “for any information that may definitely point out his fate”.
In 1866, a butcher known as Thomas Castro from Wagga Wagga came forward claiming to be Roger Tichborne. Although his manners and bearing were unrefined, he gathered support and travelled to England. He was instantly accepted by Lady Tichborne as her son, although other family members were dismissive and sought to expose him as an impostor.
During protracted enquiries before the case went to court in 1871, details emerged suggesting that the Claimant might be Arthur Orton, a butcher’s son from Wapping in London, who had gone to sea as a boy and had last been heard of in Australia. After a civil court had rejected the Claimant’s case, he was charged with perjury; while awaiting trial he campaigned throughout the country to gain popular support. In 1874, a criminal court jury decided that he was not Roger Tichborne and declared him to be Arthur Orton. Before passing a sentence of 14 years, the judge condemned the behaviour of the Claimant’s counsel, Edward Kenealy, who was subsequently disbarred because of his conduct.
After the trial, Kenealy instigated a popular radical reform movement, the Magna Charta Association, which championed the Claimant’s cause for some years. Kenealy was elected to Parliament in 1875 as a radical independent but was not an effective parliamentarian. The movement was in decline when the Claimant was released in 1884, and he had no dealings with it. In 1895, he confessed to being Orton, only to recant almost immediately. He lived generally in poverty for the rest of his life and was destitute at the time of his death in 1898. Although most commentators have accepted the court’s view that the Claimant was Orton, some analysts believe that an element of doubt remains as to his true identity and that, conceivably, he was Roger Tichborne. Who knows? The case captivated Victorian England during the 1860s and 1870s.
Whether the claimant was Roger or not, the pub serves up some fine grub and has a magnificent view from its dining room: