What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Paddington. Great Western Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Savernake. =Distance from London.=–70 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 2 to 3 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 11s. 8d. 7s. 4d. 5s. 10d. Return 20s. 6d. 12s. 10d. 11s. 8d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Forest Hotel” (near railway station), “Ailesbury Arms Hotel,” etc., in Marlborough. =Alternative Route.=–Train from Waterloo. L. and S.W. Railway.
Savernake is said to be the only forest in England possessed by a subject. It occupies a piece of country 16 miles in circumference, is entirely open to all, and the Marquess of Ailesbury also allows Savernake Forest House to be seen by strangers when the family are absent. At Savernake Station one is brought within sight of the forest, and entering it at this point one is able to enjoy a lovely walk of 6 or 7 miles, which brings one out close to Marlborough Station, with the town on the further side of the railway. The forest is specially famous for its glorious avenue of beech 4 miles in length, and there is little doubt that there is no finer in the kingdom.
If one enters through the park gates, near Savernake Station, the house (formerly known as Tottenham House) lies on the right, and in the opposite direction one may notice, at the end of a perspective formed by great masses of elms and beeches, the column erected in 1781 by the first Earl of Ailesbury (the marquisate was not created until 1821), commemorating the recovery of George III. and other circumstances.
If one crosses the avenue and bears off to the right across the turf the church of St. Catherine will soon appear in sight. It is a very richly ornamented structure, and was built by a former Marchioness of Ailesbury, in memory of her mother the Countess of Pembroke. Returning to the avenue, one may continue down it for about 3 miles to the “eight walks,” where an opening in the ranks of the stately trees reveals a number of grassy glades running off to the chief points of the compass. The walk going off to the south-west leads to the King’s Oak, a gigantic tree whose hollow trunk is 24 feet in circumference. This oak is surrounded by a number of grand old trees, their bold outlines enriched with velvety moss. On an autumn afternoon, when the forest is a blaze of crimson and yellow, this spot is seen at its loveliest–the long shadows and the golden sunlight giving the scene a painted, almost too brilliant effect.
[Illustration: E.H. Roberts. THE AVENUE IN SAVERNAKE FOREST.]