A stroll through Hogarth's London; THE SUNDAY WALK

This year sees the tercentenary of William Hogarth. By Mark Rowe
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The Independent Travel
This walk leads to the London house in which William Hogarth created much of his work. Beginning at one of the capital's most impressive bridges, Hammersmith, the walk passes along the north bank of the Thames, cutting through picturesque streets to reach Chiswick parish church, where Hogarth is buried, and Hogarth House, where he lived for 15 years.

The starting point for the walk is Hammersmith Tube station. Take the Hammersmith Broadway exit and cross the traffic lights before turning left and then immediately right into Blacks Road. You soon glimpse Hammersmith Bridge through the trees and head towards it, passing over the busy road that stands in between. The bridge is usually a scene of mayhem and car fumes but with its closure for long-term repairs, it has taken on a pre- war charm.

From the bridge take the stairs on the west side down to Lower Mall, full of fanlights and balconies, small cottages and boat-houses. Here you pass the Blue Anchor, one of the oldest pubs in London and shortly afterwards, the Rutland Ale House. Moored on the river banks are several houseboats.

Keeping to the bank of the Thames, you soon come to the green space of Furnival Gardens. At the Marina Dove jetty, follow the path to the right before turning sharp left into a narrow alley that is the start of Upper Mall. The Dove public house is to the left. Upper Mall, dotted with sailing club headquarters, soon broadens out into a cobbled street with access for cars. On the right is the Coach House, the former lecture room of William Morris and the Hammersmith Socialists. An inscription invites you to "Drink a Glass to the memory". A plaque above the Coach House also notes that this was where the first electric telegraph was constructed in 1816.

Pass through a modern arch (noting to the left the delightfully named Oil Mill Lane) and past the Old Ship public house and you come to Upper Mall open space. Chiswick Eyot, a 300-metre long island, is now clearly visible in front. The Eyot was inhabited in prehistoric times but is now a nature reserve; a seal and a dolphin have even been spotted there.

After the open space you must turn right, past the Black Lion public house, keeping parallel with the Thames and turn left in to Hammersmith Terrace, which soon turns into Western Terrace and then Chiswick Mall.

Many houses on the Mall, some featuring cast iron porches, date from the 17th century but one, Walpole House, has its origins in the 16th century. One remarkable feature is how the Mall runs between the houses and the immaculate bankside gardens. Most of the gardens belong to the houses, though a handful still belong to the owners of the houseboats which can be seen moored alongside.

St Nicholas, Chiswick parish church, looms into view but before reaching the church you pass a drive leading down to the water: the site of a ferry service that ran to Barnes from 1659 until the 1930s. A little further on is Chiswick Wharf, the site of the boatyard of John Thornycroft, whose business grew into a world-famous firm that built ships for the British and foreign navies. Thornycroft's HMS Lightning was the first torpedo boat to be ordered by the Admiralty.

It is thought that a pagan shrine at this site was converted to Christian worship as early as the 7th century: the remarkable wooden tower dates from 1436. Enter the graveyard through the first gate and you soon come to Hogarth's tomb, surrounded by railings and topped by a classical urn.

Hogarth is not the only person of note to rest in the graveyard; others include the painter Whistler and Frederick Hitch, who won a Victoria Cross for his endeavours at the battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879. Somewhere in the cemetery lies the tomb of Henry Joy, the trumpeter who headed the Charge of the Light Brigade but I was unable to find it: a helpful cemetery maintenance man hopped on his bicycle and whizzed around the gravestones without any success.

From the graveyard, return to the church and turn left up Church Street, past the former Lamb's Brewery, whose logo is still visible, although the building was converted to offices in 1952. Here you are abruptly brought back into the 1990s with the Hogarth Roundabout and flyover. Take the underpass, following signs for Hogarth House.

The house, Hogarth's country retreat from 1749 until the night before his death in 1764, sits incongruously on the edge of one of London's busiest roads: it is entirely possible to drive past the house, day in, day out, for several years and not even notice it. The location has certainly changed since Hogarth's time. He described it as his "Little Country Box" - until the mid-19th Century Chiswick was rural place of large estates and places like Hogarth's House were seen as country retreats.

The house has been a museum since 1909 and has been sensitively restored, despite bomb damage during the Second World War. Each room has prints of Hogarth's more celebrated works, including A Rake's Progress, A Harlot's Progress and Marriage A La Mode. The garden has also been well tended: the 300-year-old mulberry tree, from which his wife, Jane, made mulberry tarts for local children, remains, though it appears to be hanging on by its fingertips against old age.

On leaving the house, you can either stroll for a further hour in the grounds of nearby Chiswick House or retrace your steps, stopping at one or more of the pubs you passed on the way.

8 Total distance approx five miles; time taken 3-4 hours. Reading: Chiswick Past by Gillian Clegg. Parking: street parking (metered on weekdays) in Chiswick Mall, Church Street; car park in grounds of Chiswick House. Hogarth House open Tue-Fri 1pm-5pm, Sat & Sun 1pm-6pm. Closed Mondays.

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