Saturday, 2 August 2014

Waltham Abbey

We motored on alongside the continuing chain of reservoirs to Pickett’s Lock, the site of the £16 million Lee Valley Athletic Centre, the newest training facility in the south of England. We looked out for some Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls! but it was obviously too early. The water tap is just outside the lock cottage and so we had to fill our tanks while sitting in the lock. Fortunately no one else wanted to use the lock. Taps were traditionally at the locks so that boats cold fill their Buckby Cans whilst going through the lock thus saving time and money.

Next came Ponders End lock, which gets its name from the family who lived here in the 14th century. Famous names from its past are Sir Joseph Swan, who invented the light bulb, and Sir James Dewar, inventor of the Thermos Flask.4 locks

The pound from here to Enfield Lock was about 12 inches lower than it should be and we met a C & RT man who was trying to sort it out. Apparently some idiot had let the water down into the lower pounds because they were short of water and not considered the effects on this one. It was a real struggle to get to Enfield as it was so shallow and we had to stop to clear rubbish from the prop. Once through Enfield Lock the water levels were once again back to normal. Hopefully C & RT will have resolved the matter before we return. Here the river takes on a totally different character and it is now a pleasure to motor along with crystal clear water, lovely countryside and the odd riverside pub. The Seagull had caught and was  eating a crayfish so it shows what the quality of the water must be like.1 All sorts

As we entered Waltham Abbey we spotted the Narrowboat Cafe next to the services block and just before the lock this skeleton of a Viking ship. We moored up outside the Lea Valley White Water Centre which was used for the Olympics and could watch the canoeists and rafters enjoying themselves over the fence.2 waltham

After lunch we walked the short distance into the town and came across one of several weddings at the church  today and the local Saturday market. The pedestrianized High street is like so many today slowly loosing its shops. At the far end of the High Street are a large Tesco and a Lidl.

Waltham Abbey takes its name from the Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross, a scheduled ancient monument that was prominent in the town's early history. The recorded history of the town began during the reign of Canute in the early 11th century when his standard-bearer Tovi or Tofig the Proud, founded a church here to house the miraculous cross discovered at Montacute in Somerset. It is this cross that gave Waltham the earliest suffix to its name. After Tovi's death around 1045, Waltham reverted to the King (Edward the Confessor), who gave it to the Earl Harold Godwinson (later king). Harold rebuilt Tovi's church in stone around 1060, in gratitude it is said for his cure from a paralysis, through praying before the miraculous cross. Waltham's people used the abbey as their parish church, and paid their tithes, worked the glebe as well any of their lord's land, and paid other dues to the canons.

Legend has it that after his death at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Harold's body was brought to Waltham for burial near to the High Altar. Today, the spot is marked by a stone slab in the churchyard (originally the site of the high altar prior to the Reformation).

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