The River Lyde and Lyde Garden
The Society for One-Place Studies has given blogging prompts for 2021 and the prompt for January is ‘Landmarks’.
There are few landmarks in Bledlow so, although not ‘officially’ a landmark in the sense that it is hidden both from above and on the ground, I have chosen The River Lyde and The Lyde Garden, a beautiful peaceful secret garden which, when we are able to get about, I would love to pay a visit.
The River Lyde emerges at Bledlow, through the chalk, from a number of springs and gives its name to the small pool created, The Lyde. These springs are in a steep wooded gully next to the Holy Trinity parish church and the close proximity of the church to the gully gave rise to a local Medieval proverb:
“They who live and do abide,
Shall see the church fall into The Lyde;
And they who live and do remain,
Shall see the same built up again.”
The origins of this proverb aren’t quite known, it is thought it could be a quote from Mother Shipton, a mysterious woman, whose life has very few certifiable details and may even be no more than myth – and not for this blog!
The name ‘Lyde’ is possibly derived from the Old English word hlud (loud) which suggests a stronger flow of water historically than now.
Originally surrounded by Wych Elm trees, three watercress beds created from The Lyde supplied watercress to markets in London. These beds were transformed in the 1980s by Lord Carington into a peaceful sunken aquatic garden which won the ‘Millennium Award for Environmental Excellence’.
The only sight of the garden from the road is a small wrought iron gate leading to a gravel path which, in turn, takes you to a little wooden bridge. Birds, dragonflies and scented flowers greet the visitor as they appreciate the natural ponds and springs that form the Lyde Brook which eventually widens into the River Lyde.
Privately owned by the Carington Estate, whose Manor House is opposite, the garden is, at times open to the public free of charge.
The River Lyde also provided power for two Bledlow papermills before continuing north west to join Cuttle Brook and, eventually, north to the River Thame.