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Welcome to the Eton Walkway, a 2-mile circular route connecting 18 points of rich heritage in the historic Berkshire town of Eton.
Starting at Windsor Bridge and celebrating Eton’s diverse community, culture and stunning architecture, this one-hour walk takes you through a wonderful mixture of scenery as well as exploring the banks of the River Thames.
Permanent bronze markers are set in the ground to identify the route of the Walkway and are emblazoned with Eton’s coat of arms, originally given to the town by King Henry VI in 1449.
The Walkway is coordinated by local volunteers through the Eton Community Association, and delivered by the Outdoor Trust.
It’s been made possible by the generous support of local residents, businesses, The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Eton College, Eton Town Council, The Prince Philip Trust Fund, The Baldwin Bridge Trust, Royal Albert Institute Trust, Pavenet, the Grundon, the Rivaz/Beaumont and Fussey families.
We all very much hope that you enjoy the walk.
1 The King’s Stables
These were first mentioned in 1480 in the short street leading east near Windsor Bridge. However, the stables may have existed even earlier and been associated with the 13th century Royal Park. This also served as a riverside wharf. Eton was an important route to Windsor from London and it is thought that the stables alleviated the need for heavy vehicles and horses crossing Windsor’s wooden Bridge. The first bridge was built in about 1170 and sometimes the horses either stayed on the Eton side with the heavier coaches which were used to go to London or possibly even swam across the river while passengers were ferried over.
2 The Cockpit
This stands at 47-49 High Street, on the edge of the old medieval market square, with a front dating from about 1440. It was almost certainly built by the Dean and Canons of Windsor as a speculative development, and was owned by the College of St George from the late Middle Ages until about 1800. By the mid 16th century, there was a terrace adjoined by two cottages and for a time, part of it was an inn called the Adam and Eve.
3 Eton Porny School
The school is named after Mark Antony Porny, a French Master at Eton College, who died in 1802. Under the terms of his will, a school for boys and girls of the Parish was established. In the early days, girls were taught upstairs and boys downstairs. They stayed until they were 14 and did not go on to further education.
4 Baldwin’s Bridge
This is maintained by The Baldwin Bridge Trust whose patent was warranted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. It is one of the oldest charities in England. The bridge’s upkeep is financed by the rents of neighbouring buildings owned by the Trust, given to them specifically for maintenance and repairs. In those days Eton was the direct route from London to Windsor and the bridge was an important crossing of a tributary of the Thames. It is thought that the Queen was worried about London being seized in a Catholic revolt, while she was cut off in Windsor.
5 Eton College
It occupies most of the town north of Barnes Pool Bridge. Founded by Henry VI in 1440 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.There is a memorial on the external wall of College Chapel to William de Waynflete (1398-1446), Bishop of Winchester, and the second Provost of Eton, who paid for the completion of the chapel. Lord Waldegrave of North Hill, Provost of Eton, unveiled the Walkway marker in front of the statue on the 13th September 2016 to celebrate the Eton Walkway initiative.
6 The Burning Bush
This is a listed Victorian lamp post outside the Memorial Buildings (School Hall and School Library). It was designed by Henry Woodyer, an Old Etonian and specialist church architect, with elaborate wrought iron flower heads, depicting fleurs-de-lys and lilies, which are integral parts of Eton’s coat of arms.
7 The Wall Game
This is a unique game, involving many scrums against the Wall, in College Field.
There are metal steps on the road-side of the 1717 wall enabling boys to climb onto the wall to witness the melee beneath. The game has been played in the Michaelmas (autumn) term since the 1830s. The first written rules date from 1841, but there is evidence of playing from the 1750s.
8 Skinner’s Bridge
This is named after two Eton boys, John Skinner and Edward Steuart Skinner who both lost their lives in the Second World War. The bridge was given in their memory by their parents and leads from the College Field to the sports pitch known as Mesopotamia. 1,157 boys died in World War I and 748 in World War II and there were many local residents who also lost their lives.
9 The Herschel Observatory
This is named after Sir William Herschel (1738-1822), King George III’s Astronomer (the first such appointment) and probably the most famous astronomer of the 18th century.
10 Sir Antony Gormley’s Edge II Statue
This has been attached high up on Common Lane House since 2002. It was commissioned by the College in 2001 in a quest to purchase modern art from the best living contemporary artists. Gormley (b.1950) decided where it should be installed on College grounds. Hence the statue faces looking down onto the path, and now onto an Eton Walkway marker.
11 Keate’s House
It is named after Dr John Keate (1773-1852) who was Headmaster of Eton from 1809 to 1834. He followed two weak headmasters, and being a man of unflinching character, was at first unpopular due to employing stern methods. Further down this lane is the only road sign in the UK with an apostrophe in as he felt it important to teach correct grammar – Keate’s Lane.
12 The Natural History Museum
This was originally financed by subscription from Eton’s Science Masters in 1875. It then became part of the science department, opened by Queen Victoria in 1891 and commemorated by the magnificent archway which forms the entrance to what is known as Queen’s Schools.
13 Eton Museum of Antiquities
This is housed in the Jafar Gallery and is part of the Bekynton Field Development (named after Thomas Bekynton (1390-1465), Bishop of Bath and Wells and secretary to Henry VI). It was designed by John Simpson, who also designed the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace in 2002. It contains Egyptian artefacts and other items given to the school over many centuries.
14 The Church of St John the Evangelist
It was built on the site of an earlier church dating from 1769. The foundation stone of the present building was laid on 21 October 1852 by Prince Albert. It originally had a spire, until 1954. It is suggested that the spire was too heavy for the Church, which was built essentially on marsh with insufficient foundations for the additional weight.
15 The Christopher Inn
The Inn is a former 18th century coaching inn. It was originally situated next to the College on Baldwin’s Bridge and was first mentioned between 1546 and 1548. Horace Walpole wrote in August 1746 ‘Lord how great I used to think anybody just landed at the Christopher’.
16 Jubilee Square
This was a joint venture by The Baldwin Bridge Trust and Eton Town Council in 2012 to mark the centenary of the Baldwin’s Bridge Trust, to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and also to mark the 2012 Olympics rowing events at Dorney Lock. The names of donors are inscribed on the surrounding bricks. Lord Waldegrave of North Hill, Provost of Eton, opened Jubilee Square in 2012
18 Eton Boat House
Known as ‘Rafts’ is where the whiffs and elite boats were built and kept for many years. Rowing has been a feature of school life since the late 18th century, though initially it was discouraged due to the dangers of commercial traffic on the Thames and the perils of the local sewer. There was a Procession of Boats on the Fourth of June and Election Saturday as early as the 1790s.
17 The Brocas
Is a large meadow adjacent to the River Thames and part of the floodplain. It belongs to Eton College. It affords magnificent views of Windsor Castle, the slender buttresses of St George’s Chapel giving delicate relief from the rugged, bare walls of the Lower Bailey and the Curfew Tower. The name comes from the Brocas family.