Page images


THE source of the Thames, like that of the Nile, has been variously assigned in consequence of the different contributary springs which feed its early stream from the borders of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. But on the authority of ancient maps, deeds, and other antiquarian documents, as well as the name of the spot itself, which in all time has borne the title of the Thames Head, the river must be said to issue in a small valley in the parish of Cotes, in Gloucestershire, at the distance of about two miles and an half from Cirencester, a considerable town in the same county. The soil of the field where the spring rises is a fine gravel; a very uncommon circumstance in the open country of Cotswould. At a small distance from the source it runs under the Akman-street Road, leading from Cirencester to Bath, and enters the parish of Kemble in the county of Wilts. It runs for about a mile, widening very considerably from the accession of several other springs, till it comes opposite to the village already named, which rises prettily on its upland situation, crowned with its taper spire, an object that enlivens the surrounding country. The stream now acquires the breadth of about twelve yards, over which there is a foot-bridge formed by large stones laid on piles, which may be considered as the first on the river, unless a couple of flat stones laid across its previous and much narrower stream, may claim that title.

At a small distance from the spring, but on the high ground above it, runs the canal, made a few years since to form a junction between the Thames and the Severn: and about half a mile from hence, nearly opposite to the village of Cotes, is one of the entrances of the tunnel dug for the purpose of conveying the canal under Saperton Hill.


This tunnel was excavated in a direct line of two miles and a quarter through a variety of strata, though consisting chiefly of rock, underneath the hill, and presents a very novel and striking effect to those whose curiosity attracts them to visit it. A boat is kept in constant attendance for this purpose at the entrance next the village of Cotes. At the distance of near a quarter of a mile from the commencement of this subterraneous excursion, the opposite outlet towards Saperton, though as just mentioned in a direct line, is completely eclipsed by the broad glare of day, which penetrates the cavern to that distance from the mouth. Proceeding onwards, as the gloom increases it first presents itself to the sight twinkling like the solitary star of evening in the broad expanse of heaven, and keeps continually increasing on the eye, till a delightful range of rural scenery beyond gives a grateful relief to the uniform insipidity of protracted gloominess and shade.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed]


THE part of the Thames and Severn Canal which is repre sented in the annexed engraving, passes beneath the road from Cirencester to Tetbury, and so on to Bath, and at a small distance from the first rising of the Thames, in the Parish of Cotes, in the County of Gloucester. The Steam Engine, which is a principal object in the picture, has been erected to throw water from springs below, to supply the Canal above. This Engine throws up three hogsheads at a stroke, and gives sixteen strokes in a minute. The Spire

in the distance, rises from the Church of Kemble, a pleasant village, in which is the seat of Charles Cox, Esquire.

« PreviousContinue »