by Bob Chapman May 26 to June 3, 2000
Izaak Walton, our namesake, was born on the 9th of August 1593 in Stafford, England. Not much is known about his early life. He married Rachel Floud in 1626 and had seven children. Rachel died in 1640 predeceased by six of their children. The seventh child died two years later. Izaak married again in 1647 to Anne Ken and they had three children two of whom lived into their sixties.
Walton completed his apprenticeship in 1617 and by 1624 had his own business as a linen draper in London. During the next twenty years he held several public posts in his parish of St. Dunstan's-in-the-west and became a senior member of the Ironmongers Company.
Izaak Walton's origins were fairly humble but by the 1630's he had been accepted as a friend by contemporaries of notable intellectual and social distinction. His first book appeared in 1640 and was on the life of churchman and famous poet John Donne. In May 1653 Izaak Walton published "The Compleat Angler" which has become the third most published book in the English language. It was reissued four times during his life and the final edition in 1676 included a supplement on fly-fishing written at Izaak's request by his very close friend Charles Cotton. Walton and Cotton spent many hours in Derbyshire fishing the nearby River Dove.
Walton became a relatively rich man. His properties included the Halfhead Farm at Shallowford where Izaak Walton's Cottage stands today and has been converted into a museum where life in his time is depicted. There is also a portion of the museum dedicated to Izaak's love of angling though none of the items on display are known to have been owned by him.
Izaak Walton died, at the great age of 90, on the 19th of December 1683. He is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
This bring us up to date on the life of Izaak Walton.
Now on to the trip.
On Friday May 26, 2000 a number of current day Izaak Walton League members left the Washington, DC area to visit the ground our namesake walked on and to fish the waters where he spent so much time with Charles Cotton. Members and wives from the BCC Chapter included Bob and Glenda Chapman, Bill and Eve Gordon, Victor and Regina Origoni, and Roger and Mary Sears. Rogers mother, Erna Sears, also a BCC member was with us as well as Bob and Shirley Huddleston from the Harford County Chapter also located in Maryland.
The group visited London for three days of sightseeing before heading north to the Peak District of England. On Tuesday May 30 we were met by Stuart Mayer, in his coach, which is an eighteen passenger bus. Stuart was with us for the next four days and his knowledge and pleasant manner made our time together unforgettable. Stuart is from Wales and has been in the sightseeing industry for over fifteen years.
On the way we stopped first at Izaak Walton's Cottage located in Shallowford. Even though normally closed on Tuesdays, Tony Bridgett made arrangements for the staff to open the cottage and to be dressed in period costume. The staff gave us an overview of the cottage, and told us about Izaak's life and history. Tony Bridgett, who is an Izaak Walton historian met us at the cottage where we presented him with an Izaak Walton League flag provided by the National Office in Gaithersburg. We next stopped at St Mary's Church in Stafford where there is a memorial to Izaak.
Still on the road we next traveled to Dovedale where we checked in to the Izaak Walton Hotel. If you like peace, quite, beautiful scenery, and gourmet food, this hotel is for you. I personally have never stayed at a nicer hotel. There are thirty guest rooms with breathtaking scenery of hills and stone fences, as well as bountiful sheep and cattle right outside your hotel room window. That evening we enjoyed dinner in the Old Farmhouse Kitchen with Tony Bridgett, his wife Pauline and Stuart, our coach driver. The service and food were exceptional. We presented Tony with several more Izaak Walton gifts including one of our brand new embroidered BCC Chapter Polo Shirts and made Tony an Honorary member of the BCC Chapter.
Wednesday May 31st the big day finally arrived. After breakfast, Tony and Pauline Bridgett met us at the hotel where we walked across the pasture to the River Dove for our first day of fishing. Bob Chapman caught the first fish, a nice brown trout. Each member caught fish for the two days and Victor Origoni ended up as Top Rod with twelve fish. The River Dove is a beautiful stream and the four mile portion we were fishing is managed by the "Leek & District Fly Fishing Association" of which Tony and Pauline are members. Almost all streams and rivers in England are privately owned and permission is needed to fish.
On Thursday evening, following dinner, Tony Bridgett gave us a slide presentation on the life of Izaak Walton. He has quite a lot of history on Izaak and many drawings and pictures of places Izaak lived and visited during his life.
Friday morning, unfortunately, we had to leave the Izaak Walton Hotel and Tony and Pauline behind as we continued on our trip. Our last stop was in Marlow at the "Compleat Angler Hotel" named after the famous book by Izaak Walton. Again, the hotel was a charming place with great food and service and is located on the banks of the River Thames upstream of London. A great dinner and companionship with the group was followed by a good nights sleep. Saturday morning it was up and to the airport for the trip home and back to reality. By now it was hard to say goodbye to England and our wonderful coach driver Stuart. But as always it is good to be heading home.
The trip was one of those lifetime events that I will never forget. Stuart and his coach made our drive a wonderful experience. I hate to think of the group in several rental cars trying to find our way while driving on the left side of the road.
Tony and Pauline Bridgett were wonderful hosts and fishing guides. We learned a lot about Izaak Walton from them and I will never forget them. The Izaak Walton Hotel is absolutely first class and a must for anyone planning to visit England. The Compleat Angler was also a wonderful place and I would recommend to anyone not wanting to venture so far outside London.
I want to personally thank Roger Sears who came up with the idea for this trip and spent so many hours making the arrangements and worrying so much that everything would work out as it did. Roger, you did a great job!
Attached in the following pages are some of the many pictures that I took on this trip. I hope to have a presentation ready for the July dinner meeting which is scheduled for July 19th.