by Bob Chapman
June 10 to June 20, 2001
Izaak Walton, our namesake, was born September 20, 1593 in Stafford, England. Izaak died, at the great age of 90, on the 15th of December 1683 and is buried at Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, England.
On June 10, 2001 our group left the Washington DC area to complete our travels into the life of Izaak Walton. This years group included Roger and Mary Sears, Rogers Mother Erna Sears, Bob and Glenda Chapman and Bill and Eve Gordon, all from the Washington DC area of Maryland. Also joining us on this years trip were George and Irene Jones from The Woodlands, Texas.
We arrived at London's Heathrow airport on Monday morning where we met George and Irene Jones for the first time. They are both Izaak Walton League members and George is a National Director at Large representing Texas. Having never met before we were not sure what to expect but it only took about two hours for George and Irene to become permanent, lifelong members of our group.
Last year we visited St. Mary's Cathedral in Stafford England where Izaak was baptized as a young child. This year our first stop was Winchester, England where we visited Winchester Cathedral. Inside the Cathedral is "The Chapel of St. John the Evangelist and the Fisherman Apostles." Inside this Chapel is where Izaak Walton is buried. Roger Sears had made arrangements for a guided tour and we were met by our guide when we arrived. The Cathedral is a lovely building comprised of many individual Chapels designed and built over many hundreds of years. For over 900 years the Cathedral has been a place of worship and remains so today.
In 1660, Dr. George Morley, probably Izaak's closest friend, was appointed Bishop of Winchester Cathedral. Morley soon made Walton his steward at the Cathedral. In 1662 Morley and Walton mover to Winchester Cathedral where he lived until died, at the great age of 90, on the 15th day of December 1683.
First mention of "The Chapel of St. John the Evangelist and the Fisherman Apostles" is found in documents dating from the early 1400's. Apart from Izaak Walton, the chapel is also the burial place of the Nicolas family. The memorial window to Izaak was first suggested in 1900 but was postponed until after the restoration of the Cathedral from 1906 to 1912. The window was installed and was dedicated on 8th June 1914. Much of the detail in the window reflects Walton's interest in fishing. He appears in the bottom right hand corner seated and reading with his fishing tackle at his side. In the background are the River Itchen and St. Catherine's Hill. In the left hand corner is another portrait of the angler with his friend Charles Cotton. This time the background is Dovedale in Derbyshire. The other portraits in the window depict scenes taken from writings in the Bible.
The chapel also includes an alter carved from a massive block of English Oak and is symbolic of the meeting of God and man. The alter is adorned with several fish, including pike, perch, trout and salmon. Gold leaf and copper were also used in its design and construction.
Izaak Walton is buried in the floor of the chapel, in front of and to the left of the alter. The epitaph over his grave was placed there by his children Isaac and Anne and reads as follows:HERE RESTETH THE BODY OF
MR ISAAC WALTON
WHO DYED THE 15TH DAY OF
Alas! hee's gone before,
Gone to returne noe more!
Our panting Breasts aspire
After their aged Sire
Whose well-spent life did last
Fully ninety yeares, and past
But now he hath begun
That which will ne're be done
Crown'd with eternall blisse
We wish our Souls with his.
Votis modestis sic flerunt liberi
It has been a very humbling experience to visit the places where Izaak was baptized, lived and is buried. It is also of some concern to me, having been a member of the Izaak Walton League of America for twenty years, that I never really knew who Izaak Walton was, until we journeyed to England over the past two years. The League, and our Chapter has always been a group of dedicated people interested in the same things I am interested. Hunting, fishing and conservation issues. Meeting Tony Bridgett last year opened my eyes as to who Izaak was and the principals he lived his life for. Tony is one of the top Walton historians in the world and his knowledge cannot be approached by anyone I have ever met. Tony, thank you for educating me and our group of merry travelers.
Now on to this years trip:
Our trusty guide and coach driver, Stuart Mayer, picked us up at London Heathrow Airport and took us to Winchester where we checked into our hotel and walked over to Winchester Cathedral for our visit to Izaak Walton's grave site. After a good nights sleep our next stop was the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge. I have read about it and seen it on TV but there is nothing like seeing it in person. I can not imagine why or how the ancients placed these great stones here, but they did and it is most impressive. On to Wales and our next hotel, Gliffaes Country House Hotel, (www.gliffaeshotel.com) which has it's own two and a half mile stretch of the River Usk. The hotel is in the south and east of Wales near the town of Crickhowell. The river is fast, rocky and as clear as glass. We met up with Jim Devoy, our Gillie, who took us on a quick tour of the river. The next day Jim returned and we spent most of the day fishing on the Usk. The United Kingdom is a lot further north than most of the US so it gets dark later. We were on the river in good light until well after 10 PM that evening. Unfortunately the fishing was hard and only a few fish were caught. Jim Devoy is a most delightful person and was a pleasure to be with for our day of fishing. Anyone visiting the area should get in touch with him, through the hotel, for a most enjoyable day of fishing. The hotel is great and I would highly recommend it if anyone plans a visit to the area.
The next morning we are off to Llangollen in the north east of Wales and the Bryn Howell Hotel. We met our Gillie Ken Bathers and made arrangements for the next days fishing on the famous River Dee. The Dee is wider and deeper than I expected and I was glad to have chest waders on. Again the fishing was hard with only a few good size fish caught. I did catch a one pound plus Grayling and it was quite a tussle to get it in the net. It was my first and they really do put up quite a fight. We caught a number of small Salmon smolt but nothing big enough to take back to the hotel for dinner. Peter and George joined Ken Bathers and provided us most enjoyable day on the River Dee. Ken was rather beside himself that the fishing was so hard and invited us back next year. We are planning on taking him up on it.
Then it was off to Dovedale in England and back to our beloved Izaak Walton Hotel. It was almost like coming home when we arrived in the early afternoon. That evening we had Tony and Pauline Bridgett as well as Stuart for dinner. During last years trip we briefly met Charlie Parks while fishing the River Dove and we also invited him and his wife Liz for dinner. Great fun was had by all and numerous gifts were exchanged. Charlie Parks is a retired Constable (Bobby) and presented me with a British Constable's Helmet. It is quit unique and now occupies a special place in our home.
On to fishing the River Dove. Again it was our luck to experience hard fishing both days on the Dove. A number of nice fish were caught but nothing like last year. Brown Trout were caught generally in the one pound and smaller range. Roger did hook a monster that he tried to get in the net for about fifteen minutes. The fish finally threw the hook after wedging itself under a big rock. Roger was just about sick but he finally discovered the secret. He tied a small red and white Serendipity on as a dropper and landed seven fish in the last afternoon of fishing. Of course he only had one Serendipity with him. I now have a good supply for myself.
Again as last year, we unfortunately had to end a wonderful trip and return home. Our new experiences and friends in Wales will always be remembered. George and Irene Jones are now part of our fishing group and we look forward to our next trip and fishing with them again. Jim, Ken, George and Peter, in Wales, are outstanding Gilles and deserve a big hand for the great times they showed us. Charlie and Liz Parks were great, and Liz accompanied our wives, on her day off, for a day of shopping and sightseeing. Tony and Pauline Bridget are now the greatest of friends and we look forward to them visiting us in the near future. Stuart Mayer has also become a great friend and proves every day to be a great tour guide. He has learned to put up with our group and gives back as much as he takes.
Fishing and sightseeing in the United Kingdom is truly a unique experience. Anyone interested in additional information or in making arrangements through our contacts can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be more than happy to share the hotel and fishing information with you.
Stay tuned for next years trip which will return us to the River Dee in Wales, the River Dove in England and a new location, the River Tweed in the Borders area of Scotland.