Bishopsgate, Marlow, and Lechlade

Three other sites of interest to Shelley scholars are Bishopsgate, Lechlade, and Marlow. Bishopsgate was (and is) the two-story Windsor Park  cottage Mary and Shelley rented in August 1815, and settled into during one of the few calm chapters of their life together. Warm weather, daily walks, and a well-regulated course of study contributed greatly to Shelley's health; and the absence of Claire Clairmont (no one is certain exactly where she spent the summer of 1815) probably had a great deal to do with Mary's peace of mind.

  Old Bishopsgate, front  (south side) of house Old Bishopsgate from back  (north side) of house. Courtesy Stephen Jones

Today, Bishopsgate is a beautifully kept, lovingly restored private home. The building looks much as it would have to the Shelleys, except that the original small wing on the south wall of the house has been cut back and turned into a charming glassed-in sitting area.

Bishopsgate, south side  Bishopsgate, east side of house Bishopsgate, east garden  Bishopsgate, south side



During their stay at Bishopsgate, Percy, Mary, Thomas Love Peacock, and Charles Clairmont (Claire's brother) set off on a boating expedition from Old Windsor, seeking the origin of the Thames. The party managed to journey above Lechlade in Gloucestershire, where they were stopped by enormously thick weeds. They stayed in Lechlade for two nights, at what is now the New Inn Hotel.


There, they visited the adjacent church, where Shelley drew the inspiration for "A Summer Evening Churchyard, Lechlade, Gloucestershire."


Today, the church exterior looks much as it would have in Shelley’s time, retaining many early details such as gargoyles—although, like the interior, they have undergone a bit of remodeling. There is a plaque placed in Shelley’s memory, designating the single lane that meanders through the churchyard as "Shelley’s Walk."



In 1817, the Percy and Mary managed to secure a twenty-one-year lease on Albion House at Marlow—ironic, given that they would occupy the house for only a year and that Shelley would be dead five years later.  It was a relatively good-sized house, which was fortunate, considering that it would be inhabited by the newly married couple and their son William, Claire Clairmont and her daughter Allegra, and the Swiss nurse Elise--plus extended houseguests Leigh and Marianne Hunt and their children.  Godwin also dropped in for a visit in October 1817.  Today, the place has been divided into four small flats, but the building retains its oddly shaped windows, white pebble finish, tiny attic windows and mock-gothic balustrade.  Despite the dampness of the place (all the Shelleys' books had mildewed by the time the couple moved), the couple was happy here; in September Mary gave birth to her third child, Clara, and Shelley was able to complete his long poem The Revolt of Islam.

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