Addison's Walk

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View along Addison's Walk.
View of the River Cherwell from the Magdalen College Fellows' Garden near the Addison's Walk entrance.
Joseph Addison (c. 1703–1712), by Godfrey Kneller.

Addison's Walk (originally called Water Walk) is a picturesque footpath around a small island in the River Cherwell in the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford, England.[1][2] There are good views of Magdalen Tower and Magdalen Bridge from along the walk.

The Walk is named after Joseph Addison (1672–1719), a Fellow of the College from 1698 to 1711, who enjoyed walking there and wrote articles in The Spectator about landscape gardening. The path most likely dates from the 16th century, although the name "Addison's Walk" has only been in use since the 19th century. Addison's Walk originally finished at Dover Pier, an old Civil War gun position on the River Cherwell. It was made into a circular walk in the 19th century.

The walk is referenced frequently in Justin Cartwright's novel The Song Before it is Sung.

Addison's Walk was a favourite walk of the author C. S. Lewis (1898–1963), who for much of his life was another Fellow of Magdalen College. He regularly frequented Addison's Walk with friends who included Hugo Dyson and J. R. R. Tolkien.

Addison's Walk, Dublin[edit]

In the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, in Glasnevin, Dublin, there is another Addison's Walk, beneath a canopy of ancient yew trees. Outside the gardens, on Botanic Road, the Addison Lodge Hotel is said to have been the essayist's home. Unfortunately, this house, although recognisably 18th century in style, has been brutally vandalised to serve its present purpose.

Some four hundred yards further along Botanic Road, across the Tolka River and up Washerwoman's Hill, was Delville, the home of the collagist Mrs Delany. No trace of the house remains. The Bons Secours hospital now stands on the site.

At the start of the 18th century Delville was known as The Glen. It was renamed Heldeville, a compendium of the surnames of two of its tenants, Dr Helsam and Dr Patrick Delany, both Fellows of Trinity. When Delany married his first wife he acquired sole ownership, but the house became famous as the home of Delany and his second wife, Mary Pendarves, a widow whom Delany married her in 1743. She was an accomplished letter writer. They couple were friends of Jonathan Swift and, through him, with Alexander Pope. Pope encouraged the Delaneys to develop their garden in a style then becoming popular in England, moving away from the very formal, geometric layout that was common. He redesigned the house in the style of a villa and had the gardens laid out in the latest Dutch fashion, creating what was almost certainly Ireland's first naturalistic garden.

The house was, under Mrs Delany, a centre of Dublin's intellectual life. Swift is said to have composed many of his campaigning pamphlets while staying there. He and his life—long companion Stella were both in the habit of visiting, and Swift satirised the grounds, which he considered too small for the size of the house. Through her correspondence with her sister, Mrs Dewes, Mary wrote of Swift in 1733: "he calls himself my master and corrects me when I speak bad English or do not pronounce my words distinctly".

Patrick Delany died in 1768 at the age of 82, prompting his widow to sell Delville and return to her native England until her death twenty years later.

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Coordinates: 51°45′09″N 1°14′43″W / 51.7524°N 1.2453°W / 51.7524; -1.2453