Pharaoh's Island, River Thames

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Pharaoh's Island from The Thames Court (taken when the river was red-boarded to navigation)

Pharaoh's Island is an island in the River Thames, in Surrey, England, 270 m upstream of Shepperton Lock.


The island has a length of 280 m and a maximum width of 60 m. Shepperton Lock is 270 m downstream and two other channels leading to weirs diverge off after the island to its southeast. These channels then surround Lock Island and Hamhaugh Island.[1] The island is only accessible by boat, with the facilities of Lock Island downstream and moorings there or by the pub The Thames Court almost opposite its eastern tip on the nearer, north bank.

River level[edit]

Above the lock, the variation in river level has been between 0.08 m at the lock gate and 0.99 m. This compares favourably with variation below the lock at between 2.67 m and 4.95 m in depth.[2]


It was purchased by the Treasury to give to Admiral Nelson after the Battle of the Nile (1798).[3] He used it as a fishing retreat.[4] The island was known as Dog Ait until at least of the end of the 19th century. Tory MP and High Court Judge, Sir Cyril Atkinson[5] built the first house in 1903 on the island and named it Sphinx due to his interest in Egyptology.[6]

Residential development[edit]

Since the late 20th century it has hosted 14 homes with individual moorings.[7] Most of the properties have Egyptian names.[8]

The property names are, clockwise, starting in the west:[9]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX

Deaths in January 2011[edit]

In January 2011, a small dinghy ferrying people from the island capsized with the loss of two lives. The fatalities were named as university professor Dr Rex Walford OBE [10] and record producer Keith Lowde.[11]

Media representations[edit]

As the home of his family, the island was the setting for director John Boorman's two semi-autobiographical films: Hope and Glory in 1987 and Queen and Country in 2014.[12]

Notable residents[edit]

Ian Hendry and his wife, fellow actor Janet Munro lived on the island in the 1960s.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grid Reference Finder distance tools
  2. ^ Environment Agency daily measurements at lock stations Retrieved 2013-07-14
  3. ^ The Thames Path, page 75, Leigh Hatts, Cicerone Press Limited, 3rd Ed. 2016 (1st. Ed. 1998)
  4. ^ Ben Flanagan (29 June 2003). "Living with the Nelson touch". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  5. ^ Mandy Lebentz (25 June 2018). "Luxury riverside home for sale but you can only reach it by boat". SurreyLive. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Shepperton's Islands". Shepperton Matters. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  7. ^ Grid square map Ordnance survey website
  8. ^ Caroline McGhie (26 July 2006). "Nelson's Egypt-on-Thames". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  9. ^ "House prices in Pharaohs Island, Shepperton TW17 stand at £866,281 on average - Zoopla".
  10. ^ Mike Younger and Joan Whitehead (10 March 2011). "Rex Walford obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  11. ^ Harrison, David (9 January 2011). "The Sunday lunch on a river island that ended in tragedy" – via
  12. ^ Readers Digest, retrieved 24 December 2016
  13. ^ "Ian Hendry Rowing Home Across The Thames To Sphinx, Pharoah's Island, Shepperton". Ian Retrieved 25 January 2018.
Next island upstream River Thames Next island downstream
Laleham Burway (including Abbey Mead)  Pharaoh's Island
Grid reference: TQ068659
Lock Island
Hamhaugh Island 

Coordinates: 51°22′57″N 00°27′53″W / 51.38250°N 0.46472°W / 51.38250; -0.46472