Walker Miles

Walker Miles – Edmund Seyfant Taylor [1853-1908]

This is the Bourne to which the footpath led
This is the Spot uncharted i his Works
t’was come upon so suddenly;
but ever will remember be
As were he takes his peaceful rest

This is the inscription on the Sarcen stone in St Nicholas churchyard, makes the resting place of ‘Walker Miles’, he died at Willow House, Godstone aged 54.  At the top of Leith Hill Tower are four indicator tablets facing north, south, east and west – one directs the eye towards an easterly direction towards Godstone church 14 1.2 miles away.  The plaque notes ‘tablets were provided by members and friends of the Federation of Rambler Clubs in grateful memory of Edmund Seyfang Taylor [Walker Miles] who ‘Fieldpath Rambles’ helped to make known the byways of the countryside’.

Waker Miles was born in Camberwell, South East London on 27 August 1853, he was the son of Robert Edmund and Mary Ann Taylor.  He live in Camberwell area for most of his life.  He moved to Willow House, Godstone early in 1908.  ‘Walker Miles ‘ was proprietor of the family printing and publishing firm, Robert Edmund Taylor and Son [established 1799], facilitated the production of his many publications, notably ‘FieldPath Rambles’ and Tramway Trips and Rambles’.  Through an abundance of guidebooks, he wrote more than 30 volumes of FieldPath Rambles,  ‘Walker Miles’ touched the lives of thousands who rambled across the South East of England.  His works, it is recorded, saved many public pathways from neglect or actual obstruction.  In addition to his copious writings he was editor of the Rambler’s Library, the Gypsy Journal and British Tourist.  ‘Walker Miles’ grandson, Kenneth, recalls his mother Margaret Octavia [youngest of the Taylor’s eight children] telling that Sunday was family day and that rambles could be up to 25 miles!

‘Walker Miles’ contribution to rambling is legendary.  His untimely death was mourned by thousands.  At his funeral service there were representatives of many established walking clubs,  Southern Pathfinders, Forest Ramblers, Federation of Rambling Clubs, Watford Fieldpaths Association and many more.  His widow, Bertha continued to live at Willow House where she opened tearooms in his memory.   In 1910 the family left England for the United States via Montreal, Canada.

Diana Jones / April 2008