Picture of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

places mentioned

Letter 6, Part 1: Middlesex, Hertford and Buckinghamshire

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I HAVE spent so much time, and taken up so much room in my description of London, and the adjacent parts, that I must be the more cautious, at least, as to needless excursions in the country near it.

The villages round London partake of the influence of London, so much, that it is observ'd as London is encreased, so they are all encreased also, and from the same causes.

I have taken notice of this in my first setting out, and particularly in the counties of Essex, Kent, and Surrey; and as the same appears to an extreme in Middlesex: I shall only give some discriptions, and say the less of the reason of it.

Hackney and Bromley are the first villages which begin the county of Middlesex, east; for Bow as reckon'd to Stepney, is a part of the great mass. This town of Hackney is of a great extent, containing no less than 12 hamlets or separate villages, tho' some of them now join, viz.



All these, except the Wyck-house, are within a few years so encreas'd in buildings, and so fully inhabited, that there is no comparison to be made between their present and past state: Every separate hamlet is encreas'd, and some of them more than treble as big as formerly; Indeed as this whole town is included in the bills of mortality, tho' no where joining to London, it is in some respects to be call'd a part of it.

This town is so remarkable for the retreat of wealthy citizens, that there is at this time near a hundred coaches kept in it; tho' I will not join with a certain satyrical author, who said of Hackney, that there were more coaches than Christians in it.

Newington, Tottenham, Edmonton, and Enfield stand all in a line N. from the city; the encrease of buildings is so great in them all, that they seem to a traveller to be one continu'd street; especially Tottenham and Edmonton, and in them all, the new buildings so far exceed the old, especially in the value of them, and figure of the inhabitants, that the fashion of the towns are quite altered.

At Tottenham we see the remains of an antient building called the Cross, from which the town takes the name of High-Cross. There is a long account of the antiquities of this place lately published, to which I refer, antiquities as I have observed, not being my province in this work, but a description of things in their present state.

Here is at this town a small but pleasant seat of the Earl of Colerain, in Ireland; his lordship is now on his travels, but has a very good estate here extending from this town to Muzzle-hill, and almost to High-gate.

The first thing we see in Tottenham is a small but beautiful house, built by one Mr. Wanly, formerly a goldsmith, near Temple Bar; it is a small house, but for the beauty of the building and the gardens, it is not outdone by any of the houses on this side the country.

There is not any thing more fine in their degree, than most of the buildings this way; only with this observation, that they are generally belonging to the middle sort of mankind, grown wealthy by trade, and who still taste of London; some of them live both in the city, and in the country at the same time: yet many of these are immensely rich.

High-gate and Hamstead are next on the north-side; At the first is a very beautiful house built by the late Sir William Ashurst, on the very summit of the hill, and with a view from the very lowest windows over the whole vale, to the city: And that so eminently, that they see the very ships passing up and down the river for 12 or 15 miles below London. The Jews have particularly fixt upon this town for their country retreats, and some of them are very wealthy; they live there in good figure, and have several trades particularly depending upon them, and especially, butchers of their own to supply them with provisions kill'd their own way; also, I am told, they have a private synagogue here.

As the county does not extend far this way, I take no notice of smaller towns; nor is there any thing of note but citizens houses for several miles; except that in the chase, at Enfield is a fine lodge formerly possest by the Earl of Denbigh: Now we are told that General Pepper is fixt ranger of the chase, and resides there.

This chase was once a very beautiful place, and when King James I. resided at Theobalds, which he loved for the pleasure of his hunting; it was then very full of deer, and all sorts of game; but it has suffered several depredations since that, and particularly in the late Protector's usurpation, when it was utterly stript, both of game, and timber, and let out in farms to tenants, for the use of the publick.

After the Restoration, it was reassumed, and laid open again; Woods and groves were every where planted, and the whole chase stored with deer: But the young timber which indeed began to thrive, was so continually plundered, and the deer-stealers have so harass'd the deer, and both perhaps by those who should have preserved it, as well as by others, that the place was almost ruined for a forrest, and little but hares and bushwood was to be found in it. But now we hear, that by the vigilance of General Pepper, the chase is much recovered, and likely to be a place fit for the diversion of a prince, as it has been before.

At a village a little farther north, called Totteridge, Mr. Charleton of the Ordnance Office, has a very delicious seat, the house new built, and the gardens extremely fine: In the same town the old Earl of Anglesey had also a house, but not extraordinary for any thing more than a rural situation, very retired, but yet very agreeable.

The Mineral Waters, or Barnet Wells, are a little beyond this house, on the declivity of a hill; they were formerly in great request, being very much approved by physicians; but of late, they began to decline, and are now almost forgotten: Other waters at Islington, and at Hamstead having grown popular in their stead.

Hampstead indeed is risen from a little country village, to a city, not upon the credit only of the waters, tho' 'tis apparent, its growing greatness began there; but company increasing gradually, and the people liking both the place and the diversions together; it grew suddenly populous, and the concourse of people was incredible. This consequently raised the rate of lodgings, and that encreased buildings, till the town grew up from a little village, to a magnitude equal to some cities; nor could the uneven surface, inconvenient for building, uncompact, and unpleasant, check the humour of the town, for even on the very steep of the hill, where there's no walking twenty yards together, without tugging up a hill, or stradling down a hill, yet 'tis all one, the buildings encreased to that degree, that the town almost spreads the whole side of the hill.

On the top of the hill indeed, there is a very pleasant plain, called the Heath, which on the very summit, is a plain of about a mile every way; and in good weather 'tis pleasant airing upon it, and some of the streets are extended so far, as that they begin to build, even on the highest part of the hill. But it must be confest, 'tis so near heaven, that I dare not say it can be a proper situation, for any but a race of mountaineers, whose lungs have been used to a rarity'd air, nearer the second region, than any ground for 30 miles round it.

It is true, this place may be said to be prepared for a summer dwelling, for in winter nothing that I know can recommend it: 'Tis true, a warm house, and good company, both which are to be had here, go a great way to make amends for storms, and severity of cold.

Here is a most beautiful prospect indeed, for we see here Hanslop Steeple one way, which is within eight miles of Northampton, N.W. to Landown-Hill in Essex another way, east, at least 66 miles from one another; the prospect to London, and beyond it to Bansted Downs, south; Shooters-Hill, S.E. Red-Hill, S.W. and Windsor-Castle, W. is also uninterrupted: Indeed due north, we see no farther than to Barnet, which is not above six miles; but the rest is sufficient.

At the foot of this hill is an old seat of the Earls of Chesterfields, called Bellsize; which for many years had been neglected, and as it were forgotten: But being taken lately by a certain projector to get a penny, and who knew by what handle to take the gay part of the world, he has made it a true house of pleasure; Here, in the gardens he entertained the company with all kind of sport, and in the house with all kinds of game, to say no more of it: This brought a wonderful concourse of people to the place, for they were so effectually gratified in all sorts of diversion, that the wicked part at length broke in, till it alarm'd the magistrates, and I am told it has been now in a manner suppress'd by the hand of justice.

Here was a great room fitted up with abundance of dexterity for their balls, and had it gone on to a degree of masquerading as I hear was actually begun, it would have bid fair to have had half the town run to it: One saw pictures and furniture there beyond what was to have been expected in a meer publick house; and 'tis hardly credible how it drew company to it; But it could not be, no British government could be supposed to bear long with the liberties taken on such publick occasions: So as I have said, they are reduc'd, at least restrain'd from liberties which they could not preserve by their prudence.

Yet Hampstead is not much the less frequented for this. But as there is (especially at the Wells) a conflux of all sorts of company, even Hampstead itself has suffered in its good name; and you see sometimes more gallantry than modesty: So that the ladies who value their reputation, have of late more avoided the wells and walks at Hampstead, than they had formerly done.

I could not be at Hampstead, and not make an excursion to Edgworth, a little market town, on the road to St. Albans; I say to St. Albans, because 'tis certain, that this was formerly the only or the main road from London to St. Albans; being the famous high road, call'd Watling-street, which in former times reached from London to Shrewsbury, and on towards Wales.

The remains of this road are still to be seen here, and particularly in this, (viz.) That from Hide-Park Corner, just where Tyburn stands, the road makes one straight line without any turning, even to the very town of St. Albans. In this road lyes the town of Edgworth, some will have it that it was built by King Edgar the Saxon monarch, and called by his name, and so will have the town called Edgar, and that it was built as a garrison on the said Watling-street, to preserve the high-way from thieves: But all this I take to be fabulous, and without authority.

Near this town, and which is the reason for naming it, the present Duke of Chandos has built a most magnificent palace or mansion house, I might say, the most magnificent in England: It is erected where formerly stood an old seat belonging to Sir Lancelot Lake, whose son and successor struggled hard to be chosen representative for the county, but lost it, and had a great interest and estate hereabouts.

This palace is so beautiful in its situation, so lofty, so majestick the appearance of it, that a pen can but ill describe it, the pencil not much better; 'tis only fit to be talk'd of upon the very spot, when the building is under view, to be consider'd in all its parts. The fronts are all of freestone, the columns and pilasters are lofty and beautiful, the windows very high, with all possible ornaments: The pilasters running flush up to the cornish and architrave, their capitals seems as so many supporters to the fine statues which stand on the top, and crown the whole; in a word, the whole structure is built with such a profusion of expence, and all finish'd with such a brightness of fancy, goodness of judgment; that I can assure you, we see many palaces of sovereign princes abroad, which do not equal it, which yet pass for very fine too either within or without. And as it is a noble and well contriv'd building; so it is as well set out, and no ornament is wanting to make it the finest house in England. The plaistering and guilding is done by the famous Pargotti an Italian, said to be the finest artist in those particular works now in England. The great salon or hall is painted by Paolucci, for the duke spared no cost to have every thing as rich as possible. The pillars supporting the building are all of marble: The great staircass is the finest by far of any in England; and the steps are all of marble, every step being of one whole piece, about 22 foot in length.

Nor is the splendor which the present duke lives in at this place, at all beneath what such a building calls for, and yet, so far is the duke from having exhausted himself by this prodigy of a building; that we see him since that laying out a scheme, and storing up materials for building another house for his city convenience, on the north side of the new square, call'd Oxford or Cavendish Square, near Maribone; and if that is discontinued it seems to be so, only because the duke found an opportunity to purchase another much more to his advantage; namely, the Duke of Ormond's house in St. James's Square.

It is in vain to attempt to describe the beauties of this building at Cannons; the whole is a beauty, and as the firmament is a glorious mantle filled with, or as it were made up of a concurrence of lesser glories the stars; so every part of this building adds to the beauty of the whole. The avenue is spacious and majestick, and as it gives you the view of two fronts, join'd as it were in one, the distance not admitting you to see the angle, which is in the centre; so you are agreeably drawn in, to think the front of the house almost twice as large as it really is. And yet when you come nearer you are again surprized, by seeing the winding passage opening as it were a new front to the eye, of near 120 feet wide, which you had not seen before, so that you are lost a while in looking near hand for what you so evidently saw a great way off. Tho' many of the palaces in Italy are very large fine buildings, yet I venture to say, not Italy it self can show such a building rais'd from the common surface, by one private hand, and in so little a time as this; For Cannons as I was inform'd, was not three years a building and bringing the gardens and all, to the most finish'd beauty we now see it in.

The great palaces in Italy, are either the work of sovereign princes, or have been ages in their building; one family laying the design, and ten succeeding ages and families being taken up, in carrying on the building: But Cannons had not been three years in the duke's possession, before we saw this prodigy rise out of the ground, as if he had been resolv'd to merit that motto which the French king assum'd, He saw, and it was made. The building is very lofty, and magnificent, and the gardens are so well designed, and have so vast a variety, and the canals are so large, that they are not to be out done in England; possibly the Lord Castlemains at Wanstead, may be said to equal but can not exceed them.

The inside of this house is as glorious, as the outside is fine; the lodgings are indeed most exquisitely finish'd, and if I may call it so, royally furnish'd; the chapel is a singularity, not only in its building, and the beauty of its workmanship, but in this also, that the duke maintains there a full choir, and has the worship perform'd there with the best musick, after the manner of the chappel royal, which is not done in any other noble man's chappel in Britain; no not the Prince of Wales's, though heir apparent to the crown.

Nor is the chapel only furnish'd with such excellent musick, but the duke has a set of them to entertain him every day at dinner. The avenues and vista's to this house are extreamly magnificent, the great walk or chief avenue is near a mile in length, planted with two double rows of trees, and the middle walk broad enough for a troop of horse to march in front; in the middle way there is a large basin or fountain of water, and the coaches drive round it on either side; there are three other avenues exceeding fine, but not so very large; the beauty of them all will double, with time, when the trees may be grown, like those of New-Hall, in Essex.

Two things extreamly add to the beauty of this house, namely, the chapel, and the library; but I cannot enlarge, having taken up so much room in the view of this house, as must oblige me to abate in others, to whom I am willing to do what justice I can. In his gardens and out-houses the duke keeps a constant night-guard, who take care of the whole place, duly walk the rounds, and constantly give the hour to the family at set appointed places and times; so that the house has some waking eyes about it, to keep out thieves and spoilers night and day. In a word, no nobleman in England, and very few in Europe, lives in greater splendour, or maintains a grandeur and magnificence, equal to the Duke of Chandos.

Here are continually maintained, and that in the dearest part of England, as to house expences, not less than one hundred and twenty in family, and yet a face of plenty appears in every part of it; nothing needful is with-held, nothing pleasant is restrained; every servant in the house is made easy, and his life comfortable; and they have the felicity that it is their lord's desire and delight that it should be so.

But I am not writing panegyrick. I left Cannons with regret, the family all gay, and in raptures on the marriage of the Marquiss of Caernarvon, the dukes eldest son, just then celebrated with the Lady Katharine Talmash daughter of the Earl of Dysert which marriage adds to the honour and estate also, of the family of Chandos.

Two mile from hence, we go up a small ascent by the great road, which for what reason I know not, is there call'd Crab Tree Orchard, when leaving the Street Way on the right, we enter a spacious heath or common call'd Bushy-Heath, where, again, we have a very agreeable prospect.

I cannot but remember, with some satisfaction, that having two foreign gentlemen in my company, in our passing over this heath, I say I could not but then observe, and now remember it with satisfaction, how they were surprized at the beauty of this prospect, and how they look'd at one another, and then again turning their eyes every way in a kind of wonder, one of them said to the other, That England was not like other country's, but it was all a planted garden.

They had there on the right hand, the town of St. Albans in their view; and all the spaces between, and further beyond it, look'd indeed like a garden. The inclos'd corn-fields made one grand parterre, the thick planted hedge rows, like a wilderness or labyrinth, divided in espaliers; the villages interspers'd, look'd like so many several noble seats of gentlemen at a distance. In a word, it was all nature, and yet look'd all like art; on the left hand we see the west-end of London, Westminster-Abbey, and the Parliament-House, but the body of the city was cut off by the hill, at which Hampstead intercepted the sight on that side.

More to the south we had Hampton Court, and S.W. Windsor, and between both, all those most beautiful parts of Middlesex and Surrey, on the bank of the Thames, of which I have already said so much, and which are indeed the most agreeable in the world.

At the farther end of this heath, is the town of Bushy, and at the end of the town, the Earl of Essex has a very good old seat, situate in a pleasant park, at Cashiobery; a little farther, is the town of Hemstead, noted for an extraordinary cornmarket, and at Ashridge, near Hemstead, is an antient mansion house of the Duke of Bridge-water, both these are old built houses, but both shew the greatness of the antient nobility, in the grandeur and majesty of the building, and in the well-planted parks, and high grown woods, with which they are surrounded, than which, there are few finer in England. St. Albans is the capital town, tho' not the county town of Hertfordshire, it has a great corn market, and is famous for its antient church, built on the ruins, or part of the ruins of the most famous abbey of Verulam; the greatness of which, is to be judg'd by the old walls, which one sees for a mile before we come to town.

In this church as some workmen were digging for the repairs of the church, they found some steps which led to a door in a very thick stone wall, which being opened, there was discover'd an arched stone vault, and in the middle of it a large coffin near 7 foot long, which being open'd, there was in it the corps of a man, the flesh not consum'd, but discolour'd; by the arms and other paintings on the wall, it appear'd that this must be the body of Humphry Duke of Gloucester, commonly call'd, the good Duke of Gloucester, one of the sons of Henry IV. and brother to King Henry V. and by the most indisputable authority,' must have lain buried there 277 years. Viz. It being in the 26th of Hen. VI. 1477.

But I must travel no farther this way, till I have taken a journey west from London, and seen what the country affords that way; the next towns adjacent to London, are, Kensington, Chelsea, Hammersmith, Fulham, Twickenham, &. all of them near, or adjoyning to the river of Thames, and which, by the beauty of their buildings, make good the north shore of the river, answerable, to what I have already describ'd. Kensington cannot be nam'd without mentioning the king's palace there; a building which may now be call'd entirely new, tho' it was originally an old house of the Earl of Nottingham's of whom the late King William bought it, and then enlarg'd it as we see; some of the old building still remaining in the center of the house.

The house it self fronts to the garden three ways, the gardens being now made exceeding fine, and enlarged to such a degree, as to reach quite from the great road to Kensington town, to the Acton road north, more than a mile. The first laying out of these gardens was the design of the late Queen Mary, who finding the air agreed with, and was necessary to the health of the king, resolved to make it agreeable to her self too, and gave the first orders for enlarging the gardens: the author of this account, having had the honour to attend her majesty, when she first viewed the ground, and directed the doing it, speaks this with the more satisfaction.

The late Queen Anne compleated what Queen Mary began, and delighted very much in the place; and often was pleased to make the green house which is very beautiful, her summer supper house.

But this house has lost much of its pleasantness on one account, namely, that all the princes that ever might be said to single it out for their delight, had the fate to dye in it; namely, King William, Prince George of Denmark, and lastly, Queen Anne her self; since which it has not been so much in request, King George having generally kept his summer, when in England, at Hampton Court.

As this palace opens to the west, there are two great wings built, for lodgings for such as necessarily attend the court, and a large port cocher at the entrance, with a postern and a stone gallery on the south side of the court which leads to the great stair-case.

This south wing was burnt down by accident, the king and queen being both there, the queen was a little surprized at first, apprehending some treason, but King William a stranger to fears smil'd at the suggestion, chear'd her majesty up, and being soon dress'd, they both walked out into the garden, and stood there some hours till they perceived the fire by the help that came in, and by the diligence of the foot guards, was gotten under foot.

It is no wonder if the Court being so much at Kensington, that town has encreased in buildings, so I do not place that to the same account as of the rest; On the south side of the street over against the palace, is a fair new large street, and a little way down a noble square full of very good houses, but since the Court has so much declin'd the palace, the buildings have not much encreased.

South of this town stands Chelsea, a town of palaces, and which by its new extended buildings seems to promise itself to be made one time or other a part of London, I mean London in its new extended capacity, which if it should once happen, what a monster must London be, extending (to take it in a line) from the farther end of Chelsea, west, to Deptford-Bridge east, which I venture to say, is at least eleven miles.

Here is the noblest building, and the best foundation of its kind in the world, viz. for the entertainment of maimed and old soldiers. If we must except the hospital call'd Des Invalids at Paris, it must be only that the number is greater there, but I pretend to say that the oeconomy of the invalids there, is not to compare with this at Chelsea; and as for the provisions, the lodging and attendance given, Chelsea infinitely exceeds that at Paris. Here the poor men are lodg'd, well cloathed, well furnish'd, and well fed, and I may say there are thousands of poor families in England who are said to live well too, and do not feed as the soldiers there are fed; and as for France, I may add, they know nothing there what it is to live so. The like may be said of the invalid sea men at the hospital of Greenwich.

Near this hospital or college, is a little palace, I had almost call'd it a paradise, of the late earl of Ranelagh. It is true that his lordship was envied for the work, but had it been only for the beauties of the building, and such things as these, I should have been hardly able to censure it, the temptation wou'd have been so much; In a word, the situation, the house, the gardens, the pictures, the prospect, and the lady, all is such a charm; who could refrain from coveting his neighbours .... &.

It is impossible to give an account of all the rest of England in this one volume, while London and its adjacent parts, take up one half of it: I must be allowed therefore to abate the description of private houses and gardens, in which (this part especially) so abounds, that it would take up two or three volumes equal to this, to describe the county of Middlesex only.

Let it suffice to tell you that there's an incredible number of fine houses built m all these towns, within these few years, and that England never had such a glorious show to make in the world before; In a word, being curious in this part of my enquiry, I find two thousand houses which in other places wou'd pass for palaces, and most, if not all the possessors whereof, keep coaches in the little towns or villages of the county of Middlesex, west of London only; and not reckoning any of the towns within three miles of London; so that I exclude Chelsea, Kensington, Knights-Bridge, Marybon, and Paddington; as for Hampstead, that lying north of London, is not concerned in the reckoning, for I reckon'd near a thousand more such in the towns north of London, within the county of Middlesex, and exclusive of Hackney, for Hackney I esteem as part of London itself as before: among all these three thousand houses I reckon none but such, as are built since the year 1666, and most of them since the Revolution.

Among these, that is to say, among the first two thousand new foundations, there are very many houses belonging to the nobility, and to persons of quality, (some of whom) have been in the ministry; which excel all the rest. Such as the Lord Peterborough's at Parsons Green; Lord Hallifax at Bushy Park, near Hampton Court; the late Earl of Marr, Earl of Bradford, Earl of Strafford, Earl of Shrewsbury, Earl of Burlington, Earl of Falconberg, Lady Falkland, Lord Brook, Lord Dunbarr, Moses Hart, Mr. Barker, Sir Stephen Fox, Sir Thomas Frankland, General Wettham, Sir Godfrey Kneller, Secretary Johnson's, and others. This last is a seat so exquisitely finish'd, that his majesty was pleased to dine there, to view the delightful place, and honour it with his presence, that very day, that I was writing this account of it. The king was pleased to dine in the green house, or rather in a pleasant room which Mr. Johnson built, joyning to the green house; from whence is a prospect every way into the most delicious gardens; which indeed for the bigness of them are not out-done in any part of the world. Here is a compleat vineyard, and Mr. Johnson who is a master of gardening, perhaps the greatest master now in England, has given a testimony that England notwithstanding the changeable air and uncertain climate, will produce most excellent if due care be taken in the gardening or cultivating, as also in the curing and managing part; and without due care in these, not France it self will do it.

Sir Stephen Fox's house at Chiswick is the flower of all the private gentlemens palaces in England. Here when the late King William, who was an allowed judge of fine buildings, and of gardening also, had seen the house and garden, he stood still on the terras for near half a quarter of an hour without speaking one word, when turning at last to the Earl of Portland, the king said, This place is perfectly fine, I could live here five days.1 In the village of Hammersmith, which was formerly a long scattering place, full of gardeners grounds, with here and there an old house of some bulk: I say, in this village we see now not only a wood of great houses and palaces, but a noble square built as it were in the middle of several handsome streets, as if the village seem'd enclin'd to grow up into a city.

Here we are told they design to obtain the grant of a market, tho' it be so near to London, and some talk also of building a fine stone bridge over the Thames; but these things are yet but in embryo, tho' it is not unlikely but they may be both accomplished in time, and also Hammersmith and Chiswick joyning thus, would in time be a city indeed.

I have now ranged the best part of Middlesex, a county made rich, pleasant, and populous by the neighbourhood of London: The borders of the county indeed have three market towns; which I shall but just mention, Stanes, Colebrook, and Uxbridge: This last, a pleasant large market town, famous in particular, for having abundance of noble seats of gentlemen and persons of quality in the neighbourhood: But I can not describe all the fine houses, it would be endless. This town is also famous in story, for being the town where an attempt was in vain made in the late war, to settle the peace of these nations, by a treaty; Some say both sides were sincerely inclin'd to peace; some say neither side; all I can say of it is, in the words of blessed St. Paul, Sathan hindred. There are but three more market towns in the county, viz. Brentford, Edgworth and Enfield.

On the right hand as we ride from London to Uxbridge, or to Colebrook, we see Harrow, a little town on a very high hill, and is therefore call'd Harrow on the Hill: The church of this town standing upon the summit of the hill, and having a very handsome and high spire, they tell us, King Charles II. ridiculing the warm disputes among some critical scripturallists of those times, concerning the visible church of Christ upon earth; us'd to say of it, that if there was e'er a visible church upon earth, he believ'd this was one.

About Uxbridge, and all the way from London, as we do every where this way, we saw a great many very beautiful seats of the nobility and gentry, too many I say to enter upon the description of here.

From hence, we proceeded on the road towards Oxford; but first turned to the right to visit Aylesbury. This is the principal market town in the county of Bucks; tho' Buckingham a much inferior place, is call'd the county town: Here also is held the election for Members of Parliament, or Knights of the Shire for the county, and county goal, and the assizes. It is a large town, has a very noble market for corn, and is famous for a large tract of the richest land in England, extended for many miles round it, almost from Tame, on the edge of Oxfordshire, to Leighton in Bedfordshire, and is called from this very town, the Vale of Aylesbury. Here it was that conversing with some gentlemen, who understood country affairs, for all the gentlemen hereabouts are graziers, tho' all the graziers are not gentlemen; they shew'd me one remarkable pasture-field, no way parted off or separated, one piece of it from another; I say, 'tis one enclosed field of pasture ground, which was let for 1400l . per ann. to a grazier, and I knew the tenant very well, whose name was Houghton, and who confirm'd the truth of it.

It was my hap formerly, to be at Aylesbury, when there was a mighty confluence of noblemen and gentlemen, at a famous horse race at Quainton-Meadow, not far off, where was then the late Duke of Monmouth, and a great many persons of the first rank, and a prodigious concourse of people.

I had the occasion to be there again in the late queen's reign; when the same horse race which is continu'd yearly, happen'd again, and then there was the late Duke of Marlborough, and a like concourse of persons of quality; but the reception of the two dukes was mightily differing, the last duke finding some reasons to withdraw from a publick meeting, where he saw he was not like to be used as he thought he had deserved. The late Lord Wharton, afterwards made duke, has a very good dwelling at Winchenden, and another much finer nearer Windsor, call'd Ubourn. But I do not hear that the present duke has made any additions, either to the house or gardens; they were indeed admirably fine before, and if they are but kept in the same condition, I shall think the dukes care cannot be reproach'd.

Were there not in every part of England at this time so many fine palaces, and so many curious gardens, that it would but be a repetition of the same thing to describe them; I should enter upon that task with great chearfulness here, as also at Clifden, the Earl of Orkney's fine seat built by the late D. of Buckingham, near Windsor, and at several other places, but I proceed: We went on from Aylesbury to Thame or Tame, a large market town on the River Thames: This brings me to mention again The Vale of Aylesbury; which as I noted before, is eminent for the richest land, and perhaps the richest graziers in England: But it is more particularly famous for the head of the River Thame or Thames, which rises in this vale near a market town call'd Tring, and waters the whole vale either by itself or the several streams which run into it, and when it comes to the town of Tame, is a good large river.

At Tring abovenam'd is a most delicious house, built ? la moderne , as the French call it, by the late Mr. Guy, who was for many years Secretary of the Treasury, and continued it till near his death; when he was succeeded by the late Mr. Lowndes. The late King William did Mr. Guy the honour to dine at this house, when he set out on his expedition to Ireland, in the year 1690, the same year that he fought the battle of the Boyn; and tho' his Majesty came from London that morning, and was resolved to lye that night at Northampton, yet he would not go away without taking a look at the fine gardens, which are perhaps the best finish'd in the worst situation of any in England. This house was afterwards bought by Sir William Gore, a merchant of London; and left by him to his eldest son, who now enjoys it.

There was an eminent contest here between Mr. Guy, and the poor of the parish, about his enclosing part of the common to make him a park; Mr. Guy presuming upon his power, set up his pales, and took in a large parcel of open land, call'd Wiggington-Common; the cottagers and farmers oppos'd it, by their complaints a great while; but finding he went on with his work, and resolv'd to do it, they rose upon him, pull'd down his banks, and forced up his pales, and carried away the wood, or set it on a heap and burnt it; and this they did several times, till he was oblig'd to desist; after some time he began again, offering to treat with the people, and to give them any equivalent for it: But that not being satisfactory, they mobb'd him again. How they accommodated it at last, I know not; but I see that Mr. Gore has a park, and a very good one but not large: I mention this as an instance of the popular claim in England; which we call right of commonage, which the poor take to be as much their property, as a rich man's land is his own.

But to return to the Vale of Aylesbury. Here the great and antient family of Hampden flourish'd for many ages, and had very great estates: But the present heir may (I doubt) be said, not to have had equal success with some of his ancestors.

From Thame, a great corn market, the Thame joins the other branch call'd also the Thames, at a little town call'd Dorchester. I observe that most of our historians reject the notion that Mr. Cambden makes so many flourishes about, of the marriage of Thame and Isis; that this little river was call'd the Thame, and the other, the Isis; and that being join'd, they obtain'd the united name of Thamisis: I say they reject it, and so do I. At this little town of Dorchester was once the seat of the bishoprick of Lincoln.

Daniel Defoe, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies (London: JM Dent and Co, 1927)

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