Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1697: Through Kent to Canterbury and Dover

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My Journey to Canterberry and Dover in Kent the same year from Amwell in Hartfordshire. I went to Royston 1 mile, and Epin in Essex 9 mile, thence to Drumford through Lanes and much wood-that part of Essex is full of woods; yt was 10 mile. Thence to Abnife 14 mile, thence to Tilbery 3 mile wch is a ffine ffort, a great flatt to ye Land, full of Watry ditches and may be flooded all over. Here was the fight by ye parliament in 1640. There are Severall Buildings by themselves of a Triangular form of Brickwork in wch ye powder and amunition is kept. Here is a ferry over to Gravesend where we enter Kent, wch Lyes just over against it a little snugg town under a hill, the houses little and thick together fitt only for seamen and soldiers yt are Employ'd in the water or the ffort. I saw severall Colliers pass by Laden towards London.

The Thames here is very Rough and Deep so as we fferry over in a boate like a Hoy. Thence I went to Rochester 7 mile most in lanes; we Enter the town over the Medway wch is the finest River I ever saw, it runs thence to the sea and meetes ye Thames at ye Boy in Nore and so they fall into ye sea together, but it Ebbs and flows up a great way above Rochester and is very salt. The Bridg at Rochester is the finest in England-nay its said to Equal any in the world-it is not built upon wth houses as London Bridge but its very Long and fine, Iron spikes Like a grate is on the top of the wall wch is breast high, and these jrons on the top wch are above a yard more. Its jndented at Each arch as all bridges are, there are 9 large Arches wth ye middle one wch is to be opened by drawing up to give passage to Barges and little vessells. When ye tyde was out I saw the worke of the arches is wth wood Cutt hollow, and stands a good distance into the water to keep the water from bearing too hard against the Bridge. The town is large jncludeing the suburbs and all, for there is a large place before you pass the river wch washes quite round yt side of ye town to ye Dockyards, thats a mile from it where are two large yards for building shipps.

I saw severall Large shipps building, others refitting. There was in one place a sort of arches like a bridge of Brickwork, they told me ye use of it was to let in ye water there, and so they put their masts in to season, besides this dock, here are severall streetes of houses on this hill wch is pretty high and is just against Rochester, and on ye hill you have ye best prospect of the town and see ye severall good Churches in it, and the Castle wch is a pretty Little thing just by ye Medway wch runs along by it, and so at foote of this hill is a Round and so onward to sea. There were severall shipps at anchor along ye River. All behind the town is another hill wch is covered wth fine woods yt Looks very fine; thence to Sittingburn 11 mile all in sight of ye Lovely Medway. This is a very good town for ye Road and travellers as you shall meete wth . The Church is all built wth flints headed so Curiously that it Lookes like glass and shines with ye suns Reflexion.

Thence to Canterbery 16 mile, we pass by great Hop yards on both sides of the Road, and this year was great quantetyes of that fruite here in Kent. We pass by Ffeversham just at ye towns End wch is 9 mile from Canterbury, its a very large town and good buildings of Bricke. Canterbery opens to view 6 miles distant by ye advantage of a high hill we pass over to it-its a noble Citty-ye gates are high tho' but narrow, the streetes are most of them Large and long, and ye buildings handsome, very neate but not very Lofty, most are of Brick-work, its a flourishing town, good tradeing in ye weaving of silks. I saw 20 Loomes in one house wth severall fine flower'd silks, very good ones, and its a very Ingenious art to fix the warps and Chaine in their Loomes to Cast their work into such ffigures and flowers. There stands a boy by Every Loome and pulls up and down threads wch are fastened to the weaving, and so pulls the Chaine to the Exact form for ye shuttle to work through.

There are also paper mills wch dispatches paper at a quick rate, they were then makeing brown paper wn I saw it. The mill is set agoing by ye water and at ye same tyme it pounded the raggs to morter for ye paper, and it beate out meale and Hemp and ground bread altogether-that is at ye same tyme. When ye substance for ye paper is pounded Enough, they take it in a great tub and so with a frame just of ye size of ye sheetes of paper made all of small wire just as I have seen fine Screens to Screen Corne in, only this is much Closer wrought, and they Clap a frame of wood round ye Edge and so dip it into ye tub and what is too thinn runs through; then they turn this frame down on a piece of Coarse woollen just of ye size of ye paper and so give a Knock to it and it falls off; on wch they Clap another such a piece of woollen Cloth wch is ready to Lay ye next frame of paper, and so till they have made a large heape wch they by a board on the bottom move to a press, and so Lay a board on ye top and so Let down a great screw and weight on it, wch they force together into such a narrow Compass as they know so many sheets of paper will be reduced, and this presses out all ye thinner part and Leaves the paper so firme as it may be taken up sheete by sheete and Laid together to be thoroughly dryed by the wind. They told me white paper was made in the same manner only they must take white woollen to put between. There is a great number of French people in this town wch are Employ'd in the weaving and silk winding, I meete them Every night going home in great Companyes, but then some of them were Employ'd in the Hopping, it being the season for pulling them. Here is a spring in the town that is dranke by many persons as Tunbridge and approv'd by them, but others find it an ill water, one Gentleman in ye same house I was in Complained of a numbness in his Limbs after drinking it sometyme, wch is quite Contrary to Tunbridge waters whose property is to relieve Lost Limbs yt are benumbed, and it Comeing from steele should have yt Effect it raising the blood and gives it a new Circulation. The taste of the spring in this town seems to be from a mixt soyle and bears a Likeness to ye Sulpher spaw Epsome and ye Iron springs too wch are at Tunbridge; what its operation is I Cannot tell only tasteing halfe a Glass of it wch I did not Like. Ye well is walled in and a raile round wth stepps down and paved aboute for the Company to stand just at ye head to drinke, but I like no spring yt rises not quick and runs off apace that must have most spirit and good off the minerall it Comes from. There is fine walks and seates and places for the musick to make it acceptable and Comodious to ye Company. There is a large Market house and a town Hall over it in the town, but the Cathedrall is the finest sight there, the Carving of stone is very fine on the outside as also within, but its not so Large as Salisbury; its a square tower-no spire running up from it-but the small ones at Each Corner of ye tower for ornament.

There are two large jsles in ye middle of the Church wch leads to open gates of jron barrs and spikes, thence is an ascent of 20 steps, as Winchester Church is; up to ye Quire, where is a fine Large organ, so is the ffont well Carv'd and painted and Gilded, the bottom is white and grey Marble wth white marble statues round the stem to the ffoote, the top is made in a piramidy Carv'd and painted. The Windows in ye Quire are most delicately painted as Ever I saw, ye Curiosity of the worke and Coullours beyond others, but the size of the windows much Inferior being very small for a Church. Ye Glass is very thick and the Coullours Laid on it strikes through the glass, its Coullours tinctures all ye Glass, an art wch now is lost amongst us. At ye Alter is a Cloth and Coushons of purple ffigured Velvet the books the same, there is a broad tissue border of orrace work gold and silver, and at ye Edge is a ffine knotted fringe of purple silk and gold. The Bishops seate and Cushon the same wch was given by our good Queen Mary King Williams Queen when she was at Canterbery. The Chapter house is pretty Lofty supported by its own worke wth out pillars, its Ceiled with Irish oake, there are severall good monuments of ye Kings and queens and great men and severall Bishops. There is one Bishops statue yt was at ye paines to divide the Bible into Chapters wch makes it more Commodious to the Reader, and was a good Employment for him it being the proper subject of such a person of ye Church to studdy ye holy Scriptures wch gives the truest wisdom. There is the Chaire that all ye Arch Bishops are Inaugurated in when made Arch Bishops, its wood with Elbows. There is another statue of a Bishop Cut out in wood, his Robes and all well Carv'd and is ffirm and solid still, Except some small deffaceing by ye soldiers in ye warre tyme, and this has stood some 100 of yeares. There is a Chapple Called Thomas of Beckets Crown, the Roofe being Carv'd in the fform of a Crown and painted; there is also a pavement wch is much worne by the feete and knees off this Sts votarys that Came to do obeysance to his Shrine. There is one Brass statue in armour but its not so bright being less regarded than that at Warwick. Under the Cathedrall is a Large Church just Like St Ffaiths under St Pauls in London; this is given to the Ffrench protestants in the town for the worshipping God, it holds a vast number of people, its as full of Seates as Can thrust by Each other, it seemed a Little darkish, but they say when the doores are open its Light Enough, its so well arch'd that they Cannot hear them in the Cathedrall when singing-at least no wayes to disturb them. I went out another part of the town thro' a good gate and so to Dover 15 mile much up hill and down, it was a good Road and Sort of Champion Country, yet at a distance you see many good woods and pretty houses wth Rows of trees. The Castle at Dover is discover'd five mile off standing on the Edge of a very steep hill on wch you ascend up to ye tower 120 steps up, whence you discover Callice in Ffrance. I saw the Clifts and hills plaine, but in some Cleer dayes towards the Evening you may see the towers and buildings of Callice, you likewise see a vast way on all sides sea ward and to ye Land. The Castle is Left much to decay and ruinated only a small appartment for the Governour of three or four Roomes, Else ye whole is spoyl'd the floores taken up and wanscoate pulled down. I was in the roome Queen Elizabeth was kept prisoner in till the death of queen Mary, the balcony just by in wch she saw the messenger Coming which she supposed was of Death to take off her head, but proved the Messenger that brought ye news of the Crown and Kingdom falling to her by the death of her sister. She afterwards repaired the Chapple but now its quite out of use, the Roofe and side being Mouldred down in many places. There is a fine dry well in ye Castle walled Curiously of a vast depth, the use of it was to Discover the work of the miners in tyme of a siege whereabout they were at worke, going down into this well discovered ye working by ye shakeing ye Earth at what side they were at worke, and so might defeate them by a Countermine. There is also a great well of 60 ffathom deep, the water is drawn up by a great wheele with a horse, notwithstanding its so deep yet its also wide and Exactly down Right, that I could see the water at the top, and when I flung a stone wch was a pretty while descending I saw when it plashed into ye water. There is on ye Plattform guns mounted wch being so high Commands the Road so as no ship Durst saile under it. Its a mighty steep Clift at the poynt which makes ones head Giddy to Look down to the sea. There is one Gun of Cast Brass of a Great Length finely Carv'd and adorn'd with ffigures, this Carrys a Ball a great way tho' ye bore or muzzle of ye Gun be not bigger than my fist, so the Ball its Charged with Cannot be very bigg but it will do Execution a great way off; this was made at Utriche in Holland and presented to Queen Elizabeth; its worth a great sum of money for its Curiosity. There is a Little Cannon of ye same worke wch I have seen in ye Tower at London, there is a great Inscription on it. There are Gunns also planted in a Little ffort at ye ffoote of this steepe Clift to secure ye Road from Pirates, for as to Dover town it Looks like a place of no deffence, its a Little place, ye houses are Little and looks thrust together, there is a market house and town hall, its well enough for the accomodation of the seamen and to Supply the shipps wth anything, it seems where the town stands the sea formerly Came in and was Cover'd under water severall fathom deep so as the shipps Ride there in harbour. The town was only within the Limits of a wall wch Encompass's ye Castle of which small matters appears' only of a great Banck and some parts of ye Ruines of ye ffoundation, but ye sea Leaving the shore so ffarre they have built this town wch has no gates.

Thence we went to Deale 7 mile, all by the sea side wch is Called the Downs wch sometymes is full of shipps all along the Road, but now there were not many. The Downes seems to be so open a place and the shoar so Easye for Landing I should think it no difficulty to Land a good army of men in a little tyme, there is only 3 Little fforts, or Castles they Call them, about a miles distance one to another-Warworth at Deal, and Sandwitch which holds a few Guns, but I should think they would be of Little Effect and give the Enemy no great trouble. Deale Looks like a good thriveing place, ye buildings new and neate Brickwork with gardens. I believe they are most masters of shipps houses and seamen or Else those that belong to ye Cordage and Saile makeing with other Requisites to shipping. All this Country about seemes to be a very fruitfull soyle and full of woods. You see a many pretty towns altogether almost, neate Churches and towers all the way you travell from Dover to Deale on yr Left hand, but beyond Deale you go a very deepe heavy sand for 4 mile to Sandwich. You go along by ye Sea side in sight of the jsle of Thannet wch is just over against Sandwich and is so near it you see ye Lands and jnclosures and woods and houses. I suppose it not a quarter of a League from Sandwich; this is a sad old town all timber building, you Enter by a gate and so you go out of it by a gate, but its run so to Decay that Except one or two good houses its just like to Drop down ye whole town.

Thence to Canterbery ten mile most thro' Lanes. We come by my Lord Winchelseas house, garden and parke. Ye house is an old building-and so I Entered Canterbery another way through another gate and observ'd all wayes to ye town-being from hills gives the prospect of ye town very finely to the Eye and Indeed it Lookes like a good Citty altogether which way Ever you Looke on it in the approach. From thence to Maidstone I went 9 mile back the way I Came, and on the hill 6 mile off wch gave me so fine a sight of Canterbery as I came, did Likewise present a pleaseing prospect as I returned; it being a very high hill Commands the view of the Country a vast way and wth such variety of woods rivers and Inclosures and buildings that was very delicate and diverting. When I turned off the road to Maidstone I travell'd through Lanes and woods wch were very ffine but hid ye sight of the Country about being so Close; yt it was ye privatest Road I have travell'd. About 10 mile short of Maidstone you ascend a very steep hill wch discovers the whole Country at one view 40 mile off backward from whence we Came; and a few paces on the top of ye hill the descent of the hill on that other side is so great a fall that gives you as full a discovery of the Country all forward, both wch shew the variety of grounds intermixt wth Each other, and Lesser hills [and plaines and Rivers wch such advanced grounds present ye travellers at one view; this is Called Boxlye hills and is part of the same Ridge of hills wch runs along by Epsome.

From Canterbery its 30 mile to Maidstone. Maidstone town is a very neate market town as you shall see in the Country, its buildings are mostly of timber worke, the streetes are Large. The Market Cross runs down in the middle of the greate streete a good way, there being three divisions in it, one good Cross for fruite, another for Corne, and another for all sorts of things, 2 of which is built over for the town hall and publick use. There is also a Large Gail. This streete notwithstanding the hall and Cross stands in the midst, is yet a good breadth on Each side and when it Comes to meete in one, is very broad and runs down a great Length quite to the bridge Cross the Medway which is not very broad here, yet it beares Barges that bring up burdens to the town: it seemes to divide the town for beyond the Bridge are buildings, whole streetes wch runs along ye river. There are very pretty houses about the town, looks like the habitation of Rich men. I believe its a wealthy place, there are severall pretty streetes. This was Market day being Thursday and it seemed to be well furnish'd wth all sorts of Commodityes and I observed there was great quantety's of Leather but Could not Learn what particular thing that was their staple Comodity or tradeing in, but in Generall it seemed to be like a Little faire for the variety of wares tho' they told me that was not so full a Market as some dayes because the Country people were taken up aboute their hopping so Could not bring things to Market. Thence to Rochester 8 mile, I came by a great many ffine hopp yards where they were at work pulling ye hopps. I came into Rochester at the other side, thro' the wood on the hill I mentioned before, from whence the town and ye dock yards washed by the Medway, with the shipps at anchor was as acceptable a prospect and diverting as was ye other on the other side. I went through ye town just by the great Church wch is a good building but nothing Curious: also I went by ye Castle wall wch is but small what remaines of it; thence over the ffine bridge, and as I travell'd all along in sight of the Medway to Rochester, so Next day I went in sight of the Thames. I went that night to Gravesend wch is all by the side of Cherry grounds that are of severall acres of ground, and Runs quite down to the Thames wch is Convenient for to Convey the Cherrys to London, for here the Great produce of that fruite is wch supplyes ye town and Country with ye Kentish Cherrys, a good sort Fflemish fruite. I went 2 mile beyond Gravesend wch made it in miles 9 from Rochester, to a Little place Called Northfleete, its much in the woods. Thence I went to Dartfford 6 mile a little neate town; thence to Shutershill 2 mile on the top of wch hill you see a vast prospect Exactly Round it, being a great height of ground and such a descent Every way that Commands the sight of a vast tract of ground, wch appeares in ye greatest variety-some Lands Clothed wth trees, others with grass and flowers, gardens orchards wth all sorts of Herbage and tillage, wth ye severall Little towns all by ye river Eariff, Leigh, Woolwich &, quite up to London, Greenwitch, Deadford, Blackwall-the Thames twisting and turning itself up and down bearing severall vessells and men of warre on it, and some under saile. On this part of the River I have seen 100 saile of shipps pass by in a morning which is one of the finest sights that is; added to this you view all Blackheath, the kings parke att Greenwitch, and a vast Country on yt side, besides ye places whence I came by: turning about I Could view at Least 20 mile. This is Esteemed as a noted Robbing place; on this hill are severall springs of water wch Comes from Allum which are very quick purges much Like Epsome and Dullage, but I thinke farre Exceeds Either in strength and opperation. Thence to Greenwitch 2 mile where I ferry'd over, and observ'd one Little shipp passed by me wch I observ'd was farr behind me in ye morning at Gravesend and sailed along in sight all the tyme and was gotten before me. I fferry'd to Poplar and Stepney, so to Hackney 3 mile, thence to Tatnum 2 mile, thence to Endfield 5 miles, wch is all in Middlesex Ever since I fferryed over out of Kent. Thence to Amwellbery 10 mile in Hartfordshire wch I Compleated in 5 days, and went 184 miles, wch added to severall journeys I went in Hartfordshire and twice to Amwell and to London againe wch is 76 mile alone, and ye severall journeys at London and in Hartfordshire, Comes to 150 more miles besides the Little Rideings to take ye aire at the parke or Else, wch were severall miles more if added together wch I have gone this year: but wth out that it is 226 miles, so add these to my Northern journey this yeare makes about 1045 miles of which I did not go above a hundred in the Coach.

Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press, 1888)

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