Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1698 Tour: Cambridge to Lichfield

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Thence I went to admiral Russells who is now Lord orfford, a long 10 mile, and Loseing my way made it 12 mile; its pretty good way. I passed by a village or two, and in a mile of Lord orffords house I Enter Cambridgeshire, wch stands 3 mile from New market. You Ride in sight of New market heath where the Races are-its good Road; here are severall good gardens well kept good gravell and green walks wth fine greens and flowers, walled in and all the outhouses very handsome. A Coach yard and stables in the middle of wch is a Large gate into ye ground, and built over wth a high lanthorn where hangs the Clock and bell: this stands higher than ye house like a tower; ye house being a flatt Roofe leaded and railed round full of Chimneys, but this tower I saw 10 mile off. All ye out offices built round a Court very handsome. The hall is very noble paved wth free stone, a squaire of black marble at Each Corner of. ye freestone: there are two fine white marble tables veined wth bleu; its wanscoated wth wall nut tree, the pannells and Rims round wth mulbery tree yt is a Lemon Coullour, and ye moldings beyond it round are of a sweete outlandish wood not much differing from Cedar but of a finer Graine, the Chaires are all the same: its hung wth pictures att full proportion of ye Royal family all in their Coronation Robes, from Charles the first to his Majesty wth ye Queen also, and at the End is Prince George and Princess Ann in their Robes of Crimson velvet and Dukes Coronet as Duke and Dutchess of Cumberland. The whole house is finely furnish'd wth differing Coulld Damaske and velvets, some ffigured and others plaine, at Least 6 or 7 in all Richly made up after a new mode. In ye best drawing roome was a very Rich hanging gold and silver and a Little scarlet, mostly tissue and brocade of gold and silver and border of green damaske round it; ye window Curtain ye same green damaske round it ye window Curtain ye same green damaske, and doore Curtains. There was no Looking-glass but on ye Chimney piece and just opposite in ye place a Looking glass used to be was 4 pannells of glass in Length and 3 in breadth set together in ye wanscoate. Ye same was in another drawing roome wch was for my Lord. The dining roome had this Looking glass on ye top peers between the three windows; it was from ye top to ye bottom 2 pannells in breadth and 7 in Length so it shews one from top to toe. The roomes were all well wanscoated and hung and there was ye finest Carv'd wood in fruitages, herbages, gum ms, beasts, fowles &. very thinn and fine all in white wood wth out paint or varnish. Ye severall sorts of things thus Carv'd were Exceeding naturall all round. The Chimney pieces and ye sconces stand on Each side the Chimney, and the glasses in those Chambers where were Loose Looking-glasses, wch were wth fine Carv'd head and frames some of the naturall wood others Gilt, but they were ye largest Looking-glasses I Ever saw. There was a great flower pott Gilt Each side the Chimney in the dineing Roome for to sett trees in. Ye great Curiosity of this wood Carving about ye Doores Chimneys and sconces, together wth ye great Looking Glass pannells is much talked of and is ye finest and most in quantety and numbers thats to be seen any where. There is very fine China and silver things and irons and jarrs and perfume potts of silver. Ye common Roomes are all new, Convenient and neate with Double doores lined to prevent noises. Ye Stair Case is wanscoated, very noble, fine Pictures, there is ye battle at la Hogue a Large sea piece wth an jnscription of ye admiralls valour when ye great ship ye Gunn was burnt and mightily valued by ye ffrench King.

From thence I went 8 mile to Ely wch were as long as the 12 I Came from St Edmondsbery, ye wayes being very deep; its mostly Lanes and Low moorish ground on Each Side deffended by ye ffendiks wch are deep ditches wth draines. Ye ffenns are full of water and mudd these also Encompass their grounds, Each mans part 10 or a dozen acres a piece or more, so these dieks are the fences. On Each side they plant willows so there is 2 rows of trees runns round ye ground wch Looks very finely to see a flatt of many miles so planted but it must be ill to Live there. All this while Ely minster is in one's view at a mile distant you would think, but go, it is a Long 4 miles. A mile distant from ye town is a Little Hamlet from wch I descended from a steep hill and so Cross a bridge over water wch Enters into ye Island of Ely, and so you pass a flatt on a Gravel Causey wch way ye Bishop is at ye Charge to repaire Else there would be no passing in ye summer. This is secured by some dikes wch surround more grounds as ye former, full of Rows of trees and willows round them wch makes Ely looke finely through those trees, and yt stands very high. In the winter this Caussey is over flowed and they have no way but boates to pass in. They Cut peate out of some of these grounds. The raines now had fallen so as in some places near ye Citty ye Caussey was Covered, and a Remarkable deliverance I had, for my horse Earnest to drinke ran to get more depth of water than ye Caussey had, was on ye brinke of one of these dikes, but by a speciall providence wch I desire never to forget and allways to be thankfull for, Escaped. Yt bridge was over the River Linn wch Comes from Norfolke and does almost Encompass the jsland of Ely wch is 20 mile in bigness, in wch are severall Little towns as Wisbech and many others. There is another River that joyns wth ye Linn wch Compasses this land into an jsland. At this bridge is a gate, but by reason of ye great raines ye roades were full of water, even quite to ye town wch you ascend a very steep hill into, but ye dirtyest place I ever saw, not a bitt of pitching in ye streetes, so its a perfect quagmire ye whole Citty, only just about ye palace and Churches the streetes are well enough for breadth, but for want of pitching it seemes only a harbour to breed and nest vermine in of wch there is plenty Enough, so that tho' my Chamber was near 20 Stepps up I had froggs and slow worms and snailes in my Roome, but suppose it was brought up wth ye faggotts. But it Cannot but be jnfested wth all such things being altogether moorish ffenny ground wch Lyes Low: it is true were the Least Care taken to pitch their streetes it would make it Looke more properly an habitation for human beings and not a Cage or nest of unclean Creatures. It must needs be very unhealthy tho' the natives say much to the Contrary wch proceeds from Custom and use, otherwise to persons born in up and dry Countryes it must destroy them Like Rotten sheep in Consumptions and Rhums.

The Bishop does not Care to stay long in this place not being for his health; he is the Lord of all the jsland, has the Command and ye jurisdiction. They have lost their Charter and so are no Corporation but all things are directed by the Bishop and its a shame he does not see it better ordered and ye buildings and streetes put in a better Condition. They are a slothful people and for little but ye takeing Care of their Grounds and Cattle wch is of vast advantage. Where the yeares prove drye they gaine so much that in Case 6 or 7 wet yeares drown them all over, the one good yeare sufficiently Repaires their loss.

There is a good palace for the Bishop built of stone, but it was unfurnished. There are two Churches; Ely minster is a Curious pile of Building all of stone, the outside full of Carvings and great arches and fine pillars in the front, and the jnside has the greatest variety and neatness in the works. There are two Chappels most Exactly Carved in stone all sorts of figures, Cherubims Gilt and painted in some parts. Ye Roofe of one Chappell was one Entire stone most delicately Carved, and hung down in great poynts all about ye Church. The pillars are Carv'd and painted wth ye history of ye bible, Especially the new testament and description of Christs miracles. The Lanthorn in ye quire is vastly high and delicately painted and fine Carv'd worke all of wood, in it the bells used to be hung, five, the dimention of ye biggest was so much when they rung them it shooke ye quire so and ye Carv'd worke that it was thought unsafe, therefore they were taken down. Its 80 odd steps to the top of ye Lanthorn and 160 steps round in Compass. There are very good monuments and abundance of niches in the walls where Statues have been; there is one of white marble Laying at length an d so Exactly Cut yt ye hand lookes Extreamely natural, the sinewes and veines and every turn of ye fingers so finely done as to appear very proper. There is another that was a Bishop made by Queen Elizabeth whose garments and all are marble and so finely Embroydered Carv'd and painted and gilt and a verge all down before and Round ye neck wth ye ffigures of the apostles done in Embroydery as it were, all marble very fine. There was 4 or 5 more good Marble Statues. There was on one of ye Pillars ye shape of ye seameless Coate wch Christ wore. In another place there is a great Red Cross very high on some of ye arches, and its very dangerous to go or Climbe round, the pillars to it being of a vast height and this used to be as a pennance to ye people in ye tyme of popery. There is one Chappell for Confession wth a Roome and Chaire of State for ye priest to set to hear ye people on their knees Confess into his Eare through a hole in ye wall. This Church has ye most popish remaines in its walls of any I have seen. There still remaines a Cross over the alter; the Candlesticks are 3 quarters of a yd high massy silver gilt very heavy. The ffont is one Entire piece of White Marble stemm and foote, the Cover was Carv'd wood wth ye image of Chsts being baptised by John and the holy Dove Descending on him, all finely Carv'd white wood wth out any paint or varnish. They Draw up the Cover by a pully and so Let it down again wch shutts Close unless against raines then it swells open as it did now and I believe in yt Citty its usually annoy'd with wet. This Cathedrall was much frequented by the priests in K James the Seconds tyme and many of their Relicts washed ffaire to be seen, and ye woman told me the priest use to shew her where Every thing was, and they hoped quickly to be in possession of it, and made many promises how kind they would be to them their retainers to the Church; but blessed be God yt put a tymely stop to the protestants utter ruin and ye hopes of the papists. When I was upon the tower I Could see Cambridg and a great prospect of ye Country wch by reason of ye great rains just before under water, all the ffenny ground being all on a flatt unless it be one side of the town wch is all the high dry grounds, into wch they drive up their Cattle to secure them in the wet seasons. There is no tradeing in the town, their maine buissiness and dependance is on draining and fencing their Grounds and breeding and grasseing Cattle. There is a fine gate of stone arch'd Like a Church wch is Called the abbey, but no remaines of ye Abby Left, only as its built into houses for the Doctors and Clergy, within which is the palace for the Bishop which is their temporall as well as spiritual prince or Lord. From this Citty I passed over those higher grounds on wch was some good Corn but mostly is for grass for their Cattle. You see many pretty Little towns 4 or 5 in view together 2 or 3 miles distant. I went to Sutton, one of them, 6 miles off the Citty, this was a Little Market town; thence to ye ffenn banks on ye top of which I Rode at Least two miles wth ye ffenns on both sides wch now were mostly under water, a vast tract of such grounds wch are divided by the Dikes wth out trees, as those I observ'd before, and these high banks are made to draine and ffence out ye water from ye Lower grounds, and so from one banck to another wch are once in many acres of Land 100, so that at length it does bear off the water but in the winter it returns, so as they are forced to watch and be all wayes in repaireing those bancks; and Considering ye vast allowance yearly for draining those fenns at least 3000? [P] an. I wonder they have not perfectly runn off ye water and so Barracadoed it as not to (?)soe it often overflows it againe as it does in many places; but they are all a lazy sort of people and are afraid to do too much. Here I see yt many swans nests on Little Hillocks of Earth in the wett ground that they Look as if swimming wth their nests, some were with their young signetts, 3 or 4 in heape wth their damms hovering over them for their security. This brought me to the Armitage along 8 mile in all from Ely town, and here I Repass'd the River Lin on a wooden Bridge and so went out of ye jsland of Ely wch was in Cambridgshire and Entred into Huntingdonshire.

There was another bridge over a deep place of ye River under wch the boates and barges went, and this bridge was in the water; one must pass thro' water to it and so beyond it a good way, and ye Road was so full of holes and quicksands I durst not venture, ye water Covering them over and a stranger there Cannot Easily Escape ye danger, tho' I see the Carryers went yt way to save the Expense of ye fferry, but I Rather chose to Ride round and fferry over in a boate 2 pence a horse to a Little town. This river runs along by St Ives wch was an old monastery and a Rich one. From this fferry its 8 mile to Huntington town; one goes much in sight of ye River and ye severall places built on its bancks wch Looks well-these are pretty long miles. From Huntington town I went to Stillton 9 mile more, and thence I went to ye Citty of Peterborough in Lincolnshire wch was 5 long miles, the wayes deep and full of Sloughs. It stands very high and to be seen at a great distance ye towers of ye minster being all in view-one would think it but a quarter of a mile when you have a mile or two still to it. Ye whole Citty Looks very well and handsomely built but mostly timber worke: you pass over a Long stone bridg. The Streetes are very clean and neate, well pitch'd and broad as one shall see any where, there is a very spacious market place, a good Cross and town Hall on the top. The Cathedrall is a magnificent building standing in the midst on advanced ground, all stone, ye walls very neately wrought, the front is in 3 great arches full of Small stone pillars smoothly turn'd and halfe paces as it were in ye 2 side arches, the head is wth no high tower but 5 Little ones, 3 of wch in the middle are higher and bigger than the other; between Each are 3 peakes Like great Canteliver windows but all finely Carv'd in stone. Ye middle arch is the Entrance wch is Exceeding Lofty, as is the Roofe of ye whole, and so well painted that it appears to be hollow Carving, this seems to be the two remarkable things in ye whole. Its a spacious place, but one large jsle wch is in ye middle Leading up to ye quire, where I observed they put ye seate of any of their deceased dignatorys of ye Church in Black wth an Escutcheon: here was one, so now here was ye Statue of ye person yt was last abbott and first Bishop of ye place; there was also ye 2 monuments of 2 queens, yt of Catherine of Spain being Harry ye 8ths queen, and also the statute of ye queen Mary of Scotts that was both beheaded and buried here, and there is also ye picture of an old man wth ye Inscription of ye whole matter, wch was ye Sexton and dugg both their graves. Here is a pallace for ye Bishop, of stone Building very neate, and ye Doctors houses, all in a space Called the Colledg-very neate but nothing Curious. The river Linn washes the town almost round; it Looks like a very jndustrious thriveing town-spinning and knitting amongst ye ordinary people.

I went thence to Wansford and passed by Mrs St Johns house wch stands on a hill a mile from ye town in a fine parke. There was no gate to Peterborough town and as I pass'd ye Road I saw upon ye walls of ye ordinary peoples houses and walls of their out houses, ye Cow dung plaister'd up to drie in Cakes wch they use for fireing, its a very offensive fewell, but ye Country people use Little Else in these parts. Wansford is 5 mile from Peterborough, where I passed over the Bridge wch Entred me into Northhamptonshire, the town being part in that shire wch is towards London, ye other in Lincolnshire wch a mile or two farther joyns wth Rutlandshire at Stamford, wch town stands in ye 3 Countyes, where I Lay at " ye Swan in Wansford in England,'' being a jest on a man makeing hay fell a sleep on a heap of it, and a great storme washed ye Hay and man into ye River and Carry'd him to ye Bridge, where he awoke and knew not where he was, Called to ye people in ye grounds and told them he liv'd in a place Called Wansford in England wch goes for a jest on ye men of Wansford to this Day.

Thence I went to Durant 5 miles and passed over a very good stone bridge. Here we are neare ye quarry's of stone, and all ye houses and walls are built of stone as in Glocestershire. This River and bridge Enter'd me into Leicestershire wch is a very Rich Country-Red land, good Corne of all sorts and grass, both fields and jnclosures. You see a great way upon their hills ye bottoms full of Enclosures, woods and different sort of manureing and Herbage, amongst wch are placed many little towns wch gives great pleasure of ye travellers to view. Ye miles are long but hither its pretty hard good way; to Coppingham 5 mile more wch is a neate market town. Satturday is their market wch is very good affording great quantetyes of Corn, Leather garne and Cattle; such a Concourse of people yt my Landlord told me he used to have 100 horse set up at his jnn, and there were many publick houses. Here you see very Large fine sheep and very good land, but very deep bad roads. From hence to Leister wch they Call but 13 miles, but ye longest 13 I ever went and ye most tiresome being full of sloughs, yt I was near 11 hours going but 2 5 mile, as they Reckon it, between Wansford and Leicester town-a footman Could have gone much faster than I Could Ride. Their fewell here is as I said but Cowdung or Coale wch they are supplyed with out of Warwickshire. Leicester town stands on the Side of a little riseing Ground, tho' at a distance from ye adjacent hills it Looks Low, but its a good prospect. It has 4 gates, ye streetes are pretty Large and well pitch'd, there are five parishes; the Market place is a Large space very handsome wth . a good Market Cross and town hall. Ye river Sow wch runs into ye river Reeke and both Empts themselves into ye Trent. Trent to ye Bow Bridge wch is one arch over into ye Priory, wch King Richd ye third pass'd over out of ye Priory when he went to fight in Bosworth field wth King Henry the seventh, but the stone he struck his heele at and against, wth wch his head was struck at his return when brought athwart the horse Dead, I Could not see it, being removed, but I saw a piece of his tombstone he Lay in, wch was Cut out in exact form for his body to Lye in; yt remains to be seen at ye Greyhound in Leaster but is partly broken. There I saw a piece of ye jury wall as its Called being in arches and was a place where the Jews burnt their sacrifices.

There are two Hospitalls, one for old men ye other women 24 in number; they are allowed 2s : 8d pr weeke, Candle, fewell oatmeale, butter and salt. I saw the Library wch is pretty large, there was two Large Divinity Books the arch-Bishop gave them lately, and the names of all their Benefactors; there was one book all written hand by a scribe before printing was found out, it was a fine vellum; and there was another Book of ye New Testament in Chineaze Language and Characteur. Ye town is old timber building Except one or two of Brick. There is Indeed that they Call ye Newark wch is Encompass'd wth a wall of a good thickness and two great gates wth towers as the town gates are, in wch they keep their arms and amunition, Ye walls now are only to secure gardens that are made of ye ruin'd places that were buildings of strength. In this Newark wch is a large space of ground are severall good houses some of stone and Brick In which some Lawyers Live ffrank; there is also a new pile of Building all of Brick wch is the Guild Hall where ye assizes are kept twice in ye yeare and ye session quarterly.

St Martins Church wch is one of ye biggest-there is none very big and none fine-but here I saw Hyricks tomb who was major of ye town and was married to one wife 5 2 years in all, wch tyme he buried neither man woman or Child tho' most tymes he had 20 in his family, his age was 79 and his widdow 97 at her death, she saw 142 of her posterity together. They have a water-house and a water mill to turn ye water in deep Leaden tubbs or Cisterns for their use: there are wells in some streetes to draw water by a hand wheele for ye Common use of the town.

The major and alderman goes about in procession on Holy Thursday which was ye day I was there. Here are a great many descenters in this town. This Country as I sd was all Rich deep land, and they plough their land all wth ploughs wth out wheeles as they do in Oxfordshire and other deep lands. From thence I passed to Bosworth 8 miles, and went by a Gentlemans house and thro' a little parke where the deer were very tame, and passed through Bosworth and over ye ground where was ye battle between King Richard yt Lost his Life by ye hand of ye Earle of Richmond afterwards King Henry ye Seventh, who was Crown'd in this Bosworth field wth ye Crown taken off from King Richards head, who being dead was Ignominiously Cast aCross a horse and Carried to Leicester and buried there as a just judgmt of God for Killing his two nephews and reigning in their stead.

This is a great flatt full of good Enclosures. Near this is Narsby where was ye great battle fought between King Charles ye First and ye parliamt of England. From thence I went to Fallmouth 7 miles more and so into Warwickshire over a bridge. This is a little market town; thence 3 miles more to Tamworth a neate town built of Brick and mostly new; in sight at its approach it look'd like Litchfield but not a quarter so big a market town, it stands halfe in Warwickshire and halfe in Staffordshire, and so to Litchfield over a large stone bridg that Crosses ye Tamworth river that gives name to ye town. To Litchfield is 5 mile more all very good way mostly Gravel; I went it in an hour. This side Entring ye town I Came by a Large good Almshouse wch I saw not before. They have in this town a Custome at Whitsontide ye Monday and Tuesday Call'd ye green Bower feast, by which they hold their Charter. The Bailiff and Sheriff assist at ye Cerimony of dressing up Baby,s wth garlands of flowers and Carry it in procession through all ye streetes, and then assemble themselves at ye Market place and so go on in a solemn procession through the great streete to a hill beyond ye town where is a Large Bower made wth greens in wch they have their feast. Many lesser Bowers they make about for Conveniency of ye Whole Company and for selling fruite Sweetemeetes and Gingerbread wch is a Chief Entertainment.

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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