Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1698 Tour: Durham to Shropshire

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At this Little Market town I pass'd over the River Weire wch runns to Durham, wch is 7 mile farther over a pleasant Road and Country yt resembles Black heath, you see the towns and Countrys Round full of Woods. One sees the Citty of Durham four mile off from a high hill, not but the Citty stands on a great rise of Ground and is a mile and halfe in Length. The river runs almost round the town and returns againe, that Casts the Citty into a tryangular; its not Navigeable nor possible to be made so because its so full of Rocks and vast stones, makes it difficult for any such attempt. Durham Citty stands on a great hill, the middle part much higher than the rest, the Cathedrall and Castle wch is ye pallace wth ye Colledge and all the houses of the Doctors of the Churches is altogether built of stone and all Encompass'd wth a wall full of battlements above the walke, and this is about the middle of ye hill wch is a Round hill, and a steep descent into the rest of the town, where is the market place wch is a spacious place, and a very ffaire town hall on stone Pillars and a very Large Cunduite. From this all the streets are in a pretty greate descent to ye river, which Lookes very pleasant by meanes of its turning and winding to and agen, and so there are 3 Large Stone Bridges wth severall arches apiece. The abbey or yc Cathedrall is very Large, the quire is good but nothing Extraordinary, some good painting in the Glass of the windows and wood Carving. There is over ye alter a painting of a Large Catherine Wheele which Encompasses the whole window and fills it up. The Bishops seate has severall steps up, its Called ye throne, with a Cloth of Gold Carpet before it. The seate was King Charles the first, of Crimson damaske. A good organ and a fine Clock in wch is the signes, wth Chimes, and finely Carved wth four pirramidy spires on Each Corner, a much Larger and higher one in the middle well Carv'd and painted. The ffont is of marble, the top was Carv'd wood very high, and terminates in a poynt and resembles the picture of yc Building of Babel-its not painted. The Cloysters are good. A Chapple Called St Marys now used for to keep their spiritual Courts, and in the vestry I saw severall fine Embroyder'd Coapes-3 or 4, I saw one above the rest was so Richly Embroider'd wth the whole Description of Christs nativity, Life, Death and ascention; this is put on the Deanes shoulders at the administration of the Lords supper, here is ye only place that they use these things in England, and severall more Cerimonyes and Rites retained from the tymes of popery. There are many papists in the town, popishly affected, and daily encrease. There was great striveing in the Choice of the parliament men, wch I had the trouble of in most of my journeys, ye Randan they made in the publick houses, jndeed I happen'd to get into a quiet good jnn a good accomodation, two Maiden sisters and brother kept it-at ye Naggs head.

The Castle wch is the Bishops pallace stands on a Round hill wch has severall green walks round it, wth high bancks to secure them one above another, and on the top are the towers. About the Middle of the hill is a broad Grass walk railed in and enters into a Dineing roome. There are very stately good roomes, parlours, drawing roomes, and a noble Hall, but the ffurniture was not very ffine the best being taken down in the absence of my Lord Crew, who is not a Barron of England but is a great prince as being Bishop of the whole principallity off Durham, and has a great Royalty and authority, is as an absolute Prince and has a great Command as well as revenue; his Spirituall is 5 or 6000lb and his temporalls since his brothers Death makes it much more. He Comes sometymes hither but for the most part Lives at another Castle wch is a noble seate about 12 mile off, which is very well ffurnish'd and ffinish'd; he is the Governour as it were of the whole province. His pallace here makes a good appearance wth the severall walks one below another with rows of trees, three or four descents and ye wall at the bottom. Just by the Castle is a place for the assizes, 2 open barrs Lookes out into what is the space the College and Doctors houses are, and there is in the Middle a very ffine Large Cunduite, the water falling into the Cistern from 4 pipes, wch gives a pleaseing sound and prospect, it being arch'd with stone, and stone pillars, and Carv'd, and alsoe a high top arch ending in a ball; its the ffinest of this kind I have seen and so I must say of the whole Citty of Durham, its the noblest-Cleane and pleasant buildings, streetes Large' well pitch'd. The market Crosse is Large, a fflatt Roofe on severall Rows of Pillars of Stone and here is a good Cundit alsoe of stone. The walks are very pleasant by the river side. I went by its banck of one end of the town to the meeteing house wch stands just by the River, there was a Company of hearers at Least 300, wch on the Consideration of its being under the Dropings of ye Cathedrall its very well. They have a very good minister there, but its New-Castle that has the greate meeteing place and many Descenters; they have two very Eminent men one of their Name was Dr Gilpin whose book I have read in, but he not being at home Could not have the advantage of hearing him.

In the Evening I walk'd out at Durham to another part of the town, by another turn of the river along by its Banck, and the river here would meete were it not for a Ridge of a hill runs between, it in wch are buildings and ascends up a mile in Length, wch is one of the Parishes. In walking by this river we Came to Sr Charles Musgroves House wch is now old and ruinous but has been good. The Gardens are flourishing still wth good walks and much ffruite of wch I tasted; its a place that is used Like our Spring Gardens for the Company of the town to walk in the Evening, and its most pleasant by the river, wch by means of severall bays or wires which is of Rock, the waters has greate falls from thence, wch adds a murmuring sound acceptable to the people passing. They have good ffish in the river but its full of rocks; they talk much of makeing it Navigeable but I ffancy the many Rocks all along in it will render it a Difficult work. I went a mile to see the spaw waters and to see a salt spring in the Rock in the middle of ye river. In halfe a mile I came to a well wch had a stone Bason in it and an arch of stone over it; the taste was Like ye Sweete Spaw in Yorkshire and the Tunbridge waters. About halfe a mile farther I Came to a well wch is Like the Sulpher Spaw, taste and Looke agreeing thereto, wch is from brimstone, but its not quite soe strong for it was a Longer tyme before the silver was Changed in it. Here I went a very bad and hazardous passage full of stones Like stepps, the water trilling Down them, and a very narrow passage by the Bushes and Bancks, but when I was got in there was noe returning, so on I went to the river wch was a Large step to goe down into, and all the river full of Shelves and Rocks.

The Spring is in the Cleft of the Rocks wch stands up in the river, and soe springs up, but when much raines falls it washes down soe fast upon it that weakens the taste. From this place I came back againe a mile. Durham has about 7 Churches wth the Cathedrall, its a noble place and the aire so Cleer and healthy that persons Enjoy much health and pleasure. From thence to Darlington wch is 14 pretty Long miles but good way, but by the way I Lost some of my nightCloths and Little things in a Bundle that the Guide I hired Carry'd. This is a Little Market town, the Market day was on Munday wch was the day I passed through it: it was a great Market of all things, a great quantety of Cattle of all sorts but mostly Beeves- it seemes once in a fortnight its much fuller. Two miles from Darlington I Came to the Ground the Hell Kettles are they talk much of, its in Grounds just by the road where Cattle were ffeeding, there are 2 pooles or ponds of Water the one Larger than ye other; ye biggest seemed to me not to be the Deepest nor is it Esteem'd soe deep; there was some sedge or flaggs growing round that, but ye fathermost wch was not soe bigg Looked a Cross that had noe flaggs or sedge on its bancks but yet it Look'd to me to Cast a green hew, Roleing waves of the water just in Coullour as the sea, and as the wind moved the water it very much resembled the sea, but the water when taken up in ye hand Look'd White and ye taste was not the Least brackish but fresh. My Conception of the Cause of ye greenish Coullour was from the greate depth of water, for the reason they Call them Hell Kettles is that there is noe sounding a bottom, wch has been try'd by plumet and Line severall ffathoms down; the water is Cold and as any other water when took up, it seemes not to Decrease in a tyme of Drought nor to advance wth great raines, it draines itself insensibly into ye ground.

This Leads me the ffarthest way to Richmond it being but 8 mile the ready Road from Darlington to Richmond, but this way it was 10 miles and very tedious miles. Three miles off Darlington I passed over Crafton Bridge which Crosses ye river Teese which Divides Durham ffrom Yorkshire, and soe Entred the North Rideing of Yorkshire in which is that they Call Richmondshire a shire of 30 miles. The way was good but Long, I went through Lanes and woods an Enclosed Country; I passed by a house of Sr Mark Melborn on a hill, a Brick building and severall towers on the top, good gardens and severall rows of trees up to the house, it standing on a hill, ye trees Runns along on ye Ridge of ye same-Looks very finely.

Richmondshire has in it 5 waking takes as they Call them, answerable to that they Call hundreds in other Countys; Each waking takes has market towns in them and are under a Baliffe Each, which are nominated by the Earle of Holderness who is the Sole Lord of the whole-its 30 mile in Extent. Richmond town one cannot see till just upon it, being Encompass'd wth great high hills: I descended a very steep hill to it from whence saw the whole town which itself stands on a hill tho' not so high as these by it. Its buildings are all stone, ye streetes are Like rocks themselves, there is a very Large space for the Markets wch are Divided for the ffish market, fflesh market, and Corn; there is a Large market Crosse, a square space walled in with severall steps up, and its flatt on the top and of a good height. There is by it a Large Church and the ruines of a Castle, the pieces of the walls on a hill. I walked round by the walls, the River running beneath a great descent to it, its full of stones and Rocks and soe very Easye to Make or keep up their wires or falls of water, wch in some places is naturall yt ye water falls over Rocks wth great force wch is Convenient for Catching Salmon by speare when they Leap over those Bayes. All rivers are Low and Dryer in the Summer soe I saw them at the greatest disadvantage being in some places almost drye and the Rocks and stones appear bare, but by those high and Large stone bridges I pass'd wch Lay aCross the Rivers shewd the Great Depth and breadth they used to be ye Winter tymes. There was two good houses in ye town, one was Mr Dareys the Earle of Holderness' brother, the other was Mr Yorkes, both stood then and were Chosen Parliament men. They had good gardens walled in, all stone, as in the whole town, though I must say it Looks Like a sad shatter'd town and fallen much to Decay and Like a Disregarded place. I passed on towards Burrowbridge and Came not farre from Hornby Castle the Earle of Holderness, and also Suddber hall 2 mile off Richmond Mr Darcys house; this Road was much on Lanes wch were narrow but Exceeding Long, some 3 or 4 mile before you Came to any open place and then I Came to a Common wch was as tedious to me, at Least 5 or 6 mile before I Came to an End of it, then I pass'd through a few Little villages and so I Came the 19 mile to Burrowbridge in Yorkshire. Here I was the most sensible of the Long Yorkshire Miles, this North Rideing of that County is much Longer Miles than the other parts which I had been in before. At Burrowbridge I pass'd the River Lid or Ouse on a Large stone Bridge: this River affords very good ffish, salmon and Codffish and plenty of Crawffish. Here I met wth the Clutter of ye Chooseing Parliament men. Thence I went for Knarsebrough 5 mile more; this dayes journey was a Long 24 miles, jndeed ye wayes were very good and drye being ye midst of summer. Here I Came to my old Landlady Mason where I Lay the yeare before to Drink the spaw, and from thence I went to Harragate over Knarsbrough fforest to Leeds 12 mile, and I went by Harwood Castle- the ruined walls some remaines. It was much in Lanes and uphills and Down hills, some Little part was open Common; on the Hill that Leads down to the town gives a pleaseing prospect of it. Leeds is a Large town, severall Large streetes, Cleane and well pitch'd and good houses all built of stone. Some have good Gardens and Steps up to their houses and walls before them. This is Esteemed the Wealthyest town of its bigness in the Country its manufacture is ye woollen Cloth-the Yorkshire Cloth in wch they are all Employ'd and are Esteemed very Rich and very proud. They have provision soe plentiful yt they may Live wth very Little Expense and get much variety; here if one Calls for a tankard of Ale wch is allwayes a groate its the only dear thing all over Yorkshire, their ale is very strong, but for paying this Groat for your ale you may have a slice of meate Either hott or Cold according to the tyme of day you Call, or Else butter and Cheese Gratis into the bargaine; this was a Generall Custom in most parts of Yorkshire but now they have almost Changed it, and tho' they still retaine the great price for the ale, yet Make strangers pay for their meate, and at some places at great rates, notwithstanding how Cheape they have all their provision. There is still this Custome on a Market day at Leeds, the sign of ye bush just by the Bridge, any body yt will goe and Call for one tanchard of ale and a pinte of wine and pay for these only shall be set to a table to Eate wth 2 or 3 dishes of good meate and a dish of sweetmeates after. Had I known this and ye Day wch was their Market I would have Come then but I happened to Come a day after ye market, however I did only pay for 3 tankards of ale and wt I Eate, and my servants was gratis. This town is full of discenters, there are 2 Large meeting places, here is also a good schoole for young Gentlewomen; the streetes are very broad, the Market Large. Thence I went to Eland 12 long mile more pretty much steep, up hills and down the same. I crossed over a River at Leeds on a Large stone bridge; ye Country is much on Enclosures, good ground.

I goe by quarreys of stone and pitts of Coales wch are both very good, soe that for fewell and building as well as good grounds for feeding Cattle and for Corne they are so well provided that together with their Industry they must needs be very Rich. All the hills about Eland is full of jnclosures and Coverts of wood yt Looks very pleasant. This town gives title to ye Marquis Hallifax son, as does Hallifax to ye Marquis. This Lyes but 5 or 6 mile hence, its a stony town and the roads to it soe stony and difficult yt I was Discouraged in going, the town now being almost ruined and Come to Decay, and ye Engine that that town was famous for to behead their Criminalls at one stroake wth a pully this was destroyed since their Charter or Liberty was Lost or taken from them, because most barbarously and rigourously acted Even wth an absolute power wch they had of all ye town; on those Informations I resolved not to goe to that ragged town tho' there are many good people and a Large meeteing.

From Eland I went to ye Blackstone Edge 8 mile, when I had gone 3 of the miles I Came to a great Precipice or vast descent of a hill as full of stones as if paved and Exceedingly steep; I take it to be much steeper than Blackstone Edge tho' not soe long. Ye End of this steep was a Little village all stony alsoe. These parts have some resemblance to Darbyshire only here are more woody places and jnclosures. Then I Came to Blackstone Edge noted all over England for a dismal high precipice and steep in the ascent and descent on Either End; its a very moorish ground all about and Even just at the top, tho' so high, that you travel on a Causey wch is very troublesome as its a moist ground soe as is usual on these high hills; they stagnate the aire and hold mist and raines almost perpetually. As I ascended, ye Morning was pretty faire, but a sort of mist met me and small raine just as I attained ye top, wch made me feare a wet day and yt the aire would have been so thick to have quite Lost me ye sight of ye Country, but when I attained ye top where is a great heap raised up wch parts Yorkshire-and there I entred Lancashire-the mist began to Lessen, and as I descended on this side ye ffog more and more went off and a Little raine fell tho' at a Little distance in our view, the sun shone on ye vale wch Indeed is of a Large Extent here, and ye advantage of soe high a hill wch is at Least 2 mile up discovers the grounds beneath as a fruitfull valley full of jnclosures and Cut hedges and trees. That wch adds to the formidableness of Blackstone Edge is that on ye one hand you have a vast precipice almost the whole way both as one ascends and descends, and in some places ye precipice is on Either hand. This hill took me up Much tyme to gaine the top and alsoe to descend it and put me in mind of the Description of ye Alpes in Italy, where the Clouds drive all about and as it were below them, wch descends Lower into Mists, then into raines and soe tho' on the. top it hold snow and haile falling on the passengers, wch at Length the Lower they go Comes into raine and so into sun-shine-at the foote of those valleys, fruitfull, ye sunshine and singing of birds. This was ye accd My father gave of those Alps when he passed them and I Could not but think this Carryed some resemblance tho' in Little, yet a proportion to that.

From ye foot of this Blackstone I went to Rochdale 4 mile, a pretty neate town built all of stone; here I went to an acquaintances house Mr Taylor and was Civilly Entertained. Here is a good Large Meeteing place well filled; these parts Religion does better flourish than in places where they have better advantages. Here I observ'd the Grounds were all Enclosed with Quicksetts Cut smoothe and as Even on fine Green Bancks, and as well kept as for a Garden, and so most of my way to Manchester I Rode between such hedges, its a thing remarked by most their great Curiosity in this kind.

Manchester Lookes exceedingly well at the Entrance,- very substantiall buildings, the houses are not very Lofty but mostly of Brick and stone, the old houses are timber work; there is a very Large Church all stone and stands high soe that walking round the Church-yard you see the whole town. There is good Carving in wood in the Quire of ye Church and severall Little Chappells where in are some Little Monuments; there is one that was ye founder of ye Colledge and Library where hangs his pictures, for just by the Church is the Colledge wch is a pretty neate building wth a Large space for ye boys to play in, and a good Garden walled in; there are 60 blew Coate boys in it, I saw their appartments and was in the Cellars and Dranke of their beer wch was very good; I alsoe saw ye Kitchen and saw their bread Cutting for their supper and their piggins for their beer. There is a Cloyster round a Court, in it is a Large roome for ye judges to Eate in, and also for ye roomes for heareing and dispatching their buissness, there is a Large Library-2 Long walls full of books on Each side, -there is alsoe ye globes at ye End and Maps, there is alsoe a Long whispering trumpet, and there I saw ye skinn of ye Rattle Snake 6 ffoote Long wth many other Curiositys, their anatomy of a man wired together, a jaw of a shark; there was a very ffine Clock and weather glass. Out of ye Library there are Leads on wch one has the sight of ye town wch is Large, as alsoe ye other town that Lyes below it Called Salfor and is Divided from this by the river Ouall over wch is a stone bridge wth many arches. Salfor has only a Little Chappell of Ease and is belonging to ye Parish of Manchester.

There is another river Called the Shark wch runs into ye Uval. The market place is Large, it takes up two streetes Length when the Market is kept for their Linnen Cloth, Cottentickings wth is the manufacture of ye town. Here is a very fine Schoole for young Gentlewomen as good as any in London, and musick and danceing and things are very plenty here-this is a thriveing place. Hence I went a very pleasant roade Much on ye downs mostly Campion ground, some few Enclosures, I went by Dunum the Earle of Warringtons house wch stands in a very fine parcke, it stands Low but appeared very well to sight, its old fashioned building wch appeares more in ye Inside, and the furniture old, but good gardens walled in. I also passed by severall Gentlemens seates, one was Mr Cholmonlys, another Mr Listers, surrounded wth good Walks and shady trees in rows, and severall Large pooles of water some Containeing severall acres. I passed over two or three stone bridges Cross Little rivers, so to Norwitch wch is 14 mile. I Entred Cheshire 3 mile before I Came to ye town, its not very Large, its full of Salt works the brine pitts being all here about, and so they make all things Convenient to follow ye makeing the salt so yt ye town is full of smoak from yeth fresh water to use quickly. This they Carry to the water side into Wales and by those Rivers that are flow'd wth ye tyde, and soe they boile these pieces of Rock in some of the salt water when ye tyde's in, wch produces as strong and good salt as the others. Thence I went to Sandy head 3 mile farther. There was 12 salterns together at Norwitch-all ye witches are places they make salt in - Nantwitch and Droctwitch they make salt, for at Each place they have the salt hills where the brine pits springs: this is not farre from ye place whence they digg the mill stones.

From Sandy Lane head where I baited, to Whit Church is 16 long miles over a Long heath for 4 or 5 mile, then to Bestonwood and Came by Beston Castle on a very high hill, ye walls remaineing round it, wch I Left a Little on my Right hand just at ye foote of ye hill, and so I Crossed ye great Road wch Comes from Nantwitch to Chester being then just ye midd way to Either, being 7 mile to Each. There I think I may say was ye only tyme I had reason to suspect I was Engaged wth some highway men. 2 fellows all on a suddain from ye wood fell into ye Road, they Look'd truss'd up wth great Coates and as it were bundles about them wch I believe was pistolls, but they dogg'd me one before ye other behind and would often Look back to Each other, and frequently justle my horse out of ye way to get between one of my servants horses and mine, and when they first Came up to us did disown their knowledge of ye way and would often stay a little behind and talke together, then Come up againe, but the providence of God so order'd it as there was men at work in ye fields haymakeing, and it being market day at WhitChurch as I drew neer to yt in 3 or 4 mile was Continually met wth some of ye market people, so they at Last Called Each other off and soe Left us and turned back; but as they Rode wth us 3 or 4 miles at Last they described the places we should Come by, and a high pillar finely painted in ye Road about 3 mile off of Whitchurch (wch accordingly we saw as we pass'd on) wch shew'd them noe strangers to ye Road as they at first pretended. I passed over a Little brooke a mile before I Came to WhitChurch wch Entred me into Shropshire. This is a Large market town, here are two very fine gardens, one belongs to an apothecary, full of all fruites and greens; ye other was at ye Crown jnn where I staid, it was exceeding neate wth oring and Lemmon trees, Mirtle, striped and gilded hollytrees, box and ffilleroy finely Cut, and ffirrs and merumsuratum wch makes the fine snuff, and fine flowers all things almost in a little tract of Garden Ground. From thence its 14 mile to Shrewsbury and pretty Level way. Ye miles were long and ye wind blew very Cold, I went on a Causey 2 or 3 miles to ye town, so yt in ye winter the way is bad and deep but on the Causey.

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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