Picture of John Byng

John Byng

places mentioned

A Tour into Kent, 1790

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Day Weather To What Place in Kent Inns Miles
Sept. 17
A fine hot evening To Farningham Black Lion T. 18
18 Hot day To Aylesford, &c. Anchor Ale House 28
To Maidstone Star B.
Sunday 19 A fine day To Charing, &c. Swan B. 26
To Ashford Saracen's Head T.
20 Do. To Hythe, &c. Swan B. 28
To Dover York-Hotel B.
21 Do. Around Dover
22 A charming day To Barham De of Cumberland Ale House 26
To Canterbury King's Head B.
23 Rainy morn;
Stormy eve
24 A pleasant day By Feversham, Rose G. 30
To Sittingbourn
To Rochester Crown B.
25 A fine day About the Dock-yard; Barracks; &c. ...
Sunday 26 A pleasant day To Dartford, &c. Bull B. 35
To London
10     12 191

G—Good.   T—Tolerable;   B—Bad

A Tour into Kent: 1790

As I never Tour without taking short notes, so I must retravel the Ground of this (therein having viewed many Places highly worthy of Notice,) in graphical description; making my Pen a short Introduction to the Prints, which may be, in no distant day, thought curious.

Friday Sept. 17

Having hurried over a very bad dinner in Duke Street1 at two o'clock I was accompanied by Mrs B.[yng] and my sons John, and Frek, in a coach to Westr . Bridge; there to meet my old compagnon-de-voyage Coll . B[ertie]:—Poney led thither by T. B[ush]; my sheets, and small Parcell proceed with Coll . B's servant in a one Horse Chaise.—Not seeing Coll . B. at W. Bridge I rode forward; and at the second Turnpike learned that he was in advance; and overtook him in 3 more miles.

What charming weather! and what an Harvest of Plenty! From Eltham a delicious country to Foot's-Cray Village: From the hill above, there is a beautiful view of Foot's Cray Place,2 in a lovely vale, Water'd by a rapid Trout Stream;—Herein might my foolish uncle Admiral Byng have sat down at a cheap Rate; instead of being gull'd (blockhead as he was) by an architect, to build a Stare-about Pile near Barnet.—3 The moon now rose—and we had no other apprehension but what rose from the hop-pickers lounging about the Road;—When strange to relate we heard the cry of hounds, and saw a Pack, in full cry across an adjoining field, followed by a galloping Sportsman! 'Now Coll .' said I, 'could Ghosts take various shapes for amusement, here was a whole Troop of them! For who else could hunt at this hour?'—

We walk'd on foot down Farningham Hill,—to the Black Lion Inn;—where the Coll 's servant was arrived, who now took care of his Master's Horses with a most ridiculous Parade:—servants are either brutal to, or ignorantly fond of, Horses.—Walking over the Bridge—and Stable attendance employ'd us till Supper Time: We were early in Bed.

handwritten account from the Black Lion, Farningham

Saturday Sept. 18

In our Road of last night, all the way from London, a man often gallop'd by us, often stop'd; and at last upon his very Jaded Horse, Reached this Inn. It then appeared to be an hired Horse from this Inn, which his drunken Rider had so abused in the course of this day, that the animal soon after coming in, Expired of a broken Heart:—Surely such Barbarity should come under the Law's Notice, and the Perpetrator be amply punished! Up early from a bad Bed; but any Bed serves in this weather. This Place, tho' by a quick clear stream, is gloomy; and the surrounding country steep and stoney: In the church there is an handsome monument of The Ropers.4

To the left of our Inn, Have been Erected, long since, 3 arches over the River, which are so ably delineated in the following Leaf.—After Breakfast, and the Hot Rolls we took the Road hilly and stoney to Wrotham Hill; whence is a grand view of the Vale beneath—and of the country beyond; This Hill till lately—was dangerously steep—but now so cork-screw'd that a chaise may trot down it, with safety.

from a water-colour by the Diarist

Wrotham—'The sacred Store House of my ancestors', lays in the Bottom; It has a large church, and a Living of the first amount: In the church Wall is a stone of very great antiquity, on which our Family arms5 are carved; but no memorial of them could I ever find in the church!!

(Robert Bing of Wrotham Esqr served for the Borough of Abingdon in the first Parliament of Queen Elizabeth anno 1559; and in the 34th year of her Reign was Sheriff of The County of Kent.—He married to his first wife Frances, Daughter and Heir of Richard Hill Esqr. by whom He had three Sons, George, John and Francis, whereof the two last died without Issue; and by his second wife, Mary, Daughter of Wm. Maynard Esqr., He had Issue three Sons, of which William was Governor of Deal Castle, and a Daughter Anne, married to David Polhill, of Orford in Kent, Esqr.—The said Robert Bing Esqr died on the 2nd of Sept 1595 in the 37th of Elizabeth seized of The Manors of Wrotham, Charlton, Rusthall in Spelhurst by Tunbridge, Stodmer-Hill and Stock-Hill Manors in Yalding, and Stanstead Manor and Leyborne Wood in Leyborne &c. &c.)

How different are these Roads and the mode of Travelling to what I remember when my happy annual time of visiting in this country came on about 40 years ago.—My Brother, and I, upon our two Horses, (mine Little Driver) attended by the old Groom, Joseph Man, and the Pointer Sancho, left London early; following the Coach which carried my mother, her maid servant, and a female Relation. Now this Coach, was drawn by 4 large black dock-tail'd Horses, and driven by an old, stiff, crook-finger'd Coachman, who Jehu'd, yawn'd and double thong'd, till we reached Greenwich Hospital at 9 o'clock; where we were Expected, and kindly Received at Breakfast by Dr. and Mrs C[ooke]6 There stay'd two Hours;—commonly my uncle also, attended us on Horseback with his Groom.—Remounting with Pleasure (for I got tired of the confinement of Greenwich) we cross'd Blackheath to Eltham; and here The Road became so narrow, that a servant was always sent ½ a mile in advance, to Remove obstructions.

Instead of these cool, overshaded Lanes, there now runs a wide exposed Road over the Hill, and dale; which, no doubt, meets universal approbation; but I look back with Pleasure to the shaded Lanes, twining around the Cherry Gardens. After a long, tho pleasant crawl, we arrived at the Top of Farningham Hill; where the Road was then so narrow, and steep, that the Drag chain was fasten'd. Crossing the River at Farningham, we arrived at two o'clock at the Red Bull kept by the widow Prat; who was right glad to see her old acquaintance, and The Young Masters looking so well. My uncle James Master,7 and his Brother here awaited us; our coach was lined with Red Cloth, with its first painting, heavy Top, and low fore wheels; The seats, and Bottom narrow to an Extreme; and the whole unassisted by Springs. A joyful Regale here of Beans and Bacon and Fowls. A History of the Country was Related by the Widow Prat; and of what Gentlefolk had lately passed that way.—

Now my uncle D[aniel]8 would often lead us Boys (The Coach taking a wider cast) a bye Road from Wrotham thro the Hurst Woods of vast Extent, till we entered my uncle M[aster's]9 Grounds on The Stand-Field (perhaps so-call'd from some Stand erected upon this Hill to View the flight of Falcons.) At Yotes Court10 we commonly arrived in time to receive the Embraces, Enquiries &c. of our old uncle, and our Cousins Columbines,11 before The Supper was served up:—which on that first night was super-abundant.

To Bed at ten o'clock, their usual hour, after our Fatigues. In two miles The Vale becomes very beautiful; passed near Birlings Church and Place;12 and now beginning to tire of Heat and Dust we sought an Halt. Seeing Aylesford to our Left we descended to it—passing by Preston Hall, the old Seat of Sir Thomas Colepeper13 which is a pleasant Green Place in a delicious country. Our Forefathers—you may perceive, if ignorant of Taste and grand Improvement, knew full well how to collect their comforts around them.


from water-colours by the Diarist

We entered Aylesford by a steep old Stone Bridge; and so to The Anchor Ale House, as bad a stop as could be, with most miserable stabling. The Day was so gay that any misery was to be Endured—so we attempted to be happy over our bad mutton chops and a Pudding with Brandy and Water. We saw, whilst at Dinner, a Gang of well-mounted smugglers pass by: How often have I wish'd to be able to purchase a Horse from their excellent Stables.—No Dinner could be worse than ours; nor could a stupider Inn Keeper be found! But we were highly gratified by our walk after Dinner; first to the church yard, then to the beautiful walk towards the Friars where The Dowager Lady Aylesford14 Resides. (Ailesford is 4 miles by Lande from Rochester and there is a faire Bridg of Ston over the Streme. LEYLAND) The View, from below The Elms, of the River, the Town, and Preston Hills of a well-wooded rich Country, screen'd from the North by the Hollingburn Hills is composed of the loveliest scenery. The Bridge must be one of the oldest extant. Our landlord was a surly ignorant Brute; nor would answer to any of our Questions about Harvest, Hop Picking, &c. &c.

After this hot walk tho' so much to our satisfaction we Hasten'd to go: Recrossing The Bridge we turn'd to the Left over Fields, (the Gates of which were luckily unlocked) near The River, to Allington Castle: near to which is much made Ground, and highly raised mounds.

Allington Castle is as concealed a Spot and of as much Curiosity as can be found; In it resides a Farmers Family and Cottagers. It should be a survey of 3 Hours:—but all Tourists hurry Thence to Langher; and so to Barsted; where we came, at the Coll 's desire to hunt Family Antiquities.—At a small Inn having taken Tea, we walk'd to The Church; but our search was in vain as to Bertie monuments. Herein are some of The Fludds,15 and of The Cages,16 whose Family Seat is in view, and looks well.—The Twilight now came on, and our Road lay thro Hop Grounds, where every creature (even at that hour) was employ'd in Picking Hops, with their whole Families; For the little Children in their Cradles (a pleasant and novel sight) were strew'd, dispersedly amidst The Hop Gardens:—The Twinkling Lights aided the Imagination and made me fancy it like a scene in a Pantomime Dance.—Ld Romney's Seat, The Mote,17 which we pass'd by, appeared to advantage by moon Light.


from water-colours by the Diarist

Enter Maidstone, a large ill built Old Town; where we Housed at the best, tho a miserable, gallery'd, shatter-paned Inn, The Star. Then till supper time stroll'd about the Streets, which are gay on a Saturday Night. Our waiter was an intelligent Fellow, and our Inn only endurable from the Warmth of the Weather. No actors, or shew in the Town! We kept late Hours; even till half past ten o'clock.

handwritten account from the Star, Maidstone

Sunday Sept. 19

I awoke early, and was about at 7 o'clock; and first to The Bridge over The Medway; whence The College, The Old Palace,18 and The Public Walks are view'd to advantage. All the surrounding Country is rich, and beautiful. The church is low, and Roomy; but surely not half capacious enough for The Place: So that let the Living be ever so Valuable, still there is no Receptacle for Churchmen! So The Religious must fly into other Persuasions. The old clock & Conduit Tower (1567)19 must be taken down when the new pavement shall take place. The Old Gateway of The College is a fine Relict, and on the other side of The Church Yard are some curious Old Barns. Indeed there is much to observe about this Spot. (John Luff, alias Leys, was last master, and had a Pension of £48 16. 8. allowed him, which He Enjoyed ann. 1553: when there remain'd in charge many pensions to the surviving Incumbents of This College—(Willis). Willm . Courtney, Archbishop of Canterbury, 19th Richd 2d founded a college here to the honour of All Saints. It was endowed with £159. 7. 10. pr. an. (Tanner.))


Prints inserted in the Diary

This was my first Round. My second was to The Public Walk upon The Medway's Brink; where The Elms are growing well, but in The River at low water a Duck cannot swim.—Here Coll . B[ertie] join'd me in my Walk; Thence we Return'd to pay our Bill, which could not be from our orders Exorbitant, tho' screw'd up by Bread and Parsley and Butter. Glad we were to be restored from this black Inn to the country; where we soon pass'd The Mote, the Seat of Ld Romney, an house and place of very habitable Description. Some few miles of good Road, in a charming country, brought us to Leeds Park, Ld Fairfax's,20 of pleasant and unequal Ground, thro which a Stream flows, capable of the greatest Improvement: The Park likewise wants much planting. The Pleasure Ground thro' which The Stream passes, forming several cascades, is at a distance from The Castle, which stands safely, and awfully in a large Pool of Water. Having had for its owners, during a course of years, a continuation of aged men, it has neither been Improved, nor demolish'd, but were a man of Taste and Fortune master, who would (keeping up the Antique) Repair, and refurnish the old Castle; Deepen and Clean out The Pool, (now sadly choaked up by Weeds,) Plant The Hills, and Enlarge the water in The Valley; It would be one of the first and most curious Places in this Kingdom. The Coll . was charmed with The Scenery; as everyone must be: For some time we sat us beneath a Grove at an hill Top, contemplating all these Beauties; the bemoaning our ill choice of Day (Sunday), or the Rudeness of Ld F. in refusing us admission to the castle.

Leaving the Park, we soon Left Lenham on our Right, (riding in Heat thro' heavy sands) and went to see where is nothing to be seen. The Remains of Royton Chapel.—Thus is one often humbug'd by printed accounts of visionary Videnda!——

We now Hasten'd to a Dinner Stop; and after a long, and hot Ride, arrived at a mean public house in The Village of Charing, where The Stabling was Wretched; but The Hostess very civil. (The Coll 's servant in the one Horse Chaise, with The Baggage, does not go with us; but makes his own way to our Night Halt.) We devoured half of a Roasted Pig, with part of a Pudding, prepared for The Family Dinner; Then look'd into and about The Church, to which The People were then coming for Evening Prayers.

from a water-colour by the Diarist

Near to The Church in front of a Farm-House, to which they form a Skreen, are many Remains of Walls, and arches—like those that did belong to some Old Castle, or House of defence, and I did my best with my pencil. Our Road from Charing led at the foot of Hollingburn Hills with a bold and noble view to the Right to Eastwell Park,21 to enter which we paid a Penny Toll at The Gate. This is a noble Park, with Lofty Hills in The Centre commanding fine Views, both inland and of The Sea; but The Timber has been cruelly fell'd and every part is in Waste and Disorder. Into the magnificent Old Mansion I was forbidden Entrance; as Mr F. H.21(a) with 'much company were at home; and dinner would soon be Ready'. (half past 5 o'clock! An Elegant Transfer of London Hours!!) Every part about this Place, lays in neglect and disorder; with neither a wish to preserve, Repair or keep clean!

Another Toll Park Gate brought us upon the high Road from Sittingbourn: How most extraordinary are these petty Tolls exacted at Park Gates, for the avoidance of a bad roundabout Lane?!?! The weather now became Low'ring—Four miles, and to Ashford, a Town of good appearance, and well situated: where we put up at The Saracen's (vulgo Serjeants) Head. After Tea we walk'd about The Street and Churchyard, till the Rain drove us in. A stable Time, a short supper; A Wish for Bed. (Asscheforde Church was in a meane to be collegiatyd by the Request of one Fogge an Gentilman dwellinge there about that was Countrowlar to Edward the fourthe. But Edward dyed or Fog had finished this enterpris. So that nowe remaynethe to Ascheforde the only Name of a Prebend, and this Place hathe Lands, Priests, and Chorists, but removable. For they have no Comon Scale. (Lelands Itin.).)

handwritten account from the Saracen

Monday Sept. 20

Bad Beds, Bad Stabling, bad wine: but fine weather, fine Roads, fine Country. This is a clean, well paved Town, with some inland Trade. We went to The Church, but could not get the Key: I took down this Inscription in The Churchyard:—

                JOHN IVY.

Here lies whom God by sudden call
Has forced to leave a World and all
His wife and eke his Children small
Lament his most untimely fall.

There was much Rain in the Night; with too much Wind for our Fleet in the Downs. We left Ashford at 9 o'clock and upon a pleasant, gravelly Road, passed in the Front of Mersham-Hatch, an unseemly mansion of Sr W. Knatchbulls,22 with fir Trees and such-like minutiae around it;—a common in front; and back'd by a staring Park. All nature seem'd refresh'd by the Rain; hailing the Return of vegetation. Crossing the pleasant common of Brabourn, to Skelling, we soon turn'd off, to the Left, To View The Ruins of Ostenhanger House. Strype in his annals vol. 2 page 314 mentions 'Queen Elizabeth at her own House at Westenhangerand after The Defeat of The Royalists at Maidstone, 1648, many Prisoners of them were confined in this Castle. (Costinghaungre was Creals Lordeship, of sum now corruptely caulled Westehanger. Poyninges a late held it. The King hath it now. Lelands Itin.) It was formerly surrounded by a large Park, long since dismantled. There is a New Building, and a good Farm House, within the Enclosure of The Old Walls and Turrets; one Tower is call'd Rosamunds Tower; The present stable was a Chapel.—The Farmer, with Mr Champneys his Landlord (now here on a Shooting Intention) behaved to us with much civility and accompanied us around The Place.

from a print inserted in the Diary

After a gratifying Survey, we joined The Road; and in 3 more miles, after smelling the salubrious Sea-Breeze, Descended by a fine dip into The Town of Hythe. Dinner being order'd at the Swan Inn. I, having with some difficulty found The Sexton, Walk'd up the Hill To the Church; whence is a fine Sea View—It is a good Edifice—with an attach'd, dry, above ground Building in which are piled up an immense Quantity of human Sculls;23 formerly belonging (according to the Sexton) to Danish Invaders, who were slain upon the Beech. Some of these The Sexton Produced as remarkably thick, which I should suppose, in many cases, was of advantage to The Wearer. (But why so preserv'd? Or why This Building of an younger Date?)

This is a good Station for Sea-Bathing, and Retirement, for The Rides up The Country are shady and pleasant. We now walk'd together to the Battery upon the Beach, which might prevent the approach of a Privateer. Our dinner consisted of Herrings split; and the Roes lost:—odd cookery this! With Beef Steaks, which is allways a tough Business.—Port Wine not drinkable: One starves in a tour, but in this, with the air, and exercise, consists the salubrity.

handwritten account from the Swan Inn, Hythe

After Dinner, quitting Hithe, we rode up a Lane of one mile to Saltwood Castle; a Noble Ruin Indeed! Of great amount, and of much Remain; for the Walls around are in tolerable state; The Ditch deep and wellwooded; The Chapel in disordered Perfection; and the Gateway of approach in Preservation, with good apartements above it; wherein an old Lady resides (The Lady of The Castle) who, tho observing us from the windows, dared not hazzard any civility to two such tremendous Knights.

The Prospect from it is very beautiful, with a Sea View to the Coast of France. This noble Ruin (one of the best I ever saw,) is but little noticed or visited; whilst Tourists, Idly, and pompously, declame about Welsh, and Scottish Ruins; Just as English Travellers love to brag of Curiosities and Views in foreign Countries, without ever enquiring for any thing at home, or having ever stood upon Leith Hill in Surrey!

Knowst thou the Way to Dover?
Both stile and gate, horseway, and foot-path.
                                                        (K. Lear.)

Much bluster'd, and buffeted by wind, over the exposed Hills, We came, (leaving Shakspeares Cliff at a small distance to our Right) within Sight of Dover Castle; and soon into the Towne of Dover, To The York Hotel; where, amidst Noise, and Racket, we procured a mean dirty Parlour for ourselves, and a kind of ship-hold for our Horses. Bad specimen this, To the French, of English comforts!—Bread, and Wine, not to be endured; with a nasty brown fricasse, and old tough Partridges! A Room fill'd with Wind; and ship Stinks!! Up till eleven o'clock.

Tuesday Sept. 21

An early Stroll upon The Piers, where I saw two Packet Boats (with Exiles, voluntary, and involuntary) sail for Calais; also a King's Tender: and there was an Ostend East-India man24 laying off The Harbour.—Many sailors employed in Whiting Fishing.—To Breakfast.—Then we walk'd upon The Beach. Viewing the new Hot and Cold Salt Water Baths,25 and to where Mr S[mith] with idle, extravagant oddity, has built himself a House,26 and has, also, scooped many Strange Recesses out of the Chalky Rock; which are now abandon'd to the violation of The Town. We, next, climb'd The Castle Hill; and upon a Bench, at the foot of some steps sat for a time in admiration of The Prospect.

It seemed necessary to have a cicerone about The Castle, to talk about Julius Caesar, and Queen Elizabeth; to make us Examine the Queen's Pocket Pistol; To fling Stones into The Well; to see the Old Sword, and Keys; and to peep into The Old Church, now a Five's Court. Descending the Hill, we walk'd to the North End of The Town to view The Old Ruin'd Church, call'd Grace-Dieu; now converted into a King's Storehouse.

Across the Road in the opposite Field are the remaining Ruins of St. Martin's Priory.

A.D. 696. Wietred, King of Kent founded a college of Secular Priests here, who were turned into Benedictine Monks by Archbishop Theobald A.D. 1139. St. Martin was the tutelar Saint of this Monastry, whose Yearly Revenues at the Dissolution were worth £170. 14. 11. Dugdale. &pund;232. 13. 5. Speed—TANNER.

Here are grand Barns; with a Gateway of great antiquity. —and around are those traces, walls and mounds, that employ the mind and observation of an antiquary.

Having made this quiet observation—alone—and at mine Ease, I strolled back thro the Town (observing a newly erected mischevious Play House)27 and visited Mrs P. who formerly kept the Inn called The City of London28 Our dinner was ill served, and nasty as possible, with not-drinkable wine! Our Evening Ramble was to a survey of The Mote Bulwark, a seemingly unnecessary charge; but not a tenth Part so ridiculous as The Battery upon The Hill, built by an Engineer, (a quondam acquaintance of mine) for the purpose, only, of pillaging the State. After a long, cold, and tedious walk, we had to endure a tedious evening, from the Want of good apartements and good chear.


from water-colours by the Diarist

Wednesday Sept. 22

Wind sunk; sea quite smooth. Tho' up at seven o'clock I was too late to have a good view of Seven Ships of The Line, tiding down The Channel from The Fleet in the Downs; But, hurrying down to The Piers, I could survey them tolerably well, with my pocket Glass, especially the two hindmost, The Victory, and Robust28a No knowledge of this at our Inn; nor of the general Salute of the Fleet in The Downs; Nor of anything else? Never did I Enter a more dirty, noisy, or more imposing Inn, than this York House; for we were charged most exorbitantly, for wine not drinkable, for musty Fowls, and stinking Partridges; never did I leave an Inn with greater Pleasure.—I had bought 4 mackarel, just caught, for 6 pence; and lodged them in the one Horse Chaise.

Keeping The High Road for two miles we came to the Village of Buckland, a pretty Village in the Vale with Paper Mills, Here, Quitting the high Road, and turning to the Right, over a nice Hare-Hunting Country, where I recollected the Joys of my Youth, came (at my desire for the Colonels Indulgence) to Waldershare Church; in a most happy sequestered situation, well begirt by Old yew trees. The Key of the church being a distant search, we had a long sitting in the church Yard (where my poor pencil went to work). Entering the Church I soho'd to my Honor and the Coll 's Pleasure a noble monument of The Honrle Mr Bertie29 (2nd son of Montague Earl of Lindsey.) and of his Lady, in white marble well wigg'd ruff'd and cuff'd. ... Here The Colonel Revell'd for some time in family Pomp! and desired, at parting that the Inscription might be copied and sent to him.

Waldershare Park,30 and House, are close adjoining: a good Domain, and a good House,—with a pleasant country around them. Above The Village of Elham, we could descry The Fleet in The Downs and perceive the smoke of their Feu-de-Joye,31 fired in honor of The [Day].

Throughout our Ride, I was Relating, to the Colonel, The Meandres, of my youthful Huntings over this country; To all which 'Did Desdemona seriously Incline'.


from water-colours by the Diarist

We now came to Barfreston Church. The antiquity of This Building is most curious; and of its kind nothing more worthy observation: The extraordinary sculpture over The Door is now most barbrously, (and foolishly for the Parish Profit) shut up; and blinded by a modern Porch. The Eastern Front is worthy of much observation; for where is more Saxon antiquity, or an upper window of more Beauty to be seen? The Inside has by modern, and frequent alterations, lost all semblance of antiquity,—From Barfreston we soon came upon Barham-Downs, a dry and pleasant spot; Little Information of our Road could be procured here; and at the cottages none, as all the People were at Hopping—a narrow stoney Lane led to a wood; wherein we plunged for ½ an hour: (Being always forward in time I can afford this uncertainty,) at last, clearing the Wood, We came to a Place call'd Palmerstead; and so, by much roundabout, to Burstead—another fruitless Research of Coll . Bertie's; Whence sprang his hopes, or false Intelligence I know not, but I know that the only discovery of Family Magnificence was made by me.—Burstead is only a mean Farm-House.

We now came into better Roads, and an inhabited country, (for an hour we wander'd in a wild country);—To Hardres and so into the Maidstone Road, which, by a long descent, brought us, at 6 o'clock into Canterbury. Here lodg'd at The King's Head Inn, in a good parlour, The Colonel would order so large a Fire, as to Exhaust me.—Canterbury is much improved by the new paving, but the Inns are wretched. Whitings, and our mackeral served for the chief of our Supper, whilst The Colonel eat away of Whitstable oysters: Nor did we Retire till the (very) late Hour of Eleven.

Thursday Sept. 23

A dark rainy November morning. After Breakfast, The Colonel, and I walk'd to Mr S[immons]32 (our Distributor of Stamps) a Stationer, and Mr Somebody here; from whom I borrowed money and Books. Then to the Cathedral Service; which we thought well performed, and that a well-chosen anthem was well sung by two good singing Boys. ...

The Coll , (to my surprise!!!) must now set forward to Rochester.

The Coll , being now ordered to Rochester, and I left alone, I had to walk about The City of Canterbury,—so rich of antiquities! (which being often and accurately described I shall only mention as the occurrences of my Lounge). The old gateway of The Black Friars,33 mouldering with age, has been but lately taken down, nor are there any Remains of this religious Foundation. Not so of St. Augustines,34 where many, and curious monuments of antiquity Exist; as The two Gates & Ethelbert's Tower.—The Church of St. Martin is in use.

Having gratify'd my curiosity here, I walk'd by the wall to Dungeons Hill, now improving for the Town Parade; and by an old gate upon which on the different Fronts are written Wellcome, Farewell. To the Castle, a curious old magnificent Ruin; and of such strength as to be unworthy of Demolition. From the Castle I made my Wander by the old Walls, and Gates of this old, and much worthy of observation. Town, till I reach'd my Inn where I ate of a tolerable Dinner, and sat (during the Rain) till the Hour of The Cathedral Service; which was as sadly slurr'd over as any Dissenter could wish.

I then chose to be shewn (the old shew) the curiosities of the Cathedral; and by a Boy in full, ignorant Prate, I was made to observe The Monument of The Black Prince and to Recall the memory of The daring Becket. The Screen and painted Windows would yet do Honor to the Popish Faith; and might raise a sigh over the Ruins of Religion!

After this I passed a long tedious, Evening (for the days are too short to be alone, from home, and in an Inn where you are unknown, and disregarded) and had only to lounge to a Coffee House, and to prose over the News-Papers—At Supper time I had more of a melancholy, than pleasant Reflection, of the night I passed here in my Flight to France, November 1777.

poster advertising Faversham races

Friday Sept. 24

Up at 7 o'clock; crossed the street to a Barber's Shop, and there shaved, and dressed myself—after waiting, some time, for Breakfast and a hot Roll, I was glad to get away, tho' in a lowering dripping morning, and upon poor Po who will not eat, and appears to be in pain. At Harbledown there are two churches; Thence the woods and rising grounds of Boughton commencing, afford grand and luxuriant scenery: The Day clearing up gave an additional Lustre, For variety I quitted the high road, and keeping the Lanes to the left, thro' staple Street soon arrived at the Town of Feversham. F. is now new Paving; and perhaps with some Abbey Stones, as The Gateways have been lately pull'd down. Over this old Ground I walk'd, and peep'd into The Church, where divine Service was performing. Crossing the River below Feversham I came upon the opposite high ground to Davington, where was formerly a Nunnery: I rode around the church and the Old House attachd to it; but as nobody attended to my call (from being, probably in the Hay Field) I continued my Ride.

from a water-colour by the Diarist

An half mile and to the high Road: which I cross'd to view the church of Ospringe; and after some time spent in finding the foolish, old clark, my Research was amply Gratified in the observation of a fine monument of Sr. Edward Master,35 a Recumbent Figure, with a grand Beard and a noble countenance—A monument that I could wish (from Relationship) to Readorn, as well as one opposite of The Streynshams36 from whom my son Edmund derives one of his Xtian names.

I remained for 10 minutes in the church yard to make a drawing and to copy this Inscription.

              HENRY PEMBLE.

Who by his Industry and great care
Hath left his wife with reasonable share.

Returning into the high Road I jogg'd on my slow pace to Sittingbourn; here I dined very comfortably at The Rose Inn, The apartements are good, but the Stabling very bad.

handwritten account from the Rose, Sittingbourn

After Dinner I stroled to the church yard wherein was Interr'd—and this Epitaph!—

        MARY FLEET 1739.

Though here in Death's cold arms
In Tomb'd We Lye,
We only Sleep
Untill ye great Assise
When ye last Trumpet
Shall awake ye dead
Then we with them
that Sleep in Christ shall rise.

(Abingburn alias Sidingburne is a prety Thorough Fare of one Paroche, and by the chirch renneth a litle Burne, or Kille, wherof peraventure the Towne take name (Leland))

A Dull solitary Ride brought me to Rochester; upon Entering which Town I was Remet by the Coll . & Suis. Strange and disagreeable this! But Remarks are unnecessary.

Image of a crown, advertising the Crown Inn, Rochester

Poor Poney being now taken very ill, gave me an happy Excuse of absence, and of passing most of my Evening in the Stable. For his sake I was obliged to send for what is called a Farrier—who dozed him most exceedingly—bragging wonderfully of his skill! The arch'd cellarings of this Inn probably were the vaults of a Religious House which stood upon this Spot, Our supper was bad—our conversation was intolerable; and my Night was passed unpleasantly.

Saturday Sept. 25

Tho unwell I could not refrain from taking a walk around The Castle Ruins and The Cathedral, before Breakfast; and also into the fine shop of Mr G[ilman]37 our Distributor of Stamps for the W. Division of Kent: He is a talking bustling Fellow—and dashes away at all Points.—The Inside of Rochester Castle—a most gloomy deserted Pile of Ruins. After Breakfast the Coll . took himself away How much more does Habit or Submission sway men than their own Inclinations? Not chusing to go, Chatham Poney being only convalescent, I walk'd away thro' Chatham and to The Barracks; where in Grief, I peep'd at the East Indian Recruits38 —poor Fellows—torn away from their native climate—(& what to me appears all Happiness) never never to Return. The Marines and their Barracks, appear'd to be in excellent order—At the Dockyard Gate—my name being ask'd, and Permission Granted, I made the full survey of all the Cable Houses, Anchorage, Timber Yards &c. &c. &c.—Nor should have I returnd so soon, had not Languor and ill Feels sent me back. I dined upon Roasted Veal, and having drank some Glasses of bad Port, consider'd whether it were better to go to Bed, or take an Evening Walk; The latter and more sensible Plan prevail'd; when crossing the Bridge and taking over the Fields to the Left I came to Temple Farm—About this Place I Loiter'd for some time; whence is a fine view of The Bridge, The Cathedral and The Castle. At my Return home I had only to go to Gillman's Library to read the newspapers: when tired of myself; and of my Inn, and of Touring in this late Season, I hurried over my supper, and was quickly in Bed.


from water-colours by the Diarist

Sunday Sept. 26

What horrid Inns upon this Road; and what horrid Stabling for Horses! This is a (false) specimen to foreigners. Birmingham39 knives and forks: Dirty Glasses; Sanded Floors; with neither Beer nor Wine that can be swallow'd!! Stables dark as Dungeons and litter'd with Dung. At ½ past seven o'clock I had to settle with the ignorant, exorbitant Farrier; and none, else, scarcely, could I find awake in these genteel times! Poney appeard to be in better Health and Spirits; and we took our way to Gads Hill, To the Public House, Sir J. Fallstaff, where entering a good Parlour I made my Breakfast, with two Travellers, enjoying the View and the early morning.—After my stay and Refreshment, I determin'd upon a Zig-zag Proceedure; and so Proceeded to the Left to Shorn Church. (Antiently Sir Roger Northwood held the Manor of Shorn in Kent by Service to Carry, with other the King's Tenants A White Ensign, forty days, at his own charges, when The King should make War at Scotland.) The clerk living at a distance I could not enter: so Return'd into the high Road; and, thence by a short Lane to Chalk Church, with not a single House near it. and soon came to The Ruins of Denton Chapel, standing by The Road Side—; where I stop'd for 5 minutes.—Passing near Gravesend I soon came back into the high Road; and was quickly at Dartford—Here, at one of the miserable Inns—The Bull did I put up: and with difficulty did make Retire two men who were introduced into my Room; nor was Po much happier in his miserable Stable. Here, Every minute seem'd an Hour—

handwritten account from an inn

I had a long, and quiet Ride, in the Evening; surprised and delighted at the various attempts for a general mourning for that good, and gracious Prince, Henry D of Cumberland,40 Baronet, and Butcher, Peer and Pedlar, all must go into The Court Mourning!

The long round about over Westminster Stones is a sad nervous Business.


1 (See Note 32, Vol. II, p. 298.)

2 (See Hasted's History of Kent (quarto edition), Vol. II, pp. 135 and 370.)

3 The Stare-about Pile, near Barnet, was built by Admiral John Byng about the year 1750 and named, probably for sentimental reasons, Wrotham Park after the place in Kent, where the Byngs had resided for many generations. Wrotham in Kent had been sold by Admiral John Byng's grandfather towards the end of the seventeenth century.

4 The Roper's Memorial in the Church at Farningham, made of alabaster, is in the North Wall of the Sanctuary. To the left kneels the figure of Anthony Roper of Eltham, who died in 1597, and to right kneels his wife Anne. Behind him are their three sons, and behind her their two daughters.

5 There are no records of the Byng family left in Wrotham Church, but Hasted in 1798 refers to a gateway, near Wrotham Church, which had the Byng Arms carved on it at that date.

6 John Cooke, the historian of Greenwich Hospital at the time, was one of the most learned people connected with it. His book on the Hospital is still sought after by collectors.

7 James Master, who died 1728, left Yotes to his brother, Richard Master, who died unmarried in 1769.

8 William Daniel was a brother of Elizabeth, third Viscountess Torrington. On the death of his uncle, Richard Master (see note above), he succeeded to Yotes and changed his name to Master; he rebuilt Yotes Court and died in 1792.

9 Richard Master who owned Yotes from 1728 to 1767.

10 (See Note 7, Vol. I, p. 379.)

11 Cousin Columbines is probably a humorous comparison of his four attractive nieces, the daughters of the fourth Viscount Torrington, with the pretty girl, Columbine, who appeared in the pantomimes of the period with Pantaloon, Harlequin & Clown.

12 'An ancient residence of the Nevills, now used as a farm house.' See Hasted's History of Kent (quarto edition), Vol. IV, p. 474.

13 The Culpepers or Colepepers 'spread themselves in different branches over the whole face of the country and became eminent as warriors and statesmen in different ages.' See Hasted's History of Kent (quarto edition), Vol. IV, p. 436.

14 Charlotte Dowager Countess of Aylesford was the youngest daughter of the Duke of Somerset. See Hasted's History of Kent (quarto edition), Vol. IV, pp. 430, 431.

15 The Fludds were a prominent family in Bearstead history.

16 The Cages were also a prominent family at Bearstead, and one of the Cages was the kst Master of the Rosicrucians.

17 See Hasted's History of Kent (quarto edition), Vol. IV (1798), pp. 289 to 295—'Lord Romney has lately pulled down the ancient seat and has rebuilt it though at no great distance, yet in a much more eligible situation.'

18 See Hasted's History of Kent (quarto edition), Vol. IV, pp. 17, 358, 364 369, 381 for references to the college at Maidstone and also to the former Palaces of the Archbishops of Canterbury.

19 Maidstone had three Conduit Towers. One was at the lower end of the town, and two were in the High Street, one at the upper end near the Market Cross, and the second lower down, nearly opposite the Royal Star Hotel. It was octagonal shaped, 24 feet high and 8 feet in diameter, and was erected in the sixteenth century. At the top were a projecting clock, a lantern and a bell, the latter being rung when fish was brought into the town. It was demolished in 1792-3. (See Hasted's History of Kent (quarto edition), Vol. IV, p. 464.

20 The 6th Lord Fairfax died unmarried in 1782, but even before that date his brother, the future 7th Lord Fairfax, to whom the Diarist refers, was residing there, having entertained the King and Queen from Nov. 3rd to 5th in 1779. (See Greenwood's Epitome of County History, Vol. I, Kent, pp. 163 to 165.)

21 Greenwood's Epitome of County History, Vol. I, Kent, pp. 294 to 295.

21a This was no doubt George Finch Hatton (1747-1823).

22 Mersham-Hatch—(Knatchbull). See Hasted's History of Kent (folio edition), Vol. II, p. 444.

23 These skulls (about 2,000) probably belonging to inhabitants who lived at Hythe between 1200 and 1450 were placed in the Crypt some time before 1540, probably being taken from the Churchyard when disturbed by later interments. So long as they are kept dry they would last for many centuries. The prevalence of short-headed or bracheological skulls among the Hythe crania is remarkable and is not found in any other collection of ancient or modern remains though they compare closely in shape and measurement with some dating from the Roman period discovered in London. From the first to the fifth centuries there were Roman garrisons near Hythe and possibly by intermarriage a Roman strain may have been left, especially as the Jutes, the Saxon tribe who subsequently conquered Kent, did not exterminate the people but enslaved them.

24 In 1790 the East India Company still had a monopoly, under certain limitations, of the East India trade, despite the efforts of private merchants, economists and others to show that it was injurious to commerce. There had, however, been a considerable clandestine trade for a long time, of which Ostend was the centre. According to 'On the Trade of the East India Company' (about 1792) Ostend was 'as much an English port as London'. The Ostend East Indian man mentioned by Lord Torrington must have been one of the ships employed in that trade as the Ostend East India Company, founded in 1717, had ceased to exist in 1727.

25 These Baths were privately owned and are mentioned in Dover records of 1807.

26 The house referred to was known as Smith's Folly and was built by John Smith, father of Admiral Sir Sydney Smith, about this time. It consisted mainly of a series of old buildings, curiously roofed with inverted boats and having one part carried up to two storeys surmounted by a turret. It had disappeared by 1907.

27 This playhouse was built at 33-34 Snowgate Street in 1790. It was founded by a local Company and, being patronized by Royalty, it was called The Theatre Royal. For a time from 1844 its use as a theatre was abandoned and it could be hired for public purposes, the Inauguration Banquet on the occasion of the opening of the South Eastern Railway being given there. Soon after it was again a theatre and continued in the same condition until 1896 when a new theatre was built on the site on an improved plan and extensive scale by a public company.

28 The City of London Inn, later known as The London Hotel, was in Council House Street.

28a The Victory , Nelson's famous ship, and the Robust were part of the fleet assembled under Lord Howe in connection with the Spanish Armament in 1790. The Victory , which had flown the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir A. Hood (afterwards Lord Bridport) from June 5th until July 29th, was in September a private ship commanded by Captain, afterwards Admiral, John Knight.

The log of the Victory for Wednesday, September 22nd, 1790, contains the following—

'Moor'd in the Downs

At ½ past 4 weighed and came to sail, 6 more ships of the line in company.

At 9 anchor'd in 20 fms with the Best Bower, Dungeness, W.B.N. Foulkeston N.B.W. Dover N.E. Exercised G. Guns and small Arms.'

H.M.S. Robust was commanded by Captain, afterwards Vice-Admiral, Rowland Cotton from the 6th July 1790 until she was paid off at Chatham on the 16th September 1791. The Robust, after being engaged in several actions towards the close of the eighteenth century, was taken to pieces at Portsmouth in January 1817.

29 The Bertie monument in the Monins Chapel of Waldershare Church bears an inscription to the memory of The Hon. Peregrine Bertie who died in 1700 and to his wife Susan, who had died three years previously. It contains a detailed description of the deeds of Peregrine Bertie which he composed to his own memory.

30 See Hasted's History of Kent (quarto edition), Vol. X, pp. 50 to 57.

31 Sept. 22nd, 1790, was the anniversary of George III's coronation in 1761.

32 Alderman James Simmons, in addition to being the official Distributor of Stamps for East Kent, was the publisher with a partner Kirby of The Kentish Gazette. Their office was in George Street, Canterbury, where stationery, books, patent medicines, etc. were sold. Simmons was also a banker, and took a very active part in the municipal life of the City.

33 The Old Gate of the Black-Friars was in St. Peter's Street, their settlement in A.D. 1221. The order was founded by Henry III. The Gate that Lord Torrington saw was a picturesque one, faced with black flints, with figures in niches; it was destroyed in 1788, by order probably of the Canterbury Paving Commissioners.

34 Lord Torrington refers to the ruins, still in existence, of the first Benedictine Abbey founded in England by St. Augustine at Canterbury in 508. They are now carefully preserved by the College.

35 Sir Edward Master was an ancestor of the fifth Viscount through the first Viscountess Torrington.

36 The Streynshams were connected with the Byngs through the Masters.

37 Gilman of Rochester. There is a record in The County Directory of Kent (Rochester), 1782-1802. 'Traders:—Gillman and Etherington, stationers,' and in the Chatham Division of the same Directory, 'Gilman & Co., Printers and Stationers.'

38 These recruits for India were before 1796 composed not merely of The East India Company's troops but also of a few King's Regiments. As there is no evidence of any East India Company's troops being at Chatham in 1790, we must suppose that Lord Torrington referred to the King's Regiments going East.

39 Birmingham (more often Brummagin) was frequently used in a derogatory sense in respect to cutlery, etc., at this period.

40 Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn, born 1745, son of Frederick Prince of Wales, died 18 Sept. 1790.

John Byng, The Torrington Diaries: Containing the tours through England And Wales of the Hon. John Byng (Later Fifth Viscount Torrington) between the years 1781 and 1794 (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1938)

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