Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

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The account of the several journeys through England undertaken by my kinswoman, Celia Fiennes, in the reign of William and Mary, may prove interesting, as shewing the manners and customs of those times. The writer's diligent and attentive observation of details concerning the various counties through which she passed, either on horseback or in her equipage, and her descriptions of the many gentlemen's seats visited by her, seem worthy of notice and preservation. Numerous towns are described, and a great many churches and country seats-some of which doubtless no longer exist-are minutely detailed. There being little literature of this kind and period in existence, Celia Fiennes's diary almost takes the position and value of an historical docu- ment. The portion relating to London is interesting. The Lord Mayor's Show and other ceremonies are fully described. The perusal of these quaint and straight- forward pages, in which there is little pretence to style, gives a good idea of what England was two hundred years back. The only actual date mentioned is 1695. The absence of roads strikes one, and also the unimport- ance of what are now the great manufacturing districts of the north. Bristol appears to have been the second city in the kingdom. The fashionable baths and spas and style of bathing are minutely described. With the excep- tion of the dome, St Paul's Cathedral was finished, and Whitehall Palace had recently been burned-the authoress suspects by Papist incendiaries.

The original MS., given to me by my father, has been copied verbatim, as I believe any correction or alteration would spoil its quaint originality. Celia Fiennes was daughter of Colonel Tathaniel Fiennes, a Parliamentarian Officer, by his marriage with Miss Whitehead, and was sister of the third Viscount Saye and Sele.


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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