Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1697 Tour: The Peak District

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We went 3 mile off in the afternoone to heare another yt was in a meeteing and so 3 mile home againe. Ye hills about ye town and all about ye town is rocks of ye finest marble of all sorts-huge Rock. I took some of it and shewing it to severall they think it Comparable to any beyond sea. Thence to Haddon Hall for so all ye great houses are called, as Chatsworth Hall, so this Haddon Hall the Earle of Rutlands house 2 mile from Bankwell; its a good old house all built of stone on a hill and behind it is a ffine grove of high trees and good Gardens, but nothing very Curious as ye mode now is. There is a large Parke upon a great ascent from ye house which is built round a Court, ye parke is one part of some of ye highest hills wch gives a great prospect over ye Country. But Indeed all Darbyshire is but a world of peaked hills, which from some of ye highest you discover ye Rest Like steeples or tops of hills as thick as Can be, and tho' they appear so Close yet ye steepness down and up takes up ye tyme, yt you go it as if so many Miles, and were ye ground measur'd would be in Length as much as miles on a plaine. Thence to Buxton 9 mile over those Craggy hills Whose Bowells are full of mines of all kinds off Black and white and veined Marbles, and some have mines of Copper, others tinn and Leaden mines, in wch is a great deale of silver. I have some wch Looks full of silver, its so bright just brought up out of one of ye mines. They digg down their mines Like a well for one man to be let down wth a Rope and pulley, and so when they find oar they keep digging under ground to follow the oar wch lies amongst the stone yt Lookes like our fine stones. In yt mine I saw there was 3 or 4 at work and all let down thro' ye well; they digg sometymes a great way before they Come to oar. There is also a sort of stuff they dig out mixt wth ye oar and all about the hills they Call Sparr, it looks like Crystal or white sugar Candy, its pretty hard; ye doctors use it in medicine for the Collick; its smooth like glass but it looks all in Crack's all over. They Wall round the Wells to ye mines to Secure their Mold'ring in upon them, they Generally Look very pale and yellow that work Underground, they are fforc'd to keep Lights wth them and sometymes are forced to use Gunpowder to break ye stones, and yt is sometymes Hazardous to the people and destroys them at ye work. Its very difficult to find the Wayes here for you see only tops of hills and so many roads-by reason of ye best wayes up and down-that its impossible for Coach or Waggon to pass some of ym , and you scarce see a tree and No hedges all over ye Country, only dry stone walls yt incloses ground no other ffence. Buxton we Saw 2 or 3 tymes and then Lost ye sight of it as often, and at last did not See it till just you Came upon it-that 9 mile we were above 6 hours going it. The house thats Call'd Buxton Hall wch belongs to ye Duke of Devonshire its where the warme bath is and well, its the Largest house in the place tho' not very good; they are all Entertaining houses and its by way of an ordinary-so much a piece for yr dinners and suppers and so much for our Servants besides; all ye ale and wine is to be paid-besides, the beer they allow at the meales is so bad yt very Little Can be dranke. You pay not for yr bed roome and truely the other is so unreasonable a price and ye Lodgings so bad, 2 beds in a Roome some 3 beds and 4 in one roome, so that if you have not Company Enough of your own to fill a Room they will be ready to put others into the same Chamber, and sometymes they are so Crowded that three must Lye in a bed. Few people stay above two or three nights its so Inconvenient. We staid two nights by reason one of our Company was ill, but it was sore against our Wills for there is no peace nor quiet with one Company and another going into the bath or Coming out; that makes so many strive to be in this house because the bath is in it. Its about 40 foot Long and about 20 or 30 ffoote broad being almost square. There is 10 or 12 springs that bubble up that are a Little warme, its not so warme as milke from ye Cow, and not a quick spring, so yt its not Capable of being Cleansed after Everybody has been in. Its warme Enough just to Open the pores of ones body, but not to Cause sweat, I was in it and it made me shake, its farre from the heate that is in the Somersetshire baths. Its Cover'd over the top, but not Ceiled and there is an open place in the middle like a Tunnell wch pours the Cold down on ye head, it would in my thoughts be better if it were Exposed all to ye aire and sunn. There is a pavemt of Stone on one side at ye brim to walke on, with benches of Stone to Sitt on. You must have a guide yt Swims with you, you may Stand in some place and hold by a Chaine and ye water is not above yr Neck, but in other parts very deep and strong it will turn you down. About 10 or 12 yards distant is a spring Called St Anns Well wch is for drinking, they have arch'd it up yt its much hotter, it heates ye Cup you take it up in but not or near so hot as ye Somersetshire baths and springs are, the taste is not unpleasant but Rather like Milk, they say its Diaretick - I dranke a part of a Cup full.

Another wonder is that of Pooles hole, thats just at ye towns End, a Large Cavity under ground of a Great Length. Just at the Entrance you must Creep, but presently you stand upright, its Roofe being- very Lofty all arched in the Rocks and sound with a great Ecchoe. Ye Rocks are Continually droping water all about, you pass over Loose stones and Craggy Rocks. The dripping of the water wears impression on ye Stones that forms them into Severall Shapes, there is one Looks Like a Lyon wth a Crown on his head, ye water trickling on it weares it into so many shapes; another place Lookes just Like ye shape of a Large organ wth ye severall Keys and pipes one above another as you see in a great Cathedrall; there is also a Stone wch Looks white and in shape Like a salted flitch of Bacon wch hangs down from the Roofe of ye Arch wch is very Lofty in this place. There is another Rock Looks like a Chaire of State wth ye Canopy and all glistring like diamonds or starrs; thus does all ye sides of the Rock all shine Like Diamonds. Ye Rocks are very Large and Craggy and Indented, some Looks like ye outsides of Cockle shells, others are smooth all Caused I believe from ye dripping of ye Water. I was as farre as ye Queen of Scotts pillar, wch is a Large white stone, and ye top hangs over your head Like a Cannopy all great white Stones and in spires or Large jceickles and glistring as the other. They may go farther but I had no such Curiosity, I had ye Light Carry'd that shewed me to St Anns Needle after wch is only sand. This white stone is very Like Chrystall of wch there is a stone Like a Bason or Large ffont wherein drops Continually ye water wch runns over and trickling down does as it were Candy in jceickles and points, under wch is a pillar of this white stone. We had some broken off which Looks like ye jnsides of oystershells or mother of pearle, some Looks like alabaster. As I went I Clamber'd over the top of all ye stones and as I Came back I pass'd under severall of ye arches Like bridges; they are both wayes full of Loose stones and the water dropping makes them slippery, it being also very uneven by reason of ye Craggs. How it should Come none Can give any good acco; its Call'd Pooles hole from a man of that name that was a Robber and use to secure himself in yt place like a house, and so ye Country people imagined he made it, but some think it was dug to find mines or marble or Chrystal because ye mettle mines are full of stone as I sd before; only this Enters in ye side whereas the mines they make now are as a well perpendicular for severall yards before it spreads, and yt not till they Come to find metal, but ye difficulty appears as to this hole how so large a Cavity should be Left, as in some places ye Roofe is as lofty as you can see and all stone; now how it should be fixt so as not to tumble in by ye weight of ye Earth or stone on ye top: as to ye waters dropping yt is but what is Customary among rocks and stones, there are many springs wch run in ye veines of ye Earth and allwayes are running in such subteraneus vaults in the Earth, wch gather together and runns in a little Channell in ye bottom of this Cave as you may step one. The 4th wonder is that off Elden hole about 2 mile from Buxton; its on ye side of a hill about 30 yards if not better in length at ye brimm, and half so broad, and just in sight is full of Craggy stones like a Rock for about 2 or 3 yards down, wch Contracts the Mouth of ye hole to about 4 yards long and 2 broad or thereabouts; wch hole is Suppos'd to run down directly a vast length and has been try'd wth a Line and plummet severall fathom and the bottom not Sounded, tho' some are of opinion its because the hole runns aslant so the plummet and Line Could not pass, and what we observ'd gives some strength to this notion, for Cast a stone down you hear it Strike a long tyme at the sides of ye hole, and if you go down below 100 yds or more and Lay yr head to the ground you shall hear the stone ring Much longer than those that stand at the holes mouth, wch must discover ye ground to be hollow at Least much farther in Compass than the mouth of ye hole, but its Certain it must be of a great depth by reason of the tyme you Can hear a stone strike and ring in its descending, and yt which Lessens the sound may be by its breaking against the sides. Its a very hazardous place, for if a man or beast be too near the Edge of ye bank and trip they fall in wth out retrieve. Ye beasts graze in the Grounds and hills but it must be some great force that drives them near the hole; there is a sort of instinct in Nature, self preservation and a great sence of danger in beasts; its reported that severall Attempts have been made to ffence the whole round wth a stone Wall as the manner of the fences are all over yt Country, but yet it has been all in vaine. What they built up in the day would be pull'd down in ye night and so its vaine to trye ye securing it round from any falling in-this the people tell us. The Country here about is so full of moore or quagmires and such precipices that one that is a stranger Cannot travell wth out a guide, and some of them are put to a Loss sometymes.

The fifth wonder is Mamtour wch is a high hill that Looks Exactly round, but on the side next Castleton wch is a Little town in the High Peake on that side its all broken that it Looks just in resemblance as a great Hay-Ricke yts Cut down one halfe on one side-that describes it most naturall. This is all sand, and on that broken side the sand keeps trickling down allwayes Especially when there is the Least wind of wch I believe this Country scarce Ever is wth out; many places of the hill Looks hollow and Loose wch makes it very dangerous to ascend and none does attempt it, ye sand being Loose slips ye foote back againe.

The 6th wonder is at Casleton 4 mile from Elderhole; its a town Lyes at ye foote of an Exceeding steep hill wch Could not be descended by foote or horse, but in a Compass and yt by ye Roads returning to and agen on ye side of ye hill at Least 4 tymes before we Could gaine ye bottom or top of sd H ill. This is wch they Call the Devills Arse a peake, the hill on one End jutting out in two parts and joyns in one at ye top, this part or Cleft between you Enter a great Cave wch is very Large, and severall poor Little houses in it built of Stone and thatch'd Like Little Styes, one seemed a Little bigger in which a Gentleman Liv'd and his wife yt was worth above 100? a year wch he left to his brother, Chooseing rather Like a hermite to Live in this sorry Cell. One Mr Midleton who was wth us sd he had dined wth them there on Carrots and Herbs, and yt he was dead and his wife a year or two since. Now none but very poor people Live there wch makes some small advantage by begging and by Lighting the strangers into the Cave wch beyond this you Enter so straight a passage. At the mouth you stoop very Low Even upon yr Breast and Creep in, when you are about a yard or two's Length you stand upright, it being Lofty in manner of Poole's Hole only the Rock hangs down in so many places that there is often Cause of Stooping very Low to pass by ym , and here ye ground you tread on is all sand and firme, only ye Rocks do drip water in many places wch makes it damp and strikes Cold to you, but Excepting the pillars of Rock in some places that hang down ye most of it is very Lofty and a great Ecchoe like a Church. You pass a good way by ye Light of many Candles haveing Lost ye sight of day from ye first stooping Entrance. At Last you Come to a river they Call it, a great water it is and very deep, they say its about 12 yards over and some do go on it wth a Little boate to ye other side but I would not venture. There was one Gentlewoman in our Company sd she had once been Carry'd over on 2 mens shoulders, but they waded above their waste in water, so I would not be for so dangerous I was sure it was a difficult Enterprise, and when you are over yt side they go over but such places as was pass'd before wch Leads to another such a water wch some men have pass'd over and so have gone on to a third water, but there ye Rocks hung so Low as almost to touch ye water wch hindred their proceeding. That water I saw was strange, so deep and large and look'd like a standing water but whether it were or not Could not tell, no Doubt but it has a passage thro' the veines of ye Earth or Else would swell so as to Cause a bursting out of ye Earth-it seemed to have a motion wth it. All these things shewes the great wisdom and power of our blessed Creator to make and maintaine all things within its own Bounds and Limits wch have a tendency to worke out ruine to ye whole frame of ye world if not bridled by Gods Command.

The seventh wonder is a flowing and Ebbing Well between this town and Buxton wch Ceases its miraculous motion but on Great raines which Raises the springs, and then, the man wch was wth us told me he had seen it severall tymes in ye winter when ye springs were high to Ebb and flow severall tymes in a hour, wch appear'd by ye Rise and fall of ye water from ye Edge of ye well, and the man seem'd to be a good sober man, Mr Middleton it was, so that its Likely when the springs are high the water from the sea may have a quicker flux and Reflux thro' the Channells of ye Earth, but this is a good distance from ye sea or Ebbing and flowing Rivers.

From Castleton to Buxton is 6 mile, but they are very long. You might go 10 of miles near London as soon as you are going halfe so many here.

Thence we went to Ashburn 16 miles where I saw some of their Copper mines where they dig them like a well, but secure ye side wth wood and turffe bound wth ye wood like Laths or frames aCross and long wayes to secure it. This is a pretty neate market town; thence to Uxeter 8 mile, and we Cross a River on a long Bridge and so we enter Staffordshire wch has quite a different soyle, sand and gravell and some Clay, and very pretty sort of pebbles in the ground-some of a bright green like an Emerald, others vein'd, some Clear like Christall. This Country is well wooded and full of Enclosures, good Rich Ground, is Extreamely differing from Darbyshire. Just before we Came to Uxeter we pass by a very Exact house and Gardens of one Mr Cotten a justice of peace, its Brick and Coyn'd wth stone, the Gardens or Courts very Compleate, but it stands in a Low moorish ground to show this worlds good is not perfect but has its foule as well as faire Side and with all its Conveniency's Must Labour under some difficultyes. We pass thro' a deep and Long water just by, but ye bottom was hard gravell, this supply's severall mills wch are used for their prepareing ye metal they take out of ye mines. I had a piece of Copper given me by One of ye managers of ym .

Thence we Came to Woolsley 7 mile, to a Relations house Sr Charles Woolsley whose Lady was my Aunt, where we dined. Ye house stands in a fine parke; ye house is an old building and but Low, its built round a Court: there is a Large Lofty hall in ye Old fashion, a dineing and drawing roome on ye one hand, and a little parlour on the other, the best roomes were newer built wth Chambers over them, and a very good staircase well wanscoated and Carv'd wth good pictures. Ye Rest of the house is all old and Low and must be new built. Ye Gardens are good, both gravell and Green walks; there is a good River runns by it wch has dwarfe trees and honysuckles and binds on the Bancks, there is a great deale of good fruite and there are severall walks, one shady wth high trees wch my Aunt told me my mother liked to walke in and so was Call'd her walke. I eate a sort of flatt strawbery like a button, wch grew in a second Crop from ye same strawberys Roote wch produces its first Crop a sort of Large garden Strawberries and this sort afterwards. In this Country they burn all this tyme of ye year July, their ffern and make ye ashes up in balls and so keep to make Lye for driveing their Ruck of Cloth's wch whitens them much. Not farre from hence they have ye mines of the fine sort of Coale that is hard and will be pollished like black marble, for salts or boxes or such Like, ye only difference it will not bear ye fire as marble does, Else it resembles it very much; there were of these mines just by but now they have Come to ye End of this veine and so there is none within 6 or 7 mile.

This is ye pitt Coale, yts Cloven and burns Like a Candle, and makes white ashes Like ye Scotch-Coale. Ye same sort is in Nottinghamshire. From hence we went to Litchfield 7 mile, a sandy Road full of fine pebbles; Litchfield stands Low, there is a greate standing water as I have seen just by ye town, wch does often flow ye grounds after Raines, so the Road is secured wth a banck and a breast wall of a good Length into ye town-as a Long Causy or bridge ye Road is, and there are some few Arches here and there to Carry off ye water. Ye water has very good ffish in it but it must be muddy; its the privilege of ye Magistrates only to have fishing or to go about it wth a little boate. The town has good houses, ye Close has ye Bishops and Deanes and prebends houses wch are good; the streetes are very neate and handsome, ye Breadth and length very well and the building handsome. The minster is a stately structure but old, ye outside has been finely Carv'd and full of Images as appears by the nitches and pedistalls wch remaine very Close all over the walls, and still just at ye front remaines some Statues of ye Kings of Jerusalem and some angels and Cherubims. At ye door is a Large statue of King Charles ye Second, and all about ye door is fine Carving of flowers Leaves, birds and beasts and some saints and apostles statues. The Inside of ye Church is very neate being new but there is but Little painting; there are two Quires, one old one wth organs and seates, ye other new wch is very Large wth Organs and fine Carving in ye wood; here are 2 organs. There is a painting over the Communion table of peach Collour satten Like a Cannopy wth gold fringe, and its drawn so well that it lookes like a Reall Cannopy. There is some remaines of a Castle, ye walls and some of the towers remaine. The wall that Encompasses ye town is what Encompasses the Church and goes from thence.

We went thence to Colehill 12 mile, and pass'd by severall good houses. Here I saw ye way of makeing Runnet as they do in Cheshire-they take ye Reed bag and Curd and haveing washed it Clean, salt it and breake ye Curd small about ye bag, so drye them, being stretch'd out with sticks like a glove, and so hang them in a Chimney till you need it, then Cut a piece off this as big as halfe a Crown and boyle it in a little water wch water will turn ye milke better than any made runnet and its freshe. This is a pretty little market town and stands on a hill.

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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