Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1697 Tour: Coventry to London

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Thence to Coventry all on a Levell 8 mile. I Came by severall pretty seates, one on the Left hand of Sr Andrew Hacket stands in a parke and good gardens walled in, and on the Right hand we Came Close to a very pretty new built house wth severall Rows of firrs, the outward Court Came in a Compass wth open Barrgates just to the Road, and a brick bridge from the Court at one side quite Cross ye highway: we drove under it wch Leads to a parke that runs along on the other hand. The house was brick and Coyn'd with stone and the windows the same, 8 windows in the front and ye Lawrells and greens look'd very pretty. Coventry stands on the side of a pretty high hill and as you approach it from the adjacent hill you have the full prospect. The spire and steeple of one of the Churches is very high and is thought the third highest in England. In the same Church yard stands another large Church wch is something unusuall two such great Churches together; their towers and the Rest of ye Churches and high buildings make the town appear very fine, the streetes are broad and very well pitch'd wth small stone. The Cross is noted and ye finest building in England for such a thing, and in my phancy it very much resembles ye picture of ye tower of Babel, its all stone Carv'd very Curiously, and there are 4 divisions Each being less than another to ye top, and so its Piramidy forme. In Each partition is severall nitches for statues quite round it where are kings and queens, and just on Each side before Each statute is their arms and ye arms of England and the arms of ye town, and so its adorn'd wth Coullours and gilding in their proper places as in the garments and Crowns or Coronets, and finely Carv'd wth angels and Cherubims and all sorts of beasts, Birds' flowers in garlands, and Leaves-this in Every division; there is variety quite up to the top wch is finely Carv'd and Gilt. This is ye biggest place in ye town, and ye streete very broad and runs off a great length, and most of ye streetes are very good. Ye buildings are mostly of timber work and old. There is a water house at the End of ye town wch from springs does supply by pipes ye whole town wth water in ye manner that London is. There is also a water wch serves severall mills yt belong to the town; it seems to be a thriveing good trading town and is very Rich. They have a great publick stock belonging to ye Corporation above 3 thousand pound a year for publick schooles, Charity and ye maintenance of their severall publick Expences, of their Magistrates and Companyes, the majority of the heads are now in ye sober men, so its Esteem'd a ffanatick town, and there is Indeed the largest Chapple and ye greatest number of people I have ever seen of ye Presbiterian way. There is another meeteing place in ye town of ye Independants wch is nott so bigg, but tho' they may differ in some small things, in ye maine they agree and seeme to Love one another wch was no small sattisfaction to me, Charity and Love to ye brethren being ye Characteristicall marke of Christs true Disciples.

Coventry has one thing remains Remarkable not to be omitted, the statue of a man Looking out of a window wth his Eyes out, and is a monument as history tells us of some priviledges obtein'd by a Lady wife, to the nobleman who was lord of ye town, and she was to purchase them by passing on horse back through ye town naked wch he thought she would not do, but out of zeale to relieve ye town from some hard bondage she did, and Commanded all windows and doores to be shutt and none to appear in the streete on pain of death wch was obey'd by all; but one man would open a window and Looke out and for his impudence had this judgment on him to be struck blind; this statute is his resemblance and one day in a year they Remember ye good Lady by some rejoyceing. There are severall good walks about ye town, and a large parke above ye town wch most people walk in: thence we went to Warwick. Coventry is joyn'd to Litchfield under one Bishop and yt wch I wonder at that the Bishop and most of ye dignatorys and abundance of Gentry Rather Chooses to Live at and near all about Litchfield tho' it stands so low and waterish, than at Coventry wch is a pleasanter scituation and better buildings. There is Sr Tho: Nortons house at ye end of ye town and a large parke. From Coventry to Warwick going about to see an acquaintance of our Company we made it 10 mile' and went in sight of ye Lord Liegh on ye Left hand, wch Lay all along by ye River Aven; it stands Low very well wooded.

We ascended a very steep hill to take a view of ye Country and so Could see Coventry, and were just by Hillingworth Castle on ye Right hand-much of ye Ruines of ye walls remaine still-and so Enter Warwickshire. The town of Warwick by means of a sad fire about 4 or 5 years since yt Laid ye greatest part in ashes, its most now new built, wch is wth brick and Coyn'd wth stone and ye windows ye same. There still remaines some few houses of ye old town wch are all built of stone. Ye streetes are very handsome and ye buildings Regular and fine, not very Lofty being Limited by act of partliamt to such a pitch and size to build ye town. Ye ruines of ye Church still remaines, ye repairing of which is ye next worke design'd; Ye Chancell stands still in wch was all the fine monuments yt were preserv'd from the fire; there is one monument of ye great Earle of Leisters and his Ladyes in stone Curiously wrought, wth their Garments, and painted and Gilded. There is another in marble of ye Earle of Warwick, ye statue Cut very finely, ye face hands and forme very Lively, and under his head is a Role of Straw matting as you would suppose being Exceeding naturall Cut in Stone. In ye middle stands ye monument of ye Earle yt was regent in Ffrance and dyed there and was brought and buried here, his statue at Length in armour, but ye Lines of his face and hands wth ye veines and sinews were so finely Cast and ye very aire of his Countenance much to ye Life or Like a Liveing man all Cast brass and Burnish'd very delicately yt it Looks like Gold, all his armour very Exact and his arms are Cut finely at his head, and supporters at his feete, wth ffigures and Images to adorne it; round the tombstone on ye one side and Each End is 4: and 2 y-at the End statues of ye great men yt were of his family, sons and Grand-Children, and on the other side are 4 Ladies of the family all Cast in the same Burnish'd Brass; they are in little and all in Religious habits wch formerly in ye tymes of popery and superstition most persons Coveted to dye in; their garments are folded in differing shapes and wth many wrinklings and gathers wch is very exact and ye more to be noted being all in such a stiff mettle as Brass and yet it Lookes Easye and natural. On ye other side ye Church in a little Chapple is a Large monument of Black and White Marble in manner of a bed wth pillars, and its grated round -the pillars black marble-of some Nobleman wth a Large Inscription round it, and one thing is noted of him there that he thought it his greatest Character to be Esteem'd a great ffriend and Companion of Sr Philip Sidney s wch is but of poor availe to him now dead if he was not ye friend of ye great Jehovah-but such is ye folly and vanity of ye most of ye world to be in Esteeme wth ye wise and great men of this world. There is delicate Carving about ye walls and round ye windows in stone all manner of Birds beasts, Laurells flowers & &, and Cherubims, and Gilded and painted in severall parts. Warwick Castle is a stately building, its now the Lord Brooke's house. You Enter thro' two Large Courts into a noble Hall wanscoated, wth in it is a Large parlour all wanscoated wth Cedar, wch is full of fine pictures of the family and beyond that is a drawing roome and bed Chamber wth good tapistry hangings; they are old but so good worke and so beautifull the Coullours still, you would admire it, and the worke so Curious all of silk that ye very postures and faces Look Extreame lively and naturall, and the groves streames and Rivers Look's very well on it. There was good velvet Chaires in ye roomes and good Pictures. Within ye bed Chamber is Closets, out of one you Looke to ye river even at ye End window, there is so greate a Levell you may see near 20 mile. Stowe in ye Old you see wch is as farre, its all full of Enclosures and woods most of the Country. All these roomes are very Lofty and large and larger than most houses I have seen, the Gardens fine and many without Each other, wth good gravell and grass walks, squares of dwarfe trees of all sorts and steps to descend from one walke to another, ye whole of wch I saw at one view on ye top of ye mount, together with ye whole town and a vast prospect all about, ye mount being very high and ye ascent is round to an agen securred by Cut hedges on ye side ye path. At ye Entrance of ye first Court ye porter diverts you wth a history of Guy Earle of Warwick, there is his walking staff 9 foote long and ye staff of a Gyant wch he kill'd thats 12 ffoote long; his sword, Helmet and shield and breast and back all of a prodigious size, as is his wives jron slippers and also his horses armour and the pottage-pott for his supper-it was a yard over the top; there is also the bones of severall Beasts he kill'd, the Rib of ye Dun-Cow as bigg as halfe a great Cart Wheele: 2 miles from the town is his Cave dugg out by his own hands just ye dimention of his body as the Common people say, there is also his will Cut out on stone, but ye letters are much defaced; these are the storyes and meer ffiction, for the true history of Guy was that he was but a Little man in stature tho' great in mind and valour, which tradition describes to posterity by being a Gyant. Such will the account be of our Hero King William the third tho' Little in stature yet Great in atchievements and valour. Ffrom Warwick we went towards Daventry all along part of the vale of ye Red horse wch was very heavy way, and Could not reach thither being 14 mile. About 11 mile we Came to a place Called Nether Sugar-a sad village, we Could have no Entertainment. Just by it on the top of a steep hill is Shuggbery Hall a seate of Sr Charles Shuggberys who seeing our distress being just night and ye horses weary wth ye heavy way he very Curteously tooke Compassion on us and treated us very handsomely that night, a good supper serv'd in plaite and very good wine and good beds. My Lady Shuggbery was the lord Leigh's Daughter and that day dineing there her Coach drove by us when in distress Enquireing for Lodging wch Caused Sr Charles to Come out to meete us, shewed a generous hospitable spirit to strangers, and with a great deale of good humour My Lady Entertained us. The house stands within a good parke, the deer so tame as to Come up near ye gate wch ascends steps to a Court of Broad stone. The house looks very handsome built of Brick and Stone, good hall and large parlour and drawing roome well wanscoated, neately ffurnish'd and a little parlour on the other side with good pictures; the Butlery Kitchen and offices very Convenient, two good staircases and 3 or 4 good Chambers very well ffurnish'd tho' not very Rich; but in the Generall all things were very well as any private Gentleman has whatever. he has severall good houses. He ordered one of his Daughters to get me a Curiosity they dig up in most part of the hill there about, they Call them Arms, its just Like Mullets that they have in an Eschuteon to difference the third son from the first and second in a family. Thence we went to Daventry 3 miles, a pretty large Market town and good houses all of stone and so we Enter into Northamptonshire. To Northampton town is 8 mile wch opens a noble prospect to ye sight a mile distant, a large town well built, ye streetes as large as most in London Except Holborn and the Strand, the houses well built of brick and stone, some all stone, very regular buildings.

The town hall is new built all stone and resembles Guildhall in Little tho' it is a good Lofty spacious place. There is two Barrs in it wth ye benches and seat distinct, over one of the Barrs is King William and Queen Mary's pictures at Length. The Church is new built, its very neate, there is two Rows of stone pillars at the Entrance of the Church on ye outside, and it is to be paved wth broad stone but yt was not quite ffinished, they were at worke on some adornments at the ffront. There is abundance of new buildings which adds to the beauty of ye town. We enter the town from Daventry over a large Bridge, and the water runs twineing about ye grounds wth rows of Willows on Each side of it wch looks very pretty.

Ye way out of town towards London you go by a Cross a mile off the town Call'd High-Cross, it stands just in the middle of England, its all stone 12 stepps wch runs round it, above that is the stone Carv'd ffinely and there are 4 Large Nitches about ye Middle, in Each is the statue of some queen at Length which Encompasses it wth other Carvings as garnish, and so it rises less and less to ye top like a tower or Piramidy. Thence to Stony Stratford, so Cross ye river Aven again 12 mile, and Enter Buckinghamshire. At Stony Stratford wch is a little place built of stone they make a great deale of bonelace and so they do all here about, its the manuffactory of this part of ye Country, they sit and worke all along ye streete as thick as Can be.

Thence to great Horwood: this Country is fruitfull, full of woods, Enclosures and rich Ground. Ye Little towns stand pretty thicke. You have many in view as you pass ye Road. 6 mile to Horwood, thence we pass by a lofty pile of Building Called Salden, a gentlemans house, and by the Rich Mrs Bennets House, Remarkable for Coveteousness wch was ye Cause of her death-her treasures tempted a Butcher to Cut her throate who hangs in Chains just against her house. She had 3 daughters, the two youngest are Living one married to a Benet, ye other ye Earle of Salisbury and are great fortunes by their mothers penuriousness. Thence to Oxborn and Enter Bedfordshire 13 mile. The duke of Bedfords house we saw wch stands in a fine parke full of deer and wood, and some off the trees are kept Cut in works and ye shape of severall beasts. The house is an old Building, Low, there are very good stables and out offices, Landry yard &. The gardens are fine, there is a Large bowling-green with 8 arbours kept Cut neately and seates in Each, there is a Seate up in a high tree that ascends from ye green 50 steps that Commands the whole parke round to see the Deer hunted' as also a Large prospect of the Country. There are 3 Large Gardens, fine Gravell walks and full of fruite. I Eate a great quantety of ye Red Coralina goosbery wch is a large thin skin'd sweete Goosebery. Ye walks are one above another wth stone steps. In the square, just by the dineing roome window is all sorts of pots of flowers and Curious greens, fine orange, Cittron and Lemon trees and mirtles, striped ffilleroy and ye fine aloes plant. On the side of this you pass under an arch into a Cherry garden in the midst of wch stands a figure of stone resembling an old weeder woman used in the garden, and my Lord would have her Effigie wch is done so like and her Clothes so well that at first I tooke it to be a Real Living body. On ye other side of ye house is another Large garden, severall gravell walks one above another, and on the flatts are fish ponds the whole length of the Walke; above yt in the next flat is 2 fish ponds, here are dwarfe trees spread of a great bigness. Ffrom thence we Came to Dunstable 7 mile over a sad road Called Hockley in ye Hole, as full of deep slows in ye winter it must be Empasable. There is a very good pitch'd Causey for foote people and horse, that is raised up high from the Road, and a very steepe Chaulky hill, from whence it has its name-the Chalk hill just as you Enter Dunstable. Its a good town as you shall meete with on the Road, its full of Inns, there is a long Large streete with a great water in the streete-it Looks like a Large pond. H ere I went to see two of my Relations Daughters to Sr Charles Woolsley, one marry'd there to a Doctor of physick Dr Marsh, wth whome was a maiden sister my Cos'n Bridget Woolsley. Thence to St Albans and so we Enter Hartfordshire 12 mile. There is a very large streete to the Market place, its a pretty Large town takeing all the St Juliers and yt at one End, and ye other End is St Nicholas where is a handsome Church. The great Church wch is dedicated to St Albans is much out of repaire, I see the places in the pavement that was worn like holes for kneeling by the devotes of ye Religion and his votery's as they tell you, but the whole Church is so worn away that it mourns for some Charitable person to help repaire it. There are severall good houses about ye town, one of ye Earle off Maulberough (now Duke of Marlborough) and one of Mrs Gennings ye Countess Mother.

Thence we Came to Barnet 8 mile, wch is in Middlesex and seemes to be a very sharpe aire; its a Large place and ye houses are made Commodious to Entertain the Company yt Comes to drink the water, wch Certainly if they be at the paines to go once and see would have but Little stomach to drink them. The well is a Large place walled in 8 square, its at Least two yards over and built 2 or 3 yards up from the water and over it is Lattices of wood round to Looke down into it and so Covered like a house above; below are staires down to a doore to go in to dip the water there. I stood at the Lowest step above the water to Look into it, its full of Leaves and Dirt and Every tyme they dip it troubles ye water, not but what they take up and let stand -Looks Clear but I Could not taste it. Its very deep and not done at the bottom wth a bason as Tunbridg, neither Can you see the bottom, so that it appears not to be a quick spring as Tunbridg or ye Spaw or Hamstead waters wch have all fine stone basons in wch you see the springs bubble up as fast and by a pipe runs off as Clear and fast; it more resembles Epsom for wch reason I dislike that. Thence to Highgate 6 miles, thence to London 4 miles where I returned and all our Company Blessed be God very well wth out any disaster or trouble in 7 weeks tyme about 63 5 miles that we went together.

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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