Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1698 Tour: London to Bury St Edmunds

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the account of many journeys into most parts of England, what observation and distance of one place to another in my travels.

Ffrom London to Albins in Essex 17 mile Sr Robert abdys, Whose house stands very pleasantly in a parke full of deer. The house on an advanced ground appeares to view at ye Entrance, but its old building: Large Roomes- some Rows of trees Lead up to it. Thence I returned home 17 mile more, from London to Bednal-green twice, and back againe 16 mile, from London to Highgate 4 miles to Mr Thomas's house, where is a most exact garden wth all sorts of greens and flowers and fish ponds. There my Nephew Ffiennes Harrison wth Mr Showers went to fish wth me. Thence we went to Hampstead, so made it 5 mile home againe. I went from London twice and back againe from Kensington 2 and London 2 miles.

, in all 8 mile-this I put in only to know the number of miles yt I went in one yeare.

Ffrom London to Amwell bery wch is in Hartfordshire 19 mile, where I staid a day or two: thence to Bishopstafford in Essex 13 mile, thence to Dunmew 8 long miles thro' severall Little villages; its very deep way Especially after raine. This is a Little Market town: they are altogether taken up about the spinning and prepareing for the Bayes. All along between that and Colchester you pass but halfe a mile Ere one Comes to two or 3 houses all along the road; its from Dunmow to Colchester 22 miles and mostly Clay deep way. Colchester is a Large town in the Compass of Ground. Fformerly there was 16 Churches tho' now much of it is ruinated. A mile before you Come to the new town one Enters a little village which still is in the Limits of ye Citty and Majors jurisdiction; there is a pretty good house of ye Lord Lucas.

You Enter the town by a gate; there are 4 in all; there is a Large Streete wch runs a great Length down to the bridge, near a mile long: about the middle of it runs another broad streete and near its Length like stalls on purpose to Lay their Bayes when exposed to saile. Great quantetyes are made here and sent in Bales to London that is 44 miles distant. Ye whole town is Employ'd in spinning weaveing, washing drying and dressing their Bayes in wch they seeme very Industrious. There I saw ye Card they use to Comb and dress the Bayes, wch they Call ym testles, wch are a kind of Rush tops or something Like them wch they put in frames or Laths of wood. The town Looks Like a thriveing place by the substantiall houses and well pitched streetes wch are broad Enough for two Coaches to go a breast, besides a pitch'd walke on Either side by ye houses secured by stumps of wood, and is Convenient for 3 to walke together. Their buildings are of timber of Loame and Lathes and much tileing: the fashion of the Country runs much in Long Roofes and great Cantilivers and peakes. Out of these great streetes runs many Little streetes, but not very narrow-mostly old buildings Except a few houses builded by some Quakers, yt are brick and of the London mode. The town did Extend itself to the sea but now its ruines sets it 3 mile off. Ye low Grounds all about ye town are used for ye whitening their Bayes for wch this town is remarkable, and also for Exceeding good oysters, but its a dear place and to Grattifye my Curiosity to Eate them on ye place I paid dear. Its a town full of Dessenters, 2 meeteings very full besides anabaptists and quakers. Formerly the famous Mr Stockton was minister there till he Dyed. From Colchester to jpswitch is 10 mile, and thence to Dedom 9 miles, the way pretty good Except 4 or 5 miles they Call ye severalls, a sort of deep moore Ground and woody. At this place I passed over a wooden bridge, pretty Large, wth timber railes of wch make they build their bridges in these parts; and now I go into Suffolk wch is not so rich Land as ye part of Essex I passed through, wch was meadows and grounds wth great burdens of grass and Corn. So I went to jpswitch 9 mile more; this is a very Clean town and much bigger than Colchester is now. Ipswitch has 12 Churches, their streetes of a good size well pitch'd wth small stones; a good market Cross railed in. was there on Satturday wch is their market day and saw they sold their Butter by ye pinte 20 ounces for 6 pence and often for 5d or 4d ; they make it up in a Mold just in the shape of a pinte pot and so sell it. Their Market Cross has good Carving, ye ffigure of justice Carv'd and Gilt. There is but 3 or 4 good houses in ye town-ye rest is much Like ye Colchester buildings, but it seems more shatter'd, and Indeed the town Looks a Little disregarded, and by Enquiry found it to be thro' pride and sloth, for tho' the sea would bear a ship of 300 tun up quite to ye Key, and ye ships of ye first Rate Can Ride wth in two mile of the town, yet they make no advantage thereof by any sort of manufacture, wch they might do as well as Colchester and Norwitch, so that ye shipps that brings their Coales goes Light away, neither do they address themselves to victual or provide for shipps. They have a Little dock where formerly they built ships of 2 or 3 tun, but now Little or Nothing is minded save a Little ffishing for ye supply of ye town. There is one pretty good house of ye Earle of Herrifords that marry'd one of Mr Norborns Daughters, that was Killed by Sr Tho: Montgomery. You Enter thro' two Courts walled and divided by a breast wall on wch are Iron spikes pallasadoes: the Middle is a broad gravell walk fenced in wth stone walls; on Each side 3 or 4 steps up into the other Court, and so many steps more thro' an arch into a third Court. This arch joyns a Low building wch are the offices Leaded on the top, and rail'd round, and Each End Enters into Chambers joyning to ye house, that is built round this Last Court from whence you Enter ye porch. The house is handsome all brick worke and brick pillars; a good hall, parlour, and drawing roome, and Large Closet, 2 or 3 other Roomes less, answereing it and a Billyard Roome above wth as many roomes of state all ffurnish'd wth good old things: a pretty staircase, but its all Little. There are 3 gardens on the one side wth grass and gravell walkes all kept neate, and good fruite; on the other side is one Large garden wth asunder house in wth stands a Large statue, black, of a Gigantick form and proportion; this answeres the fine green house on ye other side. This town has many dessenters in it. Thence I went to Woodbridge 7 miles mostly Lanes, Enclosed Countrys. This is a Little Market town but has a great meeting for ye dessenters. Thence to Wickham 5 mile more but these are all very Long miles.

Thence to Saxmunday 8 miles more: this is a pretty bigg market town. The wayes are pretty deep, mostly Lanes very Little Commons. I pass'd by severall Gentlemens seates, one, Mr Dormers wch stands in a fine parke. Ye Entrance from ye Road thro' rows of trees Discover'd the front and building very finely to view, being built wth stone and Brick and many sashes: Lookes like a new house wth ye open jron barr gates between pillars of stone the breadth of ye house. So to Bathfort 8 miles where is the remaines of ye walls of an abby and there is still a very fine Church all Carv'd in stone hollow work one tire above another to ye tower that ascends not very high but finely Carv'd: also hence I descended with Lowr grounds banck'd on Each side wth a brick wall, but Low and so a walk on it for foote people, and severall arches here and there to draine off the water, so that those bancks are to secure the Road from the Marshy ffenny water that of a great Extent on both sides is subject to. Thence I passed ? by some woods and Little villages of a few scattered houses, and Generally ye people here are able to give so bad a Direction that passengers are at a loss what aime to take: they know scarce 3 mile from their home, and meete them where you will and Enquire how farre to such a place they mind not where they are then, but tell you so farre, wch is the distance from their own houses to yt place. I saw at a distance as I descended some of their hills a Large place that Look'd nobly and stood very high Like a Large town. They told me it was called Either Stowle or Nole I cannot tell wch . I Rode in sight of St Georges Channell? In the way from Colchester and Ipswitch and so to Norwich. Sometymes it was in view then Lost againe. To Beckle is 8 mile more wch in all was 36 miles from Ipswitch, but Exceeding Long miles; they do own they are 41 measured miles. This is a Little market town but its the third biggest town in ye County of Suffolke -Ipswitch, Berry and this. Here was a good big meeteing place at Least 400 hearers and they have a very good minister one Mr Killinghall; he is but a young man but seemed very serious. I was there ye Lords day. Sr Robert Rich is a great supporter of them and Contributed to ye building the meeteing place wch is very neate. He has a good house at ye End of the town wth fine gardens. There are no good buildings the town, being old timber and plaister work Except his and one or two more. There is a pretty bigg market Cross, and a great Market kept. There is a handsome stone built Church and a very good publick minister whose name is Armstrong: he preaches very well they say notwithstanding the town is a sad Jacobitish town. This Chooses no parliamt men. At ye towns End one passes over the river Waveny on a wooden bridg railed wth timber and so you Enter into Norfolk: its a Low flatt ground all here about, so that the Least raines they are overflowed by ye River and Lye under water as they did when I was there, so that the roade Lay under water wch is very unsafe for strangers to pass by reason of ye holes and quicksands and Loose bottom. The ordinary people both in Suffolk and Norfolk knitt much and spin, some wth ye Rock and fusoe as the French does, others at their wheeles out in the streete and Lanes as one passes. Its from this town to Norwitch 12 miles, and its 10 to Yarmouth where they build some small shipps, and is a harbour for them and where they victual them. Also Harwitch about 12 or 14 miles also, but the miles are here as long again as about London and pretty deep way, Especially after raines: these miles are much Longer than most miles in Yorkshire.

Norwitch opens to view a mile distance by the help of a hill whereon is a little village. As I observe most of ye great towns and Cittys have about them Little villages as attendants or appendix's to them wch are a sort of Subburbs, there being stragling houses for ye most part all the way between yt and ye gates. You pass over a high bridge yt leads on over a high Causey of a pretty Length wch Lookes somewhat dangerous being fenced with trenches from its bancks (pretty deep) that's on both sides to secure it from the water, and these trenches runns in many places round the Low grounds to drain them, wch Employ'd to whiten and Bleach their woollen stuff the manufacture of the place. This Long Causey brings you to the Large stone bridge over the river into wch those trenches Empty themselves.

Then you proceed to the Citty wch is walled round full of towers Except on the river side wch serves for the wall. They seeme ye best in repaire of any walled Citty I know tho' in some places there are little breaches, but the Carving and battlements and towers Lookes well. I enter'd the west gate. There are 12 gates in all and 36 Churches, which is to be seen in a Clear Day altogether on the Castle walls-I told 30 myself there. They are built all of flints well headed or Cut wch makes them Look blackish and shineing. The streetes are all well pitch'd wth small stones and very Clean, and many very broad streetes: yt I Entred in first was very broad for 2 Coaches or Carts to pass on Either side, and in the middle was a great well house wth a wheele to wind up the water for the good of ye publick. A Little further is a Large pond walled up wth brick a mans height wth an Entrance on one End. A Little farther was a building on which they were at work, design'd for a water house to supply ye town by pipes into their houses wth water. At a Little distance was another such a pond walled in as I described before. These things fill up the middle of this spacious streete wch is for use and also ornament, ye spaces Each side being so broad. This brings you into a broad space Called the Hay market wch is on a hill, a very steep descent all well pitch'd as before: this Comes to another space for a market to sell hoggs in, and opens farther into divisions of buildings that begins severall streetes yt runs off good Lengths and are of a tollerable size. One runs along behind wch is all for stalls for ye Country butchers that bring their meate for ye supply of ye town, wch pay such a Rent for them to ye town. On ye other side are houses of ye town butchers, ye Inhabitants: by it is a Large market for fish, wch are all at a Little distance from ye heart of ye Citty, so is not annoy'd wth them. There is a very Large market place and hall and Cross for fruite and little things Every day, and also a place under pillars for ye Corn market.

The building round here is Esteemed ye best and here is the town Hall, but all their buildings are of an old form, mostly in deep poynts and much tileing as has been observ'd before, and they playster on Laths wch they strike out into squares like broad free stone on ye outside, wch makes their fronts Look pretty well; and some they build high and Contract ye roofes resembling the London houses, but none of brick Except some few beyond the river wch are built of some of ye Rich factors like ye London buildings. There is in ye middle of ye town the Duke of Norfolks house of Brick and stone, wth severall towers and turrets and balls yt Looks well, wth Large gardens, but ye Inside is all demolished only ye walls stand and a few Roomes for offices but nothing of state or tollerable for use.

On ye Castle hill you see ye whole Citty at once, being built round it: its a vast place and takes up a Large tract of ground, its 6 miles in Compass.

Here is the County hall and Goale where ye assizes are held and ye Sessions. Nothing of ye Castle remaines but a green space, and under it is also a Large space for ye beast market, and 3 tymes in ye year is there a very great faire kept to wch resort a vaste Concourse of people, and wares- a full trade. Ye whole Citty Lookes Like what it is, a Rich thriveing Industrious place; Satturday is their great market day. They have beside ye town hall a hall distinct wch is the scaleing hall where their stuffs are all measured, and if they hold their breadths and Lengths they are scaled, but if they are deffective there is a fine Layd on ye owner and a private marke on ye stuff wch shews its defficiency.

There was also ye mint which they Coyn'd, but since the old money is all new Coyn'd into mill'd money, that Ceases. Here there is a ffine large Cathedrall and very Loftly, but nothing remarkable of monuments or else: by it is 3 hospitalls for boys girls and old people who spinn yarne, as does all ye town besides for ye Crapes, Callimancos and damaskes wch is ye whole business of the place. Indeed they are arrived to a great perfection in worke, so fine and thinn and glossy; their pieces are 27 yards in Length and their price is from 30 shillings to 3 pound as they are in ffineness. A man Can weave 13 yards a day, I saw some weaveing; they are all Employ'd in spinning, knitting weaveing, dying, scouring or bleaching stuffs. Their hospitalls are well provided for; there are 3 2 women in one as many men in ye other, there is also a good free schoole. There is a great many Cerimonyes in ye Choice and Swearing their major: they Elect him the first day of May and yn prepare for his being sworne on Holly Thursday. They new washe and plaister their houses wth in and without wch they strike out in squares like free stone. All ye streete in wch this mayor Elect's house, is very exact in beautifying themselves and hanging up flaggs ye Coullrs of their Companyes, and dress up pageants and there are playes and all sorts of show that day-in Little what is done at ye Lord major of London show. Then they have a great feast wth fine flaggs and scenes hung out, musick and danceing. I was in ye hall they keep their feast in and saw some of their preparations: for that day being about a fortnight to it. The town is a mile and a halfe from ye North to ye South gate. Just by one of ye Churches there is a wall made of flints that are headed very finely and Cut so exactly square and Even to shutt in one to another that ye whole wall is made without Cement at all they say, but it appears to be very little if any morter; it Looks well, very smooth shineing and black.

A great many descenters are in this Citty, the Gentle-woman that was my acquaintance there dyed 10 dayes before I came thither so I made no great stay there but to see about ye town.

Thence I went to Windham a Little market town 5 miles, mostly on a Causey ye Country being Low and moorish, and ye Road on ye Causey was in many places full of holes tho' its secured by a barr at which passengers pay a penny a horse in order to the mending ye way, for all about is not to be Rode on Unless its a very dry summer. Thence we went mostly through Lanes where you meete ye ordinary people knitting 4 or 5 in a Company under the hedges. To Attlborough, 5 mile more to a Little village, still finding the Country full of spinners and Knitters: thence to Thetford 6 miles more, wch was formerly a large place but now much decay'd and the ruines only shews it dimentions. There is a very high hill quite round stands up on one side of it and Can scarcely be ascended so steep. Here I Lay, wch is still in Norfolk. Next day I went to Euston Hall wch was ye Lord arlingtons and by his only daughters marriage wth ye Duke of Grafton is his sons by her. Its two mile from thetford, it stands in a Large parke 6 miles about. Ye house is a Roman H of brick: 4 towers wth balls on them; the windows are Low and not sashes Else ye roomes are of a good size and height, a good stair case full of good pictures, a Long gallery hung wth pictures at Length, on ye one side the Royal family from K: Henry ye 7th by ye Scottish race, his Eldest daughter down to ye present King William and his queen Mary. The other side are forreign princes from ye Emperour of Moroccoe, ye Northern and Southern princes and Emperour of Germany. There is a square in ye middle where stands a billiard table, hung wth outlandish pictures of Heroes; there is Count Egmint and Horn & &, but ye End of ye Roome is ye Duke and Dutchess of Grafton's picture at length. Thence I enter'd into dineing and drawing roome and bed Chambers of a very good size and good fret work on ye Cieling: in one of the roomes was ye Dutchess of Cleavelands picture in a sultaness dress, the Duke of Grafton being King Charles ye seconds base son by her. There was also another picture of ye Royal family. K Charles ye firsts 5 Children altogether. I have often seen 3 wch was K: Charles ye second, K: James and ye Princess of Orange; but here was also ye Lady Elizabeth and ye Duke of Glocester a Little Infant on a pillow. In another place there is the queen mothers picture the Lady Henrietta drawn Large. There is a fine hall and parlour below pav'd wth free stone. There are good gardens wth fountaines and some stone statutes, a Cannall by ye side, a Large Court at ye Entrance wth 3 Iron barr gates wch open to ye ffront, divided wth stone pillars and balls. Ye Court wth out is walled round and ye wall is Carry'd a great Length round ye back yards. Within this is another Court wth Iron spike pallasadoes divided Every 2 or 3 yards by little stone pillars with balls. There are severall Rows of trees runs of a great length thro' the parke a visto to ye front of ye house, wch lookes nobly tho' not just of ye new modell'd way of building. At ye back gate I crossed over ye river Waveney wch is ye division of ye two County's and enter'd Suffolk and pass'd over perfect downs, Champion Country just like Salisbery plaine; and ye winds have a pretty power here and blows strongly in ye winter not well to be Endured.

So to St Edmundsbery 8 mile, but as has been often observ'd before, the miles are very long. I pass'd by two or 3 Little villages, and about 2 mile off there is ye town of St Edmds Bury wch appeares standing on a great hill, ye towers and buildings Look so Compact and well together wth the trees and gardens thick about it ye prospect was wonderfully pleasant. A mile off by a little village I descended a hill which made ye prospect of ye town still in view and much to advantage, its but two parishes. Ye market Cross has a dyal and Lanthorn on ye top, and there being another house pretty Close to it high built wth such a tower and lanthorn also, wth ye two Churches towers and some other buildings pretty good, made it appear nobly at a distance. This high house is an apothecarys-at least 60 stepps up from ye ground and gives a pleaseing prospect of ye whole town. Severall streetes but no good buildings Except this, the rest are great old houses of timber and mostly of ye old forme of ye Country wch are long peaked roofes of tileing. This house is the new mode of building; 4 roomes of a floore pretty sizeable and high, well furnish'd, a drawing roome and Chamber full of China and a damaske bed Embroyder'd: 2 other Roomes, Camlet and Mohaire beds; a pretty deale of plaite in his wives Chambers and parlours below, and a large shop. He is esteem'd a very Rich man. He shewed me a Curiosity of an Herball all written out wth Every sort of tree and herb dryed and Cut out and pasted on the Leaves; it was a doctor of Physicks work that left it him a Legacy at his Death, it was a fine thing and would have delighted me severall dayes but I was passant. There was two streetes were broad and very Long, out of wch ran a Cross 5 or 6 streetes more wch are as good as in most Country towns-they are well pitch'd wth small stones. There are many descenters in ye town-4 meeteing places wth ye quakers and anabaptists. There is only the ruines of ye abby walls and the fine gate at the Entrance that remaines-stone, well Carv'd. It seemes to be a thriveing Industrious town; 4 gates in it.

There are a great deale of Gentry wch Lives in ye town, tho' there are no good houses but wch are old and rambling ones. They are in that they Call the green, a space by ye Churches wch are pretty near together. They are pretty Large but nothing Curious in them-stone buildings-no monuments worth notice. They keep them very Clean and neate and have a moveable scaffold to Clean the roofe and windows and walls. Its a very dear place, so much Company Living in the town makes provision scarce and dear: however its a good Excuse to raise the Reckoning on strangers.

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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