Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1698 Tour: Cheshire and Lancashire

Next Selection Previous Selection

Here is a great mer or standing water 2 miles Compass- great store of good fish; it belongs to one Mr Egerton: thence I went to Nantwitch 5 long miles. Nantwitch is a pretty large town and well built: here are ye salt springs of wch they make salt and many salterns wch were a boyling ye salt. This is a pretty Rich land; you must travell on a Causey; I went 3 miles on a Causey through much wood Its from Nantwitch to Chester town 14 long miles, ye wayes being deep: its much on Enclosures and I passed by severall large pooles of waters, but what I wonder'd at was yt tho' this shire is remarkable for a greate deale of greate Cheeses and Dairys I did not see more than 20 or 30 Cowes in a troope feeding, but on Enquiry find ye Custome of ye Country to joyn their milking together of a whole village and so make their great Cheeses. West Chester town lies in a bottom and runs a greate length and is pretty big- there are 10 Churches.

The Cathedrall is Large and Lofty, ye quire well Carv'd, fine tapistry hangings at ye alter, a good organ: The Bishops pallace is on the Right hand of it and the Doctors houses, all built of Stone. There is a new hall building wch is for ye assize and it stands on great Stone pillars wch is to be ye exchange wch will be very Convenient and handsome; the hall is round, its built of Bricke and Stone Coynes, there are Leads all round wth battlements and in the middle is a tower, there are ballconies on ye Side and windows quite round ye Cupillow that shews ye whole town round. There is another town hall-a long Lofty place, and another by the Side wch is Called the Councill Roome both for ye Major and Aldermen to meete for ye buissinesse of ye Corporation. Ye town is walled all aboute wth battlemts and a walke all round pav'd wth stone, I allmost Encompass'd ye walls. Ye streetes are of a greate breadth, but there is one thing takes much from their appeareing so and from their beauty, for on each side in most places they have made penthouses so broad set on pillars wch persons walk under Covert, and is made up and down steps under which are ware houses. Tho' a penthouse or pallasadoe be convenient for security from ye sun or weather and were it no broader than for two to passe one by ye other it would be well and No dissight to ye grace of ye Streetes, but this does darken ye streetes and hinder ye Light of ye houses in many places to ye streete ward below, indeed in some places were it only before ye Chiefe persons houses it would be Convenient where its flatt and Even wth the streetes. The town is mostly timber buildings, the trade and Concourse of people to it is Chiefly from the jntercourse it has with Ireland- most take this passage; and also ye jntercourse wth Wales wch is parted from it and England by ye river Dee wch washes ye Castle Walls in wch they keep their Stores, but nothing fine in it. The walls and towers seemes in good repaire. At the End of ye town just by the Castle you Crosse over a very large and Long Bridge over the River Dee wch has the tyde Comes up much beyond the town; its 7 mile off yt it falls into ye sea, but its very broad below ye town, when at high tyde is like a very broad sea: there they have a little Dock and build shipps of 200 tunn, I saw some on the stocks.

Cross this River by this Bridge Enters Fflintshire and so Crossed over ye marches wch is hazardous to strangers, therefore Mr Wm Allen-wch was ye major of Chester that time and gave me a very Civil treate being an acquaintance of my Brother Sr Edmund Harrison-so order'd his son and another Gentleman to Ride wth me to Direct, to Harding wch was 5 miles. Just by that was a very fine new built house of Brick and in ye Exact forme of ye London Architecture wch was this Mr Majors house and good gardens.

Att Harding, where was my Relation Dr Percivalls wife who was Minister of yt place: his parish was 8 miles in Extent and 2 lordships in it, and ye ruines of two great Castles in it remaines-its good Rich Land here, much on Enclosures and woods.

In a tarresse walke in my Relations garden I could very plainly see Chester and ye River Dee with all its Washes over the Marsh ground wch look'd very finely: here are sands wch makes it very difficult for strangers to passe wth out a guide. From hence my Relation Carry'd me to Holly Well and pass'd thro' Flint town wch is the shire town 5 mile from harding; its a very Ragged place many villages in England are better, ye houses all thatched and stone walls, but so decay'd that in many places Ready are to tumble down. There was a town hall such a one as it was; it was at a Session tyme wn I was there wch shew'd it at its Prime. There is a Castle wch still remaines wth its towers built of stone, its down to ye water side: from thence to Holy well is 3 mile mostly by ye water side wch is Reckon'd the sea-here I went just in sight of high Lake where were many shipps Rideing along that harbour.

St Winfreds Well is built over wth stone on Pillars Like a Tryumphall arch or tower on ye gates of a Church, there is a pavemt of stone wth in-round 3 sides of ye well wch is joyn'd on ye fourth side by a great arch of stone wch Lies over ye water yt runs of from ye well; its many springs wch bubbles up very fast and Lookes Cleane in a Compass wch is 8 square walled in wth stone. In ye bottom wch you see as Clear as Chrystall are 9 stones Layd in an oval on wch are dropps of Red Coullour some almost quite Covering the top of ye stone, wch is pretended to be ye blood of this holy saint whose head was struck off here and so where her body Laid this spring burst forth and remaines till now a very Rapid Current, wch runs off from this well under a barre by wch there are stone stepps for ye persons to descend wch will bathe themselves in the well, and so they walke along ye Streame to the other End and then come out, but there is nothing to Shelter them but are Exposed to all the Company that are walking about ye well and to ye Little houses and part of ye Streete wch runs along by it but ye Religeuse are not to mind it, it seemes the saint they do honour to in this place must beare them out in all things. They tell of many lameness's and aches and distempers wch are Cured by it, its a Cold water and Cleare and runs off very quick so yt it would be a pleasant refreshmt in ye sumer to washe ones self in it, but its shallow not up to ye Waste so its not Easye to Dive and washe in, but I thinke I Could not have been persuaded to have gone in unless I might have had Curtains to have drawn about some part of it to have shelter'd from ye Streete, for ye wett garments are no Covering to ye body; but there I saw abundance of ye devout papists on their Knees all round a well. Poor people are deluded into an jgnorant blind zeale and to be pity'd by us yt have the advantage of knowing better and ought to be better. There is some stones of a Reddish Coullour in ye well sd to be some of St Winifred's blood also, wch ye poore people take out and bring to ye strangers for Curiosity and Relicts, and also moss about ye bancks full of great virtue for Every thing. But its a Certaine gaine to ye poore people-every one gives them something for bringing them moss and ye stones, but lest they should in length of tyme be quite gather'd up they take Care to replenish it dayly from some mossy hill and so stick it along ye sides of ye well-there is good streames runs from it and by meanes of steepe descent runs down and turns mills. They come also to drinke of ye water wch they take up in ye first square wch is walled round and where the springs Rise and they say its of wonder full operation. Ye taste to me was but like good spring water wch wth wine and sugar and Lemons might make a pleasant Draught after walking amongst those shady trees of wch there is a great many and some straight and tall like a grove but not very uniforme. From thence I went back to Harding wch is 8 very Long Miles. At Holly well they speake Welsh; the inhabitants go barefoote and bare leg'd-a nasty sort of people. Their meate is very small here, Mutton is noe bigger than Little Lamb, what of it there is was sweete; their wine good being Neare ye Sea side, and are well provided with ffish-very good Salmon and Eeles and other ffish I had at Harding. This shire is improperly Called Fflintshire there being noe flints in all ye Country. There are great Coale pitts of the Channell Coale thats Cloven huge great pieces: they have great wheeles that are turned wth horses yt draw up the water and so draine the Mines wch would Else be over flowed so as they Could not dig the Coale; they have also Engines yt draw up their Coale in sort 0f baskets Like hand barrows wch they wind up like a Bucket in a well, for their mines are dug down through a sort of well and sometymes its pretty Low before they Come to ye Coales; it makes ye Road unsafe because of ye Coale pitts and also from ye Sloughs and quicksands, all here about being mostly near ye bancks of ye water. In this Country are quarrys of Stone, Copper and Iron Mines and salt hills, its a hilly place, very steep descents and great many very high hills, but I went not so farre as Pen Ma Mower but Cross'd ye river Dee haveing first went two mile by these Coale mines (at least 10) in a place (?) its a thing wch holds neer two bushell that is their Basket they draw up wch is bought for 6 pence. I forded over ye Dee when ye tide was out all upon the sands at Least a mile, wch was as smooth as a Die being a few hours left of ye flood. Ye sands are here soe Loose yt the tydes does move them from one place to another at Every flood, yt the same place one used to ffoard a month or two before is not to be pass'd now, for as it brings the sands in heaps to one place so it leaves others in deep holes wch are Cover'd wth water and Loose sand that would swallow up a horse or Carriages; so I had two Guides to Conduct me over. The Carriages wch are used to it and pass Continually at ye Ebbs of water observes ye drift of sands and so Escape ye danger. It was at least a mile I went on ye sands before I Came to ye middle of ye Channell wch was pretty deep and with such a Current or tyde wch was falling out to sea together wth ye wind, the horses feete could scarce stand against it, but it was but narrow just the deep part of the Channell and so soone over. When the tyde is fully out they frequently fford in many places wch they marke as the sands fall and Can go near 9 or 10 mile over ye sands from Chester to Burton or to Flint town almost; but many persons that have known the ffoards well yt have Come a year or halfe a year after, if they venture on their former knowledge have been overwhelm'd in the Ditches made by ye sands wch is deep Enough to swallow up a Coach or waggon; but they Convey their Coales from Wales and any other things by waggon when the tyde is out to Chester and other parts. From Burton wch was on ye side of England the shore, I went to ye fferry 9 miles to the river Meresy another great River and a perfect sea for 20 mile or more. It Comes out of Lancashire from Warrington and both this and ye Dee Empts themselves into ye sea almost together a few Leagues from Leverpoole, wch poole is form'd by a poynt of land that runs almost round the Entrance from ye sea, being narrow and hazardous to strangers to saile in in the winter. Ye mouth of ye river by reason of ye Sands and Rocks is a gate to ye River; this I ferry'd over and was an hour and halfe in ye passage, its of great breadth and at low water is so deep and salt as ye sea almost, tho' it does not Cast so green a hew on ye water as ye sea, but else the waves toss and ye Rocks grate all round it and is as dangerous as ye sea. Its a sort of Hoy that I ferried over and my horses-ye boate would have held 100 people.

Leverpoole wch is in Lancashire is built just on the river Mersy mostly new built houses of brick and stone after the London fashion; ye first original was a few fishermens houses and now is grown to a large fine town and but a parish and one Church, tho' there be 24 streetes in it. There is Indeed a little Chappell and there are a great many dessenters in the town. Its a very Rich trading town, ye houses of Brick and stone built high and Even that a streete quite through Lookes very handsome-the streetes well pitched. There are abundance of persons you see very well dress'd and of good fashion, ye streetes are faire and Long, its London in miniature as much as ever I saw anything. There is a very pretty Exchange stands on 8 pillars besides the Corners wch are Each Arche pillars all of stone and its railed in, over wch is a very handsome town hall-over all is a tower and Cupilow thats so high that from thence one has ye whole view of ye town and the Country round-in a Clear day you may see ye Jsle of Man wch also was in view from out of Wales at Harding on the high tarrass walke in my Cos'n Percivalls garden.

Thence to Prescote 7 very long miles, but pretty good way, mostly Lanes; there I passed by Nosel the Earle of Darbys house wch Looked very nobly wth many towers and balls on them; it stands amongst tall trees and Lookes like a pleasant grove all about it, its an old house runs a great Compass of ground. Ye town of Prescote stands on a high hill, a very pretty neate Market town-a Large market place and broad streetes well pitch'd.

Thence to Wiggon, 7 long miles more mostly in Lanes and some hollow wayes and some pretty deep stony way so forced us upon ye high Causey, but some of ye way was good wch I went pretty fast and yet by reason of the tediousness of ye miles for length I was 5 hours going that 14 mile; I could have gone 30 miles about London in ye tyme. There was pretty much woods and Lanes through which I passed, and pass'd by a mer or Lake of water; there are many of these here about, but not going through Ormskerk. I avoided going by the famous Mer Call'd Martin mer that as ye proverb sayes has parted many a man and his mare-indeed it being neare evening and not getting a Guide I was a little afraid to go that way it being very hazardous for Strangers to passe by it. Some part of yt mer one Mr Ffleetewood has been at ye Expence to draine so as to be able to use the ground for tillage, having by trenches and floodgates wth banks shutt out ye waters yt still kept it a marsh and moorish ground, but it was a very great Charge; however it shews by industry and some Expence, if Gentlemen would set about it, Most of ye waste ground thats now a ffenny Moor and Mostly water might be rendered usefull and in a few yeares answere ye first great Charge on it. Wigons is another pretty Market town built of stone and brick. : here it is that the fine Channell Coales are in perfection-burns as light as a Candle-set the Coales together wth some fire and it shall give a snap and burn up light. Of this Coale they make Saltcellars, Stand-dishes and many boxes and things wch are sent about for Curiositys and sold in London and are often offer'd in the Exchange in Company wth white or black marble and most people deceived by them wch have not been in those Countrys and know it, but such persons discover it and will Call for a Candle to trye them whether marble or Coale: its very finely pollish'd and Lookes much like jett or Ebany wood for wch one might Easily take it when in boxes & &. I bought some of them for Curiosity sake. 2 mile off Wigon towards Warrington (wch was some of my way back againe but for ye Curiosity's sake I did,) is the Burning well wch burns like brandy; its a little sorry hole in one of ye grounds 100 yards from ye Road that Comes from Warrington to Wiggon just by a hedge or banck, its full of dirt and mud almost but the water Continually bubbles up as if it were a pott boyling wch is the spring or severall springs in that place; Nevertheless I felt ye water and it was a Cold Spring. Ye man wch shewed it me, wth a dish tooke out a good quantety of ye water and threw away and then wth a piece of Rush he lighted by a Candle yt he brought in a lanthorne, he set ye water in ye well on fire and it burn'd blewish just like spirits and Continued a good while, but by reason of ye great raines yt ffell ye night before ye spring was weaker and had not thrown off the raine water, otherwise it used to flame all over ye well a good height, now it burnt weaker; at last the wind blew out ye mans Candle and he severall tymes lighted ye bitt of Rush or splinter of wood by ye flame yt burnt in ye well. This is a little unaccountable; I apprehend its a sort of an unctious matter in ye Earth and soe through its veines the springs run wch Causes it so to burn, for I observ'd when they dug into ye banche and opened the sort of Clay or mudd, it burnt fiercer and more from ye well. returned againe to Wiggon two mile and thence to Preston and passed by Sr John Bradshaws house wch stood on ye declineing of a hill in ye midst of a fine grove of trees. Severall fine walkes and Rows of trees thereabout; just in the Road on the banck where on the hedge stood was Errected a high stone pillar Carv,d and a ball on ye top with an inscription Cutt on it shewing the Cause of it, being the monument of an officer that in a fight just there, his horse takeing ye hedge and Ditch on some distaste he tooke at ye Gunns and smoake, flung out his sword out of ye scabbard and flung his Master down on ye poynt of it wch ran him through that he dyed and Lyes buried on ye Spott.

Preston is reckon'd but 12 mile from Wiggon but they Exceed in Length by farre those yt I thought long the day before from Leverpoole; its true to avoid the many Mers and marshy places it was a great Compass I tooke, and passed down and up very steep hills, and this way was good Gravell way; but passing by many very Large arches yt were only single ones but as Large as two great gate wayes, and ye water I went through yt ran under them was so shallow notwithstanding these were Extreme high arches, I enquired the Meaneing and was inform'd that on great raines those brookes would be swelled to so great a height that unless those arches were so high, noe passing while it were so.

They are but narrow bridges for foote or horse and at such floods they are fforced in many places to boate it till they Come to those arches on the great Bridges wch are across their great Rivers; this happens sometymes on sudden great showers for a day or two in ye summer, but ye winter is often or mostly soe that there are deep waters so as not Easily Cross'd; but once in 3 or 4 years there is some of those very greate floods I mentioned before, that they are fforced to boate from bridge to bridge wch is little Enough then to secure them. I passed by at Least half a dozn of these high single arches besides severall great stone Bridges of 4 or 6 arches which are very high also over their greatest rivers. Preston stands on a hill and is a very good market town; Satterday is their market wch day I was there and saw it was provided with all sorts of things-Leather, Corn Coales, butter, Cheese and fruite and garden things: there is a very spacious Market place and pretty Church and severall good houses. At ye Entrance of ye town was a very good house wch was a Lawyers all stone work 5 windows in ye front and high built according to ye Eastern building near London; the ascent to ye house was 14 or 15 stone stepps Large and a handsome Court with open jron Pallasadoes in the gate, and on Each side, the whole breadth of ye house, wch discover'd the gardens on Each side of the house, neately kept flowers and greens; there was also many steps up to ye house from ye Court-it was a Compleate building. There was 2 or 3 more such houses in ye town and Indeed the Generallity of ye buildings, Especially in 2 or 3 of ye great streetes were very handsome, better than in most Country towns and ye streetes spacious and well pitch'd. I was about 4 houres going this. twelve mile and Could have gone 20 in the tyme in most Countrys, nay by the people of these parts this twelve is as long and as much tyme taken up in going it as to go from thence to Lancaster wch is 20 mile, and I Can Confirme this by my own Experience for I went to Goscoyne wch is 10 miles and halfe way to Lancaster in two houres, where I baited, and here it was I was first presented wth ye Clap bread wch is much talked of made all of oates. I was surpris'd when the Cloth was Laid, they brought a great Basket such as one uses to undress Children with and set it on the table full of thin waffers as big as Pancakes and drye that they Easily breake into shivers, but Coming to dinner found it to be ye only thing I must Eate for bread. Ye taste of oate bread is pleasant enough and where its well made is very acceptable, but for ye most part its scarce baked and full of drye flour on ye outside. Ye description of how its made ought to Come in here but I Reserve it to ye place I saw it made at the best way. As I Come to this place which was much over downs or a Race ground I Came along by some of ye old Picts walls, ye ruines of which here and there remaines in many parts of ye Country. Gascoyn is a little market town-one Church in it wch is a mile off from ye town, and ye parish is 8 miles long, which discourag'd me in staying there being Satterday night and so pressed on. to Lancaster.

I percieve most of ye parishes are a great tract of Land and very Large and also beneficial, for all over Lancaster-shire the revenues of ye parsonages are Considerable 2 and 300? 500 and 800 a piece, ye parson at Liverpool has 1100 a yeare, and its frequent Everywhere 3 or 400? . Thence to Lancaster town 10 mile more which I Easily Reached in 2 hours and a halfe or 3 hours; I passed through abundance of villages almost at ye End of Every mile, mostly all along Lanes being an Enclosed Country. They have one good thing in most parts of this principality, or County palatine its rather Call'd, that at all Cross wayes there are posts wth hands pointing to each road wth ye names of ye great town or market towns that it Leads to, wch does make up for ye Length of ye miles yt strangers may not Loose their Road and have it to goe back againe. You have a great divertion on this road haveing a pleasing prospect of ye Countrys a great distance round, and see it full of jnclosures and some woods, three miles off ye town you see it very plaine and ye sea, Even ye main ocean; in one place an arm of it Comes up wth in 2 mile of ye town. Ye River Liene runs by the town and so into ye sea. Ye situation of Lancaster town is very good, ye Church neately built of stone, ye Castle wch is just by, both on a very great ascent from ye Rest of ye town and so is in open view, ye town and River Lying Round it beneath. On ye Castle tower walking quite round by ye battlements I saw ye whole town and river at a view, wch runs almost quite round and returns againe by ye town, and saw ye sea beyond and ye great high hills beyond yt part of ye sea, wch are in Wales, and also into Westmoreland to the great hills there Called ffurness ffells or hills, being a string of vast high hills together: also into Cumberland to ye great hill Called Black Comb hill whence they digg their black Lead and no where Else; but they open ye mine but once in Severall yeares. I also saw into Yorkshire,-there is Lead, Copper, gold and silver in some of those hills and marble and Christall also.

Lancaster town is old and much decay'd: there has been a monastery, the walls of part of it remaine and some of ye Carv'd stones and ffigures; there is in it a good garden and a pond in it wth a little jsland on wch an apple tree grows- a Jenitin; and Strawberys all round its Rootes and ye banks of the Little jsle. There are 2 pretty wells and a vault that Leads a great way under ground up as farre as ye Castle, wch is a good distance. In the River there are great weres or falls of water made for Salmon ffishing, where they hang their nets and Catch great quantety's of ffish, wch is neare the bridge. The town seemes not to be much in trade as some others, but the great store of fish makes them Live plentifully as also the great plenty of all provisions. The streets are some of them well pitch'd and of a good size; when I came into the town the stones were so slippery Crossing some Channells that my horse was quite down on his nose, but did at length recover himself, and so I was not thrown off or jnjured wch I desire to bless God for, as for the many preservations I mett with. I Cannot say the town seemes a lazy town and there are trades of all sorts, there is a Large meeteing house, but their minister was but a mean preacher; there are 2 Churches in the town which are pretty near Each other.

Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press, 1888)

Next Selection Previous Selection