Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

London, part 1

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It Cannot be thought amiss here to add some remarke on ye metropolis of England. London whose scituation on so noble a river as the Thames wch Emptyes it at ye Boy of ye Nore, being there joyned wth ye Medway another very fine river alsoe, and falls there into ye sea wch is about 30 miles from London, and is an Ebbing flowing river as farre as Sheen beyond London. This is very Comodious for shipps wch did Come up just to ye bridge, but from Carelessness ye river is Choaked up, that obliges ye shipps to Come to an anchor at Blackwall. All along this river are severall docks for building shipps of ye biggest burden; six miles from the town ye Last yeare was built ye Royal Souveraign wch is our greatest ship. London joyned wth Westminster, which are two great Cittyes but now wth building so joyned it makes up but one vast building with all its Subburbs' and has in ye walls ninety seven Parishes, without ye walls 16 parishes, 15 subburbs, Surrey, Middlesex, 7 parishes in Westminster. London is ye Citty properly for trade, Westminster for ye Court, ye first is divided into 24 wards to each which there is an alderman, and themselves Consist of Common Council men and all freemen of the Citty, and have power to Choose these aldermen and make their own orders and to maintain their own priviledges. All freemen or Livery men of this Citty hath a Right to Choose their sherriffs of wch Every yeare there is two, one for Middlesex ye other ye Corporation, but both are joyned and officiate together in all matters of juries justice or Ceremonies, and to maintaine all Rights. These freemen alsoe have their voyce in Choice of their Lord Major wch is done Every yeare with this Sollemnity, the Sheriffs being Chosen and sworne at Mid summer, ye Michaelmas after ye Lord Major is Chosen and sworne; ye evening before which is Simon and Judes day is a feast Called Calveshead feast. Next day ye old Lord Major Comes to meete ye new one and wth him on his Left hand is Conducted on horse back in all their gowns of scarlet Cloth Lined wth ffurr; all ye aldermen in Like Robes only differenc'd as their station, those of them wch have been Lord Majors weare a Gold Chaine Ever after, but those yt have not passed ye Chaire weare none. Ye Lord Major is allwayes one of ye aldermen and he has a great gold Chaine round his neck, the Sheriffs also weare a gold Chaine round their neck yt yeare. Thus on horseback they proceed two and two wth all their officers. Ye Lord Major has his Sword bearer wch walkes before him wth the Sword in an Embroyder'd Sheath he weares a Great velvet Cap of Crimson, the bottom and ye top of ffurr or such Like standing up Like a turbant or Great bowle in forme of a Great open Pye, this is Called ye Cap of Maintenance. This is ye Lord Majors Chiefe officer, he holds his place Dureing his Life and has 1500 a yeare allowed him for his table wch in all things is as good as Lord Major's and he Entertaines all people at it, yet he himself must officiate at the Lord Majors table to see all things in order and Comes in at sett tymes accordingly to performe them and bring ye Lord Majors Compliments to ye Campanyes. He thus walkes before the Lord Mayor wth ye water Bayliff beareing a Gold Mace &. At Fleete ditch they Enter ye Barges wch are all very Curiously adorned and thus he is Conducted ye river being full of Barges belonging to ye severall Companyes of London, adorned with streamers and their armes and fine musick, and have sack to drinke and Little Cakes as bigg as a Crown piece. They Come to Westminster staires where they Land and are Conducted, the Lord Majors traines being borne up as well ye old as new Lord Major, they Enter Westminster Hall and are Conducted to ye severall Courts of justice where there is severall Ceremonyes perform'd. The new Lord Major is presented to ye King or those deputed to act under him and then is sworne, all which being over they are Conducted back to their Barges and soe to ye staires they took barge, where they are received by some of ye nobility deputed by the king who make some Little speech of Compliment and Give ye Lord Major and aldermen a treate of wine and sweet meates passant. They mount on horseback and returne only ye new Lord Major takes ye right hand and haveing by ye sheriffs invited ye King and Court to dinner, wch sometymes they accept but mostly refuse, because it puts the Citty to a vast Charge; they being then Conducted through ye Citty wth Greate acclamations their own habits and trappings of their horses being very fine, and they haveing all the Severall Companyes of ye Citty wch walke in their order and gowns wth pagents to most or many of their Companyes, wch are a sort of Stages Covered and Carryed by men and on ye top many men and boys acting ye respective trades or Employts of Each Company, some in shipps for ye Merchts , and whatever Company the new Lord major is off his pageant is ye finest and yt Company has ye precedency that yeare of all ye Companyes Except ye mercers Company, wch allwayes is the first and Esteemed ye Greatest, and when there is a Lord Major of yt Company their pageant is a maiden queen on a throne Crowned and with Royal Robes and scepter and most richly dressed, wth Severall Ladyes dressed, her attendants, all on ye same pageant and wth a Cannopy over her head and drawn in an open Chariot wth 9 horses very finely accouter'd and pages that Ride them all, wth plumes of feathers. After being drawn through ye Citty she is jnvited by ye Lord major to a dinner provided on purpose for her, and soe many Rich Batchelors are appointed to Entertaine her that is a ranck among ye freemen. She has her traine bore up and is presented to Lady Majoris that salutes her as doth the aldermens Ladyes, all wch are Conducted in their Coaches to Guildhall. The new Lady Majoress Richly habitted has her traine borne up, and Introduced by one of the officers. The Sheriffs Ladyes Likewise weares gold Chaines that yeare, the Lady majoress does wear it ever after as doe all ye aldermens Ladyes whose husbands have been Lord majors, and as I said before ye Lord Majors must be aldermen and must have served as sheriffs before, and allwayes ye king Confers Knighthood on the person that is Chosen to be Sheriff unless he were a knight before.

In Guild Hall there are severall long tables plenty fully ffurnished wth all sorts of varietyes suiteable to the season, wth fine Desserts off sweetemeates, and jellys wch in Pyramidyes stand all ye tyme; the hott meate is brought in in first and second Courses. The Lord Major and Lady Majoress sitt at the upper End but in Case the Court is there then the Lord Major has one table, ye Lady another, and ye old Lady Majoress is set at ye Left hand of ye new Lady, and the aldermens Ladyes at her Right hand according to their senioritye, after which they Retire into a Gallery where is danceing the whole Evening.

All this yeare Lord or Lady Majoress goe no where but wth their officers to attend them, and ye old Lord Major and Lady Majoress has their traines bore up to Guild Hall and after dinner return without it. The whole affaires of ye Citty are managed by ye Lord Major and Court of aldermen and Common Councill men, he is obliged to take care of justice and Right, he does during his yeare jnvite Each Company wth all their Masters Wardens and officers twice- the Last tyme all their wives alsoe-the Sherriffs doe ye Like. Each person brings their Gift two, three Guinneas, some more and according to their Gift at ye Last Entertainment they have a silver spoon double Gilt, Either weighing soe many ounces and soe many as they Give Guinneas many tymes in the yeare: those yt would shew particular respect will go dine wth them and bring presents without haveing spoones.

All offices falling vacant in the Majoralty acruee to Lord Major to dispose off. There are 24 Companyes wch have each severall officers, as masters wardens &. , and doe meete to fix and maintaine their priviledges. They doe walke at ye Lord Majors day and make sumptuous feasts at Each hall appertaineing to their Compy wch is at ye Charge of ye masters and wardens wch are officers Chosen new Every yeare. They have great stocks and Lands belonging to their Companyes Common stock, and wch does maintaine schooles and Hospitalls and such Like wch from tyme to tyme are Encreased by severall Benefactors and Legacyes, some of wch are greate as in ye Mercers Company which have Lands to a great value for such Ends. There are severall feasts which Lord Major and Sherriffs are absolutely obliged to make at their first Entrance into their offices, two dayes following each other, and ye first day of ye terme to all ye judges, and 3 dayes at Easter going to hear a sermon at St Brides Each day, and then to jnspect ye severall Charityes and hospitalls yt all be kept in due order and provided for. Ye Lord Major and Sherriffs attends the King at all tymes to represent ye Publick affaires of ye Citty and receive his orders, they alsoe officiate at ye proclaiming any new King or Queen or to Declare peace or warr, wch is done in Greate solemnity by ye King at Arms and severall of ye nobillity in Coaches or on horseback, and ye officers of ye kings household.

King Williams return after ye peace was Concluded wth Ffrance and ye Confederates, the Kings Entry was in this manner, ye Lord Major in Crimson velvet Gown wth a Long traine on horseback attended by all his officers ye sword bearer and water Baily very well dress'd. Ye Common hunt was Clad in Green velvet, thus with all ye aldermen in their scarlet gowns they proceeding to receive ye King just at ye End of Southwark on ye borders of Kent, the Lord Major Carrying a scepter wth a Crown of pearle on ye top. Ye King was attended thus, ffirst of all his soldiers and officers marched in Ranke, ye aldermen and Lord Major and officers, then all ye nobillity in their Coaches, the Bishops and judges, then ye first Coach of ye King wth his household, then ye guards of his body, and then the Coach where in ye King was, wch was a very rich and Costly thing all ye fring Rich Gold, ye Glass very Large, the Standards and all outwork Like beaton Gold, drawn by 8 very fine white horses with Massy Gold harness and trappings, the Ffrench kings present to our king when the peace was concluded, ye first article of wch was owning King William king of England. After the kings Coach a troope of guards de Corps, then the third Coach of ye Kings wth his houshold, and other Coaches with Severall officers of the houshold; then as the king passed Southwarke the Baily presented him his mace, he returned it with ye usuall Ceremony and Grattification; then at ye bridge ye Lord Major demands his place and ye sword, wch is to March as Captn of ye Kings guards just Imediately before ye kings own Coach, wch accordingly was given him and he returns the said scepter to ye proper officers who bear yt and all ye Maces before him, and he bare headed beares ye sword on horseback just before the kings Coach. At ye same tyme ye water baily rides in the middle of ye guards as their officer and is on horseback, two men Like pages Leading it, soe is Lord Majors in this order: they proceeding through the Citty wch from ye Royal Exchange on Each side had placed the traine bands of the Citty with their officers, next them ye 24 companyes of ye Citty in their order and marks of their Honour and priviledges, wch reached to ye Conduite in Cheapside, all wch paid their respective Homage and duty to ye King who receiv'd it very kind and obligeingly, as he did ye Generall joy and acclamations wch proceeded from thousands which were spectators. At Pauls Schoole ye Schollars made him a speech and then he was Conducted to his own pallace at Whitehall. But before I leave the Citty of London I must describe its Building and treasure. Ye Government as I said was Lord Major, aldermen, sherriffs, Recorder, and Chamberlaine, and other officers as Common serjeant, and other sergeants, sword Bearers, water Bayly, Common Cryer, and ye town Clerke; all these with many other officers has Considerable salleryes and Endure their Life, Except ye Chamberlaine thats annually Chosen tho' mostly is in the same person againe. Those others are in the Lord Majors dispose and brings a greate advantage to him if any dye in his Majoralty. There is alsoe many Considerable perquisitts belonging to him to support ye honnour. The Citty plaite is kept for Each, notwithstanding in ye year it Costs them more many tymes than they Receive, and in the whole I have had it from one yt had been at ye charge said it was above 8000? in ye year.

There is as I said great Publick Stock in the Citty by which they have raised sumptuous Buildings, the Royal Exchange for one, a Large space of Ground Enclosed round wth Cloysters and open arches on wch are built many walkes of Shopps of all trades. Ye middle space below was design'd and is used for the merchants to meete to Concert their buisness and trade and bills, wch is all open and on ye top of these Piaza's are ye Effigies in stone of most of our kings and Queens since ye Conquest wch were anoynted Crowned heads, from whence this Exchange takes its name Royal. In ye midst of it stands in stone work on a Pedestal ye effigies of King Charles ye second railed in wth Iron spikes. There is alsoe at ye Bridge a Great Monument of stone worke as is ye Exchange; this is of a Great height 300 stepps up and on ye top gives ye view of ye whole town. This was sett up in memory of Gods putting a Check to ye Rageing flame wch by ye plotts and Contrivance of ye papists was Lighted. There is a Large Inscription on it all round mentioning it, and alsoe of ye popish plott and ye gun powdr treason and all by ye papists.

The Bridge is a stately building all stone wth 18 arches most of them bigg Enough to admit a Large Barge to pass, its so broade that two Coaches drives a breast, and there is on Each side houses and shopps just Like any Large streete in ye Citty, of wch there are many and well built, Even and Lofty, most has 5 if not 6 degrees. Most of ye Halls belonging to Each Company are Large and Magnificent buildings, as alsoe ye Churches very fine and Lofty of stone work. Ye Greate Cathedrall is St Pauls wch was a vast building but burnt by fire, has since by ye Citty been built up, or rather a tax on Coales wch brings all to pay for it in London. It now is almost ffinish'd and very magnificent, the Quire wth Curious Carved work in wood, ye arch Bishops seate and ye Bishop of Londons and Lord Majors is very finely Carv'd and adorned, ye alter alsoe with velvet and gold; on ye Right side is placed a Large Crimson velvet Elbow chaire wch is for the Dean. This is all finished (wth a sweet organ) but ye body of ye Church wch is to be Closed on ye top wth a Large Cupilo is not quite done. There was formerly in ye Citty severall houses of ye Noblemens wth Large gardens and out houses and Great attendances, but of Late are pulled down and built into streetes and squares and Called by ye names of ye noblemen, and this is the practise by almost all even just to ye Court Excepting one or two.

Northumberland and Bedford house, and Lord Mountagues house indeed has been new built and is very fine, one roome in ye middle of ye building is of a surpriseing height Curiously painted v and very Large, yet soe Contrived yt speake very Low to ye wall or wanscoate in one Corner and it should be heard wth advantage in ye very opposite Corner aCross-this I heard Myself. And this Leads me to ye Citty of Westminster in wch are many of these noblemens houses built into very fine squares. Ye kings pallace was a most magnificent building all of freestone, wth appartments suiteable to ye Court of a King, in wch was a Large roome Called the Banqueting-roome wch was fitted for and used in all Publick solemnityes and audiences of ambassadours &. This is ye only thing Left of ye vast building which by accident or Carelessness, if not designe, has Laid it in ashes together wth Exceeding Rich furniture of antiquity, as alsoe ye greate and good Queen Mary's Closet and Curious treasures. This has all along ye prospect of ye Thames on one side and a Large parke on ye other, walled in, which is full of very fine walkes and rowes of trees, ponds and Curious birds Deer, and some fine Cows. In this parke stands another pallace St James, wch is very well and was built for some of ye Royal Familly as ye Duke of Yorke or Prince of Wales. There is at Whitehall in ye privy Garden a Large pond wth a spout of water of a vast height. This of St James is Little but daily building adding may make it greate.

There is alsoe one Nobleman's house, is this Parke House wch is a very Curious Building. Just by this parke you Enter another Much Larger, Hide-parke, wch is for Rideing on horseback but mostly for ye Coaches, there being a ring railed in round wch a Gravel way yt would admitt of twelve if not more rowes of Coaches, wch ye Gentry to take ye aire and see each other Comes and drives round and round; one row going Contrary to each other affords a pleaseing diversion. The rest of ye parke is green and full of deer, there are Large ponds wth fish and fowle. Ye whole Length of this parke there is a high Causey of a good breadth, 3 Coaches may pass and on Each side are Rowes of posts on wch are Glasses-Cases for Lamps wch are Lighted in ye Evening and appeares very fine as well as safe for ye passenger. This is only a private roade ye king had wch reaches to Kensington, where for aire our Great King Wm bought a house and filled it for a Retirement wth pretty gardens. Besides these ye king has a pallace in ye Strand wth fine gardens all to ye Thames river, this appertaines to ye Queen Dowager while she Lives. In this place was yt cruel Barbarous Murder of Sr Edmund Berry Godfrey by ye papists.

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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