Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

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Another Journey to Broughton in Oxfordshire, my brother's, and now my nephew's house, the Lord Say and Seale. I went by Hartfordshire and Bedford from London to Wane 20 mile, thence to Hitching 14 miles, most in Lanes and deep Land, and in the winter bad Roads, but very good Land-good Corn-the wheate Look'd well but Grass and Summer Corn wanted rain, being a drye Spring. Thence to Bedford town 12 mile more, these miles are Longer than those about London and much in Lanes and woods.

Bedford town is an old Building, its wash'd by the river Ouse which Comes from Buckingham and is here Broader than in most places till it reaches Yorke; its stored with very good ffish and those which have Gardens on its brinke keepes sort of trunck or what they Call them. Its a Receptacle of wood of a pretty size full of holes to Let the water in and out, here they keep the ffish they Catch as pike, perch, tench &, so they have it readye for their use, this is of mighty advantage Especially for the Publick houses-you see the ffish taken out ffresh for supper or dinner. The river runns twineing about and runns into severall notches of Ground wch is sett full of willows, and many Little boates Chained to the sides belonging to ye people of the town for their diversion. It runns by a Ground which is made into a fine bowling-green, its upon a hill and a pretty ascent from the river that is besett with willows all round beneath; ye bowling green is well kept with Seates and summer houses in it for the use of the town and Country Gentlemen of which many resort to it Especially the market dayes. At the Entrance of the town you pass over ye river on a bridge which has a gate on it and some houses-this river beares barges. These truncks or Baskets which keepes the ffish are ffastned by Chaines to the sides of the Banks in each mans Garden. There is nothing worth notice in the town, severall streetes small and old, the middle streete which runns from ye Bridge is pretty broad, wherein stands ye market place and house which is on severall stone pillars and raill'd in. There is above it roomes which were design'd for the session and publick Buissness of the town by the Lord Russell that built it, but his untimely death, being beheaded, put a stop to its ffinishing. They now put it to noe use but spinning haveing begun to set up the woollen worke, but its Just in its Infancy. Over this is the top which is flatt rooff'd Leaded and railed in, from thence you see the whole town and Country round.

There is a pretty many Gentry about ye Country neare neighbours, and many Live in the town tho' in such old houses. From thence I went to Asply 8 mile where the Earth turns wood into stone and had a piece of it; it seemes its only one sort of wood the Aldertree which turns so, and Lay or drive a paile or Stake into the ground there in seven yeares its petrify'd into stone, from thence to Onborn wch is 3 mile more.

Here is the Duke of Bedfords house which I had seen before with the fine Gardens and parke, so proceeded on to Dunstable 9 miles ffarther where I staid and dined with my kinswoman my aunt Woolsley's Daughter marry'd to a Dr of physick Dr Marsh, and from thence I went to Laighton Buserd and thence to Whinslow about 12 mile- this is in Buckinghamshire-thence to Broughton in Oxfordshire 17 mile, and staid a weeke and then returned through oxfford Citty 18 mile, and so to London 48 mile more.

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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