Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1698 Tour: Bristol to Plymouth

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Here I fferry'd over the Avon that Comes up to ye town wth a Great tyde in two parts; about 6 mile off it joyns ye Severn wch now begins to swell into a vast river of 7 mile over before it Enters the sea. Then I went to Aston a mile from ye water side thro' a fine park, an old Large house, and thence I passed over Large downs and saw 2 other good houses built of stone, wth towers on ye top, and severall Rows of trees Leading to them which made them appear very fine. Soe to Oakey Hole wch from ye water side where I ferry'd is Esteemed but 15 long mile, its ye same Distance from Bristole but I would not goe back to ye town, but twere better I had, for I made it at Least 17 mile that way. Oakey Hole is a Large Cavity under ground Like Poole Hole in Darbyshire, only this seemes to be a great hill above it. Its full of great Rocks and stones Lying in it just as if they were hewen out of a quarry and Laid down all in ye ground, ye wall and Roofe is all a Rocky stone, there is a Lofty space they Call the hall and another ye parlour, and another the Kitchen, the Entrance of Each one out of another is wth greate stooping under Rocks yt hang down almost to touch ye ground, beyond this is a Cistern allwayes full of water, it Looks Cleer to the bottom wch is all full of stones as is the sides, just Like Candy or Like the Branches they put in the boyling of Copperace for ye Copperice to Crust about it, in the same manner so yt ye water Congeales here into stone and does as it were bud or grow out one stone out of another. Where Ever this water drops it does not weare ye Rock in hollow as some other such subterranian Caves does but it hardens and does Encrease ye stone and that in a Roundness as if it Candy'd as it fell, wch I am of opinion it does; so it makes ye Rocks grow and meete Each other in some places.

They ffancy many Resemblances in the Rocks, as in one place an organ and in another 2 little Babys and in another part a head wch they Call the porters head and another a shape like a dog. They phancy one of ye Rocks resembles a woman wth a great belly wch the Country people Call the witch wch made this Cavity under ground for her Enchantments. The rocks are Glistering and shine Like diamonds and some you Climbe over where one meetes wth ye Congealed Drops of water just Like jceicles hanging down. Some of the stone is white Like alabaster and Glisters Like mettle. You walke for ye most part in ye Large spaces Called ye Roomes on a sandy floore, the Roofe so Lofty one Can scarce discern the top and Carry's a Great Eccho, soe that takeing up a great stone as much as a man Can heave up to his head and letting it fall gives a report Like a Cannon wch they frequently trye and Call ye Shooteing ye Cannons. At ye farther End you Come to a water Call'd ye well, its of a greate depth and Compass tho' by the Light of ye Candles you may discern the Rock Encompassing it as a wall round. These hollows are generally very Cold and damp by reason of ye waters distilling Continually wch is very Cold, as jce almost when I put my hand into ye Cistern. These Roads are full of hills, and those some of them high Ridge of hills wch does discover a vast prospect all wayes, behind me I saw a Great valley full of jnclosures and Lessar hills by which you ascend these heights, wch are all very fruitfull and woody. Alsoe I Could see the Severn when Encreased to its breadth of 7 mile over, and there it Disembogues into ye sea; then it gave me a prospect forward of as Large a vale replenish'd wth fruitefull hills and trees and good Ground, thence I Could discern Glassenbury tower; this was Maiden Hill just beyond ye Little town of same name and soe by degrees descending from a higher to a Lower hill wch had its ascents as well as its descents wch makes ye miles seem and are Indeed Long tracts of ground.

From Ocley Hole I went to Wells wch was on an Even ground one mile farther, this Wells is what must be Reckoned halfe a Citty this and ye Bath makeing up but one Bishops See. Here are two Churches wth ye Cathedrall. Ye Cathedrall has ye greatest Curiosity for Carv'd work in stone, the West front is full of all sorts of ffigures, ye 12 apostles, ye K and Q wth angells and figures of all forms, as thick one to another as Can be, and soe almost all round ye Church.

The assizes was in the town wch filled it Like a faire, and Little stands for selling things was in all the streetes. There I saw ye town hall. The streetes are well pitch'd, and a Large market place and shambles. The Bishops pallace is in a park moated round, nothing worth notice in it. St Andrews well wch gives name to the town Bubbles up so quick a spring and becomes the head of two Little rivers wch Encreases a Little way off into good rivers. Thence I went to Glasenbury 4 miles, a pretty Levell way till just you Come to the town, then I ascended a stony hill and went just by the tower wch is on a green Round riseing ground. There is only a Little tower remaines Like a Beacon, it had Bells formerly in it and some superstition observ'd there, but now its broken down on one side. From this I descended a very steep stony way into the town; Glasenbury tho' in ancient tymes was a Renowned place where was founded the first monastery, its now a Ragged poor place and the abbey has only the Kitchen remaining in it wch is a distinct Building, round like a pigeon house all stone. The walls of ye abbey here and there appeares and some Little places and ye Cellar or vault wch if they Cast a stone into the place it gives a great Echo, and ye Country people says its ye Devil set there on a tun of money wch makes ye noise Least they should take it away from him. There is the holly thorn growing on a Chimney, this the superstitious Covet much and have gott some of it for their gardens and soe have almost quite spoiled it, wch did grow quite round a Chimney tunnell in the stone. Here is a very pretty Church a good tower well Carv'd all stone 160 stepps up. Walking in the tower I Could have a prospect of the whole place wch appeared very Ragged and decayed. The Church is neate, there is the Effigee of the abbot on a tombstone Carved all about wth Eschuteons of a Camell, and round it an jnscription or motto in old Latin and an old Caracter. It was a phancy of his Stewards who was a very faithfull Dilligent servant, and as he made use of those Creatures in his masters service yt were strong and Industrious so ye motto described his services under that resemblance. The Effigee was very Curious and wth rings on the fingers, but in Monmouths tyme the soldiers defaced it much.

From thence to Tannton 16 miles through many small places and scattering houses, through Lanes full of stones and by the Great raines just before full of wet and Dirt. I passed over a Large Common or bottom of Deep black Land which is bad for the Rider but good for the abider as the proverb is; this was 2 or 3 mile long and pass'd and repass'd a river as it twin'd about at Least ten tymes over stone bridges. This river Comes from Bridge water 7 mile, the tyde Comes up beyond Bridge water, Even within 3 mile of Taunton its flowed by the tyde wch brings up the Barges wth Coale to this place, after having pass'd a Large Common wch on Either hand Leads a great waye, good rich Land wth ditches and willow trees all for feeding Cattle, and here at this Little place where the boates unlade the Coale ye packhorses Comes and takes it in sacks and so Carryes it to ye places all about. This is ye sea Coale brought from Bristole, the horses Carry 2 Bushell at a tyme wch at the place Cost 18d and when its brought to Taunton Cost 2 shillings. The roads were full of these Carryers going and returning.

Taunton is a Large town haveing houses of all sorts of buildings both brick and stone, but mostly timber and plaister, its a very neate place and Looks substantial as a place of good trade. You meete all sorts of Country women wrapp'd up in the mantles Called West Country rockets, a Large mantle doubled together of a sort of serge, some are Linsywolsey and a deep fringe or ffag at the Lower End, these hang down some to their feete some only just below ye wast, in the summer they are all in white garments of this sort, in the winter they are in Red ones. I Call them garments because they never go out wth out them and this is the universal ffashion in Sommerset and Devonshire and Cornwall. Here is a good Market Cross well Carv'd and a Large Market house on Pillars for the Corn. I was in the Largest Church, it was mending, it was pretty Large, the alter stood table wayes in the middle of the Chancell, there was one good stone Statue stood in the wall, the Effigee was very tall in a Ruff and Long Black dress Like some Religious wth his Gloves and book in his hand. There were severall Little monuments with Inscriptions Round them, they have Encompass'd the Church yard with a new Brick wall and handsom Iron gates, there is a Large space Called the Castle yard and some remaines of the Castle walls and Buildings wch is fitted up for a good dwelling house. From thence I went to Wellington, they Call it but 5 mile but its a Long 7 tho' the way was pretty good; this is a Little Market town. Thence to Culimton 13 mile more, but Indeed these were very long Miles, ye hostler at Tanton did say tho' they were reckon'd but 16 miles it really was a good 20 miles and I am much of that mind. I mostly pass'd through Lanes, I entred Into Devonshire 5 mile off from Wellington, just on a high ridge of hills wch discovers a vast prospect on Each side full of Inclosures and Lesser hills wch is the Description of most part of the West. You Could see Large tracts of grounds full of Enclosures good Grass and Corn beset with quicksetts and hedge rows, and these Lesser hills wch are scarce perceivable on ye Ridge of the uppermost, yet the Least of them have a steep ascent and descent to pass them. Culimton is a good Little market town, and market Cross and another set on stone pillars, such a one was at Wellington but on Brick work pillars. Here was a Large meeteing of neer 4 or 500 people, they have a very good minister but a young man, I was glad to see soe many tho' they were but of the meaner sort, for Indeed its the poor Receive the Gospell and there are in most of the market towns in the West very good meeteings. This Little place was one Continued Long streete but few houses yt struck out of the streete. From thence 10 mile to Exetter, up hills and down as before, till one attaines those uppermost Ridges of all wch discovers the whole valley, then you sometymes goe a mile or two on a Down till the Brow of the hill begins in a Descent on the other side. This Citty appears to view 2 mile distant from one of those heights, and also the River Ex wch runs to Topshum where ye shipps Comes up to the Barre; this is 7 mile by water from wch they are attempting to make navigeable to the town, which will be of Mighty advantage to have shipps Come up Close to the town to take in their Serges wch now they are forced to send to Topshum on horses by Land, wch is about 4 mile by Land. They had just agreed wth a man that was to accomplish this work for wch they were to give 5 or 6000? , who had made a beginning on it.

Exeter is a town very well built, the streets are well pitch'd, spacious noble streetes, and a vast trade is Carryed on, as Norwitch is for Coapes Callamanco and damaske, soe this is for serges. There is an Increadible quantety of them made and sold in the town. There market day is Fryday which supplys with all things Like a faire almost; the markets for meate, fowle, ffish, garden things and the Dairy produce takes up 3 whole streetes besides the Large Market house set on stone pillars, wch runs a great Length on wch they Lay their packs of serges. Just by it is another walke wth in pillars wch is for the yarne, the whole town and Country is Employ'd for at Least 20 mile round in spinning, weaveing, dressing and scouring, fulling and Drying of the serges. It turns the most money in a weeke of any thing in England. One weeke with another there is 10000 pound paid in ready money, Sometymes 15000 pound. The weavers brings in their serges and must have their money wch they Employ to provide them yarne to goe to work againe. There is alsoe a square Court with Penthouses round where the Malters are wth Mault and oat meal, but the serge is the Chief manufacture, There is a prodigious quantety of their serges they never bring into the market but are in hired roomes wch are noted for it, for it would be impossible to have it altogether. The Carryers I met going wth it, as thick, all Entring into town wth their Loaded horses, they bring them all just from the Loome and soe they are put into the ffulling-mills, but first they will Clean and Scour their roomes with them, wch by the way gives noe pleasing perfume to a roome, the oyle and grease, and I should think it would Rather foull a roome than Cleanse it because of the oyles, but I perceive its otherwise Esteemed by them wch will send to their acquaintances yt are tuckers the dayes the serges Comes in for a Rowle to Clean their house-this I was an Eye witness of. Then they Lay them in soack in vrine, then they soape them and soe put them into the ffulling-mills and soe worke them in the mills drye till they are thick enough then they turne water into them and so scower them. Ye mill does draw out and gather in ye serges, its a pretty divertion to see it, a sort of huge notch'd timbers Like great teethe;-one would thinke it should Injure the serges but it does not. Ye mills draws in wth such a great violence that if one stands neere it and it Catch a bitt of your Garments it would be ready to draw in ye person even in a trice. When they are thus scour'd they drye them in racks strained out wch are as thick set one by another as will permitt ye dresses to pass between, and huge Large fields occupy'd this way almost all round the town wch is to the river side; then when drye they pick out all knots then fold them wth a paper between Every fold and so sett them on an jron plaite and screw down ye press on them wch has another jron plaite on the top under wch is a furnace of fire of Coales, this is the hott press; then they fold them Exceeding Exact and then press them in a Cold press, some they dye but the most are sent up for London white.

I saw the severall ffatts they were a Dying in of black, yellow, blew and Green wch two Last Coullours are dipp'd in the same fatt, that wch makes it differ is what they were dipp'd in before wch makes them Either green or blew; they hang the Serges on a great beame or Great pole on the top of ye fatt and so keep turning it from one to another- as one turns it off into the ffatt ye other Rowles it out of it, soe they do it backwards and forwards till its tinged deep Enough of the Coullour. Their ffurnace that keepes their dye panns boyling is all under that roome made of Coale ffires. There was in a roome by itself a ffatt for the Scarlet that being a very Changeable dye noe waste must be allow'd in that, Indeed I think they make as fine a Coullour as their bowdies are in London.

These Rolers I spake of two men does Continually role on and off ye pieces of serge till Dipp'd Enough, the length of these pieces are or should hold out 26 yards. This Citty does Exceedingly resemble London for besides these buildings I mention'd for yc severall Markets, there is an Exchange full of shopps Like our Exchanges are, only its but one walke along as was the Exchange at Salisbury house in the Strand; there is also a very Large space Railed in just by the Cathedrall with walks round it wch is Called the Exchange for Merchants, that Constantly meete twice a day just as they do in London. There are 17 Churches in the Citty and 4 in the subburbs, there is some remaines of the Castle walls, they make use of the roomes wch are inside for ye assizes, there is the two Barrs besides being Large rooms wth seates and places Convenient and jury roome, here is a Large walke at ye Entrance between Rowes of Pillars, there is besides this just at ye market place a Guild hall the Entrance of wch is a Large place set on stone Pillars, beyond wch are ye roomes for the session or any town affaires to be adjusted. Behind this building there is a vast Cistern wch holds upwards of 600 hodsheads of water which supplyes by pipes the whole Citty; this Cistern is replenished from the river wch is on purpose turned into a Little Channell by it self to turn the mill, and ffills the Engine that Casts ye water into the truncks wch Conveys it to this Cistern. The water Engine is Like those at Islington and at Darby as I have seen, and is what now they make use of in Diverse places Either to supply them wth water or to draine a marsh or overplus of water. The river X is a fine streame, they have made severall bayes or wires above the Bridge wch Casts ye water into many Channells for the Conveniencys of turning all their mills, by wch meanes they have Composed a Little jsland, for at the End it againe returns into its own united Channell. Those wires makes great falls into ye water, it Comes wth great violence; here they Catch the Salmon as they Leap wth speares, the first of these Bayes is a very great one, there is one below the bridge wch must be taken away when the navigation is Compleate for they will need all their water together to fill it to a Depth to Carry the shipps for just by the Bridge is the Key design'd, or yt wch now is already they will Enlarge to that place. Just by this key is the Custome house, an open space below wth rows of pillars wch they Lay in goods just as its unladen out of the shipps in Case of wet. Just by are Severall Little roomes for Land waiters &, then you ascend up a handsome pair of staires into a Large roome full of Desks and Little partitions for the writers and accountants, it was full of books and files of paper. By it are two other Roomes wch are used in the same way when there is a great deale of Bussiness. There are severall good Conduites to Supply ye Citty wth water besides that Cistern, there is alsoe a very fine market Cross.

The Cathedrall at Exetter is preserv'd in its outside adornments beyond most I have seen, there remaining more of ye fine Carv'd worke in stone, the ffigures and nitches full and in proportion, tho' Indeed I Cannot say it has that great Curiosity of work and variety as the great Church at Wells. Its a Lofty building in ye Inside, the Largest pair of organs [Footnote: the great pipe 15 inches diameter is two more yn the celebrated one at Coln.] I have Ever seen wth fine Carving of wood wch runs up a Great height, and made a magnificent appearance. The Quire is very neate, but ye Bishops seate or throne was Exceeding and very high and ye Carving very fine and took up a Great Compass full of all variety of ffigures, something Like the worke over ye arch Bishops throne in St Pauls, London, but this was Larger if not so Curious. There was severall good monuments and Effigies of Bishops; there was one of a judge and his Lady that was very Curious, their Garments Embroyder'd all marble and Gilt and painted. There was a very Large good Library in wch was a press that had an anatomy of a woman. Ye tower is 167 steps up on which I had a view of ye whole town wch is Generally well built. I saw ye Bishops pallace and Garden, there is a long walke as well as broad, Enclosed wth rows of Lofty trees which made it shady and very pleasant, wch went along by the Ditch and banck on wch the town wall stands. There are 5 gates to ye town, there is alsoe another Long walke within shady trees on ye other side of the town, wch Leads to the Grounds where the drying frames are set up for the serges.

Ffrom thence I pass'd the Bridge aCross the River Ex to Chedly wch was 9 mile, mostly Lanes and a Continual going up hill and down, some of them pretty steep hills and all these Lesser hills as I have observ'd rises higher and higher till it advances you upon the high Ridge wch discovers to view the Great valleys below full of those Lesser hills and jnclosures wth quicksett hedges and trees and Rich Land, but the Roads are not to be seen being all along in Lanes Cover'd over with ye shelter of the hedges and trees. Then when I was on ye top hill I went 3 or 4 miles on an open down wch brought me to the Edge of another such a Ridge, wch was by some steps to be descended as it was gained by ye Lesser hills one below another till I Came to ye bottom, and then I had about 2 or 3 mile along on a plaine or Common wch for the most part are a Little moorish by reason of their receiving the water that draines from the severall Great hills on Either side, and so then I am to rise up another such a Range of hills, and as neer as I Could Compute in my Rideing it was 6 or 7 miles between one high Ridge of hills to that over against it, whereas were there a Bridge over from one top to the other it Could not be 2 mile distant; but this does give them ye advantage of severall acres of Land by reason of the many hills wch if drawn out on plaines as in some other parts would appear much vaster tracts of Land. On these hills as I said one Can discern Little besides inclosures hedges and trees, rarely Can see houses unless you are just descending to them, they allwayes are placed in holes as it were and you have a precipice to go down to Come at them. Ye Lanes are full of stones and dirt for ye most part because they are so Close the sun and wind Cannot Come at them, soe that in many places you travell on Causeys wch are uneven also for want of a Continued repaire.

From Chedly to Ashburton is 11 mile more, in all 20 mile from Exeter, the Roads being much the same as before. This Ashburton is a poor Little town-bad was the best Inn. Its a market town and here are a Great many descenters and those of the most Considerable persons in the town; there was a presbiterian, an anabaptist, and quakers meeteing. Thence I went for Plymouth 24 long miles, and here the Roades Contract and ye Lanes are exceeding narrow and so Cover'd up you Can see Little about; an army Might be marching undiscover'd by any body, for when you are on those heights that shews a vast Country about you Cannot see one Road. The wayes now become so difficult yt one Could scarcely pass by Each other, Even ye single horses, and so Dirty in many places, and just a track for one horses feete, and the Banks on Either side so neer, and were they not well secured and mended wth stones stuck Close Like a Drye wall Everywhere when they discover the Bancks to Breake and molder down, which Else would be in Danger of swallowing up the way quite; for on these bancks (wch are some of them naturall Rocks and quarrys, others mended wth such stone or slate stuck Edgewayes to secure them) for the quicksetts and trees that grow on these Bancks Loosen the mold and so makes it molder downe sometymes. I pass'd through severall Little places and over some stone Bridges. Ye waters are pretty broad soe these are 4 or 5 arches most Bridges, all stone. The running of ye waters is wth a huge Rushing by reason of ye stones wch Lye in the water, some of them Great rocks wch gives some Interruption to ye Current wch finding another way Either by its sides or mounting over part of it Causes ye frothing of ye water and ye noise-the rivers being full of stones bigger or Less. About 4 or 5 mile from ashburton I Came to a Little place Called Dean and at ye End of it ascended a very steep hill, all rock almost; and so it was Like so many steps up, this is Called Dean Clapperhill, it was an untoward place but not soe fformidable to me as the people of ye place where I Lay described it,haveing gone much worse hills in the North. All along on the road where the Lanes are a Little broader you ride by rowes of trees on Each side, set and kept Exactly Even and Cut, ye tops being for shade and beauty and they in exact forme as if a Grove to some house. At first I thought it was neer some houses till the frequency and Length proved the Contrary, for there are very few if any houses neare the Road, unless the Little villages you passe through. This Country being almost full of stone the streetes and roades too have a naturall sort of paveing or Pitching tho' uneven. All their Carriages are here on ye Backs of horses, wth sort of hookes Like yoakes stands upon Each side of a good height, wch are the Receptacles of their goods Either wood, ffurse or Lime or Coale or Corn or hay or straw or what Else they Convey from place to place, and I Cannot see how two such horses Can pass Each other or Indeed in some places how any horse Can pass by Each other, and yet these are the roads yt are all here abouts. Some Little Corners may jutt out that one may a Little get out of ye way of Each other, but this but seldom. Two mile from Plymouth we Come to ye river Plym just by a Little town all built of stone and ye tyleing is all flatt wch with ye Lime its Cemented, wch makes it Look white Like snow, and in the sun shineing on the slatt it Glisters.

Here I Came in sight on ye Right hand of a very Large house built all with this sort of stone wch is a sort of marble. Even all quaryes are, and some ffine marble. This house Look'd very finely in a thicket of trees Like a Grove and was on the side of a hill and Led just down to the head of ye river Plym wch is fill'd with ye tyde from the sea, and here I Cross'd it on a stone bridge. Soe I Rode 2 miles mostly by the river wch encreases and is a fine broad streame and at ye town wch is its mouth it falls into the sea. The sea here runs into severall Creekes, one place it runs up to ye Dock and Milbrook, another arm of ye sea goes up to Saltash and Port Eliot.

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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