Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1698 Tour: Plymouth to Penzance

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Plymouth is 2 Parishes Called ye old town and ye new, the houses all built of this marble and ye Slatt at the top Lookes Like Lead and glisters in the sun. There are noe great houses in the town, the streetes are good and Clean, there is a great many tho' some are but narrow, they are mostly inhabitted wth seamen and those wch have affaires on ye sea, for here up to the town there is a Depth of water for shipps of ye first Rate to Ride. Its Great sea and Dangerous by reason of ye severall poynts of Land between wch the sea runs up a Great way, and there are severall Little jslands alsoe all wch beares the severall tydes hard one against ye other. There are two keyes, the one is a broad space wch Leads you up into the broad streete and is used in manner of an exchange for the merchants meeteing, for in this streete alsoe is a fine stone Crosse and alsoe a long market house set on stone Pillars. There are severall good Cunduits to Convey the water to the town wch Conveyance ye famous Sr Ffrancis Drake (wch did encompass ye world in Queen Elizabeths dayes and Landed safe at Plymouth) he gave this to ye town. There are two Churches in the town but nothing fine. I was in ye best and saw only King Charles the firsts Picture at Length at prayer just as its Cut on the frontispiece of the jnenicum. This picture was Drawn and given the Church when he was in his troubles, for some piece of service shewn him. The alter stands in the Chancell or Railed place, but it stands table wise the Length and not up against the wall. The ffont was of marble and Indeed soe is all buildings here for their stone is all a sort of Marble, some Coarser some finer. There are 4 Large meetings for the descenters in the town takeing in the Quakers and anabaptists.

The mouth of ye river just at ye town is a very good Harbour for Shipps, the Dockyards are about 2 mile from the town-by boate you goe to it ye nearest way-its one of ye best in England. A Great many good shipps built there, and the Great Depth of water wch Comes up to it tho, it runs for 2 mile between ye Land, wch also shelters ye shipps. There is a great deale of Buildings on the Dock, a very good house for the Masters and severall Lesser ones, and house for their Cordage and makeing Ropes, and all sorts of things required in building or Refitting ships, it Lookes Like a Little town. The Buildings are so many and all of marble wth ffine slate on ye Rooffs and at a Little Distance it makes all the houses shew as if they were Cover'd wth snow and Glisters in ye sunn wch adds to their beauty. Ye ffine and only thing in Plymouth town is the Cittadell or Castle wch stands very high above the town, the walls and battlements round it wth all their Works and Plattforms are in very good repaire and Lookes nobly, all marble full of towers wth stone Balls on the top and Gilt on the top; the Entrance being by an ascent up a hill Looks very noble over 2 drawbridges and Gates, wch are Marble as is the whole, Well Carv'd, the Gate wth armory and statues all Gilt and on the top 7 Gold balls. Ye buildings within are very neate, a Large appartment for the Governour, wth others that are Less for ye severall officers. There is a Long building alsoe wch is ye arsnell for ye arms and amunition, and just by it a round building well secured wch was for the powder round the works in the Plattform for the Gunns wch are well mounted and very well kept. Walking round I had the view of all the town and alsoe part off ye Main Ocean in wch are some jslands. There is St Nicholas jsland wth a ffort in it, there it was Harry Martin one of ye Kings judges was banished Dureing Life. There you Can just Discover a Light house wch is building on a meer Rock in the middle of ye sea, this is 7 Leagues off, it will be of Great advantage for ye Guide of ye shipps yt pass that way. From this you have a Good refflection on ye Great Care and provision ye wise God makes for all persons and things in his Creation, that there should be in some places where there is any Difficulty rocks Even in the midst of ye deep wch Can be made use of for a Constant Guide and mark for the passengers on their voyages, but the Earth is full of ye goodness of ye Lord and soe is this Great sea wherein are jnumerable beings Created and preserv'd by ye same almighty hand Whose is the Earth and all things there in, he is Lord of all. From the plattform I Could see ye Dock and also just agst it I saw mount EdgeComb a seate of Sr Richard EdgComes, it stands on the side of a hill all bedeck'd wth woods wch are Divided into several Rowes of trees in walks, the house being all of this white marble. Its built round a Court so the four sides are alike, at ye Corners of it are towers wch wth ye Lanthorne or Cupilow in the middle Lookes well, the house is not very Lofty nor the windows high but it Looked Like a very uniforme neate building and pretty Large. There is a Long Walke from one part of ye front down to ye waterside, wch is on a descent guarded wth shady Rowes of trees, there is a fine terrass walled in, at ye water side is open gates in ye middle and a summer house at Each End, from whence a wall is Drawn Round the house and Gardens and a Large parck, the wall of which I Rode by a good while; so yt altogether and its scituation makes it Esteemed by me the finest seate I have seen and might be more Rightly named mount pleasant. From Plymouth I went 1 mile to Cribly Fferry wch is a very hazardous passage by reason of 3 tydes meeting. Had I known ye Danger before, I should not have been very willing to have gone it, not but this is ye Constant way all people goe, and saved severall miles rideings, I was at Least an hour going over, it was about a mile but Indeed in some places notwithstanding there was 5 men Row'd and I sett my own men to Row alsoe I do believe we made not a step of way for almost a quarter of an hour, but blessed be God I Came safely over; but those fferry boates are soe wet and then the sea and wind is allwayes Cold to be upon, that I never faile to Catch Cold in a fferry boate as I did this day haveing 2 more fferrys to Cross tho' none soe bad or halfe soe Long as this. Thence to Milbrooke 2 mile and went all along by the water and had the full view of ye Dock yards. Here I entred into Cornwall and soe passed over many very steep stony hills, tho' here I had some 2 or 3 miles of Exceeding good way on the downs, and then I Came to ye steep precipices-Great Rocky hills -ever and anon I Came down to the sea and Rode by its side on the sand, then mounted up againe on ye hills wch Carryed me along Mostly in sight of ye Southsea. Sometymes I was in Lanes full of Rowes of trees and then I Came down a very steep stony hill to Lonn 13 mile, and here I Crossed a Little arme of ye sea on a Bridge of 14 arches. This is a pretty bigg seaport, a Great many Little houses all of stone, and steep hill much worse and 3 tymes as Long as Dean Clapper hill, and soe I continued up and down hill. Here Indeed I met wth more jnclosed Ground and soe had more Lanes and a Deeper Clay Road wch by by the raine ye night before had made it very Dirty and full of water in many places, in the Road there are many holes and sloughs where Ever there is Clay Ground, and when by raines they are filled with water its difficult to shun Danger; here my horse was quite down in one of these holes full of water but by ye good hand of God's providence wch has allwayes been wth me Even a present help in tyme of need, for giving him a good strap he fflounc'd up againe tho' he had gotten quite down his head and all, yet did retrieve his ffeete and gott Cleer off ye place wth me on his Back. Soe I Came to Hoile 8 mile more, they are very Long miles ye ffarther West but you have ye pleasure of Rideing as if in a Grove in most places, ye Regular Rowes of trees on Each side ye Roade as if it were an Entrance into some gentlemans Ground to his house. I fferryed over againe Cross an arme of ye sea, here it was not broad but Exceeding deep. This is ye Southsea wch runs into many Little Creekes for severall miles into ye Land wch is all ye rivers they have. I observed this to be exceeding salt and as green as ever I saw ye sea when I have been a League or two out from ye Land, wch shews it must be very deep and Great tides. This Hoile is a narrow stony town, ye streetes very Close, and as I descended a Great steep into ye town, soe I ascended one up a stony Long hill farre worse and full of shelves and Rocks and 3 tymes as Long as Dean Clapperhill, wch I Name because when I was there they would have frighted me with its terribleness as ye most inaccessible place as Ever was and none Like it, and my opinion is yt it was but one or two steps, to other places forty steps and them wth more hazard than this of Dean Clapper. Well, to pass on, I went over some Little heath Ground but mostly Lanes, and those stony and Dirty, 3 mile and halfe to Parr; here I fferry'd over againe, not but when the tyde is out you may ford it.

Thence I went over the heath to St Austins wch is a Little market town where I Lay, but their houses are like Barnes up to ye top of ye house. Here was a pretty good dineing room and Chamber within it and very neate Country women. My Landlady brought me one of ye west Country tarts this was ye first I met wth though I had asked for them in many places in Sommerset and Devonshire; its an apple pye wth a Custard all on the top, its ye most acceptable entertainment yt Could be made me. They scald their Creame and milk in most parts of those Countrys and so its a sort of Clouted Creame as we Call it, wth a Little sugar and soe put on ye top of ye apple Pye. I was much pleased wth my supper tho' not with the Custome of the Country wch is a universall smoaking, both men women and children have all their pipes of tobacco in their mouths and soe sit round the fire smoaking wch was not delightfull to me when I went down to talke wth my Landlady for information of any matter and Customs amongst them. I must say they are as Comely sort of women as I have seen any where tho' in ordinary dress- good black Eyes and Crafty enough and very neate. Halfe a mile from hence they blow their tin wch I went to see. They take ye ore and pound it in a stamping mill wch resembles the paper mills, and when its fine as ye finest sand-some of wch I saw and took-this they fling into a ffurnace and wth it Coale to make the fire. So it burns together and makes a violent heate and fierce flame, the mettle by ye fire being separated from ye Coale and its own Drosse, being heavy falls down to a trench made to receive it at ye furnace hole below. This Liquid mettle I saw them shovel up wth an jron shovel and soe pour it into molds in wch it Cooles and soe they take it thence in sort of wedges or piggs I think they Call them, its a fine mettle in its first melting-Looks Like silver-I had a piece poured out and made Cold for to take wth me. Ye oare as its just dug Lookes Like ye thunderstones, a greenish hue full of pendust this seemes to Containe its full description, ye shineing part is white. I went a mile farther on ye hills and soe Came where they were digging in the tinn mines, there was at Least 20 mines all in sight wch employs a Great many people at work almost night and day, but Constantly all and Every day jncluding the Lords day wch they are forced to prevent their mines being overflowed wth water. More than 1000 men are taken up about them, few mines but had then almost 20 men and boys attending it either down in ye mines digging and Carrying ye oare to the Little Bucket wch Conveys it up, or Else others are Draineing the water and Looking to ye Engines yt are draineing it, and those above are attending ye drawing up the oare in a sort of windlass as is to a Well. Two men keeps turning bringing up one and Letting down another, they are much Like the Leather Buckets they use in London to put out fire, wch hang up in Churches and Great mens halls. They have a Great Labour and Great expence to draine the mines of the water wth mills that horses turn, and now they have ye mills or water Engines that are turned by the water wch is Convey'd on frames of timber and truncks to hold ye water, wch falls down on ye wheeles as an over shott mill, and these are ye sort that turns ye water into ye severall towns I have seen about London, Darby and Exeter and many places more. They do five tymes more good than the mills they use to turn wth horses, but then they are much more Chargeable. Those mines do require a great deale of timber to support them and to make all those engines and mills, wch makes fewell very scarce here; they burn mostly turffs wch is an unpleasant smell, it makes one smell as if smoaked Like Bacon. This ore as said is made fine powder in a Stamping Mill wch is Like ye paper mills, only these are pounded drye and noe water Let into them as is to ye Raggs, to work them into a paste. Ye mills are all turned wth a Little Streame or Channell of water you may step over, jndeed they have noe other mills but such in all the Country; I saw not a windmill all over Cornwall or Devonshire tho' they have wind and hills Enough, and it may be its too Bleake for them. In the tinn mines there is stone Dug out and a sort of spar something Like what I have seen in the Lead mines at Darbyshire but it seemed more sollid and hard, it shines and Lookes Like mother of pearle. They alsoe digg out stones as Cleer as Christal wch is Called Cornish Diamonds. I saw one as bigg as my two ffists, very Cleer and Like some pieces of Chrystal my father brought from ye Alps In Italy wch I have by me. I got one of those pieces of their Cornish Diamonds as Long as halfe my finger wch had three or four flatt sides wth Edges, the top was sharpe and so hard as it would Cut a Letter on glass. Thence I went to 6 miles good way, and passed by 100 mines some on which they were at work, others that were lost by ye waters overwhelming them. I crossed ye water on a Long stone bridge and so through dirty stony Lanes 3 mile and then I Came into a broad Coach Rode which I have not seen since I Left Exeter, so I went 3 mile more to Mr Boscawens-Trygothy-a Relation of mine. His house stands on a high hill in the middle of a parke with severall Rows of trees with woods beyond it. Ye house is built all of white stone like the Rough Coarse Marble and Cover'd wth slate. They use much Lime in their Cement wch makes both walls and Cover Look very white. There is a Court walled round wth open Iron gates and barrs. The Entrance is up a few stone steps into a Large high hall and so to a passage that Leads foreright up a good stair Case. On ye Right side is a Large Common parlour for Constant Eating in, from whence goes a Little roome for smoaking yt has a back way into the kitchin, and on the Left hand is a Great parlour and drawing roome-wanscoated all very well but plaine. Ye Great Parlour is Cedar, out of yt is the Drawing-roome which is hung with pictures of the family, that goes into ye garden wch has Gravell walks round and across, but ye squares are full of goosebery and shrub-trees and Looks more Like a Kitchen garden as Lady Mary Boscawen told me, out of wch is another Garden and orchard which is something Like a Grove, Green walks wth rows of fruit trees. Its Capable of being a fine place wth some Charge, the roomes above are new modell'd, 3 roomes wanscoated and hung as ye new way is, and ye beds made up well, one red damaske, another Green, another wrought some of ye Ladyes own work and well made up, wch is her own Roome wth a dressing roome by it. There is a dressing roome and a roome for a servant just by ye best Chamber. There are two other good roomes unalter'd wth old hangings to ye bottom on wrought work of ye first Ladyes. Lady Margets work, yt was my Cos'n German, within that roome was a servants roome and back staires, there was just such another apartment on ye other side.

Between all from the staires a broad passage Leads to a Balcony over the Entrance wch Look'd very pleasantly over the parke but in the Cupulo on ye Leads I Could see a vast way, at Least 20 mile round; for this house stands very high to ye Land side Eastward, and the south was the Great Ocean wch runns into Falmouth thats ye best harbour for shipps in that road. 6 mile from this place westward was to Truro and the north to the hills full of Copper mines. Here I was very Civily Entertained: from thence I returned back Intending not to goe to ye Lands End wch was 30 miles farther for feare of ye raines that fell in the night wch made me doubt what travelling I should have; soe to St Culumb I went, a pretty Long 12 mile. Here I met with many Rowes of Elm trees wch I have not found in any Country Except Wiltshire; these were mostly soe, tho' there were alsoe ashes and oakes. Ye hedges were Hazelthorne and Holly but to see soe many good rowes of trees on ye road is surprising and Looks Like the Entrance to some Gentlemans house, and I cannot tell but some of them were soe tho' a mile off from ye house.

The next day finding it faire weather on ye Change of ye moone, I alter'd my Resolution and soe went for ye Lands End by Redruth 18 miles, mostly over heath and Downs wch was very bleake and full of mines.

Here I Came by the Copper mines wch have the same order in the digging and draining, tho' here it seemes Dryer and I believe not quite soe annoy'd wth water. The ore is something as the tinn only this Looks blackish, or rather a purple Colour, and ye glistering part is yellow as ye other was white. They do not melt it here but ship it off to Bristol by ye North Sea wch I Rode in sight of, and is not above 2 or 3 Mile from hence, which supplyes them with Coales for their fewell at Easyer rates than the other side Plymouth and the South Sea, because since ye warre they Could not Double ye poynt at ye Lands End, being so neer Ffrance ye pirats or Privateers met them. Indeed at St Ives they do melt a Little but nothing that is Considerable-that is 10 mile from Redruth wch is a Little market town. Here they Carry all their things on horses backs soe that of a market day wch was Fryday you see a great number of horses Little of size wch they Call Cornish Canelys. They are well made and strong and will trip along as Light on the stony road without injury to themselves, where as my horses went so heavy that they wore their shoes immediately thinn and off, but here I met with a very good smith that shooed ye horses as well as they do in London, and that is not Common in the Country, but here I found it soe, and at a place in Westmoreland by ye ffells a smith made good shoes and set them on very well. From Redruth I went to Pensands 15 mile and passed by ye ruines of Great ffortification or Castle on a high hill about 3 mile from Redruth and passed to Hailes and soe went by ye sea side a great way, it being spring tide it was a full sea. Just over against it there was a Church wch was almost sunck into ye sands being a very sandy place. So I went up pretty high hills and over some heath or Common, on wch a Great storme of haile and raine met me and drove fiercely on me but ye wind soone dry'd my Dust Coate. Here I Came by a very good Grove of trees wch I thought was by some. Gentlemans house but found it some ffarmers.

The people here are very ill Guides and know but Little from home, only to some market town they frequent, but will be very solicitous to know where you goe and how farre and from whence you Came and where is ye abode. Then I Came in sight of ye hill in Cornwall Called ye Mount, its on a Rock in the sea wch at ye flowing tyde is an jsland, but at Low water one Can goe over ye sands almost just to it, its but a Little market town wch is about 2 mile from Panzants, and you may walke or Ride to it all on ye sands when ye tyde's out. Its a ffine Rock and very high- severall Little houses for fisher men-in ye sides of it just by the water. At ye top is a pretty good house where the Govenour Lives sometymes,-Sr - Hook his name is- there is a tower on the top on wch is a fflag. There is a Chaire or throne on the top from whence they Can discover a Great way at sea and here they put up Lights to direct shipps.

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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