Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

Bath via Warminster

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Another Journey to the Bath, from Newtontony to Warminster 18 miles a good road town and good way; thence to Breackly 5 mile a Deep Clay way, we passed over one Common of some miles Length on a narrow Causy that a Coach can scarce pass, all pitched with slatts and stones-our Coach was once wedged in ye wheele in the stones that severall men were forced to lift us out; its made only for Packhorses which is the way of Carriage in those parts. Ye Common is so Moorish their feete and wheeles would sinke in, so no going there-thence to Philip Norton 3 miles a very neate stone built village. Thence you pass a good way between 2 stone walls to the bath, 5 mile down a very steep hill and stony, a mile from the town scarce any passing and there descends a little Current of water continually from the rocks. The wayes to the bath are all difficult, the town lyes Low in a bottom and its steep ascents all wayes out of the town. The houses are indifferent, the streetes of a good size well pitched. There are severall good houses built for Lodgings that are new and adorned, and good furniture, the baths in my opinion makes the town unpleasant, the aire so low, encompassed with high hills and woods. There is 5 baths the hot bath the most hot springs-its but small and built all round, which makes it ye hotter-out of it runns the water into a bath called the Le pours.

The third bath is called the Cross bath wch is some thing bigger then the former and not so hot; the Cross in the middle has seates round it for ye Gentlemen to sitt, and round the walls are Arches wth seates for the Ladyes, all stone and the seate is stone and if you thinke the seate is too Low they raise it with a Coushon as they call it, another Stone, but indeed the water bears you up that ye seate seemes as easy as a down Coushon. Before the Arch the Ladyes use to have a laced toilet hung up on the top of the Arch and so to shelter their heads even to the water if they please. You Generally sit up to the Neck in water, this Cross bath is much the Coolest and is used mostly in ye heate of summer; there are Gallery's round ye top that ye Company that does not Bathe that day walkes in and lookes over into ye bath on their acquaintance and company -there are such a number of Guides to each bath of women to waite on ye ladyes, and of men to waite on the Gentlemen, and they keepe their due distance. There is a serjeant belonging to ye baths that all the bathing tyme walkes in galleryes and takes notice order is observed and punishes ye rude, and most people of fashion sends to him when they begin to bathe, then he takes particular Care of them and Complements you every morning wch deserves its reward at ye end of the Season. When you would walk about ye bath I use to have a woman guide or two to Lead me for the water is so strong it will quickly tumble you down, and then you have 2 of the men guides goes at a distance about ye bath to Cleare ye way. At ye sides of the Arches are rings that you may hold by and so walke a little way, but ye springs bubbles up so fast and so strong and are so hot up against ye bottoms of ones feete, Especially in that they Call ye Kitching in the bath, which is a great Cross with seates in ye middle and many hot springs riseth there. The Kings bath is very large, as large as the rest put together, in it is the hot pumpe that persons are pumpt at for Lameness or on their heads for palsyes. I saw one pumpt, they put on a broad brim'd hatt wth the Crown Cut out so as ye brims Cast off ye water from ye face; they are pumpt in ye bath, one of ye men Guides pumps- they have two pence I thinke for 100 pumps. The water is scallding hot out of the pump, the armes or Legs are more easyly pumped. The Ladyes goes into the bath with Garments made of a fine yellow canvas, which is stiff and made large with great sleeves like a parsons gown; the water fills it up so that its borne off that your shape is not seen, it does not cling close as other linning, which Lookes sadly in the poorer sort that go in their own linning. The Gentlemen have drawers and wastcoates of the same sort of canvas, this is the best linning, for the bath water will Change any other yellow. When you go out of the bath you go within a doore that leads to Steps which you ascend by degrees that are in the water, then the doore is shut which shutts down into the water a good way, so you are in a private place where you still ascend severall more steps and let your Canvass drop of by degrees into the water, which your women guides take off, and the meane tyme your maides flings a garment of flannell made like a Nightgown wth great sleeves over your head, and ye guides take ye taile and so pulls it on you Just as you rise ye steps, and yr other garment drops off so you are wrapped up in ye flannell and your nightgown on ye top, and your slippers and so you are set in Chaire which is brought into ye roome wch are called slips, and there are Chimney's in them, you may have fires. These are in severall parts of the sides of ye bath for ye Conveniency of persons going in and out of ye bath decently, and at ye top of ye staires stands a woman yt Layes a woollen Cloth for you to set your bare foot, and also to give you attendance. Ye Chaires you go in are a low seate and wth frames round and over ye head and all cover'd inside and out wth red bayes and a Curtaine drawn before of ye same wch makes it Close and warme; then a Couple of men wth staves takes and Carryes you to your lodging and sets you at yr bedside where you go to bed and lye and sweate some tyme as you please. Yr own maides and ye maides of the house gets your fire and waites on you till you rise to get out of your sweate. All the baths has the same attendance, the queens bath is bigger then ye other three but not and neare so big as ye Kings, which do run into each other and is only parted by a wall and at one place a great arch where they run into each other. Ye queens bath is a degree hotter than ye Cross bath and ye Kings bath much hotter, these have all gallery's round and the pump is in one of these galleryes at ye Kings bath which ye Company drinks of, its very hot and tastes like ye water yt boyles Eggs, has such a smell, but ye nearer ye pumpe you drinke it, ye hotter and less offencive and more spiriteous. The baths are all Emptyed as soone as the Company goes out, which is about 10 or 11 of ye Clock in the morning; then by sluces they empty at once ye bath so it fills againe. I have seen all ye springs bubble up as thicke out of ye ground when the baths have been empty. Ye bottom is gravell. So they will be full for ye evening if Company would go in againe, if so they empty them againe at Night and they are filled against ye morning and there will be such a white scum on the bath wch ye guides goes and scimms off Cleane before any Company goes in; if they go in while this scum is on it gives them the bath mantle as they call it, makes them breake out into heate and pimples; ye like will be on them if they go into ye bath before they have purged, especially in ye hotter bath. Ye places for divertion about ye bath is either ye walkes in that they call ye Kings Mead which is a pleasant green meaddow, where are walkes round and Cross it, no place for Coaches, and indeed there is little use of a Coach only to bring and Carry ye Company from ye bath for ye wayes are not proper for Coaches.

Ye town and all its accomodations is adapted to ye batheing and drinking of the waters and to nothing else, the streetes are well pitched and Cleane kept and there are Chaires as in London to Carry ye better sort of people in visits, or if sick or infirme and is only in the town, for its so Encompassed with high hills few care to take the aire on them. There is also pleasant walkes in ye Cathedrall in the Cloysters and yt leades to ye discription of the Coronation in this place at ye bath ye 22d April wch I recieved ye relation off from a spectatrix it being ye day queen ann was Crowned, and is never performed unless when a queen is the Chiefe as Queen Elizabeth &. , her Sister our late Majesty's King William and Queen Mary because the queen was Joyn'd in the throne as principle, they representing ye Amazons consisting of the young Maids. The Companyes of the town being assembled at Mr Mayors house begin to proceed with their officers masters and wardens and each Company with their flag-After marched in a troupe ye Maides of the suburbs each with their proper officers of themselves, as Captn Ensigne and lieutenant wth plummes of feathers. Just before ye captn went her guard which was 6 young men drest in their holland shirts, with garters, and Ribons in their hatts, and their swords drawn in their hands, then the captn in her short wastecoate with gold lace, and their peticoates silke yt were with furbellows one above another with Ribons, wth a trunchant in their hand wth an inscription, God save queen Ann. Just behinde their Captaines went two Maides with two scepters gilt, next them two more yt bore the crown between them wch was gilt, also their Ensigne. Their flag wch holds the same inscription God save queen Ann was guarded by two young Men drest as ye others in their holland shirts: then the troupe followed in order in same dress as their officers with Crowns on their heads of Guilded Lauwrell, in Number about 100; next came ye Citty Maides wth their Majoress Generall with their plummes of feather with a wreath of Gilded Lawrell like a Crown, and on ye top wth all sorts of pretious stones ye Jewellers shops Could supply them wth and were guarded wth young men. As ye others; behind ye Majoress followed six all in white with a green Cross swathe with this inscription in white God save queen Ann each with their Trunchant in their hands as ye former, and two carrying 2 scepters gilt, and after them two more ye Crown between them, wch was very rich in pearles; then two more carryed ye queens Armes between them, their dress was just as ye first were only much richer and finer and all of them gather'd up ye upper peticoate in little scallops just to shew their under peticoates wch were white. Ye troupe of ye amazans in order wth their bows and arrows wth Crowns of Gilded Lawrel' their officers had plumes of feathers and their Serjeants with their halberts, their number was also about 100.

Next after followed all ye young men of ye town form'd into a Company of Granadeers wth their proper officers wch had laced hatts and plumes of feathers; each soldier had a red cap wth Cyphers and a Crown gilt wth gold and furbelowed with blew round their head; their hair was tyed back with scarlet ribon, they had scarlet garters and scarlet slings for their gunns; drest all in their holland shirts and white stockings and had a hanger by their sides. Their number was about 30. Next followed four couple of Maurice dancers with their pranceing horses, in holland shirts with laced hatt riboned, and Cross swashes and garters wth bells, wth their two antiques drest in their formalityes, wth hankershiefs in their hands danceing all ye way.

Next walked ye Clergy, then next followed Mr Major with two pages attending him, followed by the Corporation aldermen all in their scarlet gowns, and the comon Councill in their gowns. Next followed in ye reare all ye marryed men formed into a Company of Artilery, their hatts Laced, with plumes of feathers all in their own Cloths:

Ye Soldiers ye Same wth Swords and gunns wth two Blunderbusses; every Company both of men and women was attended by drums and all sort of musick both wind and stringed instruments.

Thus they repaired to ye Cathedrall, ye granadeers salutes them Just as they enter the Abby with a volly of shott, and there they have a sermon and as they come out of the Cathedrall ye Company of artillery salutes them againe with another volly, so in the same order they return to their Guild Hall where is a sumptuous feast wth Musick and danceing wch Ends ye solemnity wth bonfires as is usual.

I now proceed to describe the rest of the town. There are green walkes very pleasant and in many places, and out of the Cathedrall you walk into ye priory which has good walkes of rows of trees, which is pleasant-there are ye deans prebends and doctors houses which stand in yt green which is pleasant, by ye Church called the Abby, wch is lofty and spacious and much Company walke there especially in wet weather. Ye Quire is neat but nothing extraordinary-in that Kings mead there are severall little Cake-houses where you have fruit lulibubs and sumes Liquours to entertaine ye Company that walke there.

The markets are very good here of all sorts of provision flesh and ffish especially when the season for ye Company batheing and drinking lasts, great plenty and pretty reasonable. The Chargeableness of the bath is ye Lodgings and fireing, the ffaggotts being very small, but they give you very good attendance there.

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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