Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

1698 Tour: Lands End to Winchester

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Pensands is Rightly named being all sands about it-it Lies just as a shore to ye maine South ocean wch Comes from ye Lizard and being on ye side of a hill wth a high hill all round ye side to ye Landward it Lookes soe snugg and warme, and truely it needs shelter haveing the sea on ye other side and Little or no ffewell-turff and ffurse and fferne. They have Little or noe wood and noe Coale wch differences it from Darbyshire, otherwise this and to ye Land's End is stone and barren as Darbyshire. I was surprised to ffind my supper boyling on a fire allwayes supply'd wth a bush of ffurse and yt to be ye only ffewell to dress a joynt of meat and broth, and told them they Could not roast me anything, but they have a Little wood for such occasions but its scarce and dear wch is a strange thing yt ye shipps should not supply them. They told me it must all be brought round the Lands End and since ye warre they Could not have it. This town is two parishes, one Church in ye town and a Little Chappell and another Church belonging to ye other parish wch is a mile distance. There is alsoe a good meeteing place.

There is a good Key and a good Harbour for ye shipps to Ride, by meanes of ye point of Land wch runns into ye Sea in a neck or Compass wch shelters it from ye maine and answers the Lizard point wch you see very plaine-a point of Land Looks Like a Double hill one above ye other that runns a good way into ye sea. Ye Lands End is 10 mile ffarther, pretty steep and narrow Lanes, but its not shelter'd wth trees or hedg Rows this being rather desart and Like ye peake Country in Darbyshire, dry stone walls, and ye hills full of stones, but it is in most places better Land and yeilds good Corne, both wheate Barley and oates and some Rhye. About 2 mile from the Lands End I Came in sight of ye maine ocean on both sides, the south and north sea and soe Rode in its view till I saw them joyn'd at ye poynt, and saw the jsland of Sily wch is 7 Leagues off ye Lands End. They tell me that in a Cleer day those in the Island Can discern the people in the maine as they goe up ye hill to Church, they Can Describe their Clothes. This Church and Little parish wch is Called Church town is about a mile from from the poynt. The houses are but poor Cottages Like Barns to Look on, much Like those in Scotland, but to doe my own Country its right ye Inside of their Little Cottages are Clean and plaister'd and such as you might Comfortably Eate and drink in, and for Curiosity sake I dranck there and met wth very good bottled ale. The Lands End terminates in a poynt or Peak of Great Rocks wch runs a good way into ye sea, I Clamber'd over them as farre as safety permitted me, there are abundance of Rocks and Sholes of stones stands up in the sea a mile off some here and there, some quite to ye shore, wch they name by severall names of Knights and Ladies Roled up in mantles from some old tradition or ffiction-Ye poets advance description of ye amours of some Great persons; but these many Rocks and Stones wch Lookes Like ye Needles in ye Isle of Weight makes it hazardous for shipps to double ye poynt Especially in stormy weather. Here at ye Lands end they are but a Little way off of France, 2 dayes saile at farthest Convey them to Hauve de Grace in France, but ye peace being but newly entred into wth ye Ffrench I was not willing to venture at Least by myself into a fforreign Kingdom, and being then at ye End of ye Land, my horses Leggs Could not Carry me through ye deep, and so return'd againe to Pensands 10 mile more, and soe Came in view of both ye seas and saw ye Lizard point and Pensands and ye Mount in Cornwall wch Looked very fine in ye broad day, the sun n shineing on ye rocke in ye sea. Then I continued my returne from Pensands to Hailing and now ye tyde was down and so much Land appeared wch lay under water before, and I might have forded quite a crosse, many yt know ye country do, but I tooke ye safer way round by ye bridge. Here is abundance of very good Fish tho' they are so ill supply'd at Pensands because they carry it all up ye Country East and Southward. This is an arme of ye North Sea wch runs in a greate way into ye Land, its a Large Bay when ye sea comes in and upon ye next hill I ascended from it could discover it more plaine to be a deep water and ye supply of ye maine ocean. Just by here lay some ships and I perceived as I went, there being a Storme, it seemed very tempestious and is a hazardous place in the high tides; so I came to Redruth. I perceive they are e winds so troublesome they are forced to spin straw and so make a caul or net work to lay over their thatch on their Ricks and out houses, wth waites of Stones round to defend ye thatch from being blown away by ye greate winds, not but they have a better way of thatching their Houses wth Reeds and so close yt when its well done will last twenty yeares, but what I mention of braces or bands of straw is on their Rickes wch only is to hold a yeare. These places as in some other parts, indeed all over Cornwall and Devonshire, they have their carryages on horses backes, this being ye time of harvest, tho' later in ye yeare than usuall being ye middle of septembr , but I had ye advantage of seeing their harvest bringing in, wch is on a horse's backe wth sort of crookes of wood like yokes on either side-two or three on a side stands up in wch they stow ye corne and so tie it wth cords, but they cannot so equally poise it but ye going of ye horse is like to cast it down sometimes on ye one side and sometimes on ye other, for they load them from ye neck to ye taile and pretty high and are forced to support it wth their hands, so to a horse they have two people, and the women leads and supports them as well as ye men and goe through thick and thinn- sometymes I have met with half a score horses thus Loaded-they are Indeed but Little horses their Canelles as they Call them, and soe may not be able to draw a Cart, otherwise I am sure 3 or 4 horses might draw 3 tymes as much as 4 horses does Carry and where it is open Ground and roads broad, wch in some places here it was, I wondred at their Labour in this kind, for the men and the women themselves toiled Like their horses, but the Common observation of Custom being as a second nature people are very hardly Convinc'd or brought off from, tho' never soe inconvenient.

From Redruth I went to Truro 8 mile, wch is a pretty Little town and seaport and formerly was Esteemed the best town in Cornwall, now is the second next Lanstone. Its just by ye Copper and tinn mines and Lies down in a bottom, pretty steep ascent as most of the towns in these Countrys, that you would be afraid of tumbling wth nose and head foremost. Ye town is built of stone-a good pretty Church built all stone and Carv'd on ye outside, it stands in ye middle of ye town, and just by there is a market house on stone pillars and hall on ye top; there is alsoe a pretty good key. This was formerly a great tradeing town and flourish'd in all things, but now as there is in all places their Rise and period soe this, wch is become a Ruinated disregarded place. Here is a very good meeteing but I was hindred by ye raine ye Lords day Else should have Come to hearing, and so was forced to stay where I Could hear but one Sermon at ye Church, but by it saw ye fashion of ye Country being obliged to go a mile to ye parish Church over some Grounds wch are divided by such stiles and bridges uncommon, and I never saw any such before; they are severall stones fixed aCross and so are Like a Grate or Large Steps over a Ditch that is full of mudd or water, and over this just in the middle is a Great stone fixed side wayes wch is the style to be Clambered over. These I find are the ffences and Guards of their Grounds one from another, and Indeed they are very troublesome and dangerous for strangers and Children. I heard a pretty good Sermon but that wch was my Greatest pleasure was the good Landlady I had, she was but an ordinary plaine woman but she was understanding in the best things as most,-ye Experience of reall religion and her quiet submision and self Resignation to ye will of God in all things, and especially in ye placeing her in a remoteness to ye best advantages of hearing, and being in such a publick Employment wch she desired and aimed at ye discharging soe as to adorne ye Gospel of her Lord and Saviour, and the Care of her Children. Indeed I was much pleased and Edify'd by her Conversation and ye pitch of Soul Resignation to ye will of God and thankfulness that God Enabled and owned her there in, was an attainment few reach yt have greater advantages of Learning and knowing ye mind of God. But this plainly Led me to see that as God himself teacheth soe as none teacheth Like him, soe he Can Discover himself to those immediately yt have not the opportunity of seeing him in his sanctuary, and therefore to him we must address for help in this or any Duty he Calls us to, both in the use of what meanes he appoynts as alsoe for success and blessing on it.

From Truro wch is 9 mile from Ffallmouth and 4 mile from Trygolny wch was ye place I was at before wth my Relation, that would have Engaged my stay with them a few dayes or weekes to have given me the diversion of the Country, and to have heard the Cornish nightingales as they Call them, the Cornish Chough-a sort of Jackdaw if I mistake not-a Little black bird wch makes them a visit about Michaelmas and gives them ye diversion of the notes wch is a Rough sort of musick not unlike ye Bird I take them for, so I believe they by way of jest put on the Cornish Gentlemen by Calling them nightingales; but the season of the year enclined to raine and ye dayes declineing I was affraid to delay my Return, and these parts not abounding wth much accomodation for horses, theirs being a hard sort of Cattle and Live much on Grass or ffurses of wch they have ye most, and it will make them very ffatt being Little hardy horses, and as they jest on themselves do not Love the taste of oates and hay, because they never permit them to know the taste of it. But my horses Could not Live so, Especially on journeys, of wch I had given them a pretty exercise, and their new oates and hay suited not their stomach. I Could get noe Beanes for them till I Came back to St Columbe againe wch from Truro by St Mitchel was 12 miles mostly Lanes and Long miles. As I observed before I saw noe windmills all these Countrys over, they have only the mills wch are overshott and a Little rivulet of water you may step over turns them, wch are the mills for Grinding their Corn and their ore or what Else. From St Culombe I went to Way bridge 6 Long miles. There was a river wch was flowed up by ye tyde a Greate way up into the Land, it Came from ye north sea, it was broad, ye bridge had 17 arches.

Thence to Comblefford over steep hills 9 mile more, some of this way was over Commons of Black moorish Ground full of Sloughs. The Lanes are deffended wth bancks wherein are stones, some Great rocks, others slaty stones, such as they use for tileing. Comblefford was a Little market town but it was very indifferent accomodations, but the raines yt night and next morning made me take up there till about 10 oClock in the morning; it then made a shew of Cleering up made me willing to seek a better Lodging. 2 mile from this place is a Large standing water Called Dosenmere poole in a Black moorish Ground and is fed by no rivers except the Little rivulets from some high hills yet seemes allwayes full wth out Diminution and flows wth ye wind and is stored with good ffish, and people Living near it take ye pleasure in a boate to goe about it. There is alsoe good wildfowle about it; it seemes so be such a water as the mer at Whitlesome in Huntingtonshire by Stilton its fresh water and what supply it has must be the rivulets ye must Come from ye south sea being that wayward towards Plymouth. As I travelled I Came in sight of a great mountaine esteemed the second highest hill in England supposeing ye account Black Combe in Cumberland ye first, but really I have seen soe many Great and high hills I Cannot attribute preeminence to Either of these tho' this did Look very Great and tall, but I thinke its better said the highest hill in each County.

I travelled 4 pretty Long miles much in Lanes and then Came into a Common where I Cross'd the Great roads wch on the Right hand Leads a way to Plymouth and the south sea, the Left hand to Bastable and the north sea, wch Conveys the stone or rather marble wch they take from hence at Bole, remarkable Quarrys for a Black stone, Exceeding hard and Glossy Like marble, very Dureable for pavements. This they send to all parts in tyme of peace and London takes off much of it. Here I Rode over a Common or Down 4 mile Long in sight of ye North sea and saw Hartly poynt which is the Earle of Baths just by his fine house Called Stow, his fine stables of horses, and Gardens. There I discern'd the Poynt very plaine and just by I saw the jsle of Lundy which formerly belonged to my Grandfather William Lord viscount Say and Seale, wch does abound with ffish and Rabbets and all sorts of ffowles, one bird yt Lives partly in the water and partly out and so may be Called an amphibious Creature, its true that one foote is Like a turky the other a gooses foote; it Lays its Egg in a place the Sun shines on and sets it so exactly upright on the small End and there it remaines till taken up and all the art and skill of persons Cannot set it up soe againe to abide. Here I met with some showers wch by fitts or storms held me,-to Lanston 4 mile more, these 12 mile from Cambleford was not Little ones and what with the wet and Dirty Lanes in many places I made it a tedious journey. I Could see none of the town till just I was as you may say ready to tumble into it, there being a vast steep to descend to when the town seemed in a bottom yet I was forced to ascend a pretty good hill into the place. Lanston is the chief town in Cornwall where the assizes are kept, I should have remarked at ye Lands End that Pensands was the Last Corporation in England, soe this is one of ye Last Great towns tho' noe Citty, for Cornwall is in ye Diocese of Devonshire wch is Exeter.

There is a Great ascent up into the Castle wch Looks very Great and in good repaire the walls and towers round it, its true there is but a part of it remaines, the round tower or fort being still standing and makes a good appearance. The town is Encompass'd wth walls and gates, its' pretty Large tho' you Cannot discover the whole town, being up and down in so many hills. The streetes themselves are very steep unless it be at the market place where is a Long and handsome space set on stone pillars wth the town hall on the top, wch has a Large Lanthorne or Cupilo in the middle, where hangs a bell for a Clock with a Dyal to the streete. There is in this place 2 or 3 good houses built after the London form by some Lawyers, Else the whole town is old houses of timber work. At a Little distance from the town on a high hill I Looked back and had the full prospect of the whole town which was of a pretty Large extent. A mile beyond I crossed on a stone bridge over a river and Entred into Devonshire againe, and pass'd through mostly Lanes wch were stony and dirty by reason of ye raines yt ffell the night before, and this day, which was the wettest day I had in all my summers travells, hitherto having had noe more than a shower in a day and that not above 3 tymes in all except when I Came to Exeter. As I Came down from Taunton there was small raine most of the afternoon but this day was much worse, so that by that tyme I Came through Lanes and some Commons to Oakingham wch was 15 mile I was very wet. This was a Little market town and I met with a very good Inn and accomodation, very good Chamber and bed and Came in by 5 of the Clock, so had good tyme to take off my wet Cloathes and be well dryed and warme to eate my supper, and rested very well without sustaining ye Least damage by the wet. I should have Remark'd that these roads were much up and down hill thro' enclosed Lands and woods in ye same manner the other part of Cornwall and Devonshire was, gaineing by degrees the upper Grounds by one hill to another and soe descending them in Like manner. These raines fully Convinced me of ye need of so many Great stone Bridges whose arches were soe high that I have wonder'd at it because the waters seemed shallow streames, but they were so swelled by one night and dayes raine yt they Came up pretty near the arches and ran in most places wth such rapidity and Look'd so thick and troubled as if they would Clear all before them. This Causes Great floods, and the Lower Grounds are overwhelm'd for a season after such raines, so that had I not put on and gotten beyond Lanston that day there would have been noe moveing for me till the flouds wch hourly encreased were run off. Next day I went to Cochen Well 10 mile, mostly good open way except a hill or two wch were steep and stony, tho' this was the Longer way and about, yet by reason of ye former raines it was the safest, for ye Lower way was run over by the waters wch are Land flouds from the swelling Brookes, wch are up in a few hours and are sunck in the same tyme againe-the wayes were somewhat Dirty. Thence to Exeter 10 mile more, but this was the basest way you Can goe and made much worse by these raines, but its narrow Lanes full of stones and Loose ground, Clay, and now exceeding Slippery by the raines.

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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