SIR— As I am to begin this circuit from the River Trent, and to confine my observations to that part of Britain which the Scots and Northumberlanders, and others on that side, call North by Trent, it seems necessary (at least it cannot be improper) to give some description of the river it self, and especially the course which it runs, by which, adding a little river call’d the Weaver, and a branch of it call’d the Dane in Staffordshire and Cheshire, the whole island of Britain is, as it were, divided into two parts.
The River Trent is rated by ancient writers as the third river in England, the two greater being the Thames and the Severn: It is also one of the six principal rivers which running across the island from the west to the east, all begin with the letter T; namely, the Thames, Trent, Tees, Tine, Tweed, and Tay.
The Trent is not the largest river of the six; yet it may be said to run the longest course of any of them, and rises nearer to the west verge of the island than any of the other; also it is the largest, and of the longest course of any river in England, which does not empty its waters immediately into the sea; for the Trent runs into the Humber, and so its waters lose their name before they reach to the ocean.
It rises in the hills or highlands of Staffordshire, called the Moorlands, receiving, from the edge of Cheshire, and towards Lancashire, a great many (some say thirty, and that thence it had its name) little rivulets into it, very near its head, all which may claim a share in being the originals of the Trent; thus it soon becomes one large river, and comes down from the hills with a violent current into the flat country; where, being encreased by several other little rivers, it carries a deeper channel, and a stiller current; and having given its name to Trentham, a small market town in the same county, it goes on to Stone, a considerable town on the great road to West-Chester.
The original of its name is very uncertain, as is the case in most other rivers of England; that it takes the name of Trent, as above, because of its receiving thirty rivers into it, or because there are thirty several sorts of fish in it, or that, like the Tibiscus in Hungary, it is three parts water, and two parts fish; all these the learned and judicious Mr. Cambden rejects, as I do for the same reason, namely, because they have no authority for the suggestion.
One branch of the Trent rises within a quarter of a mile of the Dane, (viz.) from a moor adjoining to, or part of a little ridge of hills called Molecop Hill, near Congleton, and is within twenty two miles of the Irish Sea, or that arm or inlet of the sea which the Mersee makes from Frodsham to Liverpool and Hyle-lake; and as the Dane runs into the Weaver, and both into that arm of the sea, and the Trent into the Humber, which opens into the great German Ocean, those rivers may be said to cut the island across in the middle.
It is true, the northern part is much larger than the southern, now Scotland is united; otherwise the country south by Trent, including Wales, is by far the largest: But it must be allowed still, that the country south by Trent is the richest by far, and most populous; occasioned chiefly by the city of London, and the commerce of the Thames; as for the cities of Bristol, Exceter, and Norwich, which are large and very populous, and in some things drive a prodigious trade, as well in merchandise as manufacture, we shall find them matched, if not out-done, by the growing towns of Liverpool, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, and Manchester, and the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, as shall be shown in its place.
The Trent runs a course of near two hundred miles, through the four counties of Stafford, Derby, Nottingham, and Lincoln; it receives, besides lesser waters, the larger rivers of the Sowe from the west side of the county, and from the town of Stafford; the Tame from Birmingham and Tamworth; the Soar from Leicester; and the Dove and Derwent, two furiously rapid streams, from the Peak of Derby; the Idle, a gentle navigable stream from Rhetford and Nottinghamshire; with part of the Wittham, called the Fossdike from Lincoln, also navigable; and the greatest of them all, the Don, from Doncaster, Rothram, and Sheffield, after a long and rapid course through the moors called Stanecross on the edge of Derby, and the West-Riding of Yorkshire.
The Trent is navigable by ships of good burthen as high as Gainsbrough, which is near 40 miles from the Humber by the river. The barges without the help of locks or stops go as high as Nottingham, and farther by the help of art, to Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire. The stream is full, the channel deep and safe, and the tide flows up a great way between Gainsborough and Newark. This, and the navigation lately, reaching up to Burton and up the Derwent to Derby, is a great support to, and encrease of the trade of those counties which border upon it; especially for the cheese trade from Cheshire and Warwickshire, which have otherwise no navigation but about from West Chester to London; whereas by this river it is brought by water to Hull, and from thence to all the south and north coasts on the east side of Britain; ’tis calculated that there is about four thousand ton of Cheshire cheese only, brought down the Trent every year from those parts of England to Gainsborough and Hull; and especially in time of the late war, when the seas on the other side of England were too dangerous to bring it by long-sea.
Thus much for the River Trent; The towns standing upon it, and especially on the north shore or bank are but few, at least of note: Beginning at the mouth of it, and going up the stream, all the towns, such as Burton, Stockwith, Gainsborough, and Newark, are on the south bank, and consequently have been spoken to already. The only towns of any note that are to be found on the north bank of Trent, are Nottingham, and the other Burton, of which I shall speak in their order; at present, as I took a different circuit in my riding, I must do so in my account of it also, or else if my pen does not follow my foot, I shall wander rather than travel, at least in my paper, whatever I did on my horse.
The counties north by Trent are few; but most of them large; I mean on the side of England, (viz.) York, which I shall call three counties, as it is divided into three Ridings, and are large counties too; and Lancashire, which is very large, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, which are the most southerly, are but small; I shall begin there, and take them together.
As I am travelling now cross the island, and begin at the mouth of Trent, the first town of note that I meet with is Nottingham, the capital of that shire, and is the most considerable in all that part of England. The county is small, but, like the Peak, ’tis full of wonders; and indeed there are abundance of remarkables in it: (1.) ’Tis remarkable for the soil, which on the south part is the richest and the most fruitful; and on the north part the most wild and waste, and next to barren of any part of England within many miles of it. (2.) For the fine seats of noblemen and gentlemen, not a few; such as the Dukes of Shrewsbury, Kingston, Rutland, Newcastle, and several others. But as I purpose to begin at the south entrance, I mean at the town of Nottingham, I shall speak a little of that before I describe the country about it.
Nottingham is one of the most pleasant and beautiful towns in England. The situation makes it so, tho’ the additions to it were not to be nam’d. It is seated on the side of a hill overlooking a fine range of meadows about a mile broad, a little rivulet running on the north side of the meadows, almost close to the town; and the noble River Trent parallel with both on the further or south side of the meadows: Over the Trent there is a stately stone-bridge of nineteen arches, and the river being there join’d into one united stream, is very large and deep; having, as is said, but lately received the addition of the Dove, the Derwent, the Irwash, and the Soar, three of them very great rivers of themselves, and all coming into the Trent since its passing by Burton in Staffordshire mentioned before.
The town of Nottingham is situated upon the steep ascent of a sandy rock; which is consequently remarkable, for that it is so soft that they easily work into it for making vaults and cellars, and yet so firm as to support the roofs of those cellars two or three under one another; the stairs into which, are all cut out of the solid, tho’ crumbling rock; and we must not fail to have it be remember’d that the bountiful inhabitants generally keep these cellars well stock’d with excellent ALE; nor are they uncommunicative in bestowing it among their friends. as some in our company experienc’d to a degree not fit to be made matter of history.
They tell us there, speaking of the antiquity of Nottingham, that the hill where it was built, was called the Dolorous Hill, or the Golgotha of ancient time; because of a great slaughter of the Britains there by King Humber, a northern monarch; the same who, being afterwards drowned in the passage of the sea between Hull and Barton, gave name to that arm of the sea which is now called the Humber, and which receives the Trent, and almost all the great rivers of Yorkshire into it. They also tell us, those caves and cellars, mentioned above, served the people for a retreat in those days, from the pursuit of their enemies, and that from thence the town took its first name, which was Snottengaham, which signifies hollow vaults in a rock, Speluncarum Domum, or, as Mr. Cambden observes, the British word was Tui ogo bauc; that is, the same as the Latin, and meant a house of dens, or secret caves to hide in; but this is remote.
Besides the situation of Nottingham towards the river; it is most pleasantly seated to the land side; that is to say, to the side of the forest on the north of the town. And here they have (I.) a most pleasant plain to accommodate the gentlemen who assemble once a year (at least) for the manly noble diversion of racings, and chiefly horse-races; ’tis a most glorious show they have here when the running season begins; for here is such an assembly of gentlemen of quality, that not Bansted Down, or New Market Heath, produces better company, better horses, or shews the horse and master’s skill better.
At the west end of the town there is a very steep hill, and the south side of it a cliff, which descends in a precipice towards the river; on this hill stood an old castle, but when, we know not; so that if we may plead its antiquity, ’tis only because we have no account of its beginning; the oldest thing that we read of it is, that there was a tower here which the Danes obstinately defended against King Alfred, and his brother Æthelred.
This castle, or some other building in the room of it, remained till the time of the late wars; ’tis evident it was standing in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; Mr. Cambden says, William the Norman built it; and, as he says, it was done to awe the English; it was so strong that nothing could ever reduce it but famine; after this it was repair’d and beautified, or rather rebuilt, by Edward IV. who added fine apartments to it, which Richard III. his brother, enlarged.
It was so strong, it seems, that it had not been subject to the ordinary fate of other fortify’d places; namely, to be often taken and retaken; for it was never storm’d, that is to say, never taken sword in hand; once it was indeed taken by surprize in the barons wars by Robert Earl Ferrers, who also plundered the town, (city ’twas then call’d.)
The stories that people tell us here, of one of the Davids, King of Scotland, kept prisoner in it, I believe little of, any more than I do that of Roger Mortimore Earl of March, and his being hid in a vault under ground in this castle, whence being discovered, he was taken, brought to justice, and hang’d for treason; yet the place where they say he was taken, is shewed still to strangers, and is call’d Mortimer’s Hole, to this day.
It is true, that here are such places; Mr. Cambden also gives an account that in the first court of the castle there is a way down by a great many steps to a vault under ground, where there are chambers cut out of the stone, and the people offer’d to carry us down the same; but we did not like the aspect of it, so we ventur’d rather to take their words.
Whoever built this great castle (for the dispute lies only between William the Conqueror and William de Peverell, his bastard son) I say, whoever built it, we know not; but we know who pull’d it down; namely, the government, upon the Restoration, because it had been forfeited, and held out against the Royalists: After the Restoration Cavendish, late Marquis of Newcastle, entirely bought it of King Charles II. or of the Duke of Buckingham, to whom he would have sold it; and, having bought it, went to work immediately with it, in order to pull it quite down; for it lay, as it were, waste to him, and useless. In the year 1674 he clear’d the old foundations, a small part excepted, and founded the noble structure which we see now standing; and which, thro’ several successions, has revolved to the present branch of the house of Pelham, now Duke of Newcastle; who has beautified if not enlarged the building, and has laid out a plan of the finest gardens that are to be seen in all that part of England; but they are not yet finish’d; they take up, as they tell us, threescore acres of ground in the design, and would, no doubt, be exquisitely fine; but it requires au immense sum to go on with it.
In the great church of St. Mary’s in Nottingham, we see the monument of the Plumtree’s, an honourable family, who built the hospital at the bridge end; also the family of Holles Lord Houghton, Earl of Clare, and afterwards Duke of Newcastle, lye buried here. But the learned Dr. Thornton, in his antiquities of this county, having copied all the epitaphs and inscriptions in the churches of this town; if I should repeat them, it would look as if I wanted matter to fill up; just the contrary of which is my case to an extreme.
The beauties of Nottingham, next to its situation, are the castle, the market-place, and the gardens of Count Tallard; who, in his confinement here as prisoner of war taken by the Duke of Marlborough at the great Battle of Blenheim, amused himself with making a small, but beautiful parterre, after the French fashion. But it does not gain by English keeping.
There was once a handsome town-house here for the sessions or assises, and other publick business; but it was very old, and was either so weak, or so ill looked after, that, being over-crowded upon occasion of the assises last year, it cracked, and frighted the people, and that not without cause. As it happened, no body was hurt, nor did the building fall directly down. But it must be said, (I think) that Providence had more care of the judges, and their needful attendants, than the townsmen had, whose business it was to have been well assured of the place, before they suffered a throng of people to come into it; and therefore we cannot deny, but it was a seasonable justice in the court to amerce or fine the town, as they did; as well for the omission, as for the repair of the place. We are told now that they are collecting money, not for the repair of the old house, but for erecting a new one, which will add to the beauty of the town.
The Trent is navigable here for vessels or barges of great burthen, by which all their heavy and bulky goods are brought from the Humber, and even from Hull; such as iron, block-tin, salt, hops, grocery, dyers wares, wine, oyl, tar, hemp, flax, &c. and the same vessels carry down lead, coal, wood, corn; as also cheese in great quantities, from Warwickshire and Staffordshire. By which the commerce of these counties is greatly increased. as I have mentioned already.
When I said the bridge over Trent had nineteen arches, I might as well have said the bridge was a mile long; for the Trent being, at the last time I was there, swelled over its ordinary bound, the river reached quite up to the town; yet a high causeway, with arches at proper distances, carried us dry over the whole breadth of the meadows, which, I think, is at least a mile; and it may be justly called a bridge, on several accounts, as another at Swarston is called, which is full a mile in length.
Nottingham, notwithstanding the navigation of the Trent, is not esteemed a town of very great trade, other than is usual to inland towns; the chief manufacture carried on here is frame-work knitting for stockings, the same as at Leicester, and some glass, and earthen ware-houses; the latter much increased since the increase of tea-drinking; for the making fine stone-mugs, tea-pots, cups, &c. the glass-houses, I think, are of late rather decayed.
As there is a fine market-place, so is there a very good market, with a vast plenty of provisions, and those of the best sort, few towns in England exceeding it; to say nothing of their ale, as having reserved it to a place by it self.
As they brew a very good liquor here, so they make the best malt, and the most of it of any town in this part of England, which they drive a great trade for, sending it by land-carriage to Derby, through all the Peak as far as Manchester, and to other towns in Lancashire, Cheshire, and even into Yorkshire itself; to which end all the lower lands of this county, and especially on the banks of Trent, yield prodigious crops of barley.
The government of Nottingham is in the mayor, two sheriffs, six aldermen, coroners and chamberlains. twenty four common-council, whereof six are called juniors; the rest of course, I suppose, may pass for seniors.
I might enter into a long description of all the modern buildings erected lately in Nottingham, which are considerable, and of some just now going forward. But I have a large building in the whole to overlook; and I must not dwell too long upon the threshold.
The forest of Sherwood is an addition to Nottingham for the pleasure of hunting, and there are also some fine parks and noble houses in it, as Welbeck, the late Duke of Newcastle’s, and Thoresby, the present noble seat of the Pierrepont’s, Dukes of Kingston, which lies at the farthest edge of the forest. But this forest does not add to the fruitfulness of the county, for ’tis now, as it were, given up to waste; even the woods which formerly made it so famous for thieves, are wasted; and if there was such a man as Robin Hood, a famous out-law and deer-stealer, that so many years harboured here, he would hardly find shelter for one week, if he was now to have been there: Nor is there any store of deer, compared to the quantity which in former times they tell us there usually was.
From Nottingham, a little mile west on the road to Derby, we saw Woollaton Hall, the noblest antient-built palace in this county, the mansion of the antient family of Willoughby, now Lord Middleton, created baron in the late Queen Anne’s time. The house, the gardens, the great hall, the monuments of the family in the church of Woollaton, and the pedigree of that noble family, are well worth a stranger’s view.
The park, walled in with a new brick-wall, is much finer than the great park adjoining to the castle of Nottingham, being much better planted with timber; whereas that at Nottingham was all cut down, and sequestred in the late wars.
This house, all of stone, was built by Sir Francis Willoughby, second son of the honourable ——— Willoughby Esq; slain in the 4th of Edward VI. in the rebellion or tumult at Norwich, anno 1546, and Dame Anne, daughter of the Marquis of Dorchester; the first and eldest son, Sir Thomas Willoughby, dying unmarried. The stately fabrick shews the genius, as well as the wealth, of the founder; the hall, at the first entrance, is so high that a man on horseback might exercise a pike in it. The figure of building, as an artist said of it to me, was rather antick than antient; the architect is noble, and the order of building regular, except the four pavilions of the Dorick order on the top, which they alledge is inexcusable in architecture. Some, who excuse the design, will have it to be, that the upper building is an attick, and set on to grace the other. But I must be allowed to differ from that opinion too.
However it be, take it all together, the building is far beyond any thing in this part of England, of equal antiquity, Belvoir, or Bevoir Castle excepted, and even not that for excellence of workmanship.
One of the ancestors of this noble family, Sir Richard Willoughby, was judge of the Court of King’s Bench for almost thirty years; from the third year of King Edward III. to his thirty third year; in which time he greatly advanced the honour and estate of his family.
Another branch was less fortunate, though not less famous, namely, Sir Hugh Willoughby, the famous navigator and searcher out of new discoveries; who, after many extraordinary adventures in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, went at last in search of the north east passages of Nova Zembla; and having beaten up and down among the ice a long time, was at length driven into a small fuell or inlet of the sea, near the Mer Blanch, or White Sea; and being out of his knowledge, was there found the next spring frozen to death with all his ship’s company, every one of them.
The monuments of this antient and wealthy family, for many years past, are still to be seen at Wollaton Church. Some of them are very magnificent; and others of them being very antient, are solemn even in their very ruins.
For monuments of men, like men, decay.
Having thus passed the Rubicon (Trent) and set my face northward, I scarce knew which way to set forward, in a country too so full of wonders, and on so great a journey, and yet to leave nothing behind me to call on as I came back, at least not to lead me out of my way in my return. But then considering that I call this work, a Tour, and the parts of it, Letters; I think, that tho’ I shall go a great length forward, and shall endeavour to take things with me as I go; yet I may take a review of some parts as I came back, and so may be allowed to pick up any fragments I may have left behind in my going out.
I resolved indeed first for the Peak, which lay on my left-hand north east; but, as I say, to leave as little behind me as possible, I was obliged to make a little excursion into the forest, where, in my way, I had the diversion of seeing the annual meeting of the gentry at the horse-races near Nottingham. I could give a long and agreeable account of the sport it self, how it brought into my thoughts the Olympick Games among the Greeks; and the Circus Maximus at Rome; where the racers made a great noise, and the victors made great boasts and triumphs: But where they chiefly drove in chariots, not much unlikes our chaises, and where nothing of the speed, or of skill in horsemanship could be shown, as is in our races.
It is true, in those races the young Roman and Grecian gentlemen rode, or rather drove themselves; whereas in our races the horses, not the riders, make the show; and they are generally ridden by grooms and boys, chiefly for lightness; sometimes indeed the gentlemen ride themselves, as I have often seen the Duke of Monmouth, natural son to King Charles II. ride his own horses at a match, and win it too, though he was a large man, and must weigh heavy.
But the illustrious company at the Nottingham races was, in my opinion, the glory of the day; for there we saw, besides eleven or twelve noblemen, an infinite throng of gentlemen from all the countries round, nay, even out of Scotland it self; the appearance, in my opinion, greater, as it was really more numerous, than ever I saw at Newmarket, except when the king have been there in ceremony; for I cannot but say, that in King Charles II.’s time, when his majesty used to be frequently at Newmarket, I have known the assembly there have been with far less company than this at Nottingham; and, if I might go back to one of these Nottingham meetings, when the Mareschal Duke de Tallard was there, I should say, that no occasions at Newmarket, in my memory, ever came up to it, except the first time that King William was there after the Peace of Ryswick.
Nor is the appearance of the ladies to be omitted, as fine and without comparison more bright and gay, tho’ they might a little fall short in number of the many thousands of nobility and gentry of the other sex; in short, the train of coaches filled with the beauties of the north was not to be described; except we were to speak of the garden of the Tulleries at Paris, or the Prado at Mexico, where they tell us there are 4000 coaches with six horses each, every evening taking the air.
From hence I was going on to see Rugford Abbey, the fine seat of the late Marquis of Hallifax, but was called aside to take a view of the most famous piece of church history in this part of the whole island, I mean the collegiate church of Southwell.
Paulinus, Archbishop of York, was (so antient record supplies the tale) the founder of this church, having preached to the people of the country round, and baptized them in the River Trent; the antient words imports Christianized them, by dipping them in the River Trent. Whether our Antipedo-Baptists will take any advantage of the word, I know not; but I cannot see any doubt but that antiently baptism was performed in the water; whether it was performed there by immersion, putting the person into the water, or pouring the water upon him, we know not; neither do I see any extraordinary, much less any essential difference in it, be it one way or the other; but that is not my business, especially not here: The reason of naming it, is to give you the pious occasion which made the good bishop build this church, namely, that having converted a whole province, or part of one at least, he was desirous they should not want a place of worship to serve God in.
The thing which makes this foundation the more remarkable, is, that though it was surrendered into the king’s hands, with all the rest of the religious foundations, in the reign of King Henry VIII. yet it was restored whole as it was before, in the 35th of the same reign.
But because I love to speak not from my self in cases where good authorities are to be had, and that in a cursory view of a place, such as that of a journey must be, the outsides or appearances of things only are to be seen, or such farther knowledge as may be obtained by report of inhabitants; for I copy nothing from books, but where I quote the books, and refer to them; I say, for this reason I give you an account of this venerable pile, its foundation and present constitution, from a reverend and very good friend, and one of the present prebendaries the place, and whose authority I do, and the reader may depend upon, as follows, (viz.)
Southwell, in the county of Nottingham, is about nine miles north east from Nottingham, four miles west from Newark, eight south east from Mansfield, and about two south west from the River Trent. The soil of it rich clay and marle; the air very good, and well watered; the River Greet runs by it. It is a market town, and the market day Saturday; it is remarkable for no sort of manufacture.
There is in it but one church, which is both parochial and collegiate; which, I think, is the case of no other in England, except Rippon in Yorkshire.
The parish consists of Southwell, and the hamlets of Eastrope, which joins to Southwell on the east; Westrope, about a quarter of a mile west of Southwell; and Normanton, about a mile north; it contains about 350 families. There is a parish-vicar so called, who is generally one of the vicars choral, whose business it is to visit the sick, bury the dead, etc. the preaching part being performed by the prebendaries. This vicarage was lately augmented by Queen Anne’s Bounty, which benefit fell to it by lot.
The collegiate church consists of 16 prebendaries or canons, 6 vicars choral, an organist, 6 singing-men, 6 choristers, a register to the chapter, a treasurer; an auditor, a verger, etc. The prebenda are all in the gift of the Archbishop of York. All the rest of the members disposed of by the chapter.
The foundation of this church is doubtless very antient. It is generally supposed to be founded by Paulinus, the first Archbishop of York, about the year 630.
The church was, by the several members thereof, viz. the archbishop, the prebendaries, vicars choral, chantry priests, and by the chapter, surrendered to the king, 32 Henry VIII. as appears by the records in Chancery; and was actually in the king’s possession, until by Act of Parliament, anno 35 Henry VIII. it was refounded, and restored to its antient privilege, and incorporated by the name of the Chapter of the Collegiate Church of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Southwell.
Afterward, by the statute for the dissolution of chantries, anno primo Edward VI. it was conceived, that the said church was again dissolved. But the members of the church did not quit their possession till the 4th and 5th of Philip and Mary, when ——— Griffin, the Attorney General, exhibited an Information of Intrusion against the Chapter, pleading the Crown’s title to their lands, by virtue of the Act of Edward VI. But upon full hearing it was adjudged that the Chapter was not adjudged within the said statute; and therefore the Bill was dismissed; and the Chapter continued to enjoy their rights and privileges.
Queen Elizabeth confirmed the same, and gave statutes to the said church, with this preamble: Eliz. Dei Grat. Regina, &c. Dilectis subditis nostris, Capitulo, cæterisq; Ministris Ecclesiæ nostræ Colleg. Beatæ Mariæ Virginis de Southwell per Illustrissimum Patrem nostrum Hen. VIII. nuper Regem Ang. fundatae. Notwithstanding this, in King James’s reign, the same plea was revived against the church, by the then Attorney General, and met with the same success; that is, was dismissed. And King James, in the second year of his reign, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal, confirmed and established the said church in perpetuity, according to the refoundation and restitution thereof by King Henry VIII.
There is no dean of this church; but the evidentiary for the time being has the government of it; and one of the prebendaries, by the statutes, is obliged to be resident, which at present is by agreement and by consent of the archbishop, performed by every one in their turns, and each prebendary keeps residence a quarter of a year.
Most of the prebendaries, I think twelve of them, have prebendal houses in the town of Southwell. But those being let out on lease, they now keep residence in a house built for that purpose about 30 years ago, in the east end of the college of the vicars; which house is ready furnished, and kept in repair at the charge of the chapter.
The prebendaries preach in their turn every Sunday morning, and on such festivals, &c. as preaching is required. In the afternoon on Sundays there is a lecture usually preached by the residentiary for the time being.
The Chapter of Southwell have a peculiar jurisdiction, and there are 28 parishes subject to it; to most of which they have the right of presentation; besides some others in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. This jurisdiction is exercised by a commissary or vicar-general, chosen by the Chapter out of their body, who holds visitations, &c. twice a year. And besides these, there are two synods yearly, to which ail the clergy of the county of Nottingham pay their attendance. And a certain number of the prebendaries, and others of the considerable clergy, are appointed commissioners, by a commission granted by the Archbishop of York to preside at the synods.
There are many privileges belonging to this church; one of which is, That every parish and hamlet in the county pay certain small pensions yearly to the church, called Pentecostal Offerings.
There are houses for the vicars choral adjoining to the residence house, built about a square; with a gate locked up every night, and the key kept by the residentiary. There are but five of the vicars have houses allotted them in the college. The other vicar, being parish vicar also has a vicarage house in the town. There are prayers twice every day at the usual hours, and likewise at six or seven in the morning, from Ashwednesday to St. Matthew’s Day.
The civil government of the jurisdiction of Southwell, is distinct from the county at large. It is called the Soke of Southwell cum Scrooby, which is another town in this county. There are about 20 towns subject to this jurisdiction.
The Custos Rotulorum, and the Justices of the Peace, are nominated by the Archbishop of York, and constituted by a commission under the Great Seal of England; who hold their session both at Southwell and Scrooby, and perform all other justiciary acts distinct from the county. There is no Custos Rotulorum yet appointed in the room of Lord Lexington, who died about two years ago; but a new commission is expected as soon as the archbishop is confirmed.
The Names of the present Prebendaries and Prebends, are.
|Mr. Geo. Mompesson.||Oxton I Pars.|
|Mr. Tho. Sabourne.||North Muskam.|
|Mr. John Pigot.||Beckingham.|
|Mr. Edward Clark.||Dunham.|
|Mr. Benjamin Carter.||Sacrista.|
|Mr. Stephen Cooper.||Normanton.|
|Mr. Samuel Berdmore.||Oxton 2 Pars.|
|Mr. Thomas Sharp.||Norwell Overall.|
|Mr. Robert Ayde.||Woodborough.|
|Mr. John Lloyd.||South Muskam.|
|Mr. Robert Marsden.||Norwell Palishall.|
|Mr. John Abson.||Eaton.|
|Mr. Humphrey Bralesford.||Norwell 3 Pars.|
|Mr. Ri. Wood, Present resid.||North Severton.|
|Mr. Henry Cook.||Rampton.|
|Mr. Edward Parker.||Halloughton.|
|The Present Vicars.
Mr. Benjamin Cooper.
Mr. John Barnard.
Mr. Charles Benson.
Mr. Samuel Bird.
Mr. Joseph Ellis.
Mr. William Hodgson.
Six choristers, besides six more
boys who attend as probationers.
|The present Register and Auditor ——
The Treasurer ——
|}||Mr. Jos. Clay.
Mr. George Cooper.
The fabrick of the church is at present in good and decent order. It is a strong building of the Gothick order, very plain. I remember to have met with this passage in some of our old writings; That when the dispute was about the dissolution of the church, I think in King James’s reign; among other things, it was urged by the Chapter, that the church of Southwell was a plain fabrick, free from all superstitious ornaments; that there were no painted figures in the glass-work, nor images, nor so much as a nitch capable of placing an image in; which I think is true. And from hence too it has been conjectured concerning the antiquity of this church, that it was probably built, before image-worship was practised or thought of in the Christian Church.
This church was a great part of it burnt down in the year 1711, by lightning; of which I find this memorandum in one of our books, viz. “On Monday the 5th of November, 1711. about ten a-clock at night, the top of the ball on one of the south spires of this collegiate church of Southwell was fired by lightning; which, backed by a furious wind that drove it almost directly on the body of the church, in a few hours burnt down the spire and roof, melted down the bells, and spared nothing that was combustible, except the other spire, till it came to the quire, where, after it had consumed the organs, it was by singular providence stopt and extinguish’d.”
This is a pretty exact account; to which I must add, that the damage was computed at near 4000l . which great misfortune was happily repaired by the industry of the Chapter, joined with the help of the then Archbishop of York, Dr. Sharp; who not only contributed largely themselves, but by their solicitations obtained a brief, which, with the liberal contributions of several of the nobility and gentry, and the inhabitants of Southwell and its neighbourhood, enabled them to repair the church, and to put it in as good order as it was before the fire.
Among the benefactors ought particularly to be remembered with gratitude the last Dutchess Dowager of Newcastle, who, at the intercession of the archbishop, kindly seconded by her chaplain Dr. Brailsford, now Dean of Wells,
|Dr. Sharp, Archbishop||200|
|The late Duke of Leeds||200|
|The Earl of Thanet||50|
|The late Duke of Rutland||60|
|Bartholomew Burton, Esq;||30|
|Sir William Daws, late Archbishop||100|
The church is built in form of a cross; a great tower in the middle, in which are eight bells, and two spires at the west end. There is a handsome chapter-house on the north side of the quire.
The length of the church from east to west is 306 feet, of which the choir is — feet; the length of the cross isle from north to south is 121 feet; the breadth of the church 59 feet.
On a pillar at the entrance into the choir, is this inscription:
Sint Reges Nutritii tui & Regina? Nutrices,
Ecclesiam hanc Collegiatam & Parochialem
Refundavit Illustrissimus Henricus Rex Octavus,
Edwardo Lee Archiepiscopo Eborac. intercedente.
Sancivit Serenissima Elizabetha Regina,
Edvino Sands Eborum Archiepiscopo mediante.
Stabilivit Præpotentissimus Monarcha Jac. Rex,
Henrico Howard Comite Northamp. aliisque
Sint sicut Oreb & Zeb, Zeba & Salmana
Qui dicunt Haereditate possideamus
There are no very remarkable monuments in this church, only one of Archbishop Sands, which is within the communion rails, and is a fair tomb of alabaster, with his effigies lying on it at full length. ——— Round the verge of it is this inscription:
Edvinus Sandes Sacræ Theologiæ Doctor, postquam Vigorniensem Episcopatum Annos X, totidemque tribus demptis Londinensem gessisset Eboracensis sui Archiepiscopatus Anno XII” Vitæ autem LXIX?. obiit
Julii X. A.D. 1588.
At the head of the tomb is this inscription:
Cujus hic Reconditum Cadaver jacet, genere non humilis vixit, Dignitate locoque magnus, exemplo major; duplici functus Episcopatu, Archi-Episcopali tandem Amplitudine Illustris. Honores hosce mercatus grandi Pretio, Meritis Virtutibusque Homo hominum a Malitia & Vindicta Innocentissimus; Magnanimus, Apertus, & tantum Nescius adulari; Summe Liberalis atque Misericors: Hospitalissime optimus, Facilis, & in sola Vitia superbus. Scilicet haud minora, quam locutus est, vixit & fuit. In Evangelii prædicand. Laboribus ad extremum usque Halitum mirabiliter assiduus; a sermonibus ejus nunquam non melior discederes. Facundus nolebat esse & videbatur; ignavos, sedulatitis suæ Conscius, oderat. Bonas literas auxit pro Facultatibus; Ecclesiæ Patrimonium, velut rem Deo consecratum decuit, intactum defendit; gratia, qua floruit, apud Illustrissimam mortalium Elizabetham, effecit, ne hanc, in qua jacet, Ecclesiam ti jacentem cerneres. Venerande Præsul! Utrius memorandum Fortunæ exemplar! Qui tanta cura gesseris, multa his majora, animo ad omnia semper impavido, perpessus es; Careares, Exilia, amplissimarum Facultatum amissiones; quodque omnium difficillime Innocens perferre animus censuevit, immanes Calumnias; & si re una votis tuis memor, quod Christo Testimonium etiam sanguine non præbueris; attamen, qui in prosperis tantos fluctus, & post Aronum tot adversa, tandem quietis sempternæ Portum, fessus Mundi, Deique sitiens, reperisti, Æturnum lætare; vice sanguinis sunt sudores tui; abi lector, nec ista scias, tantum ut sciveris, sed ut imiteris.
At the feet under the coat of arms:
Verbum Dei manet in Æternum.
Round the border of another stone in the south isle of the choir.
Hic jacet Robertus Serlby, Generosus, quondam Famulus Willielmi Booth Archiepiscopo Eborac. Qui obiit 24? die Mensis Augusti, A.D. 1480, cujus animæ propitietur Deus. Amen.
On a stone fixed in the wainscot under one of the prebendal stalls in the choir, is this inscription, very antient, but without a date.
Hic jacet Wilhelmus Talbot, miser & indignus sacerdos, expectans Resurrectionem in signo Thau ———
I suppose it means a Tau to denote a cross.
On the south-side of the church in the churchyard,
Me Pede quando teris, Homo qui Mortem mediteris Sic contritus eris, & pro me quæro, preceris, without name or date.
Here was formerly a palace belonging to the Archbishop of York, which stood on the south side of the church, the ruins of which still remain; by which it appears to have been a large and stately palace. It was demolished in the time of the Rebellion against King Charles I. and the church, I have heard, hardly escaped the fury of those times; but was indebted to the good offices of one Edward Cludd, Esq; one of the Parliament side, who lived at Norwood, in the parish of Southwell, in a house belonging to the archbishop, where he lived in good esteem for some time after the Restauration; and left this estate at Norwood, which he held by lease of the archbishop, to his nephew Mr. Bartholomew Fillingham, who was a considerable officer in the Exchequer, and from whom Bartholomew Burton, Esq; who was his nephew and heir, inherited it, with the bulk of all the rest of his estate and who now enjoys it by a lease of three lives, granted by the late Archbishop Sir William Dawes. Here were no less than three parks belonging to the archbishop, which tho’ disparked, still retain the name; one of which is Norwood Park, in which is a good house, which has been very much enlarged and beautified by the said Mr. Burton, who lives in it some part of the year.
There is a free-school adjoining to the church, under the care of the Chapter; where the choristers are taught gratis; and other boys belonging to the town. The master is chosen by the Chapter; and is to be approved by the Archbishop of York.
There are also two fellowships and two scholarships in St. John’s College in Cambridge, founded by Dr. Keton, Canon of Salisbury, in the 22d year of King Henry VIII. to be chosen by the master and fellows of the said college, out of such who have been choristers of the church of Southwell, if any such able person for learning and manners, can be found in Southwell, or in the university of Cambridge; and for want of such, then out of any scholars abiding in Cambridge; which said fellowships are to be thirteen shillings and four-pence each better than any other fellowship of the college.
Hence crossing the forest I came to Mansfield, a market town, but without any remarkables. In my way I visited the noble seat of the Duke of Kingston at Thoresby, of the Duke of Newcastle at Welbeck, and the Marquis of Hallifax at Rufford, of Rugeford Abbey, all very noble seats, tho’ antient, and that at Welbeck especially, beautify’d with large additions, fine apartments, and good gardens; but particularly the park, well stocked with large timber, and the finest kind, as well as the largest quantity of deer that are any where to be seen; for the late duke’s delight being chiefly on horseback and in the chace, it is not to be wondered if he rather made his parks fine than his gardens, and his stables than his mansion-house; yet the house is noble, large, and magnificent.
Hard by Welbeck is Wirksop Mannor, the antient and stately seat of the noble family of Talbot, descended by a long line of ancestors from another family illustrious, though not enobled (of Lovetot’s ). This house, (tho’ in its antient figure) is outdone by none of the best and greatest in the county, except Wollaton Hall, already mentioned; and that though it is, as it were, deserted of its noble patrons; the family of Shrewsbury being in the person of the last duke, removed from this side of the country to another fine seat in the west, already mentioned.
From hence leaving Nottinghamshire, the west part abounding with lead and coal, I cross’d over that fury of a river called the Derwent, and came to Derby, the capital of the county.
This is a fine, beautiful, and pleasant town; it has more families of gentlemen in it than is usual in towns so remote, and therefore here is a great deal of good and some gay company: Perhaps the rather, because the Peak being so near, and taking up the larger part of the county, and being so inhospitable, so rugged and so wild a place, the gentry choose to reside at Derby, rather than upon their estates, as they do in other places.
It must be allowed, that the twelve miles between Nottingham and this town, keeping the mid-way between the Trent on the left, and the mountains on the right, are as agreeable with respect to the situation, the soil, and the well planting of the country, as any spot of ground, at least that I have seen of that length, in England.
The town of Derby is situated on the west bank of the Derwent, over which it has a very fine bridge, well built, but antient, and a chapel upon the bridge, now converted into a dwelling-house. Here is a curiosity in trade worth observing, as being the only one of its kind in England, namely, a throwing or throwster’s mill, which performs by a wheel turn’d by the water; and though it cannot perform the doubling part of a throwster’s work, which can only be done by a handwheel, yet it turns the other work, and performs the labour of many hands. Whether it answers the expence or not, that is not my business.
This work was erected by one Soracule, a man expert in making mill-work, especially for raising water to supply towns for family use: But he made a very odd experiment at this place; for going to show some gentlemen the curiosity, as he called it, of his mili, and crossing the planks which lay just above the mill-wheel; regarding, it seems, what he was to show his friends more than the place where he was, and too eager in describing things, keeping his eye rather upon what he pointed at with his fingers than what he stept upon with his feet, he stepp’d awry and slipt into the river.
He was so very close to the sluice which let the water out upon the wheel, and which was then pulled up, that tho’ help was just at hand, there was no taking hold of him, till by the force of the water he was carried through, and pushed just under the large wheel, which was then going round at a great rate. The body being thus forc’d in between two of the plashers of the wheel, stopt the motion for a little while, till the water pushing hard to force its way, the plasher beyond him gave way and broke; upon which the wheel went again, and, like Jonah’s whale, spewed him out, not upon dry land, but into that part they call the apron, and so to the mill-tail, where he was taken up, and received no hurt at all.
Derby, as I have said, is a town of gentry, rather than trade; yet it is populous, well built, has five parishes, a large market-place, a fine town-house, and very handsome streets.
In the church of Allhallows, or, as the Spaniards call it, De Todos los Santos, All Saints, is the Pantheon, or Burial-place of the noble, now ducal family of Cavendish, now Devonshire, which was first erected by the Countess of Shrewsbury, who not only built the vault or sepulchre, but an hospital for eight poor men and four women, close by the church, and settled their maintenance, which is continued to this day: Here are very magnificent monuments for the family of Cavendish; and at this church is a famous tower or steeple, which for the heighth and beauty of its building, is not equalled in this county, or in any of those adjacent.
By an inscription upon this church, it was erected, or at least the steeple, at the charge of the maids and batchelors of the town; on which account, whenever a maid, native of the town, was marry’d, the bells were rung by batchelors: How long the custom lasted, we do not read; but I do not find that it is continued, at least not strictly.
The government of this town, for it is a corporation, and sends two burgesses to Parliament, is in a mayor, high-steward, nine aldermen, a recorder, fourteen brothers, fourteen capital burgesses, and a town-clerk: The trade of the town is chiefly in good malt and good ale; nor is the quantity of the latter unreasonably small, which, as they say, they dispose of among themselves, though they spare some to their neighbours too.
It is observable, that as the Trent makes the frontier or bounds of the county of Derby south, so the Dove and the Erwash make the bounds east and west, and the Derwent runs through the center; all of them beginning and ending their course in the same county; for they rise in the Peak, and end in the Trent.
I that had read Cotton’s Wonders of the Peak, in which I always wondered more at the poetry than at the Peak; and in which there was much good humour, tho’ but little good verse, could not satisfy my self to be in Derbyshire, and not see the River Dove, which that gentleman has spent so much doggerel upon, and celebrated to such a degree for trout and grailing: So from Derby we went to Dove-Bridge, or, as the country people call it, Dowbridge, where we had the pleasure to see the river drowning the low-grounds by a sudden shower, and hastning to the Trent with a most outrageous stream, in which there being no great diversion, and travelling being not very safe in a rainy season on that side, we omitted seeing Ashbourn and Uttoxeter, the Utocetum of the antients, two market towns upon that river, and returning towards Derby, we went from thence directly up into the High Peak.
In our way we past an antient seat, large, but not very gay, of Sir Nathaniel Curson, a noted and (for wealth) over great family, for many ages inhabitants of this county. Hence we kept the Derwent on our right-hand, but kept our distance, the waters being out; for the Derwent is a frightful creature when the hills load her current with water; I say, we kept our distance, and contented our selves with hearing the roaring of its waters, till we came to Quarn or Quarden. a little ragged, but noted village, where there is a famous chalybeat spring, to which abundance of people go in the season to drink the water, as also a cold bath. There are also several other mineral waters in this part of the country, as another chalybeat near Quarden or Quarn, a hot bath at Matlock, and another at Buxton, of which in its place; besides these, there are hot springs in several places which run waste into the ditches and brooks, and are taken no notice of, being remote among the mountains, and out of the way of the common resort.
We found the wells, as custom bids us call them, pretty full of company, the waters good, and very physical, but wretched lodging and entertainment; so I resolved to stay till I came to the south, and make shift with Tunbridge or Epsom, of which I have spoken at large in the counties of Surrey and Kent.
From Quarden we advanc’d due north, and, mounting the hills gradually for four or five miles, we soon had a most frightful view indeed among the black mountains of the Peak; however, as they were yet at a distance, and a good town lay on our left called Wirksworth, we turned thither for refreshment; Here indeed we found a specimen of what I had heard before, (viz.) that however rugged the hills were, the vales were every where fruitful, well inhabited, the markets well supplied, and the provisions extraordinary good; not forgetting the ale, which every where exceeded, if possible, what was pass’d, as if the farther north the better the liquor, and that the nearer we approach’d to Yorkshire, as the place for the best, so the ale advanc’d the nearer to its perfection.
Wirksworth is a large well-frequented market town, and market towns being very thin placed in this part of the county, they have the better trade, the people generally coming twelve or fifteen miles to a market, and sometimes much more; though there is no very great trade to this town but what relates to the lead works, and to the subterranean wretches, who they call Peakrills, who work in the mines, and who live all round this town every way.
The inhabitants are a rude boorish kind of people, but they are a bold, daring, and even desperate kind of fellows in their search into the bowels of the earth; for no people in the world out-do them; and therefore they are often entertained by our engineers in the wars to carry on the sap, and other such works, at the sieges of strong fortified places.
This town of Wirksworth is a kind of a market for lead; the like not known any where else that I know of, except it be at the custom-house keys in London. The Barmoot Court, kept here to judge controversies among the miners, that is to say, to adjust subterranean quarrels and disputes, is very remarkable: Here they summon a master and twenty-four jurors, and they have power to set out the bounds of the works under ground, the terms are these, they are empowered to set off the meers (so they call them) of ground in a pipe and a flat, that is to say, twenty nine yards long in the first, and fourteen square in the last; when any man has found a vein of oar in another man’s ground, except orchards and gardens; they may appoint the proprietor cartways and passage for timber, &c. This court also prescribes rules to the mines, and limits their proceedings in the works under ground; also they are judges of all their little quarrels and disputes in the mines, as well as out, and, in a word, keep the peace among them; which, by the way, may be called the greatest of all the wonders of the Peak, for they are of a strange, turbulent, quarrelsome temper, and very hard to be reconciled to one another in their subterraneous affairs.
And now I am come to this wonderful place, the Peak, where you will expect I should do as some others have, (I think, foolishly) done before me, viz. tell you strange long stories of wonders as (I must say) they are most weakly call’d; and that you may not think me arrogant in censuring so many wise men, who have wrote of these wonders, as if they were all fools, I shall give you four Latin lines out of Mr. Cambden, by which you will see there were some men of my mind above a hundred years ago.
Mira alto Pecco tria sunt, barathrum, specus, antrum;
Commoda tot, Plumbum, Gramen, Ovile pecus,
Tot speciosa simul sunt, Castrum, Balnea, Chatsworth,
Plura sed occurrunt, qute speciosa minus.
CAMBD., Brit. Fol., 495.
Which by the same hand are Englished thus:
Nine things that please us at the Peak we see;
A cave, a den, a hole, the wonder be;
Lead, sheep and pasture, are the useful three.
Chatsworth the castle, and the Bath delight;
Much more you see; all little worth the sight.
Now to have so great a man as Mr. Hobbes, and after him Mr. Cotton, celebrate the trines here, the first in a fine Latin poem, the last in English verse, as if they were the most exalted wonders of the world: I cannot but, after wondering at their making wonders of them, desire you, my friend, to travel with me through this houling wilderness in your imagination, and you shall soon find all that is wonderful about it.
Near Wirksworth, and upon the very edge of Derwent, is, as above, a village called Matlock, where there are several arm springs, lately one of these being secured by a stone wall on every side, by which the water is brought to rise to a due heighth, is made into a very convenient bath; with a house built over it, and room within the building to walk round the water or bath, and so by steps to go down gradually into it.
This bath would be much more frequented than it is, if two things did not hinder; namely, a base, stony, mountainous road to it, and no good accommodation when you are there: They are intending, as they tell us, to build a good house to entertain persons of quality, or such who would spend their money at it; but it was not so far concluded or directed when I was there, as to be any where begun: The bath is milk, or rather blood warm, very pleasant to go into, and very sanative, especially for rheumatick pains, bruises, &c.
For some miles before we come to Matlock, you pass over the hills by the very mouths of the lead-mines, and there are melting-houses for the preparing the oar, and melting or casting it into pigs; and so they carry it to Wirksworth to be sold at the market.
Over against this warm bath, and on the other, or east side of the Derwent, stands a high rock, which rises from the very bottom of the river (for the water washes the foot of it, and is there in dry weather very shallow); I say, it rises perpendicular as a wall, the precipice bare and smooth like one plain stone, to such a prodigious heighth, it is really surprising; yet what the people believed of it surmounted all my faith too, though I look’d upon it very curiously, for they told me it was above four hundred foot high, which is as high as two of our Monuments, one set upon another; that which adds most to my wonder in it is, that as the stone stands, it is smooth from the very bottom of the Derwent to the uppermost point, and nothing can be seen to grow upon it. The prodigious heighth of this tor, (for it is called Matlock Tor) was to me more a wonder than any of the rest in the Peak, and, I think, it should be named among them, but it is not. So it must not be called one of the wonders.
A little on the other side of Wirksworth, begins a long plain called Brassington Moor, which reaches full twelve miles in length another way, (viz.) from Brassington to Buxton. At the beginning of it on this side from Wirksworth, it is not quite so much. The Peak people, who are mighty fond of having strangers shewed every thing they can, and of calling everything a wonder, told us here of another high mountain, where a giant was buried, and which they called the Giant’s Tomb.
This tempted our curiosity, and we presently rod up to the mountain in order to leave our horses, dragoon-like, with a servant. and to clamber up to the top of it, to see this Giant’s Tomb: Here we miss’d the imaginary wonder, and found a real one; the story of which I cannot but record, to shew the discontented part of the rich world how to value their own happiness, by looking below them, and seeing how others live, who yet are capable of being easie and content, which content goes a great way towards being happy, if it does not come quite up to happiness. The story is this:
As we came near the hill, which seemed to be round, and a precipice almost on every side, we perceived a little parcel of ground hedg’d in, as if it were a garden, it was about twenty or thirty yards long, but not so much broad, parallel with the hill, and close to it; we saw no house, but, by a dog running out and barking, we perceived some people were thereabout; and presently after we saw two little children, and then a third run out to see what was the matter. When we came close up we saw a small opening, not a door, but a natural opening into the rock, and the noise we had made brought a woman out with a child in her arms, and another at her foot. N.B. The biggest of these five was a girl, about eight or ten years old.
We asked the woman some questions about the tomb of the giant upon the rock or mountain: She told us, there was a broad flat stone of a great size lay there, which, she said, the people call’d a gravestone; and, if it was, it might well be called a giant’s, for she thought no ordinary man was ever so tall, and she describ’d it to us as well as she could, by which it must be at least sixteen or seventeen foot long; but she could not give any farther account of it, neither did she seem to lay any stress upon the tale of a giant being buried there, but said, if her husband had been at home he might have shown it to us. I snatched at the word, at home! says I, good wife, why, where do you live. Here, sir, says she, and points to the hole in the rock. Here! says I; and do all these children live here too? Yes, sir, says she, they were ail born here. Pray how long have you dwelt here then? said I. My husband was born here, said she, and his father before him. Will you give me leave, says one of our company, as curious as I was, to come in and see your house, dame? If you please, sir, says she, but ’tis not a place fit for such as you are to come into, calling him, your worship, forsooth; but that by the by. I mention it, to shew that the good woman did not want manners, though she liv’d in a den like a wild body.
However, we alighted and went in: There was a large hollow cave, which the poor people by two curtains hang’d cross, had parted into three rooms. On one side was the chimney, and the man, or perhaps his father, being miners, had found means to work a shaft or funnel through the rock to carry the smoke out at the top, where the giant’s tombstone was. The habitation was poor, ’tis true, but things within did not look so like misery as I expected. Every thing was clean and neat, tho’ mean and ordinary: There were shelves with earthen ware, and some pewter and brass. There was, which I observed in particular, a whole flitch or side of bacon hanging up in the chimney, and by it a good piece of another. There was a sow and pigs running about at the door, and a little lean cow feeding upon a green place just before the door, and the little enclosed piece of ground I mentioned, was growing with good barley; it being then near harvest.
To find out whence this appearance of substance came, I asked the poor woman, what trade her husband was? She said, he worked in the lead mines. I asked her, how much he could earn a day there? she said, if he had good luck he could earn about five pence a day, but that he worked by the dish (which was a term of art I did not understand, but supposed, as I afterwards understood it was, by the great, in proportion to the oar, which they measure in a wooden bowl, which they call a dish). Then I asked, what she did? she said, when she was able to work she washed the oar: But, looking down on her children, and shaking her head, she intimated, that they found her so much business she could do but little, which 1 easily granted must be true. But what can you get at washing the oar, said I, when you can work? She said, if she work’d hard she could gain three-pence a day. So that, in short, here was but eight-pence a day when they both worked hard, and that not always, and perhaps not often, and all this to maintain a man, his wife, and five small children, and yet they seemed to live very pleasantly, the children look’d plump and fat, ruddy and wholesome; and the woman was tall, well shap’d, clean, and (for the place) a very well looking, comely woman; nor was there any thing look’d like the dirt and nastiness of the miserable cottages of the poor; tho’ many of them spend more money in strong drink than this poor woman had to maintain five children with.
This moving sight so affected us all, that, upon a short conference at the door, we made up a little lump of money, and I had the honour to be almoner for the company; and though the sum was not great, being at most something within a crown, as I told it into the poor woman’s hand, I could perceive such a surprise in her face, that, had she not given vent to her joy by a sudden flux of tears, I found she would have fainted away. She was some time before she could do any thing but cry; but after that was abated, she expressed her self very handsomely (for a poor body) and told me, she had not seen so much money together of her own for many months.
We asked her, if she had a good husband; she smiled, and said, Yes, thanked God for it, and that she was very happy in that, for he worked very hard, and they wanted for nothing that he could do for them; and two or three times made mention of how contented they were: In a word, it was a lecture to us all, and that such, I assure you, as made the whole company very grave all the rest of the day: And if it has no effect of that kind upon the reader, the defect must be in my telling the story in a less moving manner than the poor woman told it her self.
From hence enquiring no farther after the giant, or his tomb, we went, by the direction of the poor woman, to a valley on the side of a rising hill, where there were several grooves, so they call the mouth of the shaft or pit by which they go down into a lead mine; and as we were standing still to look at one of them, admiring how small they were, and scarce believing a poor man that shew’d it us, when he told us, that they went down those narrow pits or holes to so great a depth in the earth; I say, while we were wondering, and scarce believing the fact, we were agreeably surprized with seeing a hand, and then an arm, and quickly after a head, thrust up out of the very groove we were looking at. It was the more surprizing as not we only, but not the man that we were talking to, knew any thing of it, or expected it.
Immediately we rode closer up to the place, where we see the poor wretch working and heaving himself up gradually, as we thought, with difficulty; but when he shewed us that it was by setting his feet upon pieces of wood fixt cross the angles of the groove like a ladder, we found that the difficulty was not much; and if the groove had been larger they could not either go up or down so easily, or with so much safety, for that now their elbows resting on those pieces as well as their feet, they went up and down with great ease and safety.
Those who would have a more perfect idea of those grooves, need do no more than go to the church of St. Paul’s, and desire to see the square wells which they have there to go down from the top of the church into the very vaults under it, to place the leaden pipes which carry the rain water from the flat of the roof to the common-shore, which wells are square, and have small iron bars placed cross the angles for the workmen to set their feet on, to go up and down to repair the pipes; the manner of the steps are thus describ’d:
When this subterranean creature was come quite out, with all his furniture about him, we had as much variety to take us up as before, and our curiosity received full satisfaction without venturing down, as we were persuaded to by some people, and as two of our company were inclined to do.
First, the man was a most uncouth spectacle; he was cloathed all in leather, had a cap of the same without brims, some tools in a little basket which he drew up with him, not one of the names of which we could understand but by the help of an interpreter. Nor indeed could we understand any of the man’s discourse so as to make out a whole sentence; and yet the man was pretty free of his tongue too.
For his person, he was lean as a skeleton, pale as a dead corps, his hair and beard a deep black, his flesh lank, and, as we thought, something of the colour of the lead itself, and being very tall and very lean he look’d, or we that saw him ascend ab inferis, fancied he look’d like an inhabitant of the dark regions below, and who was just ascended into the world of light.
Besides his basket of tools, he brought up with him about three quarters of a hundred weight of oar, which we wondered at, for the man had no small load to bring, considering the manner of his coming up; and this indeed made him come heaving and struggling up, as I said at first, as if he had great difficulty to get out; whereas it was indeed the weight that he brought with him.
If any reader thinks this, and the past relation of the woman and the cave, too low and trifling for this work, they must be told, that I think quite otherwise; and especially considering what a noise is made of wonders in this country, which, I must needs say, have nothing in them curious, but much talked of, more trifling a great deal. See Cotton’s Wonders of the Peak, Hobbes’s Chatsworth, and several others; but I shall make no more apologies. I return to our subterranean apparition.
We asked him, how deep the mine lay which he came out of: He answered us in terms we did not understand; but our interpreter, as above, told us, it signified that he was at work 6o fathoms deep, but that there were five men of his party, who were, two of them, eleven fathoms, and the other three, fifteen fathoms deeper: He seemed to regret that he was not at work with those three; for that they had a deeper vein of oar than that which he worked in, and had a way out at the side of the hill, where they pass’d without coming up so high as he was obliged to do.
If we blessed ourselves before, when we saw how the poor woman and her five children lived in the hole or cave in the mountain, with the giant’s grave over their heads; we had much more room to reflect how much we had to acknowledge to our Maker, that we were not appointed to get our bread thus, one hundred and fifty yards under ground, or in a hole as deep in the earth as the cross upon St. Paul’s cupolo is high out of it: Nor was it possible to see these miserable people without such reflections, unless you will suppose a man as stupid and sensless as the horse he rides on. But to leave moralizing to the reader, I proceed.
We then look’d on the oar, and got the poor man’s leave to bring every one a small piece of it away with us, for which we gave him two small pieces of better mettle, called shillings, which made his heart glad; and, as we understood by our interpreter, was more than he could gain at sixty fathoms under ground in three days; and we found soon after the money was so much, that it made him move off immediately towards the alehouse, to melt some of it into good Pale Derby; but, to his farther good luck, we were gotten to the same alehouse before him; where, when we saw him come, we gave him some liquor too, and made him keep his money, and promise us to carry it home to his family, which they told us lived hard by.
From hence entring upon Brassington Moor, mentioned above, we had eight mile smooth green riding to Buxton bath, which they call one of the wonders of the Peak; but is so far from being a wonder, that to us, who had been at Bath in Somersetshire, and at Aix la Chapelle in Germany, it was nothing at all; nor is it any thing but what is frequent in such mountainous countries as this is, in many parts of the world.
That which was more wonderful to me than all of it, was, that so light is made of them as to use; that the people rather wonder at them than take the benefit of them; and that, as there are several hot springs in this village of Buxton, as well as at Matlock, mentioned above, and at several other places, they are not built into noble and convenient bathing places; and, instead of a house or two, a city built here for the entertainment of company; which, if it were done, and countenance given to it, as is to the baths at Bath, I doubt not it would be as well frequented, and to as good purpose.
But though I shall not treat this warm spring as a wonder, for such it is not; I must nevertheless give it the praise due to the medicinal virtue of its waters; for it is not to be deny’d, but that wonderful cures have been wrought by them, especially in rheumatick, scorbutick and scrofulous distempers, aches of the joints, nervous pains, and also in scurfy and leprous maladies.
For a proof of this, and to give a just reputation to the waters of Buxton, I crave leave to give a brief account of what the learned say of their virtues, and the manner of their operation; and though I shall not croud this work with any thing from books, which is not more than common, and more than ordinary useful, yet I must be excused in this, as what I think excels in both: It is from the learned Dr. Leigh, in his Natural History of Lancashire, and of the Peak; his words are as follows:
Here, meaning at Buxton, the waters are sulphurous and saline yet not foetid, but very palatable, because the sulphur is not united with any vitriolic particles, or but very few saline; it tinges not silver, nor is it purgative, because its saline parts are dispensed in such small proportions, which saline particles make up a corn-pound salt, constituted of a marine salt, and the Sal Catharticum Amarum, which indeed is the Nitrum Calcarium that impregnates Epsom, Northall and Dullwich waters, and others in those parts, as at Stretham, Peckham, Shooters-Hill, &c. in the county of Kent.
These waters ( Buxton) if drank, create a good appetite, open obstructions, and no doubt, if mixed with the chalybeat waters that are there also, may answer all the intentions of the Bath water in Somersetshire, and that of Sir Vincent’s too at Bristol, so noted for curing the diabetes; of which I have seen several instances in these parts; and likewise for curing of bloody urines, of which I saw a most noted instance at Liverpoole.
This bath is of a temperate heat, and, without question, by a reverberating halitus might be brought to any degree of heat; but, I think, in its own natural heat, it may in general be said to be more agreeable to the constitutions of those parts; and where the hot baths cannot be safely used, this may. This last summer I saw remarkable instances of its effects in scorbutick rheumatisms in persons, that could not go before without the help of crutches, who came from thence to Manchester on foot without them, distant from Buxton full sixteen northern miles.
For the antiquity of these baths too, though there is not a King Bladud to testify for them, as at Bath in Somersetshire, whose evidence we cannot be sure is very justifiable, yet hear the same author on that article:
That these baths were eminent in the Romans time, is most certain. Lucan, and others acquaint us, they were extraordinary hot, the high road, called the Roman Bath-gate, as Mr. Cambden says, further confirms it; but it is especially evident from a Roman wall cemented with red Roman plaister, close by St. Anne’s Well, where we may see the ruins of the antient bath, its dimensions and length.
The waters are temperately hot, or rather warm, and operate rather as a cold bath, without that violent attack which the cold bath makes upon all nature at once; you feel a little chilness when you first dip or plunge into the water, but it is gone in a moment; and you find a kind of an equality in the warmth of your blood and that of the water, and that so very pleasant, that far from the fainting and weakening violence of the hot baths, which makes you ready to die away if you continue above an hour, or thereabouts, in them, and will shrivel up the fingers like those of women, who have been washing cloaths; on the contrary, here you are never tired, and can hardly be persuaded to come out of the bath when you are in.
The village where the principal springs are, is called Buxton; though there are several of them, for they rise unregarded in the banks of the enclosures, and on the sides of the hill, so that the number is hardly known; there is but one bath which is walled in with stone walls, and steps made to go down into it, and a house built over it, though not so close as is fit for winter bathing.
The Duke of Devonshire is lord of the village, and consequently of the bath itself; and his grace has built a large handsome house at the bath, where there is convenient lodging, and very good provisions, and an ordinary well served for one shilling per head; but it is but one. And though some other houses in the town take in lodgers upon occasion, yet the conveniencies are not the same; so that there is not accommodation for a confluence of people, as at the bath-house it self: If it were otherwise, and that the nobility and gentry were suitably entertained, I doubt not but Buxton would be frequented, and with more effect as to health, as well as much more satisfaction to the company; where there is an open and healthy country, a great variety of view to satisfy the curious, and a fine down or moor for the ladies to take a ring upon in their coaches, all much more convenient than in a close city as the Bath is, which, more like a prison than a place of diversion, scarce gives the company room to converse out of the smell of their own excrements, and where the very city it self may be said to stink like a general common-shore.
We saw indeed a variety of objects here; some that came purely for the pleasure of bathing, taking the air, and to see the country, which has many things rare and valuable to be seen, tho’ nothing, as I met with, can be called a wonder, Elden Hole excepted, of which in its place: We found others that came purely for cure, as the lame man to the pool; of which some openly applauded the virtue of the bath, as evidently working a cure upon them. One object indeed, who, whether his physician mistook his disease, or he gave his physician a wrong account, (as is most probable) was very inadvertently sent thither, found himself fatally injured by the bath: What the reason of that might be, I leave to the learned; but, upon this occasion, one of our company left the following lines written on the wall in the bathing house:
Buxton, may all the silver streams unite,
And be as bountiful, as they are bright:
May every votary, diseas’d and poor,
If chaste in blood, be certain of his cure.
But let thy springs refuse that wretch to heal,
Who shall a crime in his disease conceal:
May thy chast streams quench no dishonest flame,
But as thy fountain’s pure, be pure thy fame.
South west from hence, about a quarter of a mile, or not so much, on the side, or rather at the foot of a very high ridge of mountains, is a great cave or hole in the earth, called Poole’s Hole, another of the wonderless wonders of the Peak. The wit that has been spent upon this vault or cave in the earth, had been well enough to raise the expectation of strangers, and bring fools a great way to creep into it; but is ill bestowed upon al] those that come to the place with a just curiosity, founded upon antient report; when these go in to see it, they generally go away, acknowledging that they have seen nothing suitable to their great expectation, or to the fame of the place.
It is a great cave, or natural vault, antient doubtless as the mountain itself, and occasioned by the fortuitous position of the rocks at the creation of all things, or perhaps at the great absorption or influx of the surface into the abyss at the great rupture of the earth’s crust or shell, according to Mr. Burnet’s theory; and to me it seems a confirmation of that hypothesis of the breaking in of the surface. But that by the way:
It may be deepen’d and enlarged by streams and eruptions of subterraneous waters, of which here are several, as there generally are in all such cavities; as at Castleton in this country, at Wooky Hole in Somersetshire, which I have already spoken of; and at several like caves which are now to be seen among the mountains in Swisserland, in Norway, in Hungary, and other places.
The story of one Pole or Poole, a famous giant or robber, (they might as well have called him a man eater) who harboured in this vault, and whose kitchen and lodging, or bed-chamber, they show you on your right-hand, after you have crept about ten yards upon all-four; I say, this I leave to those who such stories are better suited to, than I expect of my readers.
However, this helps among the people there, to make out the wonder; and indeed such things are wanting where really wonder is wanting, else there would be no wonder at all in it; as indeed there is not.
The utmost you meet with after this, is the extraordinary heighth of the arch or roof; which, however, is far from what a late flaming author has magnified it to, (viz.) a quarter of a mile perpendicular. That it? very high, is enough to say; for it is so far from a quarter of a mile, that there seems nothing admirable in it.
Dr. Leigh spends some time in admiring the spangled roof. Cotton and Hobbes are most ridiculously and outrageously witty upon it. Dr. Leigh calls it fret work, organ, and choir work. The whole of the matter is this, that the rock being every where moist and dropping, the drops are some fallen, those you see below; some falling, those you have glancing by you en passant; and others pendant in the roof. Now as you have guides before you and behind you, carrying every one a candle, the light of the candles reflected by the globular drops of water, dazle upon your eyes from every corner; like as the drops of dew in a sunny-bright morning reflect the rising light to the eye, and are as ten thousand rainbows in miniature; whereas were any part of the roof or arch of this vault to be seen by a clear light, there would be no more beauty on it than on the back of a chimney; for, in short, the stone is coarse, slimy, with the constant wet, dirty and dull; and were the little drops of water gone, or the candles gone, there would be none of these fine sights to be seen for wonders, or for the learned authors above to show themselves foolish about.
Let any person therefore, who goes into Poole’s Hole for the future, and has a mind to try the experiment, take a long pole in his hand, with a cloth tied to the end of it, and mark any place of the shining spangled roof which his pole will reach to; and then, wiping the drops of water away, he shall see he will at once extinguish all those glories; then let him sit still and wait a little, till, by the nature of the thing, the drops swell out again, and he shall find the stars and spangles rise again by degrees, here one, and there one, till they shine with the same fraud, a meer deceptio visus, as they did before. As for the Queen of Scots pillar, as ’tis called, because her late unfortunate majesty, Mary, Queen of Scots, was pleased to have it be called so, it is a piece of stone like a kind of spar, which is found about the lead; and ’tis not improbable in a country where there is so much of the oar, it may be of the same kind, and, standing upright, obtained the name of a pillar; of which almost every body that comes there, carries away a piece, in veneration of the memory of the unhappy princess that gave it her name. Nor is there any thing strange or unusual in the stone, much less in the figure of it, which is otherwise very mean, and in that country very common.
As to the several stones called Mr. Ce’ton’s, Haycock’s, Poole’s Chair, Flitches of Bacon, and the like, they are nothing but ordinary stones; and the shapes very little resemble the things they are said to represent; but the fruitful imagination of the country carls, who fancy to call them so, will have them to look like them; a stranger sees very little even of the similitude, any more than when people fancy they see faces and heads, castles and cities, armies, horses and men, in the clouds, in the fire, and the like.
Nor is the petrifying of the water, which appears in its pendant form like icecles in the roof aloft, or rising pyramids below, if such there were, any thing but what is frequent and natural both to water and to stone, placed thus under ground, and seems to be the way by which even stone itself, like other vegetables, fructifies and grows.
So that, in short, there is nothing in Poole’s Hole to make a wonder of, any more than as other things in nature, which are rare to be seen, however easily accounted for, may be called wonderful.
Having thus accounted for two of the seven things, called wonders in this country, I pass by Elden Hole, which I shall take notice of by it self, and come to two more of them, as wonderless, and empty of every thing that may be called rare or strange, as the others; and indeed much more so.
The first of these is Mam Tor, or, as the word in the mountain jargon signifies, the Mother Rock, upon a suggestion that the soft crumbling earth, which falls from the summit of the one, breeds or begets several young mountains below. The sum of the whole wonder is this, That there is a very high hill, nay, I will add (that I may make the most of the story, and that it may appear as much like a wonder as I can) an exceeding high hill. But this in a country which is all over hills, cannot be much of a wonder, because also there are several higher hills in the Peak than that, only not just there.
The south side of this hill is a precipice, and very steep from the top to the bottom; and as the substance of this hill is not a solid stone, or rocky, as is the case of all the hills thereabouts, but a crumbling loose earth mingled with small stones, it is continually falling down in small quantities, as the force of hasty showers, or solid heavy rains, loosens and washes it off, or as frosts and thaws operate upon it in common with other parts of the earth; now as the great hill, which is thick, as well as high, parts with this loose stuff, without being sensibly diminished, yet the bottom which it falls into, is more easily perceived to swell with the quantity that falls down; the space where it is received being small, comparatively to the heighth and thickness of the mountain: Here the pretended wonder is form’d, namely, that the little heap below, should grow up into a hill, and yet the great hill not be the less for all that is fallen down; which is not true in fact, any more than, as a great black cloud pouring down rain as it passes over our heads, appears still as great and as black as before, though it continues pouring down rain over all the country. But nothing is more certain than this, that the more water comes down from it, the less remains in it; and so it certainly is of Mama Tor, in spite of all the poetry of Mr. Cotton or Mr. Hobbes, and in spight of all the women’s tales in the Peak.
This hill lies on the north side of the road from Buxton to Castleton, where we come to the so famed wonder call’d, saving our good manners, The Devil’s A ——— e in the Peak’, Now not-withstanding the grossness of the name given it, and that there is nothing of similitude or coherence either in form and figure, or any other thing between the thing signified and the thing signifying; yet we must search narrowly for any thing in it to make a wonder, or even any thing so strange, or odd, or vulgar, as the name would seem to import.
The short of this story is; that on the steep side of a mountain there is a large opening very high, broad at bottom, and narrow, but rounding, on the top, almost the form of the old Gothick gates or arches, which come up, not to a half circle or half oval at the top, but to a point; though this being all wild and irregular, cannot be said to be an arch, but a meer chasme, entring horizontally; the opening being upwards of thirty foot perpendicular, and twice as much broad at the bottom at least.
The arch continues thus wide but a little way, yet far enough to have several small cottages built on either side of it within the entrance; so that ’tis like a little town in a vault: In the middle, (as it were a street) is a running stream of water; the poetical descriptions of it will have this be called a river, tho’ they have not yet bestow’d a name upon it, nor indeed is it worthy a name.
As you go on, the roof descends gradually, and is so far from admitting houses to stand in it, that you have not leave to stand upright your self, till stooping for a little way, and passing over another rill of water, which Mr. Cotton calls a river too, you find more room over your head. But going a little farther you come to a third water, which crosses your way; and the rock stooping, as it were, down almost to the surface of the water, forbids any farther enquiry into what is beyond.
This is the whole wonder, unless it may be called so, that our ancestors should give it so homely a sirname; and give us no reason for it, but what we must guess at from the uncouth entrance of the place, which being no guide in the case, leave us to reflect a little upon their modesty of expression; but it seems they talked broader in those days than we do now.
To conclude: If there were no such vaults and arches any where but in the Peak, or indeed if they were not frequent in such mountainous countries, as well here, as in other nations, we might call this a wonder. But as we know they are to be found in many places in England, and that we read of them in the description of other countries, and even in the Scripture, we cannot think there is any room to call it a wonder. We read of the cave of Adullam, and of the cave of Mackpelah, in the Scripture, able to receive David, and his whole troop of four hundred men. We read of the persecuted worthies in the 12th of the Hebrews, who wandered about in dens and caves of the earth. We read of a cave in the Apenine Mountains near to Florence, which was able to receive an army; there are also many such caves, as I have observed above, in the Alpes, and the hills of Dauphine and Savoy, and in other parts of the world, too many to run over; and some of them, such as this is not worthy to be named among them.
Indeed, had Gervaise of Tilbury been credited, this place had deserved all that wonder cou’d ascribe to it; for he tells us of a shepherd who, having ventured into the third river in this den, and being either carried over it or down the stream, he knew not whether, saw a beautiful heavenly country beyond it, with a spacious plain watered with many clear rivers and pleasant brooks, and several lakes of standing water. But who this shepherd was, how he got into that pleasant country; and, above all, how he came back to tell the story, our friend Gervaise forgot, it seems, to take any notice of; and so the tale is broken off before it was half told, like another of the same kind which Hudibras tells of,
Which, like the tale o’th” bear and fiddle,
Was told; but broke off in the middle.
The next wonder, which makes up number five, is called Tideswell, or a spring of water which ebbs and flows, as they will have it, as the sea does. A poor thing indeed to make a wonder of; and therefore most of the writers pass it over with little notice; only that they are at a loss to make up the number seven without it.
This well or spring is called Weeden Well; the basin or receiver for the water is about three foot square every way; the water seems to have some other receiver within the rock, which, when it filis by the force of the original stream, which is small, the air being contracted or pent in, forces the water out with a bubbling noise, and so fills the receiver without; but when the force is spent within, then it stops till the place is filled again; and, in the mean time, the water without runs off or ebbs, till the quantity within swells again, and then the same causes produce the same effects, as will always be while the world endures. So that all this wonder is owing only to the situation of the place, which is a meer accident in nature; and if any person were to dig into the place, and give vent to the air, which fills the contracted space within, they would soon see Tideswell turned into an ordinary running stream, and a very little one too.
So much for fictitious wonders, or indeed simple wonders. The two real wonders which remain, are first, Elden Hole, and secondly, the Duke of Devonshire’s fine house at Chatsworth; one a wonder of nature, the other of art. I begin with the last.
Chatsworth is indeed a most glorious and magnificent house, and, as it has had two or three founders, may well be said to be compleatly designed and finished. It was begun on a much narrower plan than it now takes up, by Sir William Cavendish, of Cavendish in Suffolk, who married the Countess Dowager of Shrewsbury, and with her came into a noble and plentiful fortune in this country.
Sir William died, having done little more than built one end of the fabrick, and laid out the plan, as I have said, or ichnography of the whole. But the lady, who, it seems, was the mover of the first design, finish’d the whole in the magnificent manner which it appeared in, when it was first christen’d a wonder, and ranked among the marvelleux of the Peak. But what would the world have called it, or what would Mr. Cambden have said of it, had it appeared in those days in the glory and splendor its last great founder, for so we may justly call him, left it in.
It is indeed a palace for a prince, a most magnificent building, and, in spite of all the difficulties or disadvantages of situation, is a perfect beauty; nay, the very obstructions and, as I called them, disadvantages of its situation, serve to set off its beauty, and are, by the most exquisite decoration of the place, made to add to the lustre of the whole. But it would take up a volume by itself to describe it. I shall only touch at those things which other writers have omitted; for, as Mr. Hobbes has elegantly set it off in Latin verse, Mr. Cotton, after his manner, in English, and others, in as good a manner as they can, in history; they have yet, all of them, left enough for me to say, and so shall I, for many after me; and yet perhaps it shall be as many years describing as it was in building, and the description be no more finished than the building, which will have always an encrease of ornament, as the noble possessors see room to add to its glory.
The front to the garden is the most regular piece of architect I have seen in all the north part of England; the pilaster seventy two foot high to the foot of the ballaster on the top; the frize under the cornish is spacious, and has the motto of the family upon it, the letters so large (and gilded) as takes up the whole front, tho’ the words are but these two:
The sashes of the second story we were told are seventeen foot high, the plates polish’d looking-glass. and the woodwork double gilded; which, I think, is no where else to be seen in England.
Under this front lye the gardens exquisitely fine, and, to make a clear vista or prospect beyond into the flat country, towards Hardwick, another seat of the same owner, the duke, to whom what others thought impossible, was not only made practicable, but easy, removed, and perfectly carried away a great mountain that stood in the way, and which interrupted the prospect.
This was so entirely gone, that, having taken a strict view of the gardens at my first being there, and retaining an idea of them in my mind, I was perfectly confounded at coming there a second time, and not knowing what had been done; for I had lost the hill, and found a new country in view, which Chatsworth it self had never seen before.
The house indeed had received additions, as it did every year, and perhaps would to this day, had the duke liv’d, who had a genius for such things beyond the reach of the most perfect masters, and was not only capable to design, but to finish.
The gardens, the water-works, the cascades, the statues, vasa and painting, tho’ they are but very imperfectly described by any of the writers who have yet named them, and more imperfectly by one author, who has so lately pretended to view them; yet I dare not venture to mention them here, least, for want of time, and having so long a journey to go, I should, like those who have gone before me, do it imperfectly, or leave no room to do justice to other persons and places, which I am still to mention. I shall therefore, as I said above, only touch at what others have omitted.
First, ’tis to be observed that on the east side rises a very high mountain, on the top of which they dig mill-stones, and it begins so close to, and so overlooks the house, being prodigiously high that, should they roll down a pair of those stones coupled with a wooden axis, as is the way of drawing them, they would infallibly give a shock to the building; yet this mountain is so planted, and so covered with a wood of beautiful trees, that you see no hill, only a rising wood, as if the trees grew so much higher than one another, and was only a wall of trees, whose tops join into one another so close, as nothing is seen through them.
Upon the top of that mountain begins a vast extended moor or waste, which, for fifteen or sixteen miles together due north, presents you with neither hedge, house or tree, but a waste and houling wilderness, over which when strangers travel, they are obliged to take guides, or it would be next to impossible not to lose their way.
Nothing can be more surprising of its kind, than for a stranger coming from the north, suppose from Sheffield in Yorkshire, for that is the first town of note, and wandering or labouring to pass this difficult desart country, and seeing no end of it, and almost discouraged and beaten out with the fatigue of it, (just such was our case) on a sudden the guide brings him to this precipice, where he looks down from a frightful heighth, and a comfortless, barren, and, as he thought, endless moor, into the most delightful valley, with the most pleasant garden, and most beautiful palace in the world: If contraries illustrate, and the place can admit of any illustration, it must needs add to the splendor of the situation, and to the beauty of the building, and I must say (with which I will close my short observation) if there is any wonder in Chatsworth, it is, that any man who had a genius suitable to so magnificent a design, who could lay out the plan for such a house, and had a fund to support the charge, would build it in such a place where the mountains insult the clouds, intercept the sun, and would threaten, were earthquakes frequent here, to bury the very towns, much more the house, in their ruins.
On the top of that mountain, that is to say, on the plain which extends from it, is a large pond or basin for water, spreading, as I was told, near thirty acres of ground, which, from all the ascents round it, receives, as into a cistern, all the water that falls, and from which again by pipes, the cascades, watenvorks, ponds, and canals in the gardens, are plentifully supplied.
On the west side, which is the front or entrance of the house, and where the first foundress built a very august portal or gate; I say, on the west side, runs the River Derwent, which, though not many miles from its source here, is yet a terrible river, when, by hasty rains, or by the melting of the snows, the hills are pleased to pour down their waters into its channel; for the current is so rapid, and it has so many contracted passages among the rocks, and so many little cataracts amongst the stones, of which sometimes we see some of an incredible bulk come rouling down its stream; I say, there are so many of these, that the river, on the least motion of its waters above their ordinary highth, roars like the breaches on the shores of the sea.
Over this river there is a stately stone bridge, with an antient tower upon it, and in an island in the river an antient fabrick all of stone, and built like a castle. All these are the works of the first foundress, the Countess of Shrewsbury, and shew the greatness of the first design; but, except the bridge, are now, as it were, eclips’d by the modern glories of the later edifice.
In my discourse of the palace of Chatsworth, must not be forgot that fam’d compliment which the Mareschal Duke de Tallard pass’d upon it, when the Duke of Devonshire entertained him at Chatsworth, namely, “That when he should give his master the King of France the history of his seven years captivity in England, he would leave out those three days which he had spent so agreeably with his grace, in seeing the finest palace in the world.”
But I must dwell no longer here, however pleasant and agreeable the place. The remaining article, and which, I grant, we may justly call a WONDER, is Elden Hole: The description of it, in brief, is thus: In the middle of a plain open field, gently descending to the south, there is a frightful chasme, or opening in the earth, or rather in the rock, for the country seems thereabouts to be all but one great rock; this opening goes directly down perpendicular into the earth, and perhaps to the center; it may be about twenty foot over one way, and fifty or sixty the other; it has no bottom, that is to say, none that can yet be heard of. Mr. Cotton says, he let down eight hundred fathoms of line into it, and that the plummet drew still; so that, in a word, he sounded about a mile perpendicular; for as we call a mile 1760 yards, and 884 is above half, then doubtless eight hundred fathoms must be 1600 yards, which is near a mile.
This I allow to be a wonder, and what the like of is not to be found in the world, that I have heard of, or believe. And would former writers have been contented with one wonder instead of seven, it would have done more honour to the Peak, and even to the whole nation, than the adding five imaginary miracles to it that had nothing in them, and which really depreciatcd the whole.
What Nature meant in leaving this window open into the infernal world, if the place lies that way, we cannot tell: But it must be said, there is something of horror upon the very imagination, when one does but look into it; and therefore tho’ I cannot find much in Mr. Cotton, of merry memory, worth quoting, yet on this subject, I think, he has four very good lines, speaking of his having an involuntary horror at looking into this pit. The words are these:
For he, who standing on the brink of hell,
Can carry it so unconcern’d and well,
As to betray no fear, is certainly
A better Christian, or a worse than I.
COTTON’S Wonders of the Peak .
They tell a dismal story here, of a traveller, who, enquiring his way to Castleton, or to Buxton, in a dark night, two villains offer’d to guide him; but, intending to rob him, led him to the edge of this gulph, and either thrust him in, or persuaded him to believe there was a little gall of water, and bad him take a large step, which the innocent unfortunate did, not mistrusting the treachery, and stept at once into eternity; a story enough to make the blood run cold through the heart of those that hear it told, especially if they know the place too: They add, that one of these villains being hanged at Derby some years after for some other villany, confess’d this murther at the gallows.
Having then viewed those things with an impartial mind, give me leave to reduce the wonders of the Peak to a less number, and of a quite different kind.
Elden Hole I acknowledge to be a wonderful place, as I have said above; but to me the greatest surprise is, that, after such a real wonder, any of the trines added to it could bear the name of wonders.
Of Buxton; the wonder to me is, that in a nation so full of chronical diseases as we are, such as our scorbuticks, rheumaticks, cholicks, and niphriticks, there should be such a fountain of medicine sent from heaven, and no more notice taken of it, or care to make it useful.
That in a nation so curious, so inquiring, and so critical as this, any thing so unsatisfying, so foolish and so weak, should pass for wonders as those of Mam Tor, Tideswell, Poole’s Hole, &c.
As to Chatsworth, the wonder, as I said before, seems to me; not that so noble and magnificent a palace should be built, but that it should be built in such a situation, and in such a country so out of the way, so concealed from the world, that whoever sees it must take a journey on purpose.
Having thus viewed the two counties of Nottingham and Derby, as beginning that part of England, which we call north by Trent, I resolved to go northward on the east side of the island, taking the western shore, or the Irish Sea in my return.
The Peak concludes the northern part of Derbyshire; nor are there any towns on that side worth noting. There are some other curiosities in the Peak indeed, which would deserve a fuller account, had I leisure to enlarge or descend to particulars, as the tottering stones at Byrch Over, the Roman causeway, called Bath-Gate, the several minerals found in the hills, and in the lead mines, as black lead, stibium or antimony, christal, and other things, all much more rare than the wonders they speak of.
Bakewell, is the best town in the north west side of the Peak, near which the Duke of Rutland has a very noble palace, called Haddon; but after Chatsworth no house in the same county can bear a description; so we left the Peak, and went to Chesterfield, a handsome market town at the northermost border of the county, north east from Chatsworth.
There is indeed an extended angle of this county, which runs a great way north west by Chappel in the Frith, and which they call High Peak. This, perhaps, is the most desolate, wild, and abandoned country in all England; The mountains of the Peak, of which I have been speaking, seem to be but the beginning of wonders to this part of the country, and but the beginning of mountains, or, if you will, as the lower rounds of a ladder. The tops of these hills seem to be as much above the clouds, as the clouds are above the ordinary range of hills.
Nor is this all; but the continuance of these mountains is such, that we know no bounds set to them, but they run on in a continued ridge or ledge of mountains from one to another, till they are lost in the southern parts of Scotland, and even through that to the Highlands; so that they may be said to divide Britain, as the Appennine Mountains divide Italy. Thus these hills joyning to Blackstone Edge divide Yorkshire from Lancashire, and going on north divides the Bishoprick of Durham from Westmoreland, and so on. It is from this ridge of mountains that all the rivers in the north of England take their rise, I may say ALL, for it is so to a very trifle, not a considerable river north of this county, nay, and in this county too, but begin here; those on the east side run into the German Ocean, those on the west side into the Irish. I shall begin the observation here; the Dove and the Derwent rise both at this south end of them, and come away south to the Trent; but all the rivers afterwards run, as above, east or west; and first the Mersee rises on the west side, and the Don on the east, the first runs to Warrington, and into the sea at Liverpoole; the other to Doncaster, and into the sea at Humber. I shall carry on the observation as I go, for to give an account of rivers, is the true guide to the giving the reader the best account of the country. But to return to my progress.
Chesterfield is a handsome populous town, well-built and well inhabited, notwithstanding it stands in the farthest part of this rocky country; for being on the north west side next to Yorkshire, it enters Scarsdale, which is a rich fruitful part of the country, though surrounded with barren moors and mountains, for such the name Scarsdale signifies, according to that master of etymologies, Mr. Cambden. Here is, however, nothing remarkable in this town but a free school, and a very good market, well stored with provisions; for here is little or no manufacture.
From hence (travelling still north) we entred the great county of York, uncertain still which way to begin to take a full view of it, for as ’tis a country of a very great extent, my business is not the situation or a meer geographical description of it; I have nothing to do with the longitude of places, the antiquities of towns, corporations, buildings, charters, &c. nor much with the history of men, families, cities or towns, but to give you a view of the whole in its present state, as also of the commerce, curiosities and customs, according to my title.
The county is divided into three ridings; as I entred it from the south, it follows, I went in, by what they call the West Riding, which, as it is by much the largest, so it is the wealthiest and the most populous, has the greatest towns in it, and the greatest number of them; the greatest manufactures, and consequently the greatest share of wealth, as it has also of people.
Two eminent towns, tho’ only meer market towns, and one of them no corporation, open the door into the West Riding of Yorkshire; these are Sheffield and Doncaster. It is true, there Is a little market town, at the very first entrance into the county before we come to Doncaster, call’d Bautry, a town bless’d with two great conveniencies which assists to its support, and makes it a very well frequented place.
That it stands upon the great post highway, or road from London to Scotland; and this makes it be full of very good inns and houses of entertainment.
That the little but pleasant River Idle runs through, or rather just by, the side of it, which, contrary to the import of its name, is a full and quick, though not rapid and unsafe stream, with a deep channel, which carries hoys, lighters, barges, or flat-bottom’d vessels, out of its channel into the Trent, which comes within seven miles of it, to a place called Stockwith, and from thence to Burton, and from thence, in fair weather, quite to Hull; but if not, ’tis sufficient to go to Stockwith, where vessels of 200 ton burthen may come up to the town loaden as well as empty.
By this navigation, this town of Bautry becomes the center of all the exportation of this part of the country, especially for heavy goods, which they bring down hither from all the adjacent countries, such as lead, from the lead mines and smelting-houses in Derbyshire, wrought iron and edge-tools, of all sorts, from the forges at Sheffield, and from the country call’d Hallamshire, being adjacent to the towns of Sheffield and Rotherham, where an innumerable number of people are employed; as I shall speak more largely of in its place.
Also millstones and grindstones, in very great quantities, are brought down and shipped off here, and so carry’d by sea to Hull, and to London, and even to Holland also. This makes Bautry Wharf be famous all over the south part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, for it is the place whither all their heavy goods are carried, to be embarked and shipped off.
From hence to Doncaster is a pleasant road, and good ground, and never wants any repair, which is very hard to be said in any part of this lower side of the country.
Doncaster is a noble, large, spacious town, exceeding populous, and a great manufacturing town, principally for knitting; also as it stands upon the great northern post-road, it is very full of great inns; and here we found our landlord at the post-house was mayor of the town as well as post-master, that he kept a pack of hounds, was company for the best gentlemen in the town or in the neighbourhood, and lived as great as any gentleman ordinarily did.
Here we saw the first remains or ruins of the great Roman highway, which, though we could not perceive it before, was eminent and remarkable here, just at the entrance into the town; and soon after appeared again in many places: Here are also two great, lofty, and very strong stone bridges over the Don, and a long causeway also beyond the bridges, which is not a little dangerous to passengers when the waters of the Don are restrained, and swell over its banks, as is sometimes the case.
This town, Mr. Cambden says, was burnt entirely to the ground, anno 759, and is hardly recovered yet; but I must say, it is so well recovered, that I see no ruins appear, and indeed, being almost a thousand years ago, I know not how there should; and besides, the town seems as if it wanted another conflagration, for it looks old again, and many of the houses ready to fall.
I should, before I leave Doncaster, give you the famous epitaph of one Robert Byrk, a famous man of Doncaster, who lies buried in the great church here, who gave a place, call’d Rossington Wood, to the poor. On his grave is this epitaph in Old English:
Howe, howe, who’s here,
I, Robin of Doncastere,
And Margaret my fere.
That I spent, that I had;
That I gave, that I have;
That I left, that I lost;
Quoth Robertus Byrks, who in this world did reign threescore years and seven, but liv’d not one.
Here lies also, under a plain gravestone in St. George’s Church, interred, the body of one Thomas Ellis, a very memorable person. He was five times mayor of the town, founded an hospital in the town, called St. Thomas’s the Apostle, and endowed it plentifully.
Strange! that of but two several authors writing a description of Yorkshire but very lately, and pretending to speak positively of the places, which they ought not to have done, if they had not been there, both of them should so strangely mistake, as one to say of Doncaster, that there was a large church with a high spire steeple; and the other to say of the cathedral at York, that from the spire of the cathedral at York, you have an unbounded prospect: Whereas neither has the tower of York, or the tower at Doncaster, any spire, unless they will pretend any of the small pinacles at the four corners of the two towers at the west end of the church at York, are to be call’d THE SPIRE of THE cathedral; so fit are such men to write descriptions of a country.
Leaving Doncaster, we turned out of the road a little way to the left, where we had a fair view of that antient whittl-making, cutlering town, called Sheffield; the antiquity, not of the town only, but of the trade also, is established by those famous lines of Geoffry Chaucer on the Miller of Trumpington, which, however they vary from the print in Chaucer, as now extant, I give you as I find it:
At Trumpington, not far from Cambridge,
There dwelt a miller upon a bridge;
With a rizzl’d beard, and a hooked nose,
And a Sheffield whittl in his hose.
This town of Sheffield is very populous and large, the streets narrow, and the houses dark and black, occasioned by the continued smoke of the forges, which are always at work: Here they make all sorts of cutlery-ware, but especially that of edged-tools, knives, razors, axes, &c. and nails; and here the only mili of the sort, which was in use in England for some time was set up, (viz.) for turning their grindstones, though now ’tis grown more common.
Here is a very spacious church, with a very handsome and high spire; and the town is said to have at least as many, if not more people in it than the city of York. Whether they have been exactly numbered one against the other, I cannot tell. The manufacture of hard ware, which has been so antient in this town, is not only continued, but much encreased; insomuch that they told us there, the hands employed in it were a prodigious many more than ever dwelt, as well in the town, as in the bounds of that they call Hallamshire; and they talked of 30000 men employed in the whole; but I leave it upon the credit of report.
There was formerly a very fine castle here, with a noble mansion-house, the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk; but it is now all demolished and decayed, though the estate or mannor remains still in the family. In the great church of this town are several very antient monuments of the family of Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury, who once had great possessions in this and the next county.
The Queen of Scots was also for a long time detained here as prisoner, not less than sixteen or seventeen years, which was fatal afterward to the house of Norfolk; as is to be seen at large in our English history.
The River Don, with a rapid terrible current, had swelled its banks, and done a prodigious deal of damage the same year that I took this view, having carried away two or three stone bridges, ploughed up some wharfs, and drove away several milis; for this river is of kin to the Derwent for the fierceness of its streams, taking its beginning in the same western mountains, which I mentioned before; and which begin to rise first in the High Peak, and run northward to Blackstone Edge; those mountains pouring down their waters with such fury into these great rivers, their streams are so rapid, that nothing is able to stand in their way.
Here is a fine engine or mill al so for raising water to supply the town, which was done by Mr. Serocoal, the same who fell into the river at the throwing-mill at Derby, as is said in its place: Here is also a very large and strong bridge over the Don, as there is another at Rotherham, a market town six miles lower. Here is also a very fine hospital, with the addition of a good revenue, settled at first by Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, and confirmed afterwards by the family of Howard, Dukes of Norfolk.
George, the first Earl of Shrewsbury, who died 1538. George the second, grandson to the first, to whose custody the Queen of Scots was committed, who died 1590, and Gilbert his son, who founded the hospital above mentioned, all lie buried here. The gift of this hospital is thus documented:
The Hospital of the Right Hon. GILBERT, Earl
of Shrewsbury, erected and settled by the
Right Hon. HENRY, Earl of Norwich,
Earl Marshal of ENGLAND, great
grandson of the said earl, in pursuance of his last Will and Testament,
It is in this park that the great oak tree grew, which Mr. Evelyn gives a long account of in his book of Forest Trees; but as I did not see it, I refer to the said Mr. Evelyn’s account. The chesnut tree near Aderclift, which Mr. Cambden’s continuator mentions, the body of which could hardly be fathom’d by three men, I suppose was gone; for I could hear nothing of it.
But the remains of the Roman fortification or encampment between Sheffield and Rotherham, is there still, and very plain to be seen, and, I suppose, may remain so to the end of time.
Here is also the famous bank or trench which some call Devil’s Bank, others Danes Bank; but ’tis frequent with us to give the honour of such great trenches, which they think was never worth the while for men to dig, to the devil, as if he had more leisure, or that it was less trouble to him than to a whole army of men. This bank, ’tis said, runs five mile in length; in some places ’tis called Kemp Bank, in others Temple’s Bank.
Rotherham was the next town of any bulk in which, how- ever, I saw nothing of note, except a fine stone bridge over the Don, which is here encreased by the River Rother, from whence the town, I suppose, took its name, as the famous Bishop Rotherham did his from the town: I will not say he was a foundling child in the streets, and so was sirnamed from the place, as is often suggested in such cases, though if he was so, it did not diminish his character, which was that of a great and good man. He was Archbishop of York, and was a great bene- factor to this town, having founded a college here; but it seems it has been a long while ago.
From Rotherham we turned north west to Wentworth, on purpose to see the old seat of Tankersly, and the park, where I saw the largest red deer that, I believe, are in this part of Europe: One of the hinds, I think, was larger than my horse, and he was not a very small pad of fourteen hands and half high. This was antiently the dwelling of the great Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, beheaded in King Charles the First’s time, by a law, ex post facto, voted afterward not to be drawn into a precedent. The body lies interred in Wentworth Church.
Thence over vast moors, I had almost said waste moors, we entred the most populous part of this county, I mean of the West Riding, only passing a town call’d Black Barnsley, eminent still for the working in iron and steel; and indeed the very town looks as black and smoaky as if they were all smiths that lived in it; tho’ it is not, I suppose, called Black Barnsley on that account, but for the black hue or colour of the moors, which, being covered with heath, (or heather, as ’tis called in that country) look all black, like Bagshot Heath, near Windsor; after, I say, we had pass’d these moors, we came to a most rich, pleasant and populous country, and the first town of note we came to in it was Wakefield, a large, handsome, rich clothing town, full of people, and full of trade.
The Calder passes through this town under a stately stone bridge of twelve arches, upon which is a famous building, by some called a chapel, by others a castle; the former is the most likely; It was built by Edward IV. in memory of the fatal Battle of Wakefield, wherein his father, Richard, Duke of York, was killed by the Lancastrian army, under the command of Margaret, queen to Henry VI. anno 1460. It was indeed a fatal battle; but as that is not any part of this work, I leave it to the historians to give a fuller account of it; only one thing I must add, namely, that a little on this side of the town, I mean south between Wakefield, and a village called Sandal, they shewed us a little square piece of ground, which was fenced off by it self; and on which, before the late war, stood a large stone cross, in memory of that fatal battle; just upon that spot, the Duke of York fighting desperately, and refusing to yield, tho’ surrounded with enemies, was kill’d. The chapel on the bridge at Wakefield, the other monument of this battle, is now made use of for civil affairs; for we do not now pray for the souls of those slain in battle, and so the intent of that building ceases.
Wakefield is a clean, large, well-built town, very populous and very rich; here is a very large church, and well filled it is, for here are very few Dissenters; the steeple is a very fine spire, and by far the highest in all this part of the country, except that at Sheffield. They tell us, there are here more people also than in the city of York, and yet it is no Corporation town; and he highest magistrate, as I understand, was a constable.
Here also is a market every Friday for woollen cloaths, after the manner of that at Leeds, tho’ not so great; yet as all the cloathing trade is encreasing in this country, so this market too flourishes with the rest; not but that sometimes, as foreign markets receive interruption either by wars, by a glut of the goods, or by any other incident, there are interruptions of the manufacture too, which, when it happen, the clothiers are sure to complain of loss of trade; but when the demand comes again they are not equally forward with their acknowledgments; and this, I observed, was the case every where else, as well as here.
I cannot pass by my former observation here, namely, how evidently all the great rivers take their beginning in the mountains of Blackstone Edge and High Peak, which, as I have said, part the counties of Lancaster and York, and how these rivers take all their course due east. The Don was the first; the next is the Calder, coming now to be a very large river at Wakefield; and the Aire is the next, which, running another course, of which I shall speak presently, receives the Calder into it.
The River Calder, of which I shall give an account by and by, having trac’d it from its beginning, receiving a mighty confluence of rivers into it, is now, as I have said, become a large river, and the first town it comes near of note is Huthersfield, another large cloathing place; it passes also by Eland, where there is a very fine stone bridge. This was the original seat of the Earls or Marquisses of Hallifax, when the title went in the name of Saville. Huthersfield is one of the five towns which carry on that vast cloathing trade by which the wealth and opulence of this part of the country has been raised to what it now is, and there those woollen manufactures are made in such prodigious quantities, which are known by the name of Yorkshire Kersies. Whether the scandal upon this country be just or not, (viz.) shrinking cloth and sharping k ——— s, that I will not take upon me to determine; at this town there is a market for kersies every Tuesday.
Nor, as I speak of their manufactures, must I forget that most essential manufacture called Yorkshire Ale, which indeed is in its perfection here, and in all this part of the county; of which I shall speak again in its place.
As the Calder rises in Blackstone Edge, so the Aire, another of the Yorkshire rivers, rises, tho’ in the same ridge of hills, yet more particularly at the foot of the mountain Pennigent, on the edge of Lancashire, of which ’tis said proverbially:
Pendle-Hill and Pennigent,
Are the highest hills between Scotland and Trent.
As the Calder runs by Hallifax, Huthersfield, and through Wakefield; so the Aire runs by Skippon, Bradforth and thorough Leeds, and then both join at Castleford Bridge, near Pontefract, so in an united stream forming that useful navigation from this trading part of Yorkshire to Hull; to the infinite advantage of the whole country, and which, as I took a singular satisfaction in visiting and enquiring into, so I believe you will be no less delighted in reading the account of it, which will be many ways both useful and very instructive; and the more so, because none of the pretended travel-writers and journeyers thro’ England, have yet thought this most remarkable part of our country worth their speaking of, or knew not how to go about it: Nor have they so much as mentioned this whole part of England, which is, on many accounts, the most considerable of all the northern division of this nation.
It is not easie to take a view of this populous and wealthy part, called the West Riding, at one, no, nor at two journies, unless you should dwell upon it, and go cross the country backward and forward, on purpose to see this or that considerable place. This is perhaps the reason why, as I hinted above, the other writers of journies and travels this way might not see how to go about it. But, as I was resolved to have a perfect knowledge of the most remarkable things, and especially of the manufactures of England, which I take to be as well worth a traveller’s notice, as the most curious thing he can meet with, and which is so prodigious great in this quarter, I made no less than three journies into, and thro’, this part of the country.
In my first journey I came only west from York to Wakefield, and then, turning south by Barnsley to Doncaster, went away still south to Rotherham, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Chatsworth, and the Peak, all which journey, except York, and the towns about it, and in the way to it, I have mentioned already.
The second journey, I came out of the western part of England, namely, from Cheshire thro’ Lancashire, and, passing east over those Andes of England, called Blackstone Edge, and the mountains, which, as I hinted before, part Yorkshire and Lancashire, and reach from the High Peak to Scotland, I came to Hallifax, Bradforth, Huthersfield, Leeds, Wetherby, Pontefract and Burrow Bridge, and so went away into the East Riding, as you have heard.
The third journey, I went from the Peak in Derbyshire again, and, traversing the same country as I returned by the first journey as far as Wakefield, went on again north to Leeds, and thence over Harwood Bridge to Knaresborough Spaw, thence to Rippon, and thro’ that old Roman street-way, called Leeming Lane, to Pier’s Bridge, thence to Durham, and so into Scotland; of all which in their order.
If, by all these circuits, and traversing the country so many ways, which I name for the reasons above, I am not furnished to give a particular account of the most remarkable things, I must have spent my time very ill, and ought not to let you know how often I went through it.
In my second journey, as above, I came from Lancashire, where you are to note, that all this part of the country is so considerable for its trade, that the Post-Master General had thought fit to establish a cross-post thro’ all the western part of England into it, to maintain the correspondence of merchants and men of business, of which all this side of the island is so full; this is a confirmation of what I have so often repeated, and may still repeat many times on farther occasion, of the greatness of the trade carried on in this part of the island. This cross-post begins at Plymouth, in the south west part of England, and, leaving the great western post road of Excester behind, comes away north to Taunton, Bridgwater and Bristol; from thence goes on thro’ all the great cities and towns up the Severn; such as Gloucester, Worcester, Bridgenorth and Shrewsbury, thence by West-Chester to Liverpool and Warrington, from whence it turns away east, and passes to Manchester, Bury, Rochdale, Hallifax, Leeds, and York, and ends at Hull.
By this means the merchants at Hull have immediate advice of their ships which go out of the channel, and come in; by their letters from Plymouth, as readily as the merchants at London, and without the double charge of postage. The shop-keepers and manufacturers can correspond with their dealers at Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol, nay, even with Ireland directly; without the tedious interruption of sending their letters about by London, or employing people at London to forward their packets; and as the trade on this side is exceeding great, this correspondence is a mighty advantage; nor is the encrease of the revenue by it inconsiderable, the quantity of letters which pass and repass this way, being, as I was told, in all places very great.
I follow’d this post-road, from Liverpool to Bury and Rochdale, both manufacturing towns in Lancashire, and the last very considerable, for a sort of course goods, called half-thicks and kersies, and the market for them is very great, tho’ otherwise the town is situated so remote, so out of the way, and so at the very foot of the mountains, that we may suppose it would be but little frequented.
Here, for our great encouragement, though we were but at the middle of August, and in some places the harvest was hardly got in, we saw the mountains covered with snow, and felt the cold very acute and piercing; but even here we found, as in all those northern countries is the case, the people had an extraordinary way of mixing the warm and the cold very happily together; for the store of good ale which flows plentifully in the most mountainous part of this country, seems abundantly to make up for all the inclemencies of the season, or difficulties of travelling, adding also the plenty of coals for firing, which all those hills are full of.
We mounted the hills, fortified with the same precaution, early in the morning, and though the snow which had fallen in the night lay a little upon the ground, yet we thought it was not much; and the morning being calm and clear, we had no apprehension of an uneasy passage, neither did the people at Rochdale, who kindly directed us the way, and even offered to guide us over the first mountains, apprehend any difficulty for us; so we complimented our selves out of their assistance, which we afterwards very much wanted.
It was, as I say, calm and clear, and the sun shone when we came out of the town of Rochdale; but when we began to mount the hills, which we did within a mile, or little more of the town, we found the wind began to rise, and the higher we went the more wind; by which I soon perceived that it had blown before, and perhaps all night upon the hills, tho’ it was calm below; as we ascended higher it began to snow again, that is to say, we ascended into that part where it was snowing, and had, no doubt, been snowing all night, as we could easily see by the thickness of the snow.
It is not easy to express the consternation we were in when we came up near the top of the mountain; the wind blew exceeding hard, and blew the snow so directly in our faces, and that so thick, that it was impossible to keep our eyes open to see our way. The ground also was so covered with snow, that we could see no track, or when we were in the way, or when out; except when we were shewed it by a frightful precipice on one hand, and uneven ground on the other; even our horses discovered their uneasiness at it; and a poor spaniel dog that was my fellow traveller, and usually diverted us with giving us a mark for our gun, turn’d tail to it and cry’d.
In the middle of this difficulty, and as we began to call to one another to turn back again, not knowing what dangers might still be before us, came a surprizing clap of thunder, the first that ever I heard in a storm of snow, or, I believe, ever shall; nor did we perceive any lightning to precede the thunder, as must naturally be the case; but we supposed the thick falling of the snow might prevent our sight.
I must confess I was very much surprized at this blow; and one of our company would not be persuaded that it was thunder, but that it was some blast of a coal-pit, things which do sometimes happen in the country, where there are many coal mines. But we were all against him in that, and were fully satisfied that it was thunder, and, as we fancy’d, at last we were confirmed in it, by hearing more of it at a distance from us.
Upon this we made a full stop, and coming altogether, for we were then three in company, with two servants, we began to talk seriously of going back again to Rochdale; but just then one of our men called out to us, and said, he was upon the top of the hill, and could see over into Yorkshire, and that there was a plain way down on the other side.
We rode all up to him, and found it as the fellow had said, all but that of a plain way; there was indeed the mark or face of a road on the side of the hill, a little turning to the left north; but it was so narrow, and so deep a hollow place on the right, whence the water descending from the hills made a channel at the bottom, and looked as the beginning of a river, that the depth of the precipice, and the narrowness of the way, look’d horrible to us; after going a little way in it, the way being blinded too by the snow, the hollow on the right appeared deeper and deeper, so we resolved to alight and lead our horses, which we did for about a mile, though the violence of the wind and snow continuing, it was both very troublesome and dangerous.
The only reliefs we had in this track were, (1.) That we perceived some land marks, or tokens, which the honest Rochdale men had given us notice of, by which we believed we were right in the way; for till then we knew nothing where we were, or whether we were right or wrong. And, (2.) that as the road we were in descended apace, for it went very steep down, we found the lower we went the violence of the snow abated, just as on the other side of the hill the higher we went, it had encreased.
At length, to our great joy, we found too the wind abated, as well as the snow, that is to say, the hills being so high behind us, they kept back the wind, as is the case under a high wall, though you are on the windward side of it, yet the wind having no passage through, is not felt, as it would be on the top where the space is open for it to pass.
All this way the hollow on our right continued very deep, and just on the other side of it a parallel hill continued going on east, as that did which we rode on the side of; the main hill which we came down from, which is properly called Blackstone Edge, or, by the country people, the Edge, without any sirname or addition, ran along due north, crossing and shutting up those hollow gulls and vallies between, which were certainly originally formed by the rain and snow water running into them, and forcing its way down, washing the earth gradually along with it, till, by length of time, it wore down the surface to such a depth.
We continued descending still, and as the weather was quieter, so the way seemed to mend and be broader, and, to our great satisfaction, enclining more to the hill on the left; the precipice and hollow part where the water run, as I have said, went a little off from us, and by and by, to our no small comfort, we saw an enclosed piece of ground that is enclosed with a stone wall, and soon after a house, where we asked our way, and found we were right.
Soon after this we came to the bottom, by another very steep descent, where we were obliged to alight again, and lead our horses. At the bottom, we found the hollow part, which I have so often mentioned as a precipice, was come to a level with us, that is to say, we were come down to a level with it, and it turning to the left toward us, we found a brook of water running from it, which cross’d our way to the north, you shall hear of it again presently; when we cross’d this brook, which, by reason of the snow on the hills which melted, was risen about knee deep, and run like a sluice for strength, we found a few poor houses, but saw no people, no not one; till we call’d at a door, to get directions of our way, and then we found, that though there was no body to be seen without doors, they were very full of people within, and so we found it on several occasions afterward, of which we shall speak again.
We thought now we were come into a Christian country again, and that our difficulties were over; but we soon found our selves mistaken in the matter; for we had not gone fifty yards beyond the brook and houses adjacent, but we found the way began to ascend again, and soon after to go up very steep, till in about half a mile we found we had another mountain to ascend, in our apprehansion as bad as the first, and before we came to the top of it, we found it began to snow too, as it had done before.
But, to cut short the tedious day’s work, the case was this; the hill was very high, and, in our opinion, not inferior to the Edge which we came just down from; but the sun being higher, and the wind not blowing so hard, what snow fell upon the hill melted as it fell, and so we saw our way plainer, and master’d the hill, though with some labour, yet not any terror or apprehensions of losing our way, falling down precipices, and the like.
But our case was still this; that as soon as we were at the top of every hill, we had it to come down again on the other side; and as soon as we were down we had another to mount, and that immediately; for I do not remember that there was one bottom that had any considerable breadth of plain ground in it, but always a brook in the valley running from those gulls and deeps between the hills, with this remark, that they always cross’d our way in the bottoms from the right-hand to the left, the reason of which you shall see presently.
From Blackstone Edge to Hallifax is eight miles, and all the way, except from Sorby to Hallifax, is thus up hill and down; so that, I suppose, we mounted to the clouds and descended to the water level about eight times, in that little part of the journey.
But now I must observe to you, that after having pass’d the second hill, and come down into the valley again, and so still the nearer we came to Hallifax, we found the houses thicker, and the villages greater in every bottom; and not only so, but the sides of the hills, which were very steep every way, were spread with houses, and that very thick; for the land being divided into small enclosures, that is to say, from two acres to six or seven acres each, seldom more; every three or four pieces of land had a house belonging to it.
Then it was I began to perceive the reason and nature of the thing, and found that this division of the land into small pieces, and scattering of the dwellings, was occasioned by, and done for the convenience of the business which the people were generally employ’d in, and that, as I said before, though we saw no people stirring without doors, yet they were all full within; for, in short, this whole country, however mountainous, and that no sooner we were down one hill but we mounted another, is yet infinitely full of people; those people all full of business; not a beggar, not an idle person to be seen, except here and there an alms-house, where people antient, decrepid, and past labour, might perhaps be found; for it is observable, that the people here, however laborious, generally live to a great age, a certain testimony to the goodness and wholesomness of the country, which is, without doubt, as healthy as any part of England; nor is the health of the people lessen’d, but help’d and establish’d by their being constantly employ’d, and, as we call it, their working hard; so that they find a double advantage by their being always in business.
This business is the clothing trade, for the convenience of which the houses are thus scattered and spread upon the sides of the hills, as above, even from the bottom to the top; the reason is this; such has been the bounty of nature to this otherwise frightful country, that two things essential to the business, as well as to the ease of the people are found here, and that in a situation which I never saw the like of in any part of England; and, I believe, the like is not to be seen so contrived in any part of the world; I mean coals and running water upon the tops of the highest hills: This seems to have been directed by the wise hand of Providence for the very purpose which is now served by it, namely, the manufactures, which otherwise could not be carried on; neither indeed could one fifth part of the inhabitants be supported without them, for the land could not maintain them. After we had mounted the third hill, we found the country, in short, one continued village, tho’ mountainous every way, as before; hardly a house standing out of a speaking distance from another, and (which soon told us their business) the day clearing up, and the sun shining, we could see that almost at every house there was a tenter, and almost on every tenter a piece of cloth, or kersie, or shalloon, for they are the three articles of that country’s labour; from which the sun glancing, and, as I may say, shining (the white reflecting its rays) to us, I thought it was the most agreeable sight that I ever saw, for the hills, as I say, rising and falling so thick, and the vallies opening sometimes one way, sometimes another, so that sometimes we could see two or three miles this way, sometimes as far another; sometimes like the streets near St. Giles’s, called the Seven Dials; we could see through the glades almost every way round us, yet look which way we would, high to the tops, and low to the bottoms, it was all the same; innumerable houses and tenters, and a white piece upon every tenter.
But to return to the reason of dispersing the houses, as above; I found, as our road pass’d among them, for indeed no road could do otherwise, wherever we pass’d any house we found a little rill or gutter of running water, if the house was above the road, it came from it, and cross’d the way to run to another; if the house was below us, it cross’d us from some other distant house above it, and at every considerable house was a manufactury or work-house, and as they could not do their business without water, the little streams were so parted and guided by gutters or pipes, and by turning and dividing the streams, that none of those houses were without a river, if I may call it so, running into and through their work-houses.
Again, as the dying-houses, scouring-shops and places where they used this water, emitted the water again, ting’d with the drugs of the dying fat, and with the oil, the soap, the tallow, and other ingredients used by the clothiers in dressing and scouring, &c. which then runs away thro’ the lands to the next. the grounds are not only universally watered, how dry soever the season, but that water so ting’d and so fatten’d enriches the lands they run through, that ’tis hardly to be imagined how fertile and rich the soil is made by it.
Then, as every clothier must keep a horse, perhaps two, to fetch and carry for the use of his manufacture, (viz.) to fetch home his wooll and his provisions from the market, to carry his yarn to the spinners, his manufacture to the fulling mili, and, when finished, to the market to be sold, and the like; so every manufacturer generally keeps a cow or two, or more, for his family, and this employs the two, or three, or four pieces of enclosed land about his house, for they scarce sow corn enough for their cocks and hens; and this feeding their grounds still adds by the dung of the cattle, to enrich the soil.
But now, to speak of the bounty of nature again, which I but just mentioned; it is to be observed, that these hills are so furnished by nature with springs and mines, that not only on the sides, but even to the very tops, there is scarce a hill but you find, on the highest part of it, a spring of water, and a coal-pit. I doubt not but there are both springs and coal-pits lower in the hills, ’tis enough to say they are at the top; but, as I say, the hills are so full of springs, so the lower coal-pits may perhaps be too full of water, to work without dreins to carry it off, and the coals in the upper pits being easie to come at, they may chuse to work them, because the horses which fetch the coals, go light up the hill, and come loaden down.
Having thus fire and water at every dwelling, there is no need to enquire why they dwell thus dispers’d upon the highest hills, the convenience of the manufactures requiring it. Among the manufacturers houses are likewise scattered an infinite number of cottages or small dwellings, in which dwell the workmen which are employed, the women and children of whom, are always busy carding, spinning, &c. so that no hands being unemploy’d, all can gain their bread, even from the youngest to the antient; hardly any thing above four years old, but its hands are sufficient to it self.
This is the reason also why we saw so few people without doors; but if we knock’d at the door of any of the master manufacturers, we presently saw a house full of lusty fellows, some at the dye-fat, some dressing the cloths, some in the loom, some one thing, some another, all hard at work, and full employed upon the manufacture, and all seeming to have sufficient business.
I should not have dwelt so upon this part, if there was not abundance of things subsequent to it, which will be explained by this one description, and which are needful to be understood by any one that desires a full understanding of the manner how the people of England are employed, and do subsist in these remoter parts where they are so numerous; for this is one of the most populous parts of Britain, London and the adjacent parts excepted.
Having thus described the country, and the employment of the people, I am to tell you, that this part of it which I mentioned, is all belonging to and in the parish of Hallifax, and that brings me on towards the town which I shall speak of presently.
I must only say a word or two of the River Calder, to compleat the description of the country I thus pass’d through. I hinted to you, that all the rills or brooks of water which we cross’d, one at least in every bottom, went away to the left or north side of us as we went forward east: I am to add, that following those little brooks with our eye, we could observe, that at some distance to the left there appeared a larger valley than the rest, into which not only all the brooks which we pass’d emptied themselves, but abundance more from the like hollow deep bottoms, among the hills on the north side of it, which emptied this way south, as those on our side run that way north, so that it was natural to conclude, that in this larger valley the waters of all those brooks joining, there must be some pretty large stream which received them all, and ran forward east, parallel to the way we were in.
After some time we found that great opening seemed to bend southward towards us, and that probably it would cross our road, or our road would rather cross the valley; and so it was natural to expect we should pass that larger water, either by a bridge or a ford; but we were soon convinced it was not the latter; for the snow, as is said, having poured down a quantity of water, we soon found at the next opening, that there was a considerable river in the larger valley, which, having received all those little brooks, was risen to a little flood; and at the next village we pass’d it over a stately stone bridge of several great arches. This village is called Sorby or Sowreby; and this was the main River Calder, which I mentioned at Wakefield, where it begins to be navigable, and which, without any spring or fountain, to be called the head or source of it, is formed on the declivity of these mountains, meerly by the continued fall of rains and snows, which the said mountains intercepting the clouds, are seldom free from; and this stream receiving the smaller gulls and hollows, I just now mentioned, like a common-shore, carries all away in the channel of a noble river.
This is the beginning of the Calder; and my reason for dwelling upon it, and giving so particular a description, is, because this may, once for all, shew you how all, or most of the great rivers in the north, take their rise, there being hardly any that has their beginning in any publick springs or lakes, as most of the rivers in the south of England have, as the Thames, for example, near Tring in Hertfordshire, the Vandal at Croydon and Cashalton, the Amewell at Ware, and the like.
As the Calder is thus nothing but a collection of water from the fall of these mountains, so was the Derwent, and the Don, from the High Peak, and the hills of the same range more south of the edge, and so is the Aire, the Wharf, the Swale, the Eure, the Nid, the Tees, and the Were, all in the same county of York; and so the Tyne, the Cockett, the Till, and the Tweed, farther north; and even the like of the Forth, the Tay, the Clyde, the Nyd, in Scotland; also the Mersee, the Ribble, the Rocke and the Lune, the West Calder, the Lowther and the Eden, on the other side of these mountains, in Lancashire, Westmoreland and Cumberland. And thus this description will serve for all the rest.
Having thus, I say, accounted for them all at once; I shall only mention them now as they come in my way; for you will observe, I cross’d one or other of them at every considerable town; for all the rivers as well in England as in Scotland, north of this place, run from the middle of the country where these mountains rise, either east into the German, or west into the Irish sea. None of them run like the Severn, or the Wye, or the rivers in South Wales, or the Exe in Devon, or the Avon in Wilts, or the Arun in Sussex, and others north and south. But I return to the north.
Having passed the Calder at Sorby Bridge, I now began to approach the town of Hallifax; in the description of which, and its dependencies, all my account of the commerce will come in, for take Hallifax, with all its dependencies, it is not to be equalled in England. First, the parish or vicaridge, for it is but a vicaridge; is, if not the largest, certainly the most populous in England; in short, it is a monster, I mean, for a country parish, and a parish so far out of the way of foreign trade, Courts, or sea ports.
The extent of the parish, they tell us, is almost circular, and is about twelve miles in diameter. There are in it twelve or thirteen chapels of ease, besides about sixteen meeting-houses, which they call also chapels, and are so, having bells to call the people, and burying grounds to most of them, or else they bury within them. I think they told me, the Quakers meetings, of which there are several too, are not reckoned into the number. In a word, it is some years ago that a reverend clergyman of the town of Hallifax, told me, they reckoned that they had a hundred thousand communicants in the parish, besides children.
History tells us also, that in Queen Elizabeth’s time, when the inhabitants of Hallifax addressed the queen for some privileges, which I do not at present remember the particulars of, it was expressed in the petition as a moving argument, why the queen should take them into her royal care, that they were zealous Protestants, and were so loyal to her majesty, as well as so considerable, that no less than twelve thousand young men went out arm’d from this one parish, and, at her majesty’s call, joined her troops to fight the Popish army, then in rebellion under the Earl of Westmorland.
If they were so populous at that time, how much must they be encreased since? and especially since the late Revolution, the trade having been prodigiously encouraged and encreased by the great demand of their kersies for clothing the armies abroad, insomuch that it is the opinion of some that know the town, and its bounds very well, that the number of people in the vicaridge of Hallifax, is encreased one fourth, at least, within the last forty years, that is to say, since the late Revolution. Nor is it improbable at all, for besides the number of houses which are encreased, they have entered upon a new manufacture which was never made in those parts before, at least, not in any quantities, I mean, the manufactures of shalloons, of which they now make, if fame does not bely them, a hundred thousand pieces a year in this parish only, and yet do not make much fewer kersies than they did before.
The trade in kersies also was so great, that I was told by very creditable, honest men, when I was there, men not given to gasconading or boasting, and less to lying, that there was one dealer in the vicaridge, who traded, by commission, for three-score thousand pounds a year in kersies only, and all that to Holland and Hamburgh.
But not to enter into particulars, it is evident that the trade must be exceeding great, in that it employs such a very great number of people, and that in this one town only; for, as I shall fully describe in my account of other places, this is not what I may call the eldest son of the cloathing trade in this county; the town of Leeds challenges a pre-eminence, and I believe, merits the dignity it claims, besides the towns of Huthersfield, Bradforth, Wakefield, and others.
But I must not leave Hallifax yet, as the vicaridge is thus far extended, and the extent of it so peopled, what must the market be, and where must this vast number of people be supplied? For, (I.) as to corn, I have observed already, they sow little and hardly enough to feed their poultry, if they were to be corn fed; and as to beef and mutton, they feed little or none; and as they are surrounded with large, populous, manufacturing towns on every side, all of them employed as these are, in the cloathing trade, they must then necessarily have their provisions from other parts of the country.
This then is a subsistence to the other part of the country, and so it is for us, the West Riding is thus taken up, and the lands occupied by the manufacture; the consequence is plain, their corn comes up in great quantities out of Lincoln, Nottingham, and the East Riding, their black cattle and horses from the North Riding, their sheep and mutton from the adjacent counties every way, their butter from the East and North Riding, their cheese out of Cheshire and Warwickshire, more black cattle also from Lancashire. And here the breeders and feeders, the farmers and country people find money flowing in plenty from the manufacturers and commerce; so that at Hallifax, Leeds, and the other great manufacturing towns so often mentioned, and adjacent to these, for the two months of September and October, a prodigious quantity of black cattle is sold.
This demand for beef is occasioned thus; the usage of the people is to buy in at that season beef sufficient for the whole year, which they kill and salt, and hang up in the smoke to dry. This way of curing their beef keeps it all the winter, and they eat this smoak’d beef as a very great rarity.
Upon this foot, ’tis ordinary for a clothier that has a large family, to come to Hallifax on a market-day, and buy two or three large bullocks from eight to ten pounds a piece. These he carries home and kills for his store. And this is the reason that the markets at all those times of the year are thronged with black cattle, as Smithfield is on a Friday; whereas all the rest of the year there is little extraordinary sold there.
Thus this one trading, manufacturing part of the country supports all the countries round it, and the numbers of people settle here as bees about a hive.
As for the town of Hallifax it self, there is nothing extraordinary except on a market-day, and then indeed it is a prodigious thing, by reason of the multitude of people who throng thither, as well to sell their manufactures as to buy provisions; and so great is the confluence of people hither, that, except Leeds and Wakefield, nothing in all the north part of England can come near it.
The church is old, but stately and venerable, and has in it many extraordinary monuments, but most of them of great antiquity. Here is a very good hospital, and a work-house of an antient establishment, and there are several charities, of like sort, in other parts of the parish.
But I must not quit Hallifax, till I give you some account of the famous course of justice antiently executed here, to prevent the stealing of cloth. Modern accounts pretend to say, it was for all sorts of felons; but I am well assured, it was first erected purely, or at least principally, for such thieves as were apprehended stealing cloth from the tenters; and it seems very reasonable to think it was so, because of the conditions of the trial. The case was thus:
The erecting the woollen manufacture here was about the year 1480, when King Henry VII. by giving encouragement to foreigners to settle in England, and to set up woollen manufactures, caused an Act to pass prohibiting the exportation of wooll into foreign parts, unwrought, and to encourage foreign manufacturers to come and settle here, of whom several coming over settled the manufactures of cloths in several parts of the kingdom, as they found the people tractable, and as the country best suited them; as the bays at Colchester, the says at Sudbury, the broad-cloth in Wilts, and other counties; so the trade of kersies and narrow cloth fixed at this place, and other adjacent towns.
When this trade began to settle, nothing was more frequent than for young workmen to leave their cloths out all night upon the tenters, and the idle fellows would come in upon them, and tearing them off without notice, steal the cloth. Now as it was absolutely necessary to preserve the trade in its infancy, this severe law was made, giving the power of life and death so far into the hands of the magistrates of Hallifax, as to see the law executed upon them. As this law was particularly pointed against the stealing of cloth, and no other crime, so no others were capable of being punished by it, and the conditions of the law intimate as much; for the power was not given to the magistrates to give sentence, unless in one of these three plain cases:
Hand napping, that is, to be taken in the very fact, or, as the Scots call it in the case of murther, red hand.
Back bearing, that is, when the cloth was found on the person carrying it off.
Tongue confessing, that part needs no farther explanation.
This being the case, if the criminal was taken, he was brought before the magistrates of the town, who at that time were only a baily and the eoaldermen, how many we do not read, and these were to judge, and sentence, and execute the offender, or clear him, within so many days; I think it was three market days if the offence was committed out of the vicaridge, but within the bounds of the forest then there were frith borges also to judge of the fact, who were to be summoned of the forest holders, as they are called, who were to hold of that frith, that is, of the forest; but those were to be good and sober men, and by the magistrates of the town to be approved as such; if those acquitted him of the fact he was immediately discharged; if those censured him, no body could reprieve him but the town. The country people were, it seems, so terrified at the severity of this proceeding, that hence came that proverbial saying, which was used all over Yorkshire, (viz.)
From Hell, Hull, and Hallifax, Good Lord, deliver us.
How Hull came to be included in this petition, I do not find; for they had no such law there, as I read of.
The manner of execution was very remarkable; the engine indeed is carried away, but the scaffold on which it stood is there to this time, and may continue many ages; being not a frame of wood, but a square building of stone, with stone steps to go up, and the engine it self was made in the following manner.
They tell us of a custom which prevailed here, in the case of a criminal being to be executed, (viz.) that if after his head was laid down, and the signal given to pull out the pin, he could be so nimble as to snatch out his head between the pulling out the pin and the falling down of the ax, and could get up upon his feet, jump off of the scaffold, run down a hill that lies just before it, and get through the river before the executioner could overtake him, and seize upon him, he was to escape; and though the executioner did take him on the other side the river, he was not to bring him back, at least he was not to be executed.
But as they shewed me the form of the scaffold, and the weight of the ax, it was, in my opinion, next to impossible, any man should be so quick-eyed as to see the pulling out the pin, and so quick with his head, as to snatch it out; yet they tell a story of one fellow that did it, and was so bold after he had jumpt off of the scaffold, and was running down the hill, with the executioner at his heels, to turn about and call to the people to give him his hat; that having afterwards jumpt into the river, which is but a little one, and not deep, he stopt, intending to drown the hangman, if he had come up to him; at which the poor fellow stopt too, and was afraid to go into the water to seize him. But this story is said to be too long ago to have any vouchers, though the people indeed all receive it for truth.
The force of this engine is so strong, the head of the ax being loaded with a weight of lead to make it fall heavy, and the execution is so sure, that it takes away all possibility of its failing to cut off the head; and to this purpose, the Hallifax people tell you another story of a country woman, who was riding by upon her doffers or hampers to Hallifax Market, for the execution was always on a market day (the third after the fact) and passing just as the ax was let fall upon the neck of the criminal, it chopt it thro’ with such force, that the head jumpt off into one of her hampers, and that the woman not perceiving it, she carry’d it away to the market.
All the use I shall make of this unlikely story, is this, that it seems executions were so frequent, that it was not thought a sight worth the peoples running out to see; that the woman should ride along so close to the scaffold, and that she should go on, and not so much as stop to see the ax fall, or take any notice of it. But those difficulties seem to be much better solved, by saying, that ’tis as reasonable to think the whole tale is a little Yorkshire, which, I suppose, you will understand well enough.
This engine was removed, as we are told, in the year 1620, during the reign of King James the First, and the usage and custom of prosecution abolished, and criminals or felons left to the ordinary course of justice, as it is still; and yet they do not find the stealing cloth from the tenters is so frequent now as it was in those times.
But the manner of execution is preserv’d; for in the reign of the same prince, the Earl Morton, Regent or Prime Minister of Scotland, under King James, passing thro’ Hallifax, and seeing one of their executions, was so pleased with the performance, that he caused a model to be taken and carried into Scotland, where it is preserved and constantly made use of for executions to this day. But one thing must not be forgotten in this part of the story, namely, that his lordship’s own head was the first that was cut off with it; and it being many years before that happened, the engine was called the Maiden, as not having so long handsell’d, and still retains the name, tho’ it has cut off many a head since that.
We quitted Hallifax not without some astonishment at its situation, being so surrounded with hills, and those so high, as (except the entrance by the west) makes the coming in and going out of it exceeding troublesome, and indeed for carriages hardly practicable, and particularly the hill which they go up to come out of the town eastwards towards Leeds, and which the country people call Hallifax Bank, is so steep, so rugged, and sometimes too so slippery, that, to a town of so much business as this is, ’tis exceeding troublesome and dangerous.
From Hallifax it is twelve miles to Leeds north east, and about as many to Wakefield; due east, or a little southerly, between Hallifax and Leeds, is a little town called Burstall. Here the kersey and shalloon trade being, as it were, confined to Hallifax, and the towns already named, of Huthersfield and Bradforth, they begin to make broad cloth; I call it broad, in distinction from kersies and druggets, and such things, though the cloths in this country are called narrow, when they are spoken of in London, and compared with the broad cloths made in Wilts, Gloucester, Somerset and Devonshire, of which I have spoken in former letters.
This town is famed for dying, and they make a sort of cloths here in imitation of the Gloucester white cloths, bought for the Dutch and the Turkey trades; and though their cloths here may not be as fine, they told us their colours are as good. But that is not my business to dispute, the west country clothiers deny it; and so I leave it as I find it.
From hence to Leeds, and every way to the right hand and the left, the country appears busy, diligent, and even in a hurry of work, they are not scattered and dispersed as in the vicaridge of Hallifax, where the houses stand one by one; but in villages, those villages large, full of houses, and those houses thronged with people, for the whole country is infinitely populous.
A noble scene of industry and application is spread before you here, and which, joined to the market at Leeds, where it chiefly centers, is such a surprising thing, that they who have pretended to give an account of Yorkshire, and have left this out, must betray an ignorance not to be accounted for, or excused; ’tis what is well worth the curiosity of a stranger to go on purpose to see; and many travellers and gentlemen have come over from Hamburgh, nay, even from Leipsick in Saxony, on purpose to see it.
And this brought me from the villages where this manufacture is wrought, to the market where it is sold, which is at Leeds.
Leeds is a large, wealthy and populous town, it stands on the north bank of the River Aire, or rather on both sides the river, for there is a large suburb or part of the town on the south side of the river, and the whole is joined by a stately and prodigiously strong stone bridge, so large, and so wide, that formerly the cloth market was kept in neither part of the town, but on the very bridge it self; and therefore the refreshment given the clothiers by the inn-keepers, of which I shall speak presently is called the Brigg-shot to this day.
The encrease of the manufacturers and of the trade, soon made the market too great to be confined to the brigg or bridge, and it is now kept in the High-street, beginning from the bridge, and running up north almost to the market-house, where the ordinary market for provisions begins, which also is the greatest of its kind in all the north of England, except Hallifax, of which I have spoken already, nay, the people at Leeds will not allow me to except Hallifax, but say, that theirs is the greatest market, and that not the greatest plenty only, but the best of all kinds of provisions are brought hither.
But this is not the case; it is the cloth market I am now to describe, which is indeed a prodigy of its kind, and is not to be equalled in the world. The market for serges at Exeter is indeed a wonderful thing, and the value sold there is very great; but then the market there is but once a week, here it is twice a week, and the quantity of goods vastly great too.
The market it self is worth describing, tho’ no description can come up to the thing it self; however, take a sketch of it with its customs and usages as follows:
The street is a large, broad, fair, and well-built street, beginning, as I have said, at the bridge, and ascending gently to the north.
Early in the morning, there are tressels placed in two rows in the street, sometimes two rows on a side, but always one row at least; then there are boards laid cross those tressels, so that the boards lie like long counters on either side, from one end of the street to the other.
The clothiers come early in the morning with their cloth; and as few clothiers bring more than one piece, the market being so frequent, they go into the inns and publick-houses with it, and there set it down.
At seven a clock in the morning, the clothiers being supposed to be all come by that time, even in the winter, but the hour is varied as the seasons advance (in the summer earlier, in the depth of winter a little later) I take it, at a medium, and as it was when I was there, at six or seven, I say, the market bell rings; it would surprize a stranger to see in how few minutes, without hurry or noise, and not the least disorder, the whole market is fill’d; all the boards upon the tressels are covered with cloth, close to one another as the pieces can lie long ways by one another, and behind every piece of cloth, the clothier standing to sell it.
This indeed is not so difficult, when we consider that the whole quantity is brought into the market as soon as one piece, because as the clothiers stand ready in the inns and shops just behind, and that there is a clothier to every piece, they have no more to do, but, like a regiment drawn up in line, every one takes up his piece, and has about five steps to march to lay it upon the first row of boards, and perhaps ten to the second row; so that upon the market bell ringing, in half a quarter of an hour the whole market is fill’d, the rows of boards cover’d, and the clothiers stand ready.
As soon as the bell has done ringing, the merchants and factors, and buyers of all sorts, come down, and coming along the spaces between the rows of boards, they walk up the rows, and down as their occasions direct. Some of them have their foreign letters of orders, with patterns seal’d on them, in rows, in their hands; and with those they match colours, holding them to the cloths as they think they agree to; when they see any cloths to their colours, or that suit their occasions, they reach over to the clothier and whisper, and in the fewest words imaginable the price is stated; one asks, the other bids; and ’tis agree, or not agree, in a moment.
The merchants and buyers generally walk down and up twice on each side of the rows, and in little more than an hour all the business is done; in less than half an hour you will perceive the cloths begin to move off, the clothier taking it up upon his shoulder to carry it to the merchant’s house; and by half an hour after eight a clock the market bell rings again; immediately the buyers disappear, the cloth is all sold, or if here and there a piece happens not to be bought, ’tis carried back into the inn, and, in a quarter of an hour, there is not a piece of cloth to be seen in the market.
Thus, you see, ten or twenty thousand pounds value in cloth, and sometimes much more, bought and sold in little more than an hour, and the laws of the market the most strictly observed as ever I saw done in any market in England; for,
Before the market bell rings, no man shews a piece of cloth, nor can the clothiers sell any but in open market. .
After the market bell rings again, no body stays a moment in the market, but carries his cloth back if it be not sold. .
And that which is most admirable is, ’tis all managed with the most profound silence, and you cannot hear a word spoken in the whole market, I mean, by the persons buying and selling; ’tis all done in whisper.
The reason of this silence, is chiefly because the clothiers stand so near to one another; and ’tis always reasonable that one should not know what another does, for that would be discovering their business, and exposing it to one another.
If a merchant has bidden a clothier a price, and he will not take it, he may go after him to his house, and tell him he has considered of it, and is willing to let him have it but they are not to make any new agreement for it, so as to remove the market from the street to the merchant’s house.
By nine a clock the boards are taken down, the tressels are removed, and the street cleared, so that you see no market or goods any more than if there had been nothing to do; and this is done twice a week. By this quick return the clothiers are constantly supplied with money, their workmen are duly paid, and a prodigious sum circulates thro’ the county every week.
If you should ask upon all this, where all these goods, as well here as at Wakefield, and at Hallifax, are vented and disposed of? It would require a long treatise of commerce to enter into that part: But that I may not bring you into the labyrinth, and not show you the way out, I shall, in three short heads, describe the consumption, for there are three channels by which it goes:
For the home consumption; their goods being, as I may say, every where made use of, for the cloathing the ordinary people, who cannot go to the price of the fine medley cloths made, as I formerly gave you an account, in the western counties of England. There are for this purpose a set of travelling merchants in Leeds, who go all over England with droves of pack horses, and to all the fairs and market towns over the whole island, I think I may say none excepted. Here they supply not the common people by retail, which would denominate them pedlars indeed, but they supply the shops by wholesale or whole pieces; and not only so, but give large credit too, so that they are really travelling merchants, and as such they sell a very great quantity of goods; ’tis ordinary for one of these men to carry a thousand pounds value of cloth with them at a time, and having sold it at the fairs or towns where they go, they send their horses back for as much more, and this very often in a summer, for they chuse to travel in the summer, and perhaps towards the winter time, tho’ as little in winter as they can, because of the badness of the roads.
Another sort of buyers are those who buy to send to London; either by commissions from London, or they give commissions to factors and warehouse-keepers in London to sell for them; and these drive also a very great trade: These factors and warehouse-keepers not only supply all the shop-keepers and wholesale men in London, but sell also very great quantities to the merchants, as well for exportation to the English colonies in America, which take off great quantities of those course goods, especially New England, New York, Virginia, &c. as also to the Russia merchants, who send an exceeding quantity to Petersburgh, Riga, Dantzic, Narva, and to Sweden and Pomerania.
The third sort of buyers, and who are not less considerable than the other, are truly merchants, that is to say, such as receive commissions from abroad to buy cloth for the merchants chiefly in Hamburgh, and in Holland, and from several other parts; and these are not only many in number, but some of them are very considerable in their dealings, and correspond as far as Nuremberg, Frankfort, Leipsick, and even to Vienna and Ausburgh, in the farthest provinces of Germany.
On account of this trade it was, that some years ago an Act of Parliament was obtained for making the Rivers Aire and Calder navigable; by which a communication by water was opened from Leeds and Wakefield to Hull, and by which means all the woollen manufactures which those merchants now export by commission, as above, is carried by water to Hull, and there shipped for Holland, Bremen, Hamburgh, and the Baltick. And thus you have a brief account, by what methods this vast manufacture is carried off, and which way they find a vent for it.
There is another trade in this part of the country, which is now become very considerable since the opening the navigation of these rivers, and that is, that from hence they carry coals down from Wakefield (especially) and also from Leeds, at both which they have a very great quantity, and such, as they told me, could never be exhausted. These they carry quite down into the Humber, and then up the Ouse to York, and up the Trent, and other rivers, where there are abundance of large towns, who they supply with coals; with this advantage too, that whereas the Newcastle coals pay four shillings per chaldron duty to the publick; these being only called river borne coal, are exempted, and pay nothing; though, strictly speaking, they are carried on the sea too, for the Humber is properly the sea. But they have been hitherto exempted from the tax, and so they carry on the trade to their very great profit and advantage.
I need not add, that by the same navigation they receive all their heavy goods, as well such as are imported at Hull, as such as come from London, and such as other counties supply, as butter, cheese, lead, iron, salt; all sorts of grocery. as sugars, tobacco, fruit, spice, hops, &c. oyl, wine, brandy, spirits, and every sort of heavy or bulky goods.
The town of Leeds is very large, and, as above, there are abundance of wealthy merchants in it. Here are two churches, and two large meeting-houses of Dissenters, and six or seven chapels of ease, besides Dissenters chapels, in the adjacent, depending villages; so that Leeds may not be much inferiour to Hallifax in numbers of people: It is really a surprising thing to see what numbers of people are thronged together in all the villages about these towns, and how busy they all are, being fully employed in this great manufacture.
Before I go forward from hence, I should tell you, that I took a little trip to see the antient town of Pontefract, with that dismal place called the Castle, a place that was really dismal on many accounts, having been a scene of blood in many several ages; for here Henry, the great Earl of Lancaster, who was at the same time lord of the castle, and whose ancestors had beautified and enlarged it exceedingly, and fortified it too, was beheaded, in King Edward the IId’s time, with three or four more of the English barons. Here Richard lid, being deposed and imprisoned, was barbarously murthered, and, if history lies not, in a cruel manner; and here Anthony, Earl Rivers, and Sir Richard Gray, the first uncle, and the last brother-in-law to King Edward the Fifth, were beheaded by that tyrant Richard III. Here, in the late wars, a small party of brave fellows took the castle, by surprise, for the king, and having desperately defended it to the last extremity, and being obliged to yield, five of them attempted to break thro’ the besiegers camp, three of whom perished in the attempt.
The town is large and well built, but much smaller than it has been; the castle lies in its ruins, tho’ not demolished; within a mile of it is Ferry Bridge, where there is a great stone bridge over the Aire and Calder (then united) and a large stone causeway, above a mile in length, to a town call’d Brotherton, where Queen Margaret, wife of King Edward the First, was delivered of a son, being surprised as she was abroad taking the air, some histories say, a hunting; but, I must confess, it seems not very probable, that queens big with child, and within a few hours of their time, should ride a hunting. Be that as it will, here her majesty was catch’d (as the women call it) and forc’d to take up, and brought forth a son, who was christened Thomas, and sirnamed from the place, De Brotherton; he afterwards was a famous man, and was made Earl of Norfolk, and Earl Marshal of England; which office is hereditary to the title of Norfolk to this day. A little on the south side of this village the road parts, and one way goes on to the right towards Tadcaster, and so to York, of which in its order; the other, being the high-post road for Scotland, goes on to Wetherby, over Bramham Moor, famous for a fight between the Royalists and the fam’d Sir Thomas Fairfax, in which the last was worsted and wounded, but made a retreat, which gain’d him as great reputation as a victory would have done.
Near the road is a noble seat of Benson, Lord Bingly, an antient family, raised to the dignity of a peer in the person of the present Lord Bingly, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the time of the late Queen Anne, and nominated her majesty’s Ambassador Extraordinary to the Court of Spain; but the queen dying, that embassy was laid aside. It is a fine, new built, beautiful house, with very curious gardens, tho’ not large. Wetherby is a small town, but being a great thoroughfare to the north, has several good inns, and a very lofty stone bridge over the River Wharfe, which comes down from the hills also, as the rest do.
But I must go back to Pontefract, to take notice, that here again the great Roman highway, which I mentioned at Doncaster, and which is visible from thence in several places on the way to Pontefract, though not in the open road, is apparent again, and from Castleford Bridge, which is another bridge over the united rivers of Aire and Calder, it goes on to Abberforth, a small market town famous for pin-making, and so to Tadcaster and York. But I mention it here on this present occasion, for otherwise these remains of antiquity are not my province in this undertaking; I say, ’tis on this occasion.
1. That in some places this causeway being cut into and broken up, the eminent care of the Romans for making firm causeways for the convenience of carriage, and for the passing of travellers, is to be seen there. The layings of different sorts of earth, as clay at the bottom, chalk upon that, then gravel upon the chalk, then stones upon the gravel, and then gravel again; and so of other kinds of earth, where the first was not to be had.
2. In some places between this bridge and the town of Abberforth, the causeway having not been used for the ordinary road, it lies as fair and untouch’d, the surface covered with turf, smooth as at its first making, not so much as the mark of a hoof or of a wheel upon it; so that it is to be seen in its full dimensions and heighth, as if it had been made but the same week; whereas ’tis very probable it had stood so fifteen or sixteen hundred years; and I take notice of it here, because I have not seen any thing like it in any other place in England, and because our people, who are now mending the roads almost every where, might take a pattern from it.
As I made this little excursion to see the town of Pontefract from Leeds, you must suppose me now returned thither, and setting out thence northward. I had no sooner pass’d out of the district of Leeds about four or five miles, and pass’d the Wharfe, at a fine stone bridge of eleven arches at a little pretty town call’d Harwood; I say, I was no sooner gotten hither, but it was easie to see we were out of the manufacturing country. Now the black moorish lands, like Black Barnsley, shew’d dismal again and frightful, the towns were thin, and thin of people too; we saw but little enclosed ground, no tenters with the cloths shining upon them, nor people busied within doors, as before; but, as in the Vicaridge, we saw inhabited mountains, here we saw waste and almost uninhabited vales.
In a word, the country look’d as if all the people were transplanted to Leeds and Hallifax, and that here was only a few just left at home to cultivate the land, manage the plough, and raise corn for the rest.
The River Wharfe seemed very small, and the water low, at Harwood Bridge, so that I was surprised to see so fine a bridge over it, and was thinking of the great bridge at Madrid over the Mansanares, of which a Frenchman of quality looking upon it, said to the Spaniards that were about him, That the King of Spain ought either to buy them some water, or they should sell their bridge. But I was afterwards satisfied that was not the case here; for coming another time this way after a heavy rain, I was convinced the bridge was not at all too big, or too long, the water filling up to the very crown of the arches, and some of the arches not to be seen at all.
From the Wharfe we went directly north, over a continued waste of black, ill looking, desolate moors, over which travellers are guided, like race horses, by posts set up for fear of bogs and holes, to a town call’d Ripley, that stands upon another river called the Nud by some, by others the Nyd, smaller than the Wharfe, but furiously rapid, and very dangerous to pass in many places, especially upon sudden rains. Notwithstanding such lofty, high built bridges as are not to be seen over such small rivers in any other place; and, on this occasion, it may be observed here, once for all, that no part of England, I may say so because I can say I have seen the whole island, a very little excepted, I say, no part can shew such noble, large, lofty, and long stone bridges as this part of England, nor so many of them; nor do I remember to have seen any such thing as a timber bridge in all the northern part of England, no not from the Trent to the Tweed; whereas in the south parts of England there are abundance, as particularly over the great river of Thames at Kingston, Chertsey, Staines, Windsor, Maidenhead, Reading, Henley, Marlow, and other places, and over the River Lea, tho’ a navigable river, of thirteen bridges, we see but one built of stone, (viz.) that at Bow.
A little below Ripley, on the same River Nyd, and with a very fine bridge over it also, we saw Knaresborough; known among foreigners by the name of Knaresborough Spaw; in the south of England I have heard it call’d the Yorkshire Spaw. I shall not enter here upon the definition of the word spaw, ’tis enough to speak familiarly, that here is a well of physical or mineral waters, or, to speak more exactly as one viewing the country, here are at the town, and in the adjacent lands, no less than four spaws or mineral waters.
The first thing recommended to me for a wonder, was that four springs, the waters of which are in themselves of so different a quality, should rise in so narrow a compass of ground; but I, who was surfeited with country wonders in my passing the Peak, was not so easily surprized at the wonderful strangeness of this part; and when my landlord at Knaresborough took me short, with a But is it not a strange thing, sir? I answered him with a question, Is it not as strange, sir, said I, that in Derbyshire two springs, one hot, and another cold, should rise within a hand’s breadth of one another? Tis certain, that though the eruption of the water may be near, yet the subterranean passages may be as remote as east and west, and the mineral lying in veins may run remote also, so as to take off all the wonder.
2. The springs themselves, and indeed one of them, is nothing extraordinary, namely, that in a little cave a petrifying water drops from the roof of the cavity, which, as they say, turns wood into stone. This indeed I made light of too, because I had already been at Poole’s Hole and Castleton in the Peak, and at Harwich.
But now to speak of the other two springs, they are indeed valuable rarities, and not to be equalled in England.
The first is the Sweet Spaw, or a vitriolick water; it was discovered by one Mr. Slingsby, anno 1630. and all physicians acknowledge it to be a very sovereign medicine in several particular distempers. Vid. Dr. Leigh’s Nat. Hist. of Lancashire.
The Stinking Spaw, or, if you will, according to the learned, the Sulphur Well. This water is clear as chrystal, but foetid and nauseous to the smell, so that those who drink it are obliged to hold their noses when they drink; yet it is a valuable medicine also in scorbutic, hypochondriac, and especially in hydropic distempers; as to its curing the gout, I take that, as in other cases, ad referendum.
The people formerly, and that for many years, only drank these waters, and used them no otherwise; but are now come into the use of bathing in them as a cold bath, and thus they must necessarily be very good for rheumatic pains, paralitic numbnesses, and many other distempers which afflict mankind.
We were surprised to find a great deal of good company here drinking the waters, and indeed, more than we found afterwards at Scarborough; though this seems to be a most desolate out-of-the-world place, and that men would only retire to it for religious mortifications, and to hate the world, but we found it was quite otherwise.
Those two bridges at Harwood and Ripley are very firm, fine, and, I assure you, very chargeable bridges; and at Rippon there are two stone bridges, whereof one of them has, I think, thirteen arches, or more, over the Eure, and is indeed a very stately and chargeable work. It is true, a bridge over the same river at Burrowbrigg, four mile lower than Rippon, has but four or five arches, but then those arches are near forty foot diameter, and one of the middlemost much more, and high in proportion, and the ends of the bridge continued by high causeways, built of stone, to keep the water in its course; and yet sometimes all is too little.
From the bridges may be observ’d, that however low these waters are in the summer, they are high and furious enough in the winter; and yet the River Aire, tho’ its beginning is in the same ridge of mountains as the other, and particularly in the hill called Penigent, which overtops all its neighbours; I say this river is gentle and mild in its stream, when the other are all raging and furious; the only reason I can give for it, which however I think is a very just account, is, that it runs in a thousand windings and turnings more than any other river in those parts; and these reaches and meanders of the river greatly help to check the sharpness of the stream: The next reason is, that after it has descended from the mountains it has a deeper channel; both which, I think, put together, will sufficiently account for the abating the current.
Rippon is a very neat, pleasant, well built town, and has not only an agreeable situation on a rising ground between two rivers, but the market place is the finest and most beautiful square that is to be seen of its kind in England.
In the middle of it stands a curious column of stone, imitating the obelisks of the antients, tho’ not so high, but rather like the pillar in the middle of Covent-Garden, or that in Lincoln’s Inn, with dials also upon it.
But I must not omit to tell you also, however other pretended travelling writers were pleased not to see it as they went by, that here is a large collegiate church, and tho’ it is not a bishoprick but a deanery only, in the diocess of York, yet it is a very handsome, antient and venerable pile of building, and shews it self a great way in the country. Mr. Cambden says, this town of Rippon owes its greatness to religion.
That here was a famous monastery built by Wilfrid, Archbishop of York, and that in the first ages of Christianity, at least in this island, is certain; but this pious gift of the bishop was swallowed up some years after, when the Danes over-running Yorkshire, rifled and burnt it to the ground, as likewise the whole town of Rippon; It afterwards flourished again as a monastery. But those being all given up in the reign of King Henry VIII. the church only was preserved. Mr. Cambden says it was built, which I conceive rather to be form’d into a church, from the ruin of the monastery, by the contribution of the gentry thereabouts.
While it was a monastery, here was a famous sanctuary, a thing however useful in some cases, yet so abused in foreign countries, by making the church a refuge of rogues, thieves and murtherers, that ’tis happy for England it is out of use here. This privilege of sanctuary was, it seems, granted to the church of Rippon by King Athelstan, an. — and with this extraordinary sanction, that whosoever broke the rights of sanctuary of the church of Rippon, and which he extended to a mile on either side the church, should forfeit life and estate; so that, in short, not the church only, but the whole town, and a circle of two miles diameter, was like the Rules of the King’s Bench here in Southwark, a refuge for all that fled to it, where they liv’d safe from all manner of molestation, even from the king, or his laws, or any person whatsoever.
Annexed to this monastery was an hospital, the intent and purposes of which are very remarkable, and would be worthy imitation in our days of Protestant charity, when indeed I see nothing come up to it. The house was called the hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, where, according to the foundation, were to be maintained two chaplains to perform divine service; and if any begging clergymen, or other needy persons; should happen to travel or stray out of their way, and call at the said hospital, they should be relieved there for one night only, with food and a bed, and to be gone in the morning; and to every poor person that came craving an alms, on St. Mary Magdalen’s Day yearly, they should give one loaf, value a half penny, when corn was at the price of five shillings per quarter, and one herring.
Also ’tis recorded, that one branch of this hospital was founded and endowed, and given to a society of religious sisters by a certain Archbishop of York, but the inquisition taken does not find his name, to the intent that they should maintain one chaplain to perform divine service, and to the farther intent that they should maintain all the lepers born and bred in Hipschire, that should come to it for maintenance; and that they should allow to each of them a garment call’d Rak, and two pair of shoes yearly, with every day a loaf fit for a poor man’s sustenance, half a pitcher of beer, a sufficient portion of flesh on flesh days, and three herrings on fish days.
After this, other gifts were added to this foundation; also the sisters were removed, and a brotherhood established in their stead, which continued some time; and after that a mastership; and the maintenance of lepers finding no clients, the country proving healthy, that part was turned into a charity, to be dealt out to the poor on St. Mary Magdalen’s Day, as above: At length all was demolished together, and the house, with the monastery, suppress’d, as it now stands, a collegiate church being erected on the room of it: Besides, it seems upon another inquisition, and a jury empanelled to give their verdict, it appeared in the 10th of Edward III. that the revenue of one branch of the hospital had been embezzled and squandered away by the master of the hospital, the charities interrupted, and the poor defrauded.
And so in the visitation of the church, for it seems there were frauds and embezzlements in those days, even of the goods of the church, as well as since. Mr. Dugdale, in his Monasticon, gives an account, that William, Archbishop of York, in a visitation of the church of Rippon, anno 1331. found it almost bandoned, notwithstanding much cure of souls depended on it; that there were good revenues belonging to it, but that they were consumed by the absent canons. N.B. There was then also non-residence, and the non-residents too devouring the goods of the church.
Upon this, the good archbishop took order for the future, that all the lands, meadows, revenues, and services (I give you the very words of the archbishop’s decree upon his visitation) with the tithes of garbs and hay, of Nyd and Grantilaye, with a pension of twenty shillings due from the Vicar of Nyd, and the spiritual jurisdiction, and the profits of the same, should, for the future, be divided among those who should reside at the church of Rippon, and no other.
There were at that time, in this church, nine chanteries, besides two out-chanteries in the parish, the same which we call now chapels of ease; and besides the chantery of the two priests in the hospital, the out-chanteries were one at Hutton Conyers, and one at Clotheram. N.B. A chantery is any consecrated place where is an oratory, and a priest allowed to sing mass, and therefore call’d a chantery or singing house.
There were in the church at that time
|Three deacons —||5||10||0||each.|
|Three subdeacons —||4||10||0|
|Six choristers —||3||10||0|
|And 1l. 4s. each for their Livery.|
|Six tribblers —||2||12||6|
|The organist —||0||14||4|
|The grammar school-master —||2||0||0|
These were noble stipends in those days. How our clergy would serve at this time under such great encouragement, is left to enquiry, especially the organist’s salary was notable; from whence I may, I hope without offence, suppose, that he being a layman, might get business in the town, (perhaps he was a dancing-master, or a musick-master, or both) to teach the young ladies of Rippon; and his wife might keep a boarding-school too; and so the grammar school-master might be a writing-master in the town, and the like.
Be that as it will, the church is still standing, tho’ the monastery and hospital are suppress’d, and the canons and choir are maintain’d at a much better rate than as above, for they now eat as good beef, and drink as good Yorkshire ale, as their neighbours.
It is an antient building, but firm and strong, the work Gothick, according to the times, and plain; no imagry or statues of any note to be seen about it; there are three homely spires, one on the tower in the middle, and the other two on the angle towers of the west end; they are covered with lead, but not very high or handsome.
But I must not leave Rippon without giving the fam’d tale of St. Wilfrid’s Needle. St. Wilfrid was the saint to whom the monastery was dedicated, and this needle was, it seems, for the trial of chastity. There was a dark vault under ground in one part of the monastery, into which there was an easy passage one way, but a narrow long entry, also dark and uneven to come out of it: If any person’s chastity was suspected, it does not say whether it was not for men as well as women, but to be sure it was for the latter, they were put into this vault, and the first entrance being closed, they were at liberty to come out by the other, which was called the needle, or the eye of the needle; if they were chaste and untainted, they came out boldly, and without any difficulty; but if faulty, they were stopp’d, and could not get along in the narrow eye or passage, and, as I think the story says, were left there, unable to get out till they had confess’d their fault. Whether the priests had no craft in this case, to put some secret barrier cross the narrow passage in the dark, so to impose upon the poor girls that were put to the trial, that I am not to enquire too far into: However it was, the priests made a miracle of it; and the poor Yorkshire lasses have, no doubt, good reason to be satisfied that St. Wilfrid has left off shewing those miraculous things at this time. In the churchyard of this minster lies a plain monument or gravestone over the remains of a generous soul, who, in charity, gave two thousand pounds to pious uses; the modest epitaph is, however, very important, as follows:
Hic jacet Zacharias Jopson, cujus Æt. fuit 49. per paucos annos tantum vixit.
To conclude our observations of this church, be pleas’d to take the grant of King Athelstan, mentioned above, of the sanctuary of peace. I suppose all such grants were poetical.
Wyt all that es an es gan,
Yat ik King Adelstan,
As given als frielith as i may,
And to the capital of Seint Wilfrai,
Of my free devotion,
Yak pees ar Rippon
On ylke side the kyrke a mile,
For all ill deedys an ylke agyle,
And within yair kyrke gate.
At ye stan yat Grithstole hate
Within ye kyrke dore, and ye quare,
Yair have pees for less and mare;
Ilkan of yis stedes sal have pees,
Of frod mortel and ill deeds.
Yet yair don is tol and tem,
With iren and with water deme;
And yat ye lond of Seint Wilfrai,
Of alkyn geld fre sal be ay;
Ut na man at langs me to,
In yair herps ac sal have to do.
And for ik wil at yai be save,
I wil, at yai alkyn freedom hav;
And in all thynges be als free
As hert may thynk, or eygh may see:
At ye power of a kynge
Marts make free any thynge.
And my seal have sat yerto,
For I will yat no man it undo.
If you will have this grant speak more modern English, take it thus:
Know all men that are or are to be,1
That I, King Athelstan,
Has given as freely as I am able,
To the body politick2 of St. Wilfrid,
Of my meer bounty3 and good-will,
Their peace who are at Rippon,4
For a mile on every side of the church,
For all ill deeds, and every guile,5
And also within the churchyard gate.6
He that shall stand and do pennance
Within the church door, or in the quire,
Shall be protected, let it be less or more7;
All his goods and chattels shall have peace,8
Tho’ guilty of mortal feud9, or any ill deeds.
That I give them also freedom from toll
By land or by water, for themselves, horses and carts;
And that all the lands of the monastery of St. Wilfrid,
Shall be for ever free from all taxes;
So that no man that belongs to me10
Shall have any thing to do with their purse.11
And because ’tis my pleasure they shall be safe,
I will, that they every freedom have,
And in all things be as free
As heart can wish, or eye can see:
So as the power of a king
Can make free to any thing.
And my seal I have set hereto,
Because no man shall it undo.12
A mile from this town, or less, is a stately beautiful seat, built a few years since by Sir Edward Blacket; the park is extended to the bank of the River Eure, and is sometimes in part laid under water by the river, the water of which, they say, coming down from the western mountains, thro’ a marly, loamy soil, fructifies the earth, as the River Nile does the Egyptian fields about Grand Cairo, tho’ by their leave not quite so much.
As Sir Edward spared no cost in the building, and Sir Christopher Wren laid out the design, as well as chose the ground for him, you may believe me the better, when I add, that nothing can either add to the contrivance or the situation; the building is of brick, the avenues, now the trees are grown, are very fine, and the gardens not only well laid out, but well planted, and as well kept; the statues are neat, the parterre beautiful; but, as they want fine gravel, the walks cannot shew themselves, as in this southern part of England they would. The house has a fine prospect over the country, almost to York, with the river in view most of the way; and it makes it self a very noble appearance to the great north road, which lies within two miles of it, at Burrow-bridge.
As you now begin to come into the North Riding, for the Eure parts the West Riding from it, so you are come into the place noted in the north of England for the best and largest oxen, and the finest galloping horses, I mean swift horses, horses bred, as we call it, for the light saddle, that is to say, for the race, the chace, for running or hunting. Sir Edward was a grazier, and took such delight in the breeding and feeding large siz’d black cattle, that he had two or three times an ox out of his park led about the country for a sight, and shewed as far as Newcastle, and even to Scotland, for the biggest bullock in England; nor was he very often, if ever, over-match’d.
From this town of Rippon, the north road and the Roman highway also, mentioned before, which comes from Castleford Bridge, parting at Abberforth, leads away to a town call’d Bedal, and, in a strait line (leaving Richmond about two miles on the west) call’d Leeming Lane, goes on to Piersbridge on the River Tees, which is the farthest boundary of the county of York.
But before I go forward I should mention Burrow Bridge, which is but three miles below Rippon, upon the same River Eure, and which I must take in my way, that I may not be obliged to go farther out of the way, on the next journey.
There is something very singular at this town, and which is not to be found in any other part of England or Scotland, namely, two borough towns in one parish, and each sending two members to Parliament, that is, Borough Brigg and Aldborough.
Borough Brigg, or Bridge, seems to be the modern town risen up out of Aldborough, the very names importing as much, (viz.) that Burrough at the Bridge, and the Old Borough that was before; and this construction I pretend to justify from all the antiquaries of our age, or the last, who place on the side of Aldborough or Old Borough, an antient city and Roman colony, call’d Isurium Brigantum; the arguments brought to prove the city stood here, where yet at present nothing of a city is to be seen, no not so much as the ruines, especially not above ground, are out of my way for the present; only the digging up coins, urns, vaults, pavements, and the like, may be mentioned, because some of them are very eminent and remarkable ones, of which an account is to be seen at large in Mr. Cambden, and his continuator, to whom I refer. That this Old Burrough is the remain of that city, is then out of doubt, and that the Burrough at the Bridge, is since grown up, and perhaps principally by the confluence of travellers, to pass the great bridge over the Eure there; this seems too out of question by the import of the word. How either of them came to the privilege of sending members to Parliament, whether by charter and incorporation, or meer prescription, that is to say, a claim of age, which we call time out of mind, that remains for the Parliament to be satisfied in. Certain it is, that the youngest of the two, that is, Burrow Bridge, is very old; for here, in the barons wars, was a battle, and on this bridge the great Bohun, Earl of Hereford, was killed by a soldier, who lay concealed under the bridge, and wounded him, by thrusting a spear or pike into his body, as he pass’d the bridge. From whence Mr. Cambden very gravely judges, that it was not a stone bridge as is now, but a bridge of timber, a thing any man might judge without being challenged for a wizard.
I had not the curiosity so much as to go to see the four great stones in the fields on the left-hand, as you go through Burrow Bridge, which the country people, because they wonder how they could come there, will have be brought by the devil, and call them the Devil’s Bolts. Mr. Cambden describes them, and they are no more than are frequent; and I have been obliged to speak of such so often, that I need say no more, but refer to other authors to describe the Romans way of setting up trophies for victory, or the dead, or places of sacrifices to their gods, and which soever it may be, the matter is the same.
From the Eure entring the North Riding, and keeping the Roman causeway, as mentioned before, one part of which went by this Isurium Brigantum from York, we come to Bedall, all the way from Hutton, or thereabout, this Roman way is plain to be seen, and is called now Leeming Lane, from Leeming Chapel, a village which it goes through.
I met with nothing at or about Bedall, that comes within the compass of my enquiry but this, that not this town only, but even all this country, is full of jockeys, that is to say, dealers in horses, and breeders of horses, and the breeds of their horses in this and the next country are so well known, that tho’ they do not preserve the pedigree of their horses for a succession of ages, as they say they do in Arabia and in Barbary, yet they christen their stallions here, and know them, and will advance the price of a horse according to the reputation of the horse he came of.
They do indeed breed very fine horses here, and perhaps some of the best in the world, for let foreigners boast what they will of barbs and Turkish horses, and, as we know five hundred pounds has been given for a horse brought out of Turkey, and of the Spanish jennets from Cordova, for which also an extravagant price has been given, I do believe that some of the gallopers of this country, and of the bishoprick of Durham, which joins to it, will outdo for speed and strength the swiftest horse that was ever bred in Turkey, or Barbary, take them all together.
My reason for this opinion is founded upon those words altogether; that is to say, take their strength and their speed together; for example; match the two horses, and bring them to the race post, the barb may beat Yorkshire for a mile course, but Yorkshire shall distance him at the end of four miles; the barb shall beat Yorkshire upon a dry, soft carpet ground, but Yorkshire for a deep country; the reason is plain, the English horses have both the speed and the strength; the barb perhaps shall beat Yorkshire, and carry seven stone and a half; but Yorkshire for a twelve to fourteen stone weight; in a word, Yorkshire shall carry the man, and the barb a feather.
The reason is to be seen in the very make of the horses. The barb, or the jennet, is a fine delicate creature, of a beautiful shape, clean limbs, and a soft coat; but then he is long jointed, weak pastured, and under limb’d: Whereas Yorkshire has as light a body, and stronger limbs, short joints, and well bon’d. This gives him not speed only but strength to hold it; and, I believe, I do not boast in their behalf, without good vouchers, when I say, that English horses, take them one with another, will beat all the world.
As this part of the country is so much employed in horses, the young fellows are naturally grooms, bred up in the stable, and used to lie among the horses; so that you cannot fail of a good servant here, for looking after horses is their particular delight; and this is the reason why, whatever part of England you go to, though the farthest counties west and south, and whatever inn you come at, ’tis two to one but the hostler is a Yorkshire man; for as they are bred among horses, ’tis always the first business they recommend themselves to; and if you ask a Yorkshire man, at his first coming up to get a service, what he can do; his answer is, sir, he can look after your horse, for he handles a curry-comb as naturally as a young scrivener does a pen and ink.
Besides their breeding of horses, they are also good grasiers over this whole country, and have a large, noble breed of oxen, as may be seen at North Allerton fairs, where there are an incredible quantity of them bought eight times every year, and brought southward as far as the fens in Lincolnshire, and the Isle of Ely, where, being but, as it were, half fat before, they are fed up to the grossness of fat which we see in London markets. The market whither these north country cattle are generally brought is to St. Ives, a town between Huntingdon and Cambridge, upon the River Ouse, and where there is a very great number of fat cattle every Monday.
Richmond, which, as I said, is two or three mile wide of the Leeming Lane, is a large market town, and gives name to this part of the country, which is called after it Richmondshire, as another part of it east of this is call’d North Allertonshire. Here you begin to find a manufacture on foot again, and, as before, all was cloathing, and all the people clothiers, here you see all the people, great and small, a knitting; and at Richmond you have a market for woollen or yarn stockings, which they make very coarse and ordinary, and they are sold accordingly; for the smallest siz’d stockings for children are here sold for eighteen pence per dozen, or three half pence a pair, somctimes less.
This trade extends itself also into Westmoreland, or rather comes from Westmoreland, extending itself hither, for at Kendal, Kirkby Stephen, and such other places in this county as border upon Yorkshire; the chief manufacture of yarn stockings is carried on; it is indeed a very considerable manufacture in it self, and of late mightily encreased too, as all the manufactures of England indeed are.
This town of Richmond (Cambden calls it a city) is wall’d, and had a strong castle; but as those things are now all slighted, so really the account of them is of small consequence, and needless; old fortifications being, if fortification was wanted, of very little signification; the River Swale runs under the wall of this castle, and has some unevenness at its bottom, by reason of rocks which intercept its passage, so that it falls like a cataract, but not with so great a noise.
The Swale is a noted river, though not extraordinary large, for giving name to the lands which it runs through for some length, which are called Swale Dale, and to an antient family of that name, one of whom had the vanity, as I have heard, to boast, that his family was so antient as not to receive that name from, but to give name to the river it self. One of the worthless successors of this line, who had brought himself to the dignity of what they call in London, a Fleeter, used to write himself, in his abundant vanity, Sir Solomon Swale, of Swale Hall, in Swale Dale, in the county of Swale in the North Riding of York.
This addition of dale, first given here to the low lands about the head of the Swale, is grown up into a custom or usage from all the rivers which rise in those western hills north of this, quite to and into Scotland; for example,
Teesdale for the River Tees.
Wierdale for the Wier, which runs through Durham.
Tine Dale for the Tine, which runs to Newcastle.
Tweedale for the Tweed, which passeth by Berwick.
Clydsdale, Nydsdale, and many others.
Leaving Richmond, we continue through this long Leeming Lane, which holds for about the length of six mile to the bank of Tees, where we pass’d over the River Tees at Piersbridge; the Tees is a most terrible river, so rapid, that they tell us a story of a man who coming to the ferry place in the road to Darlington, and finding the water low began to pull off his hose and shoes to wade thro’, the water not being deep enough to reach to his knees, but that while he was going over, the stream swell’d so fast as to carry him away and drown him.
This bridge leads into the bishoprick of Durham, and the road soon after turns into the great post road leading to the city of Durham. I shall dwell no longer upon the particulars found on this side except Barnard Castle, which is about four miles distant from the Tees bank west, and there I may speak of it again; as all the country round here are grooms, as is noted before; so here and hereabouts they have an excellent knack at dressing horses hides into leather, and thinking or making us think it is invulnerable, that is to say, that it will never wear out; in a word, they make the best bridle reins, belts broad or narrow, and all accoutrements for a compleat horse-master, as they do at Rippon for spurs and stirrups.
Barnard’s Castle stands on the north side of the Tees, and so is in the bishoprick of Durham. ’Tis an antient town, and pretty well built, but not large; the manufacture of yarn stockings continues thus far, but not much farther; but the jockeys multiply that way; and here we saw some very fine horses indeed; but as they wanted no goodness, so they wanted no price, being valued for the stallion they came of, and the merit of the breed. One very beautiful stone-horse which they here kept, they asked two hundred guineas for; but, as I heard afterwards, tho’ they carried him to London, which was no small addition to the charge of him, they sold him for much less money.
The length of the late war, it seems, caused the breeders here to run into a race or kind of horses, differing much from what they were used to raise, that is to say, from fine fleet horses for galloping and hunting, to a larger breed of charging horses, for the use of the general officers, and colonels of horse, aids du camp, and the like, whose service required strong charging horses, and yet if they were fleet horses too, they had a vast advantage of the enemy; for that if the rider was conquered and forced to fly, there was no overtaking him; and if his enemies fled they could never get away from him. I saw some of this breed, and very noble creatures they were, fit for any business whatever; strong enough for charging, fleet enough for hunting, tempered enough for travelling; and indeed, there is one thing to be said for the horse breeders in this country, their horses are all well broke, perfectly brought to hand, and to be under command, which is a thing absolutely necessary in the army, and in the hunting field also.
I was come now to the extent of the county of York northward. But as I have kept all along to the west side of the county, even from the Peak of Derby hither; and that I have all the East Riding and the eastern part of the North and West Riding to go over, I shall break off here, and conclude my first circuit; and am, with due respect,
Your most humble servant.
1 Present and to come.
2 Or public stock.
3 Devotion here does not mean piety but charity .
4 A place of peace or sanctuary.
5 Every cheat or fraud.
6 The church hatch.
7 Be his fault what it will.
8 His horses and cattle shall not be seized.
9 Some think this word frod mortel extended to murther.
10 None of the king’s officers.
12 Or that no man may dare to contradict it.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07