Fiennes's Narrative

Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary.
By Celia Fiennes c.1695

Some account of Epsome in Surrey about ten miles from London. Its on Clay and Gravel, the waters are from Alum. The well is Large without Bason or Pavement, on the bottom it is Covered over with timber and is so darke you Can scarce Look down into it for which Cause I do dislike it. Its not a quick spring and very often is dranke drye, and to make up the defficiency the people do often carry water from Common wells to fill this in a morning; this they have been found out in which makes the water weake and of Little opperation unless you Can have it first from the well before they Can have put in any other. The usual way of drinking them is by turning them with a Little milk. There is a walk of trees by it, but not very pleasant, there is a house built in which the well is and that is paved with brick to walke in in the wet weather. and where people have Carrawayes sweetemeates and tea &, but it Look'd so dark and unpleasant more Like a Dungeon, yt I would not Chuse to drinke it there, and most people drink it at home. There are severall good Buildings in Epsome for Lodgings and good Gardens behind them for walking. There is a good house of the Ld Bartlets in a parke at the End of the town Looks very well. The Greatest pleasure of Epsom is Either Banstead Downs where is good aire and good rideing for Coaches and horses, with a pleasant view of ye Country, or Else Box Hill which is 6 or 7 miles off and is the Continuation of the Ridge of hills I mentiond by Maidstone; its a Greate height and shows you a vast precipice down on the farther side, and such a vast vale full of woods Enclosures and Little towns. There is a very good river that runs by a Little town Called Darken just at the foote of this hill, very famous for good troutts and great store of ffish. On this hill the top is Cover'd with box whence its name proceeds, and there is other wood but its all Cutt in Long private walks very shady and pleasant, and this is a great diversion to the Company and would be more ffrequented if nearer Epsom town.

About 4 miles off is Sr Robert Howards house which I went to see, its a Square building, the yards and offices very Convenient about it, and severall Gardens walled in. All the windows are sashes and Large squares of glass; I observ'd they are double sashes to make ye house the warmer, for it Stands pretty bleake. Its a brick building. You Enter a hall which opens to the Garden, thence to two parlours, drawing-roomes and good staires, there are abundance of Pictures, above is a Dineing roome and drawing roome with very good tapistry-hangings of Long standing. There is severall bed Chambers well ffurnish'd, good damaske beds and hangings and window Curtaines of the same, and so neatly kept ffolded up in Clean sheets pinn'd about the beds and hangings. There are severall other good beds and ffurniture, one roome all ye bed and hangings are of a fine damaske made of worsted, it Lookes pretty and with a Gloss Like Camlett, of a Light Ash Coullour. There are good pictures of the family, Sr Robert's Son and Lady, which was a Daughter of the Newport house, with her Children in a very Large Picture. There is fine adorrlements of Glass on the Chimney and fine marble Chimney pieces, some Closets with Inlaid floores, its all very neate and fine with the several Courts at the Entrance-this I thinke was all remarkable at Epsome which is 14 mile to London.


Epsom is 15 miles from London, there are great curiosityes in cut hedges and trees almost before all doores. They have trees in rows which they cut up smooth and about 3 or 4 yards up, they Lay frames of wood in manner of a pent house, so plat the branches on it and cuts it smooth, they leave the stem of the tree to run up and then cut it clear to the top wch they cut in round heads. There are severall good houses in or about Epsham-Sr Robt Howard's wch I have described, Mr Wessell's now Mr Scawen's. There is Lord Baltimores in Woodcut Green Encompass'd wth a wall at the Entrance-a breast wall with pallisadoes. Large courts one within the other and a back way to ye stables where is a pretty horse pond. The house is old but Low, tho' Large,-run over much ground. Inffront 6 windows and in the top just in the middle 12 Chimneys in a row, being 3 and 3 below Joyning back to back and 3 and 3 above; the others Looke into a Court wch is built round. As I drove by the side saw broad Chimneys on the End, and at due distance on the side on both Ends ye sides of a Court, wch is terminated in a building on wch is a Lead wth railes and Barristers.

That house which is now Lord Guilfords at another side of Epsham, Lookes nobly in a fine parke pailed round. Severall rows of trees in the front of all sorts-Lofty, and some cut Piramidy, some suger-Loafe or rather Like a mushrom-top. The front has 6 Large windows and the doore wch is glass, as many on the next story. You Enter by a Large Court wch is on ye Left v side-Stable court; to the right into ye Gardens, fore right you Enter a broad tarass railed in and Paved with stone, you enter a noble Lofty hall, plaine but neate, painted white. On ye right is a Little parlour, the lesser hall hung wth armes, a butler's office, with bedchambers and Closets, thence goes ye Kitchen, schullery, bakeing room and Laundry into a Court of all ye offices and the stable yard. Out of ye Little parlour goes into a pretty Chappel which has a balcony closet looking into it for the Lord and Lady.

The Left hand of ye hall Led into a great parlour wch runnes to the End of the house, and makes the ffront, and short again into another great parlour or dineing roome which makes ye End ffront of the house; this also opens into ye staircase, it Leads on to a drawing roome, Closet, bed Chamber, two dressing roomes, wch with ye great staircase makes up ye ffront backward and the other End ffront, wch Lookes into ye stable yard and a garden v railed in wth a Large pond or Cannall. The back ffront goes out into a garden or Court wth Gravel walks round, and a Crosse wch cuts it into 4 grassplotts where are Brass statues, and Leads out through fine jron Carved gates as at the ffront out into ye highway. The right End ffront of ye house is into ye Garden. Out of both of ye great parlours and drawing roome two Entrances at an Equal distance upon gravell walks. This garden is gravell'd round. Ye two middle walks run up to a double mount which cast the garden into 3 Long grass walks wch also are very broad, wth 3 flower potts. There are two degrees of stepps to Each of these Gravell walks, the first lands on a Gravell that turns in a 3 side square wch shapes ye upper mount. The Long gravell walke to ye right hand runns aCrosse the mount to a thicket that Enters ye Grove and is Lost. The other to the Left runns up the whole Length of ye grove up to white gates and open views into ye parke. The two Ends of the Little square gravel walke round the first mount terminates on the right in same thicket or Grove, and has only for show a Carved frame as a gate, wth wood carv'd Like Cage work painted white, with an arch Entrance in the middle for form sake, to make it Look uniforme to the Like on ye Left, wch Leads to a walk as Long as the Gravell up to the wall, and is directly arbour. Like high trees, Cut up to the top and with heads which close in an arch-in the middle is Long white seates. There are two or three Lesser walks wch run across it to ye right into the Grove and Lost in the maze; to the Left to another Long walk wch Leads to a Grotto and runs parralel wth ye gravel walke to the top. You Enter a space paved and open arch'd round in seates like a Court, and thence you Enter the Grotto, an arch Entirely dark but at the Entrance it is so Large as 6 arched seates, and between carv'd stone very fine of all sorts of flowers, ffigures, ffruites; ye Pillars or Peers pretty broad. this ran up to a summerhouse at the End, wch is grown over with greens cut smooth-windows all round. Below this is a broad green walke wch begins at the first Garden and so continues round wth ye wall quite to that broad Gravel walke, and is continued by ye wall quite Encompassing ye maze, in wch are some slaunt cut wayes, and it terminates in the other side of the first Garden just by a garden railed in in which is a Large pond, square in nature of a cannall, the bank green Cut fine, and borders for flowers and greens' and a Breast wall to the first Garden, on wch are flower potts. On the upper mount-all the grass and bank Even cut-Stands 4 flower potts painted blew-Some red on ye 3 divisions-ye gravell Cut out as on the Margin.

Ffrom the Hall you go to ye staircase, there is also a doore out of the second parlour. This is noble and Lofty all plain wanscoate, only ye halfe paces inlaid. The first is a window the whole height, 13 Large pannells in Length, 5 in breadth, which Lookes into one of the Courts where the pond is and stable yard. The next half pace Leads you on ye Left hand to the private appartment that is not so Lofty, over ye Least hall to an anty roome, thence a dineing roome, soe drawing roome 5 bed Chambers and Closetts. The Last Closett goes into a balcony wch runs aCross ye middle of said Lofty window, and Looks into the staircase. Out of ye Eating or dineing roome goes a Closett for ye Ladyes into ye Chappell wth very good back staires up to ye top roomes. Ye great staires continues up to the Gallery and turns in a long halfe pace, wch Enters it at two doores in Equal distances. Its a Lofty, Large as well as Long roome, noe painting or frettwork. At Each End are severall handsome bedChambers and Closetts but none ffurnish'd, but ye private appartments has pladd Chamlet damaske neatly made up, not new, Glass sconces, and over the Chimney, looking glasses in frames. The parke is fine but not stock'd, wch when it is and house ffurnish'd will be a noble seate.

There is another house of Mr Ruths who married Lady Dennagall is new and neate. The Entrance is a space the breadth of ye Court and ffront, rail'd in and opening in ye middle wth sort of wicket, two such at Each End wth heavye Latches to pull up, and the gate swings both wayes. There is a brick wall wth peers and breast high, and jron pallisadoes of a good breadth Each side the gate, wch is Carv'd iron work with a Deer on the top of a Cypher, and an oaken tree Cut a top; the two first peers are wth Great flower potts, those on ye Peeres Each side ye jron works Lesser flower potts. Beyond are the gates into the coach yard, wch with the Stables is a neate Pile of Buildings by it self. Just on ye other side is such a building the kitchen and offices and little Laundry Court, and here is the back Entrance through a Long brick Entry open on one side, but a wall to ye Court side and house, and Enters into a passage that Leads to a little hall brick't, wth roomes for ye buttler and a batheing roome. By it is a Large hall paved wth stone and thence is one way into the garden. Under the staires and balcony that descends from ye dineing roome in ye first passage are staires wch brings to a space that turns up to the Great staires and roomes.

The ffront Entrance is into a handsome Court, one Large paved walke in the middle between Grass, the borders round of flowers, ye wall wth trees. You ascend some stepps to a broad terrass paved and with a breast wall sett wth flower potts. This is the breadth of the house and at Each End two Large white seates wth arches over ye head. You Enter a step or two to this space wch Lead s to ye staires on ye Left to a little parlour wanscoted, white in veines and gold mouldings, a neat Booffett ffurnish'd with Glasses and china for the table, a Cistern below into which the water turn'd from a Cock, and a hole at bottom to Let it out at pleasure. Wth in this roome was a Large Closet or musick roome, on the other side was a dine-ing room wth a balcony door wch has staires to ye garden in a round with half paces and jron railes. Thence is a drawing roome, beyond that a Closet that comes out into a little passage to the staircase, wch is Large and makes the fourth part of the house; they are wanscoate varnish'd and the Lower step or two Larger, and ye other End is in a turn. The half paces are strip'd, the wood put wth ye Graine, the next slip against the Graine, wch makes it Looke pretty as if Inlaid.

You Enter one roome hung with Crosstitch in silks, the bed the same Lined wth yellow and white strip'd sattin, window Curtaines white silk damaske wth furbellows of Callicoe printed flowers, the Chaires Crosstitch and two stooles of yellow Mohaire wth Crostitch, true Lower knotts in straps along and a Cross, an Elbow Chaire tentstitch; Glasses over all ye Chimneys and Marble pieces. The windows in all the roomes had Cusheons. The next roome was Lady Dennagalls Chavmber and Closet hung wth very rich tapistry, the bed Crimson damaske Lined wth white Jndia sattin, wth Gold and Crimson flowers printed; the Chaires, one red damaske, the other Crostitch and tentstitch very Rich, soe round the roome. The Closet, Green damaske Chaires, and many fine pictures under Glasses, of tentstitch sattin stitch Gumm and strawwork, also jndia flowers birds &. The roome over the Little parlour was Mrs Ruths, a pladd bed Lined wth Jndian Callicoe, and an Jndia Carpet on the bed-wth in was her Closet. Over this are good Garretts and staires to the Leads wch shews you all about the town.

The first garden is square, the walls full of trees and nail'd neate, an apricote, peach, plumb, necktarine, wch spread but not very high; between Each is a cherry stript up to the top and spreads, Composeing an arch over the others. There are borders of flowers round and a handsome Gravel round. The Grass plott is Large; in the middle a little Gravel in an oval or round, where is a Large fountain of stone full of stone Images to spout the water. This Garden is the breadth of the dwelleing house-the dineing roome and drawing roome Looke into it.

Out of this (which is ffenced by a breast wall wth jron pallasadoes painted blew wth Gilt topp) you ascend severall stepps through an jronwork'd gate to a ground divided into Long grass walks, severall of wch ascends ye hill and between the Ground improv'd wth Dwarfe trees of ffruite and flowers and greenes in all shapes, intermixt wth beds of strawberyes for ornament and use. Thus to another bank wth stepps to a Green Cross walke, and then more trees and devices. Thence to two mounts cut smoothe-between is a Cannall. These mounts are severall stepps up under which are jce houses; they are a square fflatt on the top ffenced with banks round and seates, beyond which is a summer house in a tree, which shews a great way off the Country. There are Low Cut hedges on Each bank, and painted sticks wth Gilt tops in ye greens and flower potts, and thus is one terrass above another. Over their stables are Chambers for ye men, over the Kitchen and Dairy and buttery and scullery are roomes for Laundry, and for the maids.

Sr Thomas Cooke's house has such an Enclosed walk before the gate, wth swinging gates at Each End and a Larger in the middle. Without it is a Row of oakes wth thick heads wch makes it very shady. You Enter a Close gate into a Court, wth a broad paved walk between two Large Grass-plotts, besett wth Green Cyprus yew and holly in Piramids, and two Large Statues in the middle, the wall Clothed wth box holly filleroy cut even. The ffront is two juttings out at the Ends flatt in the middle Like a half Roman H. You Rise a step or two into a good Hall pav'd wth black and white marble, the sides painted black and white resembling nitches or arches for seates. On the Right hand is a good Dineing roome wanscoated oake without varnish, the pannell Large, and within a drawing roome wch Lookes into the garden, wanscoated. Over, Right, another square one. Between these runs an Entry, where in are Closets, and ye Butlers office, to ye Kitchen and offices, into ye Stable, Coach yard and into a Laundry Court. In the Middle ffronting ye Entrance is a Door into ye garden. Just by is a Servants hall and way to ye Cellars under. The Great Staires noble and Lofty, all wanscoate, hung wth very good pictures. Above in the rooffe is frettwork and an oval Curiously painted with angells and ffigures.

Here are two very Good appartments, bed Chambers dressing-roome, Closets and presses; besides there are two other good Chambers wth Closets, and one Large roome-ye frame of ye Chimney piece carv'd with all variety of fruites, herbes & painted proper and all hollow work. Very good Pictures in all ye roomes over Chimneys and doores, all fix'd into ye wanscoate,- noe ffurniture. There is a very good pr of back staires goes hence up to ye Garret's, one very Large, 6 other, besides Little room. There you ascend into a Cupilow, windows round shews a vast prospect of the place; from thence you may descend another such a good pr of back staires to ye kitchen. The Garden is in forme as Mr Ruth's first flatt, but Larger, wth a Larger fountaine, walled in wth ffree stone, a pedistal wth Little Cupids and Dolphins and shells on wch are Images, and on ye top a Crown made all to spout out water. The walls full of fruite, in ye middle you ascend severall stepps to a bank on wch are jron painted pallasadoes wth Gilt top; gates to the same. Here is a Large square wth green walks and gravell and ovall in the middle, with devices of Little paths of gravell to Cut the grass into shapes, squares and 3 squares. In the middle stands a Gladiator on a pedistal, and on ye walls are Cupids at each riseing of the walls for the bank. On the Left side is a summer house wth paints of the seasons of ye yeare. Thence into another Garden for kitchen stuff and hott beds, with convenient houses. From this great fflatt you ascend severall stepps at three places- equal distance, and then Long green walks between borders of strawberies, dwarf trees, and some wth green squares sett with Cyprus, Mirtle, yew, Holly cut fine and flowers, thus three severall bancks, the spaces so adorn'd. Then you pass on to a long green walke, the Right side or End is a fine summer house, the bank all along guarded with dwarffe trees; the other to ye field side rowes of tall walnuts, with quick sett hedges cutt. This Carryes on not only the breadth of the house but the Length of the whole ground, wch is for ye other garden for use; and just at the End of the pleasure garden begins a Large and Long pond or Cannall-ye Length of the walke, wch is its bank cut fine. There is another great pond on the Right side of the house, and two more in the grounds belonging to it on the Left.

Mrs Steeven has a very pretty neate house and gardens, before the doore is a part railed in as before, only this is Close at Each end wth high wall and seates. In the middle is a gate wch Leads to the gate of the Court, grass walled round, a broad pavement to the house, and round Stepps-4 or 5. You Enter into a passage wch Leads to a little parlour, thence a step or two down to an Entry, wch Leads away to a Little Court or passage, which runs to the streete and back to ye garden.

On one side is a building, a summer parlour for a still roome, wth brick kitchen and offices and Coach house and stables, wth Chambers over for the men. There is in the first parlour a Large Closet, on the Left is a Large parlour and drawing-roome, all very neate and well wanscoated. Under the staircase is a little roome for a butler, thence the staires to the Cellars; this is between the back staires wch are very good and light, and wanscoated up to the garrets, and the great staires wch are very handsome painted white, the Rooffe an oval of Cupids. Here are two handsome Chambers with dressing-roomes and light and dark Closets v and presses. Next floore is to such appartments againe. Over all are three good Garrets and two roomes for stores, and it is sashed up to the top wth Low windows to sit in. Every Corner is improved for Cupboards and necessarys, and the doores to them made suiteable to ye wanscoate. The garden goes out opposite to ye Entrance the walls full of all fruite neately kept. Here are six Grass walks three and three, guarded wth dwarfe fruite trees, a Large gravell walk round by the wall, and gravell between Each Grass walk. The front is a breast wall wth a yew hedge cut neate, and jron pallisadoes painten and Gilt tops, with gates Leading to another Garden of grass Cut in shapes and knotts, wth flowers and all sorts of greens cut in shapes, wth paths of Gravel to fform them. On the Left side a Coddling hedge secured a walke of red and Lemmon trees in perfection. This is Closed with a green house all the breadth of the garden, through wch you Enter another of fflowers; thence into orchard and kitchen garden wch is Cast in Exact forms to Look neate. In the green Garden was Large alloes plants and all sorts of Perpetualls as well as annualls.

There are abundance of houses built of brick, with fine gardens and Courts, wth open gates and railes to view, wch are used as Lodgings for the Company; and now the wells are built about, and a Large Light roome to walk in brick'd, and a pump put on the well. A Coffee house and two roomes for gameing, and shops for sweetmeates and fruite. Monday morning is their day, the Company meete and then they have some Little diversion, as raceing of boys or Rabbets or Piggs. In the Evening the company meete in the Greenes, first in the upper Green many steps up, where are Gentlemen Bowling, Ladyes walking. There are Little Shopps and a gameing or danceing roome, the same man at the wells keepes it, sells Coffee there also. The Lower green is not farr off-just in the heart of the town: its a much neater green and warmer. The whole side of this is a very Large roome wth Large sashe windows to the green, wth Cusheons in the windows and seates all along. There are two hazard boards; at the End is a Milliner and China Shop, this is belonging to the Great tavern or Eateing house, and all the Length of this roome to the street ward is a Piaza wall, and a row of trees Cutt and platted together as the ffashion of the place, wth tops running up a top with heads. The Crosse in the Streete has a Good Clock.

On the hill where is the race posts they have made a ring as in Hide Parke, and they Come in Coaches and drive round, but it is only Lords day nights and some nights. There has been 40 Coaches and six which are the Gentlemen in the County round, and 20 and 2 horses. The Company in ye town Epshum shall be Clutter'd wth Company from Satturday to Tuesday and then they many times goe, being so neare London, so come againe on more Saturdays.