On this road we pass’d over Towton, that famous field where the most cruel and bloody battle was fought between the two Houses of Lancaster and York, in the reign of Edward IV. I call it most cruel and bloody, because the animosity of the parties was so great, that tho’ they were countrymen and Englishmen, neighbours, nay, as history says, relations; for here fathers kill’d their sons, and sons their fathers; yet for some time they fought with such obstinacy and such rancour, that, void of all pity and compassion, they gave no quarter, and I call it the most bloody, because ’tis certain no such numbers were ever slain in one battle in England, since the great battle between King Harold and William of Normandy, call’d the Conqueror, at Battle in Sussex; for here, at Towton, fell six and thirty thousand men on both sides, besides the wounded and prisoners (if they took any).
Tradition guided the country people, and they us, to the very spot; but we had only the story in speculation; for there remains no marks, no monument, no remembrance of the action, only that the ploughmen say, that sometimes they plough up arrow-heads and spear-heads, and broken javelins, and helmets, and the like; for we cou’d only give a short sigh to the memory of the dead, and move forward.
Tadcaster has nothing that we could see to testify the antiquity it boasts of, but some old Roman coins, which our landlord the post master shewed us, among which was one of Domitian, the same kind, I believe, with that Mr. Cambden gives an account of, but so very much defaced with age, that we could read but D O, and A V, at a distance. Here is the hospital and school, still remaining, founded by Dr. Oglethorp, Bishop of Carlisle, who, for want of a Protestant archbishop, set the crown on the head of Queen Elizabeth.
Here also we saw plainly the Roman highway, which I have mentioned, as seen at Aberforth; and, as antient writers tell us, of a stately stone bridge here, I may tell you, here was no bridge at all; but perhaps no writer after me will ever be able to say the like; for the case was this, the antient famous bridge, which, I suppose, had stood several hundred years, being defective, was just pull’d down, and the foundation of a new bridge, was laid, or rather begun to be laid, or was laying; and we were obliged to go over the river in a ferry boat; but coming that way since, I saw the new bridge finished, and very magnificent indeed it is.
Mr. Cambden gives us a little distich of a learned passenger upon this river, and the old bridge, at Tadcaster; I suppose he pass’d it in a dry summer, as the Frenchman did the bridge at Madrid, which I mentioned before.
Nil Tadcaster habes muris vel carmine dignum,
Præter magnifice structum sine flumine pontem.
But I can assure the reader of this account, that altho’ I pass’d this place in the middle of summer, we found water enough in the river, so that there was no passing it without a boat.
From Tadcaster it is but twelve miles to York; the country is rich, fruitful and populous, but not like the western parts about Leeds, Wakefield, Hallifax, &. which I described above; it bears good corn, and the city of York being so near, and having the navigation of so many rivers also to carry it to Hull, they never want a good market for it.
The antiquity of York, though it was not the particular enquiry I proposed to make, yet shewed it self so visibly at a distance, that we could not but observe it before we came quite up to the city, I mean the mount and high hills, where the antient castle stood, which, when you come to the city, you scarcely see, at least not so as to judge of its antiquity.
The cathedral, or the minster, as they call it, is a fine building, but not so antient as some of the other churches in the city seem to be: That mount I mentioned above, and which, at a distance, I say was a mark of antiquity, is called the old Bale, which was some ages ago fortified and made very strong; but time has eaten through not the timber and plank only, which they say it was first built with, but even the stones and mortar; for not the least footstep of it remains but the hill.
York is indeed a pleasant and beautiful city, and not at all the less beautiful for the works and lines about it being demolished, and the city, as it may be said, being laid open, for the beauty of peace is seen in the rubbish; the lines and bastions and demolished fortifications, have a reserved secret pleasantness in them from the contemplation of the publick tranquility, that outshines all the beauty of advanced bastions, batteries, cavaliers, and all the hard named works of the engineers about a city.
I shall not entertain you either with a plan of the city, or a draught of its history; I shall only say in general, the first would take up a great deal of time, and the last a great deal of paper; it is enough to tell you, that as it has been always a strong place, so it has been much contended for, been the seat of war, the rendezvous of armies, and of the greatest generals several times.
It boasts of being the seat of some of the Roman emperors, and the station of their forces for the north of Britain, being it self a Roman colony, and the like, all which I leave as I find it; it may be examined critically in Mr. Cambden, and his continuator, where it is learnedly debated. However, this I must not omit, namely, that Severus and Constantius Chlorus, father to Constantine the Great, both kept their Courts here, and both died here. Here Constantine the Great took upon him the purple, and began the first Christian empire in the world; and this is truly and really an honour to the city of York; and this is all I shall say of her antiquity.
But now things infinitely modern, compared to those, are become marks of antiquity; for even the castle of York, built by William the Conqueror, anno 1069. almost eight hundred years since Constantine, is not only become antient and decayed, but even sunk into time, and almost lost and forgotten; fires, sieges, plunderings and devastations, have often been the fate of York; so that one should wonder there should be any thing of a city left.
But ’tis risen again, and all we see now is modern; the bridge is vastly strong, and has one arch which, they tell me, was near 70 foot in diameter; it is, without exception, the greatest in England, some say it’s as large as the Rialto at Venice, though I think not.
Bridge and houses at York, William Marlow, c1760
The cathedral too is modern; it was begun to be built but in the time of Edward the First, anno 1313. or thereabouts, by one John Roman, who was treasurer for the undertaking; the foundation being laid, and the whole building designed by the charitable benevolence of the gentry, and especially, as a noted antiquary there assured me, by the particular application of two eminent families in the north, namely, the Piercys and Vavasors, as is testified by their arms and portraits cut in the stone work; the first with a piece of timber, and the last with a hew’d stone in their hands; the first having given a large wood, and the latter a quarry of stone, for encouraging the work.
It was building during the lives of three archbishops, all of the Christian name of John, whereof the last, (viz.) John Thoresby, lived to see it finished, and himself consecrated it.
It is a Gothick building, but with all the most modern addenda that order of building can admit; and with much more ornament of a singular kind, than we see any thing of that way of building grac’d with. I see nothing indeed of that kind of structure in England go beyond it, except it be the building we call King Henry VIIth’s Chapel, additional to the abbey church of Westminster, and that is not to be named with this, because it is but a chapel, and that but a small one neither.
York Minster, Henry Shaw c1848
The royal chapel at Windsor, and King’s College Chapel, at Cambridge, are indeed very gay things, but neither of them can come up to the minster of York on many accounts; also the great tower of the cathedral church at Canterbury is named to match with this at York; but this is but a piece of a large work, the rest of the same building being mean and gross, compared with this at York.
The only deficiency I find at York Minster, is the lowness of the great tower, or its want of a fine spire upon it, which, doubtless, was designed by the builders; he that lately writing a description of this church, and that at Doncaster, placed high fine spires upon them both, took a great deal of pains to tell us he was describing a place where he had never been, and that he took his intelligence grossly upon trust.
As then this church was so compleatly finished, and that so lately that it is not yet four hundred years old, it is the less to be wondered that the work continues so firm and fine, that it is now the beautifullest church of the old building that is in Britain. In a word, the west end is a picture, and so is the building, the outsides of the quire especially, are not to be equall’d.
The choir of the church, and the proper spaces round and behind it, are full of noble and magnificent monuments, too many to enter upon the description of them here, some in marble, and others in the old manner in brass, and the windows are finely painted; but I could find no body learned enough in the designs that could read the histories to us that were delineated there.
The Chapter-House is a beauty indeed, and it has been always esteemed so, witness the Latin verse which is written upon it in letters of gold.
Ur Rosa flos florum, sic est Domus ista Domorum.
But, allowing this to be a little too much of a boast, it must be own’d to be an excellent piece of work, and indeed so is the whole minster; ?or does it want any thing, as I can suppose, but, as I said before, a fine spire upon the tower, such a one as is at Grantham, or at Newark. The dimensions of this church shall conclude my description of it.
It is in length, exclusive of the buttresses – 524½
Breadth at the east end -105
At the west end – 109
In the cross – 222
Heighth of the nave of the roof – 99
But to return to the city it self; there is abundance of good company here, and abundance of good families live here, for the sake of the good company and cheap living; a man converses here with all the world as effectually as at London; the keeping up assemblies among the younger gentry was first set up here, a thing other writers recommend mightily as the character of a good country, and of a pleasant place; but which I look upon with a different view, and esteem it as a plan laid for the ruin of the nation’s morals, and which, in time, threatens us with too much success that way.
However, to do the ladies of Yorkshire justice, I found they did not gain any great share of the just reproach which in some other places has been due to their sex; nor has there been so many young fortunes carried off here by half-pay men, as has been said to be in other towns, of merry fame, westward and southward.
The government of the city is that of a regular corporation, by mayor, aldermen and common-council; the mayor has the honour here, by antient prescription, of being called My Lord; it is a county within its self, and has a jurisdiction extended over a small tract of land on the west suburb, called the Liberty of Ansty, which I could get no uniform account of, one pretending one thing, one another. The city is old but well built; and the clergy, I mean such as serve in, and depend upon the cathedral, have very good houses, or little palaces rather here, adjoining the cymeterie, or churchyard of the minster; the bishop’s is indeed called a palace, and is really so; the deanery is a large, convenient and spacious house; and among these dwellings of the clergy is the assembly house. Whence I would infer, the conduct of it is under the better government, or should be so.
No city in England is better furnished with provisions of every kind, nor any so cheap, in proportion to the goodness of things; the river being so navigable, and so near the sea, the merchants here trade directly to what part of the world they will; for ships of any burthen come up within thirty mile of the city, and small craft from sixty to eighty ton, and under, come up to the very city.
With these they carry on a considerable trade; they import their own wines from France and Portugal, and likewise their own deals and timber from Norway; and indeed what they please almost from where they please; they did also bring their own coals from Newcastle and Sunderland, but now have them down the Aire and Calder from Wakefield, and from Leeds, as I have said already.
The publick buildings erected here are very considerable, such as halls for their merchants and trades, a large town-house or guild-hall, and the prison, which is spacious, and takes up all the ground within the walls of the old castle, and, in a building newly erected there, the assizes for the county are kept. The old walls are standing, and the gates and posterns; but the old additional works which were cast up in the late rebellion, are slighted; so that York is not now defensible as it was then: But things lie so too, that a little time, and many hands, would put those works into their former condition, and make the city able to stand out a small siege. But as the ground seems capable by situation, so an ingenious head, in our company, taking a stricter view of it, told us, he would undertake to make it as strong as Tourney in Flanders, or as Namure, allowing him to add a citadel at that end next the river. But this is a speculation; and ’tis much better that we should have no need of fortified towns than that we should seek out good situations to make them.
While we were at York, we took one day’s time to see the fatal field called Marston Moor, where Prince Rupert, a third time, by his excess of valour, and defect of conduct, lost the royal army, and had a victory wrung out of his hands, after he had all the advantage in his own hands that he could desire: Certain it is, that charging at the head of the right wing of horse with that intrepid courage that he always shewed, he bore down all before him in the very beginning of the battle, and not only put the enemies cavalry into confusion, but drove them quite out of the field.
Could he have bridled his temper, and, like an old soldier, or rather an experienced general, have contented himself with the glory of that part, sending but one brigade of his troops on in the pursuit, which had been sufficient to have finished the work, and have kept the enemies from rallying, and then with the rest of his cavalry, wheeled to the left, and fallen in upon the croup of the right wing of the enemies cavalry, he had made a day of it, and gained the most glorious victory of that age; for he had a gallant army. But he followed the chace clear off, and out of the field of battle; and when he began to return, he had the misfortune to see that his left wing of horse was defeated by Fairfax and Cromwell, and to meet his friends flying for their lives; so that he had nothing to do but to fly with them, and leave his infantry, and the Duke, then Marquis of Newcastle’s, old veteran soldiers to be cut in pieces by the enemy.
I had one gentleman with me, an old soldier too, who, though he was not in the fight, yet gave us a compleat account of the action from his father’s relation, who, he said, had served in it, and who had often shew’d him upon the very post every part of the engagement where every distinct body was drawn up, how far the lines extended, how the infantry were flank’d by the cavalry, and the cavalry by the woods, where the artillery were planted, and which way they pointed; and he accordingly described it in so lively a manner to me, that I thought it was as if I had just now seen the two armies engaging.
His relation of Prince Rupert’s ill conduct, put me in mind of the quite different conduct of old General Tilly, who commanded the imperial army at the great Battle of Leipsick in Germany, against that glorious Prince Gustavus Adolphus.
Upon the first charge, the cavalry of the right wing of Tilly’s army, commanded by the Count of Furstemburgh, fell on with such fury, and in such excellent order, being all old troops, and most of them cuirassers, upon the Saxon troops, which had the left of the Swedish army, and made twenty two thousand men, that, in short, they put them into confusion, and drove them upon their infantry of the main battle, so that all went off together except General Arnheim, who commanded the Saxon right wing, and was drawn up next to the Swedes.
The Saxons being thus put into confusion, the Imperialists cried Victoria, the enemy fly , and their general officers cry’d out to Tilly to let them follow. No, says Tilly, let ’em go, let ’em go; but let us beat the Swedes too, or we do nothing; and immediately he ordered the cavalry that had performed so well, should face to the left, and charge the rest of the army in flank. But the King of Sweden, who saw the disorder, and was ready at all places to encourage and direct his troops, ordered six thousand Scots, under Sir John Hepburn, who made his line of reserve, to make a front to the left, and face the victorious troops of the Imperialists, while, in the mean time, with a fury not to be resisted, he charg’d, in person, upon the Imperial left wing, and bore down all before him.
Then it appeared that Count Tilly was in the right; for though he had not let his right wing pursue the Saxons, who, notwithstanding being new men, never rallied, yet with his whole army he was not able to beat the rest; but the King of Sweden gained the most glorious victory that ever a Protestant army had till then obtain’d in the world over a Popish. This was 1632.
I came back extremely well pleased with the view of Marston Moor, and the account my friend had given of the battle; ’twas none of our business to concern our passions in the cause, or regret the misfortunes of that day; the thing was over beyond our ken; time had levelled the victors with the vanquished, and the royal family being restored, there was no room to say one thing or other to what was pass’d; so we returned to York the same night.
York, as I have said, is a spacious city, it stands upon a great deal of ground, perhaps more than any city in England out of Middlesex, except Norwich; but then the buildings are not close and throng’d as at Bristol, or as at Durham, nor is York so populous as either Bristol or Norwich. But as York is full of gentry and persons of distinction, so they live at large, and have houses proportioned to their quality; and this makes the city lie so far extended on both sides the river. It is also very magnificent, and, as we say, makes a good figure every way in its appearance, even at a distance; for the cathedral is so noble and so august a pile, that ’tis a glory to all the rest.
There are very neat churches here besides the cathedral, and were not the minster standing, like the Capitol in the middle of the city of Rome, some of these would pass for extraordinary, as the churches of St. Mary’s and Allhallows, and the steeples of Christ-Church, St. Mary’s, St. Pegs, and Allhallows.
There are also two fine market-houses, with the town-hall upon the bridge, and abundance of other publick edifices, all which together makes this city, as I said, more stately and magnificent, though not more populous and wealthy, than any other city in the king’s dominions, London and Dublin excepted. The reason of the difference is evidently for the want of trade.
Here is no trade indeed, except such as depends upon the confluence of the gentry: But the city, as to lodgings, good houses, and plenty of provisions, is able to receive the King, Lords and Commons, with the whole Court, if there was occasion; and once they did entertain King Charles I. with his whole Court, and with the assembly of Peers, besides a vast confluence of the gentry from all parts to the king, and at the same time a great part of his army.
We went out in a double excursion from this city, first to see the Duke of Leeds’s house, and then the Earl of Carlisle’s, and the Earl of Burlington’s in the East Riding; Carlisle House is by far the finest design, but it is not finished, and may not, perhaps, in our time; they say his lordship sometimes observes noblemen should only design, and begin great palaces, and leave posterity to finish them gradually, as their estates will allow them; it is called Castle Howard. The Earl of Burlington’s is an old built house, but stands deliciously, and has a noble prospect towards the Humber, as also towards the Woulds.
This 1720s engraving showed the original plans for Castle Howard and was published in Vitruvius Britannicus. By this time the house was taking shape though the west wing would take many decades longer.
At Hambledon Down, near this city, are once a year very great races, appointed for the entertainment of the gentry, and they are the more frequented, because the king’s plate of a hundred guineas is always run for there once a year; a gift designed to encourage the gentlemen to breed good horses.
Yorkshire is throng’d with curiosities, and two or three constantly attend these races, namely, First, That (as all horse matches do) it brings together abundance of noblemen and gentlemen of distinction, and a proportion of ladies; and, I assure you, the last make a very noble appearance here, and, if I may speak my thoughts without flattery, take the like number where you will, yet, in spite of the pretended reproach of country breeding, the ladies of the north are as handsome and as well dress’d as are to be seen either at the Court or the Ball.
A mile from this town, or less, is a stately beautiful seat, built a few years since by Sir Edward Blacket [Newby Hall] 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.
Newby Hall was built between 1691 and 1695
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.
North Allerton, a town on the post road, is remarkable for the vast quantity of black cattle sold there, there being a fair once every fortnight for some months, where a prodigious quantity are sold.
I have not concern’d this work at all in the debate among us in England, as to Whig and Tory. But I must observe of this town, that, except a few Quakers, they boasted that they had not one Dissenter here, and yet at the same time not one Tory, which is what, I believe, cannot be said of any other town in Great Britain.
Darlington, a post town, has nothing remarkable but dirt, and a high stone bridge over little or no water, the town is eminent for good bleaching of linen, so that I have known cloth brought from Scotland to be bleached here. As to the Hell Kettles, so much talked up for a wonder, which are to be seen as we ride from the Tees to Darlington, I had already seen so little of wonder in such country tales, that I was not hastily deluded again. ‘Tis evident, they are nothing but old coal pits filled with water by the River Tees.
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.
Durham is next, a little compact neatly contriv’d city, surrounded almost with the River Wear, which with the castle standing on an eminence, encloses the city in the middle of it; as the castle does also the cathedral, the bishop’s palace, and the fine houses of the clergy, where they live in all the magnificence and splendour imaginable.
I need not tell you, that the Bishop of Durham is a temporal prince, that he keeps a court of equity, and also courts of justice in ordinary causes within himself. The county of Durham, like the country about Rome, is called St. Cuthbert’s Patrimony. This church, they tell us, was founded by David, King of Scots; and afterward Zouch, the valiant bishop, fought the Scots army at Nevil’s Cross, where the Scots were terribly cut in pieces, and their king taken prisoner.
But what do I dip into antiquity for, here, which I have avoided as much as possible every where else? The church of Durham is eminent for its wealth; the bishoprick is esteemed the best in England; and the prebends and other church livings, in the gift of the bishop, are the richest in England. They told me there, that the bishop had thirteen livings in his gift, from five hundred pounds a year to thirteen hundred pounds a year; and the living of the little town of Sedgfield, a few miles south of the city, is said to be worth twelve hundred pounds a year, beside the small tithes, which maintain a curate, or might do so.
Going to see the church of Durham, they shewed us the old Popish vestments of the clergy before the Reformation, and which, on high days, some of the residents put on still. They are so rich with embroidery and emboss’d work of silver, that indeed it was a kind of a load to stand under them.
The town is well built but old, full of Roman Catholicks, who live peaceably and disturb no body, and no body them; for we being there on a holiday, saw them going as publickly to mass as the Dissenters did on other days to their meeting-house.
From hence we kept the common road to Chester in the Street, an old, dirty, thorowfare town, empty of all remains of the greatness which antiquaries say it once had, when it was a Roman colony. Here is a stone bridge, but instead of riding over it we rode under it, and riding up the stream pass’d under or through one of the arches, not being over the horse hoofs in water; yet, on enquiry, we found, that some times they have use enough for a bridge.
Here we had an account of a melancholy accident, and in it self strange also, which happened in or near Lumley Park, not long before we pass’d through the town. A new coal pit being dug or digging, the workmen workt on in the vein of coals till they came to a cavity, which, as was supposed, had formerly been dug from some other pit; but be it what it will, as soon as upon the breaking into the hollow part, the pent up air got vent, it blew .up like a mine of a thousand barrels of powder, and; getting vent at the shaft of the pit, burst out with such a terrible noise, as made the very earth tremble for some miles round, and terrify’d the whole country. There were near three-score poor people lost their lives in the pit, and one or two, as we were told, who were at the bottom of the shaft, were blown quite out, though sixty fathom deep, and were found dead upon the ground.
Lumley Castle is just on the side of the road as you pass between Durham and Chester, pleasantly seated in a fine park, and on the bank of the River Were. The park, besides the pleasantness of it, has this much better thing to recommend it, namely, that it is full of excellent veins of the best coal in the country, (for the Lumley coal are known for their goodness at London, as well as there). This, with the navigable river just at hand, by which the coals are carried down to Sunderland to the ships, makes Lumley Park an inexhaustible treasure to the family.
They tell us, that King James the First lodg’d in this castle, at his entrance into England to take possession of the crown, and seeing a fine picture of the antient pedigree of the family, which carried it very far beyond what his majesty thought credible, turn’d this good jest upon it to the Bishop of Durham, who shewed it him, viz. That indeed he did not know that Adam’s sirname was Lumley before.
Lumley Castle, 1794, Edward Dayes