A Gentleman's Tour 1776

Elizabeth Hutchings

Dedicated in Loving Memory
of Richard whose idea it was
& for our sons
Keith, Nigel & Simon

Text Copyright Elizabeth Hutchings 2013

A gentleman's tour of 1776 was written by an unknown author, but obviously a man of literary fluency and education. He lived during an exciting period of British history. In 1776 the American colonists were in open revolt and France had allied itself with them against Britain. So when our writer set out from Reading on a journey that was to take him through Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire. the Isle of Wight, Surrey and finally London, Britain was on the brink of war. As he crossed the Solent he would have seen great warships assembling off Spithead while on the Isle of Wight the talk was of smugglers still trading illicitly with France

In 1993, Elizabeth Hutchings retraced his route solving puzzles and answering questions posed in the original Journal. Photographs taken by her enhance the text bringing vividly to life all our author saw and experienced. This intriguing account of a journey made over 200 years ago remains fascinating reading.

Included are three illustrations, unique to this book, by Island artists.


Editor's Note January 2013
I published the original book in 1993 under the already existing Hunnyhill Publications Imprint. 2000 copies were printed by Yelf Bros Ltd in Newport and all sold. A facsimile of the original was printed on every other page. The identification of the Gentleman's handwriting has so far eluded me. The famous John Wilkes was a candidate when I found him with his party staying at the Antelope in Salisbury but this was fourteen days before my Gentleman and he was travelling from the Island not to it.

The only changes made in the printed text of the facsimile have been the alteration of some punctuation to make it easier to read and square brackets enclose some missing words. The old spellings have been retained but in the notes and on the map modern spelling has been used.
Elizabeth Hutchings

Publisher's Notes 1993
The original notebook is in the County Records Office, Newport, Isle of Wight. It was acquired by Mr E.C. Earl, the Honorary Archivist, at the instigation of the Royal Commission of Historical Manuscripts, London, from Sotheby's catalogue 'Aldus' of 6th February 1973.

The catalogue announced it as follows: 311 ISLE OF WIGHT. Notebook containing "Observations made in a Tour of the Isle of Wight, the beginning of September 1776" in which the writer gives descriptions of sites and towns on the Isle of Wight and of the places in the South of England which the party passed through (Portsmouth, Reading, Wilton, Salisbury, Chichester, etc) 17 pages, plus a list of inns, contemporary combed covers, sm. 8vo. One observation is that the people of the Isle of Wight "have a great neatness in their appearance". The account ends ". . . . In the Evening arrived safely in Town; having travell'd about three hundred miles by land and water, in the space of ten days, without meeting with any accident, & very little bad weather, the utmost mirth, good humor & harmony prevailing amongst all the party." [From this we must assume that they started originally from London.]

The following introduction was written in 1974 by my husband, the late Richard J. Hutchings, in whose memory I have dedicated this book. Questions that needed investigating have mostly been resolved, though not the identity of the Gentleman who wrote it. His companions must have been few enough for them to fit into the one poste chaise kept at the George at Yarmouth. At Wilton House, was Marcus Aurelius still there on his triumphal arch? Why were some of Salisbury Cathedral's monuments 'curious'? Whereabouts was the Sun Inn in Newport? What 'new manufactory' had Appuldurcombe? Where was the Fitzmaurice's 'fine old seat'? Which was Col. Amherst's seat near Ryde, and when identified why was it named St John's? Who was Mr Walker with the excellent voice giving a good discourse in Chichester? And finally, was the model of Victory still in Portsmouth? I rediscovered Dr Syntax and saw nearly all the places mentioned - and even the model ship with many others, though not, as it should have been, where our Gentleman had admired it.

Richard's Introduction
This journal was written by an unknown author, but obviously a man of literary fluency and education. It was written at a particularly interesting period of British history. The American colonists had embarked on a war of independence and France had openly allied herself with them against Britain. Between 1770 in 1840 smuggling reached a peak as a direct result of heavy duties imposed by Customs and Excise on many imported goods. In 1777 William Arnold, father of Dr Arnold, headmaster of Rugby, and grandfather of Matthew Arnold, poet and scholar, was appointed Collector of Customs for the Isle of Wight, based at Cowes. From 1776 onwards until the defeat of Napoleon's forces by Wellington, relations with France worsened steadily.

So when our unknown author set out from Reading, Berks, on 31st August 1776 Britain was on the brink of war. In the Solent and Spithead men-of-war were gathering and Island smugglers had seized the opportunity to traffic illicitly with France in dutiable commodities, trading on the Navy's war preparations.

August ye 31st. Set out from Reading & arrived at Andover about five o'clock in the evening. After tea walk'd around the town, which is a tolerable good one, handsome old church, & a very pretty triangular walk round the churchyard, with rows of Lime trees on each side, which meet at [the] top & form a regular Arbor; near it is an acre of ground, said to be left by an old lady to this town for the Young Men, & Women to meet, & make love in. It seems to be more used at present, as a common for cattle to graze in. We learnt nothing else remarkable of this place, but met with very good beds & accommodation at the White Hart Inn; September 1st left Andover at nine, a very pleasant ride over the downs to Amesbury, 14 miles. While the chaises were changing walk'd to the church, a poor old place, indeed. The Town is very small, & has an air of poverty throughout. Two miles from this place we stopt to survey Stonehenge, which appears to be the ruins of some very stupendous building, of a circular form, as there are part of two rows of stones remaining, in that shape, as kind of Pillars. The size of the stones, is astonishing as some of them are raised to a considerable height, to rest on the tops of others, that stand upright.

Sign on the George Hotel Amesbury

Coaching Inn
Founded by Henry ll
Headquarters of General Fairfax
during the Civil War
The Blue Dragon
in Charles Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit

According to some of the people to whom I spoke in Amesbury John Gay wrote the Beggar's Opera in a cave near the ancient and beautiful village church of St Mary & St Melor. Local historians appear to have proved otherwise but it makes a good story. Our Gentleman missed Amesbury Abbey with its five-arched bridge, built in 1775 near the main gates, and much else.

The first work took place on the Stonehenge site round about 2800 BC. Succeeding peoples placed granite sarsens from the nearby Marlborough Downs which we see today and the Beaker People brought dolerite bluestones by water from South Wales. It was surely never intended to be a building.

The country continues very open, & all downs, to Wilton, an old place. We pass'd thro' it to a small Inn at Ld. Pembroke's Park Gate, and from thence we walked to the house which makes a magnificent appearance, is a very ancient building, & full of curious antique Statues, & Busts within and without. It would take as many weeks as we had hours to spare to enter into a critical examination of them all. The most striking to me were one of Democritus, & another of Sappho. Amongst the Pictures a very fine family piece & a Charity with her three children, amazingly expressive, likewise, another of Rubens Children. Here is a fine piece of water, with the flat bridge so contrived as not to appear above the surface of the Water, till you come quite upon it, to cross; one of the most pleasing deceptions I ever saw. Upon an eminence is an equestrian statue, of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius;

Sir William Chambers' Triumphal Arch, surmounted by the splendid Marcus Aurelius, a copy of the gilded bronze in Rome in the Piazza del Campidoglia, which he would have seen, now forms the entrance to what James I described as, 'The finest house in the land.' Marcus Aurelius is cast in lead and has recently been restored to his former glory. It was transferred from its 'eminence' in the 19th century by the architect, James Wyatt.

A fascinating film, with Anna Massey as a nun telling the story of this home, which has been the Pembroke's over 450 years, starts your tour these days. Sappho, the poetess of the Island of Lesbos and Democritus, the Greek philosopher may well still be amongst the many busts you encounter on the way. Quite a few are dated but not named. There is a fine portrait of Democritus by Ribera at the top of a staircase best seen from the room below.

A whole day is indeed not enough to see what Wilton has to offer but I can only agree that many weeks would be needed, for both the house and grounds are extremely rewarding. There is a large Palladian Bridge and perhaps you would find the one with the 'pleasing deception.'

The ground is pretty, Salisbury Cathedral makes a good view at some of the openings; we had a pleasant ride in the evening. From hence to Salisbury, making about 12 miles from Amesbury. The evening proved so rainy were obliged to remain in the inn (the Antelope,) the morning (Sept 2nd) not much better, but got at last to see the Cathedral which is the lightest Gothic building I ever saw, but seems to want steps up into the Choir to give it an air of greater grandeur; here are a few curious Monuments. In the Close are some good Houses, but the situation altogether flat, the Market place is square, airy & handsome, upon the whole, a good city.

The myth that an arrow was shot from waterless Old Sarum to determine the site of a new cathedral and town only carries weight if a deer or antelope was wounded and fell in the area bounded by the rivers Avon, Bourne, Nadder and Wylye. The town was laid out in chequers or squares, many named after their chief Inn. The Antelope Inn bordered Catherine Street between Cross Keys and White Hart. In a hand-written account, The Inns of Salisbury, Roland Graham Gadon writes that Mrs Best was the landlady in 1776 and 14 days before our party stayed, "Mr Alderman Wilkes arrived in the city on Friday, 'with a party of gentlemen and a large retinue,' after, 'a tour to Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight etc.'" John Wilkes had been Lord Mayor of London in 1774. He built a villa in Sandown in 1788. There is a plaque on the building now.

Salisbury Cathedral's foundation stones were laid in 1220. The building of the tower and spire was a continuous process once the Cathedral itself was finished and they would have been completed by 1300. The height is 404 feet. It was the tallest in England in 1776 and probably in Europe.

In Germany the 19th-century tower at Ulm surpassed it by 126 feet. There is now one step from the nave to the choir, with another step up into the presbytery at the east end and another by the Bishop's throne. James Wyatt gutted the Cathedral of all its mediaeval fittings between 1789 & 1792. Salisbury has many monuments and visitors must decide for themselves which are, 'curious'.

Left it about Eleven, pass'd some pretty villages & gentlemen's Seats, before we enter'd the New Forest, thro' which there is a fine strait road cut to Lyndhurst, a most beautiful Village situated in the Forest, an 18 mile stage, from Salisbury. The Lord Warden of the Forest has a house, & stables for Hunters at Lyndhurst, & there are many very pretty hunting seats near it. The Church is situated on a hill which commands a beautiful & extensive prospect; we dined at a neat Inn (The Crown), & in the Evening had a fine ride to Lymington, 8 miles, which is a very pretty neat Town, situated on the side of a hill, frequented for bathing in the sea. The women here are remarkably handsome.

The Church in Lyndhurst is St Michael & All Angels. In November1934 the ashes of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, by then Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, were buried in the churchyard. Her husband Reginald was a Hampshire cricketer and they lived for many years in the area.

Their lodging in Lymington was The Angel Inn which is still in the High Street & Paul Kelly's drawing is on the front cover of this book. It was here that the famous artist and cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson stayed when on his, Tour in a Post-Chaise, with Henry Wigstead. His painting of The Angel courtyard shows the bustling ostlers preparing horses and various conveyances for the day's travellers. This was probably in 1784 and the tour culminated at Spithead where he painted a dramatic picture of the masts of the Royal George, sunk at anchor in 1782. The opening scenes in Patricia Sibley's children's book, Danger at Dark Hows, are set in the Royal George, which was a First-Rate ship, the same class as Balchen's Victory sunk in 1744.

Improving roads sent many gentlemen touring, recording all they saw. Often, like William Gilpin, (A Picturesque Tour of the West of England and the Isle of Wight, 1798) publishing them with fine illustrations. These were hilariously parodied by William Combe, with wonderful Rowlandson cartoons in his Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque (1809).

Amaz'd she look'd & loud she shriek'd
Or, rather like a pig, she squealed
To see her humble husband dare
Thus quit his sober ev'ning chair.
I'll make a TOUR and then I'll WRITE IT'

September 3rd at one in the afternoon embarked for the Island, a very brisk gale, & rough sea. The Isle made a fine prospect before us, & to the right we saw the Needles & Hurst Castle; in one hour we were safely landed at Yarmouth, which is a poor place but one good Inn, [The George] & only one Postchaise kept, which being gone out for the day, obliged us to stay till night before we could set out for Newport, which is 10 miles, very stony road, & a great number of gates to open, but we made a very good agreeable stage of it, by reading as long as our candle lasted, & then singing, & repeating verses; arrived at Newport half past ten. At the Sun Inn, there is an exceeding good Assembly room. It is a neat pretty Town, the houses built of brick, the streets of a tolerable width, a square Market place, & good looking old church, but no burying ground round it being almost in the centre of the town. The people here have a great neatness in their appearance. This place is the Capital of the Island & reckoned to contain five thousand souls, a sixth part of the whole inhabitants. I did not hear of any manufactory carried on; believe the lower sort are chiefly employ'd in works of husbandry. The Island is very well cultivated, & extremely fruitful; here is a navigable River, or canal to Cowes, & stages every day.

Our travellers would have seen the Needles much as they are today as the fourth one had crashed into the sea in 1764. In 1992 the famous arch rock in Freshwater Bay also crashed, on St Crispin's Day, October 25 much to the sadness of us all. Hurst Castle had been built by Henry VIII in about 1535 as part of the Western Solent defences. In November 1648 King Charles was taken there after his abortive attempts to escape from Carisbrooke Castle and on December 18 went to London for the last time. Subsequently it was often used as a state prison. Accompanied by our dog, Pippa, Richard and I walked along a high shingle ridge some years ago. Rewarding, but recommended only for the healthy hiker.

There were about 50 gates for the post boy to open and close en route to Newport. The Sun Inn buildings still exist on the corner of Holyrood Street and Lugley Street. Now with a mock-Tudor facade it is Benedict's Wine shop and Delicatessen with a sign, 'Reads Posting House'. Penny Young's beautiful painting of it can be seen with the other illustrations. Opposite in Holyrood Street is Yelf-Brothers, the printers of this book. [The Sun Inn, Benedict's Wine shop and Yelfs no longer exist. 2013]

The fine 12th century St Thomas's Church was pulled down and the remains of King Charles' young daughter Princess Elizabeth were discovered under the Chancel. The foundation stone for its replacement was laid by Prince Albert in 1854. At Easter 2008 the Church was designated The Minster Church of STS Thomas.

Letter to the County Press December, 1994 from Elizabeth Hutchings.
Seeing your report about the restoration of St Thomas's Church Newport prompts me to tell you of what may be a little known fact about the beautiful marble sculpture of Princess Elizabeth in this Victorian church. On reading Sir Leslie Stevens' Mausoleum book I discovered that his wife was, at the age of 10, the model for Marochetti's masterpiece. She was of course to become the mother of Virginia Woolf and niece of the famous photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, who lived in Freshwater Bay. The 1776 tourist would have seen the original St Thomas's and would have been unaware that the remains of Charles I's daughter were buried there. Queen Victoria was horrified at the discovery and commissioned the sculpture and gave it to the Church.
The plaque reads.
To the memory of the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I, who died at Carisbrooke Castle on Sunday, September 8, 1650 and is interred beneath the chancel of this church, this monument is erected as a token of respect for her virtues, and as sympathy for her misfortunes by Victoria R 1856

Wednesday September 4th made an excursion [from the Sun Inn in Newport] to Apuldercomb the seat of Sir Robt. Worsly, which is now rebuilding in a modern stile with Portland Stone, the entrance a large Hall, with two rows of composition Pillars, which leads to a spacious dining Parlor, in the right wing, & a drawing room in the left. The latter is elegantly furnished, with a new kind of manufactory in imitation of needlework, & pictures of the same so beautiful, as to be taken for fine paintings; the few rooms above that are finished, are more elegant than grand, tho' upon the whole this is the most magnificent house in the Island its situation is rather low, but pretty for an inland one, it would certainly have been much improved by having a view of the sea, which we came in sight of soon after leaving it. . .

Was this the day that a mason scratched 1776 on a window lintel at Appuldurcombe? A Tudor mansion had been pulled down in 1690 by Sir Robert Worsley and a new house built. His descendant, and namesake started rebuilding in 1702 but this was only being completed in 1776 by Richard, (not Robert as our gentleman wrote), the grandson of the first Robert's cousin and heir. He, too, appears to have used the architect James Wyatt. His famous History of the Isle of Wight was published in 1781. The, 'new kind of manufactory' at Appuldurcombe could have been printed wallpaper as tapestry had been woven for several centuries. It was here that John Wilkes records having breakfast one day, together with the Fitzmaurices. In 1772 Richard Worsley brought in Lancelot "Capability" Brown to landscape the considerable grounds.

(2013) On February 7th 1943 the pilot of one of several German Dornier 217s aircraft which had been laying mines off the coast veered inland and crashed on St Martin's Down after dropping his mine on the house. It is now owned by English Heritage and is open to the public from Sundays to Fridays, 27th March to 1st November, 2013 10am to 4pm. The interesting shell of the House, which has an amazing history & English Baroque elegance, is still notable today and partly restored. The landscape, designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown is unique on the Isle of Wight. New this year are Tractor Trailer Rides around the Historic Estate and the Rare Breeds, incorporating the Estate farming history. This will be further extended to celebrate the "Capability" Brown Anniversary. the way to Steeple, which is most beautifully situated on the side of a steep hill, commands a most extensive sea prospect. The House which belongs to the hon'ble Hans Stanley governor of the Island, is thatched & quite in the neat Cottage Stile throughout, a very pretty garden & the most elegant little bason, before the dining parlor window, in the form of a ScOllop shell, which receives one of the clearest springs I ever saw. At the top of the House is a large room with eight beds in different niches.

The Rt. Hon. Hans Stanley, M.P. for Southampton and William Pitt's representative in Paris at the abortive peace negotiations in 1761, bought the Steephill estate in 1770. In his The Undercliff of the Isle of Wight J. L. Whitehead quotes Hassal; '...lofty elms and ashes, which form an avenue to the house, which is of true cottage style, roofed with humble thatch.' Wyndham; '...a beautiful spring of the most transparent water before a large stone basin, in the shape of a scallop shell, perpetually full.' Albin; 'Many ravens build in the cliffs, and the falcon hawk is peculiar to them.' Englefield; '...a path leads to the sea, accompanied by the cascades of a pretty spring' and William Gilpin's somewhat different view, '...The cottage is covered, indeed, with thatch; but that makes it no more a cottage, than Ruffles make a clown a gentleman, or a meally hat would turn a laced beau into a miller. We everywhere see the appendages of junket and good living. Who would expect a fountain bubbling up under the windows of a cottage into an elegant carved shell to cool wine? The thing is beautiful, but out of place'.

From hence we ascended a steep hill, which afforded a most striking sea & land prospect, the latter most beautifully diversified, with hill & dale, downs & enclosures, woods & plains, the whole Isle is so. We found our eyes constantly regaled in this manner in all our rides. A place called Shankling Chine was the next we stopt at. I find myself utterly incapable of describing it, farther than saying tis a most romantic situation by the seaside, a most stupendous high cliff, whose sides are ornamented by the rude hand of nature with various trees & shrubs. Two cottages are built on the side, inhabited by decent people who supplied us with broiled bacon for dinner. We descended by some stone steps, & walk'd upon the sands; the cliffs appear'd above more awfully beautiful than anything I had seen except looking down from the same.

At Shanklin nearly 100 years later Longfellow wrote;
O, traveller, stay thy weary feet;
Drink of this fountain, pure and sweet;
It flows for rich and poor the same.
Then go thy way, remembering still
The wayside well beneath the hill,
The cup of water in His name.

Our ride from hence to Newport in the Evening was thro' a different Country more enclosed & narrow lanes. Thursday, September 5th pursued our travels, on the other side of Newport, pass'd at a small distance a fine old seat of Mr Fitzmaurice's from [which] we ascend on an open down, & discover the ships lying at Spithead on the left, & a fine view of the naked sea to the right, with the most beautiful & rich land prospects on all sides between us & the Ocean. On this hill is a square stone pillar placed as a landmark. We pass'd Sandown Fort, & a pretty village (Brading) in our way to St Hellens. The Priory, a seat of Mr Grove has beautiful grounds, & pretty walks of shrubs and close to the shore opposite St Hellens road, where we saw several ships lying.

The landmark is Ashey seamark.

Two references have established the 'fine old seat of the Fitzmaurices.' In 1989 a faculty was granted by the Bishop for the removal of the gravestones round Newchurch church on condition that the information on the gravestones was recorded first. Hearing from the vicar that this had not been done, Clifford Webster, County Archivist, spent a week with his assistant [his wife] recording each inscription as the stones were hoisted up to be laid face down making a path down one side of the graveyard. One read 'James Gutteridge - Native of North Britain. Gardener to Hon. Thomas Fitzmaurice. d. 28. March 1770 aged 30.' The entry in the register read 'Gutteridge, the gardener at Knighton bur. 31 March 1770.'

In a letter written in 1772 John Wilkes wrote that he visited the Fitzmaurices at Knighton and there met the Garricks and Sir Richard Worsley, who invited him and the Fitzmaurices to Appuldurcombe next day.

There are few depictions of the beautiful house and gardens of Knighton Gorges which in 1821 was wantonly destroyed by its owner, George Maurice because his daughter married a clergyman against his wishes. This would have meant she would not have been able to inherit it. Lynn Phillips' superb painting of an imaginative reconstruction of the front view is published for the first time in this book. The name is pronounced K nighton. Gorges was added when Ralf de Gorges married the owner, Ellen de Morville in 1256.

Myrtles abound in these plantations, & seem to bear the inclement weather as well as any other shrub. A very pretty Summer House commands a view of Portsmouth, etc. Betwixt this place and Ride we pass'd a House of Col. Amherst situated on a hill in view of Spithead. Ride is a very pretty place, built on a gradual descent to the sea. Here are a few genteel looking houses. The sand is remarkably fine, on the shore for bathing but believe here are no accommodations for it. Friday, September 6 set out at Seven in the Morning for Cowes. Soon after leaving Newport on the right we saw a large brick building, lately erected, for the humane purpose of maintaining their poor. We were told it contain'd 500 at present.

William Amherst's house, St John's now forms part of Bishop Lovett School, named after Neville Lovett, first Bishop of Portsmouth in 1927. He built it on Troublefields, land owned by his wife, Elizabeth. His brother, Jeffrey had been chosen by Pitt, with Wolfe and Boscowen to replace the old guard in 1758. He took Montreal in 1760 ensuring the surrender of Canada by the French. In 1776 he was created Baron. When the French took St John's, Newfoundland in 1762 he sent his brother, William, who negotiated a surrender, hence the name of William's Island home. His son, William Pitt Amherst, sold his stake in 1796 to Edward Simeon, ancestor of Sir John, Tennyson's 'Prince of Courtesy' who lived at Swainston near Calbourne. The famous landscape gardener Humphrey Repton was engaged by Simeon to landscape the extensive grounds. He planted rhododendrons, of which there were few species in England at the time. The Gentleman might well have thought the Worsleys of Appuldurcombe would envy the unrivalled views across Spithead. As Lieutenant Governor of Portsmouth Amherst may well have been familiar with 'the most beautiful and compleat model of Victory. . .' which the travellers were to see two days later but which I had difficulty in locating.

They are supported at the joint expense of all their parishes; we remark'd not to have seen one beggar in the Island, & were told the asking [for] charity is unheard of there. They employ their children very early, in various little occupations. The first piece of ground I saw which has the appearance of uncultivated heath, was where this poorhouse stands but seems to be of no great extent. The rest of the road to Cowes was thro' pleasant lanes, which place has more the appearance of a dirty seaport, than any we had seen there. We walk'd to the Castle, which is low & old. A pretty house of Mr Rogers's stands just above the town.

The House of Industry, opened at Parkhurst in 1770, later formed part of the old St Mary's Hospital and is still in use in spite of being overshadowed by its gleaming, steel clad, new-age neighbour opened in 1991. Before 1770 each town and village had its own workhouse with little for the occupants to do. R. J. Eldridges' Newport in Bygone Days gives an excellent description. Mr Rogers' house above Cowes was Bellevue, later to be Northwood House and now often the venue for concerts and other happenings. Christopher Cockerels hovercraft, invented in Cowes, would have astonished our party of travellers and carried them more speedily across the Solent, but would they have had time to observe so much? Compare the splendid sight of sailing ships with the dull camouflage of the 1944 invasion fleet over which it has been said one could have walked to the mainland from the Island. Only the Tall Ships we only too infrequently see in the Solent can give us some small idea of those times.

We embarked at Nine for Portsmouth, no wind the sea so very calm and had a most tedious passage & the sun intensely hot on the deck; but our eyes were regaled all the way with fine views of the beautiful shore of the Island we had just quitted, Carisbrook Castle, [Calshot Castle?] the entrance into Southampton river, the ships lying at Spithead, & as we approach'd Portsmouth Harbour it made the most magnificent appearance imaginable. The ships, fortifications, & Hasler Hospital, all contribute to give an air of grandeur, which is hardly to be equalled. We landed at Portsmouth soon after one; walked round the walls, & observed the fortifications in the Evening; went from thence to the play, a neat little Theatre; the company chiefly Naval & Military officers.

In 1993 Haslar was still a naval hospital and the play they saw would have been in the Theatre Royal in the High Street. It was built in 1761 and should not be confused with the present day one. At this time the Navy was the biggest industry and employer in the country. When the Royal Sovereign had been built in 1701, the great expense of the magnificent carving all over the ship led to a reduction in the amount permitted on each ship. Many redundant woodcarvers found employment in the great country houses, for which we must now be very grateful. Scale models were made of ships to be constructed and the scale of Balchen's Victory was unusually large: 7/20 in : 1ft. I had hoped to find her at the Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth but directed by them to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich I spent a fascinating day there. I found not only Victory but also Britannia and the ill-fated Royal George. All were in the care of John Graves, who obviously had great pride in the collection and passed on his enthusiasm and fund of knowledge. This is a place which must be visited to study Britain's nautical history and, like Wilton House, will require much time for its full appreciation. Our Gentleman may modestly call himself an 'ignorant observer' but must have been of some standing to be shown round the Royal Dockyard and be wined and dined by the Navy on Britannia.

Flying the flag of Sir John Balchen, Victory was wrecked on the Casquet Rocks, West of Alderney on October 5, 1744 with all hands - about 700 souls. Built at Portsmouth in 1737 she was the largest man-of-war built on a Royal dockyard. The model was reputedly used in the subsequent enquiry into her loss.

The wreck was discovered in 2008 by the US company Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. Some 'experts' believe it may contain gold worth millions of pounds as well as 100 bronze cannon. The story of the discovery and the controversy surrounding the rights involved, particularly the fact that it is a British Naval vessel can be seen on line in an extensive article in the Heritage Daily Magazine. 2012.

In Chichester Cathedral, Lambert Bernard's medallion paintings of 57 bishops, commissioned by Bishop Sherborne in 1519, are in the South transept. In the North transept is his panel of monarchs, from William the Conqueror to Edward VI. Shattered when the wall on which it was mounted collapsed as the spire fell into the Cathedral on February 21, 1861, it was meticulously restored. Eight portraits were beyond redemption, only the names being repainted above the blank roundels. Following their previous violation by the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, Tremaine restored them and it is presumed the separate panel depicting Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne and George I is his.

In 1962 the weavers of Pinton Frères of Felletin, near Aubusson in France, saw their spectacular John Piper tapestry laid out in their square. Commissioned by the late Dean Walter Hussey and now the backdrop to the altar, the seven panels are a brilliant and thought-provoking work symbolising the Trinity; Earth, air, fire and water; and the four Evangelists. Whatever you may think of such a modern work you are asked to remember that it is to the glory of God. Basil Spence commissioned Graham Sutherland to design his Christ in Glory for his new Coventry Cathedral. This tapestry was also woven by Pinton Frères of Felletin. Sutherland had worked on it for ten years from 1952.

William Walker was Vicar of St Pancras Church at Eastgate. The 'adjoining church' was possibly St Peter's, only to become separate in the 19th century. Bishop Story's wonderfully ornate Market Cross dated 1501 still survives in all its glory. The Charles I bronze was set into it after The Restoration.

Saturday, September 8th [7th] Went to view the dockyards accompanied by a gentleman who belongs to them & politely pointed out everything worthy of attention. Saw ships in every stage of their building, & such immense stores of timber etc. as one would imagine sufficient for the defence of the nation for years, but I speak as a very ignorant observer. Our obliging guide took us on board the Britannia, a First Rate Man-of-war, lying in Portsmouth Harbour. She makes a most magnificent appearance both without, & within side, has three decks, mounts 100 guns & carries 1000 men, has at present 1570 ton of ballast to keep her steady; the Boatswain, the commanding officer on board entertain'd us politely with cold tongue, wine, cordial, etc. When we landed went to the Academy & saw the most beautiful and compleat model of Victory, which was unhappily lost some years ago full mann'd; the drawings of the young gentlemen decorate one of the apartments; each is obliged to leave one of his own designing; Portsmouth is an exceeding good Town, clean streets, & neatly built; we left it in the Evening, pass'd through Havant and Emsworth to Chichester, arrived late; Sunday the 8th went to the Cathedral, where we were politely accommodated with seats, both in the choir, & church adjoining where the sermon was preached by a Mr Walker, who has a most excellent voice & gave us a good discourse. Outside the choir is a large collection of fine old pictures, of Bishops, & all the Kings & Queens of England to Geo I st. On each side [of] the Altar is a neat Marble Monument, to the memory of two Bishops. Chichester is a very old city. We walk'd round the Walls. Here is a cross very well preserved, but nothing else curious. We left it before two o''clock for Midhurst, an old poor Town, where we dined [at The Spread Eagle] & from thence to Haslemere, exceeding bad road, stony & steep hills, were two hours & 1/2 going 8 miles. Slept at the White Horse at Haslemere, a very neat house. Monday at half past seven set out & pass'd thro' Godalmin, to Guildford, two very good towns. A handsome new Church at the latter. From then to Kingston, where we dined, [at The Sun] & in the Evening arrived safely in Town, having travell'd about 300 miles by land & water, in the space of 10 days, without meeting with any accident, & very little bad weather, the utmost mirth, good humor & harmony prevailing amongst all the party.

The Lord Mayor of London, John Strawbridge, had been robbed by a highwayman at Turnham Green on September 6. Our travellers were more fortunate in that respect. I have assumed they were all gentlemen otherwise surely the ladies would be mentioned occasionally. (Or would they?). It's a shame they were not at the Antelope in Salisbury at the same time as John Wilkes and his party as they might then have been recorded and my final conundrum answered. Or maybe our Gentleman was a friend of John Wilkes, who recommended him to stay at the Antelope on his way to the Isle of Wight.

About the time they were arriving in London, Dr Samuel Johnson was leaving Brighthelmstone (Brighton) from where he wrote to Mr Robert Levitt on October 21, that he had not been in the sea until three days before. But thought he would now probably go in daily, though 'I know not if it does me any good.' (Boswell).

There were frequent changes of horses, unlike Dr Syntax, with his faithful and understandably named, Grizzle. Their's doesn't appear to have been 'a TOUR taken so they could write it', or get away from nagging wives. We must be grateful that this little book has come to the Isle of Wight and for its insight into what interested English touring gentlemen only 13 years before the French Revolution.

Salisbury's Tourist Transport 1993

St Mary and St Melor Amesbury

Triumphal Arch & Emperor Marcus Aurelius Wilton House

The George Amesbury

Steephill Cottage Isle of Wight Undercliff

Knighton Gorges Lynne Phillip's Imaginative Reconstruction of the Front

Knighton Gorges

The Sun Inn - Benedict's Wine Shop Newport

Newport Town Hall

Appuldurcombe Isle of Wight

The Priory St Helens Isle of Wight

St John's Ryde Isle of Wight

Bernard's Monarchs Chichester Cathedral
William II    Henry I    Stephen    Henry II
William I (pt)
Richard II    Henry IV    Henry V    Henry VI

Model of Britannia

Model of Sir John Balchen's Victory

Dr Syntax & Grizzle Waylaid

St Thomas' Church Newport Isle of Wight

Marochetti's Effigy of Princess Elizabeth Daughter of King Charles I

Sketch map by Elizabeth Hutchings of the route taken by the Gentleman

COVER: The Angel Lymington

Our Gentleman wrote a list of Inns at the end of his book.
White Hart *
George *
Lord Pembroke's Arms *
Antelope *
Crown dined
Angel *
George dined?
Sun *
George *
Swan *
Spread Eagle dined
White Horse *
White Hart
The Sun dined
* Where he stayed


Roger Hewitt

Derrick Ross

John Medland

Jane & John Owen

Patricia Sibley

Ronald Codrai

Keith Hutchings

Roy Brinton

Kevin Brown

David Cham

Suzanne Eward

Judith Giles

John Graves

Ivan Harwood

Richard Ellis

Jack Jones

Mike Lister

Kirsty Robinson

Richard Smout

Simon Dear

Clifford Webster & his staff

Sybil Papworth

Douglas Eagleton

Tim Pitcher

Alison McCann

Veronica Quarm

Alun Williams

Malcolm Rouse

Bill Shephard

Brian & Barry Smith

Andrew Trotman

Leslie Thomas

Portsmouth City Record Office
Isle of Wight History Centre

Computer & Photographic Advisor

Isle of Wight Historian


Original Editorial Advisor

Photographic Advisor

Photographic Advisor

Carisbrooke Castle Museum,

IOW Cultural Services

Southern Vectis Omnibus Co.

Librarian & Keeper of the Muniments Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Local History Library

National Maritime Museum

Bishop Lovett School Ryde

Bishop Lovett School Ryde

Author of The Royal Prisoner

IOW County Reference Library

IOW County Reference Library

IOW County Records Office

IOW County Records Office

Archivist IOW County Records Office

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral


Chichester Records Office

Wilton House

Wilton House

Benedict's Wine Shop

Isle of Wight historian

Yelf Bros.

Royal Naval Museum Portsmouth

Royal Naval Museum Portsmouth

Also from Elizabeth Hutchings:
Discovering Isle of Wight Sundials
The Lily Garden
Busts and Titbits

Hunnyhill Publications available from Telephone 01983 759090

Dickens on an Island Richard J. Hutchings £6.00
Dickens' stay at Bonchurch in 1849 with Richard's research into the originals of some of his characters. Includes a photograph and brief story of Richard's life in Ceylon, New Zealand and the Isle of Wight.

Idylls of Farringford Richard J. Hutchings £3.75
The story of Queen Victoria's Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson at his home in Freshwater. Poems include The Charge of the Light Brigade, In the Garden of Swainston & Crossing the Bar.

Busts & Titbits - Woolner Busts & Freshwater Fragments Elizabeth Hutchings £3.75
Story of the finding of a previously uncast bust in Calbourne Water Mill and its identification following the owners' casting. Followed by fascinating stories about Freshwater and its famous 19th & 20th century inhabitants and visitors.

Three Freshwater Friends - Tennyson, Watts & Mrs Cameron Hester Thackeray Fuller £3.50
Written by Thackeray's granddaughter who lived near the famous photographer Julia Margaret Cameron's Dimbola with a foreword by her niece Belinda Thackeray Norman-Butler

Marching through Georgia Fenwick Yellowley Hedley. New 250 Limited edition £15.00
A first hand account of a young man from Berwick-upon-Tweed in Sherman's army from 1861. 491 pages with 28 full page sketches. It Includes a letter from Sherman to the author. It is dedicated to Mary S. Logan

All plus postage