For journey 3: 3 1838 January 7 to June 13 Pages 20- 136 Portugal. Click here.

(1) Battle of Waterloo 1815, 22 years before visit.

(2) The Prince of Orange fought with Wellington against Napoleon.


1837 October 2nd Late on the evening of this day I joined Mr Selby and Mr (name left blank) on board a steamer lying off the Tower Stairs, when we turned out in the morning we also found Mr Johnston of Newcastle taking two of his daughters to school to Dunkirk, we reached Calais after a very ?uneasy voyage in time for dinner after which we had a turn out to see the town and get some French money for our sovereigns. We also found in our hotel (Robert’s) a Mrs (name left blank), an acquaintance of Mr Selby’s on her way to Paris so we four took the inside of the Diligence which should hold six-I found a poor little boy from Preston only ten years old who could not speak one word of French making his own way to Paris to school, I took him under my wing and paid his bills and engaged a cabriolet for him when we reached Paris to take him beyond the Barriere. We left Calais next morning and had a very pleasant day which we spent as pleasantly taking the road by St Omer to Amiens which we reached through the night and awakened all the cocks in the town. We spent most of the night in making fun till sleep got the better of most of the party towards morning, we went on by Claremont and Chantilly where there is a Palace which was occupied by (left Blank) and was kept up as a great hunting establishment, the country was looking very


beautiful and the vines were hanging their branches borne down by the clusters of grapes to which we frequently helped ourselves when walking up the hills, which is a frequent occurrence in French travelling; we arrived in Paris in the evening, took a warm bath got dinner and put up at Meurice’s Hotel, than which there is no better in the world, here I amused myself with Mr Selby seeing the sights which I had seen before but many of which are worthy a second visit, such as the Pantheon, the principal Churches, Chamber of Deputies, Invalides, Louvre, Palais Royal, Pere Lachaise, the public walks and gardens etc etc. We dined with Mr Adolphe Durand every day and met most of his extensive connection and friends which was very pleasant as we generally spent the evening with them in the Opera or some of the Theatres and finished with a glass of ice in a Café which in Paris are very splendid places being almost walled with mirrors and brilliantly lighted, which produces a very striking and fine effect in the streets of a French town, one day we hired a carriage and with Mr Smith and Mrs (name blank) visited Versailles which from its vastness and splendour produces greater wonder at each succeeding visit, it is a terribly great and grand place. Oct 10th Mr Selby left Paris this evening per Malle Poste for Toulouse on his way to Perpignan, next day at 2 pm I started by La Fittes diligence for Brussels


on a road which was Pave the whole way which caused a constant short jolting which was very unpleasant, the road lay between rows of trees and was very straight and the country that afternoon uninteresting and no towns of importance till in the morning we reached Cambray which as well as Valenciennes is a very strongly fortified town with their several walls with moats and drawbridges, the walls of the towns in this district are very strong being green embankments, which cannot be battered down. We soon after reached the Belgian frontier, where the diligence was unloaded and the baggage searched, we then, having breakfasted, proceeded to Mons, also an exceedingly strong place. This country as well as the adjoining part of France is very sandy but deep and of good quality and grows fine crops of beetroot which is cultivated to a great extent for the sugar manufactory, for which there are many large buildings in the country-we passed through some fine farming and well farmed country, towards Bruxelles which we reached in the evening, and having left the diligence in the low part of the town, proceeded to the neighbourhood of the Park to Hotel de Belle Vue which is a large House and reckoned the finest, but I would not advise any person who has not his own servants to go to it. 13th In the morning a Mr McCullock and I hired a carriage which carried us through some well cultivated country and through the woods of Solignie to the village of


Waterloo(1) where we left the dray and with a guide wandered for many hours over the field of battle visiting the farm and orchards of Hugomont and other places whose names will long be remembered, the Prince of Orange (2) erected a very high mound, about the centre of the English lines, where he was wounded, and a massive pedestal supporting the Belgian lion is placed on the top, on many parts of the field monuments are erected to the memory of noble blood that has been shed there, and in the town the church is filled with tablets and inscriptions with the names of the officers, and the number of men who fell in each regiment, we felt exceedingly interested in what we saw, and the descriptions we heard from the old soldier. We returned and saw the Palace, the park which is very pretty, the Cathedral, the Chamber of Deputies and the chapel connected which are very pretty. Leopold and his young queen were very popular and were constantly walking about the town and park and talking to the merchants and gentry, the high part of the town is very beautiful. Oct 14th We left in the morning by railroad by which we went in a very short time by Malines where there is a tall spire, to Antwerp which is a town highly deserving of a visit, like true Englishmen the first thing we did was to ascend the spire of the Cathedral which is higher than St Pauls in London, we were well repaid for our trouble by the view of the


surrounding countries of Belgium and Holland and the windings of the Scheldt through the flat woody country, the Cathedral itself is a good building and contains good paintings, of these there are many fine collections, among those most deserving of notice is the Museum in which there are a great number of fine paintings by the old Flemish masters. Churches are very numerous and several of them fine buildings, the theatre is a modern and good house and well arranged inside, the Docks are good but not calculated to accommodate much shipping and the trade in the port did not seem great. I visited the Citadel which was defended by the Dutch general Chasse against the French who came to assist the Belgians. It is a strong fortification, although the town has not suffered materially there are in many parts marks of war and near the river cannon balls are seen in some numbers sticking in the walls of the houses. In the church of St Paul there is a very curious thing called Mount Calvar built like a rocky hill and in front statues of the apostles and the cock which crew etc etc. besides most of the good men and women mentioned in Scriptures, beneath the Mound is the sepulchre and the body of Christ laid, and behind is Purgatory and people saying masses and trying to escape and further back is Hell and wood carved and painted to represent flames of fire and devils and people writhing and screeching The Belge are very strict and bigoted Papists and great numbers of priests and monks are to


be seen in the streets and frequent processions. There is a very curious and old establishment of monks near Antwerp of the order of La Trappe who keep no servants and cultivate their land and do every thing for themselves. The soldiers are rather small like the French, and were never famous in action, the women are much superior in appearance to the French and most of them have very fine liquid dark brown eyes. The lower classes of the people are very quiet and civil and altogether a good sort of people. Antwerp is a very clean well built and well paved town, paved with exceeding small round stones with no flagging at the sides. Oct 16th Left Antwerp early in the morning by rail on the Brussels line as far as Malines and then branched off to Gand (3) which is a town of great trade in lace etc and of considerable size and full of Churches and Convents and many valuable collections of paintings which I spent the day in looking through and in the evening went to the worst Theatre and saw the worst company that I ever saw, An Englishman at Liege, the Birmingham of Belgium, is the great iron founder and engine builder in this country and before the separation from Holland carried on a great trade in partnership with the King under the title of John Cockeril Wm Nassau and Co JC being the englishman and WM the king of the country. (4) 17th left Gand by diligence


the railway not being completed further and water carriage which is universal in this country being slow, even more so than the Flemish diligence which with its load and two great Flanders horses is not swift; we passed through a poorer country than that west of Gand which grew fine crops of corn, turnips and clover, we reached Bruges where there are also excellent collections of paintings but wishing to reach Ostend that evening I did not stay, accordingly we did reach Ostend and having got supper and passports put in order and taken a look at the fortifications by moonlight, for which we were taken into custody by a soldier we set sail at midnight and after a good passage landed on the 18th October 1837 at the Customhouse stairs London, and after undergoing the usual tedious delay and examination of traps were liberated and by the help of cabs and coach made the best of our ways to our respective abodes.

(3) Ghent

(4) William Nassau, Nassau is the name of the Dutch royal family. Netherlands became independent of France after Napoleonic wars in 1813. The first King was Willem 1 Duke of Oranje Nassau. Southern Netherlands separated in 1830 and became modern Belgium. William I agreed to separation and abdicated in 1839.

George Annett Grey's Diaries

Journey 2: 1837 October 2 to October 18 Pages 13 -19 France

London, Calais, St Omir, Amiens, Claremont, Chantilly, Paris Cambray, Valenciennes, Mons, Bruxelles, Waterloo, Malines (Mechelen), Antwerp, Ghent, (Gand), Ostend, London.