George Annett Grey's Diaries

Journey 1. 1833 April 8 to May 15. France

London, Dover Calais Boulogne Abbeville Beauvais Beaumont St Denis Paris Rouen Dieppe Brighton Portsmouth Worthing Chicester Isle of Wight Southhampton Salisbury Romsey Warminster Bath Bristol Clifton Tintern Monmouth Hereford Malvern Birmingham Wolverhampton Stafford Stone Newcastle under Lyme Cheshire Manchester Liverpool Manchester Oldham Halifax Bradford Leeds York Northalerton Darlington Durham Newcastle Milfield Hill.

1833 Monday April 8th

I left London on the morning of this day after having passed the winter in town, right glad to escape the smoke and dirt and once more to see the broad country and breath the fresh air on Pasce egg (1) day. Having mounted a Dover coach at the Elephant and Castle we progressed by Woolwich, Rochester and through a hop pole country to Canterbury where they changed coaches and gave me time to look at the Cathedral which is a fine building besides this the town is small and unimportant, we reached Dover in the afternoon. Kent is a very fine undulating county growing many fine crops of wheat and pease and great quantities of hops, it seems every where to be in a state of high cultivation. Dover is a small sea front town with a small harbour which can only be made use of at high water. The Cliffs are very steep and high from the top of which as well as from the castle on a hill at the other side of the town, there is a very fine and extensive sea view and the cliffs of the French coast look very bold at a short distance. There are fortifications too along the top of the cliffs and a curious corkscrew structure from the top down to the town. After 9th sailed by steamer to Calais which we reached at noon, and after getting my small traps (2) passed at the Custom House I looked after dinner at Hotel Roberts a very good house and was joined by some companions of the day English and French, we spent the afternoon


Looking at the town which struck me as strange and new, the houses painted and the windows and shutters bright blue and green and the dark people and the peculiar dresses of the women with their white caps and short stiff gowns, and great numbers of little soldiers with red trousers all tended to give a remarkable appearance to the town. The walls have been strong but are now crumbling in some parts, the harbour is formed by two wooden piers run out to a considerable distance, but except as a place of passage there is little business doing – Next morning left by diligence for Paris, a strange great thing, like a post chaise then a six inside coach, then a buss behind, above which is a wagon load of luggage and in front above the chaise part a covered gig, carrying maintenance people besides those who stow away behind among the trunks, where the roads are good they drive fine horses, two wheelers and there in front the postilion riding on the rear wheeler, and bearing a long whip with which he keeps up a terrible cracking as he passes through the towns and wears great boots which he gets into after he is in the saddle. From Calais to Boulogne the country is miserably bad and is uninteresting to Abbeville which we reached at night. It is a very old and not a good town with walls we reached Beauvais in the morning, here the country is better and very pretty from Beaumont on the Oise River to St Denis.


We reached Paris in the evening and after being kept a little time at the Barrière we were taken on to the Messageries des Deligences to unload. We then went to a hotel near, which we did not like, it was dirty and uncomfortable so next morning we removed to Hotel de Lille, near the Palais Royal, which we found a very good house. I have met a young Mr Cunningham from near Kelso, he had also come to look about him, so we were a good deal together, what we saw was just what every body else sees or what they may read a much better description of in books than I can give so I shall go over them very briefly. The general appearance of the town is very striking and fine, the good part is so entirely separated from the low and bad, nothing can be finer than the collection of buildings and gardens up the north side of the Seine beginning at the Louvre, which contains probably the finest gallery of paintings in the world. From that to the Palais des Tuileries you cross a very extensive space called Place de Carousel, then come the gardens of the Tuilieries laid out with trees, ponds, fountains to where great numbers of people collect every evening, during fine weather and gather in groups listening to bands of musicians, then you pass the Place de la Concorde, formerly by Place Louis XV which is very extensive and the bridge on which are placed statues of the kings and at the further end the Chamber of Deputies a good building and very spacious within, in a semicircular form with a


sort of pulpit at the side for the speaker to hold forth out of, and a little further down is the splendid building the Hotel des Invalides with the dome, which Napoleon caused to be gilded to distract the mind of the public at a time when they were discontented after the retreat of Moscow. The interior arrangements seem to be very good, the old men well cared for, the chapel is very pretty and contains portraits of several distinguished generals, and further down is the Champ de Mars and the military school, the troops exercise hall, to return to the south of the river, from Place Concorde you follow a very long and fine avenue which is the favourite drive and ride as well as walk of the Parisians, it is bordered with very fine trees and the Champs Elisées on one side and Elisee Bourbon on the other with many gardens and pleasure grounds, and at the further end and considerably elevated is the great Triumphal Arch which is a very grand building and from the top of which you have a very fine view of the town and the surrounding hills. Rue de la Paix, Place Vendome are all very fine streets and some of the Boulevards, des Italiens de la Madeleine are all very wide, the houses good and rows of fine trees down each side. In the Place Vendome stands the splendid column erected by Bonaparte do commemorate the success of his service in the German Campaign in 1805, it is covered with representations


in basrelief of bronze (which was the metal of twelve hundred pieces of cannon taken from the Russians and Austrians) of the several victories gained over these powers, showing the dress and arms used by each, and the imperial eagle is seen fluttering on many parts. The whole is about 130 feet high – Of the churches, the Madeleine is one of the most beautiful in its architecture, it is more modern than most. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is a fine but rather heavy building with a broad front and two massy square towers. That of St Roche is large and much frequented the flight of steps from the street extends the whole width of the church and is very striking. The Pantheon or Church of St Genevive was formerly used for religious purposes, but is now a building dedicated to the memory of great men and is filled with monuments in the way in which Westminster Abbey is – it is a fine structure – The Bourse is a fine and commodious building used for the transaction of public business. Of the Theatres, the Great Opera House and the Italian Opera are the chief, besides there are the French Theatre and the Opera Comique. is a very pretty and amusing place. In the Luxembourg there is a good collection of paintings and very extensive gardens and grounds. The Bibliothec Royal is very extensive and well filled with books and contains the largest pair of globes I have ever seen – the Goblins, or tapestry


manufacture is very remarkable and the workmanship beautiful. They are able to make likenesses of ?frescoes almost as exactly and with as much delicacy of shade as with the brush and colours. The Horse Market is well supplied with the little stout horses of the country – The observatory is high and the telescopes large it is much used as dispatches and communications are all made in this way. The wine stores are very much smaller than those in London and are in shops above ground – The Garden des Plantes is well worthy of a visit and is very prettily laid out and the Zoological gardens now contain a numerous collection of animals. I did not fail to visit the Palais of Versailles which is most stupendous and grand, quite beyond description and the collection of paintings is very great indeed. The gardens and grounds filled with stone fountains in which water plays and in which there are numerous figures of sea gods and beasts blowing water from conches etc etc. It is too great and grand and causes painful feelings when it is remembered that the building of this was what sowed the seeds of the French Revolution. – I went with Adolphe Durand to see the horse races in the Bois de Boulogne which is the Hyde Park of Paris. It is a large wood with drives in every direction and some miles distant from the Town, the races


were nothing particular, tho’ Lord Henry Seamour ran some very good horses which he rode himself he was born in France and has never been in England he is son of L Hertford. The Cemetery of Pére Lachaise strikes an Englishman as very curious it is laid out in walks and planted like a pleasure ground among which are the white monuments of those interred, these are often surrounded by flower plots and ornamental shrubs and the whole is kept very clean and neat and has a very fine and melancholy effect. It contains about a hundred acres of land. The gardens of Tivoli are much more to the French taste than the last mentioned place and in fine weather are crowded especially on Sunday evenings, then there are fireworks and all sorts of sports going on, bands of music and gay company, it is a very animated scene. April 22nd. I took my place in the cabriolet of the Rouen Diligance early in the morning, and drove till 1 o’clock before we stopped for breakfast we then got a substantial one with all sorts of fish, meal fowls, and fruits of which we filled our pockets to eat on the road, we passed some very pretty country by the banks of the Seine and reached Ruen in the evening, where I spent the next day. The Cathedral is very magnificent with a great deal of carving and fine work, and a smaller church near it is also very pretty and chaste in its


structure – The town is very ancient but has been strongly built and is well kept I went for some distance into the country which is undulating and very pretty and tolerably cultivated. I left on the morning of the 24th for Dieppe, the country after leaving the Seine is not good reached Dieppe in the afternoon and looked about the neighbouring cliffs which are high and bold, till night when I sailed for steamer for Old England. 25th April. After a very calm and pleasant passage we reached Brighton, landed and after passing the Customhouse, I called on a brother of Robt Simsons He was very kind and showed me over all the town. The Pavillion is a strange Turkish looking place with domes and cupolas and peaks the part of the town by the sea is very fine and the drives very broad and every thing beautifully kept. I left next morning for Portsmouth passing through a fine wooded country by Worthing and Chichester I saw over the Dock Yards and stores which are very large and a great deal of work seems to be going on. 27th This morning I crossed to the Isle of Wight and took a ride across the country, it is very rich and pretty, good soil well wooded, good crops and fine climate but nothing as very wonderful as the Londoners think it. I returned in the evening and started


next morning by coach with a lot of young Yankees, by Southampton which we exited by a very excellent and curious gate part of the fortification, then to Salisbury though a very pretty country passing Porchester castle and a pretty place of L Palmerstons at Romsey and seats of L Bolton. L Bathurst and L. Radnor the spire of Salisbury Cathedral is of considerable height and is very much twisted to one side. Passed on by Warminster to Bath where I remained the next forenoon being Sunday, this is a beautiful town and the houses very fine and built of pretty white stone, it stands in a basin and the streets are ranged in terraces on one another up the hill side the steep parts between growing trees and hanging gardens. 29th Left Bath in the after noon for Bristol, through a beautifully wooded country and the young crops looking beautiful. Bristol is an old town, but the little town of Clifton to which we walked standing on the banks of the Severn is a most beautiful place. 30th Left Bristol by a stage which brought us to a ferry where we crossed to Chepstow and then went on by a two horse ?power at a moderate pace that we might have time to look at the country which is well worth a visit, winding along the hill sides you see the river Wye twisting among woods and further over the Severn is spreading her broader waters and beyond are the high ground of Glostershire we passed near Tintern


Abbey and our coach not being in great haste we allowed him to rest while we went to view the ruins which are I think the prettiest I have seen – the window at one end is very pretty peeping out from among ivey We dined at Monmouth which is a … little town and progressed in the afternoon to Hereford where I found Mr Abrm. ?Linson a clergyman and saw the Cathedral. This is a very rich fine country and the ride which I took next day to Worcester over the Malvern Hills pleased me very much. From the top of the range you see both counties, looking like two great orchards, one growing apples was pink and the other pear trees was a shade of white the trees being all in full blossom at the time, after being for a short time in that town and seeing Mr Redford and having visited the china manufactories which are very curious and interesting I proceeded to Birmingham a great and vile town. May 2nd I left in the morning through a nasty coal mining country where the smoke is rising up through the earth passing Woolverhampton the most rascally place I ever saw; through the north of the county from Stafford by Stone and Newcastle under Lyme the country is much more respectable and passing through Cheshire to Manchester the country is chiefly damp of grass land and not particular for beauty and few towns lie on the line of roads, the next day I went per railroad to


Liverpool, the first time I had seen or been upon a railroad, we went the distance at the rate of 30 miles an hour which caused me no little entertainment, I saw the docks which are not far behind those in London, the market place, the cemetery which is after the fashion of those abroad the Mersey seemed well adapted to trade and the town looked as if it did not reflect the advantages of situation which it possesses. I had another rush back to Manchester on the rail in the evening. 4th I went with Mr Armstrong to Oldham to see some friends of his who have very large factories which they showed us through it is a very radical looking town and the population that turns out of these places in the evening is terrible in numbers and abundance, we were obliged to trudge several miles back to Manchester in the evening. 5th I left in the afternoon and passed over Blackstone Edge and a very high bleak hard country for a long way till we advanced towards Halifax from there by Bradford to Leeds the country is undulating, wooded and pretty with the exception of long chimneys which infest all that part of England. Just before entering Leeds I met Mr Nicholson going home to Horseforth a few miles out of town, I got into his dray and staid with him for three days, during which time we visited a very fine ruin called Kirkstall Abbey. 9th Left Leeds by coach for York when I spent the afternoon looking at


the cathedral which I think is only inferior to Westminster, there are more churches in this little city than in any other I know. 2re! Are the people any better? 10th left in the morning and travelled the old road by Northallaton Darlington, Durham to Newcastle where I spent a few days among my friends and on the 15th May 1833 returned to Milfield Hill to take my father’s place in the management of the farms which he left shortly after for Corbridge to manage the Greenwich Hospital estates in that part of the country.

The page numbers shown are from the original manuscript. The spelling is also as in the original.

Index to all George Annett Grey's Diaries with pages numbers from the original manuscript.


1833 April 8 to May 15

Pages 1-12



1837 October 2 to October 18

Pages 13 -19



1838 January 7 to June 13

Pages 20- 136



1839 October 5 to November 20

Pages 137-183



1849 July 12 to July 22

Pages 184-208



1854 September

Pages 209-210



1855 October 30

Pages 211-215



1856 August 4 –10

Pages 216-218



(1) Easter day. Pace Eggs are hard boiled eggs with patterned shells, they are traditional in northern parts of England at Easter, with local variants in the name, such as Paste Eggs. The name is derived from Pesach (Passover), or French Pasques for Easter.

(2) Luggage

For Journey 2 : 1837 October 2 to October 18 Pages 13 -20 France. Click here.