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About Thursday 11 June 1668

Peter Johnson  •  Link

About 120 years later another characterful diarist went on a tour through Salisbury - the Hon. John Byng, later and briefly 5th Viscount Torrington. He'd spent 10 days or so sampling the social life of Weymouth with his wife and friends, leaving quite a full account of the place, ending -

'" I shall leave Weymouth, as I should any place of this sort, with pleasure, because I am like a fish out of water at them, and think they are, for a healthy person, a miserable way of killing time, and spending money; with new acquaintance for whom we care not a jot, and toss'd about in bad company, and bad conversation; divested of quiet and comforts; the fortune-hunter, and the dancing would-be-married miss, may admire these pretty haunts of folly, and freedom."

He then went off on his own from Weymouth.

"Sept. 7th [1782]. .... I was on my horse by half past six o'clock.

" Most refreshing was the ride to Sarum, the air was so cool and so sweet; and by the way I saw several deer upon the edge of the chase. I was at Sarum in time for the hot rolls, and was receiv'd at the White Hart, civiilly and attentively; there shaved, and dressed; drank coffee; and then went to survey the cathedral which I had seen before and of which I resumed my old remarks. The close is comfortable, and the divines well seated; but the house of God is kept but in sad order, to the disgrace of our Church, and of Christianity. Whenever I see these things I wish for a return of the authority and Church government of a land. The church-yard is like a cow-common, as dirty and as neglected, and thro' the centre stagnates a boggy ditch. I wonder that the residents do not subscribe to plant near, and rowl the walks, and cleanse the ditch. which might make an handsome canal.

" I hope that when the new bishop arrives, who is a scholar, and a gentleman; he will be shocked at the delapidations of the beautiful old chapter house; and the cloisters; thro' the rubbish of which they are now making a passage for his new Lordships installation in the chapter house.

" Salisbury has the advantage of a stream running thro' every street of the town; which must conduct to comfort, health and cleanliness; but I should fancy, from its being deeply brick'd up, must be often productive of accidents. From Salisbury the road continues very open, steep and unpleasant, without any object to amuse the attention.

" I arrived at Basingstoke at 7 o'clock. where I found an into f good fare, and had a sole and a rabbet for supper....... "

From "The Torrington Diaries; A Selection....", Eyre & Spottiswood, 1954, "Ride into the West: 1782", pages 83 and 84.

Some of the tours are available on line, though not this one, at

https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/travellers/Byng

Apologies if anyone thinks I'm straining the bounds of this site too far.