Celia Fiennes was born in 1662 at Newton Toney, Salisbury, the daughter of a colonel in Cromwell's army. She is remarkable for the journeys she made, and the account she wrote of them: she rode side-saddle through every county in England, accompanied only by two servants. She travelled to improve her health, visiting many spa towns, but also for personal adventure. Her account of her travels seems to have been written after her travels had largely ended, in 1702. She died in 1741.
Tour from Bristol to Plymouth
I Could see the Severn when Encreased to its breadth of 7 mile over, and there it disembogues into ye sea; then it gave me a prospect forward of as large a vale replenish'd wth fruitefull hills and trees and good Ground, thence I could discern Glassenbury tower; this was Maiden Hill just beyond ye little town of same name and soe by degrees descending from a higher to a lower hill wch had its ascents as well as its descents wch makes ye miles seem and are indeed long tracts of ground. From Ocley Hole I went to Wells wch was on an even ground one mile farther, this Wells is what must be reckoned halfe a citty this and ye Bath makeing up but one Bishops See. Here are two Churches wth ye Cathedrall. Ye Cathedrall has ye greatest curiosity for carv'd work in stone, the west front is full of all sorts of ffigures, ye 12 apostles, ye K and Q wth angells and figures of all forms, as thick one to another as can be, and soe almost all round ye Church.
The assizes was in the town wch filled it like a faire, and little stands for selling things was in all the streetes. There I saw ye town hall. The streetes are well pitch'd, and a large market place and shambles. The Bishops pallace is in a park moated round, nothing worth notice in it. St Andrews well wch gives name to the town bubbles up so quick a spring and becomes the head of two little rivers wch encreases a little way off into good rivers. Thence I went to Glasenbury 4 miles, a pretty levell way till just you come to the town, then I ascended a stony hill and went just by the tower wch is on a green round riseing ground. There is only a little tower remaines like a beacon, it had bells formerly in it and some superstition observ'd there, but now its broken down on one side. From this I descended a very steep stony way into the town; Glasenbury tho' in ancient tymes was a renowned place where was founded the first monastery, its now a ragged poor place and the abbey has only the kitchen remaining in it wch is a distinct building, round like a pigeon house all stone. The walls of ye abbey here and there appeares and some little places and ye cellar or vault wch if they cast a stone into the place it gives a great echo, and ye country people says its ye devil set there on a tun of money wch makes ye noise least they should take it away from him. There is the holly thorn growing on a chimney, this the superstitious covet much and have gott some of it for their gardens and soe have almost quite spoiled it, wch did grow quite round a chimney tunnell in the stone. Here is a very pretty church a good tower well carv'd all stone 160 stepps up. Walking in the tower I could have a prospect of the whole place wch appeared very ragged and decayed. The Church is neate, there is the effigee of the abbot on a tombstone carved all about wth eschuteons of a camell, and round it an jnscription or motto in old latin and an old caracter. It was a phancy of his stewards who was a very faithfull dilligent servant, and as he made use of those creatures in his masters service yt were strong and Industrious so ye motto described his services under that resemblance. The effigee was very curious and wth rings on the fingers, but in Monmouths tyme the soldiers defaced it much.
From thence to Tannton 16 miles through many small places and scattering houses, through lanes full of stones and by the great raines just before full of wet and dirt. I passed over a large common or bottom of deep black land which is bad for the rider but good for the abider as the proverb is; this was 2 or 3 mile long and pass'd and repass'd a river as it twin'd about at least ten tymes over stone bridges. This river comes from Bridgewater 7 mile, the tyde comes up beyond Bridgewater, Even within 3 mile of Taunton its flowed by the tyde wch brings up the Barges wth coale to this place, after having pass'd a large common wch on either hand leads a great waye, good rich land wth ditches and willow trees all for feeding cattle, and here at this little place where the boates unlade the coale ye packhorses comes and takes it in sacks and so carryes it to ye places all about. This is ye sea coale brought from Bristole the horses carry 2 Bushell at a tyme wch at the place Cost 18d and when its brought to Taunton Cost 2 shillings. The roads were full of these carryers going and returning.