Fourteen Months Abroad – London, England

August 25.-From our slow train yesterday, which we took purposely, we enjoyed the fine scenery in the valley of the Thames, reaching London at eight last evening. Ox-ford, in a beautiful part of the Thames valley, I left with regret. Our time there (only two days) was too short. We found it not so easy a place to see as Cambridge. It is much larger and the college buildings, partly surrounded by other buildings, are difficult to see and appreciate. In Cambridge, we are told, nearly the whole city is controlled by the University authorities. No manufacturing is allowed there. In Oxford there is a great deal. At night after retiring I could see through the window two blazing fires which L. said were blast furnaces.

On our short journey from Oxford to London we saw many row boats with ladies and gentlemen rowing. It was a beautiful sight on that beautiful river. We saw many farm houses in the distance—some of them with thatched roofs. A bee farm interested us. We were both ‘glad when we reached this city and a London omnibus. It seemed a little like getting home. We found our room ready for us and felt that now we could rest. A party of Americans left here today to sail for America this afternoon. One week from today our steamer will be waiting for us. L. has looked at basket trunks today and “tried on” his new clothing at the tailor’s. He also took a long walk to St. Giles’s, Gripplegate. Found the church closed, but saw the Roman wall and Milton Street.

August 26.—I went alone this afternoon to the Army and Navy stores. In these stores each customer must have a number and a name. After purchases are made you are asked for your number and name. Mrs. Maypee gave me mine. They are 6428—Captain Pullman. In London all stores except the co-operative stores are called shops. I made a few purchases, some of which I regret.

August 27.—L. and I went together this morning to Whiteley’s—another great department store. They profess to furnish everything there from a parrot to a wife!! At least they have been known to furnish the latter article. I bought there a large, heavy shawl which L. helped me select.

This afternoon we made our farewell visit to Westminster Abbey. We were taken around by a guide. We saw where Gladstone is buried. Flowers had been put upon the shoulders of Longfellow’s bust. We have been told that it is seldom seen without flowers. We visited the Chapter House, where the House of Commons sat for more than 250 years. This is a part of Westminster Abbey; we entered it from the cloisters. It seems remarkable that not only Westminster Abbey, but all the old English Cathedrals were built by Roman Catholics. We looked upon the tombs of royalty. It was difficult to realize that we were standing by the graves of Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots and earlier sovereigns, even back to Edward the Confessor, the Saxon saint. The guide told us that each year in the month of October many Catholic pilgrims visit his tomb. He also informed us that the tomb of Bloody Mary is underneath that of Queen Elizabeth. We saw no name there. A ruffle was about the neck of Queen Elizabeth. The likeness resembles her pictures.

August 28.—We attended service this morning in one of the old historic churches of London—St. Giles’s, Cripplegate. The choir of men and boys dressed in white surplices, gave us good music. After service we saw the fine bust of Milton in its beautiful canopy-monument and the tablet under which he is buried—this notwithstanding the indignation of the young and consequential verger who, dressed in his liveried costume, turned us out of the chancel. The father of Milton is also buried there. We passed through the vicar-age gate after leaving the church and saw in the yard the remains of a large tower of the old Roman city wall. Beautiful flowers were there. We met two policemen as we were leaving who seemed surprised that we had been there but they talked pleasantly and smilingly with us and said no harm was done.

Next we walked to Bunhill Fields cemetery, going through the whole length of the street now called Milton Street. In this cemetery where nonconformists have been buried we saw the graves of Bunyan, Dr. Watts, Susanna Wesley and Richard Cromwell, On the top of Bunyan’s monument is a recumbent figure. On the sides are bas-reliefs of Christian. On one side his burden is on his back—on the other side it is falling off before the cross. On both sides of this monument the hat rim has been partly knocked off by relic hunters. When I spoke to the guard about it he laid all the mischievous work to the Americans. I said in reply that we were Americans but we would not do such things. He replied, “There are black sheep in every flock.” Opposite the gate at which we came out is the old Wesley chapel. In front of this chapel is a bronze statue of John Wesley. A marble monument to his mother, Susannah, is near the statue.

August 29.—I went this morning for the second time alone to the Army and Navy stores. This afternoon at a late hour we looked at trunks. We bought a colored photo-graph of Peterborough Cathedral and returned home in the rain. This evening Mr. Knight drew a picture of a lion in my souvenir book and Miss G. and Mr. R. wrote conundrums in it. I stayed down stairs and talked and became weary.

August 30.—L. went away on business this morning and I remained home to do various things. We have both been to the National Gallery again, but only for one hour.

The other day I spent a brief time in the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields while waiting for an omnibus on the way from the Army and Navy stores. It is an interesting old church. When the original church was built it stood in the fields, hence its name.

This afternoon I have been out on a shopping expedition alone. Visited some of the most prominent stores—Swan and Edgar, Scott Adie, Dickens and Jones, and two of Peter Robinson’s stores, first the one on Regent Street and next that on Oxford Street, which I liked best.

We have been expecting to say good-bye to London and to Europe tomorrow, but the steamer Cleopatra in which we were to sail for America is undergoing repairs. It has been a matter of anxiety to us inasmuch as they proposed to send us back in an old Cunard steamer, the Servia, which rolls badly, we are told, and would also be crowded. We feared sea-sickness on such a steamer and are glad and thankful to secure stateroom (No. 40) on the Victoria, be-longing to the Atlantic Transport Line, although it delays our going one week and will hardly enable L. to reach Cleveland in season for his college duties. The steamers are all crowded and we consider ourselves especially favored in this matter. Thank the Lord!! We are glad to have one more week in London.

August 31.—We have been to Kew again this afternoon and this time were there in season to walk through the gar-dens and into the greenhouses. We felt that we could not leave London until we had seen the Kew gardens. Two omnibuses and the Metropolitan Railway carried us to the station. From that point we walked to one of the entrances of the gardens, passing on the way pretty houses with names and pretty yards filled with bright flowers. Beautiful English ivy was climbing on the walls and fences. We went into a number of the greenhouses, including the palm house, two orchid houses, and, above all, the Victoria Regia house. This wonderful plant filled the large pool in the greenhouse with its few immense leaves. L. thought one of the leaves was six feet in diameter. These monstrous leaves float on the surface of the water and have an outer rim of about two inches. Underneath they are rough and thorn-like. There ‘was one large double pink blossom and several buds. The blossom is much larger than an ordinary pond lily, but it is the enormous leaves that are so remarkable. One greenhouse is filled with pond lilies of the ordinary size, pink, white, lavender and buff blossoms. We walked about the grounds and thought they were beautiful. Came home all the way by omnibuses. It was an interesting ride. We rode by Kensington Gardens, through Kensington and other towns.

Only the small part of London that was anciently surrounded by a wall is called the city.

September 1.—L. and I visited the Temple this afternoon —one of the most attractive historical places in the City of London. Extending from Fleet Street to the Victoria Embankment it consists of a “venerable church, Gothic halls, piles of stately buildings, dull old quadrangles, spacious lawns, clumps of old trees, blooming gardens, and a shady nook where plays a little fountain in the midst of rockeries and flowers.” The Temple derives its name from the Knights Templars who removed to the banks of the Thames in 1184. After the suppression of that order their property in real estate, finally passed into the hands of the order of St. John of Jerusalem (the Hospitaliers) who, in 1346, leased portions of the land to doctors and students of law who still retain it.

First we visited the church. At the entrance the oak seats have curiously carved heads of large size the oak as dark as black walnut from age. Here the nine Crusaders with cross legged recumbent stone figures have been lying for six hundred years. This Temple church was the church of the Knights Templars and is in two parts—the Round Church, an imitation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and the rectangular Choir. To the east of the Choir, outside the church, is the tomb of Oliver Goldsmith. A plain slab rests on the grave on which may be read—”Here lies Oliver Goldsmith.” The tomb is now outside the railing of the church.

We next visited the Middle Temple Hall, built in 1572. There, in a large dining room, the benchers and law students eat their dinners at night. Temple Hall has been the scene of many festivities and much merry-making. The old floor is still there on which Queen Elizabeth danced. Here Shakespeare acted in one of his own plays, “Twelfth Night”.

We went into the two large gardens, about five acres in extent, where there are beautiful flowers. Shakespeare, in his play of Henry VI, made this garden of the Temple a place of historic interest, introducing the red and the white roses and the quarrel between Somerset and Plantagenet.

We saw the little fountain, although changed, which Dickens alludes to in Martin Chuzzlewit. Thackeray also speaks of this fountain in Pendennis. Some of his finest scenes were laid in the Temple.

Here we saw the birthplace of Charles Lamb. A figure of a lamb is on the building over the front entrance. This building is now used for offices.

Buildings mark the spot where Dr. Johnson lived and are called Johnson’s buildings.

We walked to the Victoria Embankment—then the whole length of the Strand, stopping in various stores and passing much that was interesting on our way-among other things the splendid Gothic Law Courts or Palace of Justice and Temple Bar. This ancient gateway of the City, where Kings and Queens sought formal permission to enter their own domains, was removed in 1878. In the centre of the narrow street a structure surmounted by a dragon-like figure, frequently called the Griffin, marks the spot where Temple Bar once stood.

We passed King’s College and Somerset House, which is one of the finest and largest buildings in London.

September 2.—This afternoon L. and I rode to Chelsea, two miles from London and now a part of the metropolis.

From their farm among the moors in Craigenputtock, Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle removed in 1833 to Chelsea. How little I ever expected to visit the plain old brick house at No. 24 (formerly 5) Cheyne Row—once their home and the scene of much suffering on the part of both Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle ! In the dining room, which was the front room on the first floor, we saw the dining table and open fireplace (or grate) at which they sat. Back of the dining room is a room containing some of Carlyle’s books. The drawing room was above the dining room and above that was the guest chamber, on the third floor, while over all in the very roof, was the study which Carlyle himself had built with “double walls.” We walked through the narrow hall and looked into what was once their garden, then from the house to the Thames Embankment, going through a narrow park in the center of which is a statue of Carlyle on a pedestal of Scotch granite. We were surprised to find the house so near the river. We looked up at Carlyle’s room from the other side of the street. It must have been very warm up there in hot weather. We saw the house which contained the piano which so greatly annoyed him. Chelsea is said to be the “most old-fashioned suburb of London.” We saw the Chelsea Embankment, the Chelsea Suspension Bridge and the Chelsea Hospital. Had pleasant rides back and forth in the omnibuses, but shall be glad to rest from this kind of riding.

September 3.—L. went out alone this afternoon to see where the old Tabard Inn was located, from which the Canterbury pilgrims, immortalized by Chaucer, met and started on their pilgrimage to the shrine of Becket in Canter-bury Cathedral. He crossed London Bridge and went into St. Savior’s Church, which is considered the best specimen of the early English style in London. L. did not appreciate the architecture but was interested in several memorial windows to various dramatists. He was amused by the printed solicitations to “put in several more.” The Tabard Inn is near by. In 1875 it was rebuilt. L. took a picture of it. He went into a “Tabard” book store and looked down Tabard Street, which leads into the old Kent Road on which the pilgrims must have gone to Canterbury. Then he went into a monstrous brewery formerly owned by Mr. Thrale, whose wife gave Dr. Johnson a home. L. says the whole region smelt of “hops.” This part of London is called Southwark. Close by is “Bankside” where there were theatres in Shakespeare’s time.

I desired much to go with L., but had passed a sleepless night, and was very, very weary. Remained at home to rest, but really wrote two letters and worked over the trunks to find an address.

September 4.-The last Sabbath on land away from our native shores ! This morning we have been to the City Temple where Dr. Parker is pastor. I went out for a time during the service but returned in season to hear the music which I much enjoyed. On my return I took a different seat. Off in the distance in that great building I could see my dear husband whose face wore a lovely expression!

This afternoon we have attended a concert in the Royal Albert Hall—a concert consisting of two sacred pieces in English and one in Italian, two violin solos, organ music and a secular song. This great round hall, opened by the Queen in 1871, is often spoken of as Memorial Hall and is directly opposite the Albert Memorial Monument. The monstrous organ “is one of the finest in the world.”

After the concert we walked to the Oratory, a Roman Catholic Church. L. said it “seemed like seeing Rome in London.”

A painting of St. Cecilia is in the chapel and below the painting is a copy in marble of her recumbent figure which we saw in her church in Rome. While we were searching for the entrance to the Oratory I stumbled into a room where men were playing billiards ! Felt out of place. The Oratory is close by the South Kensington Museum, one branch of which we stepped into. We walked through a long entrance hall which is lined with statuary and regretted not being able to see the whole Museum. This part of London reminds us, as it must every one, of Prince Albert, including as it does the magnificent Albert Memorial Monument.

September 5.-Today we have visited Brighton, fifty-one miles from London. We left our boarding place in haste as we feared being late for our train. We have been wishing to go to Brighton but feared it would be tiresome, and so it was. But we are glad that we have been to this “Queen of Watering Places”, as it has sometimes been called. We do not agree with the one who gave it that title. It was very hot there and there were no shade trees near the shore and very little provision has been made for shelter from the sun. There was a delightful breeze, however, which we enjoyed when walking towards it. Brighton is really a large city by the sea. Here we saw white chalk cliffs as in Dover. The season in Brighton is in November and during the early part of winter. Londoners go there to escape the smoke and fog at that season of the year. Although it is a sheltered, sunny spot, we are told that it is rather cool there at that time with no bathing. We saw plenty of bathing houses today, but no sandy beach. All pebbles! Picked up three.

An omnibus from the station carried us almost to the Aquarium. Before entering we walked about a little. This Aquarium has been said to contain the finest collection of fishes in the world. We do not think it can be true, but there are many fine fishes there, including the streaked gurnard. L. and I both enjoyed the beauty of these wonderful fishes. The sea fowls interested me. After visiting the Aquarium, which is surmounted by a high clock tower, we walked back and forth on the terrace of the shore and then to the Old Stein Park (or enclosure) where we sat down to cool off. From Old Stein a few steps took us to the Royal Pavillion, where we saw extensive buildings in the oriental style, erected by George IV. Here he spent several months of each year. This was, we are told, the making of Brighton. It is said that William IV and Queen Victoria rarely occupied these buildings, chiefly because the view of the sea is nearly excluded by houses. On these grounds as well as in the old Stein we found shade trees and seats, but could not stop to enjoy them.

On our way to and from Brighton we saw Scotch heather growing and blooming luxuriantly on the railroad banks. We noticed the high white banks and the white roads. Many of the fields had become brown from want of rain, but the hedges and trees were green.

So we have seen one more city in England ! L. is very tired but glad he went. Reached our boarding place in season to rest a short time before eating our evening dinner at seven o’clock. Mrs. Maypee was much surprised to find we had been to Brighton, a journey of two hours.

September 6.—L. and I went out on errands this morning but not together. Bouquets of Scotch heather have been on the table here.

September 7.—We were out shopping again this morning. I made bad work of it. I am in the midst of packing. Three trunks and our hand baggage to pack!

September 8.-Today we say good-bye to this largest city in the world. L. says “London is a world of itself.” We should be glad to see more of it. During the last few days we have had smoky forenoons. I made an unfortunate purchase at Jaeger’s yesterday and this morning went in haste to return it. Was almost overcome by the heat and exertion. Received sympathy at Jaeger’s. Feared I should be back late at our boarding house and thus we should lose the steamer. After buying a fan to assist me in cooling off I started back to our boarding house with a very red face. Reached there in season for lunch.