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Diary of William Newberry

age 22, of Friar Street,Reading

FRIDAY 11 January 1856

Started at 7.20 am. beautiful, bright morning, but very cold, established myself in a third class carriage in company with a Royal Marine, belonging to the "James Watt" 91, Captain Elliott, lying at Plymouth, he being the only occupant of the same compartment with self. Did not leave my seat till Swindon, then feeling stiff and cold, had some of my cake and a cup of coffee in the Refreshment Room for which I was charged 6d. All the way from Goring I was "all eyes" for the "White Horse" but nothing of the kind came within range of my optics.

I saw a white horse in a field at Wallingford attached to a dung cart, but the "Old Saxon" was invisible, probably on account of his age and increasing infirmities, he was not permitted to be out in such severe weather or else he was being groomed. I kept a "bright look-out" all the way to Wooton Basset without effect and then gave up the idea.

Got into a confab with the "Amphibia" on the way and drew a recital of his experience in the "Baltic". We were joined at Chippenham by a "76" who left us at Bristol. The line from Reading to Chippenham was generally of an uninteresting character, but past there surrounding country began to assume a different aspect, the cuttings were through sandstone rock rising perpendicularly from the rail and from Corsham to below Wellington tunnels were frequent. The scenery around Bath was peculiarly beautiful and varied, Bristol "vise versa".

Remained at Taunton nearly an hour, during which, ran down into the town, but could not stay to see much of it. Saw Mr Phillips at Taunton from Yeovil. The country to Exeter from hence was pleasing and diversified, had very pleasant company, arrived a Exeter about 4pm. Ann to meet me - went to Mr Bending's in Exe Lane, had tea - then with Ann to the Iron Bridge St Market etc taking a cursory glance for the present. Started for Crockernwell in the Cart and got home about 10 pm.

SATURDAY - rose at 8 - started for a walk to Drewsteignton - got there without difficulty - but had a rare job to get back, lost my way among a lot of fields and lanes but after direction and the exercise of considerable perseverance got to back to breakast "all right". After breakfast went out with Ann round and round, in and out, up and down goodness knows where, but eventually got to Mary's to dine at Cheriton. Spent a pleasant evening there and had a nice walk home.

SUNDAY - to Cheriton Church in the morning - at home all the afternoon. Out for a walk in the evening - Ann fell coming back. Edwin came home ill.

MONDAY - up at 9 - out to see the country westward - got out over several hills to the Drewsteignton Limestone Quarries, the largest of which - a vast amphitheatre of great depth and extent, had a grand and imposing effect, the quarrymen at the bottom looking like "Lilliputians". From thence over a long hill to the valley of the Teign, the scenery here was magnificent the high hills of Dartmoor stretching as far away as the eye could reach to the South and West, covered with snow. Struck into a narrow rocky path along the top of the hill - beneath us were the bold precipitous rocks forming the hillside, the litle river brawling along a rocky channel in was no sand or mud - nothing but large detached pieces of rock. Opposite were the Moreton Woods, rising majestically to a great height.

We were now on "Peddleton Hill" descending which (with difficulty through a thick beech coppice ) followed the course of the stream, to where it is crossed by a neat bridge, passed over and then began the greatest trial. We had arrived at the foot of "Preston Bury", an immense hill, whose side was chiefly composed of loose shingle and tufts of prickly gorse or furze and rising almost perpendicularly to a height of from 500 to 600 feet, Walking up was ( to me ) out of the question, I was obliged to crawl, using my hands as well as my feet and even and anon catching hold of the sharp pointed furze to save myself from being precipitated to the bottom. The ascent was most toilsome and difficult but the view from the summit, charming. The air was very keen, but the glow of warmth imparted by the exercise fully withstood its effects.


Got home a little after one - dined and off again directly after dinner, to Cheriton person of the house, with a grave and serious air advised me to go to old "Granny (somebody)" and over hills and dales, fields, roads, lanes etc to Mounson and Cockled farms, tea'd at the former and supped at the latter, returned early and went to bed, for the first time, tired. In getting up Preston Bury, got my hands full of thorns and in the evening they being rather painful, I mentioned it, when the person of the house, with a grave and serious air advised me to go to old "Granny (somebody) and have them "blessed" assuring me that would relieve the pain. Not caring to do so I mentally blessed them myself, which had just as good an effect

TUESDAY - Got up this morning very stiff - been out little all day.

WEDNESDAY - January 16th 1856 - Day of all days!! never to be forgotten - Rose at 7 - dark, gloomy morning - went to church, with Elizabeth, Mr Lambert, Mr Wheels, Thyrza, Mr Pratt & Jane and Mr Bolt - gave the responses with the greatest coolness and precision. On leaving the church, the bells pealed right merrily, got home, dined, had about 30 to dinner & tea. After tea had a chat and a few songs. Most of the company at cards, some (ourselves included ) went over to Mrs Langdon's to have a dance, and came back, supped, and kept the merriment up till 2 o'clock. Ann and myself then retired. Not so the company, some left shortly after, but the others determined not to let it drop, but kept up singing and music till 5, when they came to give us a salute.

A party came to our door and sang, danced and played to us, the fun went on without relaxation till 7, when we got up. On my going downstairs, the party was still in high glee and the moment they heard me, they gave three long deafening cheers and then proceeded to give a peculiar dance over a form. Ann's reception was equally enthusiastic and vociferous. Breakfasted and then took our leave for Exeter. I think such a joyous, hilarious wedding as ours was never before seen in Crockernwell. Everyone present seemed quite full of pleasure and determine to enjoy it to the uttermost. From the kind and hearty reception I have met with on all side, I must say without any prejudice, I conside the people of Devon the most social, affable and well intentioned I have ever met with

THURSDAY - Tired out and half dead with excess of pleasure. Could not eat any breakfast. After a most kind farewell on all sides, started for Exeter in the Pony Cart about 10 am. Six of us, Mr & Mrs Bending, Elizabeth and Harry Lambert, Self and Wife. Rained nearly the whole distance, our "compagnons du voyage" mounted four "canopies" besides ours so that it was rather a close fit. I being favoured with the drops from Aunt Jane's umbrella in my lap, and Ann, with the points of the same in her face and bonnet, greatly to the discomfort of the former and detriment to the latter.

Got to Exeter safely and went out to see the City, rained incessantly. Went first to the Cathedral, the finest I ever saw, the central aisle, noble, lofty and spacious,beautifully executed ceiling, fine stained glass windows of very ancient date, St George's, St Mary's, Ladye and one or two other private chapels, some very old Monumental tombs of Noblemen, Bishops, Knights Templars etc are in fine preservation, one effigy in particular of a Bishop, a man of great austerity but withal a very vain man tried to imitate our Saviour by abstaining from food forty days, but died on the 39th day, worn to a skeleton.

Altar tombs to several members of the Carew family. A very antique and extraordinary clock, showing at one time, the moon's age, date of year, day of week, hour, minutes & seconds of the day, made nearly 600 years ago, was beautifully preserved. The Bishop's Throne and pulpit of carved oak- the great organ and other interesting objects. Left the noble edifice and then went round Exeter, raining all the time. Home to tea. Bed at 6.30.

FRIDAY Rose at 9.30 and started for home at 10.30. After a long but pleasant journey arrived safe into port at 8 pm thus terminating the most truly happy "week from home" that I have ever spent, the great importance of the occasion being greatly enhanced by the supreme pleasure of the coincident and subsequent events attending it. FINITUM EST

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