Dragonfly

POH Transcripts - 1877

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Diary of Peter Orlando Hutchinson,

Old Chancel, Sidmouth

1878,

 

January 1878

 

M. Jan. 7. This evening, soon after dark, the young moon, four days old, was close to a beautiful star, like this sketch.

Th. 10. The herrings have come in very abundant. One boat last night caught 26,000 which, at three shillings a hundred, at which they were selling at present to the dealers to go to London, amounts to £39. Unhappily the money does not do a low and imprudent chaps much good. Most of it is going in drink. A small public house in Theatre Lane, now East Street, I am told has taken £90 in 12 days.

Wed. Jan. 16. The Russians, who want to devour all the world, are progressing into Turkish territory. At Schipka in the Balkan mountains, 32,000 prisoners have been taken, 93 guns, and 10 colours.

Th. 31. Sale of homes in Sidmouth, 3. Cambridge Terrace sold for £340, rent £19,, 10, No 4 next door, fetched £355. A small house in new town, as they call it, rent £10, was bought for £130. The corner house, near the Wesleyan Chapel, was bought by Clode, a baker, for £600. The next above, by Sellek, a painter, For £395. _ A new Wesleyan Chapel has been built opposite.

February 1878.

Fr. Feb. 1. Russia and Turkey have come to a crisis. An armistice has been signed at Adrianople. The snow and frost are very severe in the Balkan mountains, causing great distress, and the barbarities committed by the different nationalities, and contending parties over each other, exceed all description.

M. 11. The Russians are approaching Constantinople, and though we are a friendly power, our iron-clad fleet has gone up to the city to protect it. The English parliament has voted £6,000.000 to defray the expenses of our preparations. In the Commons the numbers were 328 for, and 124 against - majority in favour, 204.

W. Feb. 27. Went to Exeter to attend a Council meeting of the Devonshire Association, to make arrangements for the meeting at Paighton in July.

March 1878.

 

Sun. Mar. 3. A piece was signed to-day between Turkey and Russia. Russia is said to have at first demanded £40,000,000 as a war indemnity, but has now come down to £10,000,000.

Sat. Mar. 9. I have an article to-day on the Hutchinson family and arms in Notes & Queries, in answer to an American correspondent.

 

Mon. Mar. 11. Cleopatra’s Needle, having been floated, has been towed out of the Mediterranean into the Bay of Biscay, where it broke loose during a gale of wind, and was abandoned. It was afterwards picked up by a Spaniard, and towed into the harbour of Ferol. The case is now in the law courts, and salvage is clamed to the amount of £25,000.

Sun. Mar. 24. At the parish church. In the afternoon intended to have taken a walk to the top of Salcombe Hill, on the east side of Sidmouth; but a snow storm and string wind came on and stopped me.

Mon. Mar. 25. The frigate Eurydice was capsized yesterday afternoon, under sail, about half past four, and I believe everyone drowned but two. It occurred off the Isle of Wight; and the same squall and snow storm that stopped my walk.

May 1878.

 

Mon. May. 13. Going over along the beach under Peak Hill nearly as far as Wingate to try and get a good specimen of Celestine for the

Exeter Museum, I remarked that some 50 tons of the red marl had fallen. One of the great blocks had split by the concussion, and one side shewed a surface of hardened sand and clay, slightly rippled marked, a few traces as if annelids or other creatures had crawled over the bottom of a pond, and a number of fossil stems about an inch or an inch and a quarter thick, with joints every 6, 7, or 8 inches apart, lying across one another. The stems were composed of loose sandstone, the bark or outside a thin coating of greenish clay. I extracted one or two pieces and returned home: but as fossil plants are rare in the Keuper of the New Red, I resolved to go again.

 

Tu. May. 14. Went again, taking tools with me, and extracted two or three more. Every high tide the waves dash against the block, and from its soft nature, it will soon be destroyed. I shall note these particulars

more fully in the geological chapter of my Hist. of Sidmouth. - See V.I. Section between pp. 10 & 11. Also Trans, Dev. Asso. XI.383.

 

Fri. May. 17. Meeting of the Preference Share holders of the Great Eastern Railway in London. To which I did not think it necessary to go. They decided that it would be more advantageous to consolidate a number of stacks of various amounts of invest into one of 4 per cent. Thus, my £2,400 at 5 per cent, yielding me £120 per annum, they have altered to £3,000 at 4 per cent, which will yield me just the same.

M. May. 20. Dined at the Vicarage, Mr. & Mrs. Beebe, (Curate and wife, I suspect this was originally a Danish place-name of Lincolnshire - Beeby.) Mr. and Mrs Hine Haycock of Belmont; Miss Clements and self.

Tu. May. 21. Dined at Belmont, to meet Mrs General Balmain.

Fri. May. 24. Finished my portion of extending and translating the Devonshire part of the Exchequer Domesday Book. Some day I must do the same in the Exeter Book.

June 1878.

 

Tu. June 18. Let my house No 4 Coburg Terrace.

Fri. June 21. Longest day. Went to Exeter to attend meetings of Committees connected with the Devonshire Association. Dined with Mr. & Mrs. R. Dymond.

W. June 26. Went with Mr. Heineken to Telegraph Hill near Streetway Head. We examined the old wooden house where the Telegraph had been. Returned by Belbury Castle. Brought home a bottle full of dirty water out of a ditch, for Lord Sidney Osborne to put under his microscope.

Thu. June 27. Very hot. In Sidmouth 76’. In Exeter 81 ½ . In other places much more.

July 1878.

 

Tu. July 2. Rain. - Which has cooled the air.

Tu. July 9. News arrived that the island of Cyprus has been ceded to England. The arms are said to be on Queen Elizabeth’s tomb; like this.

Sat. July. 13. 1878. The Congress at Berlin, which assembled to regulate the affairs of Europe, Turkey now being at the mercy of Russia, ended their deliberations to-day, England was represented there by the Earl of Beaconsfield, (Benjamen D’Israeli,) Prime Minister, and the Marquis of Salisbury.

Th. 18. The heat has come upon us pretty strong - but it is never too hot for me. I believe 79’ is the hottest at Sidmouth; but the proximity of the sea tempers the air here, but in the midland counties it has been very great. It is also unusually hot in America, and an alarming number of fatal sunstrokes have occurred. At New York it has been 103: at St. Louis 105, and 145 in the sun.

M. 22. Mr. Heineken and myself went to Budleigh Salterton. He is preparing one of his houses to be let.

M. 29. Took rail to Torquay, to attend the meeting of the Devonshire Association, at Paignton, close by. Got rooms at 2. Abbey Crescent.

Tu. 30. Took a carriage to Paignton. Most of the usual members assembled. Returned to Torquay in the evening.

Wed. July 31. Went to Paignton by rail. The Torquay Station, (near Torr Abbey) is being rebuilt in squared lime stone, with Bath stone dressings. Sat listening to the reading of papers till I was tired. Got out and took a walk all round the sea front of Roundham Head; also, walked through the town; looked at the church; made a sketch of the remains of an ancient cross on the southern part of the churchyard; and made a sketch of the old tower, overgrown with ivy, being the last remains of the Palace formerly belonging to the Bishops of Exeter. This tower stands at the south-east corner of a large quadrangle, enclosed with a massive wall. Looking through a loop-hole, I could perceive that the interior was bare of buildings, though mounds and ridges indicated where they had stood, and the directions the walls had taken. The rest was grass & weeds.

Returned to Abbey Crescent.

August 1878.

 

Th. Aug. 1. To Paignton again. The reading of papers finished. In the afternoon I joined a very pleasant excursion, with 30 or 40 others, to Compton Castle, a splendid specimen of a fortified house, with which I was much delighted. On our return we had “high tea” at the hotel near the sea; and after dark there was a grand display of fireworks. Got to Torquay by 11P.M.

Fri. Aug. 2. Put some bread and cheese in my pocket, and started after breakfast for a ramble. From Abbey Crescent on the south, I walked northwards through Torquay, and up the hill to the new Museum. This I inspected all over. Its great interest at present lie’s in the rich collection it possesses of organic remains and flint implements from Kent’s Cavern. I then went on to Kent’s cavern. The first time I had ever visited this place, though I had read innumerable accounts of it, from the time of MacEnery to that of Pengelly. I found the door open, and two intelligent men at work carefully excavating. They are employed by the Committee, I brought away a piece of the crystalline stalagmite. I then started for Hope’s Nose. I went down steep roads, up steep paths towards the sea, and through a farm yard, and then out on the wild hill; here I espied a stagnant pond, and I got a small bottle full of water and weeds, which I sent to Lord S. G. O. for his microscope; and then over many beautiful ups and downs, and downs and ups, gradually descending to the limestone point. From its being scarped and flattened down in terraces, one may judge that this long horn, being the northern margin of Torbay, was once worked and quarried for limestone, and put on board vessels which came close up to the rock. Here I sat down to enjoy the view. Some two or three hundred yards off the point is a circular flat rock, called I believe the Lead Stone; and several hundred yards beyond and outside this is the Ore Stone, an immense rock, that from Dawlish and Teignmouth assumes the form of a great animal.On the side of it fronting me, the limestone strata are much contorted. When I was quite a young man, in company with my late cousin W. H. Oliver; (two or three years ago he died Rector of Stapleford, co. Herts.) we left Teignmouth in a boat, and landed upon this rock. We clambered to the top, and rambled all over it. There are no bushes on it, but plenty of coarse grass; and to our surprise, we started one or two rabbits. From the survey of the scenery, I took a survey of my bread and cheese. Everything tastes good out upon the wild hills. I had nothing to drink, but I enjoyed what I had, for I was hungry enough to eat limestone rocks, of which there was an abundance; and I was amused at observing the struggles of two cutters, being trawlers of Brixham, trying to pass between me and the Ore Stone, out of Torbay, from south to north, or from my right to my left; but there was such a strong tide or current from the north that they could not accomplish it. One made two attempts and the other three, but they were carried back into Torbay, and so they gave it up. Like a giant refreshed, I got up and examined this point, and then I came upon some men working at the outfall of the great sewer from Torbay, that is carried underground for a couple of miles or more. The work will be opened to use shortly, when a great demonstration will take place. I proposed to return by skirting the northern shore line of Torbay. I had to climb to the higher ground. Somewhere here about, and at from 30 to 40 feet above the sea level, the traces of raised beach exist - but I did not see them. Getting opposite the Thatcher stone, with Berry Head and Brixham beyond, I stopped to make a sketch of it. This is am immense rock of conical form, with some serrated peaks at the top, looking like the ruins of an old castle. On the side of this island the raised beach is also found. I walked on, in the hot sun - and hot indeed it was - and in time reached my lodging.

Sat. Aug. 3. Took a trip by rail to Dartmouth. A steamer carries you across the river. There lies the great training ship, in which two young princes, with the other cadets, are studying. I walked through the town and out to the Castle at the mouth of the harbour. I see that a new battery has been built here since my last visit, so long ago as Oct. 2. 1847. Looked at the little church and other things - walked back - recrossed the harbour by the boat - took rail first to the junction, and then by the short branch to Brixham. I had never been to this fishy place before. I was surprised to see two harbours or basins full of vessels, loading and unloading, and quite a busy scene. I counted 70 cutter rigged trawlers lying in the Bay, and I was told that about 100 belonged to this place. Great quantities of fish are sent hence to the London market.

Sun. Aug. 4. Went to a church built of red rock. In the afternoon to St. John’s. In the evening had an early tea with Mr. Perry, formerly a bookseller at Sidmouth, who printed the first Edition of my Sidmouth Guide. Then started to walk a mile or so to examine the remains of the old Chapel on Chapel Hill. The tradition is, that some devout person, who was at sea, and in great peril of shipwreck, made a vow, that if he should escape death, he would build a chapel on the spot of land he should see on approaching the shore. The first land he saw was the top of this hill.

M. Aug. 4. Left Torbay. Stopped at Newton. Dined with Mr. Cotton, brother of Mr. W. Cotton, Under Sheriff of Exeter. His eldest daughter plays the piano extremely well, and the youngest is learning the violin. He took me a walk to Woolborough. The church has a series of figures painted, running across the screen, something like those at Plymtree. He is a good geologist, and pointed out several very interesting geological features to me during the walk. Went on to Dawlish.

Th. Aug. 8. The Volunteers were camped between Dawlish and Cotton. Went out and saw them.

Fri. 9. Went to Teignmouth and back by rail.

M. 12. Returned to Sidmouth. The Great Eastern Railway, by a vote of the share holders, has consolidated Sunday Stocks into a uniform 4 per cent, Preference Stock; and my Stock has been altered from £2400 at 5 per cent, to £3000 at 4 per cent, the dividend in each case being £120 per annum

Fri. 30. Took a walk after breakfast along the beach westward. High Peak Hill is a beautiful object, and would make a splendid study for a painter, especially in the forenoon, before the sun gets behind it. By the Ordnance survey, reduced to mean tide at Liverpool, the hill is set down at 513.9 feet high; and I think that Picket Rock, which lies off the point, (Little Picket Outside) from observation and a rough measurement is about 120, though it looks nothing till you are close to it. Mr. Lavis discovered his Labyrinthodon Lavisi among some cliff that had fallen from a height of 60 or 70 feet. Sat down at the foot of Picket Rock and discussed it. No drink. It takes too much room and weighs too heavy. Stayed about for five hours examining the cliffs. A heavy cloud passed at sea; and there was one of the most intense and brilliant of double rainbows I ever recollect to have seen. I was once on Little Picket, at very low water, spring tide. The section of the vallum of the old camp on High Peak can be discerned from Sidmouth.

October 1878.

 

Oct. 1. 1878. Commenced writing out and translating my portion of the Exeter Domesday Book for a Committee of the Devonshire Association.

Fri. Oct. 4. At Mr. Radford’s, at Sidmouth, 15 head of poultry were discovered this morning dead, and packed away in a sort of dog box in the field close to the house. I happened to be there, and saw them pulled out. A great mystery. What did it? A fox - a dog - a ferret - a badger? Close examination shewed that all their skulls had been pressed in. Doubtless spite by some workman.

 

Sat. Oct. 12. Announced that Messrs Heugh, Balfour,& Co. are bankrupt. Hope this will not involve the late Mr. Balfour’s children, and the manor of Sidmouth.

Th. Oct. 24. Called on Mr. Fisher at Blackmore Hall. He shewed me two good etchings by Ansdell - a wolf killed by an arrow in the throat, and dogs with dead stag; another by ……. Of a nude figure drawing a sword, with students copying, at the Royal Academy.

Fri. Oct. 25. Took a walk westward on the beach with Mr. R. J. King, of Crediton, and shewed him the geological features of the cliffs.

M. Oct. 28. Took Mr. King to Sidmount, to see Dr. Radford, who is not well enough to be out. Mr. King took much interest in looking at his fine collection of books, etchings, engravings, photographs, bronzes, enamels, seals, casts of ancient gems, telescopes, microscopes, and so on,. He has a reputed sketch of the Virgin in chalk by Raffael and a reputed Michael Angelo of David and Bathskeba in outline and sepia.

Tu. Oct. 29. Took Mr. King to the top of Salcombe Hill, and shewed him the great stones, circular patches, like a British village, and the cairns.

 

November 1878.

 

Fri. Nov. 1. 1878. Went to Belmont Villa, Dawlish. When in Exeter I took a look at the Museum in Queen Street, which is now becoming a very creditable establishment; and the various objects sent there from Sidmouth by Mr. Heineken and myself, begin to make quite a shew. Also went to the Institution in the Cathedral Yard.

Note: This next entry (S. Nov. 2.) Has been crossed out in the diary at sometime.

 

S. Nov. 2. My cousin Freeland Kersterman came, I had never seen him before. His late mother was my first cousin, being a daughter of Admiral Bingham.

Su. 3. At St. Marks. In the afternoon to the Warren.

M. 4. Examined Mr. Ermen’s painting at Ermenville. He has several Flemish, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, and Italian of high standing that he procured abroad. He has also two or three good ones by our Exeter artist Widgery.

Tu. Nov. 5. Mr. Jones and her son John left.

W. Nov. 6. Last night three Cottages in High Street, Dawlish, were burn down, by way of celebrating Guy Fawkes’s exploit.

 

Th. Nov. 7. Walked three miles to Teignmouth, and called on some friends. Too late for the train, so I walked back by moonlight on the railway wall.

Sat. Nov. 9. Sketched the Solitary Rock in the Bishop’s Parlour, (as I believe that cave at the west end of the beach is called,) which I am told is called The Old Maid Rock. Why it has got this name I know not, unless from its solitariness. Old Bachelors are solitary sometimes. I think it is about 30 feet high, judging by the size of the people near it. The head is off. See Aug.1. 1888.

M. 11. Walked to the Warren along that very agreeable walk on top of the railway wall, and called on Mr. Lees, who used to live at Sidmouth. He has a number of old etchings, mostly by Flemish artists.

W. Nov. 13. By means of “soft sowder” and “a silver key,” I got into Luscombe House. There is scarcely a person in Dawlish who has ever been inside it. The late Mr. Hoar never saw anybody; the present one has been a spendthrift and involved everything. I was much disappointed. The outside of the house is an attempt at Gothic; but a close view reveals that the designer had no knowledge of Gothic, or of any other style; and as a proof that great ignorance of architectural propriety existed in the builders, Gothic of flimsy character, and Renaissance or modern Roman, are mixed up in painful confusion/ The building is so close up against a high bank, that the few interior paintings in the dining room cannot be seen. There are two drawing rooms, with an archway between; in the outer some pictures and engravings of no pretentions, and the walls of the inner are mostly covered with framed water-colour drawings, chiefly foreign. The very plain ugly white marble chimney-piece in the first drawing room, of Italian style in a sort of Gothic building, has two nude stooping or kneeling figures done by Flaxman in low relief. The furniture is of the most homely description. In another room I was shewn a portrait of the first Mr. Hoar. I was asked if I would see the chapel? I had been there to morning service one Sunday years ago. [Mar. 7. 1866.] It is a beautiful little building of recent date, and I was glad to inspect it again. It is Decorated character - has a vaulted ceiling of varicoloured stone - columns, mouldings, string-courses, &., of varicoloured Devonshire marble. The furnished house, park, plantations, and shooting, to be let for £600 a year. I think there are one or two reputed paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds in unfavourable situations; but taking the place altogether and having always heard so much of the fabulous wealth of the Hoar family, I expected to have seen more shew of taste, and a cultivated mind.

 

Th. Nov. 14. The Marquis of Lorne, as Governor of Canada, and his wife, the Princess Louise, leave for Canada to-day.

Walked to Langstone Point. The Elephant Rock, on the Exmouth side of it, of which I made a drawing in my Sketch-Book, May 4, 1868, is losing its shape, as part of its head is falling away.

Fri. Nov. 15. 1878. Returned from Dawlish to Sidmouth.

Sun. Nov. 17. My Birthday. I was born at Winchester, and baptised at Heavitree.

W. 20. It has been decided to march on Affghanistan, and the troops left Pesihawur to-day for the Khyber Pass. The chief cities of Afghanistan are built at extraordinary elevations, and it is intensely Cold in them in the winter, I believe that Candahar is about 3500 feet, Quetta 5500, and Cabul some 6000.

December 1878.

 

M. Dec. 9. Snow storm.

W. 11. The thermometer fell to 22’ last night.

Th. 12. Thaw.

Fri. 13. Froze again. Snow.

S. 14. Very cold strong north-east wind. Walked to the new Cemetery.

Su. 15. The organ in the parish church having been placed in the new organ chamber at the S.E. corner, the surpliced choir of 18 boys and men appeared for the first time to-day. When the church was rebuilt in 1860, there was a great fight in the parish over this novelty, and it was resisted.

M. Dec. 16. The Bishop came and consecrated the Cemetery. The day was fine, clear, and without wind, but the ground was covered with snow. The novelty brought half Sidmouth up there. One third of the northern portion is unconverted, the dividing line passing east and west of the Chapels. Part of the service was in the south chapel, and it was a cram. The pages of our books soon felt damp with the excess of moisture oozing from the new walls. Great efforts were made, and the east window, in painted glass by Ward and Hughes, (who did the Queen’s window) was got in. It is dedicated to Lord Sidney Osborne during his lifetime. The arms at the bottom of the middle light were done from my drawings. The inscription was under consideration, and underwent sundry alterations; -e.g. - To the Reverend the Hon.ble Lord Sidney Godolphin Osborne, by some of his friends. 1878.

- In Honaren Dei, et in estimationem Domini Viri Reverendi Sidney Godolphin Osborne, adhuc in hoc loco comorati tribuere amici,

- In Honorem Dei, et ob gratiam, Reverendo Homorabili Domino Sidney Godolphin Osborne, reddendam, posuere amici, 1878, - In Honoren Dei, et ob graciam, Sidney Godolphin Osborne, Filio Baronii Godolphin, reddendam, posuere amici, 1878, - In Honorem Dei, et ob graciam, Sidney Godophin Osborne, reddendan, posuere amici, 1878.

After many attempts it was decided to get rid of all his titles. I suggested Filio Baronii Godolphin, just to say who he was the son of, as is usual in inscriptions, but his Lordship and the Vicar overruled, and decided on the last. He is brother to the late Duke of Leeds, and uncle to the present. As to erecting monuments to people whilst they are alive, as a compliment, or a mark of honour, it was done to the Duke of Wellington, to Sir Thomas Ackland, in the white marble statue on Northershay, and a statue is now in preparation to be erected in honour of the present Earl of Devon. Well. - A circuit of paths had been gravelled and cleared of snow, round which it was intended to lead the Bishop, in his perambulation of the new ground, and then to the tent in the middle of it. Vain preparations! When we had formed the procession at the Chapel, without waiting to be informed of anything about route or circuit or anything else, off started the Bishop at a good round pace. He went down a by-path which had not been gravelled, and was deep in mud and half melted snow, and then cut across the grass through the snow direct to the tent, leaving us to follow up close behind him. Deeds and documents were here read and signed, and the service completed.

At the Vicar’s invitation about twenty met at luncheon. Before sitting down, I expressed my regret to the Bishop at the present project for pulling down Blundell’s School at Tiverton, and erecting another, on the plea that the site was unhealthy. If it is unhealthy for a school, it is so for everything else. He said he believed there was room enough, a reason I had not heard before. After lunch we dispersed.

Th. Dec. 19. Lady Prideaux died at Torquay, aged 78. No one seems to know who Netherton Hall will go to, Sit Edmund having no heirs. People used to say he was her third husband, and certainly, she was his fourth wife. - To Prideaux-Brune.

Wed. Dec. 25. 1878. Christmas Day. It has been unusually cold lately, but to-day it thawed. Dined at Mr. Southgate’s, I don’t approve of dining out on Xmas Day.

Sat. Dec. 28. Called on Captain A. Markham, of H.M. Ship Alert in the last Artic expedition, [Oct. 30. 1876.] who is at the Vicarage. As I took much interest in this expedition, and especially so, as they got further north than anyone had ever been before, and as it was Captain Markham himself, who took his sledge party the furthest north, and I suppose he has been nearer the Pole than anyone has ever been, namely 83,,20,,26, or about 399 miles only, or as far only as from Sidmouth to Northumberland. - It is not strange I should be desirous of asking him a few questions. He told me the expedition is considered to begin when they leave Disco Island, which lies off the west coast of Greenland, in latitude about 70. The little town here is on the east of the island. It is occupied by a few Danes and Eskimos. The latter are a harmless and peaceable race. Some consider them as one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of the races in Europe, who were pushed northward by more warlike tribes coming from the east, before whom they were obliged to retire. They live in rude huts, or make use of planks and timber used by the Danes, and procured from Europe. The Disco coal mine is a few miles south of the settlement in the strait. Proceeding north they observed that in Smith Sound there was a current running south in August of one to two miles per hour. There were traces of Eskimo life as far north as 81,,54,. Traces of the lemming over the snow at 82,,45; of butterflies, gnats, &., at 81,,30; saxifrage and grass, eider ducks and ptarmigan at 82,,50; traces of a hare over the interminable snow, at 83,,9, which was miles out at sea, leading them to suppose it had lost its way and must perish. The ice here was estimated at 100 feet thick. It never thaws, but gets broken up in summer. March 4. 1876, when they were nearly 83’ north, the thermometer went down to 106’ below freezing, which is the lowest ever recorded. I think Captain Back once recorded nearly 100’. Captain Markham told me that at this low temperature, which was beyond the limit of all living creatures, spirits of wine, (except the rectified spirit in the thermometers,) became thick like hair oil; Rum, brandy, whisky, and the like froze hard, and they broke it up like lumps of sugar and eat or sucked it. The only thing that did not freeze was chloroform. When shut up in the ship in there winter quarters, they could make themselves comfortable, but they felt all the severities when they were out on the sledging parties. They mostly had hot tea at their meals, everything else being frozen. They sometimes suffered from thirst in the day time, and some of the men sucked pieces of ice, but it chilled the mouth too much. They never drank spirits, but one glass after supper on going to bed, and then they were warmer than any period of the 24 hours. They slept in thick cases like bags, side by side under a tent; and each one took it in turn to get up an hour before the others, to make the water boil with spirits of wine, for the tea or coffee. At first they employed Eskimo dogs to draw the sledges, but they dispensed with them afterwards in order to save the weight of their food. These doge are remarkably hardy, and they could not be induced to sleep under cover, but they preferred being out on the ice and snow. They used to eat snow to quench their thirst. As regards the seasons, the sun became very hot in July. The ice and snow melted rapidly; the land was almost everywhere visible; but travelling was difficult, because all the gullies and hollows of the sides of the hills and mountains were rushing streams full of water to overflowing. By the beginning of August it had pretty well melted. The few summer birds, plants, and insects shewed themselves; but at the end of August the snow began to full again. Besides the coal on the east side of Disco Island, there is a remarkable coal field on the coast in Robinson Channel, in 81’ 44N. at a few miles north of where the ship Discovery wintered, Capt,n. Markham has given me specimens of both, which he brought home. I have carefully sealed then down in two bottles, and scratched the labels on the glass describing them

[Note: insert drawing of bottle.]

Both these specimens of coal are declared to be of Miocene age; yet they do not resemble the Miocene Lignite of Bovey. On the contrary, they have all the compact, black, glissening appearance of our fine old English Coal of the Carboniferous system. I was told however, that in reality it is less dense, and has about one-third less heating power in the furnace. As regards the geology of the coast, granite, gneiss, and other primary rocks were observed along the east coast of Melville Bay, and so northward, with trap rocks in places. In Kennedy Channel grey limestone. The same also at Cape Joseph Henry at 82’50 N., and along the north coast of Greenland. Another very extraordinary discovery, somewhere I think beyond 82’N, was that of coral or traces of the work of the coral insect. This, taken together with the coal, indicates that at one period, these existed in this artic and desolate region, a torrid climate like that of the West Indies. So unexpected a discovery has given rise to many theories among the learned. Some suggest that a slow alteration in the figure of the earths orbit may have affected the climate there; others that the situation of the Pole has changed, as for instance, by the precession of the equinoxes; and yet others that before the earth had cooled down as much as it has at present, the internal heat, like a hot-bed, was enough to produce a tropical climate there. Setting theories however aside, the facts remain the same; and they exist for us to speculate upon and wonder at. The subject has much interested me.

Sat. Dec. 28. There was an alarm of fire in the neighbourhood. It was discovered that some out-buildings on a farm at Sid, or Seed, as people pronounce it, had taken fire and were burnt. The year is drawing to a close, and we have a thaw to-day, after a more intense period of cold than I ever remember before the coming on of the new year. We had some unusual cold in October; in November a sharp attack; and in December a fortnight of artic severity. And yet how paltry do our figures seem after Captain Markham’s experiences. Our lowest was 22’ of Fahrenheit, or 10 degrees below freezing, though 14 at night down on the grass, and what is this compared with 106’? Yet our roads and paths and street were one sheet of ice, and some put on skates and skated about as if they had been on frozen canals. There were many cases of broken limbs by falling, especially arms.

Tu. Dec. 31. 1878. Dined at the Vicarage. Present - The Vicar and Mrs. Clements, Colonel and Mrs. Clements, (nee’ Markham), Captain Markham, Miss. O’Quin, Mr & Mrs. Hine-Haycock of Belmont, Mr. & Mrs. Cowan of St. Kilda, Salcombe Hill, and Miss Cave of Witheby.

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'In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson' outputs

An introductory leaflet to 'In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson' (pdf)

A summary of our Peter Orlando Hutchinson Year 1 achievements (pdf)

About 'In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson'

In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson (2010-2013) has been delivered by the East Devon AONB Partnership on behalf of and with the financial support of Defra, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund (Your Heritage) and the Sid Vale Association's Keith Owen Trust Fund.

Phil Planel is your first point of contact for this cultural and historic landscapes project.

Find out more >