POH Transcripts - 1879

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January 1879.


Wed. Jan. 1. 1879. Now then- What will 1879 bring?

Th. 2. One of the 38-ton guns on board the Thunderer has burst, and killed 12, and wounded 33.

Sat. 4. Spent the evening with Miss Wolridge at Marlborough Place, where I met Captain and Mrs. Toup Nicholas

Ju. 7. Captain Markham gave a lecture on the subject of his explorations in the arctic regions, the Vicar in the chair. Mr. W. Floyd and myself have been very busy during the past week making a large map of the polar regions on white glazed calico to illustrate it. It snowed and rained all day, but the room was well filled never the less. From Captain Markham’s interesting book, The Great Frozen Sea, I have copied the most northern view that was ever taken. It is a view from the most northern point reached, looking further north over the interminable ice towards the Pole.

W. Jan. 8. The young folks at the Vicarage had private theatricals, and performed Bluebeard admirably. Captain Markham was Bluebeard. I lent them a couple of swords for the occasion.

Th. 9. Strong NE wind. Very cold again.

Fr. 10. Walked on to Sidmount to have a chat with Dr. Radford. He told me to look through the window at his thermometer outside. To my surprise, it only marked 25’


S. Jan. 11. 1879.People say it feels colder again to-day. Perhaps there is more wind. The papers tell us that Mr. Gladstone’s admirers have prevented him with a silver axe, in allusion to his recent exploits in amusing himself by felling a few trees on his estate in North Wales. I an not informed of the weight if if, or how much silver there is in it, but it cost £36,,17,,0.

Su. 12. Fine cold morning, with NE wind. Towards evening changed to SW with rain.

Tu. 16. Our Choral Society gave its winter concert at the London Hotel.

Su. 19. First funeral at the new cemetery. A Mrs. Dean and a Mrs. Salter were buried in two graves at about 50 yards SE from the Chapel. The two coffins were taken into the southern chapel, and it was crammed with people. Being a novelty, crowds of people came up to the ground.

Th. 23. Cold as ever again with a cutting north-easter, but dry.

Tu. 28. Evening party at All Saints Parsonage by Rev. and Mrs. MacArthur.


W. 29. A boy brought a gold ring to shew me, bearing apparently, a garnet between two emeralds, on the broadest part of the hoop, wh. he found last Monday on the beach near the Chit Rocks. It was marked 18 carat gold. He would not sell it. He also found a Japanese oval bronze coin, which he let me have. Many circular Chinese coins have been found there, but this is the first oval coin I have seen. I have carefully noted them down in my Hist. of Sidmouth, Vol. I. The characters at top, I think signify the date 1834, as similar characters on china are said to stand for that date.

February 1879.


S. Feb. 1, 1879. Strong Cold north-east wind with snow and rain.

Su. 2. Milder. Wind changed to south. Rain.

Tu. 4. Went up to the south Chapel in the cemetery, and coloured the outline design of the east window, sent to the Vicar by the glass painters, from the window itself. My drawing the Vicar destines for Lord Sidney Osborn. See Dec. 16.

Tu. Feb. 25. Went to Dawlish. When in Exeter I saw some vases made to imitate some ancient vases dug up by Dr. Schlieman at Troy. These were of a blackish glass, with some yellowish brassy looking dross sticking to the surface. They were from 6 to 9 inches high.

March 1879.


S. Mar. 1.1879. Mr. Kersteman left.

W. 5. Walked to the Warren and back.

Th. 6. Walked to the Fir Trees on the hill above Dawlish. There are 23 trees there. It is at this spot I am told, that the great tank or reservoir to suply Dawlish with water, is to be made. Went on to the barrow on the ridge of the high hill a mile off over Langdon, It is at A. No. The tank is being made at B. see July 23. 1880.

T. 7. Beautiful clear day and a hot sun.

Su. 9. At St. Marks. This chapel is soon to be enlarged by the addition I believe of a south aisle. At the parish church. In the south transept, of the transept, of the portion recently rebuilt, there is a tablet to the memory of Lady Perryman by Flaxman, There are three or four figures of ladies in light drapery and very short waists, with Grecian profiles, pouring out a fair measure of grief round an urn all in white marble.

W. Mar. 12. Fine and pleasant weather. People are now congratulating themselves that along and tedious winter, of unusual severity, and which began remarkably early, is now pretty well over. Mr. Lea, a manufacturer of Kidderminster, now residing at Dawlish, has recently bought a field over the Tunnel, on the cliff, at the west end of the beach, for I think £250, and has presented it to the town for a recreation ground. It is now to be called Icea Mount. The place is now being put in order. I went up to-day to look at it. A very pretty place.

Th. Mar. 13. Returned from Dawlish to Sidmouth.

W. 19. Mr. Fisher, of Blackmore Hall, lent me an old water colour view of Sidmouth beach to copy. It is marked T.W. Uphon, 1802. Uphon was an Exeter artist. Finished it to-day.


Th. 20. Returned it to him.


Fri. 21. The winter is not yet over. Cold black north-easter set in again.


S. 22. Very Cold. People are complaining as much as they did in December.

Su. 23. The same.

M. 24. The same. People call it winter No. 2.

Tu. 25. Lady Day. Dull north-east wind. Queen Victoria leaves England to-day, to pay a few weeks visit to Baveno in Italy. A meeting to-day on the subject of Mr. Dunning’s pier at the east end of the beach. He asks for ten year’s extention of time. The board of Trade sent a gentleman down to make enquiry.

W. 26. The same. Dined with Mr. and Mrs. Vane at Oakland.


Th. 27. The same. Thermometer only 45’ in the Oak-room at breakfast.

Fri. 28. Wind dropping. Sunshine.

S. 29. Wind veered to SW. Milder. Mr. Lethaby the printer is going to bring out a another edition of my Sidmouth Guide, and has asked me to revise the present one, so as to bring matters down to the present times. Though I have no interest in it, my name is on the title page, and so I have been going over it lately. But there are not wood cuts enough. If I can manage it, I should like to make a few more for this edition.

April 1879.

Fri. April. 11. Weather as cold as ever. Good Friday.

Su. Ap. 13. Easter Sunday. Cold black north-east wind. Snow storm coming out of church. Somebody said “A Merry Christmas to ‘e.”

M. 14. Easter Monday. Snow and sleet all day. Dined at Oakland.


Tu. 15. Was at Blackmore Hall from 3 to 6 this afternoon looking over Mr. Fisher’s collection of etchings. He must have from £200 to £300 worth. They are chiefly by Palmer, Slocombe, Seymore Hayden, Unger, Leopold Flamemg, &.

Th. April. 17. 1879. Attended Vestry meeting at the parish church. Proposed and Mr. Fisher seconded, that Mr. Kennet-Were, J.P., Rev. R.T. Thornton, and Dr. Pullin, be elected to the Burial Board - they having gone out by rotation. Carried.

Fri. 18. The dispute between the servants and the Executors of the late Mr. Thornton of Knowle, who died in May 1876, was decided last February in favour of the servants, as the adhered cutting shews.


In the High Court of Justice Chancery Division, on Wednesday, the case of Pulford v. Hunt, which raised rather an interesting question was heard. Pulsford and others, the plaintiffs, are executors under the will of the late Richard Napoleon Thornton, Esq., of Knowle, Sidmouth; and Hunt and others, the defendants, represented the casual employe’s whose claims were resisted. The testator by his will directed his two establishments to be carried on without alteration for six months after his death, and that morning “suitable to his position” should be given “to each person in his service,” and he also gave a legacy of one year’s wages to “each person in his service” other than his housekeeper and butler, to whom he gave legacies of larger amounts. Besides the ordinary servants permanently attached to his establishment, there were in the employment of the tester at the time of his death certain out-door servants and labourers at weekly wages - some engaged by the testator himself, others taken on by his bailiff or coachman, and there was also a charwoman engaged from time to time and paid weekly, who happened to be engaged at the testator’s death; and the question was, whether these persons were entitled to legacies of one year’s wages each. - Mr. G. Daw, instructed by Mr. Floud, of Exeter, appeared for the defendants. - The Vice-Chancellor held that the persons as the whom the question arose were entitled to the legacy of one year’s wages each.

We have had a trying winter. I think it was at the commencement of it that the boisterous doings here described took place.



One of the heaviest downpours of rain ever remembered by the “oldest inhabitant,” was experienced at Sidmouth during Sunday night. The rain commenced about five o’clock, and continued all night and a greater part of Monday. The river Sid was more swollen than has been known to be the case for years past. Bridges, trees, and debris of all kinds were carried rapidly down to sea. A little boy named Langdon, about ten years old, whose parents reside at Sidbury, was on his way to school. Having to cross a bridge, the win overpowered the little fellow, and carried him into the river. Despite all efforts to save him, he was drowned. It is reported that the body has since been found in an orchard. A high south-easterly wind has prevailed throughout.

And further on, when the hard frosts set in, it is remarkable how many men and women fell on the ice, and broke their limes - mostly their arms.


ACCIDENTS. Very severe weather has been experienced here during the past few days. The roads have been entirely covered with ice, and several accidents have occurred during the week. Two boys, aged about nine years, named Godfrey and Cotton, fell on leaving All Saints’ School, and each broke the bone of his fore arm. - Mr. Thomas Farrent, of Eaton Dairy, on his way from the station on Friday evening, fell and fractured the small bone of his arm, and about the same time a young woman named Lawrence, residing in Eastern Town, fell and broke a similar bone. Mr. James Pepperall, of High-street, whilst moving an empty cart, slipped on the ice, and fell over the shafts, and badly fractured his elbow-joint. An old lady, named Cross, aged 87, and residind in the New Town, stumbled in her bedroom, and dislocated her thigh. The cases are under the care of Dr. Hodges and Dr. Pullin, and all are doing well.

Sun. Ap. 20. 1879. Cold winter weather still. Some say swallows have been seen by the river.


Tu. 22. The papers say that the new state of Bulgaria, which has grown out of the late Russian and Turkish was, has adopted a tricolor flag of white, green, and red, but they do not say whether the colours or stripes are perpendicular or horizontal.


Th. 24. Concert of our Choral Society at the London Inn.


Sun. 27. Heard the Cookoo; but it was heard several days ago.


Tu. 29. Sent Ann and Mrs. Mortimer to Otterton and Budleigh for the day. Finished 15 small wood cuts to illustrate the new Edition of my Sidmouth Guide, to be printed soon. I fear I have not much of a hand of them.


May 1879.


Th. May 1. Not much like May Day. Cold, dull, rainy. People exclaim - when shall we ever get rid of this winter? Vegetation is very backward.

Mon. May. 5. A man brought me a gold ring to look at which he found when pulling down an old house in the Marsh, now by some called Eastertown. It is a hoop; flat on the inside, and half-round on the outside, the section being.. The only stamp appeared to be . Cut with a graver round the flat inside, in a writing hand, are the words - In God and thee, My joy shall be. Workmen seen to think that what they find on another person’s property is their own. This ring in reality belongs to the Balfours, the old house being on manor land.

Tu. 8. Whilst I think of it, let me record how far we are from the sun, according to the new calculations based on the transit of Venus. On turning to Dec. 9. 1874, I see I have already recorded it. We had some snow yesterday, and the papers say it fell in most parts of the country.

Note: The following newspaper article is to be found appended to the diary at this point.


The distance of the earth from the sun, as computed from the

observations of 42 different observers of the transit of Venus,

is stated by the Astronomer Royal to be 93,373,000 miles.

W. May 14. 1879. Took a walk on Salcombe Hill. Cold windy and showery.

Fr. 16. The rooks that frequent my ground brought two young ones to-day. The weather is still very wintery. Such a long winter and ungenial spring seems not to be in the memory of man. Dug some ground and sowed some parsley seed. This seed is a long time coming up - I think a month. Seeds differ much in their period of germination. Turnip appears in a day or two.

M. 19. Rose Cottage, in Mill Lane, or as they are pleased to call it All Saints Road, was put ut to auction. It was built some 70 years ago by Mr. Stocker, who was a tallow chandler, but who got the nickname of “The Squire,” because he had a great passion for hunting, and kept some hounds; but as he could not afford to feed them, they preyed upon their neighbours, robbed all the larders in town, and were a nuisance of the town. One day one of them got into the larder of No. 4 Coburg Terrace, when my father was living there, and walked off with a joint of meat; I think it was a shoulder of veal. There was a great out-cry among the street boys as he ran down the road, but he got clear off. An one fine summer morning, doors and windows open, the servant had laid the breakfast, and just before we came down, and just before we came down, one of these prowlers walked in, and took half a pound of butter of the breakfast table. All this was looked upon as great fun. “The Squire” was the father of the present Dr. Pullin’s mother. Mill Lane was the lane down which the monks from Otterton Priory came to their mill at the top of the town. Well - Rose Cottage was put up in£600, so it was bought in. The Rev. Olmius Morgan however, recently from Suffolk, afterwards took it for £575. The little ground taken out of the field belonging to the manor, they pay half a crown a year for. Sold again soon. Burnt down Aug. 1880. Rebuilt 1881.

Fri. May 23. 1879. There is a meeting to-day at the London Hotel in aid of the Orphan Seaman’s Institution at Brixham. The Bishop, Lord S.G. Osburne, Rev. R.T. Thornton, on the platform with the Major the Hon. L.A. Addington in the chair, a brother of Lord Sidmouth. A large boat came up from Brixham with a number of the boys, who returned in the evening.

Sat. 24. Her Majesty’s birthday. The Queen is 60. Her father died here in Sidmouth early Sunday morning, Jan. 23. 1820.

M. May 26. Mr. Joseph Isaucs, how, with his wife and some of his family, have occupied No. 4 Coburg Terrace since last June, has now taken a lease on it from next Midsummer, for 3, 5, or 7 years, at£ 40 a year. We signed the lease to-day at Mr. Radfords office.

Th. May. 29. “Oak-apple Day,” as we used to call it. This year, owing to the long winter, the late spring, and the still lingering cold weather, neither the oak nor the ash are yet in leaf, so there are no oak apples.


June 1879.


M. June 2. Weather still cold and unsettled. Vegetation a month behind. I still have fire in the Oak Room of an evening.

Tu. June 3. Fortunately the weather is finer. Miss Balfour, sister of the young Lord of the Manor, is married at Kensington to-day, to Lieut. Barttelot, son of Sir W. Barttelot, Bt. And 500 or 600 school children had tea and cake at Peak House. I went up to witness the scene. They walk up in procession, headed by the drum and fife band of the Temperance Society, and had their tea at tables laid in the yard at the back of the house. Three large Bride Cakes were afterwards cut up, and a piece given to each. They them marched away to one of the fields belonging to the Glebe - the one lying between the Vicarage and the river, where they amused themselves with games till the evening.

My cousin Lady Burrard, of the Mount, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, widow of Sir George Burrard, of Walhampton, died yesterday, she was 82. Her mother and my mother were sisters. Her grandson has the title now.

Th. June 5. 1879. Thunder and lightning from eleven to-night till daylight. It was distant - some four or five miles, allowing four seconds to a mile.

Tu. 10. Dined at Belmont with Mr. Hine-Haycock, his eldest son Ralph, and a young friend going to sea. Before dinner he took me down to see the cellar. A very good cellar, arched over with brick, and the bins well stocked. We brought up a bottle of Sherry, a bottle of Claret, and a bottle of Champagne.

W. 11. At last I believe I have left off fires. I never remember so cold and late a season.

W. June. 18. Waterloo Day, as they call it. The bells ring, and the place is decorated with flags, so I hoisted mine on the Old Chancel.

Fri. 20. Went to Exeter to attend a committee meeting connected with the Devonshire Association. About a dozen members met. Mr. & Mrs. Dymond afterwards gave us a very handsome cold dinner at there house at No.1. Higher Terrace, Mount Radford.

News arrived to-day, that the Prince Imperial, only child of Napoleon III., late Emperor of the French, who volunteered to go to South Africa, to be a spectator of the progress of our war with the Zulus, has been surprised and killed by that people.

W. June 25. Charles Foyle, an old man of 85, was to-day thrown and killed. (for he died of his injuries soon after) by a bullock on the Esplanade. The practice of the butchers driving cattle through the streets to the slaughter houses, is a grievance long complained of, and I have often heard the remark -”There will be nothing done till somebody is killed.” This case is the more reprehensible, in that the Local Board some few years ago, granted a licence for a slaughter-house in the heart of the town - the very slaughter-house to which this beast was being driven. The bullock also gored and wounded a blind woman of 60 called Julia Russell. It also pinned a child to a wall with its horns, but the child, to the astonishment of everybody escaped serious injury.

Sat. June 28. An inquest was held on the death of Charles Foyle, and as the butcher had many friends among the jury, they brought in a verdict of “Accidental death.” Legal proceedings however are threatened.


July 1879.


Fri. July 11. 1879. Took a walk eastwards under Salcombe Hill on the beach. Started about half past nine, after breakfast, and took some cold beef and bread in a bag, and a geological hammer with me. Since I was that way last, there have been one or two large falls-down of the cliff, commonly called rusements here, from half a mile to a mile beyond the river Sid. In my walk onwards I only detected a few poor specimens of the pseudomorphous crystals of cloride of sodium, and beyond Salcombe Mouth I went on the gypsum. There is a great deal at Hook Ebb, as the reef of rocks is called, the cracks in the cliff, to a height apparently of 60 to 80 feet, being filled with it like sheets, some as thin as card, and some three or four inches thick. Formerly the masons of Sidmouth used to collect this, and burn it into Plaster of Paris, but it is now discovered that it is not worth the trouble. I had examined the cliffs all the way, and I pushed on over the rooks of Hook Ebb until I got well in sight of the cottages at Weston Mouth, the tide being high, and at one place reached the base of the cliff. Having got to the end of the gypsum veins, and having selected some pieces to take back, looking like slices of red cheese, I began to feel “as hungry as a hunter;” so I looked about for a spring of water coming down from the cliff, and taking out my parcel of food, sat upon a rock by the water’s edge, and amused myself trying to count how many waves there are in the sea. I discussed my sandwiches and had three several little turns at the spring; and food and drink are always peculiarly grateful under such circumstances. Rising like a giant refreshed, I took my way leisurly back. Near Salcombe Mouth there are some wet places overgrown by the reed and the equisetum. I collected specimens to compare with my fossil stems. One spring on the east of Salcombe Mouth is much charged with carbonate of lime, and running down over the weeds, covers them with a coating of stone. The springshowever, coming down from the yellow rock of the Dunscombe cliffs, a mile or two further east, are more noted for this quality. When I got half way home, the remarkably unsettled weather gave me a wet jacket. I was out six hours, and such walk are very enjoyable.


Sat. July. 12. 1879. The will of the late Mr. Benjamin Davidson, who died on the 21st. September 1878, and who had bought Richmond Lodge in the Elysian Fields, in this parish, has just come under my notice. The personal property is sworn under £100,000. Mrs. Olga Davidson the widow, has Richmond Lodge and cottage for life, and £15000 absolutely. The property was bought of the Earl of Buckinghamshire a few years ago for £6000 or £8000. There are three young children, a boy and two girls. Gilbert, the boy, is to have Richmond Lodge and £40,000, in the event of his mother’s death; and Blanch and Dora, the daughters, £20,000 each; and if I remember rightly, there is a special provision of £10,000 to each of the daughters, should their mother marry again. Legacies to brothers Major Gen. J. Davidson, Henry Davidson £8000, (by Codicil) and Louis Davidson. To F.A. Lucas £1000 if he acts as Executor. To Chas. Rivers Wilson £1000, and £5000 to his friend Alfred de Rothschild, who with Louis Davidson, is a Trustee. There is other property in the United States of America. The Trustees, with the consent of Mrs. Davidson, can sell Richmond Lodge.

Mon. July 14. The papers of the last day or two give full accounts of the funeral of the son of the late emperor Napoleon III. The body was brought to England in the Orontes, and arrived at Spithead on Friday last the 11th.. When it was transferred to the Enchantress, which proceeded to Woolwich, where it got on Saturday morning early. Things being ready, a long and imposing procession at once proceeded to Chiselhurst, where the funeral took place at one o’clock.

Sat. July 19. Mr. Ede, of Lansdowne shewed me a diamond about the size of the sketch in the margin, found near Kimberley in south Africa by his son Allen, and just sent home. It is an irregular cube of a light yellow colour, and weighs 2 carats and a half. It is called a rough diamond; but it looks bright and pretty as it is. It is worth about £10: but if it were cut and polished, and if it had been colourless, its value would have been forty.

Note: The following is a newspaper cutting, appended to the diary at this point.


The Government propose to levy an export duty on diamonds of one per cent. An official return gives the value of diamonds exported during 1879 at £3,685,610.

Mon. July 21. Left Sidmouth for Ilfracombe, to attend the annual meeting of the Devonshire Association, and to read a short paper there on my fossil stems from Peak Hill. [May 13. 1878.] An hour in Exeter, went on to Barnstaple, and then to Ilfracombe. Near Morthoe Station this line attains a height of 500 feet.

Tu. 22. Went to the Town Hall and fixed up my geological drawings before the bustle began, - one, a view or section of the Sidmouth cliffs three yards long, and the other, a full size drawing, four feet square, of the stems on the slab of rock. Attended some Council meetings. Took a run over Capstone Hill, estimated at 181 feet high, and round the harbour and Lantern Hill. The latter is crowned by an ancient Chapel, long used as a light house.

In the evening Sir John Collier, the President for the year, read his inaugural Address. Though a lawyer, he is an accomplished painter, and it was on this subject that he mostly dwelt.

Wed. July. 23. 1879. The day was occupied in reading papers. The great dinner at the Ilfracombe Hotel. I preferred taking a walk on the cliffs and enjoying the splendid views, to being in a hot, close, overcrowded room, with bad attendance, and no means of getting what you want for dinner.

Th. July 24. Reading papers from ten to four. I read mine to-day, and was much praised by Mr. Pengally of Torquay, and Mr. Ussher, of the Geological Survey, for my drawings. My fossil stems are supposed to be calamites, though the species was not known to the geologists present. Qy. Equisetum stems?

After this we went by invitation of the Rev. Treasurer Hawker, formerly of Ide, to the Rectory at Berry Narbor, three miles, where we had tea, and many good things - enjoyed the beautiful views - examined the church - sketched the font, as annexed - went over the Manor House, almost a ruin. We passed Mr. Basset’s castle at Watermouth, where there ia a very pretty little natural harbour; where having dismounted, we all went to see the caves and the arches and tunnels which the waves have made in the cliff. Everybody ought to go and see these.

Fri. 25. Made an excursion to Braunton. Examined the church. The nave is very wide. There is a most perfect set of old oak seats with handsomely carved Ends I have seen anywhere. There is a very interesting small Palimpsest brass (lose) on the south side of the chancel. By the inscription on another brass below, it refers to Elizabeth Bolmer [?] d. of J. Erie, and W. of Edward Chichester. On the reverse side are the head and shoulders of a knight in chain armour. The pulpit is Jacobean. Near it, in the splay of a window, are the traces of fresco painting, representing some saint. On the hill, north-east of the church, is a tower with pinnacles, built in 1833 to commemorate the passing of the Reform Bill.

Went with my friends out upon Braunton Burrows, an interminable expanse of sand, and sand hills, and weeds, and coarse grass, and rushes, and wild flowers - a charming place for the botanist. The only habitat I believe in England of the Scirpus holoschoenus, and the rare plant the Mattheola sinuate, is here; just as the only place in England where the Trichonema bulbicodium is found, is on the Warren near Dawlish. I was told that Braunton Burrows lets for five or six hundred a year for rabbits. We lastly proceeded towards the northern verge of the sand waste, not a little thirsty, and coming to rising ground and some real earth, we encountered a spring of water. Here I eat my bread and cheese and was going to drink, but another thirsty soul said it would be better to go to Saunton Court, some 200 or 300 yards off, now a farm house, and get some milk with our water - so we did. This is a very large range of buildings, once occupied by a succession of great families. Got to Ilfracombe in the evening.

Sat. 26. Spent the day with Mr. T. Wainwright, at Barnstaple, a capital antiquarian scholar, whom I know fifteen years ago, when he lived at Bridport. He is now Master of the Grammar school at Barnstaple, which he shewed me. I could not help noticing the front of the old Exchange Walk - the columns, are well carried entablature of Jacobean design, and of Bath stone, with statue of Queen Anne over, near the river. He took me to the parish church. There are a number of very fine and large Jacobean monuments in this church. Then we went to the Vicarage of Pilton, the adjoining parish, to examine the collection of fossils obtained in the neighbourhood by the Vicar’s son Mr. Townshend M. Hall. He is an enthusiastic geologist. He has dug a well on the premises with his own hands, to get a section of the strata. He has also done a good deal of the work of restoring the church. We dined at the Vicarage. After that we walked to Mr. Chanter’s at Fort Hill. On the slope of this hill, in the grass fields, may easily be traced the whole plan of a star fort, thrown up in the civil wars. Mr. Chanter and Mr. Wainwright are engaged in deciphering the old charters and other documents belonging to the Borough of Barnstaple. Mr. Chanter gave me a copy of his excellent little History of Lundy Island. We called on Dr. Budd. His house is full of a beautiful collection of Chinese and Japanese objects and carved oak. Had tea with Mr. and Mrs. Wainwright and some of their children, and left for Ilfracombe, where I arrived about ten.

Sun. July 27. Went to the parish church, which looks as if recently restored. The churchyard is enlarged by taking in a field. There is a good waggon roof. Took some walks along the Torrs - beautiful walks outside the face of the cliff - and afterwards to Rapparee Cove. In the evening went to Christ Church in Portland Street, a Free Church, conducted by the Rev. Bishop Price. The prayer book of the Church of England is used; and we had a good Evangelical sermon. There is a vessel there, used as a Font, of dark sandstone, apparently, the interior cavity perhaps about nine inches. I speak from memory only. It stands on a modern pedestal. We were asked what it originally had been.

Mon. July 28. 1879. Left Ilfracombe for Dawlish, via Barnstaple & Exeter. Passing through Starcross, I saw the great swan hauled up on the wharf, under repair, with his long neck off. [See ]

W. 30. The Elephant Rock, which was in its perfect state in 1872, and of which I made a sketch on the 2nd. Of August in that year, and on May 2. 1868. See Sketchbook. I see is beginning to lose its shape, especially about the head. Walked out to the East side of Langstone Point, and made another sketch of it.

August 1879.


Fri. Aug. 1. Walked to the Holcombe Villas, half way to Teignmouth, and called on Mr. Ermen, who bought the second house last year. He is younger brother to Mr. Peter Ermen, who bought the next house to Belmont Villa, my cousins, on the east cliff, Dawlish, more than twenty years ago.

Sat. 2. Made a coloured sketch of the Old Maid Rock, Dawlish. Dined with Dr. and Mrs. Macnamara, and her nice Miss Hall. She was formerly Miss Elphinstone, of Livonia, near Sidmouth.

Sun. Aug. 3. At St. Mark’s and the Parish Church.


Mon. 4. Took a walk towards Exmouth, on the Warren.


Wed. 6. Returned from Dawlish to Sidmouth, bringing with me a case of mathematical instruments, which my cousin Miss Roberton, told me had not been made use of for forty years, she being 80, and a small Orrery, to which the same remark applies, and which she gave me.


Th. Aug. 14. The Core Hill estate, at the north end of this parish, belonging to Mr. T.O. Arnold, and comprising 56 acres, or a little more, was sold by auction for £2700, the purchaser being Mr. W. Hine-Haycock, who has a lease of Belmont. Mr. Hine-Haycock has recently bought the Woolbrook estate, a farm near Stowford, and which runs up to Core Hill; and Fort House, near me, with the field adjoining. The last for £1800. The two last of Sir John Kennaway. The last is Lots 1 and 2, mentioned Dec. 7. 1876. He tells me he has now spent £12.000 in the parish.

M. Aug. 18. 1879. Walked to Salcombe, and called on some friends. Coming back, I gathered a quantity of foxglove blossom (and a splendid blossom it is) to put in the hall fireplace of the Old Chancel.

W. Aug. 20. The papers describe the laying of the so-called foundation stone of the new Eddistone Lighthouse, by the Duke of Edinburgh, Master of the Trinity House, and the Prince of Wales. A steamer plied along the coast to take visitors. She called at Sidmouth early, and about 70 or 80 went. It was a miserably foggy drizzly day.

Fri. Aug. 22. Saw a beautiful salmon peal, weighing two pounds anda half nearly, caught with an artificial minnow in the river Sid about sixty yards below the stone bridge, and at a deep pool in the river called “Horse’s Belly,” though for what reason so called nobody knows.

September 1879.


M. Sep. 1. 1879. People say there can be no shooting of partridges to-day, because the corn is still standing. Owing to the cold wet summer, harvesting is scarcely begun. Went for an hour to a garden party at Captain & Mrs. Joliffe’s at Woodlands. Returned, to meet the two Miss Osbornes and Miss Soulsby at my house, by appointment

Tu. Sep. 2. Mr. Matchwick of the South Kensington Museum, with his wife and son, is now staying in Sidmouth. They spent the afternoon with me.

Th. 4. Since Sunday fine weather. No wind - calm sea - high water in the morning. Along-shore steamer from Bridport to Torquay and back, called about half past ten. Being calm and plenty of water, she ran her stern in upon the beach, and let down an inclined gangway, when 70 to 80 people walked out of her, and then upwards of 150 walked in. They returned sake in the evening, but I am told that some porpoises played about close to her, when the passengers rushed to one side to see them, and nearly turned her over.

Fri. Sep. 5. A young man, I believe from Yeovil, bathed a short distance east of the river Sid, and was drowned - supposed from cramp. His body has not been recovered.

Fri. Sep. 12. After an interval of a week, the body of the young man has turned up at Seaton. This was in some degree predicted, as from former experience, it has occurred that bodies lost here have generally drifted around Beer Head. A case which now comes to my memory, occurred in my father’s household at 4 Coburg Terrace some forty years ago. The housemaid was a fine tall young woman with glossy dark hair. The cook was short and mean in figure, with carroty hair and ugly face. She was always lamenting her ill looks, as I have heard, and envying the housemaid, and was jealous of the admiration which her fellow servant received. One summer’s evening a few friends were entertained at the house, and the young cook assisted the housemaid in taking up the tea things, and after that she put on her bonnet, walked down to the sea, and drowned herself. I was not at home at the time, but I think I can remember the two servants. I thing she went into the sea at the Chit Rocks towards the dask of the evening. After about a week her body was found at Seaton. It was taken on shore, and for some reason carried to Axmouth, where an inquest was held, and Wellington Smith, a groom then in our service, went over to identify the body and give evidence. The circumstance never could be accounted for, except on the score of jealousy or wounded pride.

I have now read an account of the inquest, and found that the deceased was call Thomas Marks, that he came with others from near Crewkerne, that he bathed twice, that on Saturday morning his body was found floating off Beer Head, was carried to Beer, where he was buried.

Sun. Sep. 14. Called in the evening to see how Mr. Heineken was. He is in his eightieth year, and never recovered his illness of last winter. The planets Jupiter and Saturn were very beautiful towards the east, so he wheeled his telescope to the window. It was a fortunate moment, for after a little observation we saw the satellite C approach the planet, and become occulted. This occurred at 8h,, 28m,,13sec so we lost it, as in the second example. Before we finished, the satellite B appeared to have perceptibly approached the great planet. We then turned to Saturn. That wonderful ring! When will break to pieces? The last time we looked at it, the edge was turned towards us, so that it was nearly invisible . [Sep. 27. 1877.]

Th. Sep. 18. The Peak estate was put up to be sold in lots. To see how things go in my parish, I generally go to the auctions. I had an invitation to-day however, to dine with Mrs. and Miss Soulsby, at Salcombe, Mr. Thompson. Mrs. Soulsby’s brother, married a Miss Cornish. The ladies are clever at Geology, and several other sciences, and I enjoyed much intellectual conversation. Called also at Sunny Bank, and at the Vicarage, and then walked back.

The first Mr. Lousada, originally I believe a Spanish Jew, and a Stockbroker of London, came down about 1790, and bought a house and some ground called the Peak Tenement. He afterwards bought more ground on the side of the hill. About 1795 he built a new and larger house. He died, if I remember rightly, in Leap Year, the 29th. of February 1832. He meant to have been buried at “Fox’s Corner,” at the top of his garden; but his surviving relations “didn’t see it.” He left the property to his nephew, having no children. The second owner put a new front to the house, advanced three feet, in 1835 or 1836. He died about 1854, also leaving it to a nephew. This third and last, “something having gone wrong,” sold it in 1875 to the trustees of the Manor. Mr. Heugh the senior Trustee, became bankrupt in 1878, and this property somehow was adjudged liable - hence the auction.

Two estates also, which had been recently bought in Salcombe parish, called Higher and Lower Griggs, were brought to the hammer, but were not sold.

Fri. Sep. 26. At a Garden party at Captain and Mrs. Joliffes at Woodlands.

Sat. 27. Dined at the Ede’s at Lansdowne.

M. 29. Michaelmas Day. Dined with Mr. & Mrs. And Francis Vane, at Oakland. Left early to attend Choral Society practice.

October 1879.


Th. Oct 16. Had a men dig on Salcombe Hill, to try and discover what the circular patches are. Mr. Edward Chick came up. Our dinner was sandwiches and bread and cheese - very enjoyable - and we eat it lying under a hedge, as the wind was cold. I was up there Sep. 30 with him surveying, and with the man digging on the 9th.

Fri. Oct. 17. In The Animal World this month is my article headed Marriage among Birds, giving an account of my observations on rooks.

Sat. 18. The papers mention that Professor Nordeskjold, of the Austrian service, has succeeded in making the North-east passage, all along the north coast of Siberia, beginning at Norway, and coming out at Baring Strait. This was never done before. Last winter the ship was 264 days in the ice.

Finished my second portion of both the Domesday Books. Mr. R.J. King’s death threw his portion upon the rest of the committee.

M. Oct. 20. 1879. Took a walk on Salcombe Hill, to look again at the circular patches. It blew so hard from the north-west that I was obliged to tie my hat on.

Unfortunate accident - a man drowned. Boats were off mackerel fishing. One of them, with two young men in it, called Skinner and Govier, was capsized by a sudden gust off Windgate, (the hollow between Peak and High Peak) a dangerous place. I was nearly turned over myself there once. Govier was drowned.

Tu. Oct. 28. Went on Salcombe Hill again, to examine the circular patches. As there are 50 of them on the open common at the northern group at the head of Sid or Seed Lane, and above 30 in the southern group near the road from Sidmouth to Salcombe, and mostly clustered near a great pit 45 feet in diameter and about three deep, they must owe their origin to design, and not to accident. The furze bushes grow all round them, but do not grow in them. Grass and heath grow in them, but not furze.

November 1879.


S. Nov. 1. 1879. We are now approaching another winter, and there has been but little summer to warm us since the last. According to common report, it has been the most disastrous season for farmers and gardeners known for many years; and the scarcity and increased expenses are felt be all classes. Though the weather just a present is cold, it will probably be mild again. If it is cold, it is just now fine and dry. The poplar and sycamore trees have pretty well all lost their leaves; The elms are still green, and half, or more than half the leaves remain, so that they look very well; geraniums, lobelia, hydrangia, and some other flowers in bloom, and even a few roses.

M. Nov. 3. Dined at Cottington with Lord S.G. Osborne and the two Miss Osbornes, to eat venison - which was tender and nice and not “high.” They are sensible people, and eat their meat whilst it is wholesome. Adjourned to Lord Sidney Osborne’s room, which is full of microscopes and scientific instruments. He is now busy in making experiments on the telephone, and other cognate inventions; and if perseverance insures success, his Lordship deserves to succeed in making great improvements. Miss Soulsby, from Salcombe, was announced, and I went up into the drawing room. Gave her two copies, one coloured, of my article on the FOSSIL STEMS in this year’s vol. of the Transactions of the Dev. Asso.

Tu. Nov. 4. 1879. People in the present day seem determined to do strange things - witness Richard Carlisle.


[Note: the following is a newspaper cutting attached to the diary.]

RICHARD CALISLE, the Cornish pedestrian, has completed his walk from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s House, trundling a wheelbarrow all the way.

W. Nov. 5. The Guy Faux or Faukes celebrations went off this evening without accident. The police kept the fireworks, tar barrels, and fire-balls to the beach, not allowing them to be brought into the town. It was a quiet calm night, and the sea like a lake. It was rather pretty to see a great blaze out on the water floating about in the darkness. It was a lighted tar-barrel on a raft.

Fri. 7. Mr. Colwell the gardener has bought the pears on the tree, and he and his son with ladders are engaged in removing them. He allows me ten shillings for them this year, and I take it out in vegetables. He once allowed me fifteen shillings. I believe he gets the cream.

Sat. 8. There were a great many pears on the tree this year, though small from want of sun and sufficient heat. Mr. Colwell took away the remainder - some bags full. He Cut a small branch about the size of my little finger off the tree, loaded with pears like bunches of grapes in a cluster. I counted 43; and I made drawings of them in my sketchbook. See Oct. 16. 1893.

Tu. 11. Dry and fine, but cold. Walked to Salcombe.

Fri. 21. The young Prince Alamayou, of Abyssinia, died at Leeds last week, and was buried to-day at Windsor. Perhaps our climate killed him. See Jan. 14. 1876.

Tu. Nov. 26. A sprinkling of snow.

Fri. Nov. 28. Finished making the Index to Vol. XI. of the Transactions of the Devonshire Association.


December 1879.


M. Dec. 1. 1879. Fine and dry, but with a northeaster “enough to cut a snipe in two.”

Tu. 2. I have pasted in the annexed, as a specimen facsimile of Caxton’s printing, and for the sixteen virtues propounded by Sedechias.

Fri. Dec. 5. 1879. Last night was one of the coldest nights we have had. It is to be hoped we are not destined to have so long a winter as the last. The present one has begun as early as the last, but even more severely. It began in October, and continued through November, with a greater fall in the thermometer. December promises worse again. The thermometer was only 38’ whilst I was at breakfast this morning, the fire not then having had time to warm the room; but it was not above 48’ all day long. It has been 17’5 at Sidmount, where Dr. Radford takes it; 10’5 in Exeter; and in the northern and eastern counties, as somebody said “it has been down below nothing at all.” We have enjoyed one great comfort here in Devonshire. Ever since the beginning of October it has been wonderfully dry. One or two passing sprinkles of snow that did not wet the ground, so that the roads have been as dry and as dusty as it were midsummer - drier indeed than it was all last summer; and this is very pleasant for out-of-door exercise. We congratulate ourselves on this so much the more because the snow storms in other places have been server. London, has had a heavy fall, which has impeded the skating in the Parks; the trains stopped, and traffic suspended. The snow has been great in Paris, and two feet deep in Vienna.

Walked to Oakland, near All Saints Church, and witnessed the signature of Mr. Frederick H. Vane to some leases of farms in Essex, belonging to his cousin Mr. W. Vane.

Tu. Dec. 9. After breakfast started for a walk at the foot of Salcombe Hill, along the beach, to look for pseudomorphous crystals of chloride of sodium, but found none. Specimens of ripple marks, or water-stones, very plenty.

Diner at seven with Dr. and Mrs. Drummond at Belgrave House.

Wed. Dec. 10. The herring fishery has now become brisk here, but we never expect to see it again as it was two years ago. This evening, a little before eight,

Note: The following is a newspaper cutting that POH has appended to his diary at this point.


There have been very good catches of herrings here

during the past few days. On Sunday last about 80,000

were caught, on Monday about 100,000, and on Tuesday


I happened to look out, and I was startled at seeing a bright light, and great volumes of smoke rising over the town towards the east. It was a cold, clear, quiet night, with a gentle wind from the north-east. On going down I found the Fore Street full of people, with a quantity of furniture blocking the side walk opposite East Street, now so called. I could not get into East Street for the crowd. About half way down on the lift, there is a large courtyard, surrounded with coach houses and stables belonging to the York Hotel, and half the northern, half the southern, and all the western sides were in a great blaze. I made a circuit round by the eastern streets, and found a hearse and a number of carriages ranged and being ranged all along on one side of the street, which had been dragged out and saved. A number of horses I was told had been also been rescued. A pig was so scared by the fire, the noise, and the busy crowd, that he ran two or three times into the flames, and burnt himself so much that they were obliged to kill him. “A Mourning coach,“ as it is called, though I believe it is the people who mourn, and not the coach, was singed, and then got out; but I afterwards saw the remains of another coach quite burnt; in short, I saw nothing but the charred pole on the ground. I also saw quantities of half burnt oats.

The annexed plan will shew where the fire was, and two other fires which I can remember. No person could tell me how it originated; but probably a lamp among the straw. If the wind had been strong, half the town may have been consumed.

Sat. Dec. 13. 1879. I have recently gone over the pages of an elaborate American work by several authors, entitled, - Indigenous Races of the Earth. The science of skull measuring, skull studying, and skull theorising, are exhaustively gone into. Amongst scientific men of late years there have been many arguments on “the development theory,” deriving us all originally from orbiculinae, amebae, and globigerinae. And like Charles Darwin, driving their hoby rather too far; and somewhat analogous to this, are the nice theories bearing on the derivation of skull forms. Some of these cranioscopists I am afraid are going beyond their depth and confusing themselves. I would wish to know what are the various and unvarying marks that never fail to distinguish the human skull from that of the highest order of monkeys. It is stated at page 105 that the resemblance, or points of resemblance, between the human skull and the crania of the Chimpanzee, Orang, and other higher types of monkeys, are not so great in the grown-up or full grown animals, as in the young ones; and we are assured that even in those cases where the skulls of men and animals most nearly resemble each other, - “the best formed human skull stands immensely removed from the most perfectly elaborated monkey cranium.” Perhaps so; but how about the worst formed human skull? The following are said to be the points of difference, but they do not seem so very great, if that is all, “The proportion between the size and areas of the cranium and face; the relative situation of the face; the direction and prominence of the maxillae or jaws; the position and direction of the occipital foramen; the proportion of the facial to the cranial half of the occipits-mental diameter; the absence of the os inter-maxillare; the number, situation, and direction of the teeth, &.” Nearly all these are merely differences of mould or form. The reading of this book is rather humiliating than otherwise. The radical differences are not so great as we could wish, I am inclined also to think that the minute classification of skulls is carried much further than sober reason can warrant.

Wed. Dec. 17. Dined at the Vicarage,. Twelve at dinner.

Fri. Dec. 19. 1879. This evening I finished the Fourth Volume of my History of Sidmouth. Owing to a multitude of interruptions, not the least of which was the work on Domesday Book, I have been tediously long over it. On looking back I see I began this Fourth vol. on the 7th. June 1877, and expressed a hope that it would be the last. The account of the parish church in this volume, took up so much room, that I had not space left for two or three other subjects which ought to be noticed. I have also several old engravings and copies of old pictures of different parts of Sidmouth, and I must either throw them all away, or get another blank folio volume, bound in green vellum, like the others, to preserve them in.

Sat. Dec. 20. As I sat at breakfast, in the Oak Room of the Old Chancel, under the panelled ceiling and the coats of arms of the Lords of the Manor, I observed that at nine o’clock the sun was over the chancel of the church; and an hour after, when ten struck, it was over the tower, just clearing the pinnacles. The sun at the shortest day, where we now find ourselves, rises after eight, a little to the left of the chancel; (as I look at it,) but at midsummer it rises at a quarter before four, over Salcombe Hill, nearly as far north as Trow Hill. The range subtended by the two positions of the sun above, is 15’.

Th. Dec. 25. Christmas Day. The parish church was not over full this morning. I do not approve of diner parties on Christmas Day, and yet I accepted an invitation to dine with the Vanes at Oakland, to meet the Incumbent of All Saints, and his wife Mrs. Macarthur.

Tu. Dec. 30. Thunder and lightning this morning at daylight.

Wed. Dec. 31. Last day. Weather become mild, and the frost gone.

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