20th July 1654 - diarist John Evelyn visits Wilton and Salisbury and complains about 'negligently kept' water channels

John Evelyn1651

On 20th July 1654 came to Salisbury. He visited Salisbury Cathedral and Wilton House

20th July, 1654. We proceeded to Salisbury; the cathedral I take to be the most complete piece of Gothic work in Europe, taken in all its uniformity.

The pillars, reputed to be cast, are of stone manifestly cut out of the quarry; most observable are those in the chapter house. There are some remarkable monuments, particularly the ancient Bishops, founders of the Church, Knights Templars, the Marquis of Hertford's, the cloisters of the palace and garden, and the great mural dial.

In the afternoon we went to Wilton, a fine house of the Earl of Pembroke, in which the most observable are[Pg 291] the dining room in the modern-built part toward the garden, richly gilded and painted with story, by De Crete; also some other apartments, as that of hunting landscapes, by Pierce; some magnificent chimney-pieces, after the best French manner; a pair of artificial winding stairs of stone, and divers rare pictures.

The garden, heretofore esteemed the noblest in England, is a large handsome plain, with a grotto and waterworks, which might be made much more pleasant, were the river that passes through cleansed and raised; for all is effected by a mere force. It has a flower garden, not inelegant. But, after all, that which renders the seat delightful is, its being so near the downs and noble plains about the country contiguous to it.

The stables are well ordered and yield a graceful front, by reason of the walks of lime trees, with the court and fountain of the stables adorned with the C├Žsars' heads.

We returned this evening by the plain, and fourteen-mile race, where out of my lord's hare warren we were entertained with a long course of a hare for near two miles in sight.

Near this, is a pergola, or stand, built to view the sports;

And so we came to Salisbury, and saw the most considerable parts of the city. The market place, with most of the streets, are watered by a quick current and pure stream running through the middle of them, but are negligently kept, when with a small charge they might be purged and rendered infinitely agreeable, and this made one of the sweetest towns, but now the common buildings are despicable, and the streets dirty[1].


[1] The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Diary of John Evelyn (Vol 1 of 2), by John Evelyn.


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