The Natural History of Wiltshire
by John Aubrey
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&c, &c. &c. _______


BY inscribing this Volume to you I am merely discharging a debt of gratitude and justice. But for you I believe it would not have been printed; for you not only advocated its publication, but have generously contributed to diminish the cost of its production to the "WILTSHIRE TOPOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY", under whose auspices it is now submitted to the public.

Though comparatively obsolete as regards its scientific, archaeological, and philosophical information, AUBREY'S "NATURAL HISTORY OF WILTSHIRE" is replete with curious and entertaining facts and suggestions, at once characterising the writer, and the age in which he lived, and illustrating the history and topography of his native county. Had this work been revised and printed by its author, as he wished and intended it to have been, it would have proved as useful and important as Plot's "Staffordshire" and "Oxfordshire"; Burton's "Leicestershire"; Morton's "Northamptonshire"; Philipott's "Kent"; or any others of its literary predecessors or contemporaries. It could not have failed to produce useful results to the county it describes; as it was calculated to promote inquiry, awaken curiosity, and plant seeds which might have produced a rich and valuable harvest of Topography.

Aubrey justly complained of the apathy which prevailed in his time amongst Wiltshire men towards such topics ; and, notwithstanding the many improvements that have since been made in general science, literature, and art, I fear that the gentry and clergy of the county do not sufficiently appreciate the value and utility of local history; otherwise the Wiltshire Topographical Society would not linger for want of adequate and liberal support. Aubrey, Bishop Tanner, Henry Penruddocke Wyndham, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, and the writer of this address, have successively appealed to the inhabitants of the county to produce a history commensurate to its wealth and extent, and also to the many and varied objects of importance and interest which belong to it: but, alas ! all have failed, and I despair of living to see my native county amply and satisfactorily elucidated by either one or more topographers.

By the formation of the Society already mentioned, by writing and superintending this volume and other preceding publications, and by various literary exertions during the last half century, I have endeavoured to promote the cause of Topography in Wiltshire ; and in doing so have often been encouraged by your sympathy and support. For this I am bound to offer you the expression of my very sincere thanks; and with an earnest wish that you may speedily complete your projected "History of Castle Combe,"

I am,

My dear Sir,

Yours very truly,


Burton Street, London. 1st September, 1847.


IN the "Memoir of John Aubrey", published by the Wiltshire Topographical Society in 1845, I expressed a wish that the "NATURAL HISTORY of WILTSHIRE", the most important of that author's unpublished manuscripts, might be printed by the Society, as a companion volume to that Memoir, which it is especially calculated to illustrate.

The work referred to had been then suggested to the Council of the Society by George Poulett Scrope, Esq. M.P., as desirable for publication. They concurred with him in that opinion; and shortly afterwards, through the kind intervention of the Marquess of Northampton, an application was made to the Council of the Royal Society for permission to have a transcript made for publication from the copy of the " Natural History of Wiltshire" in their possession. The required permission was readily accorded; and had not the printing been delayed by my own serious illness during the last winter, and urgent occupations since, it would have been completed some months ago.

When the present volume was first announced, it was intended to print the whole of Aubrey's manuscript; but after mature deliberation it has been thought more desirable to select only such passages as directly or indirectly apply to the county of Wilts, or which comprise information really useful or interesting in itself, or curious as illustrating the state of literature and science at the time when they were written.

Before the general reader can duly understand and appreciate the contents of the present volume it is necessary that he should have some knowledge of the manners, customs, and literature of the age when it was written, and with the lucubrations of honest, but "magotie- headed" John Aubrey, as he is termed by Anthony a Wood. Although I have already endeavoured to portray his mental and personal characteristics, and have carefully marked many of his merits, eccentricities, and foibles, I find, from a more careful examination of his "Natural History of Wiltshire" than I had previously devoted to it, many anecdotes, peculiarities, opinions, and traits, which, whilst they serve to mark the character of the man, afford also interesting memorials of his times. If that age be compared and contrasted with the present, the difference cannot fail to make us exult in living, breathing, and acting in a region of intellect and freedom, which is all sunshine and happiness, opposed to the gloom and illiteracy which darkened the days of Aubrey. Even Harvey, Wren, Flamsteed, and Newton, his contemporaries and friends, were slaves and victims to the superstition and fanaticism of their age.

It has long been customary to regard John Aubrey as a credulous and gossiping narrator of anecdotes of doubtful authority, and as an ignorant believer of the most absurd stories. This notion was grounded chiefly upon the prejudiced testimony of Anthony a Wood, and on the contents of the only work which Aubrey published during his lifetime,- an amusing collection of "Miscellanies" relating to dreams, apparitions, witchcraft, and similar subjects. Though his " History of Surrey" was of a more creditable character, and elicited the approval of Manning and Bray, the subsequent historians of that county, an unfavourable opinion of Aubrey long continued to prevail. The publication of his " Lives of Eminent Men" tended, however, to raise him considerably in the estimation of discriminating critics; and in my own " Memoir" of his personal and literary career, with its accompanying analysis of his unpublished works, I endeavoured (and I believe successfully) to vindicate his claims to a distinguished place amongst the literati of his times.

That he has been unjustly stigmatised amongst his contemporaries as an especial votary of superstition is obvious, even on a perusal of his most objectionable work, the "Miscellanies" already mentioned, which plainly shews that his more scientific contemporaries, including even some of the most eminent names in our country's literary annals, participated in the same delusions. It would be amusing to compare the "Natural History of Wiltshire" with two similar works on "Oxfordshire" and " Staffordshire," by Dr. Robert Plot, which procured for their author a considerable reputation at the time of their publication, and which still bear a favourable character amongst the topographical works of the seventeenth century. It may be sufficient here to state that the chapters in those publications on the Heavens and Air, Waters, Earths, Stones, Formed stones, Plants, Beastes, Men and Women, Echoes, Devils and Witches, and other subjects, are very similar to those of Aubrey. Indeed the plan of the latter's work was modelled upon those of Dr. Plot, and Aubrey states in his Preface that he endeavoured to induce that gentleman to undertake the arrangement and publication of his "Natural History of Wiltshire". On comparing the writings of the two authors, we cannot hesitate to award superior merits to the Wiltshire antiquary.

A few passages may be quoted from the latter to shew that he was greatly in advance of his contemporaries in general knowledge and liberality of sentiment:-

" I have oftentimes wished for a mappe of England coloured according to the colours of the earth; with markes of the fossiles and minerals." (p. 10.)

"As the motion caused by a stone lett fall into the water is by circles, so sounds move by spheres in the same manner; which, though obvious enough, I doe not remember to have seen in any booke." (p. 18.)

"Phantomes. Though I myselfe never saw any such things, yet I will not conclude that there is no truth at all in these reports. I believe that extraordinarily there have been such apparitions; but where one is true a hundred are figments. There is a lecherie in lyeing and imposing on the credulous, and the imagination of fearfull people is to admiration." [In other words, timid people are disposed to believe marvellous stories.] (p. 122.)

"Draughts of the Seates and Prospects. If these views were well donn, they would make a glorious volume by itselfe, and like enough it might take well in the world. It were an inconsiderable expence to these persons of qualitie, and it would remaine to posterity when their families are gonn and their buildings ruined by time or fire, as we have seen that stupendous fabric of Paul's Church, not a stone left on a stone, and lives now only in Mr. Hollar's Etchings in Sir William Dugdale's History of Paul's. I am not displeased with this thought as a desideratum, but I doe never expect to see it donn; so few men have the hearts to doe public good to give 4 or 5 pounds for a copper-plate." p. 126.)

With regard to the history of the work now first published, it may be stated that it was the author's first literary essay; being commenced in 1656, and evidently taken up from time to time, and pursued "con amore". In 1675 it was submitted to the Royal Society, when, as Aubrey observed in a letter to Anthony Wood, it "gave them two or three dayes entertainment which they were pleased to like." Dr. Plot declined to prepare it for the press, and in December 1684 strongly urged the author to "finish and publish it" himself; he accordingly proceeded to arrange its contents, and in the month of June following (in the sixtieth year of his age) wrote the Preface, describing its origin and progress. He states elsewhere that on the 21st of April 1686, he "finished the last chapter," and in the same year he had his portrait painted by "Mr. David Loggan, the graver," expressly to be engraved for the intended publication.

On the 18th of August 1686 he wrote the following Will: " Whereas I, John Aubrey, R.S.S., doe intend shortly to take a journey into the west; and reflecting on the fate that manuscripts use to have after the death of the author, I have thought good to signify my last Will (as to this Naturall History of Wilts): that my will and desire is, that in case I shall depart this life before my returne to London again, to finish, if it pleaseth God, this discourse, I say and declare that my will then is, that I bequeath these papers of the Natural History of Wilts to my worthy friend Mr. Robert Hooke, of Gresham Colledge and R.S.S., and I doe also humbly desire him, and my will is, that the noble buildings and prospects should be engraven by my worthy friend Mr. David Loggan, who hath drawn my picture already in order to it"

This document* shews at once the dangers and difficulties which attended travelling in Aubrey's time, and also that he seriously contemplated the publication of his favourite work.

* [It has been already printed in my Memoir of Aubrey. A note attached to it shews that the author intended to incorporate with the present work some portions of his MS. "Monumenta Britannica"; which was also dedicated to the Earl of Pembroke.]

Neither his fears of death nor his hopes of publication were however then realized: probably the political disturbances attending the Revolution of 1688 interfered with the latter. In the November of the year following that event Aubrey's friend and patron Thomas, Earl of Pembroke, was elected President of the Royal Society, which distinguished office he held only for one year. During that period the author dedicated the " Natural History of Wiltshire " to his Lordship; and there is little reason to doubt that the fair copy, now in the Society's Library, was made by the author, and given to it in the year 1690. About the same time he had resolved to present his other manuscripts, together with some printed books, coins, antiquities, &c., to the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford; and most of them were accordingly deposited there. He however appears to have retained his original manuscript of the " Natural History," in which he made several observations in the year 1691; that being the latest date attached by him to any of the additions.

[Some of these additions of 1691 Aubrey afterwards transcribed into certain blank spaces in the Royal Society's copy.]

On the 15th of September in the same year Aubrey sent this work to his learned and scientific friend, John Ray, for his perusal. The latter made a number of notes upon various parts of the manuscript, which he retained till the 27th of the ensuing month; when he returned it with the very judicious letter which will be found printed in this present publication (p. 7.) He had acknowledged the receipt of the work in a previous letter, in which he says: "I have read it over with great pleasure and satisfaction. You doe so mingle "utile dulci" {the useful with the sweet} that the book cannot but take with all sorts of readers: and it is pity it should be suppressed; which, though you make a countenance of, I cannot persuade myself you really intend to do:" and then proceeds to criticise a few pedantic or "new-coyned " words, and also the contents of Chapter VIII. (Part I.) It was probably soon afterwards that Evelyn perused and added some notes to the manuscript; and in February 1694 Aubrey also lent the work to Thomas Tanner (afterwards Bishop of St Asaph), at his earnest request. He seems to have become acquainted with his fellow county-man, Tanner, only a short time before this. The latter, although then only in his twenty-first year, and pursuing his studies at Oxford, had acquired a reputation for knowledge of English antiquities, and with the ardour and enthusiasm of youth evinced much anxiety to promote the publication of this and some of the other works of his venerable friend. He added several notes to the manuscript, and whilst in his possession it was no doubt examined also by Gibson. It is referred to in the notes to the latter's edition of Camden's " Britannia."

[Perhaps in May 1692 ; when he is known to have examined another of Aubrey's works, "An Idea of Education of Young Gentlemen". - Evelyn's notes to the "Wiltshire" are thus referred to in a memorandum by Aubrey on a fly-leaf of the manuscript: "Mdm. That ye annotations to which are prefixed this marke [J. E.] were writt by my worthy friend John Evelyn, Esq. R.S.S. 'Twas pitty he wrote them in black lead; so that I was faine to runne them all over againe with inke. I thinke not more than two words are obliterated."]

Had Aubrey's life been spared a few years longer it is very possible that most of his manuscripts would have been printed, under the stimulus and with the assistance of his youthful friend. His "Miscellanies," which appeared in 1696, seem to have owed their publication to these influences; and in the Dedication of that work to his patron the Earl of Abingdon, Aubrey thus expressly mentions Tanner:- "It was my intention to have finished my Description of Wiltshire (half finished* already), and to have dedicated it to your Lordship, but my age is now too far spent for such undertakings. I have therefore devolved that task on my countryman Mr. Thomas Tanner, who hath youth to go through with it, and a genius proper for such an undertaking."

* [The work alluded to still remains "half finished," being a Description of the " North Division" only of the county. It has been printed by Sir Thomas Phillipps from the MS. in the Ashmolean Museum. 4to. 1821-1838.]

[He was then in his 71st year.]

A chapter of the "Natural History" (being "Fatalities of Families and Places"), was at this time detached from the original manuscript to furnish materials for the remarks on "Local Fatality," in the "Miscellanies."

John Aubrey died suddenly in the first week in June 1697, and was buried in the church of St. Mary Magdalen at Oxford, and from the time of his decease the original draught of his Wiltshire History has been carefully preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, as the fair copy of 1690 has also in the Library of the Royal Society in London.

Until the "Natural History of Wiltshire" was briefly described in my own "Memoir" of its author, very little was known of it beyond the mere fact of the existence of the two manuscripts. Copying from the original at Oxford, Dr. Rawlinson printed the Preface and Dedication, together with Ray's letter of the 27th October, 1691, as addenda to his edition of Aubrey's "History of Surrey," (1719.) The same manuscript was also noticed by Thomas Warton and William Huddesford in a list of the author's works in the Ashmolean Museum. Horace Walpole referred to the Royal Society's copy in his Anecdotes of Painting (1762); but though his reference seems to have excited the curiosity of Gough, the latter contented himself with stating that he could not find the work mentioned in Mr. Robertson's catalogue of the Society's library.

[This list forms a note to the "Lives of Leland, Hearne, and Wood" (8 1772). Though it includes the "Natural History," it omits the "Description of North Wiltshire." The latter was known previously, being mentioned by Aubrey himself in his Miscellanies, and also by Dr. Rawlinson; and hence, Warton and Huddesford's list being supposed to be complete, much confusion has arisen respecting these two of Aubrey's works, which have been sometimes considered as identical.]

Some years ago Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart., contemplated publishing this "Natural History," but he appears to have abandoned his design.

A brief description of the present state of the two manuscripts, with reference to the text of the volume now published, may be desirable. The Oxford copy, which may be termed the author's rough draught, is in two parts or volumes, demy folio, in the original vellum binding. Being compiled at various times, during a long series of years, it has a confused appearance, from the numerous corrections and additions made in it by Aubrey. A list of the chapters is prefixed to each volume, whence it appears that Aubrey had intended to include some observations on "Prices of Corne", "Weights and Measures", "Antiquities and Coines", and "Forests, Parks, and Chaces". Most of these topics are adverted to under other heads, but the author never carried out his intention by forming them into separate chapters.

[The first volume has two title-pages. On one of them, as well as on the cover, the work is called the "Natural History" of Wiltshire; but the remaining title designates its contents as "Memoires of Natural Remarques" in the county.]

Besides wanting the "Fatalities of Families and Places", taken out by the author in 1696, as already stated, the Oxford manuscript is deficient also in the chapters on "Architecture", "Accidents", and "Seates". So far therefore as Aubrey's own labours are concerned, the Royal Society's copy is the most perfect; but the notes of Ray, Evelyn, and Tanner were written upon the Oxford manuscript after the fair copy was made, and have never been transcribed into the latter. The Royal Society's manuscript is entirely in Aubrey's own hand, and is very neatly and carefully written, being in that respect, as well as in its completeness, much superior to the original. Of the latter it appears to have been an exact transcript; but it wants some of the rude sketches and diagrams with which the original is illustrated. The two parts form only one volume, demy folio, which is paged consecutively from 1 to 373, and is bound in modern Russia leather.

As already stated, a copy of the entire work was made for the purposes of this publication from the Royal Society's volume. The ownership of this copy has since been transferred to George Poulett Scrope, Esq. M.P., of Castle Combe, who has had it collated with the Oxford manuscript, thus making it unique.

Every care has been taken to preserve the strictest accuracy in the extracts now published, and with that view, as well as to correspond with such of Aubrey's works as have been already printed, the original orthography has been retained. The order and arrangement of the chapters, and their division into two parts, are also adhered to. At the commencement of each chapter I have indicated the nature of the passages which are omitted in the present volume, and although such omissions are numerous, it may be stated that all the essential and useful portions of the work are either here printed, or so referred to as to render them easily accessible in future to the scientific student, the antiquary, and the topographer.

With respect to the Notes which I have added, as Editor of the present volume, in correction or illustration of Aubrey's observations, I am alone responsible.* It would have been easy to have increased their number; for every page of the original text is full of matter suggestive of reflection and comment. I am aware that a more familiar acquaintance with the present condition of Wiltshire would have facilitated my task, and added greatly to the importance of these notes. On this point indeed I might quote the remarks of Aubrey in his preface, for they apply with equal force to myself; and, like him, I cannot but regret that no "ingeniouse and publique-spirited young Wiltshire man" has undertaken the task which I have thus imperfectly performed.

* [These are enclosed within brackets [thus], and bear the initials J. B. Some of the less important are marked by brackets only.]

In closing this address, and also in taking leave of the county of Wilts, as regards my literary connection with it, I feel it to be at once a duty and a pleasure to record my acknowledgments and thanks to those persons who have kindly aided me on the present occasion. When I commenced this undertaking I did not anticipate the labour it would involve me in, and the consequent time it would demand, or I must have declined the task; for I have been compelled to neglect a superior obligation which I owe to a host of kind and generous friends who have thought proper to pay me and literature a compliment in my old age, by subscribing a large sum of money as a PUBLIC TESTIMONIAL. In return for this, and to reciprocate the compliment, I have undertaken the laborious and delicate task of writing an AUTO-BIOGRAPHY which will narrate the chief incidents of my public life, and describe the literary works which I have produced. It is my intention to present a copy of this volume to each subscriber, so as to perpetuate the event in his own library and family, by a receipt or acknowledgment commemorative of the mutual sympathy and obligation of the donor and the receiver. Being now relieved from all other engagements and occupations, it is my intention to prosecute this memoir with zeal and devotion; and if health and life be awarded to me I hope to accomplish it in the ensuing winter.*

* [The volume will contain at least fifteen illustrations from steel copper, wood, and stone, and more than 300 pages of letterpress. A copy of the work will be presented to each subscriber, proportionate in value to the amount of the contribution. Hence three different sizes of the volume will be printed, namely: imperial 4to, with India proofs, fur subscribers of 10 [pounds}; medium 4to, with proofs, for those of 3 {pounds} and 5 {pounds}; and royal 8vo, with a limited number of prints, for subscribers of 1{pound} and 2 {pounds}.]

To the MARQUESS OF NORTHAMPTON, a native of Wiltshire, the zealous and devoted President of the Royal Society, my especial thanks are tendered for his influence with the Council of that Society, in obtaining their permission to copy Aubrey's manuscript; and also to

GEORGE POULETT SCROPE, Esq. M.P., for contributing materially towards the expense of the copy, and thereby promoting its publication.

To my old and esteemed friend the REV. DR. INGRAM, President of Trinity College, Oxford, I am obliged for many civilities, and for some judicious corrections and suggestions. His intimate acquaintance with Wiltshire, his native county, and his general knowledge of archaeology, as well as of classical and mediaeval history, eminently qualify him to give valuable aid in all publications like the present.

To JOHN GOUGH NICHOLS, Esq. F.S.A., both myself and the reader are under obligations, for carefully revising the proof sheets for the press, and for several valuable corrections.

To C. R. WELD, Esq. Assistant Secretary to the Royal Society, I am indebted for affording facilities for copying the manuscript.

Lastly, my obligations and thanks are due to MR. T. E. JONES, for the accurate transcript which he made from Aubrey's fair manuscript, for collating the same with the original at Oxford, for selecting and arranging the extracts which are now for the first time printed, and for his scrupulous and persevering assistance throughout the preparation of the entire volume. But for such essential aid, it would have been out of my power to produce the work as it is now presented to the members of the "Wiltshire Topographical Society," and to the critical reader.


Burton Street, London. 1st September, 1847.



Title-page, with View of the Upper Part of the Tower of Sutton Benger Church.


The EDITOR'S PREFACE; with Historical and Descriptive Particulars of Aubrey's Manuscripts

Title-page to the Original Manuscript



Letter from John Ray to Aubrey, with Comments on the Writings of the latter.

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. CHOROGRAPHIA :- Geological Remarks, Local Influences



CHAP. I. AIR:-Winds, Mists, Storms, Meteors, Echos, Sounds

CHAP. II. SPRINGS MEDICINAL :- At Chippenham, Kington St. Michael, Draycot, Seend, Epsom, Melksham, Dundery-hill, Lavington, Devizes, Minety, Wotton Bassett, &c.; Sir W. Petty's "Queries for the Tryall of Minerall Waters"

CHAP. III. RIVERS :- Wily, North Avon, Upper Avon, Nadder, Stour, Deverill, Kennet, Marden, Thames, &c.; Proposal for a Canal to connect the Thames and North Avon.

CHAP. IV. SOILS :- Clay, Marl, Fuller's Earth, Chalk, Gravel, Sand; Downs, Fairy-rings, Becket's Path at Winterbourn, Peat, Spontaneous Vegetation, Hills

CHAP. V. MINERALS AND FOSSILS :- Iron, Silver, Copperas, Umber, Spar, Lead, Coal.

CHAP. VI. STONES :- Of Haselbury, Chilmark, and Swindon; Lime, Chalk, Pebbles, Flints; the Grey Wethers

CHAP. VII. FORMED STONES :- Belemnites, Madrepores, Oysters, Astroites, Cornua Ammonia, Echini, &c.

CHAP. VIII. AN HYPOTHESIS OF THE TERRAQUEOUS GLOBE :-Learned Speculations on the structure of the Earth.

CHAP. IX. PLANTS :- Herbs, Orcheston Knot-grass, Alhanna, Tobacco, Oak, Elm, Beech, Hazel, Yew, Box, Holly, Osiers, Elders, Ash, Glastonbury Thorn, &c.

CHAP. X. BEASTS :- Deer, Hares, Rabbits, Dogs, Cattle

CHAP. XI. FISHES :- Trout, Eels, Umbers or Grayling, Carp, Tench, Salmon; Fish-ponds, &c.

CHAP. XII. BIRDS :- Larks, Woodpeckers, Bustards, Crows, Pheasants, Hawks, Sea-gulls, &c.

CHAP. XIII. REPTILES AND INSECTS :- Snakes, Adders, Toads, Snails, Bees; Recipe to make Metheglyn

CHAP. XIV. MEN AND WOMEN:- Longevity, Remarkable Births, &c..

CHAP. XV. DISEASES AND CURES :- Leprosy, the Plague, Gout, Ricketts, Pin-and-Web, &c.

CHAP. XVI. OBSERVATIONS ON PARISH REGISTERS :- Population, Poor Rates, Periodical Diseases


CHAP. I. WORTHIES :- Princes, Saints, Prelates, Statesmen, Writers, Musicians; John Aubrey, Captain Thomas Stump

CHAP. II. THE GRANDEUR OF THE HERBERTS, EARLS OF PEMBROKE:- Description of Wilton. House; Pictures, Library, Armoury, Gardens, Stables ; the Earl's Hounds and Hawks, Tilting at Wilton, &c.

CHAP. III. LEARNED MEN WHO HAD PENSIONS GRANTED TO THEM BY THE EARLS OF PEMBROKE:- With Notices of Mary, Countess of Pembroke, Dr. Mouffet, William Browne, Philip Massinger, J. Donne, &c.

CHAP. IV. GARDENS:- At Lavington, Chelsea, Wilton, Longleat

CHAP. V. ARTS, LIBERAL AND MECHANICAL:- Learning, Colleges; Trades, Inventions, Machinery

CHAP. VI. ARCHITECTURE:- Stonehenge, Avebury, Old Sarum, Salisbury Cathedral, Wardour Castle, Calne Church, Painted Glass, Bradenstoke Priory, Market Crosses, Paving Tiles, Old Mansions, Church Bells

CHAP. VII. AGRICULTURE:- Manures, Water Meadows, Butter and Cheese, Malting and Brewing

CHAP. VIII. THE DOWNES:- Pastoral Life, Sydney's Arcadia; Sheep, Shepherds, Pastoral Poetry

CHAP. IX. WOOL:- Qualities of Wool; its Growth, and Manufacture

CHAP. X. FALLING OF RENTS in Wiltshire attributed to the reduced price of Wool

CHAP. XI. HISTORY OF THE CLOTHING TRADE:- Merchants of the Staple; Introduction of the Cloth Manufacture

CHAP. XII. EMINENT CLOTHIERS or WILTSHIRE:- John Hall, of Salisbury; William Stump, of Malmsbury; Paul Methuen, of Bradford, &c.

CHAP. XIII. FAIRS AND MARKETS:-At Castle-Combe, Wilton, Chilmark, Salisbury, Devizes, Warminster, Marlborough, Lavington, Highworth, Swindon

CHAP. XIV. HAWKS AND HAWKING:- Extraordinary Flight, Historical Details

CHAP. XV. THE RACE:- Salisbury Races, Famous Race Horses, Stobball-play

CHAP. XVI. NUMBER OF ATTORNEYS IN WILTSHIRE:- Increase of Attorneys the Cause of Litigation

CHAP. XVII. FATALITIES OF FAMILIES AND PLACES:- Norrington, Castle- Combe, Stanton St. Quintin, Easton Piers

CHAP. XVIII. ACCIDENTS, OR REMARKABLE OCCURRENCES:- Destruction of Marlborough by Fire; Cure of the King's Evil, Pretended Witchcraft, Mysterious Knockings at North Tidworth, Witches Executed at Salisbury, Phantoms

CHAP. XIX. SEATS:- Merton, Ivy-church, Littlecot, Longleat, Tottenham Park, Wardour Castle

CHAP. XX. DRAUGHTS OF THE SEATS AND PROSPECTS:- Aubrey's Instructions to the Artists for a Map of the County, with Engravings of the Principal Buildings and Views






County of Wilts:


















[A page is appropriated in the manuscript to the Author's intended DEDICATION ; the name and titles of his patron only being filled in, as above.

The nobleman named is particularly mentioned by Aubrey in his Chapter on "The Worthies of Wiltshire", printed in a subsequent part of this volume. He was Earl of Pembroke from 1683 till his death in 1733; and was distinguished for his love of literature and the fine arts. He formed the Wilton Collection of marbles, medals, and coins; and succeeded John, Earl of Carbery, as President of the Royal Society, in November, 1689.- J. B.]



TILL about the yeare 1649,* 'twas held a strange presumption for a man to attempt an innovation in learning; and not to be good manners to be more knowing than his neighbours and forefathers. Even to attempt an improvement in husbandry, though it succeeded with profit, was look't upon with an ill eie. "Quo non Livor abit?" Their neighbours did scorne to follow it, though not to do it was to their own detriment. 'Twas held a sinne to make a scrutinie into the waies of nature; whereas Solomon saieth, "Tradidit mundum disputationibus hominum": and it is certainly a profound part of religion to glorify GOD in his workes.

* Experimentall Philosophy was then first cultivated by a club at Oxon.

Ovid. Fast.

"Deus est maximus in minimis. Prssentemque refert qulibet Herba Deum".

In those times to have had an inventive and enquiring witt was accounted resverie [affectation], which censure the famous Dr. William Harvey could not escape for his admirable discovery of the circulation of the blood. He told me himself that upon his publishing that booke he fell in his practice extremely.

[The words inclosed within brackets are inserted in Aubrey's manuscript above the preceding words, of which they were intended as corrections or modifications. If the work had been printed by the author he would doubtless have adopted those words which he deemed most expressive of his meaning.- J. B.]

Foreigners say of us that we are "Lyncei foris, Talp domi". There is no nation abounds with greater varietie of soiles, plants, and mineralls than ours; and therefore it very well deserves to be surveyed. Certainly there is no hunting to be compared with "Venatio Panos"; and to take no notice at all of what is dayly offered before our eyes is grosse stupidity.

I was from my childhood affected with the view of things rare; which is the beginning of philosophy : and though I have not had leisure to make any considerable proficiency in it, yet I was carried on with a strong [secret] inpulse to undertake this taske: I knew not why, unles for my owne private [particular] pleasure. Credit there was none; for it getts the disrespect [contempt] of a man's neighbours. But I could not rest [be] quiet till I had obeyed this secret call. Mr. Camden, Dr. Plott, and Mr. Wood confess the same [like].

I am the first that ever made an essay of this kind for Wiltshire, and, for ought I know, in the nation; having begun it in An. 1656. In the yeare 1675 I became acquainted with Dr. Robert Plott, who had then his "Naturall Historie of Oxfordshire " upon the loome, which I seeing he did performe so excellently well, desired him to undertake Wiltshire, and I would give him all my papers: as I did [he had] also my papers of Surrey as to the naturall things, and offered him my further assistance. But he was then invited into Staffordshire to illustrate that countie; which having finished in December 1684, I importuned him again to undertake this county: but he replied he was so taken up in [arranging ?] of the Museum Ashmoleanum that he should meddle no more in that kind, unles it were for his native countie of Kent; and therefore wished me to finish and publish what I had begun. Considering therefore that if I should not doe this myselfe, my papers might either perish, or be sold in an auction, and somebody else, as is not uncommon, put his name to my paines; and not knowing any one that would undertake this designe while I live, I have tumultuarily stitch't up what I have many yeares since collected; being chiefly but the observations of my frequent road between South and North Wilts; that is, between Broad Chalke and Eston Piers. If I had had then leisure, I would willingly have searched the naturalls of the whole county. It is now fifteen yeares since I left this country, and have at this distance inserted such additions as I can call to mind, so that methinks this description is like a picture that Mr. Edm. Bathurst, B.D. of Trinity Colledge, Oxon, drew of Dr. Kettle three [some] yeares after his death, by strength of memory only; he had so strong an idea of him: and it did well resemble him. I hope hereafter it will be an incitement to some ingeniouse and publique spirited young Wiltshire man to polish and compleat what I have here delivered rough-hewen; for I have not leisure to heighten my style. And it may seem nauseous to some that I have rak't up so many western vulgar proverbs, which I confess I do not disdeigne to quote,* for proverbs are drawn from the experience and observations of many ages; and are the ancient natural philosophy of the vulgar, preserved in old English in bad rhythmes, handed downe to us; and which I set here as "Instanti Crucis" for our curious moderne philosophers to examine and give {Gk: dioti} to their {Gk: hostis}.

* Plinie is not afraide to call them Oracles: (Lib. xviii. Nat. Hist. cap. iv.) "Ac primum omnium oraculis majore ex parte agemus, qua non in alio vite genere plura certiorara sunt."

But before I fly at the marke to make a description of this county, I will take the boldness to cancelleer, and give a generall description of what parts of England I have seen, as to the soiles : which I call Chorographia Super and Sub-terranea (or thinke upon a more fitting name).

London, Gresham Coll., June 6M, 1685.

[The original of the following LETTER from JOHN RAY to AUBREY is inserted immediately after the Preface, in the MS. at Oxford. It is not transcribed into the Royal Society's copy of the work. -J. B.]



Black Notley, 8br 27, -91.

Your letter of Octob. 22d giving advice of your safe return to London came to hand, wch as I congratulate with you, so have I observed your order in remitting your Wiltshire History, wch with this enclosed I hope you will receive this week. I gave you my opinion concerning this work in my last, wch I am more confirmed in by a second perusal, and doe wish that you would speed it to ye presse. It would be convenient to fill up ye blanks so far as you can; but I am afraid that will be a work of time, and retard the edition. Whatever you conceive may give offence may by ye wording of it be so softned and sweetned as to take off ye edge of it, as pills are gilded to make them lesse ungratefull. As for the soil or air altering the nature, and influencing the wits of men, if it be modestly delivered, no man will be offended at it, because it accrues not to them by their own fault: and yet in such places as dull men's wits there are some exceptions to be made. You know the poet observes that Democritus was an example -

Summos posse viros, et magna exempla daturos Vervec in patria, crassoque sub aere nasci.

Neither is yr observation universally true that the sons of labourers and rusticks are more dull and indocile than those of gentlemen and tradesmen; for though I doe not pretend to have become of the first magnitude for wit or docility, yet I think I may without arrogance say that in our paltry country school here at Braintry - "Ego meis me minoribus condiscipulis ingenio prlu[si]": but perchance the advantage I had of my contemporaries may rather be owing to my industry than natural parts; so that I should rather say "studio" or "industria excellui".

I think (if you can give me leave to be free with you) that you are a little too inclinable to credit strange relations. I have found men that are not skilfull in ye history of nature, very credulous, and apt to impose upon themselves and others, and therefore dare not give a firm assent to anything they report upon their own autority; but are ever suspicious that they may either be deceived themselves, or delight to teratologize (pardon ye word) and to make a shew of knowing strange things.

You write that the Museum at Oxford was rob'd, but doe not say whether your noble present was any part of the losse. Your picture done in miniature by Mr. Cowper is a thing of great value, I remember so long agoe as I was in Italy, and while he was yet living, any piece of his was highly esteemed there; and for that kind of painting he was esteemed the best artist in Europe.

What my present opinion is concerning formed stones, and concerning the formation of the world, you will see in a discourse that is now gone to the presse concerning the Dissolution of the World: my present opinion, I say, for in such things I am not fix't, but ready to alter upon better information, saving always ye truth of ye letter of ye scripture. I thank you for your prayers and good wishes, and rest,

Sr, your very humble servant,


I have seen many pheasants in a little grove by the city of Florence, but I suppose they might have been brought in thither from some foreign country by the Great Duke.

Surely you mistook what I wrote about elms. I never to my knowledge affirmed that the most common elm grows naturally in the north: but only thought that though it did not grow there, yet it might be native of England: for that all trees doe not grow in all countreys or parts of England. The wych-hazel, notwithstanding its name, is nothing akin to the "corylus" but a true elm.

The story concerning the drawing out the nail driven crosse the wood- pecker's hole is without doubt a fable.

Asseveres and vesicates are unusuall words, and I know not whether the wits will allow them. _______

[The name of John Ray holds a pre-eminent place amongst the naturalists of Great Britain. He was the first in this country who attempted a classification of the vegetable kingdom, and his system possessed many important and valuable characteristics. Ray was the son of a blacksmith at Black Notley, near Braintree, in Essex, where he was born, in 1627. The letter here printed sufficiently indicates his natural shrewdness and intelligence. One of his works here referred to is entitled "Three Physico-Theological Discourses concerning Chaos, the Deluge, and the Dissolution of the World," 1692. There is a well- written memoir of Ray in the "Penny CyclopEedia," Aubrey's portrait, by the celebrated miniature-painter Samuel Cooper, alluded to above, is not now extant; but another portrait of him by Faithorne is preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, and has been several times engraved. A print from the latter drawing accompanied the "Memoirs of Aubrey," published by the Wiltshire Topographical Society. Cooper died in 1672, and was buried in the old church of St. Pancras, London. Ray visited Italy between the years 1663 and 1666. J. B.]


[IT has been thought sufficient to print only a few brief extracts from this Introductory Chapter, which in the original is of considerable length. Its title (derived from the Greek words {Gk:choros} and {Gk: grapho}) is analogous to Geography. By far the greater portion of it has no application to Wiltshire, but, on the contrary, consists of Aubrey's notes, chiefly geological and botanical, on every part of England which he had visited; embracing many of the counties. His observations shew him to have been a minute observer of natural appearances and phenomena, and in scientific knowledge not inferior to many of his contemporaries; but, in the present state of science, some of his remarks would be justly deemed erroneous and trivial.

It will be seen that he contends strongly for the influence of the soil and air upon the mental and intellectual faculties or "wits", of individuals; on which point some of his remarks are curious. Ray's comments on this part of his subject will be found in the letter already printed (page 7). "The temper of the earth and air", in the opinion of Aubrey, caused the variance in "provincial pronunciation".

The author's theory of the formation and structure of the earth, which is here incidentally noticed, will be adverted to in the description of Chapter VIII. - J. B.]

PETRIFIED SHELLS.-As you ride from Cricklad to Highworth, Wiltsh., you find frequently roundish stones, as big,, or bigger than one's head, which (I thinke) they call braine stones, for on the outside they resemble the ventricles of the braine; they are petrified sea mushromes. [Fossil Madrepores ?-J. B.]

The free-stone of Haselbury [near Box] hath, amongst severall other shells, perfect petrified scalop-shells. The rough stone about Chippenham (especially at Cockleborough) is full of petrified cockles. But all about the countrey between that and Tedbury, and about Malmesbury hundred, the rough stones are full of small shells like little cockles, about the bigness of a halfpenny.

At Dinton, on the hills on both sides, are perfect petrified shells in great abundance, something like cockles, but neither striated, nor invecked, nor any counter-shell to meet, but plaine and with a long neck of a reddish gray colour, the inside part petrified sand; of which sort I gave a quantity to the R. Society about twenty yeares since; the species whereof Mr. Hooke says is now lost.

On Bannes-downe, above Ben-Eston near Bathe, [Banner-downe, near Bath- Easton.- J. B.] where a battle of king Arthur was fought, are great stones scattered in the same manner as they are on Durnham-downe, about Bristow, which was assuredly the work of an earthquake, when these great cracks and vallies were made.

The like dispersion of great stones is upon the hills by Chedar rocks, as all about Charter House, [Somersetshire,] and the like at the forest at Fountain-Bleau, in France; and so in severall parts of England, and yet visible the remarques of earthquakes and volcanoes; but in time the husbandmen will cleare their ground of them, as at Durnham-downe they are exceedingly diminished since my remembrance, by making lime of them.

The great inequality of the surface of the earth was rendred so by earthquakes: which when taking fire, they ran in traines severall miles according to their cavernes; so for instance at Yatton Keynell, Wilts, a crack beginnes which runnes to Longdeanes, in the parish, and so to Slaughtonford, where are high steep cliffs of freestone, and opposite to it at Colern the like cliffs; thence to Bathe, where on the south side appeare Claverdon, on the north, Lansdon cliffs, both downes of the same piece; and it may be at the same tune the crack was thus made at St. Vincent's rocks near Bristow, as likewise Chedar rocks, like a street. From Castle Combe runnes a valley or crack to Ford, where it shootes into that that runnes from Yatton to Bathe. _______

Edmund Waller, Esq., the poet, made a quaere, I remember, at the Royal Society, about 1666, whether Salisbury plaines were always plaines ?

In Jamaica, and in other plantations of America, e. g. in Virginia, the natives did burn down great woods, to cultivate the soil with maiz and potato-rootes, which plaines were there made by firing the woods to sowe corne. They doe call these plaines Savannas. Who knowes but Salisbury plaines, &c. might be made long time ago, after this manner, and for the same reason ?

I have oftentimes wished for a mappe of England coloured according to the colours of the earth; with markes of the fossiles and minerals. [Geological maps, indicating, by different colours, the formations of various localities, are now familiar to the scientific student. The idea of such a map seems to have been first suggested by Dr. Martin Lister, in a paper on "New Maps of Countries, with Tables of Sands, Clays, &c." printed in the Philosophical Transactions, in 1683. The Board of Agriculture published a few maps in 1794, containing delineations of soils, &c.; and in 1815 Mr. William Smith produced the first map of the strata of England and Wales. Since then G. B. Greenough, Esq. has published a similar map, but greatly improved; and numerous others, representing different countries and districts, have subsequently appeared. - J. B.] _______

The great snailes* on the downes at Albery in Surrey (twice as big as ours) were brought from Italy by ..-.., Earle Marshal about 1638. _______

OF THE INDOLES OF THE IRISH. - Mr. J. Stevens went from, Trinity College in Oxford, 1647-8, to instruct the Lord Buckhurst in grammar; afterwards he was schoolmaster of the Free Schoole at Camberwell; thence he went to be master of Merchant Taylors' Schoole; next he was master of the schoole at Charter House; thence he went to the Free Schoole at Lever Poole, from whence he was invited to be a schoole master of the great schoole at Dublin, in Ireland; when he left that he was schoolmaster of Blandford, in Dorset; next of Shaftesbury; from whence he was invited by the city of Bristoll to be master of the Free Schoole there; from thence he went to be master of the Free Schoole of Dorchester in Dorset, and thence he removed to be Rector of Wyley in Wilts, 1666.

* Bavoli, (i.e.) drivelers.-J. EVELYN.


He is my old acquaintance, and I desired him to tell me freely if the Irish Boyes had as good witte as the English; because some of our severe witts have ridiculed the Irish understanding. He protested to me that he could not find but they had as good witts as the English; but generally speaking he found they had better memories. Dr. James Usher, Lord Primate of Ireland, had a great memorie: Dr Hayle (Dr. of the Chaire at Oxford) had a prodigious memorie: Sir Lleonell Jenkins told me, from him, that he had read over all the Greeke fathers three times, and never noted them but with his naile. Mr. .... Congreve, an excellent dramatique poet. Mr. Jo. Dodwell hath also a great memorie, and Mr. .... Tolet hathe a girle at Dublin, mathematique, who at eleven yeares old would solve questions in Algebra to admiration. Mr. Tolet told me he began to instruct her at seven yeares of age. See the Journall of the R. Society de hoc. _______

As to singing voyces wee have great diversity in severall counties of this nation; and any one may observe that generally in the rich vales they sing clearer than on the hills, where they labour hard and breathe a sharp ayre. This difference is manifest between the vale of North Wilts and the South. So in Somersettshire they generally sing well in the churches, their pipes are smoother. In North Wilts the milkmayds sing as shrill and cleare as any swallow sitting on a berne:-

"So lowdly she did yerne, Like any swallow sitting on a berne."- CHAUCER. _______

According to the severall sorts of earth in England (and so all the world over) the Indigense are respectively witty or dull, good or bad.

To write a true account of the severall humours of our own countrey would be two sarcasticall and offensive: this should be a secret whisper in the eare of a friend only and I should superscribe here,

"Pinge duos angues -locus est sacer: extra Mei ite." - PERSIUS SATYR.

Well then! let these Memoires lye conceal'd as a sacred arcanum. _______

In North Wiltshire, and like the vale of Gloucestershire (a dirty clayey country) the Indigense, or Aborigines, speake drawling; they are phlegmatique, skins pale and livid, slow and dull, heavy of spirit: hereabout is but little, tillage or hard labour, they only milk the cowes and make cheese; they feed chiefly on milke meates, which cooles their braines too much, and hurts their inventions. These circumstances make them melancholy, contemplative, and malicious; by consequence whereof come more law suites out of North Wilts, at least double to the Southern Parts. And by the same reason they are generally more apt to be fanatiques: their persons are generally plump and feggy: gallipot eies, and some black: but they are generally handsome enough. It is a woodsere country, abounding much with sowre and austere plants, as sorrel, &c. which makes their humours sowre, and fixes their spirits. In Malmesbury Hundred, &c. (ye wett clayy parts) there have ever been reputed witches.

On the downes, sc. the south part, where 'tis all upon tillage, and where the shepherds labour hard, their flesh is hard, their bodies strong: being weary after hard labour, they have not leisure to read and contemplate of religion, but goe to bed to their rest, to rise betime the next morning to their labour.

——- "redit labor actus in orbem Agricolae."-VIRGIL, ECLOG. _______

The astrologers and historians write that the ascendant as of Oxford is Capricornus, whose lord is Saturn, a religious planet, and patron of religious men. If it be so, surely this influence runnes all along through North Wilts, the vale of Glocestershire, and Somersetshire. In all changes of religions they are more zealous than other; where in the time of the Rome-Catholique religion there were more and better churches and religious houses founded than any other part of England could shew, they are now the greatest fanaticks, even to spirituall madness: e. g. the multitude of enthusiastes. Capt. Stokes, in his "Wiltshire Rant, "printed about 1650, recites ye strangest extravagancies of religion that were ever heard of since the time of the Gnosticks. The rich wett soile makes them hypochondricall.

"Thus wind i'th Hypochondries pent, Proves but a blast, if downwards sent; But if it upward chance to flie Becomes new light and prophecy."-HUDIBRAS.

[The work above referred to bears the following title: "The Wiltshire Rant, or a Narrative of the Prophane Actings and Evil Speakings of Thomas Webbe, Minister of Langley Burrell, &c. By Edward Stokes. "4to. Lond. 1652.-J. B.] _______

The Norfolk aire is cleare and fine. Indigente, good clear witts, subtile, and the most litigious of England: they carry Littleton's Tenures at the plough taile. Sir Thorn. Browne, M. D., of Norwich, told me that their eies in that countrey doe quickly decay; which he imputes to the clearness and driness (subtileness) of the aire. Wormwood growes the most plentifully there of any part of England; which the London apothecaries doe send for.

Memorandum.-That North Wiltshire is very worme-woodish and more litigious than South Wilts,

[A Table of Contents, or List of the Chapters, is prefixed to each Part, or Volume, of the Manuscript, as follows:-]


1. Air.

2. Springs Medicinall.

3. Rivers.

4. Soiles.

5. Mineralls and Fossills.

6. Stones.

7. Formed Stones.

8. An Hypothesis of the Terraqueous Globe: a digression "ad mentem M{emo}ri", R. Hook, R.S.S.

9. Plants.

10. Beastes.

11. Fishes.

12. Birds.

13. Insects and Reptils.

14. Men and Woemen.

15. Diseases and Cures.

16. Observations on some Register Books, as also the Poore Rates and Taxes of the County, "ad mentem D{omi}ni" W. Petty.


1. Worthies.

2. The Grandure of the Herberts, Earles of Pembroke. Wilton House and Garden.

3. Learned Men who received Pensions from the Earles of Pembroke.

4. Gardens - Lavington-garden, Chelsey-garden, &c.

5. Arts - Inventions.

6. Architecture.

7. Agriculture and Improvements.

8. The Downes - Sheep - Shepherds - Pastoralls.

9. Wool.

10. Falling of Rents.

11. History of Cloathing

12. Eminent Cloathiers of this County.

13. Faires and Marketts

14. Hawks and Hawking.

15. The Race.

16. Number of Attorneys in this Countie now and heretofore.

17. Locall Fatality.

18. Accidents.

19. Seates

20. Draughts of the Seates and Prospects [an Appendix].

Memorandum. Anno 1686, tatis 60.- Mr. David Loggan, the Graver, drew my picture in black and white, in order to be engraved, which is still in his hands.


[THIS Chapter contains a variety of matter not apposite to Wiltshire. Besides the passages here quoted, there are accounts of several remarkable hurricanes, hail storms, &c., in different parts of England, as well as in Italy. The damage done by "Oliver's wind "(the storm said to have occurred on the death of the Protector Cromwell) is particularly noticed: though it may be desirable to state on the authority of Mr. Carlyle, the eloquent editor of "Cromwell's Letters and Speeches" (8vo. 1846), that the great tempest which Clarendon asserts to have raged "for some hours before and after the Protector's death", really occurred four days previous to that event. Aubrey no doubt readily adopted the general belief upon the subject. He quotes, without expressly dissenting from it, the opinion of Chief Justice Hale, that "whirlewinds and all winds of an extraordinary nature are agitated by the spirits of air". Lunar rainbows, and meteors of various kinds, are described in this chapter; together with prognostics of the seasons from the habits of animals, and some observations made with the barometer; and under the head of Echoes, "for want of good ones in this county", there is a long description by Sir Robert Moray of a remarkable natural echo at Roseneath, about seventeen miles from Glasgow. On sounds and echoes there are some curious notes by Evelyn, but these are irrelevant to the subject of the work.- J. B.]

BEFORE I enter upon the discourse of the AIR of this countie, it would not be amiss that I gave an account of the winds that most commonly blow in the western parts of England.

I shall first allege the testimony of Julius Csar, who delivers to us thus: "Corns ventus, qui magnam partem omnis temporis in his locis flare consuevit". - (Commentaries, lib. v.) To which I will subjoine this of Mr. Th. Ax, of Somersetshire, who hath made dayly observations of the weather for these twenty-five years past, since 1661, and finds that, one yeare with another, the westerly winds, which doe come from the Atlantick sea, doe blowe ten moneths of the twelve. Besides, he hath made observations for thirty years, that the mannours in the easterne parts of the netherlands of Somersetshire doe yield six or eight per centum of their value; whereas those in the westerne parts doe yield but three, seldome four per centum, and in some mannours but two per centum. Hence he argues that the winds carrying these unwholesome vapours of the low country from one to the other, doe make the one more, the other less, healthy. _______

This shire may be divided as it were into three stories or stages. Chippenham vale is the lowest. The first elevation, or next storie, is from the Derry Hill, or Bowdon Lodge, to the hill beyond the Devises, called Red-hone, which is the limbe or beginning of Salisbury plaines. From the top of this hill one may discerne Our Lady Church Steeple at Sarum, like a fine Spanish needle. I would have the height of these hills, as also Hackpen, and those toward Lambourn, which are the highest, to he taken with the quicksilver barometer, according to the method of Mr. Edmund Halley in Philosophical Transactions, No. 181. _______

Now, although Mindip-hills and Whitesheet, &c., are as a barr and skreen to keep off from Wiltshire the westerly winds and raines, as they doe in some measure repel those noxious vapours, yet wee have a flavour of them; and when autumnal agues raigne, they are more common on the hills than in the vales of this country. _______

The downes of Wiltshire are covered with mists, when the vales are clear from them, and the sky serene; and they are much more often here than in the lowest story or stage.

The leather covers of bookes, &c. doe mold more and sooner in the hill countrey than in the vale. The covers of my bookes in my closet at Chalke would be all over covered with a hoare mouldinesse, that I could not know of what colour the leather was; when my bookes in my closet at Easton- Piers (in the vale) were not toucht at all with any mouldiness.

So the roomes at Winterslow, which is seated exceeding high, are very mouldie and dampish. Mr. Lancelot Moorehouse, Rector of Pertwood, who was a very learned man, say'd that mists were very frequent there: it stands very high, neer Hindon, which one would thinke to stand very healthy: there is no river nor marsh neer it, yet they doe not live long there.

The wheat hereabout, sc. towards the edge of the downes, is much subject to be smutty, which they endeavour to prevent by drawing a cart-rope over the corne after the meldews fall.

Besides that the hill countrey is elevated so high in the air, the soile doth consist of chalke and mawme, which abounds with nitre, which craddles the air, and turns it into mists and water. _______

On the east side of the south downe of the farme of Broad Chalke are pitts called the Mearn-Pitts*, which, though on a high hill, whereon is a sea marke towards the Isle of Wight, yet they have alwaies water in them. How they came to be made no man knowes; perhaps the mortar was digged there for the building of the church.

* Marne is an old French word for marle. _______

Having spoken of mists it brings to my remembrance that in December, 1653, being at night in the court at Sr. Charles Snell's at Kington St. Michael in this country, there being a very thick mist, we sawe our shadowes on the fogg as on a wall by the light of the lanternes, sc. about 30 or 40 foot distance or more. There were several gentlemen which sawe this; particularly Mr. Stafford Tyndale. I have been enformed since by some that goe a bird-batting in winter nights that the like hath been seen: but rarely.

[A similar appearance to that here mentioned by Aubrey is often witnessed in mountainous countries, and in Germany has given rise to many supernatural and romantic legends. The "spectre of the Brocken", occasionally seen among the Harz mountains in Hanover, is described by Mr. Brayley in his account of Cumberland, in the Beauties of England and Wales, to illustrate some analogous appearances, which greatly astonished the residents near Souterfell, in that county, about a century ago.- J. B.] _______

The north part of this county is much influenc't by the river Severne, which flowes impetuously from the Atlantick Sea. It is a ventiduct, and brings rawe gales along with it: the tydes bringing a chilnesse with them. _______

On the top of Chalke-downe, 16 or 18 miles from the sea, the oakes are, as it were, shorne by the south and south-west winds; and do recline from the sea, as those that grow by the sea-side. _______

A Wiltshire proverb:-

"When the wind is north-west, The weather is at the best: If the raine comes out of east 'Twill raine twice twenty-four howres at the least."

I remember Sr. Chr. Wren told me, 1667, that winds might alter, as the apogum: e.g. no raine in Egypt heretofore; now common: Spaine barren; Palseston sun-dried, &c. Quaere, Mr. Hook de hoc.

A proverbial rithme observed as infallible by the inhabitants on the Severne-side:-

"If it raineth when it doth flow, Then yoke your oxe, and goe to plough; But if it raineth when it doth ebb, Then unyoke your oxe, and goe to bed." _______

It oftentimes snowes on the hill at Bowden-parke, when no snow falles at Lacock below it. This hill is higher than Lacock steeple three or four times, and it is a good place to try experiments. On this parke is a seate of my worthy friend George Johnson, Esqr., councillor at lawe, from whence is a large and most delightfull prospect over the vale of North Wiltshire.

Old Wiltshire country prognosticks of the weather:-

"When the hen doth moult before the cock, The winter will be as hard as a rock; But if the cock moults before the hen, The winter will not wett your shoes seame."

In South Wiltshire the constant observation is that if droppes doe hang upon the hedges on Candlemas-day that it will be a good pease yeare. It is generally agreed on to be matter of fact; the reason perhaps may be that there may rise certain unctuous vapours which may cause that fertility. [This is a general observation: we have it in Essex. I reject as superstitious all prognosticks from the weather on particular days.-JOHN RAY.] _______

At Hullavington, about 1649, there happened a strange wind, which did not onely lay down flatt the corne and grasse as if a huge roller had been drawn over it, but it flatted also the quickset hedges of two or three grounds of George Joe, Esq.-It was a hurricane.

Anno 1660, I being then at dinner with Mr. Stokes at Titherton, news was brought in to us that a whirlewind had carried some of the hay- cocks over high elmes by the house: which bringes to my mind a story that is credibly related of one Mr. J. Parsons, a kinsman of ours, who, being a little child, was sett on a hay-cock, and a whirlewind took him up with half the hay-cock and carried him over high elmes, and layd him down safe, without any hurt, in the next ground. _______

Anno 1581, there fell hail-stones at Dogdeane, near Salisbury, as big as a child's fist of three or four yeares old; which is mentioned in the Preface of an Almanack by John Securis, Maister of Arts and Physick, dedicated to ..... Lord High Chancellor. He lived at Salisbury. "Tis pitty such accidents are not recorded in other Almanacks in order for a history of the weather. _______

Edward Saintlow, of Knighton, Esq. was buried in the church of Broad Chalk, May the 6th, 1578, as appeares by the Register booke. The snow did then lie so thick on the ground that the bearers carried his body over the gate in Knighton field, and the company went over the hedges, and they digged a way to the church porch. I knew some ancient people of the parish that did remember it. On a May day, 1655 or 1656, being then in Glamorganshire, at Mr. Jo. Aubrey's at Llanchrechid, I saw the mountaines of Devonshire all white with snow. There fell but little in Glamorganshire. _______

From the private Chronologicall Notes of the learned Edward Davenant, of Gillingham, D.D.:- "On the 25th of July 1670, there was a rupture in the steeple of Steeple Ashton by lightning. The steeple was ninety- three feet high above the tower; which was much about that height. This being mending, and the last stone goeing to be putt in by the two master workemen, on the 15th day of October following, a sudden storme with a clap of thunder tooke up the steeple from the tower, and killed both the workmen in nictu oculi. The stones fell in and broke part of the church, but never hurt the font. This account I had from Mr. Walter Sloper, attorney, of Clement's Inne, and it is registred on the church wall." [The inscription will be found in the Beauties of Wiltshire, vol. iii. page 205. It fully details the above circumstances.-J. B.]

Whilst the breaches were mending and the thunder showr arose, one standing in the church-yard observed a black cloud to come sayling along towards the steeple, and called to the workman as he was on the scaffold; and wisht him to beware of it and to make hast. But before he went off the clowd came to him, and with a terrible crack threw down the steeple, sc. about the middle, where he was at worke. Immediately they lookt up and their steeple was lost.

I doe well remember, when I was seaven yeares old, an oake in a ground called Rydens, in Kington St. Michael Parish, was struck with lightning, not in a strait but helical line, scil. once about the tree or once and a half, as a hop twists about the pole; and the stria remains now as if it had been made with a gouge. _______

On June 3rd, 1647, (the day that Cornet Joyce did carry King Charles prisoner to the Isle of Wight from Holdenby,) did appeare this phenomenon, [referring to a sketch in the margin which represents two luminous circles, intersecting each other; the sun being seen in the space formed by their intersection.-J. B.] which continued from about ten a clock in the morning till xii. It was a very cleare day, and few took notice of it because it was so near the sunbeams. It was seen at Broad Chalke by my mother, who espied it going to see what a clock it was at an horizontal dial, and then all the servants about the house sawe it Also Mr. Jo. Sloper the vicar here sawe it with his family, upon the like occasion looking on the diall. Some of Sr. George Vaughan of Falston's family who were hunting sawe it. The circles were of a rainbowe colour: the two filats, that crosse the circle (I presume they were segments of a third circle) were of a pale colour. _______

Ignis fatuus, called by the vulgar Kit of the Candlestick, is not very rare on our downes about Michaelmass. [These ignes fatui, or Jack-o'- lanthorns, as they are popularly called, are frequently seen in low boggy grounds. In my boyish days I was often terrified by stories of their leading travellers astray, and fascinating them.- J. B.]

Biding in the north lane of Broad Chalke in the harvest time in the twy-light, or scarce that, a point of light, by the hedge, expanded itselfe into a globe of about three inches diameter, or neer four, as boies blow bubbles with soape. It continued but while one could say one, two, three, or four at the most It was about a foot from my horse's eie; and it made him turn his head quick aside from it. It was a pale light as that of a glowe-worme: it may be this is that which they call a blast or blight in the country. _______

Colonel John Birch shewed me a letter from his bayliff, 166f, at Milsham, that advertised that as he was goeing to Warminster market early in the morning they did see fire fall from the sky, which did seem as big as a bushell I have forgot the day of the moneth. _______

From Meteors I will passe to the elevation of the poles. See "An Almanack, 1580, made for the Meridian of Salisbury, whose longitude is noted to bee ten degrees, and the latitude of the elevation of the Pole Arctick 51 degrees 47 minutes. By John Securis, Maister of Art and Physick". To which I will annexe the title of another old almanack, both which were collected by Mr. Will. Lilly. "Almanack, 1580, compiled and written in the City of Winchester, by Humphrey Norton, Student in Astronomic, gathered and made for the Pole Arctik of the said city, where the pole is elevated 51 degrees 42 minutes". _______

I come now to speak of ECHOS:-

"Vocalis Nymphe; qu nec reticere loquenti Nec prior ipsa loqui didicit, resonabilis Echo. Ille fugit; fugiensque manus complexibus aufert." - OVID, METAMORPH. lib. iii.

But this coy nymph does not onely escape our hands, but our sight, and wee doe understand her onely by induction and analogic. As the motion caused by a stone lett fall into the water is by circles, so sounds move by spheres in the same manner, which, though obvious enough, I doe not remember to have seen in any booke.

None of our ecchos in this country that I hear of are polysyllabicall. When the Gospels or Chapters are read over the choire dore of Our Lady Church in Salisbury, there is a quick and strong monosyllabicall echo, which comes presently on the reader's voice: but when the prayers are read in the choire, there is no echo at all. This reading place is 15 or 16 foot above the levell of the pavement: and the echo does more especially make its returnes from Our Ladies ChappelL

So in my kitchin-garden at the plain at Chalke is a monosyllabicall Echo; but it is sullen and mute till you advance .... paces on the easie ascent, at which place one's mouth is opposite to the middle of the heighth of the house at right angles; and then, - to use the expression of the Emperor Nero,-

"— reparabilis adsonat Echo."-PERSIUS. _______

Why may I not take the libertie to subject to this discourse of echos some remarks of SOUNDS? The top of one of the niches in the grot in Wilton gardens, as one sings there, doth return the note A "re", lowder, and clearer, but it doth not the like to the eighth of it. The diameter is 22 inches. But the first time I happened on this kind of experiment was when I was a scholar in Oxford, walking and singing under Merton-Colledge gate, which is a Gothique irregular vaulting, I perceived that one certain note could be returned with a lowd humme, which was C. "fa", "ut", or D. "sol", "re"; I doe not now well remember which. I have often observed in quires that at certain notes of the organ the deske would have a tremulation under my hand. So will timber; so will one's hat, though a spongie thing, as one holds it under one's arm at a musique meeting. These accidents doe make me reflect on the brazen or copper Tympana, mentioned by Vitruvius, for the clearer and farther conveying the sound of the recitatores and musicians to the auditors. I am from hence induc't to be of opinion that these tympana were made according to such and such proportions, suitable to such and such notes.

Mersennus, or Kircher, sayes, that one may know what quantity of liquor is in the vessel by the sound of it, knowing before the empty note. I have severall times heard great brasse pannes ring by the barking of a hound; and also by the loud voice of a strong man.-(The voice, if very strong and sharp, will crack a drinking glass.- J. EVELYN.)

[I have been favoured with a confirmation of this note of Evelyn from the personal experience of my old friend. Mr. Brayley, who was present at a party on Ludgate Hill, London, many years ago, when Mr. Broadhurst, the famed public vocalist, by singing a high note, caused a wine glass on the table to break, the bowl being separated from the stem.-J. B.] _______

After the echos I would have the draught of the house of John Hall, at Bradford, Esq., which is the best built house for the quality of a gentleman in Wilts. It was of the best architecture that was commonly used in King James the First's raigne. It is built all of freestone, full of windowes, hath two wings: the top of the house adorned with railes and baristers. There are two if not three elevations or ascents to it: the uppermost is adorned with terrasses, on which are railes and baristers of freestone. It faceth the river Avon, which lies south of it, about two furlongs distant: on the north side is a high hill. Now, a priori, I doe conclude that if one were on the south side of the river opposite to this elegant house, that there must of necessity be a good echo returned from the house; and probably if one stand east or west from the house at a due distance, the wings will afford a double echo.

[Part of this once fine and interesting mansion still remains, but wofully degraded and mutilated. It is called Kingston House, having been formerly the residence of a Duke of Kingston. It appears to have been built by the same architect as the mansion of Longleat, which was erected between the years 1567 and 1579, and for which, it is believed, John of Padua was employed to make designs.-J. B.]


[IN Aubrey's time the mineral waters of Bath, Tonbridge, and other places, were very extensively resorted to for medical purposes, and great importance was attached to them in a sanatory point of view. The extracts which have been selected from this chapter sufficiently shew the limited extent of the author's chemical knowledge, in the analysis of waters; which he appears to have seldom carried beyond precipitation or evaporation. He mentions several other springs in Wiltshire and elsewhere, attributing various healing properties to some of them; but of others merely observing, with great simplicity, whether or not their water was adapted to wash linen, boil pease, or affect the fermentation of beer. The chapter comprises a few remarks on droughts; and particularly mentions a remarkable cure of cancer by an "emplaster" or "cataplasme" of a kind of unctuous earth found in Bradon forest.- J. B.]

HOLY-WELL, in the parish of Chippenham, near Sheldon, by precipitation of one-third of a pint with a strong lixivium, by the space of twenty- four houres I found a sediment of the quantity of neer a small hazell nut-shell of a kind of nitre; sc. a kind of flower of that colour (or lime stone inclining to yellow); the particles as big as grosse sand. Upon evaporation of the sayd water, which was a pottle or better, I found two sorts of sediment, perhaps by reason of the oblique hanging of the kettle: viz. one sort of a deep soot colour; the other of the colour of cullom earth. It changed not colour by infusion of powder of galles. Try it with syrup of violettes.

Hancock's well at Luckington is so extremely cold that in summer one cannot long endure one's hand in it. It does much good to the eies. It cures the itch, &c. By precipitation it yields a white sediment, inclining to yellow; sc. a kind of fine flower. I believe it is much impregnated with nitre. In the lane that leads from hence to Sapperton the earth is very nitrous, which proceeds from the rich deep blew marle, which I discovered in the lane which leads to Sapworth.

Biddle-well lies between Kington St. Michael and Swinley; it turnes milke. In the well of the mannour house (Mr. Thorn. Stokes) of Kington St. Michael is found talc, as also at the well at Priory St. Maries, in this parish; and I thinke common enough in these parts.

In Kington St. Michael parish is a well called Mayden-well, which I find mentioned in the Legeir-booke of the Lord Abbot of Glaston, called Secretum Domini [or Secretum Abbatis.] Let it be tryed. Alice Grig knows where about it is.

In the park at Kington St. Michael is a well called Marian's-well, mentioned in the same Legeir-book.

In the parish of North Wraxhall, at the upper end of ye orchard of Duncomb-mill at ye foot of ye hill ye water petrifies in some degree; which is the onely petrifying water that I know in this countie. [In subsequent pages Aubrey refers to other petrifying waters near Calne, Devizes, and elsewhere.-J. B.]

At Draycott Cerne (the seate of my ever honoured friend Sir James Long, Baronet, whom I name for honour's sake) the waters of the wells are vitriolate, and with powder of galles doe turne of a purple colour.-[I have a delicate, cleare, and plentifull spring at Upper Deptford, never dry, and very neer the river Ravens-born; the water famous for ye eyes, and many other medicinal purposes. Sr Rich. Browne, my father-in-lawe, immur'd it, wth a chaine and iron dish for travellers to drink, and has sett up an inscription in white marble.- JOHN EVELYN.] _______

Stock-well, at Rowd, is in the highway, which is between two gravelly cliffs, which in warm weather are candied. It changed not colour with powder of galles; perhaps it may have the effect of Epsham water. The sediment by precipitation is a perfect white flower, Mice nitre. The inhabitants told me that it is good for the eies, and that it washes very well. It is used for the making of medicines. _______

At Polshutt rises a spring in a ditch neer Sommerham-bridge, at Seenes townes-end, in a ground of Sir Walter Long, Baronet, which with galles does presently become a deepe claret colour. _______

At Polshutt are brackish wells; but especiall that of Rich. Bolwell, two quarts whereof did yield by evaporation two good spoonfulls heapt of a very tart salt. Dr. Meret believes it to be vitriolish.

Neer to which is Send (vulgo Seene), a very well built village on a sandy hill, from whence it has its name; sand being in the old English called send (for so I find writ in the records of the Tower); as also Send, in Surrey, is called for the same reason. Underneath this sand (not very deep), in some place of the highway not above a yard or yard and a half, I discovered the richest iron oare that ever I sawe or heard of. Come there on a certain occasion,* it rained at twelve or one of the clock very impetuously, so that it had washed away the sand from the oare; and walking out to see the country, about 3 p.m., the sun shining bright reflected itself from the oare to my eies. Being surprised at so many spangles, I took up the stones with a great deale of admiration. I went to the smyth, Geo. Newton, an ingeniose man, who from a blacksmith turned clock maker and fiddle maker, and he assured me that he has melted of this oare in his forge, which the oare of the forest of Deane, &c. will not doe.

* At the Revell there, An. D. 1666.

The reader is to be advertised that the forest of Milsham did extende itselfe to the foot of this hill. It was full of goodly oakes, and so neer together that they say a squirrill might have leaped from tree to tree. It was disafforested about 1635, and the oakes were sold for 1s. or 2s. per boord at the most; and then nobody ever tooke notice of this iron-oare, which, as I sayd before, every sun-shine day, after a rousing shower, glistered in their eies. Now there is scarce an oake left in the whole parish, and oakes are very rare all hereabout, so that this rich mine cannot be melted and turned to profit. Finding this plenty of rich iron-oare, I was confident that I should find in the village some spring or springs impregnated with its vertue; so I sent my servant to the Devizes for some galles to try it; and first began at Mr. J. Sumner's, where I lay, with the water of the draught- well in the court within his house, which by infusion of a little of the powder of the galles became immediately as black as inke; that one may write letters visible with it; sc. as with inke diluted with water, which the water of Tunbridge will not doe, nor any other iron water that ever I met with or heard of. I tryed it by evaporation and it did yield an umberlike sediment: I have forgot the proportion. I gave it to the Royall Society.

In June 1667,1 sent for three bottles of this well water to London, and experimented it before the Royall Society at Gresham Colledge, at which, time there was a frequent assembly, and many of the Physitians of the Colledge of London. Now, whereas the water of Tunbridge, and others of that kind, being carried but few miles loose their spirits, and doe not alter their colour at all with powder of galles, these bottles, being brought by the carrier eighty odd miles, and in so hot weather, did turn, upon the infusion of the powder, as deep as the deepest claret; to the admiration of the physitians then present, who unanimously declared that this water might doe much good: and Dr. Piers sayd that in some cases such waters were good to begin with, and to end with the Bath; and in some " contra". This place is but 9 or 10 miles from Bath.

The Drs. then spake to me, to write to some physitians at Bath, and to recommend it to them, whom I knew; which I did. But my endeavours were without effect till August 1684. But they doe so much good that they now speake aloud their own prayses. They were satisfied (I understood at last) of ye goodnesse and usefulnesse of these waters, but they did not desire to have patients to be drawn from ye Bath. Now, whereas one person is grieved with aches, or bruises, or dead palseys, for which diseases the Bath is chiefly proper, ten or more are ill of chronicall diseases and obstructions, for the curing whereof these chalybiate waters are the most soveraigne remedie.

This advertisement I desired Dr. Rich. Blackburne to word. He is one of the College of Physitians, and practiseth yearly at Tunbridge- wells. It was printed in an Almanack of Hen. Coley about 1681, but it tooke no effect.

"Advertisement.- At Seen (neer ye Devizes in Wiltshire) are springs discovered to be of the nature and vertue of those at Tunbridge, and altogether as good. They are approved of by severall of ye physitians of the Colledge in London, and have donne great cures, viz. particularly in the spleen, the reines, and bladder, affected with heat, stone, or gravell; or restoring hectick persons to health and strength, and wonderfully conducing in all cases of obstructions."

I proceeded and tryed other wells, but my ingeniose faithfull servant Robert Wiseman (Prudhome) tryed all the wells in the village, and found that all the wells of the south side doe turne with galles more or lesse, but the wells of the north side turne not with them at all. This hill lies eastward and westward; quod N.B.

The water of Jo. Sumner's well was so bad for household use that they could not brew nor boyle with it, and used it only to wash the house, &c.; so that they were necessitated to sinke a well in the common, which is walled, about a bow shott or more from his dwelling house, where is fresh and wholsome water. Memorandum. Dr. Grew in his [Catalogue] of the Royall Society has mistaken this well in the common for the medicinall well of J. Sumner. But, mem., there is another well that turnes, I thinke, as deep as J. Sumner's. [On the subject of this discovery by Aubrey, to which he attached great importance, the reader is referred to Britton's "Memoir of Aubrey", published by the Wiltshire Topographical Society, p. 17. As there stated, most of the property about Seend now belongs to W. H. Ludlow Bruges, Esq. M.P., who preserves the well; but its waters are not resorted to for sanatory purposes. - J. B.] _______

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