THE NARRATIVE OF A TOUR IN THE SPLENDID SUMMER OF 1842
Traversing Fifteen Southern Counties of England
by James Barnes
The text in this book is taken entirely from the 1842 hand-written travelogue of
James Barnes, who, with his wife Mary, set off from Peckham in Surrey to travel
in a pony and chaise around some fifteen counties of Southern England.
In following the couple’s experiences while travelling in the mid-19th century, we are able to view the
people and places exactly as they were 174 years ago: a time when Queen
Victoria reigned; the first photograph appeared in The Times; Charles Dickens’ American Notes were published and Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s great ship, the SS Great Britain, was under construction.
The accounts of places visited include Lyme Regis, where just three years
previously the famous landslip had occurred; their encounter with a floating
bridge at the River Itchen; a visit to Mr Fish’s Marine Villa and to the Goodwood races, as well as the house and grounds of
Earl Poulett in Somerset. There’s also a disturbing encounter with bed bugs in an inn, and the Irishman who
lived with his family and animals in a cave about 200 feet from the beach at
Hastings: all diligently documented under candlelight at the end of their
journey by James himself.
We learn about the social customs of the day, and the changes in society that
were still in upheaval from the ‘Great Revolution caused by the introduction of Machinery and Steam power’. Here we are able to ‘live’ history.
Along with the text there are around 50 black and white illustrations from the
period and also notes at the end by the author’s great-great-grandson, Valentine Barnes, who fortunately unearthed this rare
narrative for all to enjoy.
Born in the year 1794 at 30 Pudding Lane, Eastcheap, London, James Barnes
followed in his father’s footsteps when he undertook a seven year glazier’s apprenticeship, completing his indentures in 1815. In the same year he married
Mary Brothers who was born in Glemham, Suffolk in 1792.
James ran his own business as a painter and glazier for a number of years, then
in around 1841 James and Mary moved to Elm Grove, Peckham in London and left
their son Hector to continue the business in the City until 1848. It was from
their Peckham address that the pair set out on their 1,000-plus mile journey in
the two-seater pony-drawn trap or chaise.
Later James and Mary moved to Wheathampstead, Herts, where they lived until
Mary died in 1852, aged 60. James was to make a final move to Essex before he
died in 1867, aged 73.