One of the excitements of tracing ones ancestors and relatives is to come
across a bunck of letters, or an old diary, that brings a forgotten past
back into sharp focus. Even aged thirteen, Mary Pearson was a witty and
observant girl who wrote with a natural style. Her description of life in
affluent Cheltenham of the 1850s is vivid and enjoyable.
Mary was thirteen when she wrote the diary you read here. Her parents, Charles and Jane Pearson, went first to live at Hill Ridware where his mother had bought a house. Then they rented a house in Horley Park, moving to Hawford Lodge near Worcester at the end of 1836 where on 22nd November Mary was born and where Harriet was born in 1839.
In 1844 in order to be near his beloved mother at Hill Ridware he bought a house at Mavesyn Ridware where they lived for nine years. Jane's mother Mary Eccles (1773-1864) nee Vernon lived with them until her death. For reasons of Jane's health and their daughters' prospects they took a succession of rented houses in Cheltenham until they moved to the Eccles family home at Davenham Lodge after the marriages of their daughters
Harriet (1839-1905) in 1860 to Capt George Grey (1835-1874) son of Sir George Grey of Fallodon, Northumberland
Mary (1836-1924) in 1864 to Marshal Neville, (1828-1884) son of Charles Clarke of Graiguenoe Park, Co Tipperary
April 25th 1853
Mama says I must not write down persons names in full, only just their
initials when I make any particular remarks upon them. I think it will be
safer. She also said she wished me to write down every evening whatever I
have said or done whether bad or good during the day. Papa told me the
same some time ago. So to begin....
Quarrelled with Harriet about which of us should have Miss Bernard's book to copy. Harriet was certainly rather impetuous but I was chiefly in the wrong and felt selfish and angry. Sorry for it afterwards but only too proud to say so. But I let Harriet have the book a long time to make amends.
April 26th 1853
Very bright sunny day. Papa went to London this morning so got up at 6 to
see him off. Practised and gardened as usual till breakfast and then
lessons till dinner. Then read French with Harriet who was very volatile
and would not sit still, so I shut up the book not knowing whether to
laugh or be angry.
At 3 o'clock went out with Mama who got beautiful low standard roses but not moss nor cabbage, as it is not the time for transplanting them. Looked over two houses, and then returned and gardened till 7. Sowed the remainder of our seeds; it is rather late for them but they will be autumn beauties. Gardening is a most delightful and innocent employment. Somehow it always seems to me to be united with the idea of our first parents in Paradise for it is said that Adam was placed in the garden to tend it. The feeling is not so strong here where we are surrounded by brick walls as it was at Ridware where there were more fields and trees on every side and no sound was to be heard but the songs of the birds of which there were an immense number.
Mama has today a letter from Aunt C.P. in which she seems to think there was some foundation for the report of Lady Feilding's death.
I heard from Madame Chammas. Mama says I have been pulling faces again today.
April 27th 1853
Had our music lesson, very interesting today.
In the afternoon weeded one of the garden walks. Sadly wanted a pair of grass clippers. "Necessity is the mother of invention" and Harriet, who is always the one to have bright ideas, ran to look for a pair of cutting-out scissors; but there were none so we were obliged to leave the grass hanging over into the wall like a long fringe.
Papa returned at 6 o'clock. It is quite wonderful to think all he has done in so short a time. Besides his journey to London he was at a long railway meeting, then at his club, and I believe also he went to a theatre.
Next day he went to Eton to see Willie and was with us before 6. When Grandma was young it would have taken more than all that time to get to London. I suppose the next invention will be a means of conveying people along the electric telegraph.
April 28th 1853
Lessons etc went on as usual all morning. In the afternoon Papa and Mama
went out to pay visits so we took Maria and started for a long walk. We
went in the direction of the NW Railway but left it on our right and
after walking about 1/4 of an hour we got into the first country I have
seen since we left Ridware.
Long winding lanes overhung with high hedges, deep cart ruts so one could hardly walk and grass growing in the middle of the road. Beautiful fields carpeted with daisies, buttercups and especially cowslips which in some parts were so thick that one could scarcely put foot to the ground without treading on them. Add to this a variety of pleasing adventures such as Fenella falling into a pond and being pulled out by Harriet after being in just enough danger of being drowned to raise a little excitement in me; then our losing our way and only finding it again after breaking through two hedges jumping over ditches also, and there is a slight idea of our most lovely and charming ramble.
The day was as warm and sunny as May and we came home laden with flowers. When Harriet first saw some cowslips in a field she went almost mad with joy. The gate was barred up but she literally "stayed not for brake and stopped not for stone" for she forced her way through the hedge and leaped over the ditch and was gathering cowslips before Maria and I were aware what she was about. But it is sad that there is scarcely any pleasure without the countervailing pain and so I found it for I had the misfortune to break the glass of my watch.
April 29th 1853
Wet all day so we did not go out. Papa has had his first tooth drawn. I
hope it may be very long before he has another.
This evening we went to a lecture on Old Books. I liked it very much. I began a letter to Marianne Majendie but was in a stupid humour and was obliged to tear it up.
Mama says I have been pulling horrible faces all day. I can prevent it a little and only a little but I must try my best.
No time for more as I have to sew clean cuffs onto my dress
April 30th 1853
Had one music lesson; it was on expressions and rather difficult. Mr and
Mrs Bertram Mitford called this afternoon. Harriet and I were in the
drawing room but when we heard the bell ring we ran away leaving the
drawing room dreadfully untidy. However Mama soon brought us down again
and I was very glad of it afterwards for Mrs B. Mitford is a great
curiosity. I was going to describe her but won't as Mama would not like
We took a long walk all about Pittville, the Spa and gardens which Harriet had never seen We also went over two unfurnished houses. Heard from Miss Hill.
May day 1853
Weather warm and bright as anyone could wish. Harriet received this
morning a most appropriate present in the shape of a quantity of sweet
white violets. The Hill Ridware postmark was on the envelope and we are
sure it was Fincher who sent them. It was both a kind and pretty thing to
To church as usual. A strange clergyman preached in the morning. He dwelt a good deal on election and Papa said he was rather Calvinistic. Got into a front pew and liked it very much. Papa Mama and Grandmama stayed (for) sacrament so Harriet and I sat in the garden for more than an hour; it was ever so warm and pleasant.
PM to church again. We walked home by the Promenade past the River Chelt, which latter disgusted Mama dreadfully. She thought it smelt very bad. This evening we sang and then Papa questioned us out of Hooks Church Dictionary.
May 2nd 1853
Wrote part of a letter to Marianne Majendie but mama said it was too bad to go, and it had taken me more than an hour to write. I'm quite disheartened about letter writing. I know I shall never be able to do it. I think my best plan will be to get Harriet to write them for me, and pay her so much a sheet towards dog collars. I can manage tolerably well when I have anything to say, but I am not one of those creative geniuses who can make a great deal out of nothing and can write a long letter on the subject of a dog or cat. It certainly is a gift!
May 3rd 1853
Today Mama wrote to Mrs Wilson but after the letter was gone, recollected that she had spelt a word wrong in it, so she wrote again to go by tomorrow's post under pretence of sending an old man 2 shillings, and introduced the word again spelt rightly. It was a clever plan.
May 4th 1853
Harriet wrote to Madame Chammas, I looked over the letter and finding a
good many mistakes in it advised her to write it over again. Mama told
her she feared she was growing careless. When we got upstairs Harriet
took me to task for reading out her blunders to Mama and telling tales of
her (which however I had not done). Upon this I became highty-tighty and
told her she ought to be very much obliged to me for correcting her
exercises, that it was no pleasure to me to do it, and so on; and chided
her by saying I would do no more lessons with her for three days in order
that she might see how she could get on by herself.
After a few more words our quarrel ended, and I expect our resolutions also. I think we both lost our tempers a little, but I felt rather indignant at being told I took too much upon myself when I thought I had been doing it all so nicely.
It is a pity Harriet is so volatile for she has great abilities when she likes to exert them and is very quick. She always reminds me of the hare in the fable, but I dare say when she is older she will be more steady. I on the contrary am like the tortoise, very slow and languorous as Mama says, but withal tolerably sure, but by no means enough so to have hopes of winning the race. I. have only a change of being equal.
May 10th 1853
Bright day but cold wind. I intended to have gone a country walk and
accordingly put on our shabby garden things. But we had put it off too
late because it was nearly 5 o'clock and the wind very cold. Our dresses
were too bad for us to walk along the Promenade, so making a virtue of
necessity we took the opportunity of seeing some of the back streets of
This morning all the women servants went to see Lord Northwick's picture gallery so William had to cook the dinner, that is boil the potatoes for we had cold meat and salad of which last joined with cheese. Mama dined, and wonderful to say has been none the worse for it.
My watch mended.
May 12th 1853
Went with Papa and Mama to a Missionary meeting. Harriet did not go with us as these sorts of things are not much in her way. It was held in the Old Well, which was crowded to excess. We went half an hour before the time, but it would seem that is a dodge well known to the people of Cheltenham; even then the room was nearly full; However we got very good seats. Mr Clare was in the chair. But I suppose the chief attraction was Dr McNeile of Liverpool who is considered one of the greatest orators of the day. In appearance he struck me as resembling very much the pictures one sees of the Vicar of Wakefield only more dignified. Certainly I have never heard anyone equal to him in attitude, eloquence and intonation. But there was one part of his speech Papa very much disapproved of when he spoke of the "tyranny of the Anglo priests". At one end of the hall above the speaker was a raised platform occupied by about 20 maiden ladies (at least such they appeared to me to be). How they came to be placed there I do not know, but they seemed quite at their ease in such a conspicuous situation.
May 13th 1853
Did not go out on account of the cold. Pianoforte tuned, and the front of it relined with crimson silk. Papa arranged about our going to the School of Art. Harriet reminded us today of a vulgar old proverb which Louisa was constantly repeating. It is such an absurd one that I must write it down here: "He that prigs what isn't his'n When he's catched maun go to pris'n"
May 14th 1853
No music lesson. Went to the School of Art. Mama remained with me all the
time as it was all strange to us but it was not so alarming as I
expected. There were about 20 young ladies though I do not think they
were all quite ladies. But no matter if we improve. I think we did
tolerably well considering all things. We were not put back to straight
strokes to our great surprise and pleasure but did some sort of
In the afternoon Mr Boyd called for the first time. Papa thinks him very agreeable. His manner is anything but vehement which it is in the pulpit. He squints just like Mr Atkins but in the reverse way.
Papa had his tooth put in again by Mr Patience.
Wrote to Fincher; went shares with Harriet in buying a 2/9d. pair of bronze shoes for F's baby.
May 15th 1853
In the morning Mr Boyd preached one of the most beautiful sermons I have
ever heard. It was on unity, comparing the state of unanimity existing in
the Church during the time of the Apostles with the discord and
dissension now prevailing in it. How different, how superior it was to
the sentiments expressed by Dr McNeile.
In the afternoon, to church again. Mama napped during the greater part of the service, and I did not wake her as I was afraid she might be too tired to go to Mr Boyd's lecture in the evening. It was to begin at 7 but we were there at 1/4 past six in order to get good seats. We waited at the door 10 minutes before it was opened. The room I believe holds 800 persons if it was as full as it could be. The congregation consisted mostly of the lower classes and very attentive they were. I particularly remarked the manner in which they joined in the singing of responses while the fine people at church never seem to join at all. Mr Boyd's lecture, or rather sermon, was very fine. It was taken out of the 24th Chapter of St Matthew.
It is a great pity Grandmama cannot hear him; she would like his preaching so much.
May 17th 1853
We went to the flower show held in the Old Well Walk. The day was the most delightful we have yet had. There were a great many people present but not a creature we knew anything of even by name excepting the Miss Dodsons whom we met to our great surprise, and Mr Boyd. Some of the azaleas were most beautiful, also some baskets of flowers and vegetables. There were two bands playing a great part of the time, and altogether the scene was exceedingly lively and pretty and we enjoyed it very much. We spent about two hours there looking at flowers and persons, and walking and sitting till 1/2 past four when we went with Mama to the dentist's. Afterwards walked about the town. In the evening while standing as usual on our balcony enjoying the cool of the evening we saw Mrs Maynard on her's and had quite a long chat with her.
May 19th 1853
Papa returned at 4 p.m. We walked to the station to meet him.
Fincher sent us a quantity of flowers out of her garden and Mrs Hutchinson's. Very kind of her. We value them very much particularly as they came from dear old Ridware.
The shoes we sent her baby are too small so Papa has brought them back again.
Mama bought a shilling's worth of Lilly-of-the-valley bulbs from a poor woman at the door. We went in the evening with Papa to see some dancing dogs at the Old Well. But there was a sort of fete for the yeomanry going on in the garden and the dogs were put off to so late an hour that Papa thought it best for us to go tomorrow instead.
May 20th 1853
Went to see the dancing dogs and monkeys at the Old Well. Very amusing
indeed. A man also gave a sort of lecture and played several conjuring
tricks and clairvoyances which was more than amusing; it was
Mama heard today from Mrs Ridgeway giving an account of a foreign lady wanting a situation; she is a good linguist and very clever, so says Mrs R, and Mama thinks it just the very thing we want and I agree with her. If we had this foreigner we must however get into a larger house if Papa and Mama think it would be a better place.
So today we looked at a charming house in the Royal Parade which Mama has been dreaming of for weeks. She has besides heard of another house in the Royal Crescent. It is said to be a beautiful large one but I think that situation must be dreadfully dull.
May 23rd 1853
Had music to make up for the deficiency of the week before last. Then
went with Mama to look at some houses in Lansdown Terrace. I liked no 13
very much. There was from the back one of the most beautiful views in
Cheltenham. It is just the right size for us and has 3 sitting rooms
which would be very convenient but, unfortunately Mama thinks that some
of the lower rooms are damp.
In the afternoon Papa Mama and Granny went in a fly and Harriet and I walked to look over some more houses, We saw nos 13 and 11, Lansdown Terrace one of the Douro villas, no 8 Lansdown Crescent a handsome but dull house and another ugly one in the same row.
May 24th 1853
Papa and Mama have at last decided to remain in this house. They think we might not be so well suited if they were to change besides running a great risk of the furniture being smashed in the road. The only inconvenience is the house being so very small. Whenever anybody comes Papa will be obliged to give up his dressing room. Today Mama told us we made the drawing room very untidy with all our books and slates, and so we were turned out of it pack and baggage and are in future to do our lessons in our own room. I can't help thinking if we had been at Lansdown we should have had a beautiful drawing room all to ourselves. At 5:30 p.m. went out walking with Maria and Allbrighton. We went first to St Peter's church, a curious looking one in the Saxon style of architecture. It was very pleasant. On our return we went to the opening of the Old.Well Walk. There were three bands playing, one in the Pump Room, another just outside and the third in the garden. We soon left but when we got home I returned again with Maria Allbrighton and Matthews as unless they had gone as subscribers they would have had to pay. I only stayed ten minutes and then came away with Maria. At 1/2 past 9 we went out on the balcony to see the fireworks.
May 28th 1853
We drank tea at the Maynards. Very pleasant evening; there were 18
persons, mostly old maids. The beginning of the time I sat with a great
fat old thing with nothing in her which I found very stupid. But
afterwards I was by two other ladies, both intelligent and
One of them was a Miss Pyecroft, or some such name and was full of table-moving, book-turning and animal magnetism. She had that day been seated with some others about a table and after 25 minutes it began to shake, then to turn slowly, and at last to run round and round so rapidly that none could keep up with it.
This evening Miss Hill arrived; very glad to see her yet it seems very queer for her to come here as a visitor and not as a governess, but is much pleasanter.
Did not go to the School of Art because it rained.
June 2nd 1853
After dinner Miss Maynard. and Miss Montmorency called and offered to
take us to the Poultry Show.
Harriet had a sore throat so could not go but I did. When I went to Mr Maynards I found all the company sitting round the table. After they had waited 20 minutes somebody called out "It's moving!" and it was but very gradually at first. But it became quicker and quicker and at last ran round so fast we could scarcely keep up with it.
In the evening we tried table-moving at home for Harriet's edification, not being enough ourselves we got Matthews and Allbrighton. We sat an hour and 1/4 before it stirred the least. I was very tired and was on the point of taking a nap when I was aroused by a general exclamation that it had begun to move and in a few instants we were all whisking round and round as fast as we could go. Miss Hill who is so hard of belief in such things, was more excited that I have ever seen her. Indeed the shouting was more like a party of lunatics than anything else; it was of no use, I advised them to be more quiet.
In the midst of the confusion in popped Mr Maynard who had heard the noise as he returned from his lecture guessed what we were about and came in to see how we had succeeded. He had not been in two minutes when off came one of the casters and the table leg gave a great crack, which caused us all to leave off immediately.
Grandmamma was very indignant with us for trying it, she thought us quite wicked, would come near us and touch our chairs which they say ought not to be done and in short set her face against the whole proceeding in such a way that I think she had a great deal to do in making it such a long time before it stirred.
Papa returned at 1/2 past 10. We were all so exhausted after the table moving that we had a good bread and meat supper. Mama's arms ached as if she had been carrying a great weight.
June 6th 1853
Mr Nylow gave Miss Hill a second lesson on the theory of music. Harriet and I went to Mr Boyd's class. There were about 25 girls there. We were so frightened we could scarcely bring out our answers. The catechism for next-time is very long containing 54 questions and more than 20 texts from the Scripture. It will be much more difficult than last time though more interesting. The chapter today was the 25th of the Acts.
June 7th 1853
Went with Papa and Mama to pay a state visit on Mrs Mitford, it being her
levee day. She was however very agreeable, and showed us the electroplate
medals and other things which Mr M had made.
Amongst others there were some of the Chinese balls within balls which I believe he is the first European who has ever made. There was one composed of no less than 10 balls. Besides these he showed us a perfect model locomotive which when wound up went 40 yards, and a little sort of doll which was filled with quicksilver and could go down steps head over heels most nimbly. It was one of the most absurd things I have ever seen.
Also we saw a laburnum on which he grafted a vetch, which changed the colour of the laburnum from yellow to dull pink. When the vetch died the laburnum returned to its original colour
June 8th 1853
Harriet has carried off the ink so I must write in pencil. She does not
like me writing at night instead of talking to her yet I cannot think she
would do such an ill natured thing as to secretly steal away the ink to
Mlle Kubli arrived this afternoon; she seems to be a very lively agreeable little body and I daresay we shall like her very much.
This morning Papa went to London. Before he went he had a very favourable letter from the agent of no 13 Lansdown Terrace and he and Mama seemed to have quite made up their minds to take it. After breakfast Mama and Miss Hill went out and when they returned again were all in raptures with no 11 Royal Parade. This was change no 1 in today's politics.
After dinner the Lansdown agent called and made such a fine offer that no 13 seemed to be quite decided on again. This was change no 2. After tea Mama began to think how expensive furnishing a house would be and I think she would prefer remaining here. This was change no 3, all in one day. I wonder what will be thought of next.
June 9th 1853
Beg H's pardon for any suspicions I may have had about her yesterday for
I find she had lent the ink to Mlle.
The two Miss Majendies breakfasted with us on their way to Stratford on Avon. Yesterday Papa gave us each one-shilling. I fixed our lessons with Mlle. She seems to think I am tolerably, advanced in German which is a great relief to me; I thought I was so backward.
June 16th 1853
Unable to write journal last night because Miss Hill slept with me and I
was afraid she might wish to see what I had written which I should not
have liked, but should not have known how to say no.
Uncle John came yesterday, which was why Miss Hill was turned out of her room. He looks very well.
In the evening we went to the Montpellier Musical Promenade. The gardens are very pretty and in very good order but one end is occupied by a bed of onions, which I thought rather out of character. The band was a very fine one and we had a very pleasant evening but the people did not appear to me to be such a gentlemanly set as at the Old Well.
June 17th 1853
After dinner went with Uncle John to call on Mr and Mrs Mitford who, to
my great joy, were not in. So we walked on to Leckhampton Church, which
is a very picturesque little church most beautifully situated at the foot
of Leckhampton Hill. I intend to sketch it some day.
We also saw Major Macready's tomb. Most beautiful flowers are planted all over and around it. Mrs Macready comes there and sits by it every day. She is said to be mad on that one point. She is a Unitarian, poor thing.
After staying there some time we were about to return when we looked up at the hills just above us and the sun was shining so brightly and everything looked so beautiful that we wore tempted to go on a little further, and we walked on and every step we took the air became fresher, the fields more rural and the view more lovely so it was impossible to turn back, and in a short time we had climbed to the top of the hill. After resting a few minutes we began our descent taking as we thought a shorter way home. For a time indeed we got on swimmingly but the path became gradually steeper and steeper until at last it completely disappeared and we had nothing before us but a steep place, I might almost say a precipice about 40 ft deep.
Uncle John was all for returning, but I thought we should not get home till late if we did so advised our attempting to go straight down. Uncle John accordingly went first, half sliding half crawling, and I followed to the best of my ability. The rock was covered with loose stones and every step we took we sent numbers of them sliding down before us in a manner anything but pleasant. As I scrambled down ray dress continually got filled up with them and it was a wonder it was not torn to rags.
At last I foolishly got to a part where there was nothing but loose sand and accordingly began to slip. I felt rather frightened, but knowing that if I lost my nerve. I should also lose my balance and roll down about 30 feet, I mastered my fears and catching hold of a bit of rock got among the stones again and after a great deal of trouble we reached the bottom in safety. I
would not go down there again for 10 shillings. Uncle John told me I showed some courage, which I took as a great compliment. My dress was none the worse but my best gloves were quite spoiled.
June 21st 1853
This morning, at 1/2 past 8, Harriet went to Mr Maynard's to ask how we
could get to the Prizes Distribution at the College and at what time it
was to take place. Mr Maynard returned with her saying he would take us
with him but we must set off in five minutes.
So upstairs we rushed, put on our things and went without our breakfast. We were at the College at 9 and did not leave till 1 so that by the end of the time we felt tolerably hungry and tired. However it was very interesting though rather too long.
First of all Mr Close as president of the board of directors made a most amusing speech. Then afterwards two examiners of the College spoke. They were no great orators and spoke so low we could not hear one word. One of them, the examiner in mathematics, broke down in the middle of his speech and stood there humming and hawing and bowing to the company and looking very foolish; upon which the boys began to clap their hands and cheer him, I think it was the most amusing part of the business though one could not help pitying the unfortunate mathematician.
Then Mr Dobson the Principal spoke for an hour and 1/2 and then there was distributing of prizes to the number of about 80 at least. Until at last I thought they would never come to an end and that they would be all prizes and no blanks among the 500 boys.
One little fellow the smallest in the school and a great deal younger than Charlie, got a prize upon which there was such a clapping and thumping as was quite deafening. After the distribution of the prizes Mr Close spoke again and then by way of finale the boys set up a loud cheering and hurrah-ing. They cheered Mr Close, the Principal, each of the 14 directors separately, mischief and themselves! the last two were received with great applause.
June 27th 1853
Had music lesson this morning. At last thank goodness! it is all settled.
We have got No. 12 Royal Parade!
The old woman made a long speech about the valuation being very low but Papa said that in her heart she thought it a very good price as I suppose it was. I don't think there is another house in Cheltenham that which would suit us so well both as regards situation and size though Mama does think she has been done by the screwy old woman.
Papa and Mama went this afternoon to Lichfield for the archery. They have had a wretched day for their journey, nothing but rain from morning till night. I pray the weather may mend though it seems "hoping against hope".
When they were gone Grandmama began to feel somewhat lonely and down-hearted so I went and talked to her and praised the new house as much as if I had been the landlord wanting to let it, and it was quite wonderful how soon she plucked up again.
In the 'evening she and I played backgammon. She won everything which I was very glad of for it made her very merry and she laughed till she was quite tired out.
I sent my letter to Madam Chammas.
July 3rd 1853
Grandmama, Harriet and I went to church in the afternoon. The evening lectures have ended for some weeks although Mr Boyd has not gone away. After church Mlle, Harriet and I took a walk . into the country, and in the evening we played and sang hymns and repeated ditto to Grandmama. She is remarkably well tonight and has had for supper an egg, bread and butter and a quantity of gooseberry tart! If she is not ill she need not complain of being bilious.
July 6th 1853
Rather cross with Harriet for walking about with her petticoat below her dress. She looked such a figure that I felt a little ashamed of her though no doubt I was nearly as untidy myself, though unfortunately one never sees faults in oneself like one does in another person. That is human nature.
July 7th 1853
All the ink gone to the Royal Parade so must write in pencil. The last
night we shall spend in this house, but we have been so long in a most
disagreeable state of uncertainty that I am almost too glad to think we
are at last something like settled to feel any unhappiness at going.
However we have been altogether very well and happy here and if we are
the same in our new house we shall be very fortunate.
Morning spent in running back and forwards between the 2 houses with small packages. The day has been extremely hot and I was almost melted during my numerous journeys. In the afternoon rested worked and journeyed till teatime and then passed the evening in the garden and on the balcony. We have no drawing room balcony at no 12. Grandmama had packed off all her things to Royal Parade so was obliged to sleep there.
Changing houses suits Grandmama wonderfully. She is always so well and active and runs about so fast that her rheumatism cannot keep pace with her and so is left behind; at least that is the only way I can account for its sudden disappearance whenever we have a move. I think for her sake she ought to have one once a month
July 10th 1853
12 Royal Parade
Have not written a journal for 3 days as during our move my poor book has
been lost. I was, in a great fidget about it and hunted everywhere for it
except in the right place where it in fact was, viz in my
We first took up our abode here on Friday evening, and the house is still in the greatest confusion. The dining room and drawing room carpets are down and are both very handsome but the rooms have still to be papered and the curtains put up. The study has a very pretty new paper, the pattern a sort of trelliswork and flowers; the carpet also white ground with a small green and brown pattern, and the chair covers and curtains of the green and white damask which was in the dining room. When it is all completed it will be a charming little room. Mama thinks however that this situation is rather too gay and not very gentlemanlike and now prefers Lansdown Terrace which is my favourite part.
After church Mlle and I took a little walk past York Terrace. Our old house looked quite deserted and melancholy yet I think I prefer this one. Harriet has been very poorly all day with a bad chest cold, which she must have caught during our house changing and increased it by excitement and over-activity. She has had a mustard plaster and is to sleep with Mama. Papa and Mama's bedroom and dressing room are exactly like those at Hawford? Indeed when this evening I sat on their window-sill I could almost imagine myself a little child of 9 years old as I was then and back again at old Hawford.
July 13th 1853
Heard this afternoon of the death of poor little Tommy Pearson. He has long been very ill with some complaint of the brain brought on by over-study at Charterhouse, He was said to have been such a nice good child, it must be a sad blow to Aunt and particularly to Annie who was so near his own age. For himself, one may well hope it a good change.
July 15th 1853
Today Papa told me I was very untidy and left my things about the dining
room, and Mama said I kept the dead flowers in the vase and never thought
of throwing them away. So to make amends I ran into the garden and
gathered a beautiful bunch of roses. I was very proud of it for it was
only the second good one we have had out of our own garden since we left
Today Papa and Mama fixed with Mlle. that she is to stay with us through the winter. I am very glad of it for not only is she a great help in our lessons, but also a very nice cheerful companion,
July 18th 1853
Rain all afternoon with very heavy thunderstorm. Dining room paper put up. The brown one was really chosen. No sooner however was it done and Mama come in to see the effect than she exclaimed it was like a dungeon, so dark, so gloomy, so ugly. It made her feel quite low. Everybody else liked it very well, and declared it made the room an hour lighter, but opinions differ. For my part I think it is neither particularly ugly nor pretty, rather the latter; it is gentlemanlike and will look well with the crimson curtains. I have written so long an account of different persons' opinions as I do not think the discussions about it are nearly ended. One party must talk the other over, and I should like to know which. The admirers are the more numerous, but then Mama thinks about it more than all the rest of us put together.
August 15th 1853
The drawing room looks much prettier now all our ornaments are about it, and also as Mama has had the ottoman covered with a green and white chintz. When she had set out the drawing room Harriet and I went in and carried off all the remaining cups and saucers and bits of old china she had left and placed them in the study; although I do not think our hold on them is very secure. Also Gramdmama's old clock has been put on our chiffonier as she is not to have it because it awakes her; beside we have hung up a little picture of her drawing, all which are a great improvement to the room.
September 8th 1853
On Saturday we went out sketching, in the evening Louisa arrived. She
looked very well but is only half an inch taller than me. Monday we
entirely devoted to showing her about the Town. We walked for four hours
and then got into a fly and drove about another hour. We intended keeping
her till Wednesday but to our dismay, on Thursday a letter arrived so she
must return immediately to meet Madam de Yos who was coming to Dove Cliff
that evening. It was very unfortunate as she was to have called upon the
Mitfords and gone to the Pittville Musical Promenade; also a friend of
hers' Miss Fiennes who is at Mrs Pratt's was to have drunk tea with
We were all sorry Louisa could not stay longer. She is so affectionate and good-natured nobody can help liking her. On Monday evening we went to a concert at the Old Well.