Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary July 1828

Tuesday 1 July 1828

Went not all to her room last night and no kiss. Half devoured last night by bugs. Never so much bit before. My left eye made up with the swelling, my throat, hands, arms, body, ancles all bit. One bug dropped from me on getting up. Killed this & another under the pillow in getting my [pocket] handkerchief. Long while examining all my clothes to see that all was clean of the animals. Then settled my last 2 day’s accounts. Miss McL- came. Had slept on the floor. Could not remain in bed. Came to me at 2 a.m. but my door locked & would not rouse me. Breakfast at 11. Went out at 12½. To the abbey. Handsome, plain gothic parish church by Burn of Edinburgh built on the site of part of the church. The square tower rather too low & thick. The top parapet finished in large letters of stone. This “Robert the Bruce,” & each little crocket? crowned. [1] The skeleton of Bruce was found under where the pulpit now stands. Sheet lead wrapped round the body, the arms & thighs. Skeleton 6 foot 2 inches long (vid. Scottish Tourist, 125-6/415). The church contracted for by 2 men of Dunfermline & done very cheap for £14,000. 3 years building. Began 6 years ago. The rest of the ruin is to be repaired by the court of exchequer. Then saw the fine remains of the old palace finely placed above the back water burn, nodding over its finely wooded precipices & glen. Very beautiful, richly wooded situation. Never dreampt of there being so close upon the town, said to contain 14,000? inhabitants. Saw Malcom Canmore’s tower. Small remain of shapeless walling on little wooded mound. All this now in the grounds of Mr Hunt, a napery [2] manufacturer here who a niece of Dr McKenzie [g….’s?]. Very rich. Heavy shower.

Dunfermline Abbey
Photo by Colin Angus Mackay  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Sat in the women’s lodge at 1¾ for ¼ hour & walked to the end of the town (leaving Miss McL- at the inn) & got back at 2½. The good part of the town lies in small compass, but the ruins of the abbey & palace are well worth seeing. Too thick for any view from the top of the church. Heavy rain about 7 a.m. Sat talking & waiting for the coach (a 2 horse accommodation coach starting from our inn) & off outside at 3 10/60. A slight, i.e. heavyish but short, shower. At North Queen’s Ferry in an hour. The view of the Forth fine. A goodish village near the ferry. On board the steamer at 4¼. 20 minutes in ferrying over. A niceish looking little town with good church near South Queen’s Ferry. On the coach at 4 37/60 & off again at 4¾. Beautiful drive to Edinburgh but heavy rain very nearly all the way. Lord Roseberry’s & Mr Ramsay’s (left) [3]. Just before entering Edinburgh (pass the end of Melville Street) pass St. Bernard’s well on the Leith water. Formerly a beautiful secluded walk to the round temple at the well. Now enclosed in town.

St. Bernard’s Well, Edinburgh
This natural spring was discovered in 1760. In 1789 the structure, designed by Edinburgh artist Alexander Naysmyth, was erected around it and dedicated to St. Bernard of Clairvaux who, legend had it, had lived for a time in a nearby cave. It was popular at the time for people to ‘take the waters’ of the spring for their reputed health benefits.

Line engraving by W. Byrne, 1803, after G. Walker. This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. Refer to Wellcome blog post (archive).

All along Princes & alight at the Crown Inn & Hotel at the east end of the street at 6 10/60. Get comfortable rooms. Go out for about an hour at 6 40/60 to Mackay’s about a carriage for town. Dinner at 8 5/60. From 10 to 12½ wrote out the whole of yesterday & today. Rainy, hazy morning early. Fair from about 8 to 1½. Afterwards (vid. above) some heavy rain. Fine just before getting to Edinburgh & in the evening. Went to my room at 12. She and I sleep together tonight. She I think not sorry.

Dunfermline to North Queensferry, 6                      )
North Queensferry to South Queensferry, 1½      ) 16¾ miles
South Queensferry to Edinburgh, 9¼                       )

[1] ‘Crocket’ is a term to refer to small carved ornaments, usually curved foliage, used to decorate column capitals, cornices and other architectural elements. Common in gothic architecture. I am constantly amazed at the breadth of Anne’s general knowledge and vocabulary, particularly given that she couldn’t just Google stuff (like I just did).

[2] Household linen like tablecloths, napkins, etc.

[3] ‘Lord Roseberry’s’ is Dalmeny House, home of Archibald John Rosebery, Lord Dalmeny. I’m unsure who Mr Ramsay was. Anyone know?

You can read the original diary entry here:

8 thoughts on “Tuesday 1 July 1828

  1. Not sure but could it be William Ramsay, 1st Earl of Dalhousie. Could the ‘Mr’ be ‘W’ for ‘William’? He died in 1672, but his estate, Dalhousie Castle is 8 miles south of Edinburgh… Looking at it again though it probably is ‘Mr’…

  2. I was wondering how come the infamous wee beasts of Scotland (the midge) had not been mentioned during this trip… Perhaps they make their appearance here bugging Anne all night long.
    Thanks for the gift of your transcriptions. Always a joy to read.

    1. I was wondering about that 😀. But it’s unlikely to be midgies in Dunfermline on the East Coast. More surprised she wasn’t eaten alive by them in highland Perthshire… 🦟

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