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

Thursday 10 July 1828

7 40/60

From 9 10/60 to 11 25/60 wrote out journal from the end of Sunday down to the 1st few lines of Tuesday. Breakfast at 11½. Out at 1. Our landlord Mr London very civilly went with us to the castle. Little or nothing of it remaining but the arched story underneath, turned into cow houses, or some such thing [1]. Stood on the grassy top of them for the sake of the view. Then Mr London went with us to the great stone of Forres [2] (at the other end of the town, at a little distance, on the road to Findhorn) about 18 feet by 3½ feet and 1 foot thick. 3 steps running all round the base of it. A sort of continued running pattern on the side towards Findhorn. On the other an indistinct time-worn story of some sort. A shaking of hands. A company of Highlanders? Men with kilts and highland bonnets. Very good climate about Forres (they told us the same at Elgin & we had ourselves noticed the balminess of the air as we set off to Pluscarden abbey). 40 inches less rain at Forres than elsewhere. Land dearer here than in England. From £3 to £4 per Scotch acre, a Scotch acre 1/5 more than an English acre. Mr London had a farm, partitioned from another farm from the sandbanks for which (very good land) he paid £3 per acre. Land near to Forres (close to the town) let for £4 per acre. To keep a house here would cost £60 to £70 a year. Mr London had paid 1/. per stone (22 lbs) for hay. But would get it this year for 6d. Observed that everywhere in Scotland the grass stood too long. Mr London owned the observation was just but he himself had his grass cut sooner than his neighbours. Corn about the same price as in England. Ditto most other things. Meat &c &c.

‘The great stone of Forres’
From Black’s Picturesque Tourist of Scotland, 15th Edition, Edinburgh, 1861
[2] Known now as Sueno’s Stone, it is the largest surviving Pict standing stone of its type in Scotland and for that reason it has been encased in armoured glass to protect it.
Photo by Scott from London, UK, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Got back to the inn at 1¾. At 2 off in an open carriage (called a laudau, but a bad, shabby imitation of our Swiss (Berne) carriage) to Altyre, Sir William Cummin Gordon, to see the heronry (the only one in Great Britain except one in Perthshire) &c. In Sir William Cummin Gordon’s grounds in 10 minutes. A gravel walk road with flower bed on each side beneath the Scotch fir wood. An unpleasing artificial effect. In 10 minutes more great stone standing up (left) to commemorate, said our post boy, some great victory over the Danes. Out of the grounds in 25 minutes from 1st entering them. At 2 40/60 Outlawell turnpike. At 3 5/60 look down into the pretty glen upon Pidnisk, Sir ____ Lander Dick’s, and turn back over the peat-moor. Peat-thatched huts. At 3 20/60 stop at small farm house, send the carriage round to meet us near the heronry while we walk down to the Findhorn to pursue the beautiful white rocky banks of this picturesque river & then turn up along the grounds. The views along the river here very fine. Delighted with [?]. Got back to the carriage at 5. In 2 or 3 minutes at the heronry, just below us on the bank of the river. 3 or 4 trees contain the whole. 1 tree dead. Another (oak) nearly so, or at least not much green to be seen thro’ the nests. Counted 19 nests in one tree. Singular appearance. Very large white looking nests. As if the tree was smothered with thick white moss. The young herons standing up on tiptoe, touching one another, from nest to nest. Much gratified by this singular sight. The birds give a sort of short whistle every now & then.

Darnaway Castle
Anne Burgess / Darnaway Castle / CC BY-SA 2.0

At 6¼ alight at Darnaway Castle, Earl of Murray. A front door to the ground floor (kitchen & offices) & meeting above this a double flight of steps (24 steps? high) leading to the entrance hall & family rooms. Admire this living au premier. Quite a new house but the old hall (Lord Randolph’s) preserved. Entered immediately from the new entrance hall. Lord Randolph’s hall 37 by 15 of my common paces & 27? feet high. 3 large gothic windows (with large sash panes instead of transom) one side, 2 & the large fire place on the other, & 1 window at the end opposite the door. Ceiling (up to the roof) finished in 6 compartments formed by the 6 beams from which stays up to the top. The house not at all like a castle but a good comfortable house with little bits of round towers at the top of each corner. The kitchen at an enormous distance from the dining room & the housekeeper’s room at an enormous distance from the kitchen. Off from Darnaway at 6¾. Home at 7 25/60. Dinner in 10 minutes till 10, having sat reading the paper, Inverness Courier. Most honourable mention of the academy at Tain. Mr Ritchie rector of the academy. Professor of mathematics. Lately elected member of the Royal Institution, London. Mr Gibson, linguist, a learned classic. Get Hoare’s Antiques of Wiltshire, a storehouse of antiquarian lore. Very fine day. Came to my room at 10¾. [margin: Q] Hurried in undressing, went to her for about an hour and had two good kisses.  

Forres to Pidnisk                                                               7              )
Round by the heronry to Darnaway Castle             7              ) 18 miles
Darnaway Castle back to Forres                                 4              )

[1] Sadly, in 2019 nothing of the Forres castle ruins remain above-ground and the area is now a public park.

You can read the original diary entry here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top