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

Monday 7 July 1828

12 25/60

Miss MacL came to my room to see how I was and staid talking twenty minutes. Breakfast at 10 35/60. We went out at 11 40/60 to call on Mrs Roy. ¼ hour in finding her so could not stay but hurried back to meet Dr & Miss McPherson at 12. Not come so walked about a little in the town. Good shops. Very handsome town. Union Street where we are, the great street. Fine, wide, long street. The white-looking granite very handsome. All polished, said Dr McPherson, with common pickaxes. Went to Souter and Reid nearly opposite our inn and got the elastic gum bag for Miss MacL. Twelve and six pence and carriage made it fifteen and a penny and a half. I gave her the thing at night. She would not let me try to use on her to shew her. At 12½ finding Dr & Miss McPherson waiting, she & I set off to walk & he drive in his little pony phaeton to Mrs Roy’s for Miss McL-. We then met to see the new subscription assembly rooms. Built 6 or 7 years ago. Handsome 6 column ionic portico. Very handsome suite of rooms but shabbily furnished because already not so well attended as formerly & money wanted. Ballroom, tearoom (cornices & ceilings painted or stained in imitation of handsome cornices & ceilings. Imitation pilasters also in the same manner). A sort of vestibule lighted from the top that makes a good dining room for 30-50. Small billiard room upstairs. Reading rooms below intended on each side the entrance. Do not answer. One of them let to a dancing master.

The Assembly Rooms on Union Street was opened as a concert hall (the present day Music Hall) in 1859. (
Photo by AberdeenBill, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

From the rooms, in returning over the bridge that carries Union Street over a valley & brook below, went down the steps behind the Melville Hotel (handsome, new, good-looking house yet not taking precedence above ours, The Royal Hotel, where Dempster in a few years made £20,000 & lately retired) to look at the arch. Fine one, quite plain, 130 foot span. Then parted with Miss McL & Dr McPherson & off went the young lady, the most wordless & the stupidest I think I ever beheld. Aged 17, a day or 2 ago arrived from a school in Bath. She took me to peep into the court & see the shabby old front of Marischal College [1] where, however, as I afterwards understood from the young man who shewed the library at the old Aberdeen College, there are some good old [manuscripts]. From Marshall college went to the McPherson’s. A few minutes with Mrs McPherson then to the college library, handsome crown-topped tower. Mrs & the Miss Forbes there & Mrs Forbes’ unmarried sister, Miss McCloud. A good old gothic room but the best books (& these seemed nothing particular) locked up & the [regular] librarian away & had taken the keys of the wire doors of the few cases that contained the treatises. This college has a right to a copy of all works entered at stationers hall but is often cheated. Does not get so many books or so much music as it has a right to. About 3 cases, or boxes, per annum, containing perhaps 50 volumes each. All the professors have books and music out of the library, the Forbes, & some others on application, have the same privilege allowed gratis so that it is like a circulating library. The young ladies got novels &c which were regularly entered by the young gentleman (a sort of college tutor) as they would have been in any public subscription library. Then saw the chapel. Newly done up in the old style (the whole college has just undergone great repairs & the great alterations made are not yet quite finished). Some handsome small tabernacle work & a handsome old small pulpit. Then saw the new additional library room (the old one not near large enough). This far too small. Will only hold 3-4,000 volumes. Then saw different classrooms. The divinity hall, a handsome enough room (quite plain) which the young ladies called the ballroom because one ball per annum given there. Then went to the top of the little observatory, not quite finished. Fine view of Aberdeen old & new & the sea. The chemical lecture room with its neat laboratory not yet quite finished.

King’s College, Aberdeen
Chris Downer / Aberdeen: King’s College / CC BY-SA 2.0
Tabernacle work in King’s College chapel
From R. W. Billings (1901) The Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland

Then went (Colonel Forbes with us) to the cathedral. What remains of it now used as a parish church. A very handsome one. Then walked with the 3 Misses Forbes (mamma tired) to the bridge of Don (vid. Scottish Tourist, 367/415) [2]. Very pretty high wooded banks along the river. Picturesque straw-thatched village. 1 gothic arch, 67 foot span, built by Bishop Cheyne about 1320. This they shew as “the only bit of scenery” about Aberdeen. Got to the Forbes’s house at 4. Sat talking. The girls good humoured, talkative & therefore pleasant, ditto mamma. Colonel Forbes 70 or more, about 30 years older than his wife (of Craig y Barns, son of the late & uncle to the present [baronet]), a gentlemanly old soldier. Dr and Miss McPherson & Miss McL- joined us at dinner. Dinner at 5. Not in such fair style as yesterday, very small income she not perhaps so ladylike as her sister Mrs MacPherson. Miss McPherson stupid as ever. The Dr & Mrs Forbes walked a little of the way back with us as yesterday. All parties very civil. Most kindly hoped to see me if ever I went that way again. Miss McL- & I sauntered a little along new Aberdeen. Surgeons hall a nice looking little new building with 4 column ionic portico. Opposite to it very pretty little new gothic Episcopalian chapel. Got home about 10. Found Mrs Roy there waiting to see us. Had called twice. The old lady delighted to see Miss McL-. Gave me her blessings for all my kindness to Miss McL-. Stayed about ½ hour. I glad to get to my room at 10¾. Some time packing. Very fine day.

Postcard illustration of Brig O ‘ Balgownie, Aberdeen. Unknown artist. ( )
Brig o’ Balgownie, Aberdeen
Photo by Lyn Mcleod, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

[1] Those who are familiar with the present day Aberdeen will wonder at Anne’s description of the ‘shabby old front’ of Marischal College. The building Anne saw was demolished due to its deteriorating condition and building work started on the very fine Tudor-Gothic college in 1835. (

[2] Anne is referring to what is now known as the Brig o’Balgownie, one of the oldest bridges in Scotland. The foundation stone of the five arch bridge that is currently known as the Bridge of Don was laid in 1827. The bridge was opened to the public in 1830. There can’t have been much sign of the building works in July 1828 or Anne would surely have written about it in her journal. (

You can read the original diary entry here:


2 thoughts on “Monday 7 July 1828

  1. Hi Leigh
    Would ‘[Stat…] hall’ be Stationers’ Hall? Presumably referring to an early form of copyright deposit?

    1. Thank you Catherine, this one was bugging me! I expect you’re right about ‘stationers’ hall.’

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