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

Wednesday 9 July 1828


Got into bed to her for one and a half hours last night and three kisses. She too well enough satisfied. Very hot and well enough pleased myself. She is now accustomed to me likes the thing and is really modest enough without being shy. I almost wonder she does so well and is so comfortable and moist. Tib has long been dry as a board. Good beds. Breakfast at 11. At 12¼ chaise & off on the dicky to Pluscardine Abbey. Plain rather bleakish drive tho’ well enough just out of Elgin. Get to the abbey at 1 5/60. Very large remain belonging to Lord Fyfe. An entrance gate (porter’s lodge on the other side the road opposite to it) as if to some inhabited gentleman’s place & shrubbed on each side the gravel road. Part of the abbey repaired, new roofed & chimnied as if for a dwelling house. Lord Fyfe had, it seems, some idea of this kind but now the lower rooms (gothic vaulting) are to be used pro tempore [1] as a church while the little church at a short distance is repaired. The man who shews the abbey not at home. Only a child to open the gate & bring the keys of the repaired part that is now locked up. To us therefore “a mighty maze without a plan,” till we afterwards saw the published account of it. Nothing in the Scottish Tourist as to our route since leaving Aberdeen. The old garden that contained 10 acres now a garden & nursery ground. Abbey founded by Alexander 2 in 1240, vid. the largest remain we have yet seen in Scotland exclusive of Dunotter castle.

Pluscardine (Pluscarden) Abbey by John Claude Nattes (drawing) and James Fittler (etching)
From Scotia Depicta (1804)
The abbey, whilst a ruin in Anne Lister’s time, has since undergone significant restoration and is now a functioning Benedictine abbey.

Off from the abbey at 1 50/60 (the situation less riant [2] than that of any abbey we ever saw). Drove round the town. At the ruined cathedral at 2 57/60. Founded by Bishop Andrew Murray in 1224. 176 feet from east window to west door & 82 feet broad. Great tower (not a trace of it left) 198 feet high, fell 117 years ago. This fine ruin now beautifully kept & locked up. Under the care of the court of exchequer. Used as public burying ground. The largest, finest ruin in Scotland, a larger remain than that of Melrose Abbey. The stone carving of the mouldings very beautiful. The 2 west towers (went to the top of the southernmost, very good steps, the tower of course gutted, good view) & the beautiful west doorway standing. The chapter house pillar in the middle, with mushroom head supporting the roof, in good preservation. Parts of the aisles on each side the chancel. The one, the Duke of Gordon’s burial place, roofed. Small part of the other still roofed. A little place too where the priests used to wash their hands. Bit of south aisle wall & scraps of other walling. Very fine ruin. Far the most picturesque, beautiful ecclesiastical ruin we have yet seen. At a little distance from it, hid in trees & locked up by an iron gate, the small ruin of the priory of grey friars.

The west front of Elgin Cathedral
From The Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland (1852) by Robert William Billings
Elgin Cathedral chapter house
From The Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland (1852) by Robert William Billings

Off from the cathedral at 3 35/60. Home in 5 minutes at 3 40/60. Elgin very nice little town. Several ½ pay officers live here. Cheap & celebrated for the peculiar goodness of the air. We ourselves observed the pleasantness the fresh balminess of the air the moment of going out this morning. Very handsome hospital with round topped tower & clock built 6 or 7 years at the west extremity (just out of) the town. Some very pretty one-story gentleman’s cottages just about and indeed in the town. Finding the coach would not arrive of above an hour, sauntered out. Went to a little bookseller’s shop (by the way, a much better one lower down & some very nice good shops in the town) & bought a copy of views of the cathedral & a view & account of Pluscarden (pronounced Pluscardeen). Went to look at the Grant Lodge, taken but given up by Mr Foster, our ambassador at Turin. Shut up in wood. Could not see the house. Nice looking little place. Could not wait to get admittance from the gardener. All locked up. Amused to see an old mile stone in the street marked Aberdeen to Elgin by Huntley 65 miles, 5½ feet. Off from Elgin (8 or 9 miles from the sea) outside the Duke of Gordon coach at 4 55/60. Country improves to Forres, tho’ still dark brown heather hills shut in the distance. At 5 20/60 fine view of Cromarty bay. 2 miles from Forres see (distance left) the old ruined tower of Blervie (pronounced Blairvie) castle. See all along Nelson’s monument on the hill of Clunie (the view of (on approaching)). Forres, the little mile or 2 distant village port of Findhorn (pronounced Feendhorn) & the long line of sandy hills of Cubin along the sea, very pretty.

Nelson’s Tower, Forres
By William Daniell in A Voyage Round Great Britain, volume 5 (1821)

Alight at London’s Hotel, Forres at 6½. A cattle fair. Town & inn all in a bustle. Dinner at 7 10/60. From 8¾ to 9 55/60 Miss McL- & I sauntered out. Looked the dowager Lady Cummin’s Gordon’s comfortable looking house & thence to Nelson’s monument. Very fine view. See into 4 counties. The opening of the dark hills into Crōmărty bay very fine. Lovely sunset. Lovely evening. Sat talking. Came to my room at 10 25/60. Before going out at Elgin in the morning wrote out my letter & on going to the cathedral there put it into the post office. “The secretary of the Post Office, Edinburgh.” “Elgin, Wednesday 9 July 1812. Sir, I beg leave to enter a formal complaint against ­____ Neish, guard of the mail coach yesterday from Aberdeen to Focharbers for having, in spite of repeated remonstrances, persisted in carrying six, & 1 below, at one time seven outside passengers. The three passengers who were inside with myself are all ready to certify the above, if required. I shall be much obliged to you to take such notice of my complaint as you think will best serve the ends of public comfort & safety. I am, sir, your humble servant, A Lister. Miss Lister, Alexander MacLean’s esquire of Coll, Tobermory.”

Elgin to Pluscarden Abbey & back              12           ) 24 miles
Elgin to Forres                                                   12           )

[1] Latin. For the time being.

[2] Cheerful

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