The Narrative of a Tour

The Narrative of a Tour


The Narrative of a Tour in the Splendid Summer of 1842: Traversing Fifteen Southern Counties of England

The text in this book is taken entirely from the 1842 hand-written travelogue of James Barnes, who, with his wife Mary, set off from Peckham in Surrey to travel in a pony and chaise around some fifteen counties of Southern England. 

In following the couple's experiences while travelling in the mid-19th century, we are able to view the people and places exactly as they were 174 years ago: a time when Queen Victoria reigned; the first photograph appeared in The Times; Charles Dickens' American Notes were published and Isambard Kingdom Brunel's great ship, the SS Great Britain, was under construction.

The accounts of places visited include Lyme Regis, where just three years previously the famous landslip had occurred; their encounter with a floating bridge at the River Itchen; a visit to Mr Fish's Marine Villa and to the Goodwood races, as well as the house and grounds of Earl Powlett in Somerset. There's also a disturbing encounter with bed bugs in an inn, and the Irishman who lived with his family and animals in a cave about 200 feet from the beach at Hastings: all diligently documented under candlelight at the end of their journey by James himself.

We learn about the social customs of the day, and the changes in society that were still in upheaval from the 'Great Revolution caused by the introduction of Machinery and Steam power'. Here we are able to 'live' history.

Along with the text there are around 50 black and white illustrations from the period and also notes at the end by the author's great-great-grandson, Valentine Barnes, who fortunately unearthed this rare narrative for all to enjoy.

ISBN: 9781852001803 

Size: 217x140mm 

Binding: Hardback 

50 b&w illustrations 

Length: 171pp

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About the author:

James Barnes

Born in the year 1794 at 30 Pudding Lane, Eastcheap, London, James Barnes followed in his father’s footsteps when he undertook a seven year glazier’s apprenticeship, completing his indentures in 1815. In the same year he married Mary Brothers who was born in Glemham, Suffolk in 1792. 

James ran his own business as a painter and glazier for a number of years, then in around 1841 James and Mary moved to Elm Grove, Peckham in London and left their son Hector to continue the business in the City until 1848. It was from their Peckham address that the pair set out on their 1,000-plus mile journey in the two-seater pony-drawn trap or chaise. 

Later James and Mary moved to Wheathampstead, Herts, where they lived until Mary died in 1852, aged 60. James was to make a final move to Essex before he died in 1867, aged 73.