(Capt. Jenkin Jones's Diary - 1919)
(Extract from an account of a tour in England and Wales, in the year 1819, by a Capt. Jenkin Jones, of the Royal Navy. The diary is in the National Library of Wales. The writer was a greatgrandson of a farmer at Cilcennin, in Cardiganshire, named John Jenkin ap Rhydderch, who died about 1743 and whose son, the writer's grandfather, left Wales and settled in London.)
Thursday. [May 1st, 1819] Got up at 6 o'clock packed my portmanteau and sent it by the postman to Barnstaple from thence to be forwarded to Ilfracombe. Breakfasted with Walkie, at 1O h. 40' set off with all my necessaries in my packet for Clovelly - a want of wood to make the country about Bideford interesting. Road very dirty indeed. At Alwington about 3½ miles from Bideford saw a sign with a lobster and crab painted on it and the following inscription - "Nigh the sign of the Swan" "Liveth a Fisherman" "He fishes for Gentlemens pleasure" "Every Spring tide" "Prawns and Lobsters provide" "And makes Shoes when he is at leasure," At 1 h. sat down by a very pretty fall of water about 30 feet, with a deep and well-wooded valey beneath me and the Bristol Channel open, and eat my sandwiches and drank a little rum and water, cut a stout black-thorn; heavy rain. Walked through a plantation of Sir James Hamlyn's for about 2 miles, the scenery the most Romantick I ever saw, deep Ravines running to the sea, with almost perpendicular hils of great heighth, hill and dale covered with wood, here and there large patches of blossom, and a fall of water running through every valey. Clovelly has a most romantick appearance, looking like pidgeon houses stuck on the side of a perpendicular hill, embosomed in wood, and the sea washing the foot of the hill, but on entering the village the Traveller who looks for cleanliness and comfort will be cruelly disappointed. It rains too hard for me to know whether there is a better part of the town, walked down to the pier head which affords shelter for a few small fishing vessels and was much vexed to find that it is only in the Herring Season that they have communication with Ilfracombe, and that consequently I must either pay a guinea and a half for a skiff to carry me over, or retrace my steps, I think I shall do the latter. Put up at the New Inn, a pretty little place, not a remove from the worst of the London pot-houses but every thing very clean, fell in with a Parson of the adjoining Parish a Mr. Login of Noseworthy, smoaked our pipes and talked politics together till he took so great a fancy to me that he asked me to dine with him on Saturday, and told me all his family concerns as how he was left an estate deeply morgaged by his father, forced to turn parson at 30, his wife a very talkative good little woman a Yarmouth one, he a famous mechanic could get 5 guineas a week would he work at Birmingham, &c., &c. that he filled his church and did not care a damn for any thing else, whether Unitarianism or Methodism spread - he was just about to speculate with a 100£ in two skiffs for the Herring fishery, and maintained that any man with 500£ for IO Boats might make 50 per cent. on his money.
FRIDAY, [MAY 7TH, 1819]. Breakfasted in co. with Mr. Login, at 8 walked over Sir James Hamlyn's Grounds, without an exception the most Romantic of any I ever saw, a Forest to the Beach, the ground carpeted with violets, primroses, Blue Bells and Daises, found myself suddenly on the brink of a precipice, the dwarf oak growing up its side; a beautiful view of Barnstaple Bay, formed by Hartland point to the westwd. and Baggy (were the Weazel, 18 gun Brig was lost and all hands perished), to the Eastwd. near 1O miles deep without a Harbour for a ship to run for in the event of being embayed with a NW. or N.N.E. gale. Bideford Bar being dangerous excepting in the high Spring tides, they are about to build a light house on Lundy, very necessary as West India men often make it the first land from the West Indies; the whole village of Clovelly built up a steep woody hill, but that part near the river which they call Key built on the side of a precipice, you descend by steps made of the large round black stones of which the Pier and beach is formed, the Pier is about 25 feet high and affords good shelter for about 15 vessels of from 40 to a 1OO tons. The sounding outside the Pier about 7 fms. clayey bottom. Sir James's house a large mansion but not very elegantly built. His daughters good women, one keeps a school for the poor children of the Parish. Sir James keeps a Welch Harper of the name of William Williams who plays during dinner. I met the old man who. is blind, and he took me for one of the labourers who kept a shop in the Village, and addressed me as follows, "is that Davey" "pring hur another loaf tomorrow, and hur will clear all scores," I undeceived him, but consoled the old boy by letting him know it was one of the race of Shenkin he talked to, on which he put his hand on my head, and wished "Cots pest plessing on hur" and to "kiss Cardiganshire ground." Payed my bill which was very moderate, and put on my loaded jacket, set off at 2 o'clock for Bideford in preference to paying a guinea and a half for a skiff to Linton.
Transcribed 29 May 1996 by Brian Randell, with the permission of the National Library of Wales, and with the aid of a printed copy of the Welsh section of the diary, which was published in West Wales Historical Records, Vol. 1 (1910) pp.97-150.