Diary of Richard Bland Lee Fleming’s trip to Scotland and England in 1866.

Transcribed and edited by William F. Rust III (February, 2017)

[Editorial note: The notes were written in pencil in a small pocket calendar diary. A few minor spelling errors have been corrected, and punctuation has been added throughout, since there are practically no commas, periods, or capital letters in the original ms. by RBLF, whose writing style is often simply a running series of notations. A few indecipherable words are placed with question marks [?]. In general the writing is quite legible. Any headings or dates are given as in the original. A few notes are added in brackets to identify locations. See original scanned pages for other questions.]

[The first part of the diary concerns arriving in England and travels in Scotland, covering the periods June 2-13, 1866]

Saturday, June 2, 1866

We left Boston on the 23 of May and reached Liverpool at twelve o’clock on the second day of June. We had on board 250 first class passengers of which 50 left us at Queenstown [Ireland]. We had only one day of bad weather during our trip across.

June 4, 1866

We left Liverpool at ten minutes past two and reached Glasgow at ten o’clock. On the way we saw a great many kinds of fences [?] and buildings and a great many iron works which illuminated the sky and surrounding country. These iron works belonged to some nobleman who was attending parliament for the Queen at Edinburo. In Glasgow there is a cathedral which was built in 1175. All the windows were made at mimic [?]. The building is made out of granite. The chapter is a very beautiful room in the cript. There are several old tombs of different [?] parts – their heads have disappeared and only their body remains. There is also the well of St. Mungo. The transom was built in 1408, the windows in it are supurb. The graveyard is beautifully laid out, the monument of Sir John nusc [?] is there, it is made out of brown stone and is very handsome. There are several very handsome ones all about it.

June 5, 1866

We left Glasgow at 11 o’clock this morning and took the boat at Loch Lomon. The length of this lake is 25 miles. The scenery surrounding it is beautiful and we sailed up to the extreme part of the lake, and then we got into the stage and rode for hour or two, and then we took the steamer on lake Katrine and reached the Trossaths, and then got we in a little row boat and went to Elin Island. We saw the tree under which her little ship landed and got a piece of it. A little above the lake is the point whre King James and Roderick Dher [?]. The place is on a large rock extending a good ways out over a precipice.

Sterling Castle
June 6, 1866

Sterling Castle is situated on a very high grading and from it you could see the abbey built by Bruce in 1142. There is only one tower remaining now. The parliament house was founded in 1479 by James and the palace in 1540. They have statuary all around the outside but several of them have been broken off by the neck. The chapel rail [?] where Queen Mary was crowned by Thomas in 1592 is formerly [an] old Catholic church [..Also there?] was Dughirs [?] room – he was murdered in 1488 and his body was found in 1797 – the highest part of the castle is 4 hundred feet – There was a private staircase which goes under the ground as far as the lower part of the town. The king often would come out at night. No person could miss him because it joined his bedroom.


This church is built of brown stone and was founded by James the fourth in 1482, and James the sixth was crowned there. At the foot of the church is the tomb of Cardinal Beaton. The pulpit belonging to him [?] there were also a set of candelabra presented to the church by Queen Mary.

June 7, 1866
Edinburgh castle

It is situated on a very high hill 250 feet above the level of the street. It is built of brownstone. There they have the crown which Mary Queen of Scots wore and also the room where she slept and the little window which she put James the fourth out of when he was only 8 days old in a basket down the distance of 250 feet to be baptised in the Catholic religion. That room was also his birthplace. There is also there Margaret’s chapel called after Margaret the Saxon Princess. It is 900 years old and is very old fashioned. It was used for a long time as a garise [?] but is now kept for visitors.
Close by is Mons Meg a gigantic piece of artillery. It was made at Mons in Brittany in 1476. It is about 20 inches diameter in the bore. In 1682 it bursted while firing a salute in honour of the duke of York’s visit.

June 8, 1866

Arthur’s Seat is a high mountain. It is 822 feet above the level of the sea. The scenery is most beautiful. It is said that Walter Scott used to go there and compose a part of his novels.
At the foot of Arthur’s Seat is St. Anthony’s Chapel. It is all in ruins and only a small part is remaining.
I went to Hawthoden the place where the Poet Drummond had his house. It wa built on a perpedicular rock . There is also the cave which was used in the time of civil war. I also saw the sword belonging to Sir David Bruce. We walked along the river and we saw the caves which the Scottish Chiefs used to hide in in olden times. We went to see Roslyn Castle. It was all in ruins and we went to the chapel . It was built in [AD 860?]. It is in beautiful condition. The interior is beautifully carved with different figures in the stone. The stone is sandstone. We saw the place where the knights in their armor were laid and we saw the tomb of St. Chris [?] who said that he would give his life to the King if his two dogs would not kill the white deer which he had as a pet. The dogs’ names [were] Faith and Hope and he mounted on a fine steed and went out to the hunt and as the deer got in the middle of the stream he howled out in despair and said Faith, Hope and the dogs caught the deer and brought it to land and that saved his life. And afterwards he built Roslin Chapel in his gratitude for having been rescued by those dogs.

June 9, 1866

We went to Galton Hill and saw the monument raised in honor of Nelson. It is a hundred feet high and has one hundred steps. You can have a beautiful view and see the surrounding country,. You can also see Holyrood. We also went and saw Holyrood Castle. We saw the room where [was] Mary Queen of Scot’s bedroom. The quilt was red velvet but in a very delapidated state. We also saw her dining room and the little door which led from the private staircase, that [was] the way through which the conspirators came to kill Brecio [?]. He swung his dagger, went and caught hold of the Queen’s dress and with great difficulty to separate them the Queen cried and entreated them to spare his life but when she heard that he was dead she dried her eyes and said I will seek my revenge. They dragged him down the stairs and stabbed him fifty times. His grave is in the passage leading from the quadrangle.

The castle was built in 1128 by David the first. A part of the building is in ruins, it is built of granite and is very beautiful.

June 11, 1866
Dry Burgh

This building was founded in 1150 . The chapter house is the oldest part of the ruins. The rest was built in 1162. It is 190 feet long and 75 feet wide. The material is sandstone of a reddish color. There is also the tomb of Sir Walter Scott and his family. His tomb is a plain slab of dark marble with his name engraved in it. I also saw the Paskly lame [?]. It was crumbled into ruins, most all the pillars have fallen down and disappeared. There was also a tree 700 years old. It was a spruce pine. It was very large and covered a good deal of ground.

Melrose Abbey

This building was founded in 1136. it is built of a kind of sandstone. The founding of this abbey was built by King David. it has a great many kinds of statuary but only a few now remain. There is St. Peter and St. Paul and also the King and Queen sitting on the throne. A greater part of the building is covered with ivy. It is very beautiful.


is the place where Sir Walter Scott [lived] . The grounds surrounding the place [are] beautiful. I saw his study and he had it all surrounded with a gallery so he could get any book he wanted. I also saw the sitting room . It was beautifully arranged. I saw all the different things which were made a present to him. I also saw the cup and snuff box belonging to Nelson. I saw the snuff box belonging to James 4. I went into his armory and saw a great many kinds of guns, lances, and swords, and in a another room he had coats of mail from the different nations, and I also saw the last suit of clothes he wore, and the room where he died in, and also the brooch belonging to him.

June 12, 1866

I went to see the cathedral. It is built of some kind of stone covered with plaster. It is very much defaced on the front side but the interior is most beautiful, and the rood screen was cut out of the solid stone with several different kinds of figures. The cathedral is the finest buiding of the kind in the empire, displaying the most charming features in the various styles of Gothic. It is by external measurement 524 feet long, 222 from north to south. There is a window which is in the east of the building, it is the largest one in the world. It is 99 feet high and 77 wide. The building was founded in 626 by Edwin the Saxon King of Northumberland. It has been enlarged, reparied, and improved with great taste. It suffered seriously by fire in 1829 and again in 1849. The first time was by a lunatic who set fire to the organ. The second time by the carelessness of the workmen who left a candle in the cloak room where they were working and it fell into the pile of shavings which was very close. The way it was [built?], the ceiling is wood and it is very easily set fire to. Most of all the glass which they use is the oldest in England.

June 13, (1866)

The building is sandstone of a reddish color. It is in ruins and the steps which go up the towers are all worn away. it was built about the year 1120 by Geoffrey de Clinton, a Norman who was Lord Chamberlain and Treasurer to King Henry the first, of whom he obtained a grant of land for this purpose.
[The next entries are in England. There is no mention in the diary of the trip from Scotland to England, which must have occurred [by train?] on June 13, 1866..]

Shakespeare’s House

I went to Shakespeare’s House and saw where he was born, and a little ways from it is the place where he was tried for poaching on Sir Thomas Lucy’s place. He had over 400 deer on it and some very large stags with very large antlers.
The Church
We went to see the church where Shakespeare is buried and on his tomb are these words:
Good Friend For Jesus Sake Forbeare to Dig the Dust Enclosed
Here Bleste this Man and Spare His Stones
And Curst Be He Removes my Bones.
The rest of the buildings have been rebuilt several times since.

June 14, 1866

We went to Oxford this morning, we saw the different colleges and a great many of students and we saw the Bodelein Library. We saw a great many veryhandsome books and especially the illuminated manuscripts. I saw a book belonging to Queen Elizabeth. It had her coat of arms made out of hummingbirds’ bust [?]. They look like a beautiful painting, and also the gloves of Queen Elizabeth. I should think that she had a very large [hands ?]. They were buskin embroidered with gold. I saw the pastoral [of] Pope Gregory the Great translated by King Alfred in 880, it was most beautifully illuminated.
The early English calendar used in the 14th century. Psalter on purple vellum about 1000 AD. The school [college] of Madeleine about 1480 very beautiful. The handwriting a letter to her brothers and his birthday. A Psalter of Edw. I in 1320. Latin exercise of Queen Elizabeth. the seasons of spring by James Persian [?]. Manuscripts of 16th century. There was a book inlaid with ivory, it is beautifully carved in different figures. It was [made] in 9th century. I saw archbishop Laud’s autograph, Milton’s . Alexander Pope’s, Addison’s, the first Book printed in the English Language in 1472 [by] Caxton. The first English bible by Miles Coverdale 1535, the first Latin bible by Magures [?] printed about 1450.
Archbishop Laud’s pulpit
It was in the corner of the Magdeleine College and in the Lincoln [?] College we saw the oldest windows [?] in Oxford. They were buried in the time of Cromwell. The windows [?] are over 200 years old. We also saw the pulpit in which John Wesley preached in. We saw in the Bodelein Library a chair made out of the wood of the first ship which saided around the world. We went in and saw a great many pretty models of different public buildings. Amongst them was the amphitheater (?) and the cathedral at Calcutta [?] and the monument raised in memory of the martyrs Crambers [?] and the Temple of Piastron [?].
The dining room at Christ Church 282 students took their meals every day there are 250 in Oxford. The buildings over 50 acres of land. The meadow before the colllege is 50 acres of land. In the winter it is overflowed by water and is used for skating. The Prince of Wales was there three times last winter. The theater is a beautiful room which the students recite their priseeforms {?} the Latin on one side the other English. They are recited alternately . The ceiling is meant to represent the Old Roman tapestry with drapes [?] colored. they say that the roof [is] 70 feet wide and 80 feet long. It is very remarkable and 75 feet high from the floor. From the top you can get a very fine bird’s eye view of the surrounding scenery.

June 16, 1866

[London. The trip from Oxford to London must have occurred on June 15. (Ed).]

We went to see Madam Toussaud’s exhibition. I was very much surprised to see the wax figures look so much like living persons. I saw the different Queens and Kings dressed in their different costumes. I also saw an old Quaker who was sitting on the bench and his head and he looked like a living person. I also saw Madame St. Amaranthe. She was lying down with a diamond necklace around her neck and you could see her breathing. I also saw the guillotine, it was painted red.
We went to the Parliament houses and saw some very fine paintings. We also saw the throne which the Queen sat on during Parliament. We went down in the crypt and saw the beautiful windows and saw the ceiling was gold and purple. It was very beautiful and splendid.

June 18, (1866)

We went to the Tower of London and saw all the different armour. Some of them are [for] horseback, others standing. This was called the armory of Elizabeth and we saw the clothes [?] with his chotels [?] sash and sword belonging to the Duke of Wellington, and also the chest [?] which general fasc [?] was laid on when surrounded. Then we went a saw the place where the two little princes were smothered. It was Edward the thrrd and his brother. We then went in the Queen room whred she had her arnmor and saw all the difffent kinds of modern arms we also saw the block and case and the place where sir walter Rawly (?) was confined.
We went to the Thames tunnel, it was 75 feet under water, 1200 long. It slanted [on] one side a little.
Then we went to see St. Pauls Cathedral. It is a beautiful building. The highest part is 404 feet high. We went into the whispering gallery and saw a man make his voice go around the gallery. he was at one end and you were at the other and we sent up in to the hall and took a viewing of the city. We also went in to the library. The flooring of which consisgts of 2376 pieces of oak skillfully inlaid without a single nail or peg. The libary contains about 2000 volumes including the first book of common prayer. We went in to the crypt and we saw the tomb of the Duke of Wellington of porphyry. It is very handsome. His hearse is a little ways off and it is made of the cannon which he took in the different battles. The wheels were made out of brass. The horses [?] were very large and it was drawn by 12 horses. I also saw the tomb of Nelson. There was also a clock which was 800 years old.

The Crystal Palace
June 19, 1866

I went to see the Crystal Palace this morning. It is situated on a high hill and you can have a beautiful view from the porch. The grounds are laid out in beds and fountains playing all about in amongst the beds of flowers. We went in to the Alhambra court, a portion of the great Palace which the Moors erected in Spain during their dominion there. At once the most charming specimen of the architecture and ornament of the followers of Mohammet. The Moors held possession of the soutehrn portion of Spain from about the year 1000 till 1492. The roof was painted with gold and red and in the top there was a window of dark blue glass which threw a shadow on the walls and made it look very beautiful. It made the walls look like they were purple and gold. It was most beautiful.
We then went in to one of the Greek courts and saw the painting of their different gods. I saw a mural of the Parthenon or the Temple of Athens. It was beautiful. We went into the the gallery of statuary and saw the monumentss erected to the different kings and queens with their coat of arms at their feet. King Richard the first his head all gilded and very handsome. Over the doors were different figures carved in the stone. There was Mary Queen of Scots, she looking very pretty. I also saw a desk made for the King of Austria. It was made out of black thorn [?] inlaid with Ivory. It took a man five years to make it. The handles were made of ivory and also a part of the keys. It was most beautiful. I also saw the largest jars {?} made in the world. The mouth of the jar of stoneware is 9 feet 2 inches. The breadth 5 feet 9 inches will hold over 900 gallons of water at a time. It is yellow and very thin {?}. They also had some monkeys which amused the people with their tricks and some Pol parrots which were chained to the post on which they stand. Some red with long tails, others white. There was a very large monkey which looked like a negro very much. It had not any tail and it hands and ears resembled a living person very much. There was also a great many tropical trees growing. It made the place look very beautiful and fresh. They had some very fine paintings in the gallery which are said to be very handsome.

June 20, 1866

We went to see the National Gallery. We saw a great many beautiful paintings among them was the painting of the archangel Rafael and Tobias; the Virgin adoring the infant Christ; the Archangel Michael by Pietro Parmangiano. others were painted on wood and covered with glass. They were very beautiful. I also saw some Madonnas. They were very beautiful and I saw in the Royal Gallery an old teacher trying to teach the number O that one times 0 was 0, two times 0 was 0. He was sitting in a large chair with his cat and nine tails in his hand and the boy is standing very much afraid that he will get a thrashing. There was there also a girl which was very pretty. she was hesitating to say yes or no to the love letter which she received. It was a very pretty sight . There were some very pretty landscapes and bunches of flowers and fruit painted on canvas.

June 21, 1866

We went to the polytechnic insitutue. We saw the lady of the the lake. It was thrown on the canvas by a magic lantern. At the end there was a stream of water flowing and out of it came a woman [?] saying {?[.
We also saw Shakespeare acted and there was a hole made in the canvas through which the different heads were [?]. Shakespeare was dressed in black velvet. His cloak was black velvet lined with white silk. He had some shoes on with black stylkins [?] at the end of it. They had several little cherubins and they were fixed so as it looked as if they were flying in the air. They sang a little poem and then the curtain dropped.
I also went down in a diving bell the distance of twenty feet. It was very warm but as we were coming up it got very cold.

June 22, (1866)

I went to the British Museum and saw the different varieties of birds. Some of them were very beautiful. I saw the skeleton of an elephant, it was very large and looked very curious. There was also a skeleton of a very long snake, all curled up in a case.

Downstairs were the different things from Nineva and Roman curiosities. I saw a great many things which were taken from the Parthenon. I then went in to the library and saw the books belonging to James I, George the 2, and the Magna Carta, and the four great reformers’ autographs, and also saw the watch which belonged to Milton, and the knives used in the 15th century at marriages. They were silver in laid with silver and gold.

June 23, (1866)

I went to the zoological gardens and saw a great many animals. Amongst them are the white polar bear. They had two very large ones and they had a large tank of weater. I saw two hippopotamus. They had water to swin in, it was very deep. There were two seals also and theywere swimming around all the time and when it would come to a certain place it would turn over and swim on its back. They had also the sea bear. It had a very deep tank it would come up and then dive down and stay for a very long time. And they had birds from all parts of the world.
I saw the alpacka sheep . They had very tiny hair and were very large and very ugly. I saw two giraffes. They were very ugly looking things.

June 25, (1866)

We went to Hampton Court. We went into the palace and saw the pictures and the different bead {?} and conefigs {?} belonging to the different Kings and Queens. I also saw the great hall. it is noted for its beautiful ceiling. It was used one time as a theater, another time as a church. It is the place where Shakespeare played Hamlet.

We went to the Kew Gardems. The grounds were beautifully laid out and it had a very large greenhouse with a very large pond.

June 28, (1866)
Burlington Museum

I went to the Burlington Museum this morning and saw a great deal of old things. I saw the largest pearl that have been ever fund. It had a crown on it inlaid with diamonds. I also saw another jewel which was larger and it was made into the body of a little man. The head was made out of white china inlaid with precous stones. its eyes were two diamonds. I also saw a stone for a ring. It looked like the face of a man. Another was in the shape of a horse. They were found in that way in the 16th century. I also saw several old watches and clocks used in the 12 century. Some of them were very handsome and beautiful. I also saw a ring with a ruby in it and you opened it and there was a very large diamond and under it was a compass.

[ Here there is a hiatus of 3 months in the diary entries, until 31 Sept. 1866. The next entry refers back to the period July 31- Aug.2, 1866.

September 31, (1866)

We left Brussels for Boston [?] on the 31 of July and got there on the night of the 2nd of August. We saw the cathedral which is over 800 yers old. it is noted for the deep red color of the sandstone out of which it is built. We went to the museum and saw the collection of pictures, and we went to a high place and took a view of the surrounding country and the Rhine.
[several blank pages follow]

[no date given; presumably shortly after Aug. 2, 1866].

We left Brussells for Paris. The city is surrounded by a wall. The Pantheon is one of the most noted. We saw several very old pictures and in the cypt there are several celebrated men buried. The guide put us all against the wall and he made the echo under him and then he struck a bone with a little stick and it sounded like a cannon. We went to see the hotel Cluney. We saw there several very valuable things amongst them was someof the oldes pianos and carriages and postlen [?]’ plants and several other things . We went from there to the cemetery of Pere La Chais. We saw several beautiful monuments amongst them was the great chemist of Paris. They have a very beautiful way of putting wreaths of everlasting flowers on the graves. it looks very beautiful. We went to the Convent of the Sacred Heart and saw the grave of Lafayette. From there we went to the Gobelin manufactury and saw them making the tapestry. It looked like a beautiful painting. The men sit at the back of the picture they are working and look at the ring side.
We went to Severs and saw how they make the china. They have some very beautiful paintings. Some were very large. We went from the manufactury to the hotel d’ville. It is one of the most beautiful buildings that I ever saw. The floors were wood and the walls were coverered with silk and string. The settings [?] were preserved beautifully and painted. It is considered one of the finest buldings in Paris. We went from there to the Hotel des Invalides and saw the Tomb of Napoleon. It is very beautiful. The tomb of his brother is also there. We stood upstairs and looked down on the tomb. It is in the basement and they had a large openingin the ceiling with a marble railing around it which the people looked over and saw the tomb.
[There are no further entries, except for several accounts of purchases made on the trip.]


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added by Henry Rust: Richard Bland Lee Fleming would have been 17 years old when he embarked on this trip in June of 1866. The family had returned to Philadelphia from Missouri in 1858 prior to the War. R. B. Lee Fleming spent his high school years, from age 13 to 17 (1862-1865), at St. Timothy’s School outside of Baltimore, Md. The Flemings were still living in Philadelphia at the time of this trip. The above picture shows R. B. Lee Fleming at St. Timothy’s in 1863 at @ age 15.

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