Sarah A. Wilkinson
The Diary of Sarah.A.Wilkinson

Transcribed by
Debbie Arseneau

November 10th

   Prepare for starting, rain, leave Antiverp 1/2 past 10 & have to change carriages many times, at Malines, Alort, Ghent, Mouscrow & lastly Lille , where we stay nearly 2 hours, have dinner there & get to Calais 10 o'clock, have tea & to bed very tired with this days work.

November 11th

   Up late, have some fine fish for breakfast & then walk through the town. It is a strongly fortified place & there seems to be a good harbour, go on board steamer start at 1. There has been rough weather but we get across safely in 2 1/2 hours. Obliged to go below & miss the fine view approaching Dover. The cliffs looked grand as we came on deck, hurry off to catch the train & once more moving toward London. The country we pass through seems pretty but we are to tired to admire much. Pass through Canterbury & Chatham. Leave Frasers at Hyde Park Hotel & back to our old quarters.

November 13th

   A miserable cold foggy day, frost on ground, go to Ex with Mrs. F. my feet so painful.

November 14th

    Long day shopping with Mrs. F.

November 15th

    Very foggy, not out.

November 16th

    Sunday, hear Mr. Pallenbury, also an address in afternoon, Evening to Massic, Westbourne Grove.

November 17th

    Busy all morning. After lunch go with Pa to find R. Dowling, he only at home wife & daughter out.

November 18th

    Packing up, long walk with Mrs. Wood, call on Frasers. They have taken passage by Great Britain. Then in bus to Mr. H. Edgeware, have a long dreary drive, warm welcome.

November 19th

   Very busy making jacket, long talk with M.G.

November 20th

    No letters. Mr. H. & Papa go for drive.

November 21st

    Letters from Mama & M.J. all well.

November 22nd

    While packing away some things let lid of large box fall on my head & cut forehead, had to get it plastered. Start again by train from Watford for Oxford. Mrs. Steel meets us with carriage. After 5 miles drive reach their happy home Blemheim House. Surprised to find the girls grown to fine looking young women. Mr. S. looks to, well. Mr. Suchon is there. We spend a very pleasant evening.

November 23rd

    There is a little church in grounds to which we went morning & evening.

November 25th

    Mr. Suchon left. I & Martha for a walk. Call on an old woman. After dinner for a drive through Woodstock. Blemheim Park see the Dukes Monument, the Palace, the lodge where the Earl of Rochester died. In evening the clergyman Mr. Fort.

November 26th

   Rather damp, start at 11 for Oxford with Mrs. S, went into Christchurch, dining hall a very large room with fine oaken ceiling laid out for students dinner. After to Radecliff then to Bodburn, a very ancient building outwardly, saw Guy Faukes lantern, many manuscripts, old books, one from Queen Elizabeth to her brother, also in writing the names of Queen, Prince, Alice, Alfred & Louie of Hesse. Were accompanied by Mr. Fort.

November 27th

    Very cold, frost on ground, not out.

November 30th

    Letters from Ma. Abby's birthday, to church. Mr. F preaches in morning.

December 1st

    I go with Martha & Mr. Steel in carriage to Ivy House, Bladen & Woodstock. Nice drive in afternoon with Mrs. Steel & Anne to a farmers wife, Mrs. Hughes, introduced as the native. After undergoing a lot of questioning, she asked me to pull up my veil, has a good look at me & says " I am not so dark and speak English very well ". Great Amusement.

December 2nd

    I, Mrs. S & Martha to Oxford in dog cart through the Markets shopping.

December 3rd

    Drive out with Mr. S & Anne. Shown again as the Native. Come thousands of miles.

December 6th

    Go with Mrs. Steel , Martha & Anne in carriage to see the meet Blemheim Park, then drive to the Monument, see a few carriages & many horsemen dressed in pink not red. Whippers - in green velvet coats with many dogs, a pretty & gay sight. They ride about for a time & then go to the courtyard of the Palace where the Duke sends them something, they set out. We follow some distance but hear they are going far so we return. Quite delighted with the views in the Park, some very fine, one a lake, small Island & bridge. We also saw Rosamund's Well.

December 8th

   Fine, to church, hear Mr. Fort.

December 9th

   Papa starts for London. I, Mrs. S & Annie into Oxford to museum - the building is very pretty & light inside. The specimens - birds and reptiles very good. Statues of Newton, etc.

December 15th

    Mrs S went Mr. Lowe (brother in law)

December 17th

    Hear from Pa & Mrs Fraser - she going into Yorkshire to spend Xmas. Mrs S drive to Oxford - bring back Papa.

December 19th

    M.A. Pa & I walk into Park & have another view of the beautiful spot - lake island etc. Very windy.

December 20th

    I & Papa leave Begbroke - once more say farewell to kind friends - Mrs Steel drives us to Oxford - see the markets so tastefully arranged. Meet John Steel there just returned from Tasmania. Then into train, change at Blisworth - pass through a pretty bit of country at Wolvercot - fine meadows & beautiful brook meandering through tall poplar in the distance - At Bletchley change again - have to wait 3/4 of an hour - Start for Northampton - arrive little after 4:00 - Market day - After tea go out to see the town - some fine streets - the market square we saw to advantage Saturday & so near Xmas.

December 21st

    Sunday. Went to Independent Chapel where Papa went when a boy - After went for a walk - saw some old churches - the house Grandpa Wilkinson lived in - the house where Pa went to school & his uncle's where the likeness was painted in an upper room - In eve to Wesleyan Chapel - quite near.

December 22nd

    Out for a walk - met Mr Abel - he took us home to be introduced to his wife & daughter - invited to tea - walk again but the snow prevents us from staying out long. Had tea at Mr Abel's - like them very much - they cannot do enough for us. Show us some fine prints, drawings & collection of very old china, which Mr. A has a great fancy for - Meet a Dr Matthews there - been in Australia.

December 23rd

   Papa goes out - returns having found his cousin Mrs Cavitt & takes me to see her - wants us to stay there. In the evening her brother & sister come. I hear much of the days gone by.

December 24th

    Write to Mamma - walk round Parade, the meadows etc. Saw a well built by Sir Thomas A'Becket - to Mrs Cavit's to dinner - after, hear of appartments & take them - 3 furnished rooms - back to tea - then to Hotel.

   Christmas Eve - the bells ringing - The streets filled with people - a great noise. My 1st Christmas in Old England. I hope to be remembered by many at home & in our own little isle - as I have remembered them.

December 25th

   A beautiful morn - no sleep - Bells - bands of singers & noisy people about while at breakfast. Mr Abel's son Knapton came to tell us - they dine at 2:00. We are to be there - (Mr Abel is a schoolfellow of Pa's). We went to a fine old church All Saints which was prettily decorated with evergreens turned round the pillars with a little holly & "Glory to God in the Highest." The young man who read prayers was such a beautiful reader - hoped he would preach but the Vicar - an old man did so - a good sermon from "Rejoice evermore." He spoke of the joyous season - the happy meeting of families & explained how we ought to rejoice - a short walk then to Mr Abel's to dinner - Mr. Mrs, Miss & Master Abel - Mr Phillip Abel - Mr & Mrs Earle - spent such a pleasant time - Mr P is very amusing - he walked home with us at 11:00 - had many talks during the day about home - this has been quite unseasonable - fine clear & almost warm.

December 26th

    After breakfast move to our new lodging - then to Mrs Cavit's to dinner - meet cousins.

December 27th

    M. J. birthday write to her & Mamma - go with Misses Earle & Abel at Sepulchre Church - old - but beautiful - under repairs - said to be built in the time of Knights Templars. There are some fine arches & pillars dug out of the old walls - call at Mr Abel's - home to tea.

December 28th

   In morn with Mrs Cavitt to hear a Baptist to the Old. "Now also when I am old & grey-headed." Very impressive & encouraging. In afternoon to St Giles - an excellent sermon. "I even I am He that blotteth out etc" was so pleased with this Preacher - fine church. In eve to St Peters - this is a very old church.

December 29th

    Pa & I went with Mrs C to Kews, tea & supper - saw all family.

December 30th

   A troublesome cold - Pa & I walk to Kingsthorpe - many old fashioned buildings & farms here. Down lanes - across fields - over stiles - crossed to Racecourse then home - Went in eve to concert with Mrs & Miss Abel.

December 31st

    Cold still bad - Mr Abel & Pa go to Mrs Hensman's, another cousin. In afternoon I go with Miss Abel to convent - The door is opened by a portress who has the key on a chain attached to her belt. We ask for Sister Mildred - She comes back saying is sorry but we cannot see her today - might see Sister Winifred, who presently comes in & wishes to know if I am a friend of Miss Abel's - Talks very pleasantly to us - says we cannot go over the convent today as tomorrow is a feast or fast day - is sorry we did not go last week as they had a large Christmas tree - she goes to fetch some of the things over & in the meantime we examine the room - It is carpeted - table & chairs - a few pictures & a large cedar place like a wardrobe with green barege curtains before it, which we draw on one side & there see a confessional - the Priest's dress hanging in his division & a cat comfortably ensconced in the other. The Sister returns with many fancy articles - I buy bookmark & cushions. The we talk - she says she has not always been a R. Catholic & once would not have ventured to do what I had done. Miss A said "I am frightened & even shaking now - She said "do I frighten you?" We had a talk on many subjects - I said they put too much confidence in Man & believed the Priest could forgive - She said it was only while he was in the confessional that he could & then he had power given him, that they do not pray to the Virgin only say "Pray for us" as we would when parting from a friend. Of the Sacrament as the real body & blood of Christ could not He who can create by the same power enter the bread & wine. Spoke of Luther who after he had changed was not able to divulge one secret that was a miracle. Miss A asked her if she thought we should all go to Hell. She said she believed all those who doubted & were undecided about religion & who did not trouble to enquire or search for, would, but she would not say that of others - that would be left to God- She had been brought up a Baptist until 18, then by study & searching her Bible she had concluded that the Catholic was the true religion- Her parents were very strict - She was the only one who was a Catholic & that they were all very sorry about her, but she was happy - truly - so her soul was here chief concern & she would have to answer from that, so she had left all. Her occupation is teaching - She belongs to the Sisters of Notre Dame - they have many colleges in Belgium & in England. She was very agreeable - asked us to come again - they go to the Church in turns with the children - The Lady Superior is at Namur - she visits all the convents every 3 years & can remove them when she likes. This is the time for the Superior bo be in Retreat. No one speaks to her then. This is the last night in the year & we are I hope going to the Watch night service.

January 1st

    Went to Service in Gold St last night & enjoyed it so much. The Superintendent commenced by singing - prayer & sermon on "The Fashion of this world passeth away" then some gent gave an address - then the Minister we had heard on Sunday gave an excellent exhortation after silently kneeling until the clock had struck - sang "Come let us anew" but the page & hymn was given out & some time elapsed. I thought the old way of commencing at once was better. The last minister spoke of increasing congregations of these nights - & from the pulpit wished all a Happy New Year. An old gent whose pew we sat in wished me a Happy New Year & invited me to a seat in his pew the following Sunday.
    I thought of all I had left behind in dear old Tasmania - Did not go out in the morning - went in eve with Mrs Kew to a tea meeting, given by Rev Mr Prust & his wife to the members of their church & to which I was kindly invited - enjoyed it very much.

January 2nd

   In afternoon walk across the meadows to the Queen's Cross - here the body of Queen Eleanor is said to have rested . The cross is something like one at Oxford but much defaced. This & the one at Waltham are said to be the only 2 remaining now - home - tired.

January 3rd

    Go with Mrs Cavitt to cemetery which is very nicely laid out with walks , flowers & shrubs - many fine vaults. A little church in the ground overgrown with ivy - read of one who had died in New Zealand - another ST Kilda. There was one pretty little scroll that I liked much - a bird in the top leaning over with the scroll in his mouth on which was "The Lord gave & the Lord hath taken away - Blessed be the name of the Lord." I would like such as that over our precious spot. We heard the sound from the Lunatic Asylum just opposite - It was a saddening time - We also passed the Hospital on our walk - there is another a short distance off for small pox - Called at Mrs Abel's & taste cowslip wine.

January 4th

   Rain - Papa's cong'n bad - not out - I go to Chapel - Gold St - hear same minister - to the Covenant Service in the afternoon & to Mr Prust in Eve hear Mr Burns from Bristol College.

January 5th

    Not out till afternoon - Mr P. Abel comes to spend the Eve with us.

January 7th

   To Mrs Hensman's to say I would not go to tea & did stay saw many of the family - The old gent is a solicitor - very eccentric, 2 sons - same. Mr John saw me home.

January 8th

   Calls - & walk in meadows with Polly.

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