Travel Writers first-hand accounts of the Stratford sub Castle area
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The report of John Leland, the “Father of Local History”, of his visit to Stratford and Old Sarum sometime around 1540 in his “Itineraries”.
John Leland was a Tudor antiquarian and a chaplain to Henry VIII and is known as the “father of local history”. In 1535 he was made prebendary to Wilton Abbey till its dissolution in 1539 when the land was given to Sir William Herbert, later Earl of Pembroke, who built Wilton House on its site. He was given a Salisbury Cathedral prebend (a benefice for a prebendary) in 1543, lost his sanity by 1547 and died, still insane, in 1552.
The Dissolution of the (Abbeys and) Monasteries prompted him to prepare an inventory of books held in their and other libraries and he later combined this with his magnum opus on the antiquities of England and Wales researched in his “Itineraries”
In “The Laboriouse Journey and Serche of JOHAN LEYLANDE FOR ENGLANDES ANTIQUITEES, Geven of hym as a Newe Yeares Gyfte to King HENRY the viii. in the xxxvii Yeare of his Raygne” he writes of his visit to Stratford and Old Sarum sometime in 1539-1543:
The cite of Old-Saresbyri standing on an hille is distant from the new a mile by north weste, and is in cumpace half a mile and more.
This thing hath beene auncient and exceding strong : but syns the building of New-Saresbyri it went totally to ruine.
Sum think that lak of water caussid the inhabitantes to re-linquisch the place; yet were ther many welles of swete water.
Sum say, that after that in tyme of civile warres that castelles and waullid townes wer kept that the castellanes of Old-Saresbyri and the chanons could not agre, insomuch that the castellanes apon a tyme prohibited them cumming home from Procession and Rogation to re-entre the town. Wherapon the bisshop and they consulting togither at the last began a chirch on their own propre soyle: and then the people resortid strait to New-Saresbyri and buildid ther : and then in continuaunce were a gr[eat] numbre of the houses of Old-Sare[sbyriJ pullid doun and set up at New-Saresbyri.
Osmund Erie of Dorchestre and after Bisshop of Sares-byri erectid his cathedrale chirch ther in the west part of the town: and also his palace. Wherof now no token is but only a chapelle of our Lady yet standing and mainteynid.
Ther was a paroch of the Holy Rode beside in Old-Sares-byri : and an other over the est gate wherof yet sum tokens remayne.
I do not perceyve that ther were any mo gates in Old- Wiltshire. Saresbyri then 2, one by est, and an other by west. Withoute eche of these gates was a fair suburbe. And yn the est suburbe was a paroch chirch of S. John : and ther yet is a chapelle stand inge.
The ryver is a good quarter of a mile from Old-Saresbyri and more where it is nerest onto it, and that is at Stratford village, south from it.
*There hath beene houses in tyme of mynd inhabitid in the est suburbe of Old-Saresbyri : but [now] ther is not one house nother [with]in Old-Saresbyri or without in[habite]d.
Ther was a right fair and strong castelle within Old-Saresbyri longging to the Erlee of Saresbyri especially the Longespees.
I reede that one Gualterus was the first Erie after the conquest of it.
Much notable ruinus building of this castelle yet ther re-maynith.
The diche that environid the old toun was a very deepe and strong thynge.
Erie and Erlee mean Earl. The Holy Rode means Holy Rood or originally pole, (think of Black Rod’s staff in Parliament), a relic believed to be from Christ’s Cross. Neither Holy Rood church remains. The A345 runs over the site of the Holy Cross Church he mentions, just outside the east gate. St John’s Church lay the other side of the (Old) Castle Road, between the roads to Amesbury and Ford, now a corner of Old Sarum Pig Farm. He tells us there had been occupied houses within living memory ie within the outer bailey to the east of the inner but by the time he visited no one lived within either.
Leland recorded bridges meticulously so in not mentioning one at Stratford we can assume around 1540 there was none. He wrote:
The Course of Avon Ryver.
Avon Ryver risith by north est not far from Wolphe-Haul yn Wyleshir. The first notable bridg that it cummith to is at Uphaven.
Thens a 4. miles to Ambrosbyri, a and there is a bridge.
Thens to Woddeford village a 4. miles, standing on the right ripe, and Newtoun village on the lift ripe.
The Bisshopes of Saresbyri had a propre maner place at Wodford. Bisshop Shakeston pullid it doun by cause it was sumwhat yn ruine.
Thens to Fisscharton b bridg of vj. stone arches a 3.miles.
Thens a very litle lower to Crane bridge of a vj. arches of stone.
Thens a forowgh lenghte lower to Harneham bridge of vj.gret arches of stone, a mayne and stately thing.
Ripe means bank (of a river) and riparian rights refer to the water use privileges accorded to landowners alongside the water. Newtoun is now Netton. Wolf Hall, the home of the Seymour family, took its name from the Wolf in their family motto and is now famous because of the Hilary Mantel novel. The current Wolfhall Manor is on the site of the Seymour Manor, just east of Burbage.
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John Aubrey was a Wiltshire born (1627) antiquarian and early archaeologist. Fifty-six chalk pits at Stonehenge are named after him (though were not discovered by him). He died (1687) shortly after his Natural History of Wiltshire was published, containing his account of Old (and New) Sarum. He visited Old Sarum in 1660.
"THE celebrated antiquity of Stonehenge, as also that stupendious but unheeded antiquity at Aubury [i], &c. I affirme to have been temples, and built by the Britons. See my Templa Druidum [ii]. Here being so much good stone in this countrey, no doubt but that the Romans had here, as well as in other parts, good buildings. But time hath left us no vestigia of their architecture unlesse that little that remains of the castle of Old Sarum, where the mortar is as hard as a stone. This must have been a most august structure, for it is situated upon a hill. When the high walles were standing, flanked at due distances with towers, about seven in all, and the vast keep (arx) [iii] in the middle crowned with another high fortification, it must needs afford a most noble view over the plaines.
(The following account I had from the right reverend, learned, and industrious Seth Ward [iv], Lord Bishop of Sarum, who had taken the paines to peruse all the old records of the church, that had been clung together and untoucht for perhaps two hundred yeares.)
'Within this castle of Old Sarum, on the east side, stood the Cathedrall church; the tuft [v] and scite [vi] is yet discernable: which being seated so high was so obnoxious to the weather, that when the wind did blow they could not heare the priest say masse. But this was not the only inconvenience. The soldiers of the castle and the priests could never agree; and one day, when they were gone without the castle in procession, the soldiers kept them out all night, or longer. Whereupon the Bishop, being much troubled, cheered them up as well as he could, and told them he would study to accommodate them better. In order thereunto he rode severall times to the Lady Abbesse at Wilton [vii] to have bought or exchanged a piece of ground of her ladyship to build a church and houses for the priests. A poor woman at Quidhampton, that was spinning in the street, sayd to one of her neighbours, "I marvell what the matter is that the bishop makes so many visits to my lady; I trow [viii] he intends to marry her." Well, the bishop and her ladyship did not conclude about the land, and the bishop dreamt that the Virgin Mary came to him, and brought him to or told him of Merrifield [ix]; she would have him build his church there and dedicate it to her. Merrifield [ix] was a great field or meadow where the city of New Sarum stands, and did belong to the Bishop, as now the whole city belongs to him.'
This was about the latter end of King John's reigne [x], and the first grant or diploma that ever King Henry the Third [xi] signed was that for the building of our Ladies church at Salisbury [xii]. The Bishop sent for architects from Italy, and they did not onely build that famous structure, and the close, but layd out the streetes of the whole city: which run parallell one to another, and the market-place-square in the middle: whereas in other cities they were built by chance, and at severall times.
I know but one citie besides in England that was designed and layd out at once as this was; and that is Chichester: where, standing at the market-crosse, you may see the four gates of the city. They say there that it was built about the same time that New Salisbury was, and had some of those architects. The town of Richelieu was built then by the great Cardinall [xiii], when he built his august chasteau there.
Upon the building of this cathedrall and close the castle of Old Sarum went to wrack, and one may see in the walles of the close abundance of stones, finely carved, that were perhaps part of the church there. After the church and close were built, the citizens had their freestone, &c. from thence. And in Edward the Sixth's time [xiv], the great house of the Earle of Pembroke, at Wilton, was built with the mines of it. About 1660 I was upon it. There was then remaining on the south side some of the walles of the great gate; and on the north side there was some remaines of a bottome of a tower; but the incrustation of freestone was almost all gone: a fellow was then picking at that little that was left. 'Tis like enough by this time they have digged all away."
[i] Aubury is Avebury and not the author
[ii] Templa Druidum is discussion by Aubrey on Stonehenge, Avebury and other “Druid” temples in his book Monumenta Britannica. The Druids were here before the Romans as Caesar described them. Aubrey was correct in thinking these sites were pre Roman. At the time it was believed the world dated from (was created in) about 4000 BC.
[iii] Arx is Latin for citadel, particularly one on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. Plural arces
[iv] Seth Ward b 1617, appointed to see of Sarum 1667, d 1689
[v] Tuft means mound here
[vi] Scite. The site of the cathedral was subsequently lost, then to reappear as a scorch mark a hot 19th C summer. It is to the west not east within the castle though.
[vii] Wilton Abbey had fallen victim to the Dissolution in 1539. Nothing remains of it, and Wilton House stands on the site. It was granted to Sir William Herbert, (later) the Earl of Pembroke. The Abbesses 1200-1220 were Aceline and Margaret. They had to provide knights to fight for the king when asked.
[viii] Trow is to trust or believe
[ix] Merrifield is an open or pleasant pasture
[x] John (Lackland) Born 1166 Accession to throne 1199 died 1216
[xi] Henry III (of Winchester) b 1206 a 1216 d 1272
[xii] Our Ladies Church. Salisbury Cathedral used to be the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was built 1220 to 1258.
[xiii] Cardinal Richelieu b 1585 appointed a cardinal 1622 d 1642
[xiv] Edward VI b 1537 a 1547 d 1553
Aubrey, John. 1686 THE NATURAL HISTORY OF WILTSHIRE Part II Chapter VI Architecture Version collated and edited by John Britton 1847 available here Project Gutenberg Ebook, 4934.txt
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Samuel Pepys , travelling from Hungerford, passed Old Sarum in the dark on his way to Salisbury on 10th June 1668.
His diary  entry was:
"So all over the plain by the sight of the steeple (the plain high and low) to Salisbury by night; but before I came to the town, I saw a great fortification, and there light, and to it and in it; and find it prodigious, so as to fright me to be in it all alone at that time of night, it being dark. I understand since it to be that that is called Old Sarum.
Come to the George Inne, where lay in a silk bed; and very good diet. To supper; then to bed."
It looks like there was a light to and in Old Sarum but he means they alighted from their coach to visit it. It must have been late as it was a June day.
Prodigious then meant more than just large or multiple, it implied spooky or unnatural, a nuance lost today. He is referring to the earthworks.
The George Inne was a coaching inn on the High Street dating from 1364. Pepys thought it exorbitant. Its name derived from the Guild of St George, formed in 1306 by the Mayor and Corporation and is retained today as the Old George Mall. Its entrance is now the entrance to the mall . The Royal George Inn on Bedwin St did not yet exist. He was accompanied by his wife Elisabeth, their maid and his mistress Deborah Willett, Betty Turner and Will Hewer . The following night on the way to Bath to visit Deborah’s uncle, Deborah and Betty shared a truckle bed with each other and the room with the Pepys in a little inn somewhere before Beckington. Both beds were lousy .
 Halys, John. 1666 Portrait of Pepys https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Pepys
 Pepys, Samuel. His diary entry of 10th and 11th June 1668
 Boyle, Brian, 2011 as a secondary source https://www.closedpubs.co.uk/wiltshire/salisbury_george.html
 Tomalin, Claire. 2002 Samuel Pepys The Unequalled Self.
There were two ladies named Betty Turner in the diaries, one the daughter of Jane (née Pepys), a cousin, one the daughter of Elizabeth, a Navy Office neighbour. (note 20 p 426) This was more likely the former. Will Hewer was Pepys’ servant and clerk, ten years younger than he, nephew of a colleague Robert Blackborne, secretary to the naval commissioners and customs and son of a stationer (p121)
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Celia Fiennes from NewtonToney, wrote of the cities Sarum old and new when she visited Salisbury in the late 17thC
Celia Fiennes was born in 1662 at Newton Toney, the daughter of one of Cromwell’s colonels.
It was exceptional in the 17th century to:
Travel long distances just for the sake of travel as a tourist. Pilgrimages and the inns and signposts that served them were already in decline in these Puritan times.
Visit every county in England
And as a woman (and so riding side saddle)
And unmarried (she never married) and with no male companion (she had female servants with her).
She wrote of her travels, but was not published in her lifetime. Her travel notes were not published till the 19th century.
She visited Salisbury between William (III) landing at Brixham, Devon, on 5 November 1688 and a recorded subsequent visit in 1698.
"From Newtontony I went to Sarum 8 miles which is a Citty and Bishop's Seat, pretty Large town Streetes broad but through ye midst of them runs a little rivulet of water which makes ye Streetes not so clean or so easye to pass in, they have stepps to Cross it and many open places for horses and Carriages to Cross itt - itt takes off Much from the beauty of ye streetes - the Cause of it was from the burning of the old town called Salsebury which was on a hill about a mile off this and it was so drye and farre from springs that it was destroyed by fire and only the ruines of the Castle is to be seen like a high wall with fortifications."
It was the first Sarum Cathedral that burned down and not the castle nor whole town and both cathedral and castle had wells. The reason for the cathedral’s and city’s move downhill was more complex than insufficient water and even that cause was not for firefighting. The water conduits along Salisbury’s streets were not primarily designed to protect against the same supposed fate of inflagration as the old city.
She goes on to describe Salisbury in greater detail.
It is possible she was the “fine (? Fiennes) lady upon a white horse” who Rode “a Cock-Horse to Banbury Cross” (Broughton Castle at Banbury being the Fiennes family seat). The actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes and perhaps less surprisingly the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes are from the same family (her full name was Celia Mary Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes).
Photo. Memorial to her in Cheshire.
Her text from Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (opening page) http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/fiennes/saddle/saddle.html
Banbury Link from Celia Fiennes by Philippa Gregory 2020 https://www.philippagregory.com/news/celia-fiennes
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The Account of Daniel Defoe of his visit to Old and New Sarum in the 18thC
Daniel Defoe like John Leland two centuries before him actually visited the places he recorded. After novels like Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, his three volume travel book, Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain was published between 1724 and 1727. His account of the Old and New Cities of Sarum appears in Letter 3 part 2
“………..we come to Salisbury; the vast flocks of sheep, which one every where sees upon these downs, and the great number of those flocks, is a sight truly worth observation; 'tis ordinary for these flocks to contain from 3 to 5000 in a flock; and several private farmers hereabouts have two or three such flocks.
But 'tis more remarkable still; how a great part of these downs comes by a new method of husbandry, to be not only made arable, which they never were in former days, but to bear excellent wheat, and great crops too, tho' otherwise poor barren land, and never known to our ancestors to be capable of any such thing; nay, they would perhaps have laugh'd at any one that would have gone about to plough up the wild downs and hills, where the sheep were wont to go: But experience has made the present age wiser, and more skilful in husbandry; for by only folding the sheep upon the plow'd lands, those lands, which otherwise are barren, and where the plow goes within three or four inches of the solid rock of chalk, are made fruitful, and bear very good wheat, as well as rye and barley: I shall say more of this when I come to speak of the same practice farther in the country.
As we pass'd this plain country, we saw a great many old camps, as well Roman as British, and several remains of the ancient inhabitants of this kingdom, and of their wars, battles, entrenchments, encampments, buildings, and other fortifications, which are indeed very agreeable to a traveller, that has read any thing of the history of the country. Old Sarum is as remarkable as any of these, where there is a double entrenchment, with a deep graffe, or ditch, to either of them; the area about 100 yards in diameter, taking in the whole crown of the hill, and thereby rendering the ascent very difficult: Near this, there is one farm house, which is all the remains I could see of any town in or near the place, for the encampment has no resemblance of a-town; and yet this is called the borough of Old Sarum, and sends two members to Parliament, who, those members can justly say, they represent, would be hard for them to answer.
Some will have it, that the old city of Sorbiodunum, or Salisbury, stood here, and was afterwards, for I know not what reasons, remov'd to the low marshy grounds, among the rivers, where it now stands: But as I see no authority for it, other than mere tradition, I believe my share of it, and take it ad referendum.
Salisbury itself is indeed a large and pleasant city; tho' I do not think it at all the pleasanter for that which they boast so much of; namely, the water running thro' the middle of every street, or that it adds any thing to the beauty of the place, but just the contrary; it keeps the streets always dirty, full of wet and filth, and weeds, even in the middle of summer.
The city of Salisbury has two remarkable manufactures carried on in it, and which employ the poor of great part of the country round; namely, fine flannels, and long cloths for the Turkey trade, call'd Salisbury Whites: The people of Salisbury are gay and rich, and have a flourishing trade; and there is a great deal of good manners and good company among them; I mean, among the citizens, besides what is found among the gentlemen; for there are many good families in Salisbury, besides the citizens.” 
Folding of sheep means moving them from pastures by day to manure arable land at night. This is a key part of bedwork or floated meadows and the sheep corn cycle farming system. He describes this as new but it was in use locally in the century before. It grew in popularity in the 18th century as, although it was labour intensive in moving the sheep, the rewards and increased productivity, of the sediment, trace elements, nutrients, aeration, temperature were great and could be moved from the grasses of the meadows to arable crops and so onto horses, cattle and humans.
Graff(e) is a ditch, trench, or canal used in fortification especially as a moat and etymologically linked to grave.
As he describes a single occupied building, the “farm house” it must have been the Old Castle Inn. It may have been called the Old Castle House then but it is thought an inn had stood on that site since the 12thC  and that he took refreshments there. 
ad referendum means for referral or subject to agreement
Turkey trade meant trade with the Levant and the Ottoman market. Woollens were shipped out by the Turkey merchants. The poultry bird acquired its name from them.
“Romans” is used very loosely as referring to something that was very old, there being little concept of cultures that long predated the Romans. It was known that they built temples, forts and racecourses and that they came to Britain so was not unreasonable to assume that Old Sarum was a Roman fort, Stonehenge a temple and the cursus a racetrack.
 Daniel Defoe “Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain” 1724-27 Letter 3 part 2
 Historic England https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1258431
 'Stratford-sub-Castle', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6, ed. Elizabeth Crittall (London, 1962), pp. 199-213. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol6/pp199-213 [accessed 27 September 2020].
Further reading on the village website / history section
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The visit of Samuel Curwen (British Loyalist in exile from American Revolutionaries) to Old Sarum 1776
Samuel Curwen was born (1715) and died (1802) in Salem, Massachusetts and spent nine years of political exile in England. He had served the crown by fighting for the British at the Siege of Louisburg 1745 and subsequently as Judge of Admiralty for the New England provinces. He declared his political sympathy in the title of “The Journal of Samuel Curwen, Loyalist.”
Dickens described him as “altogether an excellent example of the class of men out of whom the fathers and founders of that great republic sprang” and he received a pension from the British Government.
He wrote of his visit to Old Sarum in 1776…………
Chapter II pages 64-65
"Tuesday, July 16. Left home at an early hour in the Salisbury coach. On Hounslow heath, through which we passed, three monuments of human folly and divine justice—as many gibbets with the remains of so many wretches, hanging in chains;
The road from Wallop to Salisbury is delightfully pleasant, and hard as a garden gravel walk; at four miles' distance is to be seen the spire of the cathedral, supposed to be the highest in England. The land rising gradually from the plain till the sight is bounded by a ridge of high hills, from the rising filled with enclosures, rows and slumps of trees, and many farm-houses; alighted at Salisbury at seven o'clock in the evening Salisbury,
July 17. Started for Stonehenge, a distance of eleven miles, the first five through highly cultivated grounds. At the distance of three miles from the city, on the right, is to be seen an eminence apparently of an oval figure, lying beyond the improved grounds, enclosed with hedges, etc, which seems to be raised by art, or formed into its present shape or figure, at least, by the hands and industry of man; the ascent to the plain on which its base stands is above the level of the improvements on the either side ; it is an easy slope at an angle of 45°, and measures round one mile; on the rim of the first slope are cornfields; within is a slope of the same figure as the lower, rising nearly to the same height; in a plain on one side is planted a small group of trees; this spot in former days was the site of Old Sarum, containing about sixty acres, unless I am misinformed, without one house on it, now entitled to send two members to parliament. On the lower plain, and bordering on the slope, stands one house, where dwells a family supplying the curious who visit there with punch, wine, and tea. The view under this long range of hills presents a most pleasing and variegated prospect."
As Old Sarum was on his right travelling to Stonehenge he was travelled either along the turnpike from Fisherton to Shrewton and on then across the plain to Redhorn Hill, Urchfont or through Stratford and along the Woodford Valley. His punch, wine and tea was taken at Old Castle House, then as now an inn.
When he visited Old Sarum he would have been unaware of events at home two weeks earlier, the Declaration of Independence by his own colony of Massachusetts and twelve others on July 4th 1776 in Philadelphia, from where he had fled he previous year. He would have been unhappy to know of it, as a loyalist,
"For my native country I feel a filial fondness; her follies I lament, her misfortunes I pity; her good I ardently wish, and to be restored to her embraces is the warmest of my desires," S. Curwen, Jan. 10, 1780. Page 831.
Journal And Letters Of The Late Samuel Curwen, Judge Of Admiralty, Etc., An American Refugee In England, From 1775 To 1784, Comprising Remarks On The Prominent Men And Measures Of That Period.
To Which Are Added, Biographical Notices Of Many American Loyalists And Other Eminent Persons.
By George Atkinson Ward, Member Of The New-York Historical Society. New-York
C. S. Francis And Co., 252 Broadway. Boston. J. H. Francis, 128 Washington-Street 1842.
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An account by William Cobbett of his 1826 visit to Stratford and Old Sarum
William Cobbett visited Stratford (Dean) and Old Sarum on 30th August 1826 but was not impressed.
"When I came down to Stratford Dean I wanted to go across to Laverstoke, which lay to my left of Salisbury; but just on the side of the road here, at Stratford Dean, rises the Accursed Hill . It is very lofty. It was originally a hill in an irregular sort of sugar-loaf shape: but it was so altered by the Romans, or by somebody, that the upper three-quarter parts of the hill now, when seen from a distance, somewhat resemble three cheeses , laid one upon another; the bottom one a great deal broader than the next, and the top one like a Stilton cheese, in proportion to a Gloucester one. I resolved to ride over this Accursed Hill.
"As I was going up a field towards it, I met a man going home from work. I asked how he got on. He said, very badly. I asked him what was the cause of it. He said the hard times. "What times," said I; "was there ever a finer summer, a finer harvest, and is there not an old wheat-rick in every farmyard?" "Ah!" said he, "they make it bad for poor people, for all that." "They?" said I "who is they?" He was silent. "Oh, no, no! my friend," said I, "it is not they ; it is that Accursed Hill that has robbed you of the supper that you ought to find smoking on the table when you get home." I gave him the price of a pot of beer, and on I went, leaving the poor dejected assemblage of skin and bone to wonder at my words.
The hill is very steep, and I dismounted and led my horse up. Being as near to the top as I could conveniently get, I stood a little while reflecting, not so much on the changes which that hill had seen, as on the changes, the terrible changes, which, in all human probability, it had yet to see , and which it would have greatly helped to produce . It was impossible to stand on this accursed spot without swelling with indignation against the base and plundering and murderous sons of corruption. I have often wished, and I, speaking out loud, expressed the wish now; "May that man perish for ever and ever, who, having the power, neglects to bring to justice the perjured, the suborning, the insolent and perfidious miscreants, who openly sell their country's rights and their own souls."
Ride Down The Valley Of The Avon In Wiltshire (1826) From Rural Rides. William Cobbett, page 347
Text and drawing from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Rural Rides, by William Cobbett
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