Whitham Common: 26th April

Monday, from Stamford to Whitham Common, 12 miles. This is a very elegant inn, 100 miles from London. A large farm belongs to the inn; a great part of the ground evidently appears to have been taken and enclosed at no great distance of time. Here they sow a great deal of sainfoin, which they very much approve of; they have also a good many turnips; they speculate a good deal on farming, and have altered the face of the country of late by appearance. All the hay in the country is made from old ground, very little new sown down anywhere I have seen compared to our own country. They have a very mixed, bad breed of cattle a kind of mixture of every breed and sort. They here work two horses abreast, and more like Scotch farming. The roads are rather what may be called loanings, as there are generally 30 feet of grass, without the fences on each side; the road is abused by the feet of droved cattle, and fences but very middling.


From Whitham Common to Grantham, 10 miles. In this stage the country is more hill and dale than on this side of London. After riding a few miles across a little river which runs to the east, for three miles on either side the ground has a very small rise, and is all laid out in small farms, well farmed as any I have yet seen; the soil is agreeable, and can be turned to any purpose. Upon inquiry, I found they had leases here for twenty years; the very face of the country shows what men will do when they have any certainty of enjoying the fruits of their industry. In many places I have passed, I found they had no leases, but let at the mercy of the proprietor. In general, however, they are not changeable nor severe landlords; at some times when there is a change of lairds, there are often changes of masters. On going on the road, we passed through a long, neat, well-built village, where there is a very high steeple and spire; it is what they call a township; they have a large tract of arable land, one quarter they lease in baulks, on many of the ridges lies a crop, the declivity one above another, like terraces they certainly are, still they like their own method, and feed their cows and horses on these large baulks.


From Grantham to Newark-upon-Trent, 14 miles. This is a pretty large town, well built – all brick walls. The river runs by the back of the town, to the foot of their stable yards or gardens. A great many small craft pass here up the river, by way of the canal, as far as Burton in Staffordshire; they come up as far as this from the eastern ocean with wood, iron, and other Baltic articles; few more agreeable situations anywhere than Newark. I suppose it to be twice as large as Kelso, a very fine bridge over the Trent; here the large ships discharge below; the small lighters go up the river; several very large inns here. From the sea at Hull to Burton will be 130 miles; sometimes the canal by locks leaves the river for a mile on either side, and in floody times is quite overflowed, but this is not often; it is a rich, marshy land, feeds amazingly, and great crops of hay taken off it. A few miles back we came over a hill, the situation very like Lilliardsedge; we see to the north a large tract of low ground, all subject to flooding, but it does little hurt, being only stagnant water; this country in dry seasons feeds large stocks of sheep, but in wet seasons they all rot and die. They have the land at 10s an acre average, besides tithes, &c, but from its situation being low and level, very little improvement can be made upon it.


From Newark to Carleton Inn, 7 miles. All this way, after crossing the river, there is as level a road as I ever saw, always at about a mile distant from the river. This tract seems in the possession of different proprietors, all of whom farm well, and seem to vie with each other. The ground is well laid out in regular enclosures, very fine hedges, and a good many stripes of plantings which are thriving well. Here the New England fir flourishes, which is a good account of both soil and climate. I measured the average shoots of the Scots firs at this date, 3 inches, which, I suppose, is far before us at home. Here are two very large inns, my landlord a very intelligent farmer. They are very particular in the breed of their sheep. I never saw better ones. I saw about twelve waggons drawn by four horses each, all loaded with sticks for hop poles, going to the east. They were then to be shipped for the Kent plantations. They grow on the marshes up the river, and bring a high price. This is a great article for the farmers who have long leases, planting and cutting. They are of every kind of wood, cut over and over, and grow as a kind of underwood.

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