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Anne Lister’s Visit To Dolgellau

Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack

Anne Listers Diary Entry Regarding Her Visit to Dolgellau in 1822.

I have edited it to make it more readable. A full transcript is available on this page.

Sunday 21st July, 1822

Almost ricked off the road, when, at the end of the first four miles the mountains began to approach each other. The Mawddach rushed along its rocky bed on our right and the scenery became wooded and very fine. By and by crossed the river and then had it all along on our left. Several little streams rushed into the river, one forming a beautiful cascade close on our right and then rushed through a bridge under the road. The wood, the water, the stupendous mountain ranges one each side forming a landscape surely not to be surpassed!

The town of Dolgellau finely situated and opened upon us beautifully. Indeed the whole of the last eight miles of this road baffles description. We have seen nothing to compare with it, the coming down upon Beddgelert is very fine, as also through Mr Oakley’s woods down to Tan-y-Bwlch, but I give the preference to the last eight miles of today and think no one should visit North Wales with travelling this road.

Monday 22nd July, 1822

Capital lodgings rooms, good bed and slept well. Breakfast at ten, the worst breakfast I have had because the butter strong and not good and the coffee bad or perhaps the boiled milk a little inclined to be sourish. Rained all the night sometimes very heavily and rainy morning that at once we gave up all thought of going to Barmouth or doing anything but make the best of our way home. My aunt’s bowels better this morning but she looks ill. Drws-y-Nant Inn, ale-house by the road side, W. Jones eight miles from Dolgelle. Stoped here to wait the horses.

Beautiful drive as far as here, chiefly through wood, the Wnion river accompanying us from Dolgellau and foaming on our right, it forms several pretty cascades particularly one under a bridge perhaps a mile or two from here.

Just before leaving Dolgellau, for 20 minutes walked round the town. Certainly a poor place according to English ideas, the cottages miserable, though apparently of the better sort for North Wales. Mud floors, the smell of the peat fires is strong and disagreeable to those not accustomed to it and the large masses of the dark mountain stone used for building, the unevenness of them in all but the better kind of houses filled up with lesser fragments give the buildings an unusually dark rude appearance which, with broken windows, completes the shabby look of the cottages in North Wales. But the fine blue roofing slate very commonly used is remarkably neat and seems oddly contrasted with the rest.

There is a sort of square (market place) at Dolgellau, on one side the Angel Inn with a penthouse or covered way in front, facing a row of poor-looking cottages with a covered way also in front. At another side the “Caravansery” or Red Lion Inn, and opposite to it the Ship Inn, apparently a new erection and next best inn to the Golden Lion. Close to the church to which you turn to the right on entering the town from Tan-y-Bwlch. This inn consists of two capital erections (for a Welsh town) where the inns seem generally the best houses, on each side of the street fronting each other. The one to our left as we arrived has the sign, here everything is cooked and carried across the street to the other house in which we were the former being full, but our part had a covered door-way supported on two slender pillars and I think cut the best appearance

The people very civil, woman waiter, steady elderly woman who had lived there many years. Nice steady elderly chambermaid, stopt a minute at a small stationers shop in the square at Dolgellau. A doctoring book in Welsh and English, description of Dolgellau and Cader Idris, English testament, map of North Wales in a case, 2 or 3 Welsh pamphlets in the window.

As we entered the town, near the bridge on the left a handsomish new erection nearly finished for a town or county hall. In the walls of this as of the Golden Lion and Ship Inn, the large masses of stone cut regularly and look well enough, though dark and heavy. The clouds came over the mountains and we feared a continuance of the rain, we had had only a drop or two for a moment once or twice, and seem to have left it behind us, yet the clouds have quite hid the highest summits of the mountains. Yet we have had no good view of Cader Idris. Left Drws y Nant at 3.45.

Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack
Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack.