Place: Canterbury, 12-13 June 1834
The landowner and diarist Ann Walker of Lightcliffe in Yorkshire passed through Canterbury (and Kent) with Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, Halifax on their way to France and Switzerland in the summer of 1834. Their relationship and (not legally recognised) marriage is the subject of the recent BBC/Lookout Point TV drama series “Gentleman Jack”.. Although her stay in Canterbury was short, Ann Walker wrote a long account of it in her recently discovered and fully transcribed journal. Anne Lister also noted details of their stay in Canterbury (and Kent) in her own diary.
On 12 June 18341 Ann Walker and Anne Lister arrived in Canterbury late at night, in their carriage, with two of their servants. Ann notes in her diary how they missed out on seeing Rochester Cathedral on the way due to rain. They booked rooms at The Fountain in St Margaret's Street, which had been claimed to be one of the oldest coaching inns in the country, but was sadly destroyed in air raids in 1942.
On 13 June 18342 Ann Walker wrote a detailed account of the day. In the morning Anne and Ann visited Canterbury Cathedral, in the afternoon strolled down Dane John Gardens, briefly saw Canterbury castle, and climbed up Dane John Mound.
Canterbury Cathedral is described in great detail in Ann Walker’s journal, which includes many historical facts about its chapels, aisles, shrines, tombs, and monuments dedicated to former archbishops.3 Judging by the similarities of syntax and detail, some sentences in her journal might have been copied or adapted from A Walk In and About the City of Canterbury,4 a book compiled by William Gostling, which had seen several editions by 1834.
Similarly, she provides a detailed account – including extensive information on its dimensions – of the promenade in the Dane John Gardens,5 which was created between 1790-1803 when the gardens were gifted to the town by Alderman James Simmons, and to whom the memorial on the top of the mound was erected in 1803 by public subscription.6 The Norman castle, which unsurprisingly “has no appearance of Roman antiquity” is also described.7 Afterwards Ann Walker praises Canterbury shops, which were at the time famous for their trade in silk and brawn, and buys some oranges.
After a stroll down Canterbury streets, Walker and Lister finally left for Dover, where they took lodgings at the Ship Inn, which, as Walker mentions, had just changed hands (passing from a Mr. C. Wright to a Mr. Worthington). Before dinner, Ann Walker played the inn’s piano, and the next morning the two women took passage on the packet boat “Ferret” to Calais.8
On their return journey from the Continent, Ann stopped writing in her journal once they arrived in Calais. We, however, do know from Lister's diary that after their return to England on the packet boat 'Firefly' on 26 August,9 they passed through Dover and Canterbury without stopping. They spent a night in Rochester (at Wright’s Hotel) on their way to London, before ultimately travelling to their home – Shibden Hall in Halifax.
The In Search of Ann Walker research collaborative works on bringing to light all aspects of Ann's life.