This article came from the Chronicle published April 1986.  Page 90-91


Book Review: Travel Diaries from Kingston Manor, Yeovil 1882-1886.

Reviewed By: Moira Gittos


Book Review: Travel Diaries from Kingston Manor, Yeovil 1882-1886. Ed. Edith H. Whetham. Obtainable from Yeovil Museum, £3.50.

The book has been compiled from the diaries kept by Elizabeth Bide Dampier and her brother, William Dampier-Bide, during their travels in the 1880’s. It has been edited by their grand-neice. Neither Elizabeth (Bessie) nor William (Willie) married and they lived for most of their lives in Kingston Manor. During the years covered by this book, they undertook a five month long tour of Egypt, Palestine and Greece, returning overland via-Austria, and a two year journey which took. them through India, Ceylon, Burma, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Tasmania, Hong Kong, China, Japan, U.S.A. and Canada. The conditions they encountered on these ambitious ventures were variable. arid often primitive. In Palestine they camped – the sleeping tents were complete with iron bedsteads and wash stands!, Bessie’s and Willie’s interests were wide, they were keen plant collectors, well informed on antiquities and observers of the scenery, industry and engineering which they encountered. At a loose end one day in Bombay they decided to tour the dockyard. The diaries are leavened throughout by their dry comments, for instance on items offered for sale in Egypt,

“Friday Feb. 17th. Left our, Boat at 8.30 AM and crossed to the West Bank…… At this place every man, woman and child had turned out to offer antiquities (some very modern) …..”

Their many adventures included a boat grounded and holed on the Nile, from which they were rescued by Count Esterhazy. In San Francisco, they witnessed a parade of Civil War veterans. The “Diaries” provide a very entertaining; account of travel and conditions abroad at a time when the map was largely pink.

N.B. All funds raised by the sale of the Diaries will be used for the restoration of the Dampier-Bide portraits, on loan to Yeovil Museum.