The English have been travellers for centuries. In Chaucer's day pilgrimages were made to Jerusalem and to Spain. During the reign of Elizabeth I, many voyages of discovery were taken to all parts of the world. But in the 17th and 18th centuries what was to become known as the "grand tour" was taking place. A gentleman was not considered an educated man unless he had travelled for some time, often several years, through the countries of continental Europe. These trips followed an itinerary which became a standard route: London to Dover, a boat to Calais or Dieppe and then a coach to Paris. From Paris he went through Switzerland to Italy where Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Venice and of course Rome were visited. The return trip could be taken through Germany or Spain, but often just repeated the outgoing journey. Individual travellers added variations such as side trips to Holland, to outlying parts of France, and extensive trips through Germany.
The main reason for these travels, at least in the beginning, was an educational one: to see the ruins of ancient Rome, to meet the people and learn their history and customs, to learn their language, and then return home a more cultured and educated gentleman. Later pleasure combined with the educational aspects to make the travelling even more enjoyable. Bad roads, unclean inns, back-breaking carriages, sea-sickness, and bandits are just a few of the deprivations encountered through the years.
The books exhibited here were written by those who had travelled to the continent and who during their trips had made notes and sometimes sketches along the way. Note the wealth of information crammed into the some what elaborate titles. Our thanks to the following for supplying the quotations appearing inside: John Locke, Some thoughts concerning education, 1699; Francis Osborne, Advice to a son, 1656; Archibald Argyll, Instructions to a son, 1689; Henry Peacham, The Compleat gentleman, 1627; James Howell, Instructions and directions for forren travell, 1642.