[Lemington—Thursday, 4 August 1859]
Thursday 4th Walked through Leamington and sat upon the top of the fine hill overlooking the fields and valleys beyond. At ½ past 3 took train to Banbury. A queer old place. Well kept but expensive inn of great antiquity. Took a carriage & two horses, the afternoon being most lovely to Compton Wynyate[s] 10 miles distant, passed Broughton Castle on the way which gleamed upon us like a thing of unreal beauty, the fairest colors of this most fair day were all repainted in the moat; on we drove, through fields and hamlets until a sudden gesticulation of the driver as if there was something too beautiful to mention led our eyes into the dell below us where the glowing red of old brick-work betrayed the house to view. Glorious trees hedge it round about and usher you to its very gate. Despite the dust, not of de- but of re-storing we climbed up and down the narrow winding ways and for the first time saw what had indeed been the retreat of kings. Built in the time of Edward the sixth it had passed, not unscathed some of the most perilous of historical crises. Here Charles the II had not only successfully concealed himself but a small army of men. Dim and dreary days those were when no home was safe. The shudder of lost hope came over me with its dark despair as I stood in the horrid dungeon. I am sure black deeds were done here. The dungeon smelt of blood and the soul revolted at the place. The very workmen in the hall besought us to leave the door open that a reflected gleam of God’s golden sun-set might strike the wall and lighten him. There was beauty and peace and ease here now and the lilies were growing in the moat but the misery of those dark times clung about the place and we wondered at the human heart which could live there. Time is kindly and wished to destroy this monument to the crisis & sufferings of humanity but the wealthy marquis means to build it up and hold festivities in the midst of those never-dying groans.