The diarists

12 July 1395

Sir John Froissart chronicler of the early part of the Hundred Years' War with France, revisits England after 28 years: "I abode half a day and all a night at Dover; it was on a Tuesday, and the next day by nine I came to Canterbury, to St Thomas's shrine and to the tomb of the noble Prince of Wales who is interred there right richly… The next day the king [Richard II] came thither with a noble company of lords, ladies and demoiselles. When I was among them they all seemed to me new folks. I knew no one. The time was sore changed in 28 years, and with the king none of his uncles… so that at first I was all abashed, for if I had seen any ancient knight… I would have been well comforted and have gone to him, but I could see none such."

14 July 1955

Frances Partridge member of the Bloomsbury Group: "I am amazed that life seems to get more and more interesting as one gets older – and also perhaps saner, serener, more tough. It is no doubt the Indian Summer before the hand of decrepitude strikes and health crumbles."

15 July 1866

William Allingham records a weekend in Hampshire with the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson: "T and I out at 12. Swan Green, forest path, Halliday's Hill, we swim through tall bracken. T pauses midway, turns to me, and says solemnly, 'I believe this place is quite full of vipers!' After going a little further, he stopped again and said, 'I am told that a viper-bite may make a woman silly for life, or deprive a man of his virility.' We entered Mark Ash, a wood of huge solemn Beech trees, the floor thick-matted with dead leaves ; a few trees were broken or fallen; some towered to a great height before branching. We sat on the roots of a mighty Beech. T smoked. We shared in sandwiches and brandy. Then he produced a little pocket As You Like It, and read some parts aloud."

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