Sites, Sights, and Staging Posts

Lister’s journey began in Burwell, Lincolnshire, the former site of the manor house of Lister’s parents (the family parish church is still extant). In his pocketbook, Lister noted that he reached London on 20 August 1663, where he sailed Brig Matthew for Rye, reaching the port on 26 August. The ship was driven back from its channel crossing by storms three days later, and Lister was stuck in Weymouth for three weeks, making observations of Chesil Beach.

Finally on the 5th and then the 8th September, the ship attempted to leave Weymouth, was turned back due to the weather, and as Lister described it ‘wth great hazard of our lives’, the ship then sailed for St. Malo on the 19th. It was again driven back for three weeks by storms and moored in Guernsey, and Lister, frightened and ill, did not reach France until 16 October. After recuperating from his journey, Lister boarded the frigate Dove and apparently had another queasy ride in the Channel swells, and then travelled on land from St. Martin, to Remy, and Nantes. Lister then arrived in Bordeaux, making observations about viniculture, geology and the terroir, and then proceeded to Montpellier via Cadillac, Luisanard, Finiac, Toulouse, Villfranche, Carcassone and Narbonne.

After three years, Lister was forced to return home, as on 1 February 1666, King Louis XIV in preparation for the War of Devolution ordered all Englishmen to leave France within three months. From Lister’s journal as well as from his colleague and travel companion Philip Skippon’s account of his own journeying, we can trace his return route.

Lister, accompanied by Francis Jessop, physician Henry Sampson, Peter Vivian, a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and Sir Thomas Crew left for Lyon. Lister later met John Ray and Skippon there before they all proceeded on horseback to Paris. Arriving on 16 March, they stayed two weeks, catching a rare glimpse of Louis XIV en promenade to Versailles, the Sun King in an open chariot. While in Paris, the group of young naturalists met Dionys Joncquet, a professor in the Jardin Royal des Plantes Médicinales, who wrote a magisterial catalogue of the 4000 plants grown there.

After seeing the sights, Ray and two others left by a fish cart to Calais, but Skippon and Lister chose a less aromatic route home and stayed a few days longer.  They left travelling through St. Denis, lodging in Beaumont and observing vineyards, before passing  through Beauvais, Abbeville, Montreuil, and Calais. In contrast to his journey to France, the journey from Calais back to Dover only took ‘three hours without once changing board’.

Lister’s Complete Route Map



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