From a Japanese tea party to camping on the Great Plains… travel diary reveals Victorian honeymoon couple’s amazing nine-month-long round-the-world trip in 1893
A remarkable travel diary documenting the round-the-world honeymoon of a Victorian couple has emerged 125 years later.
The hard-backed log is filled with 129 pages of Lily and Godfrey Armitage’s handwritten account of the nine-month trip with coloured drawings and photographs illustrating their travels.
It contains a hair-raising account of a horrific voyage across the Pacific Ocean when their 550ft-long cruise liner was hit by a typhoon and capsized before righting itself.
Lilly and Godfrey at a Japanese tea ceremony during the Victorian honeymoon couple’s round-the-world trip
The Hudson River paddle steamer ‘Albany’, on which the couple said they ‘had the best cooked lunch I have ever tasted’
The route through Japan and onto China, part of their journey which was based upon a Thomas Cook World Tour
The route the Armitages took from England, through Europe and the Middle East towards India
This map shows the route the Armitages took between Japan and North America as they travelled around the world
The couple travelled across America from San Francisco to New York, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the British Isles
Lilly and Godfrey Armitage take part in a Japanese tea ceremony during their round-the-world tour
One passenger was so terrified he threatened to shoot himself if the vessel rolled over again. The well-to-do couple also described how highwaymen held up five trains on the track ahead of theirs as they crossed America.
Other fascinating adventures they documented in words and pictures include them visiting an opium den in San Francisco, enjoying a Japanese tea party and camping on the American prairies.
There is also a gruesome description of an elephant hunt the newly-weds took part in in India. The travel journal is expected to fetch £1,000 after it was put up for sale with David Lay Auctions in Penzance, Cornwall.
It had been bought by an eagle-eyed bargain hunter at an antique fair. The Armitages were married at Over Hall, Winsford, Cheshire and left for their honeymoon from Liverpool on September 2, 1893.
A photograph of a scene in Japan taken by the Armitages, which is going up for auction along with the rest of their diaries
The Armitages were married at Over Hall in Winsford, Cheshire and left for their honeymoon in September 1893
An entry about Japan illustrated with documents and photographs in the scrapbook, which tells the story of their voyage
They crossed from Liverpool to America on the SS Arizona (left), which is also pictured (right) along with the ship’s captain
A Chinese family, who featured in the hard-backed diary which is filled with 129 pages of Mrs Armitage’s handwritten account
A photograph of three musicians in Japan, which features in the diary that also contains sketches and newspaper cuttings
A gruesome photo of a Chinese pirate’s head, seen by the Armitages, which was captioned: ‘Pirate’s head after execution’
They planned their trip to follow Thomas Cook’s World Tour, taking in America, Canada, Japan, China, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and India, before they returned to England via Plymouth in May 1894.
In one extract Mrs Armitage describes the stomach-churning sea crossing when their ship, RMS Empress of Japan, almost sunk.
She writes: ‘Tuesday night was our worst night, it was frightful and everyone thought our last hours had come.
‘At two o’clock in the morning we gave one terrific roll, 42 degrees, the hurricane deck went right under water and she lay there for a minute before she could right herself.
Mrs Armitage drew this sketch of her new husband Godfrey in a ship’s cabin during their round-the-world honeymoon trip
Cowboy and Indian pictures can also be found in the remarkable travel diary documenting the Victorian couple’s journey
A picture of a ‘Rotary’ snow plough on a train into the Rocky Mountains in North America, which features in the couple’s diary
The couple took this photograph of their arrival in America. The Armitages’ journey started in Britain in September 1893
A menu from the Hudson river paddle steamer ‘Albany’, which included straw potatoes, winter lamb chops and anchovy toast
Mount Macdonald in the Rockies, which the Armitages passed through as they crossed North America in the 1890s
Notes on the couple’s expensive stay in the ‘House of Observation’ in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), including servants
‘The captain has since told us that if she had done it a second time it would have been all over with us. No-one thought we should ever get through that night.’
She describes the ‘mad’ passenger who almost shot himself during the dramatic incident.
She writes: ‘He was frantic during the storm and rushed after the captain offering him £2,000 to stop the boat and he bent down for his pistol to shoot himself after the big roll he was so frightened.’
Another diary entry describes the couple going on an elephant hunt in India in March 1894. She describes the bull elephant heading towards the tree she was in before her husband delivered his ‘death shot’.
The Armitages photographes these tea pickers in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when they visited the country 125 years ago
An Indian elephant is pictured in the diary, which also includes a gruesome account of the Armitage’s hunting elephants
A picture of a Sandy Hook Pilot Boat, which the couple took upon their arrival in America
A fascinating photograph of a harbour scene taken by the Armitages upon their arrival in Hong Kong
Indian natives with bows, arrows and spear (left) and a huge Japanese Buddha statue (right), which feature in the diaries
A newspaper annouces the arrival of the Armitages at a hotel in Vancouver following their journey on the Pacific Express
The painted frontespeice of the scrapbook, which shows how the couple spent nine months travelling across the world
The account is very matter-of-fact and she states they had a bottle of champagne for dinner after the locals cut off the elephant’s limbs to keep as souvenirs.
It reads: ‘Then after Godfrey getting four shots into him he was first making for my tree and then Godfrey gave him his death shot and he came down close to my tree. He put his trunk in the air and then went down on his knees first.
‘We immediately sent for the coolies (Indian labourers) to cut off his legs and it took six hours to cut his ears, legs, trunk and tail off. He measured 10 feet high, 13 feet long from front to hind legs.
‘We fished in the evening and had a bottle of champagne for dinner.’
Holy Benares (Varanasi) on the Ganges was one of the many sites across India visited by the couple during their tour
Mrs Armitage’s sketch of their camp on the American prairies where they stayed overnight during their world tour
The scrapbook is packed full of details of the various boats the couple used to make their way across the world
The Grand Harbour in Malta, also known as the Port of Valletta, was one of the grand sites visited while they toured Europe
In an extract Mrs Armitage tells of the stomach-churning sea crossing when their ship, RMS Empress of Japan, almost sunk
The route taken up the Hudson by the Albany & New York Day Line Steamers, taking people to Niagara Falls
In America they spent two weeks camping out on the prairies, shooting and preparing their own food and encountering wolves, bears and the Native American Sioux Indians who Lily said ‘look at you in such a funny way that you feel rather uncomfortable’.
They travelled across America to San Francisco where they visited an opium den in Chinatown which Lily described as a ‘dreadful hole’.
She wrote: ‘In a little low-roofed room lay 26 men, all smoking hard except two or three who had fallen asleep, how they live in such a fearful atmosphere is wonderful.’
Mimi Connell-Lay, from the auction house, said: ‘It’s a fascinating historical document and once you get stuck into it, it’s hard to put it down.
Cree Indian camp on the Great Plains, which was visited by the Armitages as they toured across North America
A menu from the Empress of Japan (left) and a diary entry about the couple’s visit to Niagra Falls during their tour (right)
A photograph of the last word in Victorian luxury, the RMS Himalaya, took the Armitages from India
A photograph of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, which the couple visited during their round-the-world honeymoon trip
A letter included in the diary which has a variety of stamps from the likes of San Francisco, Colombo and New York
The route across the Pacific Ocean taken by the couple on the Empress of Japan boat as they travelled towards America
‘We don’t really know a lot about Lily and Godfrey Armitage as the vendor bought the diary at an antique sale but they obviously came from a very affluent family to afford a trip like this.
‘Lily writes very engagingly but also in a very matter-of-fact way. They were doing a lot of life-threatening activities but she just takes it all in her stride.
‘The elephant hunt is just gruesome, it’s just a completely different mindset to how we think now. It’s the complete opposite of modern-day package holidays, she was the ultimate adventurous traveller.
‘I think the diary could appeal to collectors on so many different levels, there are lots of early photographs from India and Japan that are of interest on their own, and little rice paper watercolours.’
Godfrey Armitage was a major in the army and died in 1913. Lilly re-married in 1916 to Sir Maurice Bromley-Wilson, a baronet. The journal will be sold on Thursday.
How Thomas Cook was a preacher-turned-entrepreneur who became grandfather of modern day tourism
Thomas Cook, the Victorian founder of the Thomas Cook empire
In the 19th century, preacher-turned-entrepreneur Thomas Cook struck upon the ingenious idea of organising overseas holidays for society’s wealthiest.
The former Baptist minister then quickly developed the first-of-its-kind business, personally coordinating every last aspect of their journeys abroad.
He was so successful that his fledgling company went on to become one of the best known travel agents in the world – and Cook himself became regarded as the grandfather of modern day tourism.
Cook first dreamed up the novel scheme in the mid-1800s after trips he organised to anti-drinking rallies around the country were met enthusiastically by supporters of the temperance movement.
Realising there was money to be made in travel, he began running group jaunts around Britain, and then further afield to European destinations such as Switzerland and Italy.
But it was in 1869 that Cook embarked on a voyage that was to change the face of tourism when he took a group of well-to-do guests on a three-month jolly up the Nile in Egypt.
Three years after his first Egypt trip, Cook embarked on a round-the-world adventure that could have inspired Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days – for it was published about six months after Cook started advertising his trip.