Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

In 1863, Jemima Morrell participated in the first ever escorted tour of the Alps organised by Cook. Her diary of that journey is a remarkable piece of writing - one that slices through Victorian formality. The story of what happened to that diary is as intriguing as the journey described within its pages.

article summary —

In 1863, Miss Jemima took a three-week holiday in Switzerland. Jemima Morrell came from a middle-class Yorkshire family, and certainly had the means to travel. But few English women ventured abroad alone in those days. For Miss Jemima, as indeed for many other young women in her circumstances, the prospect of making an unescorted tour of the continent was simply unthinkable. So Miss Jemima found her opportunity to travel by signing up for the first tour that Thomas Cook led to Switzerland. Cook was of course already an old hand at excursions. He had ushered thousands towards the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, and four years later secured concessions for travel across the Channel. In the years thereafter, he escorted groups to Brussels and Cologne, venturing up the Rhine as far as Baden-Baden and Strasbourg.

In 1863, Cook pushed further south. The Alps beckoned. Thus it was that Miss Jemima found herself standing on 26 June 1963 in the company of several dozen other ladies and gentlemen on the railway platform at London Bridge — this at the uncomfortably early hour of six in the morning. The party proceeded by train to Newhaven (“not a drearier port anywhere,” Miss Jemima observed in her diary), and thence to Dieppe and Paris. By the time Cook’s party returned to London three weeks later, Miss Jemima had walked over glaciers and experienced scenes of unsurpassed grandeur in the Alps.

The details of Miss Jemima’s journey would have been long forgotten had the traveller not kept a diary.


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About the authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 40.