Longer articles on broader topics.

Sunday Lunch with Mr and Mrs Pepys

We are sitting in St Olave’s church, in the navy pew, a gallery on the south side with its own entrance from Seething Lane. Precedence is important and as guests of Samuel and Elizabeth Pepys, we are seated in front, with servants and clerks behind us. The vicar, Mr Mills, is just concluding the service. Wives are discreetly elbowing sleeping husbands and we wait for more senior officers, Sir John Mennes and Sir William Coventry, to rise before making our exit down the canopied staircase and out into the churchyard. Going through the gate we cross Seething Lane. The cobbled surface is sticky with black, tarry London mud. Will Griffin the doorkeeper opens the heavy wooden gate and bows as we enter the Navy Office site.

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The Garden at the Navy Office

There was a large garden at the Navy Office where Pepys lived and worked during the diary years. It stretched from behind the Office buildings down to the “Merchant’s Gate” or tradesman’s entrance, on Tower Hill.

The premises on Seething Lane (where Pepys lived during the diary years) had been acquired by the Navy Office in 1654 and had once been the home of Sir John Wolstenholme. Adjacent to this was a house and gardens belonging to Lord Lumley, which can be seen (middle right, north of Tower Hill) in the Agas map of 1591.

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The Bagwells

[John has written this essay about the Bagwell family of Deptford. Latham & Matthews describe William Bagwell as “ship’s carpenter and the complaisant husband of one of Pepys’s mistresses.” P.G.]

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At home with Mr and Mrs Pepys

Samuel Pepys was anxious. He had been promised a house to go with his new job at the Navy Office, at the extraordinary salary of £350 per annum. The newly restored Monarchy meant a complete changeover of staff in all areas of the administration. The Commonwealth mandarins were being superseded by the King’s Men and Samuel Pepys, having played an active role in returning Charles to the throne alongside his cousin and patron Sir Edward Mountagu, was rewarded with the position of Clerk of the Acts.

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John Evelyn's Fire of London

John Evelyn also kept his diary during the events of September 1666 and, given their length, it seems appropriate to give them a home here. The diary entries below are taken from this source (mirror). I’ve included all of Evelyn’s relevant entries, so, if you know nothing about what happens during the Fire, some of the below might count as SPOILERS!

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Evelyn to Pepys, 26 March 1666

As you know, on days when John Evelyn and Pepys exchanged letters, there’s now a link to the relevant letter on this site. The letters are also often posted in the annotations for that day’s diary entry, but as one of Evelyn’s letters to Pepys for 26 March 1666 is long and has a lot of tabular data, Terry Foreman had the good idea of posting it in the In-Depth Articles section. So here is the exchange of four letters for today:

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Legends of British History: Samuel Pepys

[The author Andrew Godsell recently got in touch having written Legends of British History and he offered the book’s biographical sketch of Pepys for publication here. It covers his whole life (and beyond) so there are “spoilers” towards the end if you don’t know what’s coming. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this overview of Sam’s life. You can buy Legends of British History at Amazon.co.uk. P.G.]

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Sam’s N-A-V-Y

In the year 1664 we celebrated the mid-point of Sam’s Diary, perhaps with a mixture of happiness for all of the time shared together and a touch of sadness too, as we know that in a few years the Diary will end.

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Review: 'The Plot Against Pepys' by James Long and Ben Long

[Disclaimer: The publishers sent me a free copy of the book, which I passed on to Jeannine to review; we were under no obligation to say something good about it! Phil.]

'The Plot Against Pepys' coverThis magnificent piece of work by Long and Long explores the outlandish charges of treason brought against Sam during the Popish Plots, and then brilliantly unfolds the mysteries, men and motives fabricating those accusations. This true story is based on a vast collection of facts, letters and notes from widely diverse and seemingly unrelated sources, which have been analyzed and synthesized to reveal an amazingly intricate network of lies, fraud, forgeries, espionage, swindles, etc. directed to bring about the downfall of Sam as a step towards destroying the Duke of York. The narrative style moves through the complex intrigues in a fashion that is highly readable and thoroughly engaging.

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