Monday 27 February 1659/60

Up by four o’clock, and after I was ready, took my leave of my father, whom I left in bed, and the same of my brother John, to whom I gave 10s. Mr. Blayton and I took horse and straight to Saffron Walden, where at the White Hart, we set up our horses, and took the master of the house to shew us Audley End House, who took us on foot through the park, and so to the house, where the housekeeper shewed us all the house, in which the stateliness of the ceilings, chimney-pieces, and form of the whole was exceedingly worth seeing. He took us into the cellar, where we drank most admirable drink, a health to the King. Here I played on my flageolette, there being an excellent echo. He shewed us excellent pictures; two especially, those of the four Evangelists and Henry VIII. After that I gave the man 2s. for his trouble, and went back again. In our going, my landlord carried us through a very old hospital or almshouse, where forty poor people was maintained; a very old foundation; and over the chimney in the mantelpiece was an inscription in brass: “Orate pre anima Thomae Bird,” &c.; and the poor box also was on the same chimney-piece, with an iron door and locks to it, into which I put 6d. They brought me a draft of their drink in a brown bowl, tipt with silver, which I drank off, and at the bottom was a picture of the Virgin and the child in her arms, done in silver. So we went to our Inn, and after eating of something, and kissed the daughter of the house, she being very pretty, we took leave, and so that night, the road pretty good, but the weather rainy to Ep[p]ing, where we sat and played a game at cards, and after supper, and some merry talk with a plain bold maid of the house, we went to bed.

44 Annotations

First Reading

Dave Bell  •  Link

While Sam has set off early, he's not rushing back to London, and he's taking a slightly less direct route back, stopping for a bit of tourism.

Though it's not wildly out of his way. It looks as though he travelled to Cambridge more-or-less along the line of the modern A10, and is returning by the route the M11 takes.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Well, apparently the weather was not he'll be back in London during the dayu on Day 2...the trip out in one day (leaving in darkness and arriving after dusk) having been a bit much.

Derek  •  Link

Audley End House. There's information on Audley End House, built by the Earl of Suffolk at:…

though the building of Pepys' time no longer exists.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

John Evelyn, generally the less interesting diarist, is better than Pepys when it comes to travel writing in his diary. Here's a quote from his visit to Audley End (at the Saffron Walden page):…

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Traveling conditions & the country

The L&M Companion volume has an entry on travel (pp 448-456, and including a simplified map of the routes between London and Cambridge). Here's a summary of what it says about road transportation:

Roads were horrible. Local governments were supposed to take care of them but seldom did a good job. Poor drainage was a big problem, so travelers often had to put up with mud and flooding. In one incident in 1695, passengers were forced out of their coach in Ware (on Pepys's route to Cambridge) and had to swim.

It was easy to get lost. Signs were absent (not required until 1697), no detailed route maps existed with mileages (until 1675), and, in a field for instance, the route might break up into several tracks that various travelers had used in trying to avoid the worst stretches. Pepys himself will one day get lost on the road he knows well between Cambridge and Ware. Traveling in a group or hiring a guide could help to avoid losing the way.

There was a risk of robbery from highwaymen, but on the evidence of the diary, not a big one. Pepys generally rode a horse on his journeys, averaging about 4 mph in summer, less in winter.

Inns tended to get fewer complaints than the roads. Many were big and historic, with the inkeeper a local bigwig. Pepys never failed to find a bed, sometimes shared wih other travelers -- and fleas.

Liza Picard's "Restoration London" (p 71) said, "few highways were more than open spaces over which there was a legal right to pass and repass. ... On a trip to Wisbech, in the middle of the Fens, Samuel's horse sank 'to the belly.'"

Picard also writes (same page): "Londoners did not view the countryside with much favour. Those who had inherited or acquired a country property escaped to it in the malodorous London summers, or banished their wives there to do them good, while themselves enjoying a bachelor life in London."

Pauline  •  Link

"...Orate pre anima Thomae Bird..."

A charming holiday feeling. Montagu's quick departure for London hasn't wholly discomfitted Sam. Sam is not a political or business advisor, just a young up-and-coming aide, taking care of personal matters and adding his observations. Montagu has not taken him fully into his confidence about the political situation.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"Orate ..." translates to "Pray for the soul of Thomas Bird." I take the "pre" to be a mis-scan for "pro".

michael f vincent  •  Link

he says " but the weather rainy to Ep[p]ing" it is along the old A11 route
Audley end,Newport,Manuden,Ugley now called uterly) stansted mountficet,b'ps stortford, sawbridgeworth to Walthem abbey to epping forest then home thru aldergate on the morrow after a little fun . Epping Forest Very old.
Epping forest history
It is the largest public open space in the vicinity of London and Essex - in fact it is the largest open space near any capital city in the world that has never been ploughed or cultivated.

oliver  •  Link

"...Audley End House...where the housekeeper shewed us all the house..."

I'm struck by the fact that both Pepys and Evelyn seem so matter of fact about touring the entirety of this great house and the grounds. Could anybody walk in and be given a tour, or did the staff use some criterion to determine who would and would not be let in? When did it become common to tour great houses? Could one stop at any interesting-looking house and ask for a look 'round? When did it stop being ok to knock on the door, so to speak, and ask to be shown into a home?

Pauline  •  Link

But, Paul, who is Thomas Bird?
And the "etc."? I may want my name on this mantelpiece!

michael f vincent  •  Link

visits: only the well connected not us hayseeds unless we work in the orchard or mucking out the stables.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Visits to Great Houses

Only for the well-connected or at least well-dressed, but available (particularly when the owners were away) at least as late as Jane Austen's time: for instance, in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, she writes of Elizabeth Bennet and her relatives, who were respectable but not upper-class, touring Mr. Darcy's great house. I would guess that the divide came somewhat later in the 19th century.

Sam is still enjoying himself with the girls on this part of his trip!

Mary  •  Link

Thomas Bird.

We need an Essex local historian to give us full details of this man, but he was undoubtedly a major benefactor, perhaps even the founder, of the almshouse

fimm  •  Link

I like the way Pepys gets out his flagolet and enjoys the echo in the cellar - such effects today seem to be only enjoyed by children - can you imagine an adult getting out a recorder or something similar in the cellar of some grand house today in order to enjoy the echo?! They'd get some very strange looks!!

Andrea  •  Link

Visits to great houses

In the 16th & 17th century it was quite normal for richer travellers to pop into big country seats. House owners would allow them to look around and often even provide a meal (medieval tradition). A servant would show them around. Historians entirely rely on these travel accounts for houses which are destroyed now.. Celia Fiennes (contemporary to Pepys) and Daniel Defoe are fantastic for descriptions of houses and gardens.

It is really in the 18th that tourism hits the country. Estates like Stowe already have a guide book in the 1740s and quite a large number of people visit it. Towards the end of the 18th century travelling in Britain becomes a leisure pursuit for the aspiring middle classes. Hundreds of travel diaries get published. With Britain at war with France after the French revolution, travelling abroad becomes more difficult. Some houses even begin with visitor managment as early as 1780s.

Glyn  •  Link

a brown bowl, tipped with silver, and (inside) at the bottom was a picture of the Virgin and the child in her arms, done in silver.

Since you could only see the Virgin and child after the toast was drunk - does this mean that the people in the hospital had secretly been Royalists, or perhaps Roman Catholics? Since worship of the Virgin isn't a Protestant tradition.

Are we beginning to get a lot of people who are going to say that, of course, they were always "secretly" Royalists? Just like in France after World War 2 when no-one had really supported the Vichy Govt but had been always pro- the Resistance?

Matthew  •  Link

In "Bleak House" (1852-3) two lawyer's clerks are shown round a baronet's house.

M. Stolzenbach  •  Link

Relics of the old faith

I would think that the bowl with the image of the Virgin and Child was an old, historic one belonging to the days of Catholic faith in England. As are the use of Latin and the request to pray for the soul of the founder/donor. I found these notes an interesting part of today's page.

gerry  •  Link

Thomae Bird
L&M have a note "Magistri should be supplied before Thomae, and Bird should read Bryd. The brass commemorates a 15th century Rector of Great Munden, Herts"

Nix  •  Link

Re: The virgin in the bowl --

I think I recall from a visit to Audley end that the Howards, masters of Audley End, remained Catholic after the Reformation. Is it likely that the almshouse was endowed (or influenced) by them, and this could explain the persistence of such imagery?

Mick Hadick  •  Link

Virgin in the bowl--If I'm not mistaken, isn't that the Holy Grail? Wouldn't it figure? This Pepys guy really has all the luck. Besides, a Virgin in the bowl is worth two in the bush.

And let me also apologize in the same post. Sorry.

Peregrina  •  Link

Is my reading of this correct, that the hospital was on the grounds of or somehow connected with Audley House? If so, the bowl with the image of Virgin and Child may have come from the time of Catherine Countess of Suffolk whose husband, Lord Thomas Howard, built Audley House at the beginning of the 17th Century. In "Faith and Treason", Antonia Fraser writes that Catherine was a Catholic, "although not publicly so,and planned to die within the Catholic faith."

michael f vincent  •  Link

Secrets: Many of 17th houses have priests (holes)hideaways;
Many people keep their faith hidden ( even Russia under Stalin, note the sudden visability of the ikons and the traditional ways, suddenly become exposed)
Alms house : There are still many, now under more politically correct titles in East Anglia, kept up by the different religious groups like the Quakers.

Polly  •  Link

I love the way going back to his old college haunts has reawakened his student habits of heavy drinking and philandering! College reunions still have a tendency to bring out bad habits in people :)

Nix  •  Link

Pepys speaks of it as a "very old hospital or almshouse", so it probably predates the Howard tenure of Audley End, which had been a Benedictine monastery before the dissolution. However, it does seem likely that the Howards were the patrons of the hospital in Pepys' time, and I was able to confirm that they remained Catholic (and pro-Stuart). Britannica recites that, post-Restoration, "the civil disabilities incurred by the Howards on account of their Roman Catholicism tended to discourage the family's prominence in subsequent periods."

j.simmons  •  Link

Re: The Virgin in the Bowl...
If recollection serves, the symbol in the bottom of the bowl was rather like early Christians drawing a fish in the sand, to test the feelings of someone they weren't quite sure of. The English Catholics, being much persecuted, had developed a great deal of caution, and were very cicumspect in their dealings.

j.simmons  •  Link

What I should have added, is that by Sam's time the bowl would have been a curiosity, although Catholicism would remain at a disadvantage legally and socially in Great Britain for many more years.

Eoin  •  Link

played on my flageolette, there being an excellent echo

It always sounds better when you play in the subway.

Stephen Trinder  •  Link

What no slapping wenches backsides and 'bouncing' with flighty maids ??? Tush

Second Reading

arby  •  Link

I was wondering if he is just being more circumspect in reporting his flings with maids of the house early in the Diary, or if he still hasn't found his wings?

ELeeming  •  Link

He's certainly found something, in fact, he's found it twice in one day!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Here I played on my flageolette, there being an excellent echo."

'cellars, arched with stone, very neat and well disposed': Evelyn, 1 September 1654.…
Pepys and his wife sang here on 8 October 1667. (Per L&M note)

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

RE" oliver, 2003: "I'm struck by the fact that both Pepys and Evelyn seem so matter of fact about touring the entirety of this great house and the grounds." -- And ensuing discussion indicating this was no uncommon...

Also, not mentioned previously, this particular visit was facilitated by the White Hart's innkeeper ("master of the house," "our landlord," who also shewed them the almshouse) who presumably did this regularly and probably got a good tip from Sam.

Ensign Tom  •  Link

“Up by four o’ clock …” So how does Sam know it’s 4:00 am, and how does he manage to waken so early considering he was up late the night before? He won’t purchase his first watch until May of 1665 and, as a watch is an expensive item, I don’t imagine he would have got the time from his father or his brother John, both of whom are sensibly in bed with sunrise still over two hours away.

It could be that, like Jack Reacher, he is able to set his own internal alarm clock, but my guess is that he has “the lass of the house” with whom he was “playing the fool” the night before to thank for being roused so early. I imagine that she would have been up before sunrise herself tending to the chores of the inn, and I don’t think it’s too much to imagine that the inn would have had a clock by which she would have known when to wake up Sam, who likely would have given her some coins for her trouble.

Ensign Tom  •  Link

As far as tours of the stately homes of England go, I recall reading once that the Duke of Marlborough had his old campaign tent and equipage set up on the grounds of Blenheim Palace so that visitors could have some idea of how he lived in the years when he was off to the wars. Of course, the Duke had a well earned reputation for being tight with money, so he charged 6d. admission.

Elisabeth  •  Link

My flageolette

I love that Sam took his instrument with him on his travels. I wonder if he habitually packed his flageolet on trips or if he had heard about the wonderful echoes at Audley End and took his flageolet to try them out himself.

David G  •  Link

The Saffron Waldon tourist bureau has more information about the "very old" almshouse -- apparently roughly 200-250 years old at that point -- and about the cup that Sam drank from while visiting the almshouse:

"One purpose of the Guild [of Our Lady of Pity at Saffron Waldon, established in 1400] was to provide Almshouses for '13 poor men such as be lame, crooked, blind and bedridden and most at need.' Many local benefactors gave gifts of land and money. The infamous 16th-century Mazer Bowl, once drunk from and referred to by Samuel Pepys in his famous diary, was such a gift. Sold in 1929 to raise money for urgent roof repairs it is now in a private collection but a replica is on display in Saffron Walden Museum. By Act of Edward VI the Almshouse lands and estate were devolved to the King but he agreed to return them to the town in his name, and so they have continued. Since 1400 there has been a succession of buildings on the same site, housing local people of modest means through the centuries."

Nicolas  •  Link

John Evelyn died on today’s date, 27 February, in 1706.

Mountain Man  •  Link

The lovely vignette of Sam playing on his flageolette and enjoying the good acoustics suggests that he kept it with him much of the time to entertain himself whenever things were slow. We might be justified in imagining him playing it at other, unrecorded times when things slowed down. The poor man had no cellphone to fiddle with endlessly! Life in public spaces today might be more pleasant if we had more flageolette players and fewer empty-headed gabbers.

Carl  •  Link

Date and sunrise: it's easy to overlook the fact that while Sam writes the date as 27Feb, the real date was 9 or 10 days later. On 7 march the sun rose at 6:32 in Cambridge.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Ensign Tom -- it was standard to have someone stay up all night for security, and to make sure the fires never went out in the kitchen or in the main downstairs rooms. They could do the wake up calls for the early risers, staff and guests. An Inn would be in trouble if the fire was out and the washing water cold when the cook arrived to prepare breakfast. The shoes also needed to be cleaned and the shirts ironed that were left outside the rooms by the guests.

Marwa  •  Link

May I ask why Pepys used brackets when he said "Ep[p]ing"? Would anyone know the reason? What made him put the brackets around the P only? What might be the purpose?

Ensign Tom  •  Link

It just means that Pepys didn't include the second "p" when writing "Epping", so a later editor added it to correct the spelling. My experience has been that not every English style manual will explain how to use square brackets, so try doing an online search for "square brackets meaning" or "square brackets usage" for further clarification.

Marwa  •  Link

Thank you so much. I really tried to know why but no website gave me an actual reason. You saved me from so much hell, my professor asked us to find out why. So this is deeply appreciated thank you so so much.

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