Sunday 30 September 1660

(Lord’s day). To our Parish church both forenoon and afternoon all alone.

At night went to bed without prayers, my house being every where foul above stairs.

18 Annotations

First Reading

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Looks like Sam is representing the family all alone at church, while "my wife," the wench, and the boy all struggle with the mess the workmen left behind.

And (he claims) at evening there's still no clean floor space to assemble 'em all for family prayers.

Personally I can't help but feel he is shirking a little. Or even a lot.

Michael L  •  Link

Is the rhyme in the last sentence intentional? If so, does he do that anywhere else?

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

I also wonder if the fact of the house being foul is the reason for his doing without prayers.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Is the rhyme in the last sentence intentional? If so, does he do that anywhere else?
I did a review of about three months of the endings of entries and could not find a single example of a rhyming couplet (?) even when there might have been an obvious opportunity to insert one. I suspect that he didn't even notice the rhyme. Poetry seems out of character from what we know of the diary so far.

Brian G McMullen  •  Link

"my house being every where foul above stairs"

I am curious as to the arrangement of the house. The kitchen pleased SP immensely so it must be 'downstairs'. Are the servants living downstairs? Would all the family area be 'above stairs'? How many floors could there be? Would family bedrooms be up another flight?

Other than the reference to the kitchen were any other rooms specifically noted?

David A. Smith  •  Link

"my house being every where foul"
This sounds like an overflow of disgust and frustration: the house is all a-hoo, things are costing money, the home life is unsettled. Sam's patience reservoir is just about drained (anyone who's had a contractor knows what that's like), so he spits out a short factual description and hits the sack.

margaret  •  Link

Does he usually engage in prayers before bed? Or just on Sundays? And what does the messy house have to do with it? No place to kneel? Was kneeling considered essential to prayer, or to family prayer, in those days? I know how he felt, and a chaotic house might well put me off prayers, but I really don't think I would use that as an excuse, even in my diary.

Roger Arbor  •  Link

Prayer... Samuel was a pretty normal Anglican of the times. Most would pray with the servants (if they had any) as their duty. And pray with their families at the end of the day. In many households today similar times of prayer are quite common, particularly before and after meals. Many read portions of the Bible at these times too. In Restoration England, for all its libertarian reaction to the strictures of the Commonwealth, such practices were very much the norm. However, it is another question entirely how much of this was simply habit, and how much was (in modern terms) 'real'. Interesting anyway...

Glyn  •  Link

Re the arrangement of the house.

We ourselves know that the house is an attractive one, because he himself chose it from a number of houses in that street (and used fairly ruthless tactics to get rid of the previous owner).

We know that Sam and Elizabeth sleep together with servant Jane sleeping in the same room (probably on a fold-away bed), and Will in another room in the house.

There is a kitchen, somewhere for Samuel's books, and an outside toilet (where the previous boy servant hid his stolen goods).

In general, foreigners noticed that the British lived more "vertically" than, for example, French town-dwellers, and seemed to have an inordinate fondness for stairs.

Typically, under the roofs, would live the servants; next floor down for the most private drawing rooms, next floor for bedrooms and drawing room, ground floor for kitchen (and you often had a shop open to the public here - if you weren't a shopkeeper, you could rent it out), maybe a cellar for coal or firewood, food storage (apples perhaps). Out at the back of the house in the yard is the lavatory, maybe a garden.

Anyone who is interested in interior decoration HAS to visit the Geffrye Museum

It has a series of rooms and gardens with original furnitures and decorations in the styles of the time - it's lovely.

Mary  •  Link

As regards kitchens

Liza Picard points out that more storage space would be required in the kitchen area than is nowadays the norm. Dry goods, ideally stored in crocks, would take up space, as would the barrels of sand used for all sorts of cleaning purposes. Drink, either ale or wine, would also require space. There might be a cold cupboard. Space would also be needed for the daytime storage of chamber-pots and candlesticks, both of which would require cleaning in the morning before being put to use again at night. There might also be a copper installed for the periodic 'great wash'.

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Wasn't it the case, though, that the copper would be more likely to be in a separate wash house outside than in the kitchen? Or so my vague memories of older houses would seem to suggest.

john lauer  •  Link

For US'ns, that's a large kettle, container, or sink, I gather...

Dirk Van de putte  •  Link

Ref. layout of the house.
I am somewhat into the layout of 16th and 17th century houses, and as far as I know the storage of food in the kitchen itself would be fairly limited. On the continent (where I live) most of the edible stuff would have been stored in the attic, including in some cases live poultry, rabbits, en even a beehive.

I suspect it was very much the same in Britain at the time.

Mary  •  Link

Food Storage

It looks as if this is another area where England differed from at least some of its continental neighbours. Here cellars and ground-floor storage areas were the norm. In the Netherlands, by contrast, this would not have been a sensible solution in a country where much of the inhabited land lies below sea-level and the storage of dry goods below ground level was rarely a workable proposition.

Dirk Van de putte  •  Link

Food storage

I'm not claiming that cellars weren't used for storage. It all depended on what you were trying to store. Apples, grain, meal and the like would go to the attic (including "live" meat stock), whereas other items might go to the cellar - if it was dry enough. (The Netherlands are a "low" country, but this doesn't mean we had no usable cellars.) Some smoked meat might be hung on racks in the kitchen.

I did oversimplify matters a little in my previous annotation. Life may have been pretty similar after all in England and on the continent...

Second Reading

Gerald Berg  •  Link

I think that 'every where foul' refers to smell. Most likely sewage.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

GB: I think sense 2. is meant here:

‘foul, adj., n., and adv.
I. 1. a. Grossly offensive to the senses, physically loathsome; primarily with reference to the odour or appearance indicative of putridity or corruption.
. . 1667 Milton Paradise Lost iv. 840 Thou resembl' of doom obscure and foule.

II. Opposed to clean adj. II. (The implication of disgust etymologically belonging to the word was formerly often absent in these senses; in present use association with sense A. 1 has commonly restored it, exc. in certain technical or idiomatic expressons.)
2. Dirty, soiled; covered with or full of dirt . . Now arch. or dial., exc. with mixture of sense A. 1: Disgustingly dirty, filthy.
. . 1535 Bible (Coverdale) Zech. iii. 4 Take awaye ye foule clothes from him.
. . 1700 S. L. tr. C. Schweitzer Relation Voy. in tr. C. Frick & C. Schweitzer Relation Two Voy. E.-Indies 341 One of the Washers, fetch People's foul Linnen . . ‘ [OED]

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.