Tuesday 20 November 1660

About two o’clock my wife wakes me, and comes to bed, and so both to sleep and the wench to wash.

I rose and with Will to my Lord’s by land, it being a very hard frost, the first we have had this year. There I staid with my Lord and Mr. Shepley, looking over my Lord’s accounts and to set matters straight between him and Shepley, and he did commit the viewing of these accounts to me, which was a great joy to me to see that my Lord do look upon me as one to put trust in.

Hence to the organ, where Mr. Child and one Mr Mackworth (who plays finely upon the violin) were playing, and so we played till dinner and then dined, where my Lord in a very good humour and kind to me.

After dinner to the Temple, where I met Mr. Moore and discoursed with him about the business of putting out my Lord’s 3000l., and that done, Mr. Shepley and I to the new Play-house near Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields (which was formerly Gibbon’s tennis-court), where the play of “Beggar’s Bush” was newly begun; and so we went in and saw it, it was well acted: and here I saw the first time one Moone, who is said to be the best actor in the world, lately come over with the King, and indeed it is the finest play-house, I believe, that ever was in England.

From thence, after a pot of ale with Mr. Shepley at a house hard by, I went by link home, calling a little by the way at my father’s and my uncle Fenner’s, where all pretty well, and so home, where I found the house in a washing pickle, and my wife in a very joyful condition when I told her that she is to see the Queen next Thursday.

Which puts me in mind to say that this morning I found my Lord in bed late, he having been with the King, Queen, and Princess, at the Cockpit1 all night, where General Monk treated them; and after supper a play, where the King did put a great affront upon Singleton’s musique, he bidding them stop and bade the French musique play, which, my Lord says, do much outdo all ours.

But while my Lord was rising, I went to Mr. Fox’s, and there did leave the gilt tankard for Mrs. Fox, and then to the counting-house to him, who hath invited me and my wife to dine with him on Thursday next, and so to see the Queen and Princesses.

32 Annotations

First Reading

Glyn  •  Link

was formerly Gibbon's tennis-court

This would have been a “real tennis” indoor tennis court - slightly like the game of squash.

This entry is jumping all over the place in re-telling the day’s events - he must be writing them down immediately as he thinks of them, rather than writing a rough draft first of all.

Nix  •  Link

Beggar's Bush (1622) -- a comedy by Fletcher & Massinger

Set in and around Bruges (Belgium). Florenz is heir to Flanders but does not know it; he is living as a rich merchant in Bruges. He loves Bertha; she is heiress of Brabant but does not know it; she has been stolen away and placed with the mayor of Bruges. Florenz's father, Gerrard, the earl of Flanders, has been driven from his lands by Wolfort and is living as the leader of a band of beggars near Bruges, while he watches over Florenz. Wolfort wants to marry Bertha in order to gain Brabant. He sends a nobleman, Hubert, to get Bertha for him; Hubert loves Jacqueline, Gerrard's daughter, who is living with her father among the beggars. He joins the beggars, helps Gerrard capture Wolfort, and all is well. Florenz and Bertha marry.

Synopsis from website on Jacobean and Caroline drama --


martha wishart  •  Link

"I found the house in a washing pickle" Can't you just see it? Wife and wench up to their elbows in washing and ironing-probably draped anywhere possible to dry. No wonder our Sam made himself scarce when the laundry was being done. I'm sure he was glad to have pleasing news to bring home.

vincent  •  Link

The power of leadership? "...where the King did put a great affront upon Singleton's musique, he bidding them stop and bade the French musique play, which, my Lord says, do much outdo all ours …”

daniel  •  Link

"he bidding them stop and bade the french musique play..."

Charles the second is noted for his particular taste in French music; Roger North(1665), "He had lived some considerable time abroad where the French musick was in request" and"could not bear any musick to which he could not keep the time".

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and the wench to wash" Why all this washing at 2 o'clock in the morning in this freezing wheather?

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Why begin the washing at 2am?

There's an excellent description here of the labour involved in washday before washing machines. It goes back to the late 1920s, and the women here had mangles, which Elizabeth and her wench would not have had, nor would they have had such good soap: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice…

The first laundry device was the box mangle, which was invented in the 17th century but I do not know the date. This was a massive device, up to two metres across, consisting of heavy wooden rollers around which wet clothes were wrapped and a box filled with heavy stones which was moved back and forth over the rollers to squeeze the clothes dry. However, I think if Sam and Elizabeth had acquired one of these he would have told us about it, as it was the latest thing.

From a website about the history of the washing machine: "In the early days, without running water, gas, or electricity even the most simplified hand-laundry used staggering amounts of time and labor. One wash, one boiling and one rinse used about fifty gallons of water - or four hundred pounds - which had to be moved from pump or well or faucet to stove and tub, in buckets and wash boilers that might weigh as much as forty or fifty pounds. Rubbing, wringing, and lifting water-laden clothes and linens, including large articles like sheets, tablecloths, and men's heavy work clothes, wearied women's arms and wrists and exposed them to caustic substances.” http://www.ideafinder.com/history…

steve h  •  Link

Trip to the theatre

Suddenly Pepys about this time starts going to the theatre on a regular basis. We'll see many more visits in the upcoming months. He's one of the few sources we have about the theatre, especially in the 1660s, and his catalog of likes and dislikes is a rare insight into the mind of the audience..

Mary  •  Link

Home laundry, 17th century-style

(The following can be found in greater detail in Liza Picard's 'Restoration London', p.134 ff)

Take one large tub (buck-tub); fix sticks across it at different levels; hang dirtiest clothes across lower sticks, cleaner ones nearer to the top; pour in household ley/lye ( a mixture of wood-ash and urine) and leave to soak. Run off the ley into the under-buck, then pour in again at the top and continue the process until the linen is clean enough. Then set about the business of rinsing with lots of clean, cold water. Altogether a major, messy and exhausting operation.

For a really dirty wash, the ley might be heated, and/or soda added.

For finer fabrics (e.g. chintz) a bran ley would be used.

Textiles other than linen were not laundered .... and can you wonder at it!

bruce  •  Link

I can add some light to the discussion about washing. My mother used to do all our laundry by hand until the late 1960s. Not only did it take all Monday morning (always done on Monday, regardless of the weather), it also took up the whole of the kitchen floor. Table and chairs were pushed to the side. All the equipment was heavy and bulky. The entire kitchen would be filled with steam and condensation. I used to help my mother until I went away to University at age 18. Here's how the process worked:

She started with a "copper" (boiler), heated by gas, and stored int the garden shed the rest of the week. Bed linen and anything else heavily soiled was boiled with washing powder for 20 minutes or so, then taken out with wooden tongs and put into a barrel-shaped metal vat called a "dolly tub", and was thrashed around with a wooden device called "peggy legs". This beat any residual stains out of the clothes. From the dolly tub the laundry was pressed through a mangle. It next went into a galvanised bathtub of cold water to rinse out the soap, and was then mangled again (twice) to get out as much water as possible. The cold rinse contained a dye called "blue", which dissolved in the cold water and was supposed to make white items a more brilliant white after laundry. After all this, items like my dad's detachable shirt collars would be put into a bowl of starch solution to make them crisp up, then rinsed, mangled and finally put on the washing line to dry.

Less heavily soiled items, or delicates, would only omit the boiling up and starching stages of these proceedings - they'd go straight into the dolly tub after we'd done the boiled things.

Imagine doing all this for a big family, and especially with loads of terry nappies...

She'd start around 8.00 and finish around mid-day.

Needless to say, my mother never "worked" in the paid employment sense!

Nix  •  Link

Washday blues --

Here is a picture of the kind of "box mangle" Jenny describes:


My mother had a "mangle", but it was an ironing device -- clothes were pressed on a hot horizontal surface under pressure from a mechanical roller:

(scroll down to illustrations)

When we talk of being exhausted, we forget how lucky we are. There is a wonderful, moving description of pre-electrification housework (in this instance, in the hill country of Texas) in volume 1 of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson -- literally brought me to tears with its description of the work that made women old at 30. Still does, in much of the world.

Nix  •  Link

Gibbon's tennis court --

would this have been like the one at Hampton Court?

language hat  •  Link

the labor involved in washday:
Jenny, thanks much for the first link to Joanna Roberts's memories, which are well seconded by Bruce's story about his mother. Amazing how long it's taking for things to change. And nix, I too thought of the Caro book, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in social history -- the man is a genius at making you see such things. (His biography of Robert Moses is also brilliant, one of the best things I've ever read on the city of New York.)

Laura K  •  Link

Wow! Thanks to everyone for this fascinating discussion of pre-modern wash day. Women had to be so physically strong (in addition to the other strengths that were required of them). I can't imagine how those who were not physically up to these tasks coped.

I must also second LH's recommendation of Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate" and especially "The Power Broker" (Robert Moses).

Nigel Pond  •  Link

To Nix: Re Real Tennis

Yes just like the one at Hampton Court.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Gibbon's Tennis Court was a building off Vere Street and Clare Market, near Lincoln's Inn Fields in London, England. Originally built as a real tennis court, it was used as a playhouse from 1660 to 1663, shortly after the English Restoration. As a theatre, it has been variously called the "Theatre Royal, Vere Street", the "Vere Street Theatre", or (as in Samuel Pepys' diary) simply "The Theatre". It was the first permanent home for Thomas Killigrew's King's Company and was the stage for some of the earliest appearances by professional actresses...."

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"The box mangle is said to have been invented in the 17th century. It consisted of a heavy frame containing a large box filled with rocks, resting on a series of long wooden rollers. Damp laundry could be laid flat under rollers, or wound round the rollers: sometimes enclosed in a sheet in order to keep the laundry clean. When the rollers were filled, one or two people pulled on levers or turned cranks to move the heavy box back and forth over the rollers. The mangle's primary purpose was to press household linen and clothing smooth...." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Box…
(With an image of one.)

Bill  •  Link

"and after supper a play"

Sir John Denham wrote the Prologue, of which there is a contemporary copy in the British Museum.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Bruce's description sounds like something much older than the "late '60s". There were automatic washing machines in the '60s. I woukdn't have thought that anyone in a more or less modern town was doing laundry in the way he explains after the 1920s or so. except perhaps in real backwaters. I grew up in the '40s and '50s and we had a wringer washer. We were a working class family and it was not unusual for people in our class to have an electric washing machine.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Louise, I'd say the big change came post-WW II, a stage that varied greatly with place, social and family conditions.

"After the attack on Pearl Harbor, US domestic washer production was suspended for the duration of the rest of World War II in favor of manufacturing war materiel. However, numerous US appliance manufacturers were given permission to undertake the research and development of washers during the war years. Many took the opportunity to develop automatic machines, realizing that these represented the future for the industry.

"A large number of US manufacturers introduced competing automatic machines (mainly of the top-loading type) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. An improved front-loading automatic model, the Bendix Deluxe (which retailed at $249.50), was introduced in 1947. General Electric also introduced its first top loading automatic model in 1947. This machine had many of the features that are incorporated into modern machines.

"Several manufacturers produced semi-automatic machines, requiring the user to intervene at one or two points in the wash cycle. A common semi-automatic type (available from Hoover in the UK until at least the 1970s) included two tubs: one with an agitator or impeller for washing, plus another smaller tub for water extraction or centrifugal rinsing.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

French music. It was the age of Jean-Baptiste Lully and musically France would never be the same. A genuine superstar and all the rage at Louis' court. England must have sounded a tad provincial in this regard. Lully might deserve his own reference page.

From Wikipedia:
By March 16, 1653, Lully had been made royal composer for instrumental music. His vocal and instrumental music for court ballets gradually made him indispensable. In 1660 and 1662 he collaborated on court performances of Francesco Cavalli's Xerse and Ercole amante.[5] When Louis XIV took over the reins of government in 1661, he named Lully superintendent of the royal music and music master of the royal family. In December 1661 the Florentine was granted letters of naturalization. Thus, when he married the daughter of the renowned singer and composer Michel Lambert in 1662, Giovanni Battista Lulli declared himself to be "Jean-Baptiste Lully, escuyer [squire], son of "Laurent de Lully,

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"he did commit the viewing of these accounts to me, which was a great joy to me to see that my Lord do look upon me as one to put trust in."

Although no longer Sandwich's principal man of business n London, Pepys continued to audit his accounts until Sandwich's death. Shepley was steward at Hinchingbrooke. (L&M note)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the King did put a great affront upon Singleton’s musique, he bidding them stop and bade the French musique play"

L&M: Some time in 1660-1 Charles instituted a string band (which included John Singleton) in imitation of the French court's 'vingt-quatre violons du Roi'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les… The first known reference to Charles' band: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…
At the above entry Pepys may be referring to a visiting band.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"But while my Lord was rising, I went to Mr. Fox’s, and there did leave the gilt tankard for Mrs. Fox, and then to the counting-house to him, ..."

Stephen Fox, Clerk of the Green Cloth, so yes, he would be in the counting house: https://www.pepysdiary.com/encycl…

John Evelyn's Diary was around Whitehall's counting house today as well, having lunch with Fox's boss:


I dined at the Clerk Comptroller's of the Green Cloth, being the first day of the re-establishment of the Court diet, and settling of his Majesty's household.


Sir Henry Wood, kt 1644, Clerk-Comptroller of the Board of Green Cloth from 1644 (Clerk from 1662). https://www.pepysdiary.com/encycl…

I wonder what the "Court diet" was.

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

To echo Bruce, above, about the survival of the laborious wash day into the 20thC: I remember my grandmother in the Netherlands going through that ritual in the 50s and 60s, complete with boiling pot and tongs for pulling things out. I also had an uncle who was a Dutch forest warden, and thus entitled to state-owned residence. As it happens, he got a brand new house, constructed around 1945 to his specifications. His wife, my aunt, came from a region in the Netherlands where laundry was like a religion, so they installed a fully-tiled room larger than the kitchen that was entirely devoted to laundrification, with built-in giant pots for washing and rinsing, a mangle, drying racks and whatever else. We were only allowed to look into this room from the hall. By the 50s, the washing machine was a standard item in Dutch homes, but they continued to use this anachronistic wash room for another couple of decades.

Awanthi Vardaraj  •  Link

Louise, not everyone grows up in wherever you grew up. Living in India, growing up in the eighties, we still didn't have washing machines at the time and washing was done by hand. It wasn't as much of a production as Bruce describes it, but it was still cumbersome, and took the better part of half a day. It was done every week, with the soaking and washing done in big copper andas, or tubs, and then wrung by hand, and dried in the sun. The iron used to iron the clothes was enormous, and incredibly heavy, filled with heated hot coals, and was done by a specialised dhobi who would arrive in great state once a week and iron all our clothes. I still remember putting on clothes that were warm from the iron after my nightly bath.

elgin marble  •  Link

tennis courts becoming theatres:
Of the two royal entertainements frowned upon during the Protectorate, drama was clearly the more in need of restoration!

At least, Pepys is more forthcoming on the theatre than he is on tennis (can't easily picture him dashing across a real tennis court!) He sees The Merry Wives of Windsor by Killigrew’s company at the Lincoln’s Inn theatre and Othello at The Cockpit in Drury Lane. Our curiosity knows no bounds. But the plays and the performances barely get a mention. Shakespeare even less so, which is almost tantamount to heresy as far as we’re concerned.

But, to be fair, the last thing most people – diarists included – want to do every time they go out to a show is to don the mantle of critic. When I come home late, replete with post-performance food and drink, I’m in no mood to assess the merits of an evening’s entertainment. And the next day, well … life goes on.

I make fuller remarks about tennis and theatre - not to mention Elizabeth's 'black patches' - in the entry for November 22, 1990 in 'Paris Diaries of the 1990s', the online selection of the daily diary entries I made throughout that decade whilst also reading, one day at a time, Pepys' entries:

Alison ONeill  •  Link

@louise, yes, there were automatic washing machines in the 1960s, but not everyone had them. some maybe couldn't afford them, others may not have believed they got the washing as clean (see also dishwashers today). i grew up in a small town on the outskirts of kingston upon hull, uk, and have a memory of a friend's mother using a dolly and mangle for the laundry, that would be about 1964. her husband was a polish refugee, maybe she was too. at that time i think my mum had a twin tub, also not automatic but still fairly cutting edge.

Alison ONeill  •  Link

ps i suspect bruce grew up in the north of the uk, like me!

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