Wednesday 26 December 1660

In the morning to Alderman Backwell’s for the candlesticks for Mr. Coventry, but they being not done I went away, and so by coach to Mr. Crew’s, and there took some money of Mr. Moore’s for my Lord, and so to my Lord’s, where I found Sir Thomas Bond (whom I never saw before) with a message from the Queen about vessells for the carrying over of her goods, and so with him to Mr. Coventry, and thence to the office (being soundly washed going through the bridge) to Sir Wm. Batten and Pen (the last of whom took physic to-day), and so I went up to his chamber, and there having made an end of the business I returned to White Hall by water, and dined with my Lady Sandwich, who at table did tell me how much fault was laid upon Dr. Frazer and the rest of the Doctors, for the death of the Princess!

My Lord did dine this day with Sir Henry Wright, in order to his going to sea with the Queen.

Thence to my father Bowyer’s where I met my wife, and with her home by water.

18 Annotations

First Reading

vincent  •  Link

"took a short cut and it not be boxing day?" "...(being soundly washed going through the bridge)..."

dirk  •  Link

"being soundly washed going through the bridge"

Sounds like there's water dripping off the bridge? Or maybe the weather is rough?

George  •  Link

"being soundly washed going through the bridge.” with the narrow arches and the considerable tidal flow each way it may have been that his boatman got it a bit awry and shipped water.

Mary  •  Link

Passage by boat beneath London Bridge.

In the 17th Century the bridge had nineteen stone arches, the bases of their piers being protected by 'starlings' composed of wood and rubble. When the tide was either ebbing or flowing, the narrowness of the waterways beneath the bridge could create very hazardous conditions; so much so that many people preferred to land one side of the bridge and walk beyond it to pick up their boat again on the farther side. Even at slack tide, the chop on the river on a breezy/windy day could mean a good wetting as the waves broke against the starlings.

Glyn  •  Link

From Susanna's link to London Bridge: 'Because the Thames was (and is) a tidal river, its level varied greatly from hour to hour. The difference in levels between the upstream and downstream sides of the bridge could be as much as six feet (almost 2 metres). “The London Bridge was for wise men to pass over, and for fools to pass under,” the saying went. Boatmen brave enough to “shoot the bridge” were often capsized as they went over the falls. For boats carrying passengers, the usual procedure was to have them disembark on one side of the bridge and transfer to another boat on the other side of the bridge.

And from the link to the Bear tavern: 'Moreover, the shooting of the arches of the bridge was ordinarily such a perilous enterprise that the landlord of the Bear Inn derived no small part of his custom from half-drowned passengers whose boats had been swamped or overturned in the process.'

Obviously most people didn't get overturned or they wouldn't have continued to do it, but like Pepys they could be thoroughly drenched by sprays of water as they sailed underneath it. Presumably, he was in too great a hurry to disembark, walk to the other side of the Bridge, and then catch another water-taxi. Today, he was sailing downriver from west to east (Westminster to near the Tower of London) and may have also been going against the tide.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "for the death of the Princess!"

Can someone with access to L&M confirm whether or not this exclamation point belongs? As Paul Brewster has pointed out in the past, Sam rarely uses them, and they're mostly the result of scanning errors or Wheatley's editorial enthusiasm.

Mary  •  Link


No exclamation mark in L&M, Todd.

Nigel Pond  •  Link

The Thames

Just a minor point. The Thames today is tidal only as far as Teddington Lock.

Mary  •  Link

The tidal Thames.

(Mainly for our overseas colleagues). Lest there be any confusion, note that Teddington is close to Hampton Court Palace and roughly 14 miles WSW of the City of London. Thus the river remains tidal well beyond the confines of London itself.

vincent  •  Link

Tidal Thames "tems": sailing/rowing downstream I believe I understand but was it possible to go through the arches up stream , on incoming tide maybe, [ 2 meter differential When? ]. It was because the water was patially in the dam [weir effect] mode above the bridge that the river could "Ice up".

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Pepys will mention charitable "boxing" later in the Diary

The Wikipedia article on "Boxing Day" notes of its origins: "In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food."…

The passage in Pepys: "Thence by coach to my shoemaker’s and paid all there, and gave something to the boys’ box against Christmas."…

John Matthew IV  •  Link

Mr. Foreman:

We'll get to 1663 in three years. Please no spoilers.

Thank you.

Terry Foreman  •  Link


Annotations should be read with caution. Many who posted from the online diary's beginning in 2003 gave no notice they were about to refer to something "later in the diary" as Phil has requested we do and I did here.

Diary editors like Smith, Wheatley, Braybrook, Latham and Matthews, and David Widger have noted how things would turn out; some of that info is posted here for the curious.

Encyclopedia biographies give a full life.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Starling (structure)

In architecture, a starling (or sterling) or, more commonly, cutwater is a defensive bulwark, usually built with pilings or bricks, surrounding the supports (or piers) of a bridge or similar construction. Starlings are shaped to ease the flow of the water around the bridge, reducing the damage caused by erosion or collisions with flood-borne debris, and may also form an important part of the structure of the bridge, spreading the weight of the piers. So the cutwaters make the current of water less forceful.

One problem caused by starlings is the accumulation of river debris, mud and other objects against the starlings, potentially hindering the flow. The starling has a sharpened upstream edge sometimes called the nose. The cutwater edge may be of concrete or masonry, but is often capped with a steel angle to resist abrasion and focus force at a single point to fracture floating pieces of ice striking the pier.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"how much fault was laid upon Dr. Frazer and the rest of the Doctors, for the death of the Princess!"

The illness had lasted only five days, and the doctors had disagreed whether it was measles, spotted fever or smallpox (Marvell, ii. 13) -- diseases often confused at this time. Alexander Fraizer (Frazier) had been the King's physician-in-ordinary since June. and because of his intrigues with the revolutionary government during the Interregnum had many enemies at court. (L&M footnote)

John Wheater  •  Link

London Bridge

The following is from Neal Stephenson's novel 'Quicksilver':

Half a mile upstream, the river was combed, and nearly dammed up, by a line of sloppy, boat-shaped, man-made islands, supporting a series of short and none too ambitious stone arches. The arches were joined, one to the next, by a roadway, made of wood in some places and of stone in others, and the roadway was mostly covered with buildings that sprayed in every direction, cantilevered far out over the water and kept from falling into it by makeshift diagonal braces. Far upstream, and far downstream, the river was placid and sluggish, but where it was forced between those starlings (as the man-made islands were called), it was all furious. The starlings themselves, and the banks of the Thames for miles downstream, were littered with wreckage of light boats that had failed in the attempt to shoot the rapids beneath London Bridge, and (once a week or so) with the corpses and personal effects of their passengers. A few parts of the bridge had been kept free of buildings so that fires could not jump the river.
The water-wheels constructed in some of those arch-ways made gnashing and clanking noises...

(Kindle location 3894, paperback page about 190)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

John, that's delightful. Thanks for adding ... as a suggestion only, this is timeless and as such it would be seen more if you had posted in the Encyclopedia section (Phil has "the bridge" above in blue. Click on that and up comes lots of generic information about London Bridge that can be seen every time there is a Diary reference to "the bridge"). However, this gem will be found every time someone uses the Search for London Bridge.

Looking forward to seeing more gems from you in 2019.

Third Reading

Eric the Bish  •  Link

The tide is strong enough that I believe Pepys would only ever have travelled with the tide, or at slack water. He would have made no progress against the tide. With a good water taxi and at the strongest part of a spring tide he might make seven or eight miles an hour: both quicker and (depending how much risk you want to take shooting the bridges) safer than travelling ashore.

I feel there’s a piece of neat research, which someone may already have done, to map the tide times for the relevant days to the journeys described in the diary.

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