Saturday 21 September 1661

All the morning pleasing myself with my father, going up and down the house and garden with my father and my wife, contriving some alterations. After dinner (there coming this morning my aunt Hanes and her son from London, that is to live with my father) I rode to Huntingdon, where I met Mr. Philips, and there put my Bugden matter in order against the Court, and so to Hinchingbroke, where Mr. Barnwell shewed me the condition of the house, which is yet very backward, and I fear will be very dark in the cloyster when it is done. So home and to supper and to bed, very pleasant and quiet.

22 Annotations

First Reading

Australian Susan  •  Link

The reference to this gives the names as Lettice Howlett (b. Haines). I can find no reference to this person in Tomalin or Bryant - anyone know how she is related?

Bob T  •  Link

and I fear will be very dark in the cloyster when it is done

This is a saying that I have not heard before. I guess it will be finished at about the same time as the cows come home :-)

Pauline  •  Link

Lettice Kite Haines Howlett
sister of Margaret, the mother of Sam.
I typed her short entry into background and asked to Phil to correct the "b. Haines". Can't find anything on her son (after looking quickly and in a rush).

language hat  •  Link

and I fear will be very dark in the cloyster when it is done

Is this a saying? I took it to be a straightforward prediction: when the work is finished, the cloister (walkway, arcade) associated with the building will be in shadow. But I don't really know what the work involves or whether this is a plausible interpretation.

Kate S  •  Link

I believe "very dark in the cloyster" is a description of what he thinks the outcome of that bit of remodelling will be.

Hinchingbrooke is now a school, and has a page about its history. It was based on a nunnery, so the interpretation of that there was literally a cloister seems sensible.…

Pauline  •  Link

"I guess it will be finished at about the same time as the cows come home :-)"
Emoticon and all, Bob T is being wry.

I was wondering if coming from the tour and discussion of Brampton House, Hinchington didn't presented too great a contrast, with Sam needing to say something disparaging just to keep up his side a bit.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Thanks for the information, Pauline! So this really is an Aunt, not just a vague "cozen".

Pedro.  •  Link

Would the House have a cloister in the sense of a courtyard with covered walls, or in the religious sense?
Plan of House.…
Key dates in history for changes.…

We do have a saying in the Midlands of England, as in a mother to a child, "Hurry up! You'll have it dark.
Sam mentions the start of the alterations almost a year ago and just maybe he is commenting on the length of time it is taking. I met with a letter from my Lord (which Andrew had been at my house to bring me and missed me), commanding me to go to Mr. Denham, to get a man to go to him to-morrow to Hinchinbroke, to contrive with him about some alterations in his house, which I did and got Mr. Kennard.…

Glyn  •  Link

I'll vote with Bob for the meaning that the building will be very late in completion, mainly because of the first bit of the sentence that says: "the condition of the house, which is yet very backward" where I take backward to mean behind schedule. Why would they be building cloisters (and are there any in Hinchingbroke?)

David A. Smith  •  Link

"the house, which is yet very backward"
In my view, the house is decrepit and obsolescent -- no work has been done yet. The evidence is that Sam is:

"going up and down the house and garden with my father and my wife, contriving some alterations"

He is inspecting a property acquired via the estate, discovering that it is tumbledown and ill maintained, and designing a renovation plan. And much though Bob T's phrase is wonderfully evocative, I think it is a mere prediction, not a saying.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

Would they really contrive alterations to the garden in such a short time?
Or are they just thinking of or planning them?

A. Hamilton  •  Link

house... I fear will be very dark in the cloyster when it is done.

The construction of the sentence suggests that the "house" "will be very dark in the cloyster" -- apparently a comment on the architecture, although the lack of a more detailed description of the house makes the meaning obscure.

The supposition that the phrase refers to the house, and not to the lapse of time, is strengthened by a variant reading of this passage in a script created for the Cambridgeshire schools for a film on Hinchingbrooke, "and I fear it will be very dark in the cloister where it is done." The variant text inserts "it" and replaces "when" with "where." I don't know the scholarly basis for this emendation, and concede it could simply be the result of some editor or script writer trying to make sense of an ambiguous passage. Nevertheless, I go with the opinion that the clause refers to an architectural feature, though I am reluctant to abandon "very dark in the cloister" as a reference to a late hour.…

Lawrence  •  Link

Having visited hinchinbrook house late last summer, I can confirm that there is no cloister, that's not to say there wasn't one when Sam looked at this time, though I think he's just expressing his opinion on the building project!

dirk  •  Link


1. A covered walk with an open colonnade on one side, running along the walls of buildings that face a quadrangle.

a. A place, especially a monastery or convent, devoted to religious seclusion.
b. Life in a monastery or convent.

3. A secluded, quiet place.

[Middle English cloistre, from Old French, alteration (influenced by cloison, partition), of clostre from Latin claustrum, enclosed place, from claudere, to close.]

The American Heritage- Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Copyright - 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

I tend to agree with language.hat that we should take this literally, as a factual description of the structure of part of the building. If this was a figure of speech, we should find traces of it in some of the dictionaries available - and so far I haven’t been able to find any reference.

Pauline  •  Link

" aunt Hanes...that is to live with my father..."
Because she is financially strapped or because Margaret is mentally strapped?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "the house, which is yet very backward"

David, Sam is talking about two houses in this entry … when he’s “going up and down the house and garden with” his father, he’s talking about Brampton; when he’s talking about the very non-forward house, he’s talking about Hinchingbroke.

FWIW, I also agree that the simplest reading of this (i.e., the literal one) is probably correct.

So home and to supper and to bed…

Australian Susan  •  Link

"My aunt Haines"
Sam seems fairly dismissive in his entry about her - are they there as poor relations, almost as servants, as Pall was in Sam's household? Had the Kite family deaths rendered her poor? Does L&M have anything to say of them?

David A. Smith  •  Link

"going up and down the house and garden"
A man with two houses has one house too many :)
A commenter who confuses two houses speaks of one house too many :)
Thanks, Todd

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I rode to Huntingdon, where I met Mr. Philips, and there put my Bugden matter in order against the Court,"

L&M: Robert Pepys had left land and houses at Buckden, Hunts. Lewis Phillips was a lawyer.

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