Tuesday 24 September 1661

We rose, and set forth, but found a most sad alteration in the road by reason of last night’s rains, they being now all dirty and washy, though not deep. So we rode easily through, and only drinking at Holloway, at the sign of a woman with cakes in one hand and a pot of ale in the other, which did give good occasion of mirth, resembling her to the maid that served us, we got home very timely and well, and finding there all well, and letters from sea, that speak of my Lord’s being well, and his action, though not considerable of any side, at Argier. I went straight to my Lady, and there sat and talked with her, and so home again, and after supper we to bed somewhat weary, hearing of nothing ill since my absence but my brother Tom, who is pretty well though again.

10 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro.  •  Link


The inn at Holloway mentioned by Samuel Pepys in 1661 as the Sign of the Woman with cakes in one hand and a pot of ale in the other was the Mother Red Cap, Upper Holloway, (Footnote 65) which existed in the 1630s. (Footnote 66)

From: British History Online
Source: Islington: Social and cultural activities. A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume VIII, Patricia Croot (1985).


Glyn  •  Link

Holloway would have been the last stop on the coaching road before arriving in London, which is downhill from there. So Sam and Elizabeth would have seen the whole city stretching out before them surrounded by the city wall and the open countryside.

Pauline  •  Link

"...only drinking at Holloway..."
Sam and Elizabeth have come home from Brampton by the westerly route (the Great North Road): Brampton, Buckden, St Neots, Biggleswade, Baldock, Stevenage, Welwyn, Hatfield, Barnet, Highgate, Holloway. L&M Companion gives three usual routes, the most easterly via Cambridge and the middle route with two Cambridge options.

Lawrence  •  Link

Coming south towards London on the M.11, one can quite clearly see Canary Wharf if its a clear day, after last night's rain Sam would have had a wonderful view, imagine all the smoke from the Soap makers/tallow works and baker shops to mention a few, I wonder if it left a yellow grey cloud hanging over the city as they approched? John Evelyn, wrote of this pollution.

andy  •  Link

"letters from sea, that speak of my Lord's being well, and his action, though not considerable of any side, at Argier”

Just to record that in my 1889 edition of the Diary, edited by Lord Braybrooke (Chandos Claassic), [and bought in a charity shop a couple of weeks ago] the above entry is the sum total for the 24th. Previous entry was the 12th.

So contemporary (Victorian)readers of Braybrooke’s edition would have missed out on everything we’ve read in the last few days, and on our developing understanding of Sam’s character and personal relationships.

But Braybrook put it” As he [Sam] was in the habit of recording the most trifling occurences of his life, it bacame absolutely necessary to curtail the MS materially..”.

We read Sam today with eyes different from those with which Braybrooke read Pepys.

Grahamt  •  Link

"the sign of a woman with cakes in one hand and a pot of ale in the other"
I wonder if this is related to the pessimists' proverb:
"Life isn't just cakes and ale" (Or "beer and skittles" two ther things that Pepys enjoys)

Glyn  •  Link

Today, I had a "morning draught" at the Mother Redcap in Holloway (specifically on Holloway Road near Archway Underground Station).

It now has no connection to the tavern that the Pepys visited but does have an information panel containing today's diary entry.

The Mother Redcap was an important stop on the coaching road north, and apparently beneath the sign of a woman holding cakes and a pot of ale there were the following lines of verse:

"Old Mother Redcap, according to her tale,
Lived twenty and a hundred years by drinking this good ale,
It was her meat, it was her drink and medicine beside,
And if she still had drank this ale, she never would have died."

A Mr Jim Backster owned the Mother Redcap in 1667, so was probably also the owner when the Pepys were there.

Glyn  •  Link

So if the woman who served them did indeed look a 120 years old, then I can understand these two hard-hearted 20 somethings laughing about it.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"letters from sea, that speak of my Lord’s being well, and his action, though not considerable of any side, at Argier."

John Creed to Pepys, Lisbon, 31 August/10 September (partly in Latin); Edward Shipley to Pepys, 1/11 and 2/12 September: the former is printed in HMC, Eliot Hodgkin, pp. 168-60. The letters report Sandwich's bombardment of Algiers, 5-8 August, which had been broken off by bad weather. Sandwich had thereupon left a squadron under Lawson plying before the harbour, and had set sail for Lisbon. A treaty was made with Algiers the following spring: https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/…

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