Thursday 5 December 1661

This morning I went early to the Paynter’s and there sat for my picture the fourth time, but it do not yet please me, which do much trouble me. Thence to the Treasury Office, where I found Sir W. Batten come before me, and there we sat to pay off the St. George. By and by came Sir W. Pen, and he and I staid while Sir W. Batten went home to dinner, and then he came again, and Sir W. Pen and I went and dined at my house, and had two mince pies sent thither by our order from the messenger Slater, that had dressed some victuals for us, and so we were very merry, and after dinner rode out in his coach, he to Whitehall, and my wife and I to the Opera, and saw “Hamlett” well performed. Thence to the Temple and Mrs. Turner’s (who continues still very ill), and so home and to bed.

37 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and had two mince pies sent thither by our order"
What? Take out food?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"but it did not yet please me"
I wonder if he told the paynter!

Australian Susan  •  Link

Takeaway food
Sam's kitchen probably did not have an oven, so baking of pies, bread and similar items had to be done at a baker's or somewhere else that had an oven. Mince pies will probably come up time and again - like the venison pasties! These would be pies with real minced meat in them, not the fruit-only items we associate with that name now.

john lauer  •  Link

I think Sam is trying to micro-manage the paynter, which will doom the paynting. But we'll soon know, I suppose.

Mary  •  Link

Sam's kitchen probably did not have an oven.

As I recall, Elizabeth does have an oven (as part of a kitchen range) and has baked pies in the past. Perhaps she does not bake 'speciality' pies or maybe did not have time to pay sufficient attention to the heat of her oven this morning to risk a baking.

PHE  •  Link

Sam appreciates a Shakspeare play!
Is this the first time?

David Goldfarb  •  Link

No, not the first time -- if memory serves me right, he saw "Hamlett" done a few days ago and liked it then too.

Harry  •  Link

Sam's kitchen probably did not have an oven
I imagine that an oven was considered quite a fire risk. Also it took up space and needed tending to - much simpler to farm out to a specialist.

I remember we had no oven when I was a child. When we needed anything baked my mother would send it round the corner to the local boulangerie. I have just carried out a straw poll in my neighbourhood. One baker tells me he doesn’t have the time to handle such outside orders, the other says he still does it for good customers, especially at night for the Xmas turkey.

Ruben  •  Link

pies in Pepys times:
I just posted some information about 300 years old pies in Background info.

Douglas Robertson  •  Link

We have seen Sam dining in on takeaway food before, namely on April 26:

"At the office all the morning, and at noon dined by myself at home on a piece of meat from the cook’s".

Glyn  •  Link

Following Ruben's link, it appears that the mince pies then were so big that they could only be cooked in a baker's oven, hence the reason for the takeaways (carry-outs) - also that they had been banned in the Commonwealth period, so this is the first year he could legally have eaten them for some time. I bet they tasted better when they were illegal!

Ann  •  Link

Why on earth would a mince pie be illegal?

Peter  •  Link

Ann, you've never tasted my wife's....(Sorry couldn't resist).

Mary  •  Link

Illegal pies.

Although mince pies were not only eaten during the Christmas season, they were very much associated with Christmas and New Year festivities and so were banned under the Commonwealth. In addition to these vain, celebratory associations they were probably thought simply too rich, ostentatious and extravagant to be tolerated in an 'equal' society.

vicenzo  •  Link

Bakers and baking: before the days of wonderloaf and preservatives, many communities used to have bakers, butchers, grocers etc., in the village or town. A baker of bread rarely was good baker of pies, or vice or versa, there by there would be the Pie maker, and the bread maker and cake maker. It be the same in families, one member would be good a roasts but made terrible pies or tarts or cakes [upside down cake would be inside out]. The equipment is and was not enough to make a good apple & blackberry pie[or mince, still love to have my great Grans version, so heavey it would sink a ship] , some people had a better feel for the job.
Even today Religeous symbols or associations still upset some sensibilities and are being banned where ever they have the power.
conclusion : May be the new maid has not made a decent pie. It appears that Eliza never was schooled in baking, just on the job training and now she has the position and some money, she can either order it from the pie maker or if not good enough, find a lass that can bake a pigeon pie. Ask many of the ladies about making pies and most would give the job to another, but there are those that love the creative and therapeutic aspects of baking of pies.
The Diary gives us another insight into the up and comeing household that thats starts in garret and progresses to the upper middle Mob. Two years ago found it hard to find a bob for the trip up town to shop in a carriage, now is in charge of hired help, and lo and behold gets her mug on canvas, and dines at Simpsons of the day.

Jackie  •  Link

I believe that many of the Puritans' restrictions about feasting at Christmas are still technically on the statue books. So beware anybody who eats Christmas Pudding on Christmas day.

Maurie Beck  •  Link

Illegal pies.

I wonder if there were mince pie "Dealers" and mince pie lords, with addicts strung out on a mince pie high, the police busting mince pie eating galleries, and the jails stuffed with those poor addicts gone cold turkey.

Pedro.  •  Link

Illegal pies.

We had the mention of the illegal pies last year, a law that has not been formally abolished. For "Christmas abolished" by Cromwell see..…

But if you think the Restoration changed things, spare a thought for us here in Birmingham England. For several years we have been fighting to keep our Christmas as Christmas and not "Winterval"!...see…

Stolzi  •  Link

"information about 300 years old pies"

I'd prefer something fresher please...

Australian Susan  •  Link

Cromwellian proscriptions
Maypoles were also outlawed (Sam mentions the setting up again of maypoles in London) and many localised customs which were perceived as "papist" (often they were simply pagan remainders). Some went "underground", but for others the long hiatus of the Parliamentary era meant that customs and practices died out completely. Some were revived in the late 19th century - such as mumming plays. Some survived the 1650s such as the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. See… Sorry getting off on personal hobby horse (pun intended).

Ruben  •  Link

Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
this dance is interesting indeed!
In the prehistoric cave paintings there is a sorcerer with horns, completely covered by skins except for, well, his genitals. I red that probably it was part of a fertility ritual.
I suppose that today Abbots Bromley people do not feel obliged to use the old garments attire.

Christopher Taylor  •  Link


Does anyone know if this painting still exists? URL, anyone?

Many thanks.

Pauline  •  Link

URL, anyone?
There has been discussion of this on several days since the painter was first mentioned in mid-November. Search the annotations by "Savill" or other key word. Not known to still exist; possibly lost in an Naval Office fire.…

Australian Susan  •  Link

Savill's Painting
Sam really doesn't seem to like this work, does he? One wonders if he did not do much to rescue it from the Naval Office fire! (if indeed it was destroyed at that time). Winston Churchill's widow destroyed a portrait of her husband after his death because she did not think it a true representation of her late husband. Others considered it to be *very* true to his personality and character and thought that was why it made Lady C. uneasy and unhappy. Maybe Sam quietly disposed of the work?

Doug Weller  •  Link

That 1998 article on Birmingham's 'winterval' was extremely misleading. 'Winterval' was a series of activities lasting over most of the winter, certainly into mid-February -- clearly not a Christmas replacement, especially as there was a huge 'Merry Christmas' sign on the main council building. Unfortunately some people mainly on the right wanted to turn it into a political football. And it has long been replaced by the German market, so the statement about 'for years' etc is simply not true.

Pedro  •  Link

"some people mainly on the right wanted to turn it into a political football."

Winterval cannot be dismissed in this way, some Council members defended the action. And in 2006 we cannot accuse the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, of being right wing...

"Dr. Sentamu also criticised Birmingham council for trying to re-brand Christmas as Winterval in 1998, out of what he said was its mistaken fear of causing offence."…

pat stewart cavalier  •  Link

take away food : as late as the 1970s in the Cévennes (south of France) it was common usage for people to prepare a fruit tart (for Sunday dinner) and take it to the village baker on Saturday for him to cook it in his oven. The one I'm thinking of did it for free.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Christmas was not abolished under the Commonwealth/Protectorate as an egalitarian measure. Indeed, although the Leveller faction of the Army was egalitarian, Cromwell himself was not; even less so were the original military Parliamentary leaders like Sandwich's cousin Manchester. At best, the interregnum regime was more meritocratic and less corrupt.

People who campaign to "keep Christ in Christmas" always make me smile. Christmas is on 25th December because the Church in the later Roman empire simply rebranded the local pagan winter solstice festivals, from Saturnalia to Yule. Many Norse pagan traditions are subsumed into an English Christmas. For example, the ancient Boar's Head Carol refers to the tradition of sacrificing a wild boar to the fertility god Freyr. Mistletoe is is of great Celtic pagan signnificance, and Santa Claus is the modern manifestation of Jolnir, the Yule god, an aspect of Odin.

The Puritans were not motivated by a desire for misery, but by a desire to "Purify" and remove the Papist sanctioned pagan traditions from their religion. They failed, just as the early church did, because ritual midwinter excess served several useful social functions.

The restrictions on Christmas should also be seen in the context of the long tradition of European sumptuary laws, from ancient Rome, through mediaeval England and also Tudor times.…

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Many painters won't allow subjects to see portraits until they are finished. Don't know if that was the practice in Sam's day. If it was Sam must have sneaked a peek when the paInter wasn't looking. Or he's just overly concerned.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Re: Australian Susan's comment on Churchill's portrait. Churchill detested it, and asked that it be destroyed after his death. Lady Churchill disliked it, too, and burned it. I rather liked it. No honest artist could make Churchill look handsome. A bulldog look was OK.
For more on Christmas, see William Bradford's book, "On Plymouth Plantation": While the "Saints" labored, the "Strangers" played at stool-ball, until the Governor took their playthings away.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

What is up with Paynter? First, what great name for a painter! Only thing better would be if his first name was Poytrate. Second, why is he letting SP see it before it is finished? Nothing worse that having an over the shoulder critic. No self respecting painter should allow it.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

Off topic I know, but with regards to Hamlet:

Horatio was not a friend to Hamlet. He was in the pay of Fortinbras. One of the Danish guards had an uncanny resemblance to Ham's old man -- esp. at night during a storm. So a plot was hatched on the emotionally susceptible Hamlet. One would have to believe in ghosts otherwise. Shakespeare certainly didn't. A perusal of Shakespeare's use of ghosts show in none but Hamlet do others see the victim's apparition.

It was all a Norwegian ruse to regain Denmark. Gertrude and Claudius recognised the threat so hence the hasty marriage. Hamlet was a stooge.

william wright  •  Link

What is up with Paynter? First, what great name for a painter!

The artists name is Mr Savill.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

I think Paynter was just Sam's way of spelling painter. It isn't the first time nor will it be the last that he's using creative spelling.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

L&M transcribe "painter." (It's also true that English spelling wasn't standardized yet.)

Gerald Berg  •  Link

Thanks all! Duh... it was the capital P that deuced me.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Thence to the Treasury Office, where I found Sir W. Batten come before me, and there we sat to pay off the St. George."

L&M: Her pay amounted to c. £2472. Thomas Turner and three other clerks attended. PRO, Adm. 20/2, nos 214, 1065.

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