Wednesday 24 March 1668/69

Up, and walked abroad in the garden, and find that Mrs. Tooker has not any of her daughters here as I expected and so walked to the yard, leaving Middleton at the pay, and there I only walked up and down the yard, and then to the Hill-House, and there did give order for the coach to be made ready; and got Mr. Gibson, whom I carried with me, to go with me and Mr. Coney, the surgeon, towards Maydston which I had a mighty mind to see, and took occasion, in my way, at St. Margett’s, to pretend to call to see Captain Allen to see whether Mrs. Jowles, his daughter, was there; and there his wife come to the door, he being at London, and through a window, I spied Jowles, but took no notice of her but made excuse till night, and then promised to come and see Mrs. Allen again, and so away, it being a mighty cold and windy, but clear day; and had the pleasure of seeing the Medway running, winding up and down mightily, and a very fine country; and I went a little out of the way to have visited Sir John Bankes, but he at London; but here I had a sight of his seat and house, the outside, which is an old abbey just like Hinchingbroke, and as good at least, and mighty finely placed by the river; and he keeps the grounds about it, and walls and the house, very handsome: I was mightily pleased with the sight of it. Thence to Maydstone, which I had a mighty mind to see, having never been there; and walked all up and down the town, and up to the top of the steeple, and had a noble view, and then down again: and in the town did see an old man beating of flax, and did step into the barn and give him money, and saw that piece of husbandry which I never saw, and it is very pretty: in the street also I did buy and send to our inne, the Bell, a dish of fresh fish. And so, having walked all round the town, and found it very pretty, as most towns I ever saw, though not very big, and people of good fashion in it, we to our inne to dinner, and had a good dinner; and after dinner a barber come to me, and there trimmed me, that I might be clean against night, to go to Mrs. Allen. And so, staying till about four o’clock, we set out, I alone in the coach going and coming; and in our way back, I ’light out of the way to see a Saxon monument, as they say, of a King, which is three stones standing upright, and a great round one lying on them, of great bigness, although not so big as those on Salisbury Plain; but certainly it is a thing of great antiquity, and I mightily glad to see it; it is near to Aylesford, where Sir John Bankes lives. So homeward, and stopped again at Captain Allen’s, and there ’light, and sent the coach and Gibson home, and I and Coney staid; and there comes to us Mrs. Jowles, who is a very fine, proper lady, as most I know, and well dressed. Here was also a gentleman, one Major Manly, and his wife, neighbours; and here we staid, and drank, and talked, and set Coney and him to play while Mrs. Jowles and I to talk, and there had all our old stories up, and there I had the liberty to salute her often, and pull off her glove, where her hand mighty moist, and she mighty free in kindness to me, and je do not at all doubt that I might have had that that I would have desired de elle had I had time to have carried her to Cobham, as she, upon my proposing it, was very willing to go, for elle is a whore, that is certain, but a very brave and comely one. Here was a pretty cozen of hers come in to supper also, of a great fortune, daughter-in-law to this Manly, mighty pretty, but had now such a cold, she could not speak. Here mightily pleased with Mrs. Jowles, and did get her to the street door, and there to her su breasts, and baiser her without any force, and credo that I might have had all else, but it was not time nor place. Here staid till almost twelve at night, and then with a lanthorn from thence walked over the fields, as dark as pitch, and mighty cold, and snow, to Chatham, and Mr. Coney with great kindness to me: and there all in bed before I come home, and so I presently to bed.

19 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"pretend to call to see Captain Allen, to see whether Mrs. Jowles his daughter was there; and there his wife come to the door, he being at London, and through a window, I spied Jowles, but took no notice of her...." (L&M)

Peter Last  •  Link

Pepys the tourist becomes Pepys the lecher, displaying wonderfully well his zest for life and all he could get out of his first visit to Maidstone. I recall that the distinction between a Kentish man and a man of Kent was to do with the River Medway, but I forget which was which.

Katherine  •  Link

The solemn vows of marital faithfulness seem to have no force outside the City. Isn't this the first time since Deb that the Francolatinish has come back to the diary?

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Presumably he feels safe where there are no friends of his wife to take notice and carry back stories.

Mary  •  Link

Kentish distinctions

A man of Kent comes from east of the Medway; a Kentish man from west of the river.

Women, following the same system, are designated either Kentish maids or fair maids of Kent. Men's looks are apparently immaterial.

djc  •  Link

"Men’s looks are apparently immaterial." Nor, west of the Medway are the maids fair!

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

So Chobham was a place for discreet assignations? A far piece (about 60 miles) from Maidstone, so Sam would have needed a couple of days of freedom. Bold of him to propose it. Probably in conditional terms, to test her availability? "Lets go to Chobham some day?" "Oh, Sam, I'd love to."

PS, Thank you Mary for those fine distinctions and your observation.

Mary  •  Link

Another distinction.

Pepys has been visiting Cobham (Kent) not Chobham (Surrey).

Cobham is quite close to Chatham, Gravesend etc. Chobham is not.

The link is misleading.

Jim  •  Link

"You'd better run, you'd better fly.
Hide your daughters, hide your wives.
Lock your doors and stay inside . . ."
Samuel Pepys has arrived.

With apologies to the songwriter Ray Davies.
Lyrics from "Here Comes Flash" on the Kinks album"Preservation Act 1"

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sam missed out on the Tooker daughters: conjures up pictures of a letter being written:"My dear Mrs Tooker, a word to the wise........" by one Mr W. Hewer - looking out for Sam and Bess too.

Clement  •  Link

"...and up to the top of the steeple, and had a noble view..."

Would this have been the Maidstone All Saints church? His description of a "steeple" doesn't sound much like the tower of All Saints, but I believe it did still have a tall spire at that time, so perhaps.

I visited this church many years ago and now wonder if I peered from the same tower window as Sam.

Phil Gyford  •  Link

Sorry about the mixups over the Jowles and Cobham - all fixed now!

Second Reading

Ivan  •  Link

Mr Pepys manages at one and the same time strongly to desire Mrs Jowles and to abuse her in his description of her character!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to Aylesford, where Sir John Bankes lives,,,.but here I had a sight of his seat and house, the outside, which is an old abbey just like Hinchingbroke"

The old abbey owned by Sir John Banks is Aylesford Priory or The Friars, a priory in Aylesford, near Maidstone, Kent, England. It was founded in 1242 by the first Carmelites to come from the Holy Land, under the patronage of the crusader Richard de Grey. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the Friars passed to Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir John Sedley, Sir Peter Rycaut, Sir John Banks and Heneage Finch, 1st Earl of Aylesford among others.…

psw  •  Link

Pepys just following his plan for this little diversion. He knew those girls were there.
This was not the first time since the Deb cosa (sorry, pun); he had his eyes out once or twice on breaks with his warden or her proxy.
No surprises here.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"And so, having walked all round the town, and found it very pretty, as most towns I ever saw, though not very big, and people of good fashion in it"

L&M: In 1639 Peter Mundy wrote of Maidstone: 'For Many Miles about London there is Not a handsomer and cleaner place': Mundy, iii. 40. Ton Celia Fiennes (ca. 1697) it was 'a very neate market town as you shall see in the Country, its buildings are mostly of timber worke the streets are large . . . very pretty houses about the town look like the habitations of rich men, I believe it a wealthy place. . . . : Journeys (ed. Morris), p. 330. Defoe called it 'a town og very great business and Trade, and yet full of Gentry, of Mirth, and of good Company',: Tour (ed. Cole), i. 115. Its staple trade was the making of linen thread.

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

I visited Maidstone for the first time in October because I wanted to visit the site of Vinters, a country house that is there no longer, for a novel I'm researching. Aside from the archbishop's palace and a few other historical buildings near the river, there isn't much of the town that Pepys thought was so pretty. In general, it's pretty run down. Definitely not rich.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

Yes, Ivan. To wit:

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

Groucho Marx

All kinds of innuendo!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

What will the Duke of York think when Middleton reports back that Pepys skipped the pay? Hard to justify this day out, although I'm sure he enjoyed meeting some wealthy, rabid nonconformists. This isn't the behavior of someone worried about keeping his job, and implicates some of his Navy Board subordinates.

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