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In July 1660 the Pepys household moved to a house in the Navy Office buildings on Seething Lane, just west of Tower Hill. It had around ten rooms.

17 Annotations

First Reading

Pauline  •  Link

From Claire Tomalin's "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self" (pp108-109)

(how Sam gets his house in Seething Lane)

"A house came with the Navy Board job, and the story of how Pepys moved into his house, like so much that was happpening all around, is both entertaining and shameful. The Navy Office houses were in Seething Lane, just west of Tower Hill, in a very large, rambling building divided into five substantial residences and office accomodation, with a courtyard and a communal garden stretching north-west to the edge of Tower Hill. There was an entry gate, shut at night by the resident porter, making it an early gated community. Pepys liked the place so much when he went to take a look on 4 July that he began to worry in case he was not allotted a house as promised, but excluded, or "shuffled out." He was back with two of his new bosses two days later to take possession of the office, and he spent the next day there making an inventory of papers. Some of the officers of the departing regime were naturally still about, and his new clerk, Tom Hayter, was in fact one of the existing clerks. A week after Pepys's first visit, he was annoyed to see a "busy fellow" arrive, apparently to select the best house for Lord Berkeley, one of the new commissioners. Pepys reacted swiftly. He hurried home to Axe Yard, collected a pair of sheets and invited Hayter to accompany him back to Seething Lane, where he knocked at the door of the house he wanted. It was inhabited by Major Francis Willoughby, a commissioner since 1653 and a friend of Blackborne; Willoughby had visited the Naseby in April, as Pepys noted in his diary. Perhaps this made him less abashed at announcing that he wanted to spend the night in Willoughby's house. Willoughby courteously agreed, Pepys enjoyed a good night's sleep, and two days later asserted his right to the house. He received permission to start on some alterations and showed Elizabeth over "my house"--a breathless sequence that leaves you impressed by his determination and effectiveness, if not by his sensitivity."

chip  •  Link

One almost wants to turn Tomalin's word to insensitivity. Pepys was in effect invading poor Major Francis Willoughby's domain. It appears to have been a frenetic acclamation of abodes.

language hat  •  Link

Chip: note the "not."
"...if not by his sensitivity": ie, there is no sensitivity to be impressed by.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Rooms in Pepys's Seething Lane home

In the diary, Pepys sometimes used different names for the same room, but here's a list provided in Liza Picard's "Restoration London." In the order in which Pepys mentions them, "Pepys seems to have had" the following:

1. study for himself
2. parlour
3. 'little room' taken over from his neighbor
4. room called 'nursery' in 1661
5. 'little green chamber where the maids lie'
6. Elizabeth's bed chamber
7. dining room
8. 'our matted chamber'
9. new dining room in roof extension
10. Elizabeth's closet
11. study for Samuel's secretary
12. Samuel's room
13. 'the red chamber'
14. 'the green chamber'
15. new closet for Elizabeth in roof extension
16. upper best chamber, or music room
17. our dancing room
18. Samuel's new closet
19. his 'old closet, now my little dining room'
20. 'the great chamber'
21. 'long chamber where the girl lies'
22. 'blue chamber'
23. dressing room
24. room for Elizabeth's woman

ALSO, there would have been a kitchen, pantries, larders, store cupboards and cellars.

"A 'chamber' was a bedroom if there was a bed in it. It would have a 'closet' leading off it where clothes could be hung. ... Each spouse had a closet (sometimes also, confusingly, called a 'cabinet'). This was *de rigeur* in a fashionable household."

"I suspect that many of the rooms were not very big," Picard says. "The division of rooms was not very new."

-- pp 36-37

Susan  •  Link

Claire Tomalin refers to Pepys house in Seething Lane as having 10 rooms.Maybe that excluded closets. Maybe the different names for the rooms (e.g. "blue" or "green") is a reference to Pepys insatiable appetite for home improvements. He was always having tradesmen in painting, plastering, doing carpentry etc.And his household changed rapidly as he became wealthier during the Diary years, so the use rooms were put to changed.

Richard Merne  •  Link

Chip and Language hat, "a breathless sequence that leaves you impressed by his determination and effectiveness, if not by his sensitivity." This is one of those quirks of the english language, where C. T. could have used either 'sensitivity' or 'insensitivity' with possible equal effect in the context of the sentence's preamble.

Terry F  •  Link

If you go back to 1746 to the SE corner of this segment of the map, you will find the Navy Office east of Seething Lane across from St Olave Church, which faces north onto Hart St.…

Dorota  •  Link

"Rooms in Pepys’s Seething Lane home..."

David why You didn't write pages where You found the names of room? Can You do it now?

Dorota  •  Link

of course not pages but dates;) sorry :)

Geoff  •  Link

The Navy Office, and Sam’s home are on sheet 22 of this 1658 map. Seething Lane runs from Church No. 98 (St Olave’s) down to Church No. 2 (All Hallows, Barking).
The churches, mansions and public buildings appear to be true depictions. The smaller houses, as drawn, might just be a stylised representation of built up areas in general. However, Sam’s house, the smallest of the Navy houses, would be situated at about the fourth or fifth house down on the right of that street. The Navy Office would be one of the buildings behind, backing onto Tower Hill.…

Geoff  •  Link

St Olave's is Church No. 86 , not 98. (I read that upside down).

cgs  •  Link

great find:thanks Geoff
this shows the great growth of the city between this map and the one 74.

Jim  •  Link

I found this explanation as to why it was called ‘Seething Lane’ on the ‘London Gardens Online’ site.

“The word ‘Seething’ may originate from a medieval word ‘sifethen’ meaning ‘full of chaff’ so-called after the nearby Corn Market.”


Grant Hayter-Menzies  •  Link

As a descendant of Francis Willoughby, it is fantastic to me to see David Quidnunc's list of rooms in the house Pepys took over from Willoughby. Willoughby's wife, Margaret (Locke) Taylor, was the widow of wealthy merchant Daniel Taylor, whose inventory lists about as many rooms in their house in Swan Alley and everything in the rooms. Margaret's late husband left her a very sumptuous bedchamber full of furniture, hangings, and whatnot. So much for being Puritans!

Second Reading

Alice Teasdale  •  Link

Any idea of where Tomalin sourced her information?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

David Quidnunc's 5 Dec 2003 list of rooms omits The House of Office (and the cellar where the waste is collected), and the Pepys' locked wine cellar (presumably a different cellar).

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

And today my theory that the waste fell into the cellar and was collected in barrels takes a step forward. This article is about some Dutch wine barrels from the 1680's that have been found well preserved, and they are finding out what these Dutch merchants ate from the contents.…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.