The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.502934, -0.127176


Pepys and his wife lived in a house on this street, just south of modern-day Downing Street, in Westminster, from August 1658 to July 1660.

See here for the house itself.

1893 text

Pepys’s house was on the south side of King Street, Westminster; it is singular that when he removed to a residence in the city, he should have settled close to another Axe Yard. Fludyer Street stands on the site of Axe Yard, which derived its name from a great messuage or brewhouse on the west side of King Street, called “The Axe,” and referred to in a document of the 23rd of Henry VIII — B.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

13 Annotations

First Reading

language hat  •  Link

The paragraph defining Axe Yard is confusing.
In the first place, there is no Fludyer St. any more, and I don't think there was when the paragraph was written (from the Diary Introduction: "...lived in Axe Yard, close by King Street, Westminster, a place on the site of which was built Fludyer Street. This, too, was swept away for the Government offices in 1864-65.); its location (just south of Downing St., which of course also didn't exist in Pepys' time) can be seen on this 1859 London map:…

Another confusing factor is that the "King Street" mentioned in the paragraph has nothing to do with the current street of that name north of Pall Mall; it was the main north-south street running through Westminster towards London, in roughly the same location as modern Parliament St. and Whitehall (which of course in Pepys' day meant the royal palace, more or less across the street from Axe Yard). It therefore didn't have a "south side"; I presume "off the west side" is meant, and the writer was led astray by the fact that the King St. extant in his day (as in ours) was east-west.

I hope all this doesn't simply introduce more confusion! Anyone who wants to be clear about the geography should consult the Latham-Matthews edition (vol. 1, 1970), which has an excellent map of Westminster on p. xxv showing every last alley.

Phil  •  Link

The Axe Yard footnote is tagged 'B', which signifies it was written by Lord Braybrooke, who produced editions of Pepys' Diary in earlier parts of the 19th century, so I assume Fludyer St still existed when he wrote this footnote. The Diary Introduction page was written by Wheatley in 1893. The map link indicates the modern equivalent location of Axe Yard, now Downing St, which hopefully makes things a little clearer.

Thanks for the comments 'language hat'.

Phil  •  Link

I've altered the location on the map link slightly so it now correctly points to the old location of Axe Yard/Fludyer Street, rather than Downing Street.

Phil  •  Link

Wow, that's a great map, thanks Susanna. A shame there isn't anything similar for before the Great Fire.

language hat  •  Link

I add my thanks.
People are turning up some great resources!

maureen  •  Link

I discovered by accident that Axe Yard was named for the Axe Brewery on the site of present Downing Street. Quite a bit of history on… and elsewhere on the No 10 website.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Residents of Axe Yard & Valentine Vanley:

Mr. (Henry?) Adams
friend of Shepley…

Francis Beale (at the Axe Tavern by 1660)
Pepys's landlord…

Dr. Frederick Clodius…

Mrs. Crisp
lived close to Pepys…

Laud Crisp
Mrs. Crisp's son…

Richard Dalton
Sergeant to the wine cellar for the King, buys Pepys's lease…

Mr. (John?) Hill…

Elizabeth Hunt
wife of John Hunt…

John Hunt
clerk in the Excise Office…

Kate Sterpin Petit
at one time maid to Elizabeth Pye…

Valentine Vanley (Wanley, NOT an Axe Yard resident)
of Lambeth; owns the freehold on the house Pepys rented…

Thomas Wade
officer of the Commonwealth victualling commission…

David Quidnunc  •  Link

More Axe Yard residents

Samuel Hartlib, Senior
Polish/Prussian refugee; friend of John Milton's…

Samuel Hartlib, Junior (POSSIBLE resident)
underclerk: Council of State; Privy Council; Hearth Office…

Anne Hartlib Rothe
daughter of Hartlib Senior & Junior's sister…

Edward Widdrington, related to
Thomas Widdrington…
and Ralph Widdrington…

G Coldham  •  Link

I am seeking information about a medieval Tavern called the Ax(e) adjacent to St Mary-atte-Axe.

I found an internet reference of a fine Roll mentionin "asce de coleman"
(Acse? de Coleman)..
I somehow doubt it was called (orginally) The Axe of Coleman but rather something like the axe of Colone, Cologne, colonia??--due to legend thereof.
Any ideas,please???


CGS  •  Link

two meanings as cleaved from the OED, one to lop off, a tool to fell a tree, the other meaning was an axle for wheels to rotate on , so it might be possible that Ax yard be an old site for making axles and installing wheels, like a forge, close to the major customer for wheeled chariots, and other jobs to keep the powers to be, mobile, horses shoed etc.,

just tort?

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