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Alphabe Thursday … P is for Samuel Pepys.

March 5, 2015

While we look back to the 16th century and the practice of walking, the castles were beginning to turn palaces and mansions. Some with long narrow passages going nowhere in particular, built into the design. Doctors even then were advocating the need for a daily walk. So when inclement weather prevented a walk taken outside these galleries were used for the constitutional stroll. Soon the gallery became the place to exhibit paintings and to preserve health was no longer the point of the exercise.  Queen Elizabeth I had a raised terrace built at Windsor Castle and walked there daily before dinner as long it was not too windy.  

Although, it seemed walking then was more for health than pleasure, some joy must have been experienced. Still, some walkers did not enjoy the landscape so much, Samuel Pepys for instance, while walking in St James’s Park after dinner, notes in his diary the way in which the water pumps work there. A couple of years later while walking with his wife in White Hall Garden he was most interested in the lingerie of the king’s mistress as it hung to dry in the privy garden.

It was society that interested him, not nature,  and landscape was not yet a significant subject for British painting and literature, as it was to become. Until the surroundings became important, the walk was just movement, not experience.

Images from Samuel Pepys / by Nicholas Abbott, with illustrations by Roger Hall.

alphabet thursday

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2015 2:01 am

    This was an enjoyable post. Now I understand why the women were always walking in Jane Austen’s novels. You do have me wanting to read Pepys’ diary now.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

    • March 6, 2015 12:14 pm

      It would seem he was a bit of a rascal; the Victorians didn’t approve of his behaviour … makes a better read I would think!

  2. March 6, 2015 6:55 am

    I understand that he had a bit of an seemly nature; but that was not enjoyed by the Victorians but this in my opinion makes him a even more interesting.

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