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John Evelyn, writer, diarist
John Evelyn (31 October 1620 – 27 February 1706) was an English writer, gardener and diarist.
Evelyn's diaries or Memoirs are largely contemporaneous with those of the other noted diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, and cast considerable light on the art, culture and politics of the time (he witnessed the deaths of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, the last Great Plague of London, and the Great Fire of London in 1666). Over the years, Evelyn’s Diary has been over-shadowed by Pepys's chronicles of 17th-century life. Evelyn and Pepys corresponded frequently and much of this correspondence has been preserved.
Born into a family whose wealth was largely founded on gunpowder production, John Evelyn was born in Wotton, Surrey, and grew up in the Sussex town of Lewes. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford and at the Middle Temple. While in London, he witnessed important events such as the execution of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. Having briefly joined the Royalist army, he went abroad to avoid further involvement in the English Civil War. He travelled in Italy, attending anatomy lectures in Padua in 1646 and sending the Evelyn Tables back to London. In 1644, Evelyn visited the Venerable English College at Rome, where Catholic priests were trained for service in England.
He married Mary Browne, daughter of Sir Richard Browne the British ambassador in Paris in 1647.
In 1652, Evelyn and his wife settled in Deptford (now in south-east London). Their house, Sayes Court (adjacent to the naval dockyard), was purchased by Evelyn from his father-in-law Sir Richard Browne in 1653 and Evelyn soon began to transform the gardens. In 1671, he encountered master wood-worker Grinling Gibbons (who was renting a cottage on the Sayes Court estate) and introduced him to Sir Christopher Wren. There is now an electoral ward called Evelyn in the Deptford area of the London Borough of Lewisham.
It was after the Restoration that Evelyn's career really took off. In 1660, Evelyn was a member of the group that founded the Royal Society. The following year, he wrote the Fumifugium (or The Inconveniencie of the Aer and Smoak of London Dissipated), the first book written on the growing air pollution problem in London.
He was known for his knowledge of trees, and his treatise Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest Trees (1664) was written as an encouragement to landowners to plant trees to provide timber for England's burgeoning navy. Further editions appeared in his lifetime (1670 and 1679), with the fourth edition (1706) appearing just after his death and featuring the engraving of Evelyn shown on this page even though it had been made more than 50 years prior by Robert Nanteuil in 1651 in Paris. Various other editions appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries and feature an inaccurate portrait of Evelyn made by Francesco Bartolozzi.
During the Second Anglo-Dutch War, beginning 28 October 1664, Evelyn served as one of four Commissioners for taking Care of Sick and Wounded Seamen and for the Care and Treatment of Prisoners of War. (The others were Sir William D'Oyly, Sir Thomas Clifford and Col. Bullen Reymes.)
Following the Great Fire in 1666, closely described in his diaries, Evelyn presented one of several plans (Christopher Wren produced another) for the rebuilding of London, all of which were roundly ignored by Charles II. He took an interest in the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral by Wren (with Gibbons' artistry a notable addition). Evelyn's interest in gardens even led him to design pleasure gardens, such as those at Euston Hall.
Evelyn was a prolific author and produced books on subjects as diverse as theology, numismatics, politics, horticulture, architecture and vegetarianism, and he cultivated links with contemporaries across the spectrum of Stuart political and cultural life. Like Pepys, Evelyn was a lifelong bibliophile, and by his death his library is known to have comprised 3,859 books and 822 pamphlets. Many were uniformly bound in a French taste and bear his motto Omnia explorate; meliora retinete ("explore everything; keep the best") from I Thessalonians 5, 21.
His daughter Maria Evelyn (1665–1685) is sometimes acknowledged as the pseudonymous author of the book Mundus Muliebris of 1690. Mundus Muliebris: or, The Ladies Dressing Room Unlock'd and Her Toilette Spread. In Burlesque. Together with the Fop-Dictionary, Compiled for the Use of the Fair Sex is a satirical guide in verse to Francophile fashion and terminology, and its authorship is often jointly credited to John Evelyn, who seems to have edited the work for press after his daughter's death.
In 1694 Evelyn moved back to Wotton, Surrey because his elder brother George had no living sons available to inherit the estate. Evelyn's own son John ii (1655-99) and grandson John iii (1682–1763) later Sir John Evelyn, bart, were the only hope for Wotton staying in the family. Sayes Court was made available for rent. Its most notable tenant was Russian
P1020572.JPG Post-Elizabethan Timber-frame House
Edenbridge, Kent, GB
Under Queen Elizabeth I the Spanish Armada was a real threat, especially to South of England which was covered in ancient oak forests. This was the main source for building material as well as for the local iron industry. The iron was extracted from opencast pits from sedimentary rather than igneous formations. However the felling of wood could not sustain both building and industrial activity: Elizabeth knew that she needed iron for canons and so imposed instead a ban on using large trunks of oak for new construction: suddenly the architects had to resort to knew solutions in supporting the structures by means of smaller and thinner pieces of timber - as the ones seen here - this altered completely the style of architecture from Tudor to post-Elizabethan. A time threshold can therefore be be easily put on the style of architecture by looking at the size of the beams. Even floor boards were narrower, in Elizabethan times compared to the much wider planks, made out of large-girth trunks, during the reign of Henry VIII and his predecessors. Oak had to be used sparingly. Still by the 18th c. the iron industry shifted from the Weald of kent to the Midlands where new iron war was found and in larger quantities and closer to the supply of coal needed.
Edenbridge, in the Parish of Sevenoaks is located on the Kent/Surrey border on the upper floodplain of the River Medway and gives its name to the latter's tributary, the River Eden. Edenbridge has a population of around 8,000..
The old part of the town grew along a section of the otherwise disused Roman road, the London to Lewes Way at the point where it crossed the river. Iron slag from iron smelting in the surrounding area was used in building the road. In the Middle Ages, it became a centre of the Wealden iron industry. There are many mediaeval timber buildings in the town, one of which houses today the Eden Valley Museum. Edenbridge has had four mills over the centuries, Haxted Mill and Honour's Mill on the River Eden, Christmas Mill on a tributary of the Eden, and a windmill to the south of the town. All four mill buildings survive, but now converted to other uses. The 13th century church dedicated to St Peter and St Paul contains a set of windows in the east wall by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. William Taillour (1406–83), Lord Mayor Of London in 1468 lived in Edenbridge Walter Galpin Alcock (1861–1947), organist and composer, was born in Edenbridge
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