Extracts from memoirs and diariesby Ian Irvine / June 20, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Hans Christian Andersen, who irritated Charles Dickens and family
Peter the Great trashes Sayes Court, the house and celebrated garden in Deptford of the diarist John Evelyn (1698):
February 6: “The Czar Emp of Muscovy, having a mind to see the Building of Ships, hired my House at Sayes Court, and made it a Court and palace, lying and remaining in it, new furnished for him by the King.”
April 21: Evelyn’s bailiff reported that the Czar’s entourage had been “right nasty” and had broken windows, smashed furniture, used portraits for target practice and “damnified” the garden. A favourite pastime for the drunken courtiers was to push the Czar in a wheelbarrow through the hedges.
June 9: “I went to Deptford to view how miserably the Czar of Muscovy had left my house after three months making it his Court, having gotten Sir Christopher Wren his Majesty’s Surveyor and Mr London his Gardener to go down and make an estimate of the repairs, for which they allowed 150 pounds [£290,000 in current values] in their report for the Lord of the Treasury.”