Edited by Andrew ...
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In 1660, London seethed with a population of 300,000. In Europe only Paris and Constantinople were larger. King Charles II – a lover of women and of good living – was on the throne, and the streets were crowded with velvet-clad noblemen making their way to the reopened theatres. Watermen plied their trade along the River Thames between the Palace of Westminster and the City, and in the newly fashionable St James's Park, Londoners took the air by day and sought other – illicit – pleasures at night.
In her acclaimed book Restoration London: Everyday Life in London, 1660–1670, Liza Picard brings the city to life for us – both the public arena and the world behind closed doors. Organised thematically, it presents a marvellous kaleidoscope of the age – from the city's geography to personal grooming methods; education opportunities to rules on etiquette; religious observances to sexual practices. Throughout, Picard illustrates the facts with delightful anecdotes. We journey from the humble two-roomed cottage of Widow Kinrich to the mansions of City Aldermen, hung with wool cloth, or perhaps even with fine damask. We learn what a toothbrush was made of, what underwear was like (and where you dried it) and read advice to city gardeners. And we discover how Samuel Pepys came rushing home from the office because he heard that Lady Sandwich had called. Unfortunately he dashed in to find her in the dining room upon ‘the Pott’. Both rather embarrassed, they attempted to chat in an off-hand manner.
A lawyer by training with a self-confessed passion for ‘primary evidence’, Picard devoted years to examining household accounts, legal records, conduct books, reports from visitors and diplomats, contemporary newssheets, as well as the diaries of John Evelyn and, of course, Pepys. Our edition is filled with paintings and pictures of evocative objects from coins to road maps, and pictorial endpapers show London as it appeared before the Great Fire. As Jenny Uglow writes in a new introduction: ‘With the ebullient, scholarly Liza Picard as your guide, welcome to Restoration London – a world to enjoy.’