Samuel Pepys - Brampton House

The Complete Diary



Brampton is a village 2 miles south-west of Huntingdon, close to Hinchingbrooke (Sandwich's residence) and was the home of Robert Pepys, elder brother of the diarist's father. See Brampton Parish Council history page for more detail..

His house, a yeoman's farmhouse on the edge of the village, now known as Pepys House, had been built in the late 16th century, to judge by its structure and the mural paintings in the hall and west bedroom.

On Robert Pepys's death in 1661 it passed, along with the greater part of his landed property (including some 74 acres in Brampton parish), into the possession of Pepys's father for life, after which it was to be inherited by Pepys.

John Pepys lived there with his wife and daughter Paulina from Aug. 1661, and made some alterations in the house and garden. There were outbuildings and at least one pasture field attached to the house, but old John, at Pepys's suggestion, kept no animals except a horse. From time to time Pepys sent his wife with her maid for extended visits, and made shorter visits himself, usually on business connected with the landed property.

In Oct. 1667 he made the memorable visit in which he searched the garden for the gold sent from London and buried there during the invasion scare of the summer - sieving the soil for his coins 'just as they do for Dyamonds in other parts of the world'. He grew increasingly fond of the place and planned improvements; in moments of depression he cheered himself by the thought of retiring there with his books. The death of his mother in 1667 and Paulina's marriage to John Jackson in the following year led to the break-up of the household. John Pepys went to live with his daughter and son-in-law in Ellington near by, and the house was let for almost ten years. The name of one tenant (Merritt) is known; he may have been the only one, and may be identical or connected with the George Merritt who appears in 1703 in the Jackson family papers.

In 1677 the Jacksons and old John moved back to Brampton, and under their management the house was neglected. Both Jackson and Pepys's father died in 1680, and Pepys paid a month's visit in the autumn to make new arrangements, and to set repairs in train. Paulina, now in poor health, was brought to London for treatment and Pepys thought of letting the house to his cousin Roger Pepys, but his visit had renewed his affection for the place and he was soon dreaming once more of retiring there.

Instead, he introduced yet another dependant, Esther St Michel, wife of his brother-in-law Balty who was away on naval service. She and her children shared the house from April to Aug. 1682 with Paulina and her two sons. Paulina stayed there until her death in 1689, after which the house was let once more to tenants. By virtue of being its owner, and the owner of the land inherited with it, Pepys was made a deputy lieutenant of Huntingdonshire in May 1685 and reappointed in March 1688. At Pepys's death the house passed, with most of his estate, to Paulina's younger son John Jackson, who lived In Clapham. He had some repairs carried out, and let the house on a yearly tenancy to a local agent, John Matthews, the schoolmaster of Huntingdon who had also acted for Pepys.

One tenant was Thomas Cook, 'a labouring man' 'of no condition suitable to the place'; another (in early 1709) was Abigail Dickons, a widow (and a bluestocking, to judge by her letters).
In 1721-2 the tenant (Holmes, in possession since 1709) paid £7 p.a.It was still in the hands of Jackson's heir, John Pepys Jackson, in 1743, but some time later in the 18th century (perhaps after his death in 1780 - he died unmarried) was absorbed into the Sandwich estate. The house was enlarged by the addition of a wing to the south and became a farmhouse. Since 1926 it has been leased to the Samuel Pepys Club

from "The Monuments of Huntingdonshire" HMSO 1926

Pepys Farm, house, on the South side of the road from Brampton to Huntingdon, 400 yards NE of the church, is of two storeys with attics. The walls are partly of plastered timber-framing and partly of brick; the roofs are tiled. The timber-framed North part of the house was built in the middle of the 16th century and to this was added, early in the 18th century, the brick wing on the south. There is a modern addition to the west of this wing.

The original block has 18th century brick walls to the ground storey and a plaster cove to the eaves.

The west room and the room above it have 17th century windows with solid oak frames and mullions and iron casements.

The central chimney stack has three grouped shafts and there is another stack at the west end; both are of the 17th century.

The gables at the east and west of the original block have moulded barge-boards. The early 18th century addition is of red brick with a chimney stack of the same date.

Inside the building, the original block has chamfered ceiling beams and two rooms have open timbered ceilings.

In the west room on the ground floor are some pieces of 17th century panelling.

The first floor has some cambered beams in the walls and partitions and one fireplace has a cambered lintel. In the attics are two old battened doors.