Samuel Pepys Diary 1661, Coronation

The Complete Diary



The Coronation of Charles II, April 23rd 1661

... about 4 in the morning I rose.

And got to the abby, where I fallowed Sir J. Denham the surveyour with some company that he was leading in. And with much ado, by the favour of Mr. Cooper his man, did get up into a great scaffold across the north end of the abby - where with a great deal of patience I sat from past 4 till 11 before the King came in. And a pleasure it was to see the Abbey raised in the middle, all covered with red and throne (that is a chaire) and footstoole on the top of it. And all the officers of all kinds, so much as the very fidlers, in red vests.

At last comes in the Deane and prebends of Westminster with the Bishops (many of them in cloth-of-glod Copes); and after them the nobility all in their parliament-robes, which was a most magnificent sight. Then the Duke and the King with a scepter (carried by my Lord of Sandwich) and Sword and mond before him, and the crowne too.

The King in his robes, bare headed, which was very fine. And after all had placed themselfs - there was a sermon and the service. And then in the Quire at the high altar he passed all the ceremonies of the Coronacion - which, to my very great grief, I and most of the Abbey could not see. The crowne being put upon his head, a great shout begun. And he came forth to the Throne and there passed more ceremonies: as, taking the oath and having things read to him by the Bishopp, and his lords (who put on their capps as soon as the King put on his Crowne) and Bishopps came and kneeled before him.

And three times the King-at-armes went to the three open places on the scaffold and proclaimed that if any one could show any reason why Ch.Steward should not be King of England, that now he should come and speak.

And a Generall pardon also was read by the Lord Chancellor; and meddalls flung up and down by my Lord Cornwallis - of silver; but I could not come by any.

But so great a noise, that I could make but little of the Musique; and endeed, it was lost to everybody. But I had so great a list to pisse, that I went out a little while before the King had done all his ceremonies and went round the abby to Westminster-hall, all the way within rayles, and 10000 people, with the ground coverd with blue cloth - and Scaffolds all the way. Into the hall I got - where it was very fine with hangings and scaffolds, one upon another, full of brave ladies. And my wife in one little one on the right hand.

Here I stayed walking up and down; and at last, upon one of the side-stalls, I stood and saw the King come in with all the persons (but the Souldiers) that were yesterday in the cavalcade; and a most pleasant sight it was to see them in their several robes. And the King came in with his Crowne on and his sceptre in his hand - under a Canopy borne up by six silver staves, carried by Barons of the Cinqueports - and little bells at every end.

And after a long time he got up to the farther end, and all set themselfs down at their several tables - and that also was a rare sight. And the King's first Course carried up by the Knights of the bath. And many fine ceremonies there was of the Heralds leading up people before him and bowing; and my Lord of Albimarles going to the Kitchin and eat a bit of the first dish that was to go to the King's table.

But above all was these three Lords, Nothumberland and Suffolke and the Duke of Ormond, coming before the Courses on horseback and staying so all dinner-time; and at last, to bring up (Dymock) the King's Champion, all in armor on horseback, with his Speare and targett carried before him. And a herald proclaim that if any dare deny Ch. Steward to be lawful King of England, here was a Champion that would fight with him; and with those words the Champion flings down his gantlet; and all this he doth three times in his going up toward the King's table. At last when he is come, the King drinkes to him and then sends him the Cup, which is of gold; and he drinks it off and then rides back again with the cup in his hand.

I went from table to table to see the Bishops and all others at their dinner, and was infinite pleased with it. And at the Lords' table I met with Wll. Howe and he spoke to my Lord for me and he did give me four rabbits and a pullet; and so I got it, and Mr. Creed and I got Mr. Michell to give us some bread and so we at a Stall eat it, as everybody else did what they could get.

I took a great deal of pleasure to go up and down and look upon the ladies - and to hear the Musique of all sorts; but above all, the 24 viollins.

About 6 at night they had dined; and I went up to my wife and tere met with a pretty lady (Mrs Frankelyn, a Doctor's wife, a friend of Mr Bowyers) and kissed them both - and by and by took them down to Mr. Bowyers. And strange it is, to think that these two days have held up fair till now that all is done and the King gone out of the hall; and then it fell a-raining and thundering and lightening as I have not seen it do some years - which people did take great notice of God's blessing of the work of these two days - which is foolery, to take too much notice of these things

Some were convinced it was a good augury, others that it was evil. Richard Baxter was reminded of the earthquake that occurred during Charles I coronation.

I observed little disorder in all this; but only the King's Footmen had got hold of the Canopy nd would keep it from the barons of the Cinqueports; which they endeavoured to force from them again but could not do it till my Lord Duke of Albermarle caused it to be put into Sir R Pye's hand till tomorrow to be decided.

The Barons had been dragged along the hall, and had lost their places at table. By a prompt command of the King, the Footmen were imprisoned and dismissed.

At Mr Bowyers, a great deal of company; some I knew, others I did not. Here we stayed upon the leads and below till it was late, expecting to see the Fireworkes; but they were not performd tonight. Only, the City had light like a glory round about it, with bonefyres.

At last I went to Kingstreete; and there sent Crockford to my father's and my house to tell them I could not come hoe tonight, because of the dirt and a coach could not be had.

And so after drinking a pot of ale alone at Mrs Harpers, I returned to Mr Bowyers; and after a little stay more, I took my wife and Mrs Frankelyn (who I proferred the civility of lying with my wife at Mrs Hunts tonight) to Axe yard. In which, at the further end, there was three great bonefyres and a great many great gallants, men and women; and the lay hold of us and would have us drink the King's health upon our knee, kneeling upon a fagott; which we all did, they drinking to us one after another - which we thought a strange Frolique. But these gallants continued thus a great while, and I wondered to see how the ladies did tiple.

At last I sent my wife and her bedfellow to bed, and Mr Hunt and I went in with Mr Thornbury (who did give the company all their wines, he being yeoman of the wine cellar to the King) to his house; and there, with his wife and two of his sisters and soe gallant sparks that were there, we drank the King's health and nothing else, till one of the gentlemen fell down stark drunk and there lay speweing. And I went to my Lord's pretty well. But no sooner a-bed with Mr Sheply but my head begun to turne and I to vomitt, and if ever I was foxed it was now - which I cannot say yet, because I fell aleep and sleep till morning - only, when I waked I found myself wet with my spewing. Thus did the day end, wih joy everywhere; and blessed be God, I have not heard of any mischance to anybody through it all, but only to Serjeant Glynne, whose Horse fell upon him yesterday and is like to kill him; which people do please themselfs with, to see how just God is to punish that rogue at such a time as this - he being now one of the King's Serjeants and rode in the Cavalcade with Maynard, to whom people wished the same fortune.

Sir John Glynne survived the accident by five years. He and Sir John Maynard were eminent lawyers who, after serving in high judicial office under Oliver Cromwell, made their peace with the King at the Restoration, and became Knights and King's Serjeants. Their unpopularity is understandable but undeserved.

There was also this night, in Kingstreet [a woman] had her eye put out by a boy's flinging of a firebrand into the coach.

Now after all this, I can say that besides the pleasure of the sight of these glorious things, I may now shut my eyes against any other objects, or for the future trouble myself to see things of state and shewe, as being sure never to see the like again in this world.