The Landscape Guide

Garden Descriptions, From the Diary of John Evelyn

The text is taken from William Bray's 1818 edition of Evelyn's Diary, with minor editorial adjustments. The dates are those of the diary entries. He describes gardens in France, Italy and England, between 1644 and 1685. In England this was the politically troubled time of the Commonwealth and the Restoration. Evelyn's own garden was at Deptford in South London.

The Louvre Garden; The Tuileries Garden; St Cloud; St. Germains-en-Laye; Ruell; Luxembourg Garden; Passage of the Alps; Palazzo Doria; Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens; Villa Borghese; Palazzo Farnese at Caparola; Belvedere Gardens at the Vatican; Villa Aldobrandini; Villa Mondragone; Villa d'Este; Pratolino; Wilton; Hampton Court; Groombridge; Nonesuch; Leeds Castle; Clivden; Swallowfield;

The Louvre Garden (4th February 1644) Top

In another more private garden towards the Queen's apartment is a walk, or cloister, under arches, whose terrace is paved with stones of a great breadth. It looks towards the river, and has a pleasant aviary, fountain, stately cypresses, etc. On the river are seen a prodigious number of barges and boats of great length, full of hay, corn, wood, wine, and other commodities, which this vast city daily consumes. Under the long gallery we have described, dwell goldsmiths, painters, statuaries, and architects, who being the most famous for their art in Christendom have stipends allowed them by the King. Into that of Monsieur Saracin we entered, who was then moulding for an image of a Madonna to be cast in gold of a great size, to be sent by the Queen Regent to Loretto, as an offering for the birth of the Dauphin, now the young King.

The Tuileries Garden (4th February 1644) Top

I finished this day with a walk in the great garden of the Tuileries, marvelously contrived for privacy, shade, or company, by groves, plantations of tall trees, especially that in the middle, being of elms, the other of mulberries. It has a labyrinth of cypresses; not omitting the noble hedges of pomegranates, fountains, fish-ponds, and an aviary; but above all, the artificial echo, redoubling the words so distinctly; and, as it is never without some fair nymph singing to its grateful returns; standing at one of the focuses, which is under a tree, or little cabinet of hedges, the voice seems to descend from the clouds; at another, as if it was underground. This being at the bottom of the garden, we were let into another, which being kept with all imaginable accurateness as to the orangery, precious shrubs, and rare fruits, seemed a Paradise. From a terrace in this place we saw so many coaches, as one would hardly think could be maintained in the whole city, going, late as it was in the year, towards the course, which is a place adjoining, of near an English mile long, planted with four rows of trees, making a large circle in the middle. This course is walled about, near breast high, with squared freestone, and has a stately arch at the entrance, with sculpture and statues about it, built by Mary di Medicis. Here it is that the gallants and ladies of the Court take the air and divert themselves, as with us in Hyde Park, the circle being capable of containing a hundred coaches to turn commodiously, and the larger of the plantations for five or six coaches a-breast. Returning through the Tuileries, we saw a building in which are kept wild beasts for the King's pleasure, a bear, a wolf, a wild boar, a leopard, &c. [See discussion by Gothein.]

St Cloud (27th February 1644) Top

We alighted at St. Cloud, where, on an eminence near the river, the Archbishop of Paris has a garden, for the house is not very considerable, rarely watered and furnished with fountains, statues, and groves; the walks are very fair; the fountain of Laocoon is in a large square pool, throwing the water near forty feet high, and having about it a multitude of statues and basins, and is a surprising object. But nothing is more esteemed than the cascade falling from the great steps into the lowest and longest walk from the Mount Parnassus, which consists of a grotto, or shell-house, on the summit of the hill, wherein are divers waterworks and contrivances to wet the spectators; this is covered with a fair cupola, the walls painted with the Muses, and statues placed thick about it, whereof some are antique and good. In the upper walks are two perspectives, seeming to enlarge the alleys, and in this garden are many other ingenious contrivances. The palace, as I said, is not extraordinary. The outer walls only painted a fresco. In the court is a Volary, and the statues of Charles IX., Henry III., IV., and Louis XIII., on horseback, mezzo relievo'd in plaster. In the garden is a small chapel; and under shelter is the figure of Cleopatra, taken from the Belvidere original, with others. From the terrace above is a tempest well painted; and thence an excellent prospect towards Paris, the meadows, and river.  [See discussion by Gothein.]

St. Germains-en-Laye (27th February 1644) Top

The first building of this palace is of Charles V., called the Sage; but Francis I. (that true virtuoso) made it complete; speaking as to the style of magnificence then in fashion, which was with too great a mixture of the Gothic, as may be seen in what there is remaining of his in the old Castle, an irregular piece as built on the old foundation, and having a moat about it. It has yet some spacious and handsome rooms of state, and a chapel neatly painted. The new Castle is at some distance, divided from this by a court, of a lower, but more modern design, built by Henry IV. To this belong six terraces, built of brick and stone, descending in cascades towards the river, cut out of the natural hill, having under them goodly vaulted galleries; of these, four have subterranean grots and rocks, where are represented several objects in the manner of scenes and other motions, by force of water, shown by the light of torches only; amongst these, is Orpheus with his music; and the animals, which dance after his harp; in the second, is the King and Dolphin ; in the third, is Neptune sounding his trumpet, his chariot drawn by sea-horses; in the fourth, the story of Perseus and Andromeda; mills; hermitages; men fishing; birds chirping; and many other devices. There is also a dry grot to refresh in; all having a fine prospect towards the river, and the goodly country about it, especially the forest. At the bottom, is a parterre; the upper terrace near half a mile in length, with double declivities, arched and balustered with stone, of vast and royal cost.

In the pavilion of the new Castle are many fair rooms, well painted, and leading into a very noble garden and park, where is a pall-mall, in the midst of which, on one of the sides, is a chapel, with stone cupola, though small, yet of a handsome order of architecture. Out of the park you go into the forest, which being very large, is stored with deer, wild boars, wolves, and other wild game. The Tennis Court, and Cavallerizzo, for the menaged horses, are also observable. [See discussion by Gothein.]

Ruell, Cardinal Richelieu's villa (27th February 1644) Top

At an inn in this village is a host who treats all the great persons in princely lodgings for furniture and plate, but they pay well for it, as I have done. Indeed, the entertainment is very splendid, and not unreasonable, considering the excellent manner of dressing their meat, and of the service. Here are many debauches and excessive revellings, as being out of all noise and observance.

From hence, about a league farther, we went to see Cardinal Richelieu's villa, at Ruell. The house is small, but fairly built, in form of a castle, moated round. The offices are towards the road, and over-against it are large vine yards, walled in. But, though the house is not of the greatest, the gardens about it are so magnificent, that I doubt whether Italy has any exceeding it for all rarities of pleasure. The garden nearest the pavilion is a parterre, having in the midst divers noble brass statues, perpetually spouting water into an ample basin, with other figures of the same metal; but what is most admirable is the vast inclosure, and variety of ground, in the large garden, containing vineyards, cornfields, meadows, groves (whereof one is of perennial greens), and walks of vast length, so accurately kept and cultivated, that nothing can be more agreeable. On one of these walks, within a square of tall trees, is a basilisk of copper, which, managed by the fountaineer, casts water near sixty feet high, and will of itself move round so swiftly, that one can hardly escape wetting. This leads to the Citronière, which is a noble conserve of all those rarities; and at the end of it is the Arch of Constantine, painted on a wall in oil, as large as the real one at Rome, so well done, that even a man skilled in painting, may mistake it for stone and sculpture. The sky and hills, which seem to be between the arches, are so natural, that swallows and other birds, thinking to fly through, have dashed themselves against the wall. I was infinitely taken with this agreeable cheat. At the further part of this walk is that plentiful, though artificial cascade, which rolls down a very steep declivity, and over the marble steps and basins, with an astonishing noise and fury; each basin hath a jetto in it, flowing like sheets of transparent glass, especially that which rises over the great shell of lead, from whence it glides silently down a channel through the middle of a spacious gravel walk, terminating in a grotto. Here are also fountains that cast water to a great height, and large ponds, two of which have islands for harbour of fowls, of which there is store. One of these islands has a receptacle for them built of vast pieces of rock, near fifty feet high, grown over with moss, ivy, &c., shaded at a competent distance with tall trees: in this rupellary nidary do the fowl lay eggs, and breed. We then saw a large and very rare grotto of shell-work, in the shape of Satyrs, and other wild fancies: in the middle stands a marble table, on which a fountain plays in divers forms of glasses, cups, crosses, fans, crowns, etc. Then the fountaineer represented a shower of rain from the top, met by small jets from below. At going out, two extravagant musketeers shot us with a stream of water from their musket barrels. Before this grotto is a long pool into which ran divers spouts of water from leaden escalop basins. [See discussion by Gothein.]

Luxembourg Garden (1st April 1644) Top

I went to see more exactly the rooms of the fine Palace of Luxembourg, in the Fauxbourg St. Germains, built by Mary di Medicis, and I think one of the most noble, entire, and finished piles that is to be seen, taking it with the garden and all its accomplishments. The gallery is of the painting of Rubens, being the history of the Foundress's Life, rarely designed; at the end of it is the Duke of Orleans' library, well furnished with excellent books, all bound in maroquin and gilded, the valance of the shelves being of green velvet, fringed with gold. In the cabinet joining to it are only the smaller volumes, with six cabinets of medals, and an excellent collection of shells and agates, whereof some are prodigiously rich. This Duke being very learned in medals and plants, nothing of that kind escapes him. There are other spacious, noble, and princely furnished rooms, which look towards the gardens, which are nothing inferior to the rest.

The court below is formed into a square by a corridor, having over the chief entrance a stately cupola, covered with stone: the rest is cloistered and arched on pilasters of rustic work. The terrace ascending before the front, paved with white and black marble, is balustered with white marble, exquisitely polished. Only the hall below is low, and the staircase somewhat of a heavy design, but the fáccia towards the parterre, which is also arched and vaulted with stone, is of admirable beauty, and full of sculpture.

The gardens are near an English mile in compass, enclosed with a stately wall, and in a good air. The parterre is indeed of box, but so rarely designed and accurately kept cut, that the embroidery makes a wonderful effect to the lodgings which front it. 'Tis divided into four squares, and as many circular knots, having in the centre a noble basin of marble near thirty feet diameter (as I remember), in which a Triton of brass holds a dolphin, that casts a girandola of water near thirty feet high, playing perpetually, the water being conveyed from Arceull by an aqueduct of stone, built after the old Roman magnificence. About this ample parterre, the spacious walks and all included, runs a border of freestone, adorned with pedestals for pots and statues, and part of it near the steps of the terrace, with a rail and baluster of pure white marble.

The walks are exactly fair, long, and variously descend ing, and so justly planted with limes, elms, and other trees, that nothing can be more delicious, especially that of the hornbeam hedge, which being high and stately, buts full on the fountain. Towards the farther end, is an excavation intended for a vast fish-pool, but never finished, and near it is an in- closure for a garden of simples, well-kept; and here the Duke keeps tortoises in great number, who use the pool of water on one side of the garden. Here is also a conservatory for snow. At the upper part, towards the palace, is a grove of tall elms cut into a star, every ray being a walk, whose centre is a large fountain. The rest of the ground is made into several enclosures (all hedge-work or rows of trees) of whole fields, meadows, bocages, some of them containing divers acres.

Next the street side, and more contiguous to the house, are knots in trail, or grass work, where likewise runs a fountain. Towards the grotto and stables, within a wall, is a garden of choice flowers, in which the Duke spends many thousand pistoles. In sum, nothing is wanted to render this palace and gardens perfectly beautiful and magnificent; nor is it one of the least diversions to see the number of persons of quality, citizens and strangers, who frequent it, and to whom all access is freely permitted, so that you shall see some walks and retirements full of gallants and ladies; in others, melancholy friars; in others, studious scholars; in others, jolly citizens, some sitting or lying on the grass, others running and jumping; some playing at bowls and ball, others dancing and singing; and all this without the least disturbance, by reason of the largeness of the place. What is most admirable, you see no gardeners, or men at work, and yet all is kept in such exquisite order, as if they did nothing else but work; it is so early in the morning, that all is despatched and done without the least confusion.

I have been the larger in the description of this paradise, for the extraordinary delight I have taken in those sweet retirements. The Cabinet and Chapel nearer the garden front have some choice pictures. All the houses near this are also very noble palaces, especially Petite Luxemburg. The ascent of the street is handsome from its breadth, situation, and buildings. 

Passage of the Alps Top

I lay on a bed stuffed with leaves, which made such a crackling, and did so prick my skin through the tick, that I could not sleep. The next morning, I was furnished with an ass, for we could not get  horses; instead of stirrups, we had ropes tied with a loop to put our feet in, which supplied the place of other trappings. Thus, with my gallant steed, bridled with my Turkish present, we passed through a reasonably pleasant but very narrow valley, till we came to Duomo, where we rested, and, having showed the Spanish pass, the Governor would press another on us, that his Secretary might get a crown. Here we exchanged our asses for mules, sure-footed on the hills and precipices, being accustomed to pass them. Hiring a guide, we were brought that night through very steep, craggy, and dangerous passages to a village called Vedra, being the last of the King of Spain's dominions in the Duchy of Milan. We had a very infamous wretched lodging.

The next morning, we mounted again through strange, horrid, and fearful crags and tracts, abounding in pine trees, and only inhabited by bears, wolves, and wild goats; nor could we anywhere see above a pistol-shot before us, the horizon being terminated with rocks and mountains, whose tops, covered with snow, seemed to touch the skies, and in many places pierced the clouds. Some of these vast mountains were but one entire stone, betwixt whose clefts now and then precipitated great cataracts of melted snow, and other waters, which made a terrible roaring, echoing from the rocks and cavities; and these waters in some places breaking in the fall, wet us as if we had passed through a mist, so as we could neither see nor hear one another, but, trusting to our honest mules, we jogged on our way. The narrow bridges, in some places made only by felling huge fir-trees, and laying them athwart from mountain to mountain, over cataracts of stupendous depth, are very dangerous, and so are the passages and edges made by cutting away the main rock; others in steps; and in some places we pass between mountains that have been broken and fallen on one another; which is very terrible, and one had need of a sure foot and steady head to climb some of these precipices, besides that they are harbours for bears and wolves, who have sometimes assaulted travellers. In these straits, we frequently alighted, now freezing in the snow, and anon frying by the reverberation of the sun against the cliffs as we descend lower, when we meet now and then a few miserable cottages so built upon the declining of the rocks, as one would expect their sliding

Palazzo Doria Top

There are numerous other palaces [in Genoa] of particular curiosities, for the marchands being very rich, have, like our neighbours, the Hollanders, little or no extent of ground to employ their estates in; as those in pictures and hangings, so these lay it out on marble houses and rich furniture. One of the greatest here for circuit is that of the Prince Doria, which reaches from the sea to the summit of the mountains. The house is most magnificently built with out, nor less gloriously furnished within, having whole tables and bedsteads of massy silver, many of them set with agates, onyxes, cornelians, lazulis, pearls, torquoises, and other precious stones. The pictures and statues are innumerable. To this palace belong three gardens, the first whereof is beautified with a terrace, supported by pillars of marble: there is a fountain of eagles, and one of Neptune, with other sea-gods, all of the purest white marble; they stand in a most ample basin of the same stone. At the side of this garden is such an aviary as Sir Francis Bacon describes in his Sermones fidelium, or Essays, wherein grow trees of more than two feet diameter, besides cypress, myrtles, lentiscuses, and other rare shrubs, which serve to nestle and perch all sorts of birds, who have air and place enough under their airy canopy, supported with huge iron work, stupendous for its fabric and the charge. The other two gardens are full of orange-trees, citrons, and pomegranates, fountains, grots, and statues. One of the latter is a colossal Jupiter, under which is the sepulchre of a beloved dog, for the care of which one of this family received of the King of Spain 500 crowns a-year, during the life of that faithful animal. The reservoir of water here is a most admirable piece of art; and so is the grotto over against it. [See discussion by Gothein.]

Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens (22nd October 1644) Top 

Near this is the famous Palazzo di Strozzi, a princely piece of architecture, in a rustic manner. The Palace of Pitti was built by that family, but of late greatly beautified by Cosmo with huge square stones of the Doric, Ionic, and the Corinthian orders, with a terrace at each side having rustic uncut balustrades, with a fountain that ends in a cascade seen from the great gate, and so forming a vista to the gardens. Nothing is more admirable than the vacant staircase, marbles, statues, urns, pictures, court, grotto, and water-works. In the quadrangle is a huge jetto of water in a volto of four faces, with noble statues at each square, especially the Diana of porphyry above the grotto. We were here showed a prodigious great loadstone.

The garden has every variety, hills, dales, rocks, groves, aviaries, vivaries, fountains, especially one of five jettos, the middle basin being one of the longest stones I ever saw. Here is everything to make such a Paradise delightful. In the garden I saw a rose grafted on an orange-tree. There was much topiary-work, and columns in architecture about the hedges. The Duke has added an ample laboratory, over-against which stands a fort on a hill, where they told us his treasure is kept. In this Palace the Duke ordinarily resides, living with his Swiss guards, after the frugal Italian way, and even selling what he can spare of his wines, at the cellar under his very house, wicker bottles dangling over even the chief entrance into the Palace, serving for a vintner's bush. [See discussion by Gothein.] 


Villa Borghese (17th November 1644) Top

I walked to Villa Borghese, a house and ample garden on Mons Pincius, yet somewhat without the city-walls, circumscribed by another wall full of small turrets and banqueting-houses; which makes it appear at a distance like a little town. Within it is an elysium of delight, having in the centre of it a noble palace; but the entrance of the garden presents us with a very glorious fabric, or rather door-case, adorned with divers excellent marble statues. This garden abounded with all sorts of delicious fruit and exotic simples, fountains of sundry inventions, groves, and small rivulets. There is also adjoining to it a vivarium for ostriches, peacocks, swans, cranes, &c., and divers strange beasts, deer, and hares. The grotto is very rare, and represents, among other devices, artificial rain, and sundry shapes of vessels, flowers, &c.; which is effected by changing the heads of the fountains. The groves are of cypress, laurel, pine, myrtle, and olive. The four sphinxes are very antique, and worthy observation. To this is a volary, full of curious birds. The house is square with turrets, from which the prospect is excellent towards Rome, and the environing hills, covered as they now are with snow, which indeed commonly continues even a great part of the summer, affording sweet refreshment. Round the house is a baluster of white marble, with frequent jettos of water, and adorned with a multitude of statues. The walls of the house are covered with antique incrustations of history, as that of Curtius, the Rape of Europa, Leda, &c. The cornices above consist of fruitages and festoons, between which are niches furnished with statues, which order is observed to the very roof.

After dinner, we went again to the Villa Borghese, about a mile without the city; the garden is rather a park, or a Paradise, contrived and planted with walks and shades of myrtles, cypress, and other trees, and groves, with abundance of fountains, statues, and bass-relievos, and several pretty murmuring rivulets. Here they had hung large nets to catch woodcocks. There was also a vivary, where, amongst other exotic fowls, was an ostrich; besides a most capacious aviary; and, in another inclosed part, a herd of deer. Before the Palace (which might become the court of a great prince) stands a noble fountain, of white marble, enriched with statues. The outer walls of the house are encrusted with excellent antique bass-relievos, of the same marble, incornished with festoons and niches set with statues from the foundation to the roof. A stately portico joins the Palace, full of statues and columns of marble, urns, and other curiosities of sculpture. In the first hall were the Twelve Caesars, of antique marble, and the whole apartments furnished with pictures of the most celebrated masters, and two rare tables of porphyry, of great value. But of this already; for I often visited this delicious place.

This night were glorious fire-works at the Palace of Cardinal Medici before the gate, and lights of several colours all about the windows through the city, which they contrive by setting the candles in little paper lanterns dyed with various colours, placing hundreds of them from story to story; which renders a gallant show. [See discussion by Gothein.]

Palazzo Farnese at Caparola (18th May 1645) Top

In the afternoon, we arrived at a house, or rather castle, belonging to the Duke of Parma, called Caprarola, situate on the brow of a hill, that overlooks a little town, or rather a natural and stupendous rock; witness those vast caves serving now for cellarage, where we were entertained with most generous wine of several sorts, being just under the foundation. The Palace was built by the famous architect, Vignola, at the cost of Cardinal Alex. Farnese, in form of an octagon, the court in the middle being exactly round, so as rather to resemble a fort, or castle; yet the chambers within are all of them square, which makes the walls exceedingly thick. One of these rooms is so artificially contrived, that from the two opposite angles may be heard the least whisper; they say any perfect square does it. Most of the paintings are by Zuccari. It has a stately entry, on which spouts an artificial fountain within the porch. The hall, chapel, and a great number of lodging chambers are remarkable; but most of all the pictures and witty inventions of Hannibal Caracci; the Dead Christ is incomparable. Behind are the gardens full of statues and noble fountains, especially that of the Shepherds. After dinner, we took horse, and lay that night at Monte Rossi, twenty miles from Rome. We dined at Viterbo, and lay at St. Laurenzo. Next day, at Radicofani, and slept at Turnera.  [See discussion by Gothein.] [Also see Montaigne's description of the Boboli]

Belvedere Gardens at the Vatican (18th January 1645) Top

We descended into the Vatican gardens, called Belvedere, where entering first into a kind of court, we were showed those incomparable statues (so famed by Pliny and others) of Laocoon with his three sons embraced by a huge serpent, all of one entire Parian stone, very white and perfect, somewhat bigger than the life, the work of those three celebrated sculptors, Agesandrus, Polydorus, and Artemidorus, Rhodians; it was found amongst the ruins of Titus's Baths, and placed here. Pliny says this statue is to be esteemed before all pictures and statues in the world; and I am of his opinion, for I never beheld anything of art approach it. Here are also those two famous images of Nilus with the Children playing about him, and that of  Tyber; Romulus and Remus with the Wolf; the dying Cleopatra; the Venus and Cupid, rare pieces; the Mercury; Cybel; Hercules; Apollo; Antinous: most of which are, for defence against the weather, shut up in niches with wainscot doors. We were likewise showed the relics of the Hadrian Moles, viz., the Pine, a vast piece of metal which stood on the summit of that mausoleum; also a peacock of copper, supposed to have been part of Scipio's monument.

In the garden without this (which contains a vast circuit of ground) are many stately fountains, especially two casting water into antique layers, brought from Titus's Baths; some fair grots and water-works, that noble cascade where the ship dances, with divers other pleasant inventions, walks, terraces, meanders, fruit-trees, and a most goodly prospect over the greatest part of the city. One fountain under the gate I must not omit, consisting of three jettos of water gushing out of the mouths or probosces of bees (the arms of the late Pope), because of the inscription:

Quid miraris Apem, quae mel de floribus haunt?

Si tibi mellitam gutture fundit aquam.

[See discussion by Gothein.]


Villa Aldobrandini (5th May 1645) Top

5th. We took coach, and went fifteen miles out of the city of Frascati, formerly Tusculum, a villa of Cardinal Aldobrandini, built for a country-house. But, surpassing, in my opinion, the most delicious places I ever beheld for its situation, elegance, plentiful water, groves, ascents, and prospects. Just behind the Palace (which is of excellent architecture) in the centre of the enclosure, rises a high hill, or mountain, all over clad with tall wood, and so formed by nature, as if it had been cut out by art, from the summit whereof falls a cascade, seeming rather a great river than a stream precipitating into a large theatre of water, representing an exact and perfect rainbow, when the sun shines out. Under this, is made an artificial grot, wherein are curious rocks, hydraulic organs, and all sorts of singing birds, moving and chirping by force of the water, with several other pageants and surprising inventions. In the centre of one of these rooms, rises a copper ball that continually dances about three feet above the pavement, by virtue of a wind conveyed secretly to a hole beneath it; with many other devices to wet the unwary spectators, so that one can hardly step without wetting to the skin. In one of these theatres of water, is an Atlas spouting up the stream to a very great height; and another monster makes a terrible roaring with a horn; but, above all, the representation of a storm is most natural, with such fury of rain, wind, and thunder, as one would imagine oneself in some extreme tempest. The garden has excellent walks and shady groves, abundance of rare fruit, oranges, lemons, etc., and the goodly prospect of Rome, above all description, so as I do not wonder that Cicero and others have celebrated this place with such encomiums. The Palace is indeed built more like a cabinet than anything composed of stone and mortar; it has in the middle a hail furnished with excellent marbles and rare pictures, especially those of Gioseppino d'Arpino. [See discussion by Gothein.]


Villa Mondragone (5th May 1645) Top

We went hence to another house and garden not far distant, on the side of a hill called Mondragone, finished by Cardinal Scipio Borghese, an ample and kingly edifice. it has a very long gallery, and at the end a theatre for pastimes, spacious courts, rare grots, vineyards, olive- grounds, groves, and solitudes. The air is so fresh and sweet, as few parts of Italy exceed it; nor is it inferior to any palace in the city itself for statues, pictures, and furniture; but, it growing late, we could not take such particular notice of these things as they deserved. [See discussion by Gothein.]

Villa d'Este (6th May 1645) Top

We rested ourselves; and next day, in a coach, took our last farewell of visiting the circumjacent places, going to Tivoli, or the old Tiburtum. At about six miles from Rome, we pass the Teverone, a bridge built by Mammea, the mother of Severus, and so by divers ancient sepulchres, amongst others that of Valerius Volusi; and near it past the stinking sulphureous river over the Ponte Lucano, where we found a heap, or turret, full of inscriptions, now called the Tomb of Plautius. Arrived at Tivoli, we went first to see the Palace d'Este, erected on a plain, but where was formerly an hill. The Palace is very ample and stately. In the garden, on the right hand, are sixteen vast conchas of marble, jetting out waters; in the midst of these stands a Janus quadrifrons, that cast forth four girandolas, called from the resemblance (to a particular exhibition in fire-works so named) the Fontana di Spéccho (looking-glass). Near this is a place for tilting. Before the ascent of the Palace is the famous fountain of Leda, and not far from that, four sweet and delicious gardens. Descending thence are two pyramids of water, and in a grove of trees near it the fountains of Tethys, Esculapius, Arethusa, Pandora, Pomona, and Flora; then the prancing Pegasus, Bacchus, the Grot of Venus, the two Colosses of Melicerta and Sibylla Tiburtina, all of exquisite marble, copper, and other suitable adornments. The Cupids pouring out water are especially most rare, and the urns on which are placed the ten nymphs. The grots are richly paved with pietra-commessa, shells, coral, &c. Towards Roma Triumphans, leads a long and spacious walk, full of fountains, under which is historised the whole Ovidian Metamorphosis, in rarely sculptured mezzo relievo. At the end of this, next the wall, is the city of Rome as it was in its beauty, of small models, representing that city, with its amphitheatres; naumachi, thermae, temples, arches, aqueducts, streets, and other magnificences, with a little stream running through it for the Tiber, gushing out of an urn next the statue of the river. In another garden, is a noble aviary, the birds artificial, and singing till an owl appears, on which they suddenly change their notes. Near this is the fountain of dragons, casting out large streams of water with great noise. In another grotto, called Grotto di Natura, is an hydraulic organ; and, below this, are divers stews and fish-ponds, in one of which is the statue of Neptune in his chariot on a sea-horse, in another a Triton; and, lastly, a garden of simples. There are besides in the palace many rare statues and pictures, bedsteads richly inlaid, and sundry other precious moveables: the whole is said to have cost the best part of a million. Having gratified our curiosity with these artificial miracles, and dined, we went to see the so famous natural precipice and cascade of the river Anio, rushing down from the mountains of Tivoli with that fury that, what with the mist it perpetually casts up by the breaking of the water against the rocks, and what with the sun shining on it and forming a natural Iris, and the prodigious depth of the gulf below, it is enough to astonish one that looks on it. Upon the summit of this rock stands the ruins and some pillars and cornices of the Temple of Sibylla Tyburtina, or Albunea, a round fabric, still discovering some of its pristine beauty. Here was a great deal of gunpowder drying in the sun, and a little beneath, mills belonging to the Pope. [See discussion by Gothein.] [Also see Montaigne's description of the Villa d'Este]


Pratolino (21st May 1645) Top

Taking leave of our two jolly companions, Signor Giovanni and his fellow, we took horses for Bologna; and, by the way, alighted at a villa of the Grand Duke's, called Pratolino. The house is a square of four pavilions, with a fair platform about it, balustred with stone, situate in a large meadow, ascending like an amphitheatre, having at the bottom a huge rock, with water running in a small channel, like a cascade; on the other side, are the gardens. The whole place seems consecrated to pleasure and summer retirement. The inside of the Palace may compare with any in Italy for furniture of tapestry, beds, &c., and the gardens are delicious, and full of fountains. In the grove sits Pan feeding his flock, the water making a melodious sound through his pipe; and a Hercules, whose club yields a shower of water, which, falling into a great shell, has a naked woman riding on the backs of dolphins. In another grotto is Vulcan and his family, the walls richly composed of corals, shells, copper, and marble figures, with the hunt ing of several beasts, moving by the force of water. Here, having been well washed for our curiosity, we went down a large walk, at the sides whereof several slender streams of water gush Out of pipes concealed underneath, that interchangeably fall into each other's channels, making a lofty and perfect arch, so that a man on horseback may ride under it, and not receive one drop of wet. This canopy, or arch of water, I thought one of the most surprising magnificences I had ever seen, and very refreshing in the heat of the summer. At the end of this very long walk, stands a woman in white marble, in posture of a laundress wringing water out of a piece of linen, very naturally formed, into a vast layer, the work and invention of M. Angelo Buonarotti. Hence, we ascended Mount Parnassus, where the Muses played to us on hydraulic organs. Near this is a great aviary. All these waters came from the rock in the garden, on which is the statue of a giant representing the Apennines, at the foot of which stands this villa. Last of all, we came to the labyrinth, in which a huge colosse of Jupiter throws out a stream over the garden. This is fifty feet in height, having in his body a square chamber, his eyes and mouth serving for windows and door. [See discussion by Gothein.] [Also see Montaigne's description of Pratolino]

Wilton (16th July 1654) Top

In the afternoon we went to Wilton, a fine house of the Earl of Pembroke, in which the most observable are the dining-room in the modern-built part towards the garden, richly gilded and painted with story, by De Crete; also, some other apartments, as that of hunting landscapes, by Pierce: some magnificent chimney-pieces, after the best  French manner; a pair of artificial winding-stairs, of stone, and divers rare pictures. The garden, heretofore esteemed the noblest in England, is a large handsome plain, with a grotto and water-works, which might be made much more pleasant, were the river that passes through cleansed and raised; for all is effected by a mere force. It has a flower garden, not inelegant. But, after all, that which renders the seat delightful is, its being so near the downs and noble plains about the country contiguous to it. The stables are well ordered and yield a graceful front, by reason of the walks of lime-trees, with the court and fountain of the stables adorned with the Caesars' heads. [See discussion by Gothein.]

Hampton Court (9th June 1662) Top

Hampton Court is as noble and uniform a pile, and as capacious as any Gothic architecture can have made it. There is an incomparable furniture in it, especially hangings designed by Raphael, very rich with gold; also many rare pictures, especially the Caesarean Triumphs of Andrea Mantegna, formerly the Duke of Mantua's; of the tapes tries, I believe the world can show nothing nobler of the kind than the stories of Abraham and Tobit. The gallery of horns is very particular for the vast beams of stags, elks, antelopes, etc. The Queen's bed was an embroidery of silver on crimson velvet, and cost 8000l., being a present   made by the States of Holland when his Majesty returned, and had formerly been given by them to our King's sister, the Princess of Orange, and, being bought of her again, was now presented to the King. The great looking-glass and toilet, of beaten and massive gold, was given by the Queen-Mother. The Queen brought over with her from Portugal such Indian cabinets as had never before been seen here. The great hail is a most magnificent room. The chapel-roof excellently fretted and gilt. I was also curious to visit the wardrobe and tents, and other furniture of state. The park, formerly a flat and naked piece of ground, now planted with sweet rows of lime trees; and the canal for water now near perfected; also the air-park. In the garden is a rich and noble fountain, with Sirens, statues, etc., cast in copper, by Fanelli; but no plenty of water. The cradle-work of horn beam in the garden is, for the perplexed twining of the trees, very observable. There is a parterre which they call Paradise, in which is a pretty banqueting house set over a cave, or cellar. All these gardens might be exceedingly improved, as being too narrow for such a place. [See discussion by Gothein.]

Groombridge (6th August 1674) Top

I went to Groombridge, to see my old friend, Mr. Packer; the house built within a moat, in a woody valley. The old house had been the place of confinement of the Duke of Orleans, taken by one Wailer (whose house it then was) at the battle of Agincourt, now demolished, and a new one built in its place, though a far better situation had been on the south of the wood, on a graceful ascent. At some small distance, is a large chapel, not long since built by Mr. Packer's father, on a vow he made to do it on the return of King Charles I. out of Spain, 1625, and dedicated to St. Charles; but what saint there was then of that name I am to seek, for, being a Protestant, I conceive it was not Borromeo.

Nonesuch (3rd January 1666) Top

I supped in Nonesuch House,  whither the office of the Exchequer was transferred during the plague, at my good friend's Mr. Packer's, and took an exact view of the plaster statues and bass-relievos inserted betwixt the timbers and punchceons of the outside walls of the Court; which must needs have been the work of some celebrated Italian. I much admired how they had lasted so well and entire since the time of Henry VIII., exposed as they are to the air; and pity it is they are not taken out and preserved in some dry place; a gallery would become them. There are some mezzo-relievos as big as the life; the story is of the Heathen Gods, emblems, compartments, &c. The palace consists of two courts, of which the first is of stone, castle like, by the Lord Lumleys (of whom it was purchased), the other of timber, a Gothic fabric, but these walls incomparably beautified. I observed that the appearing timber-puncheons, entrelices, &c., were all so covered with scales of slate, that it seemed carved in the wood and painted, the slate fastened on the timber in pretty figures, that has, like a coat of armour, preserved it from rotting. There stand in the garden two handsome stone pyramids, and the avenue planted with rows of fair elms, but the rest of these goodly trees, both of this and of Worcester Park adjoining, were felled by those destructive and avaricious rebels in the late war, which defaced one of the stateliest seats his Majesty had. [See discussion by Gothein.]


Leeds Castle (11th April 1666) Top

The next morning, to Leeds Castle, once a famous hold, now hired by me of my Lord Culpeper for a prison. Here I flowed the dry moat, made a new drawbridge, brought spring water into the court of the Castle to an old fountain, and took order for the repairs.


Clivden (23rd July, 1679) Top

I went to Clifden, that stupendous natural rock, wood, and prospect, of the Duke of Buckingham's, and buildings of extraordinary expense. The grots in the chalky rocks are pretty: it is a romantic object, and the place altogether answers the most poetical description that can be made of solitude, precipice, prospect, or whatever can contribute to a thing so very like their imaginations. The stand, somewhat like Frascati as to its front, and on the platform is a circular view to the utmost verge of the horizon, which, with the serpenting of the Thames, is admirable. The staircase is for its materials singular; the cloisters, descents, gardens, and avenue through the wood, august and stately; but the land all about wretchedly barren, and producing nothing but fern. Indeed, as I told his Majesty that evening (asking me how I liked Clifden) without flattery, that it did not please me so well as Windsor for the prospect and park, which is without com pare; there being but one only opening, and that narrow, which led one to any variety, whereas that of Windsor is everywhere great and unconfined.

Returning, I called at my cousin Evelyn's, who has a very pretty seat in the forest, two miles by hither Clifdcn, on a flat, with gardens exquisitely kept, though large, and the house a staunch good old building, and what was singular, some of the rooms floored dove-tail-wise without a nail, exactly close. One of the closets is pargetted with plain deal, set in diamond, exceeding staunch and pretty.

Swallowfield (22nd October 1685) Top

I accompanied my Lady Clarendon to her house at Swallowfield, in Berkshire, dining by the way at Mr. Graham's lodge at Bagshot; the house, new repaired and capacious enough for a good family, stands in a park.

Hence, we went to Swallowfield; this house is after the ancient building of honourable gentlemen's houses, when they kept up ancient hospitality, but the gardens and waters as elegant as it is possible to make a flat by art and industry, and no mean expense, my lady being so extraordinarily skilled in the flowery part, and my lord, in diligence of planting; so that I have hardly seen a seat which shows more tokens of it than what is to be found here, not only in the delicious and rarest fruits of a garden, but in those innumerable timber trees in the ground about the seat, to the greatest ornament and benefit of the place. There is one orchard of 1000 golden, and other cider pippins; walks and groves of elms, limes, oaks, and other trees. The garden is so beset with all manner of sweet shrubs, that it perfumes the air. The distribution also of the quarters, walks, and parterres, is excellent. The nurseries, kitchen-garden full of the most desirable plants; two very noble orangeries well furnished; but, above all, the canal and fish ponds, the one fed with a white, the other with a black running water, fed by a quick and swift river, so well and plentifully stored with fish, that for pike, carp, bream, and tench, I never saw anything approaching it. We had at every meal carp and pike of a size fit for the table of a Prince, and what added to the delight was, to see the hundreds taken by the drag, out of which, the cook standing by, we pointed out what 'ye had most mind to, and had carp that would have been worth at London twenty shillings a-piece. The waters are flagged about with Calamus avomaticus, with which my lady has hung a closet, that retains the smell very perfectly. There is also a certain sweet willow and other exotics: also a very fine bowling-green, meadow, pasture, and wood; in a word, all that can render a country-seat delightful. There is besides a well-furnished library in the house.