The diary of John Evelyn

Regular posts from the diary of John Evelyn

Month: June 1644

Thursday 30 June 1644

I walked through the vineyards as far as Roche Corbon, to the ruins of an old and very strong castle1, said to have been built by the English, of great height, on the precipice of a dreadful cliff, from whence the country and river yield a most incomparable prospect.

  1. Probably the ruins of a castle of which only the tower remains – known  as the “La Lanterne de Rochecorbon” -GS 

Tuesday 28 June 1644

I went to see the palace and gardens of Chevereux1 , a sweet place.

  1. I believe this is the Château de Villandry but cannot find evidence to support this -GS 

Monday 20 June 1644

We took horse to see certain natural caves, called Gouttières, near Colombière1 where there is a spring within the bowels of the earth, very deep and so excessive cold, that the drops meeting with some lapidescent matter, it converts them into a hard stone, which hangs about it like icicles, having many others in the form of comfitures and sugar plums, as we call them.

Near this, we went under the ground almost two furlongs, lighted with candles, to see the source and spring which serves the whole city, by a passage cut through the main rock of freestone2.

  1. Some people believe this to refer to the nearby Savonnières. I believe it refers to the lands of Villandry surrounding the Château de Villandry which was known as Colombier until the 17th century. (Source: “Touraine, history and monuments” by Jean-Jacques Bourassa. 1860 – GS 

  2. The stone -Tuffeau – was quarried from the caves and used in nearby buildings in the Loire area -GS 

Thursday 9 June 1644

I was invited to a vineyard, which was so artificially planted and supported with arched poles, that stooping down one might see from end to end, a very great length, under the vines, the bunches hanging down in abundance.

“Vue du Vignoble de Mulsau près Beaune” by Jean-Baptiste Lallemand. 178?.

Tuesday 7 June 1644

We walked about two miles from the city to an agreeable solitude, called Du Plessis1, a house belonging to the King. It has many pretty gardens, full of nightingales; and, in the chapel, lies buried the famous poet, Ronsard2.

“Veüe du Chasteau Royal du Plessis Lez Tours” by Louis Boudan?. 1699. Source: BnF.

Returning, we stepped into a Convent of Franciscans, called St. Cosmo3, where the cloister is painted with the miracles of their St. Francis à Paula, whose ashes lie in their chapel, with this inscription:

Corpus Sancti Fran. à Paula 1507, 13 Aprilis, concrematur verò ab Hæreticis anno 1562, cujus quidem ossa et cineres hìc jacent.”

The tomb has four small pyramids of marble at each corner.

“Nightingale” from Illustrations of The Birds of Europe by John Gould, Elizabeth Gould, ill. 1837. Source: BnF

  1. The château of Plessis-lez-Tours, familiar in ch. iii. of Quentin Durward. It was built by Louis XI., who died there in 1483. Nothing but ruins now remain. –AD 

  2. Pierre de Roussard, called Ronsard, 1524-85. He had a living at S. Côme-les-Tours. –AD 

  3. Probably the Prieuré de Saint-Cosme.  This is now in partial ruins. -GS 

Monday 6 June 1644

I went by water to visit that goodly and venerable Abbey of Marmoutiers, being one of the greatest in the kingdom; to it is a very ample church of stone, with a very high pyramid. Among other relics the Monks showed us is the Holy Ampoulle1, the same with that which sacres their Kings at Rheims, this being the one that anointed Henry IV. Ascending many steps, we went into the Abbot’s Palace, where we were showed a vast tun (as big as that at Heidelberg), which they report St. Martin (as I remember) filled from one cluster of grapes growing there.

“Veüe de l’Abbaye de Marmoustier Lez Tours, de l’ordre de St Benoist, Congrégation de St Maur” by Louis Boudan. 17th century,. Source: BnF.

  1. “A cruise of oil, or la saint[e] ampoule, which they say St. Martin received from heaven by an Angel (having broken one of his ribs) and by applying it found present cure ” (Reresby’s Travels, 1831, p. 27). It was publicly destroyed at Rheims in 1793. Reresby also mentions the Tun “ as big as a little room.” The Abbey of Marmoutiers (majus monasterium) was on the right bank of the Loire. –AD