Bring & Tell Evening

Samuel Pepys in Rickmansworth

At the Society’s recent ‘Bring and Tell’ evening, an interesting –and unique – original document was produced.  The date –2nd July 1673 –  means the delicate  item is 335 years old.  However, what makes it really unique is that it is personally signed by Samuel Pepys -  that really caught people’s interest.

It’s a warrant, an ‘Impressment Order’, issued on behalf of the Lords Commissioners (to the Admiralty) and is signed by its Secretary, Samuel Pepys. The Order names six captains of six (also named) ships, giving them instructions to ‘press’ ( that is, seize) 12 men each.  In 1673, England was at war, the Third Dutch War which lasted for two years. The Dutch navy was dangerous and their ships cheekily advanced as far as the Thames.  Men were desperately needed for the English ships. But their reward wasn’t excessive: as the Order says, “giving unto each man so impressed one shilling for Press-money.”  Plus a year or two at sea!

The captains didn’t even have the pleasure of keeping in their own ships the men they seized from the streets of London and other Thameside towns.  The 12 men were, “to be brought into His Majesties Tower of London, and there to be delivered into custody.” 

This was four years after Pepys’ last entry in the famous Diary.  He kept this from 1660 to 1669, giving it up when his wife died at the age of only 29.  Samuel carried on as chief executive officer for the navy throughout Charles II’s and James II’s reigns , retiring eventually to Clapham (then a charming village), dying in 1703.

The Impressment Order has nothing whatsoever to do with Rickmansworth, but it certainly captured people’s attention!

We had a splendid display of baby/dolls clothes all brought in a miniature trunk, the sort, on a larger scale which took your holiday luggage on the Cornish Riviera, having arrived at Paddington by Carter Paterson!

Amongst the smaller items on display were a ‘safe deposit’ wallet with which one could leave valuables in a bank’s safe deposit box over night, left-hand front corner. Next to it– a ruler with advertisements set in on one face. The glass globe is a very local item. Sometime about 1920 A soap making factory was built near to the Ebury Road swimming pool. This was Horton’s Soap Manufactory. The globe is a holder– dispenser of liquid soap. This particular one is very much more local because it has ‘Horton’ engraved in the tipping plate, and, it was donated to the Three Rivers Museum by Lloyds Bank Rickmansworth Branch.

In the top left hand corner is a set of tools for rug making. A continuous length of wool is wrapped around the thick wooden rule from one end to the other. A small channel can be seen in the end of the rule and when a sharp knife or razor is used to cut into the channel a large number of short lengths of wool are produced. One of the tools has a hook on the end and a short length of wool is hooked and thrust through the canvas backing which is being use to make a rug. In this way a rug with a pile length of just over an inch can be made very quickly.

The cup and saucer were an Edward VII coronation commemoration set and in front of them there is a velvet lined case with a bronze presentation key in the name of the recipient and the date set in the handle. It was presented to the lady named on the occasion she opened a newly built chapel on behalf of her late father. There is a newspaper cutting with the case describing the event and an obituary of the lady’s father.