Hedgebreaking, John Evelyn & Peter the Great

There was a comical case of hedgebreaking in the seventeenth century when Peter the Great stayed in the diarist John Evelyn’s house in Deptford. He was there to study shipbuilding on the adjacent Thames dockyards, but was prone to throwing parties back at the house. Evelyn, a devoted gardener, was especially proud of his holly hedges and was appalled to discover that the Tsar had been playing drunken games in which a servant pushed him in a wheelbarrow through not only the flowerbeds, but also the hedges.

Happily the hedges recovered from any damage inflicted – soon afterwards Evelyn wrote:

Is there under heaven a more glorious and refreshing object of the kind, than an impregnable Hedge a hundred and sixty feet in length, and seven feet high, and five in diameter, which I can shew in my poor Gardens at any time of the year, glittering with its armed and vernish’d leaves? The taller Standards at orderly distances blushing with their natural Corall. It mocks at the rudest assaults of the Weather, Beasts, and Hedgebreakers.

(Quoted from Hedge Britannia).

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Filed under Hedge Politics, Historical Hedges

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