In 1668 Samuel Pepys, the diarist, stayed in this building which was previously part of the 'Hart' inn and found:
"a pretty fair town for a street or two" with "pent-houses supported with pillars which makes it a good walk"
A Blue Plaque commemorating a visit to Marlborough by Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist, is on the wall just to the left of doorway of the "Susie Watson Designs" shop on the High St. This shop, which would be remembered by most Marlborough residents as "Ducks" toyshop, was at the time of his visit part of the "Hart" inn, where he stayed one night from the 15th to the 16th June 1668: his stay in Marlborough was on his return from a tour of the West Country with his wife.
Samuel Pepys' diary describes how he stopped off at Avebury and Silbury hill before coming on to Marlborough, and an abstract from the full diary entry reads:
"....... In the afternoon come to Abebury, where, seeing great stones like those of Stonage standing up, I stopped, and took a countryman of that town, and he carried me and shewed me a place trenched in, like Old Sarum almost, with great stones pitched in it, some bigger than those at Stonage in figure, to my great admiration: and he told me that most people of learning, coming by, do come and view them, and that the King did so: and that the Mount cast hard by is called Selbury, from one King Seall buried there, as tradition says. I did give this man 1s. So took coach again, seeing one place with great high stones pitched round, which, I believe, was once some particular building, in some measure like that of Stonage. But, about a mile off, it was prodigious to see how full the Downes are of great stones; and all along the vallies, stones of considerable bigness, most of them growing certainly out of the ground so thick as to cover the ground, which makes me think the less of the wonder of Stonage, for hence they might undoubtedly supply themselves with stones, as well as those at Abebury. In my way did give to the poor and menders of the highway 3s. Before night, come to Marlborough, and lay at the Hart; a good house, and a pretty fair town for a street or two; and what is most singular is, their houses on one side having their pent-houses supported with pillars, which makes it a good walk. My wife pleased with all, this evening reading of "Mustapha" to me till supper, and then to supper, and had musique whose innocence pleased me, and I did give them 3s. So to bed, and lay well all night, and long, so as all the five coaches that come this day from Bath, as well as we, were gone out of the town before six."
"So paying the reckoning, 14s. 4d., and servants, 2s., poor 1s., set out; and overtook one coach and kept a while company with it, till one of our horses losing a shoe, we stopped and drank and spent 1s. So on, and passing through a good part of this county of Wiltshire, ........"
Pepys is obviously famous for his diary and graphic description of the 1666 fire of London, but he was also secretary to the Navy Board, and on return to work at the admiralty he fell out with his boss but as he wrote, "I cared not a turd".
The "Hart Inn" no longer exists but the description of the colonnaded walkway on the north side of the High Street remains recognisable today. That the town had been nearly raised to the ground by fire only fifteen years before clearly escaped Pepys' notice, as it had evidently been rebuilt.
Blue Plaque Location:
Click here for details of a circular walk linking all the Blue Plaques