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Oxted and District History Society
Tuesday 20th February 2007.

John Evelyn’ by Beryl Saich

Beryl Saich of the Surrey Gardens Trust gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on John Evelyn which emphasised his passionate interest in gardens and trees.

Born in 1620, John Evelyn lived through the Civil War, the Commonwealth, Restoration, the Glorious Revolution and into Queen Anne’s reign, when he died, aged 86, in 1706. Born at Wotton House, near Dorking in Surrey, the garden stimulated his early interest in gardening and trees. He spent most of the Civil War in France and Italy, where he studied garden layouts, shrubs and trees and brought this knowledge back to Britain. He lived at Sayes Court, Deptford, for 40 years from 1653. Initially feeding intelligence to exiled Royalists he also created a much visited garden in its 100 acres of grounds. In 1694 he returned to Wotton House, which he had inherited from his older brother.

Besides his famous diary, which he started at the age of 11, Evelyn wrote many other books, including ‘ Sylva ‘ which contained information on the care of different trees. His ‘ Elysium Britannicum ‘ was not published in full until 2001. He was a founder member of the Royal Society in 1661.

Lecture given at
Oxted United Reformed Church,
Bluehouse Lane, Oxted