Auctions | May 9, 2024

John Evelyn Book on Viticulture Saved from Great Fire of London to Auction

Chiswick Auctions

The English Vineyard Vindicated… by John Evelyn and John Rose

The English Vineyard Vindicated by John Evelyn and John Rose, one of the earliest works on English viticulture, goes under the hammer at Chiswick Auctions later this month. 

The specialist Books and Works on Paper sale on May 14 includes one of the few surviving copies of Evelyn's work with a £3,000-£4,000 estimate.  Published in 1666, it is thought that most copies perished in the Great Fire of London. This rare survivor has an ink correction that is made in Evelyn’s own hand.

Among the many subjects John Evelyn (1620-1706) wrote about, horticulture became an increasing obsession. He published several translations of French gardening books and his Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest Trees (1664) was highly influential in its plea to landowners to plant trees, of which he believed the country to be dangerously short.

Evelyn’s book on viticulture – with the input of ‘Gardner to his Majesty at St James’, the aptly-named John Rose - offers advice on growing vines in the English climate at a time when England was a major consumer of wine but a very minor grower and producer. It includes a double-page engraved plate of the ordering and binding of vines. This particular copy includes an ink correction in the author’s own hand changing the word ‘strong’ on the third line of page five to ‘stony’. The same amendment is made to the copy held at Cambridge University Library. 

Published for John Crook "at the Ship in St. Paul's Church-Yard", The English Vineyard Vindicated was printed some time before September 2-6, 1666 when an inferno destroyed much of medieval London,  including the Old St Paul’s Cathedral.