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Peter the Great of Russia was born on the 9 June 1672. He was crowned Tsar of Russia on 27th April 1682, at the age of ten, and had to rule with his brother, Ivan, under the patronage of his half-sister, Sophia. She was overthrown in 1689, Tsar Ivan died in 1696 and Peter was officially declared Sovereign of all Russia. He visited the principal capitals of Western Europe inviting the best European artisans, craftsmen, technical advisers, engineers, and merchants to visit, and Russians were sent to Europe to get the best education.

In March 1698 on the way back from Portsmouth to London Peter the Great stayed for one night in Godalming at the inn ‘long known as the Moons’ which was the ‘Kings Arms’ where James Moon and his son had kept an inn for fifty years. The diarist John Evelyn, in whose house the party lodged in London, described them as “a right nasty lot”. The bill of fare eaten by 13 at table and 21 in all consisted of:

At Dinner

Five ribs of beef, weight 42 lbs.

One sheep, weight 56lbs.

Three quarters of lamb

A shoulder and loin of veal, boiled

Eight pullets

Eight rabbits

Two dozen & a half of sack

One dozen of claret

...

At Breakfast

Half a sheep

A quarter of lamb

Ten pullets

Twelve chickens

Three quarts of brandy

Six quarts of mulled wine

Seven dozen of eggs

Salad in proportion

In 1998, the ‘Go Godalming Association’ arranged the celebrations of the 300th Anniversary of the visit by Peter the Great. They developed links with the Fili District of Moscow leading to the presentation of the Peter the Great plaque on the wall outside the ‘Kings Arms & Royal Hotel’ in the High Street.

The inscription reads:

RUSSIAN CZAR PETER THE GREAT VISITED GODALMING
IN MARCH 1698 AND STAYED OVERNIGHT AT THE
KINGS ARMS INN. THIS PLAQUE WAS CAST AND PRESENTED
TO CITIZENS OF GODALMING BY CITIZENS OF MOSCOW FILI
DISTRICT TO COMMEMORATE THE TERCENTENARY OF THIS VISIT

Peter declared Russia an Empire and took the title Emperor of Russia on the 22nd October 1721, and died on the 8th February 1725.

Godalming Museum © 2009

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