Thorney Tales

One of the less well-known occupants of Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey - his monument is behind Shakespeare's memorial -  is a Frenchman, Charles de Saint-Évremon (1613-1703) who has recently come back into the news as a result of the success of Britain's sparkling wine revival. Charles de Marguetel de Saint-Denis, Seigneur de Saint-Evremond, as he styled himself, fled from France in disgrace in the early 1660s after incurring the wrath of Cardinal Mazarin. He was warmly received by Charles II who made him Governor of Duck Island in the middle of the lake in St James's Park complete with a £300 a year pension. Charles was attracted to this soldier hedonist with literary leanings not least because he introduced the Court to the delights of Champagne to which Charles became very partial.