The Landscaped Park

The Landscaped Park

The landscaped park was a British style which would influence gardens throughout Europe from the 18th century onwards.

The style at a glance:

  • Informal layout designed as a classical Arcadia
  • Lakes created to reflect the landscape as well as for recreation
  • Cascades add drama and animation to the scene
  • Temples, grottoes and follies doubled up as tea rooms, and viewing towers
  • Clumps and shelter belts to provide shelter and privacy to the park
  • Shrubberies planted with the newly introduced exotics from abroad
  • The Ha-ha, an invisible boundary to keep livestock away from the house
  • Circuit walks taking you on a tour around the park

It drew inspiration from paintings of landscapes by Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. The new style that became known as the English garden was invented by landscape designers William Kent and Charles Bridgeman, working for wealthy patrons, including Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham, Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, and banker Henry Hoare; men who had large country estates, were members of the anti-royalist Whig Party, had classical educations, were patrons of the arts, and had taken the Grand Tour to Italy, where they had seen the Roman ruins and Italian landscapes they reproduced in their gardens.
William Kent (1685–1748) was an architect, painter and furniture designer who introduced Palladian style architecture to England. Kent’s inspiration came from Palladio’s buildings in the Veneto and the landscapes and ruins around Rome—he lived in Italy from 1709 to 1719, and brought back many drawings of antique architecture and landscapes. His gardens were designed to complement the Palladian architecture of the houses he built. Charles Bridgeman (1690–1738) was the son of a gardener and an experienced horticulturist, who became the Royal Gardener for Queen Anne and Prince George of Denmark, responsible for tending and redesigning the royal gardens at Windsor, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, St. James’s Park and Hyde Park. He collaborated with Kent on several major gardens, providing the botanical expertise which allowed Kent to realise his architectural visions.

Kent created one of the first true English landscape gardens at Chiswick House for Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. The first gardens that he laid out between 1724 and 1733 had many formal elements of a Garden à la française, including alleys forming a trident and canals, but they also featured something novel: a picturesque recreation of an Ionic temple set in a theatre of trees. Between 1733 and 1736, he redesigned the garden, adding lawns sloping down to the edge of the river and a small cascade. For the first time the form of a garden was inspired not by architecture, but by an idealised version of nature.

Stowe, in Buckinghamshire, (1730–1738), was an even more radical departure from the formal French garden. In the early 18th century, Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham, had commissioned Charles Bridgeman to design a formal garden, with architectural decorations by John Vanbrugh. Bridgeman’s design included an octagonal lake and a Rotunda (1720–21) designed by Vanbrugh Stowe is frequently used as a setting for TV dramas and films. Here are just a few scenes filmed at Stowe Park:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrations: Ryan O’Neal in Barry Lyndon (1975), Keira Knightly in Pride and Prejudice (2005),
Film director, Amma-Asante and Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw filming Belle (2013).

Julia Herdman writes historical fiction that puts women to the fore. Her latest book Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1. is  Available on Amazon – Paperback £10.99 Kindle £2.29  Also available on:

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The Chelsea Flower Show Old and New

The Chelsea Flower Show Old and New

The annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show opened today – 22nd May 2017 with a visit from HM Queen Elizabeth and in the evening with its traditional charity preview. The RHS patron, HM the Queen, is the guest of honour at each show. The show is so popular tickets are restricted to four per person and are already sold out. Tickets for the Gala dinner start at £700 per head for; champagne, canapés and live music followed by a three-course meal.

Chelsea is probably the world’s most famous horticultural shows and is the place to see cutting-edge garden design, find new plants and new ideas to enhance your garden. The show is held in the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea which was once the site of the famous 18th century Ranelagh Gardens.

Ranelagh was one of the great melting pots of 18th century society. Entry cost two shillings and sixpence, compared to a shilling at Vauxhall and Horace Walpole wrote soon after the gardens opened, “It has totally beat Vauxhall… You can’t set your foot without treading on a Prince, or Duke of Cumberland.” Novelist Fanny Burney described how the nightly illuminations and magic lanterns ‘made me almost think I was in some enchanted castle or fairy palace’. Originally designed to appeal to wealthier tastes, pleasure gardens soon became the haunt of the rich and poor alike.

When it first opened in 1746, Ranelagh boasted acres of formal gardens with long sweeping avenues, down which pedestrians strolled together on balmy summer evenings. Other visitors came to admire the Chinese Pavillion or watch the fountain of mirrors and attend musical concerts held in the great 200-foot wide Rotunda, the gardens’ main attraction where Mozart performed as a child. Yet the novelty soon waned. In June of that year Catherine Talbot wrote to a friend that “…it is quite vexatious at present to see all the pomp and splendour of a Roman amphitheatre devoted to no better use than a twelvepenny entertainment of cold ham and chicken.” And Ranelagh soon lost out to the cheaper and more exciting Vauxhall Gardens. It probably didn’t help that the Rotunda proved to have dreadful acoustics, there was no drinking or gambling allowed and the grounds were too well lit for assignations. However, Ranelagh remained open for sixty years weathering the storms and frosts of the 1780s, London riots and the French wars until 1803.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society which was founded in 1804. The Chelsea Flower Show started over 100 years ago it was just a few tents and was nothing like the spectacle it is today. The Royal Hospital is proud of its links with the Royal Horticultural Society. Today the show is a highlight of the social calendar for the English elites and the Great Pavilion is one of main attractions covering roughly 11,775 square metres or 2.90 acres, enough room to park 500 London buses.

One of the RHS’s campaigns they will be promoting at the show this year is ‘Greening Grey Britain.’ Watch this wonderful transformation.

Julia Herdman writes historical fiction that puts women to the fore. Her latest book Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1. is  Available on Amazon – Paperback and Kindle. Also available on:

Amazon Australia

Amazon Canada

Amazon New Zealand

Amazon South Africa

Amazon USA