James Pulham & Son
- Written by Kate Banister
James Pulham & Son of Broxbourne in Hertfordshire were one of the most important firms of landscape designers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were one of the main manufacturers of artificial rockwork, a highly natural-looking brand known as ‘Pulhamite'.
The Pulhams specialised in water gardens and rock gardens - building cliffs, ravines, waterways, ferneries and grottoes - as well as manufacturing vases, urns, sundials and other garden ornaments. By the end of the 19th century, at the height of their reputation, they were also designing gardens in Japanese, Italian and Dutch styles.
In 1895 the Pulhams received the Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales. This continued when he became Edward VII and was also granted by George V. Their work survives at the royal residences of Sandringham in Norfolk and Buckingham Palace in London.
The Pulhams' many other clients included the Rothschilds at Waddesdon Manor , the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at Wisley and Lord Braybrooke at Audley End . They also received public commissions from places such as Folkestone, Ramsgate, Buxton and Preston.
Documentary evidence for the firm and family is scant. All official records were lost when the firm closed during World War Two. All that survives are a few copies of a promotional booklet, Picturesque Ferneries and Rock Garden Scenery (1876-7), and small numbers of a trade catalogue dating from around 1920.
The promotional booklet contains a list of places where the ‘Pulhamite System of forming Rocks' had been installed in the previous 28 years. This includes places all over the British Isles and not just Hertfordshire, where they were based.