Stephen Switzer - pioneer of the English landscape garden
Stephen Switzer was baptised on 25 February 1682 at Micheldever and Stratton parish church in Hampshire. He was the second of two sons belonging to Thomas Switzer (died 1697), a local farmer, and his wife, Mary (died 1682). According to Brogden (2004), the family were part of a long pedigree of farmers from Hampshire who spelled their surname in various ways, the pronunciation of which resembled ‘Sweetsur'.
There are no known details about Switzer's formal education, although his father's early death prompted his brother to take over the management of the family farm (Brogden 2004).
In 1699 Switzer joined the Brompton Nurseries, where he was apprenticed to George London, an influential gardener of the period who worked with Henry Wise. London and Wise went on to become one of the most respected gardening firms in the country.
Over the course of around 15 years, Switzer worked on some of the finest landscapes of the early 18th century, acting as Lieutenant for the firm. It was also during this period that he formed an important connection with the architects Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, as well as the landscape gardener Charles Bridgeman.