Mr Walter Nicol
Walter Nicol was born in Niddry, not far from Edinburgh. He was the son of a gardener but as a young boy stubbornly refused to follow his father’s profession, preferring an apprenticeship to a shoemaker.
It was during the time that his father, John Nicol, had management of the gardens of the Raith Estate, near Kirkcaldy, however, that Walter experienced a dramatic change of heart. Despite blindness in his right eye caused by a childhood affliction, Walter became a proficient land surveyor and draughtsman.
His first position as a gardener, in 1787, took him to Raynham Hall, the Norfolk home of the Marquess of Townshend. Two years later, he returned to Scotland to take charge of the gardens of Wemyss Castle, Fife, recently re-designed by his father, where he remained until 1797.
Walter made significant additions to his father's layout and drew up lavish designs for heated walls to enable the forcing of tree-fruit, his avowed aim being 'to provide stone fruit for almost every month of the year'. He also designed pineapple pits and mushroom houses. Nicol's friend and editor, Edward Sang, wrote later: 'No spot in the kingdom could exhibit a nicer display of horticultural skill'.
The decision for Nicol and his family to suddenly to leave Wemyss may have been due to the rising costs of the hothouse furnaces, which used 100 tons of coal per annum.
The Scotch Forcing and Kitchen Gardener, was published in 1797 and remained in print for the next 20 years. Nicol took to advertising within his own publications and came to regard The Practical Planter of 1799 as the work which brought him most favourably to the notice of a wide audience, particularly in Scotland.
His primary skills lay in the design and maintenance of hothouses, the maintenance of kitchen and flower gardens, as well as the profitable rejeuvenation of forestry plantations.
In 1800 Nicol began the improvement of the parkland surrounding the splendid mansion at Duncrub near Crieff, Perthshire for Lord Rollo. He undertook much of his work in that county and later worked at Invermay in 1802, Ochtertyre in 1805 and at Gartmore. In 1806 he travelled to Dalhousie Castle in Mid-Lothian where he redesigned the walled gardens and laid out the principal driveway to the north.
Nicol was of the opinion that several different kinds of soil could be necessary in the same garden, often removing thousands of cubic yards of gravel or clay and replacing the original substrate with more fertile soils to achieve a base for horticultural perfection. His methods have been emulated by landscape gardeners ever since.
Through the continuing success of his endeavours and the popularity of his reference works, Nicol was invited to become a founder member of the Caledonian Horticultural Society in 1809, appointed joint-secretary and nominated for the judging committee.
As with so many of his generation, Nicol was possessed of worthy ambitions and rigour of mind that over-exerted his constitution. Seemingly in his prime and having overcome a debilitating rheumatic fever just a few years previously, Nicol undertook the writing of The Planter's Kalendar and agreed to write a treatise on gardens and orchards for the Board of Agriculture. Intending to complete these objectives with his customary thoroughness, Nicol resolved upon an extended tour of the principal estates in England.
On 1 January 1811, upon his return to Scotland, he caught a severe chill, which duly developed into an oedema. He died on 5 March 1811, just short of his 42nd birthday. Fifteen years after his death he was described by J.C.Loudon as 'a Scotch horticultural architect and author of merit'. Patrick Neill, joint-secretary of The Caledonian Horticultural Society with Nicol, wrote of him in 1843 that he was, 'A most distinguished horticulturalist of his day, and eminent in his profession as a landscape gardener'.
"The Scotch Forcing and Kitchen Gardener" 1797
"The Practical Planter" 1799
"The Villa Garden Directory"1809
"The Gardener's Kalendar" 1810
"The Planter's Kalendar" 1812
Tait, A, A (1980) The Landscape Gardener in Scotland 1735-1835, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh
Byrom, C (2000) "Walter Nicol (1769-1811): A Life Revealed" RCHS Journal
Sang, E (2000) "Biographick Memoir..." RCHS journal 2000
McIntosh, C (1853) The Book of the Garden William Blackwood, London
Also with grateful thanks to Ms.Charlotte Wemyss, Wemyss Castle, Fife, and Mr.W.Duncan, Drumeldrie, Fife.
Contributor: Jonathan Cass
Thomas Rivers (the third)
Thomas Rivers, the third of that name, was born in Sawbridgeworth in 1797. He consolidated the reputation of the nursery that his grandfather founded. His major interest was the breeding and introduction of new varieties of fruit.
He was responsible for more than 75 different varieties including peach, nectarine, plum, cherry, apple, apricot and pears. Charles Darwin corresponded with him and sought his advice on a regular basis.
Rivers published The Orchard House or the Cultivation of Fruit Trees in Pots under Glass in 1851.
Ken Worpole is a freelance writer on architecture, landscape and public policy. He has written a number of books on landscape, architecture and urban social policy.
Worpole was a founding associate of Demos. He served on the UK Government's Urban Green Spaces Task Force, and is an adviser to CABE and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
He was recently appointed Professor at the Cities Institute, London Metropolitan University. His most recent books include 350 Miles: An Essex Journey with photographer Jason Orton, and Last Landscapes: the architecture of the cemetery in the West.
Ken Worpole has his own web site at http://www.worpole.net
Robert Smythson, architect and mason, was 79 at the time of his death. However, there is no evidence that indicates the exact date or year of his birth.
There is evidence to suggest, however, that Smythson was working at Longleat House, Wiltshire, England by 1568 where he was employed as master mason by Sir John Thynne. Within 10 years Smythson is known to have been working on alterations at Wardour Castle, Wiltshire for the Arundell family. The castle later became a picturesque feature within the 18th-century landscape developed by a later generation of the family.
It has been suggested that Robert Smythson's connection with Wardour provided him with his commission at Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire. There he was Surveyor of the Works between 1530 and 1588. Other notable works or commissions in England included Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (1590-1); Burton Agnes, Yorkshire (1601-10); and Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, all of which reveal Smythson's firm understanding of classical architecture.
His son, Sir John Smythson also worked at Wollaton, in the service of the Cavendish rather than the Willoughby family. Robert died at Wollaton on 15 October 1614.
Mr Zachariah Charles Pearson
Zachariah Charles Pearson was twice Mayor of Hull. During this time he bought land off Beverley Road, and donated 27 acres of this to the people of Hull as a public park, which bears his name. Unsuccessful business ventures during the American Civil War led to his bankruptcy.
For further information visit the family web site at:
Thomas Knowlton was born in Kent, England and was well known in his lifetime as a botanist and gardener with a special interest in nature, wildflowers and hothouse exotics. He was in charge of the botanic garden of the physician James Sherand at Eltham, Kent and in 1726 he moved to Londesborough, East Yorkshire, England to work for the 3rd Earl of Burlington. It seems that Knowlton spent the rest of his working life as head gardener at Londesborough.
Knowlton was greatly interested in the latest information about the natural world, both native and foreign. He travelled to Guernsey, Holland and London, England and shared his botanical and gardening knowledge with other plant collectors. While he was in charge at Londesborough he also acted as an advisor at other local English estates, such as Everingham, Burton Constable and Birdsall, located in East and North Yorkshire. His additional earnings enabled him to invest in property, literary collections and botanical purchases.
Knowlton's expertise in exotics also enabled him to gain prominence within the landowning elite. Indeed, he was responsible for building the hothouses at Londesborough (1729) and Burton Constable (1758).
Knowlton died aged 90, in 1781 and was buried in the churchyard at Londesborough.
Henry, B No Ordinary Gardener: Thomas Knowlton, 1691-1781 (1986)
Seccombe, T., ‘Knowlton, Thomas (1691–1781)’, rev. P. E. Kell, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/15777> [accessed 27 February 2008]
The Honourable Charles Hamilton
The Honourable Charles Hamilton was the owner and designer of Painshill in Surrey, England.
He was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1704, the youngest son of James, 6th Earl of Abercorn. Educated in England Hamilton attended Westminster School, where he became friends with Henry Hoare (later the owner of Stourhead). He went on to Christchurch College, Oxford graduating in 1723.
Hamilton made two extended Grand Tours of Europe between 1725 and 1732. He spent much time in Italy, where he amassed a considerable collection of antiquities and paintings, and studied landscape painting.
In 1727 he became the member for Strabane in the Irish Parliament, a position he held for 33 years. In 1738, he was made a Clerk of the Household to Frederick, Prince of Wales. Under the Prince's patronage, from 1741 to 1746, he was member for Truro in the English Parliament.
Between 1736 and 1737 Hamilton purchased some 300 acres of land near Cobham in Surrey to form the estate of Painshill. Between 1738 and 1744 he laid out much of the ornamental landscape, including the lake, planting many new tree species, particularly those from North America.
From 1746, after he had fallen out of favour with the Prince of Wales, Hamilton began to devote more time to perfecting his creation, adding many of the follies at Painshill between 1758 and 1762. He also laid out the gardens of Holland House in Kensington, London, England for his friend Henry Fox in the late 1740s.
Money was always an issue for Hamilton, who had no independent income. In 1743 he became Reciever General of His Majesty's Revenues in Minorca, for which he received £1,200 a year. The loss of this post between 1757 and 1763 due to military action, caused him significant financial hardship. From 1758 to 1765 he was deputy to the Paymaster General, which allowed him to continue work at Painshill.
In March 1766, Hamilton mortgaged his estate for £6,000 to his friend, the banker Henry Hoare. Attempts to resolve his financial difficulties failed, and in 1771 Hamilton was forced to put Painshill up for sale.
Hamilton's first wife had died young, leaving two daughters, Jane and Sarah. Hamilton was married again in 1764 to Agnes Cockburn of Ayr, Scotland. She too died at the age of 39, in 1772.
In 1773 Painshill was sold and Hamilton settled in The Royal Crescent, Bath, England. The following year he married Frances Calvert. Over the next few years, he worked on the gardens at Bowood in Wiltshire, England for his friend, Lord Shelburne. He died on 18 September 1786.
Charles McIntosh was born at Abercairney in Perthshire where his father, John, was head gardener. Charles duly succeeded him, before moving to undertake similar responsibilities at the greatly more extensive grounds of Taymouth Castle, where he continued to develop his knowledge of forestry, orchard, kitchen-garden and hothouse management.
By 1825 he had taken charge of the grounds at Stratton Park, Hampshire, home of the banker Sir Thomas Baring. Whilst there, he contributed to the first issue of Loudon's Gardener's Magazine, redesigned the gardens at Pengethley in Herefordshire, laid out and planted the newly created pleasure gardens and conservatory attached to the Colisseum in The Regent's Park, and compiled and had published his first major work of two volumes: The Practical Gardener and Modern Horticulturalist.
McIntosh's energy and intelligence brought him to the attention of Prince Leopold (subsequently the first king of the Belgians) and for 10 years he made great improvements to the grounds adjacent to the royal residence at Claremont House in Surrey. Leopold took McIntosh to Belgium where he remodelled the gardens at Laeken.
In 1838 McIntosh returned to Scotland to undertake his greatest role, that of head gardener to the immensely wealthy Duke of Buccleuch, whose palace gardens at Dalkeith McIntosh updated and modernised to great effect - not least the vast range of productive hothouses that were amongst the most extensive in the UK. It was here that he wrote his major work, The Book of the Garden (also in two volumes), which remained in print long after his death.
Upon his retirement in 1858 McIntosh continued landscaping and improving the villa residences, parks and gardens of the gentry and nobility in Scotland and England. He was an active corresponding member of the Royal Horticultural Society, and also those of The Caledonian and Massachusetts.
Charles McIntosh never set out to emulate such figures as Lancelot Brown or Humphry Repton, but remained at the cutting edge of contemporary horticultural techniques about which he wrote extensively; perhaps his greatest area of expertise being that of hot-house design and heating.
He was known to Queen Victoria and could count among his friends John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843), Professor John Lindley (1799-1865) and Sir Joseph Paxton (1803-1865). Like Paxton, McIntosh gained the trust and confidence of those whom he served and throughout his life contributed greatly to the scientific and practical advancement of his profession.
He died at his residence in Murrayfield near Edinburgh in January 1864. McIntosh also received a fulsome obituary in The Gardener's Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette of 16 January 1864, in which he was referred to as a 'Veteran in the ranks of horticulturalists...who had occupied a prominent position in the horticultural world'.
- Charles McIntosh The New and Improved Practical Gardener and Modern Horticulturalist (1828-29, 2 vols) London
- Charles McIntosh Flora and Pomona (1829-31) London
- Charles McIntosh The Flower Garden (1838) London
- Charles McIntosh The Greenhouse, Hothouse and Stove (1838) London
- Charles McIntosh The Orchard (1839) London
- Charles McIntosh The Book of The Garden (1853-55, 2 vols) London
- Charles McIntosh The Larch Disease (1860) London
Contributor: Jonathan Cass
Thomas Johnes was a leading exponent of the Picturesque, an aesthete, book collector and agricultural improver. He created the mansion and landscape at Hafod in the bleak mining landscape of his family lands.
Mr Thomas Andrew Knight
Thomas Knight, one of Britain’s most influential botanists, was born at Wormesley Grange in Herefordshire. He was the son of a parson and the younger brother of Richard Payne Knight, the classical scholar, whose main thrust of work related to theories of the Picturesque. Thomas, who was largely self-taught, was educated at Balliol College, Oxford.
Knight's enduring interest in animal and plant life led him to create a walled garden and modest range of hothouses at his farm at Elton Hall in 1786, where he concentrated on plant growing and livestock breeding. He may well have remained thus but for two significant events.
The first was that Sir Joseph Banks of the London Horticultural Society (later the Royal Horticultural Society) noted the intelligence of Knight’s written work and encouraged his experiments with plant physiology and breeding. In April 1795, Knight read his paper to the Society entitled, 'The grafting of Fruit Trees'. He was aware that many of Britain’s older fruit varieties were in decline, notably apples and pears, as well as cherries, plums and nectarines. Furthermore, he had observed that disease could be passed on by grafting and that poor or irregular cropping of older varieties were affecting trade volumes during a period of particular difficulty - namely, Britain’s lengthening war with France. He regularly corresponded with Banks and published his Treatise on the Culture of the Apple and Pear in 1797.
The second event was that in 1809, Thomas Knight came into possession of the considerable estate of Downton Castle from his brother. With the benefit of his pioneering skills in plant breeding and 10,000 acres of land at his disposal, Knight continued to develop disease-resistant cultivars of tree fruits in their many thousands. His work also raised stocks of potatoes, peas and cabbages to new standards of excellence. He is perhaps best remembered for the Downton Strawberry, or 'Knight's Seedling'.
Knight's published and practical work encouraged landowners, commercial nurserymen and gentlemen gardeners to adopt his findings and to plant new, vigorous varieties with great success. No less a scholarly work, but with exquisite illustrations was Knight's second volume, Pomona Herefordensis, published in 1809. Two years later he was rewarded with the office of President of the London Horticultural Society, a position to which he was re-elected annually until his death.
Thomas Knight was arguably the most innovative botanist of his era. Although his theory of 'degeneration' of fruit has since been disproved by modern methods, his observations of phototropism (the tendency of a plant to turn towards a source of light) and the cambium (the cellular plant tissue responsible for the increase in girth of stems and roots), and his studies on the ascent and descent of sap, have long been accepted facts of plant physiology.
He was held in high regard by contemporary practitioners and writers, notably Charles McIntosh, who wrote in 1826 that 'To the exertions of Knight...we are indebted, for many of our best fruits, and not only the improvements of our native sorts, but also for the introduction of several foreign kinds'.
Professor John Lindley, delivering his introductory lecture to the University of London on 30 April 1824 was yet more fulsome in his praise for Knight: 'Nine-tenths of the most important discoveries that have been made in modern Horticulture, especially the art of regulating and adapting artificial climate to vegetation, are due to the botanical knowledge of the most distinguished vegetable physiologist of this kingdom; whose successful attempts at applying science to practice have recently been crowned, if I may so express myself, by the complete subjugation of the unmanageable constitution of the Pine-apple'.
In 1991, a little over 150 years after Knight's death in 1838, Tim Smit and John Nelson patiently restored the ‘lost’ gardens of Heligan, Cornwall. In rebuilding the pineapple pits to a productive standard, they chose to work to the designs that had been drawn up by Knight in 1822, which had so impressed Lindley and others in their day. The first ripe specimens from Heligan were cut just five years later.
Knight, T, A (1797) Treatise on the Culture of the Apple and Pear, London
Knight, T, A (1809) Pamona Herefordensis, London
Numerous papers in the Royal Horticultural Society collection
Beauman, F. (2005) The Pineapple, King of Fruits Chatto & Windus, London, pp. 253
Darrow, G, M (1965) "The Strawberry: History, Breeding and Physiology"
History of Horticulturewww.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hort/history/079.html
McIntosh, C (1828) The Practical Gardener and Modern Horticulturalist Vol 1. Thomas Kelly, London
The Peerage.comhttp://thepeerage.com p17531.htm#i 175307
www.rootsandleaves.com (Knight family history/Wormsley Grange)
Shull, C.A & Stanfield, F (1939) "Plant Physiology, Thomas Andrew Knight in Memoriam". Vol 14. No.1 Univ. of Chicago
Stearn, William (1999) John Lindley 1799-1865, Gardener, Botanist and Pioneer Orchidologist Antique Collectors Club, London pp. 85
Contributor: Jonathan Cass
Mrs Jane Wells Loudon
Jane Wells Loudon (née Webb) was an author, a prolific writer on botanical, horticultural and natural science subjects and a magazine editor active in the 19th century. She was born near Birmingham, England on 19 August 1807, the daughter of a businessman, Thomas Webb.
Jane's mother died when she was 12 years old. Her father died around five years later. As a result of the financial constraints she faced, Jane started writing to earn a living.
Jane's first work was Prose and Verse (1824) and her second was a science fiction novel, The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century. The latter was published anonymously in 1827.
When author and landscape designer John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) read and reviewed The Mummy! the following year, he was intrigued by it, particularly its mention of the use of steam ploughs, and wanted to meet its anonymous author. He was rather surprised to discover that the author was a woman, rather than the man he had expected, when he finally met Jane in 1830. By this stage Jane had also written Stories of a Bride (1829) and soon would write Conversations on Chronology (1830).
The pair were married seven months after their first meeting, and Jane worked closely with her husband for the rest of his life. They lived at 3 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater, London where they cultivated a small garden, designed by Mr. Loudon, and had an impressive collection of plants.
Jane studied botany after her marriage. She attended lectures by the renowned botanist John Lindley (1799-1865), after whom the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley Library is named, and often wrote up her notes as articles. She travelled widely with her husband, acting as secretary to him on trips throughout the British Isles, helping him to compile, record and edit his books and periodicals, working as his literary assistant, into the early hours of the morning.
Increased debt incurred during her marriage caused Jane to turn to writing again herself. In 1838 she penned the Young Lady's Book of Botany (1838) and in 1839 Agnes, or the Little Girl who Kept a Promise (1839). In 1840 she wrote the very successful Instructions in Gardening for Ladies, as well as the Ladies' Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals (four volumes 1840-1848) and The Young Naturalist's Journey: or the Travels of Agnes Merton and Her Mama (1840).
These latter works were highly accessible, practical books and, as a result, were extremely popular with readers, in particular with female amateur gardeners. They went through several editions and were quickly followed by many other works including The Ladies' Flower-Garden of Ornamental Bulbous Plants (1841), The First Book of Botany … for Schools and Young Persons (1841), Lady's Companion to the Flower Garden. Being an Alphabetical Arrangement of all the Ornamental Plants Usually Grown in Gardens and Shrubberies (1841) and Botany for Ladies, or, a Popular Introduction to the Natural System of Plants (1842).
In 1842 Jane founded and edited the Lady's Magazine of Gardening. In December 1843, John Claudius Loudon died. With his death, Jane faced even greater financial hardship. She continued to write gardening books, often with the help of her daughter, Agnes (born 1832), and to edit and publish earlier editions of both her and her husband's works.
In 1844 Jane received an award from the Royal Literary Fund. She received a civil-list pension of £100 in 1846. Chief among her publications at this stage were her British Wild Flowers (1845), Amateur Gardener's Calender (1847), the Lady's Country Companion at Home and Abroad (which she edited between 1849 and 1851), The Ladies' Flower-Garden of Ornamental Greenhouse Plants (1848), Tales About Plants (1853) and My Own Garden, Or, The Young Gardener's Year Book (1855).
Jane died at her London home on 15 July 1858, aged 50. She was survived by her daughter, Agnes and is buried at Kensal Green cemetery.
Desmond, Ray, Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists (London: Taylor & Francis, 1994), pp. 437-438.
National Archives, National Register of Archives, Person Details, 'Loudon, Jane Wells (1807-1858) nee Webb, Horticultural Writer, GB/NNAF/P141195' <http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=P17889> [accessed 25 September 2008]
Shteir, Ann B., ‘Loudon , Jane (1807–1858)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/17030> [accessed 25 Sept 2008]
Way, Twigs, Virgins, Weeders and Queens: A History of Women in the Garden (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2006)
Gathorne-Hardy, Robert, Garden Flowers from Plates by Jane Loudon, (London and New York: B. T. Batsford, 1948)
Howe, Bea, Lady with Green Fingers: The Life of Jane Loudon (London: Country Life, 1961)
Loudon, J. C., In Search of English Gardens: The Travels of John Claudius Loudon and his Wife Jane, edited by Priscilla Boniface (Wheathampstead: Lennard Publishers, 1987)
Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, 4th Earl of Cork
Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork, was an architect and garden designer, a major landowner in Ireland and in England, and a great patron of the arts, active in the 18th century.
In England he had houses at Londesborough, in London's Piccadilly and at Chiswick. Boyle was born at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, England on 25 April 1694. He died on 3 December 1753 at Chiswick and was buried in the family vault at Londesborough on 15 December 1753. Boyle is particularly noted for his patronage of William Kent and for his promotion of the revival of the Palladian style.
Colvin, Howard, A Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd edition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 147-152.
Kingsbury, Pamela Denman, ‘Boyle, Richard, third earl of Burlington and fourth earl of Cork (1694–1753)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/3136> [accessed 21 Nov 2008]
Carre, Jacques, 'Lord Burlington's Garden at Chiswick', Garden History, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Summer, 1973), pp. 23-30.
John Parkinson, born in 1566 or 1567 (probably in England), wrote the first substantial book on English gardening, and was one of the first British botanists.
He started his working life in medicine, beginning his apprenticeship to a London apothecary, Francis Slater, at Christmas 1585 and completed serving it in 1593. He went on to become one of the most respected apothecaries in Britain. When the Society of Apothecaries was established in December 1617, John Parkinson was one of the founding members, and served on its governing body, the Court of Assistants. He contributed to the first Pharmacopoeia Londinensis, produced by the College of Physicians. He was elected junior warden of the Society of Apothecaries in August 1620 but at the beginning of 1622, he asked for, and was granted, permission to give up his duties in the Society.
Parkinson then concentrated on his garden in London's Long Acre and started researching and writing his first book: Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris. or A garden of all sorts of pleasant flowers which our English ayre will permitt to be noursed vp; with a kitchen garden of all manner of herbes, rootes, & fruites, for meate or sause vsed with vs, and an orchard of all sorte of fruitbearing trees and shrubbes fit for our land together with the right orderinge planting & preseruing of them and their vses & vertues collected by Iohn Parkinson apothecary of London 1629.
The book included descriptions of around 1,000 plants, giving information about their origins, alternative names and medicinal properties. Almost 800 of the plants were illustrated. Parkinson dedicated the book to Queen Henrietta Maria and, in return, was given the title Botanicus Regius Primarius (First Botanist to the King) by King Charles I.
He worked for years on his second book, Theatrum Botanicum (short title), which was published in 1640. In it, he described approximately 3,800 plants and their medicinal properties, and referenced many other authors of herbals and botanical books.
John Parkinson was a close friend of John Tradescant the Elder. He had close ties with many other leading plantsmen, herbalists, gardeners and botanists of his time, such as William Coys, John Gerard, Vespasian Robin, and Maathias L'Obel (also known as Lobelius). He collected new varieties of plants through people that he knew abroad and, as early as 1607 had funded William Boel's plant-collecting expedition to Iberia and Africa. Parkinson was the first person in Britain to grow the Spanish double-flowered daffodil.
He died in the summer of 1650 and was buried at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in London on 6 August 1650. He continued to be celebrated in the 19th century. One of the statues in the Palm House, Sefton Park, Liverpool, commemorates John Parkinson.
Burnby, Juanita, ‘Parkinson, John (1566/7–1650)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/21372> [accessed 18 May 2008]
<http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/iss/library/speccoll/bomarch/bomapril05.html > [accessed 18 May 2008]
English Short Title Catalogue (online at British Library web site) <http://estc.bl.uk/ >
John Riddell. 'John Parkinson's Long Acre Garden 1600-1650', Journal of Garden History, Vol. 6, no.2, 1986, pp. 112-124.
William Andrews Nesfield
William Andrews Nesfield, watercolour painter and landscape gardener, was born in Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham, England and was baptised there on 16 June 1794.
He was educated in England at a preparatory school in Winchester, which was followed by an unhappy year at Winchester College. He spent two terms at Trinity College, Cambridge, before becoming a cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1809. He was taught there by Thomas Paul Sandby, the son of the watercolourist Paul Sandby.
In the autumn of 1813 Nesfield left for the Peninsula War, where he was at Jean de Luz and the attack on Bayonne. He resigned in 1818 to become a watercolourist.
Nesfield was famous for his cascades and looked for subjects in Piedmont and the Swiss Alps, but his landscapes were more often found closer to home in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
He settled in 1820 in London, England had a period in other cities in southern England, before moving into his long-term house at 3 York Terrace, Regent's Park.
From about the time of his marriage to Emma Mills (died 1874) on 13 July 1833, he began a new career as a landscape gardener, often in collaboration with Anthony Salvin (1779-1881). Cascades played their part in his work, although he is best known for his parterres. For two decades he was a sought-after landscape designer, working at various houses in England including Arundel Castle, Sussex; Castle Howard, Yorkshire; Crewe Hall, Cheshire.
He died at his home in York Terrace on 2 March 1881, leaving less than £5,000.
Seccombe, T., ‘Nesfield, William Andrews (bap. 1794, d. 1881)’, rev. Huon Mallalieu, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19901
Sir John Vanbrugh
Sir John Vanbrugh's work as a Landscape Architect
John Vanbrugh was born in 1664 in London, the son of a cloth merchant of Dutch descent called Giles Vanbrook. He grew up in the Roman town of Chester and initially followed in his father's footsteps as a merchant, becoming a factor for the East India Company in Surat, India in 1683. The job was clearly not to his taste for he had returned home to take a commission as an ensign in Lord Huntingdon's regiment at Hounslow by 1686, before resigning eight months later to accompany distant relations Robert and Peregrine Bertie, travelling on the Continent. The three men were in France at the outbreak of the war with the United Provinces in 1688, when Vanbrugh was arrested and accused of having spoken in support of William of Orange. In conjunction with the Dutch derivation of his name this was enough for him to be detained, although the real reason for his imprisonment appears to have been the desire to hold him hostage to assure the safety of a French spy who was in London. Vanbrugh remained immured for four years, being transferred in 1691 to the Chateau de Vincennes and then to the Bastille in Paris. He was finally released and allowed to sail back to England in 1693 where, with encouragement from his friend William Congreve, he became a playwright, staging The Relapse to public approbation at Drury Lane in 1696. This brought him to the attention of the Whig Kit Cat Club and member Charles Montagu, who commissioned his second play, The Provok'd Wife (1697). Several members of the Kit Cat were distant relations of Vanbrugh's and his aristocratic connections meant that he was accepted into the club in the late 1690s as an equal; the Kit Cat was to be the source of much of his income over the following decades.
Vanbrugh had returned to a world where financial and political revolutions were transforming English society; it was a place of opportunity. The new science was generating an atmosphere of enquiry and a desire to further the knowledge of the Ancients, and it resulted in an invigorated demand for classical texts of all kinds. Impoverished authors found employment in translating the classics into English financed by the patronage of the rich, whilst an emerging merchant and professional class and a burgeoning publishing industry furthered the demand for their work, and made it more easily accessible. Clubs and coffee houses fostered discussion of science and the arts and brought men together that had previously been separate; there were new chances to make money from trade and in a nascent finance industry. The advent of a standing army meant that individuals no longer needed to bear arms, the protection of liberty became a commercial transaction and men had free time to consider matters of taste and politeness. Finally, the Enlightenment humanists questioned the role of the Church, reassessing man's place in the world and his relationship with Nature. It was against this backdrop that Vanbrugh decided to reinvent himself as an architect of buildings and of landscapes.
Vanbrugh was undoubtedly an intelligent man with wide-ranging artistic talents and an enquiring mind; his character suggests that it would have taken little thought before he proposed himself as an architect, and as a rival to William Talman who was Comptroller of the Kings Works. The 1690s saw a burgeoning appetite for building country houses and Talman had submitted proposals to another member of the Kit Cat Club, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, for his new project at Henderskelfe in Yorkshire in 1699. But Carlisle was not happy with Talman's designs and soon afterwards he took the extraordinary decision to replace him with Vanbrugh. Vanbrugh created, with the help of Nicholas Hawksmoor, what has been described as a Baroque masterpiece at Castle Howard, and indeed much of his later building has been widely associated with the English Baroque. However, recent scholarship has highlighted the Palladian elements of Vanbrugh's architecture, most notably the use of symmetry and proportion in his buildings and in the rooms, and the embedding of the house in the landscape - a defining feature of Andrea Palladio's work in the Veneto in sixteenth-century Italy. Vanbrugh was to take Palladio's book Il Quattro Libri, and use it to design both houses and grounds that were founded originally on the work of the ancient Roman writer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (known as Vitruvius).
In 1721 Vanbrugh claimed the landscaping at Castle Howard to be his own, writing to the Duke of Newcastle that he had created the gardens out of ‘bushes boggs and bryars'. In fact the grounds were a combination of his and Carlisle's ideas. The replacement in Ray Wood of George London's star design with an informal meandering of paths amongst the ancient trees, with a scattering of classical statues, cascades and fountains was most likely influenced by Carlisle's tour of Italy, but the inventive wall surrounding the garden was Vanbrugh's. He was the first to use the ha-ha to encircle a garden; it consisted of a high wall sunk into a ditch so that it appeared much lower on the garden side (see diagram in the ‘images' section). This ha-ha was an effective barrier against animals, whilst the low wall on the garden side permitted views of the surrounding country; military style bastions were built at strategic viewing points (the only extant Vanbrugh bastions are at Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland). Although Vanbrugh never went to Italy, he did see the Maréchal de Vauban's military fortifications in France which had a similar form; we can also find examples of this type of barrier in Palladio's work. The structure of the Vanbrugh ha-ha had its roots in the writing of Vitruvius, whilst its use and meaning in the garden came from Pliny The Younger (first century AD) mediated by the Renaissance polymath Leon Battista Alberti in the fifteenth century; it was indicative of the new understanding of Nature that was associated with the Enlightenment.
At the end of the seventeenth century polite society became immersed in all things classical; from literature and art to philosophy and science. The writing of Pliny, Vitruvius, Alberti and Palladio was recovered in Latin, translated into French and later into English. Men had busts of themselves sculpted wearing Roman togas; they wanted to be depicted as members of the new Roman Republic that was early eighteenth-century England. They built ‘villas' along the Thames on the outskirts of London and retired to the country to manage their farms and write, in emulation of Pliny the Younger. Neo-classicism pervaded all aspects of society and in gardens there was a change of understanding of the words Nature and natural; Nature was seen to embody both the order and symmetry imparted by a designer, as well as the wildness of a country untouched by Art (in other words untouched by man). The appreciation of wild Nature and its association with the stimulation of the imagination (from the philosophy of empiricism) led to the opening of gardens to the surrounding countryside, the preservation of pre-existing woodlands and the building of lakes (all of which were features of Vanbrugh's work). Instead of being a symbol of man's control over Nature, as it had been in the formal garden of the seventeenth century, geometry in the garden became a reference to the innate order of Nature (as seen by Vitruvius in the perfect proportions of man) and thus took on a covert form - it literally went underground. Whilst some geometry could still be seen in sections of the garden, rectangular garden rooms clustered close to the house and bold radiating avenues gave way to an underlying framework that tied a landscape scheme together. This change was first demonstrated at Castle Howard. Vanbrugh's innovative use of the natural topography to hide and reveal gateways and obelisks along the approach roads to the house, together with his apparent scattering of romantic temples, have obscured the geometric skeleton that ties the elements of the Castle Howard landscape together; as a result, the grounds at Castle Howard have been interpreted as ‘transitional', as a move towards the landscape garden associated with Lancelot Brown. However it is important to view early eighteenth-century gardens as unique, not as a step towards a future form that could never have been envisaged by the men making them; the Enlightenment garden was the distinctive product of the culture, the politics and the people of the time.
Vanbrugh used both overt and hidden geometry in his schemes; his striking Obelisk Parterre on the south front of Castle Howard was not universally admired, but his use of classical symbolism in the form of pyramids, obelisks and Vitruvian temples was to be copied in many gardens over the coming decades. The ha-ha would be used to advantage in the bastion garden at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire known as the Woodwork (from 1705); it then appeared in Vanbrugh's own garden at Chargate in Surrey (from 1709) and at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (from 1716). By the 1720s Vanbrugh's ha-ha was a commonplace; the low wall on the garden side would eventually disappear creating the illusion that there was no barrier at all (see the excellent example at Houghton in Norfolk). His use of underlying geometrical frameworks was to be taken up by Charles Bridgeman and was evident in Bridgeman's designs at Hackwood in Hampshire (1720s) and Gobions in Hertfordshire (1730s); such hidden frames persisted in designed landscapes into the late eighteenth century.
Vanbrugh's most important landscape projects were: Castle Howard, Yorkshire (1700-1726); Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire (1705-1716); Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire (1707-1710); Kings Weston, Avon (1710-1723); Chargate (later Claremont), Surrey (from 1709-1726); Grimsthorpe, Lincolnshire (1711-1712); Duncombe, Yorkshire (from 1713); Sacombe, Hertfordshire (1715-1718); Stowe, Buckinghamshire (1716-1726); Seaton Delaval, Northumberland (1719-1726); Nottingham Castle, Nottinghamshire (1719); Vanbrugh Castle, Greenwich (1720s); Lumley Castle, Co. Durham (1721)
Vanbrugh should be credited with the following innovations in garden design:
• The first use of the bastioned ha-ha to surround a garden, the proliferation of the military garden style and the inclusion of fields and forests as a part of a landscape scheme (Castle Howard 1705, Blenheim Palace 1705, Stowe from 1716)
• The promotion of architectural features formed out of living plants in gardens, known as ‘architecture in green' (parterre at Stowe, from 1716)
• The idea of flooding a river valley to form a natural lake (Welbeck Abbey, 1703, Blenheim 1707; neither executed)
• The use of natural topography to create a dramatic effect (Castle Howard approach roads from 1699)
• The inclusion of large bodies of water outside the garden as a part of the overall scheme for a landscape (Kings Weston from 1710 Severn Estuary, Seaton Delaval from 1719 North Sea)
• Embedding houses in the countryside, in direct opposition to the seventeenth-century style of placing a disconnected building on the landscape (all of his projects)
• Pushing geometry underground and using the natural landscape as a background to his buildings (all of his projects)
All of these innovations mark Vanbrugh as a neo-classicist, a man of the British Enlightenment. It is important therefore that we do not categorize his landscape designs by considering only the Baroque decoration of his buildings.
Downes, Kerry, Sir John Vanbrugh: A Biography (Sidgwick and Jackson, 1987)
Dalton, Caroline, Sir John Vanbrugh and the Vitruvian Landscape (Routledge, 2012)
‘Vanbrugh, Sir John (1664-1726)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004 [accessed 8 Oct 2007]
Contributor: Dr. Caroline Dalton, University of Bristol
Humphry Repton, landscape designer, was born on 21 April 1752 at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England. He is regarded as the last great landscape designer of the 18th century and was determined to succeed 'Capability' Brown.
Despite early business failures in the textile industry Repton was able to call upon his social contacts to become patrons for his first landscape commissions. His first was at Catton, Norfolk, England for the mayor and textile merchant, Jeremiah Ives, and his second was at Holkham, England (1788) for Thomas Coke.
Repton viewed landscaping as an art form and this can be found when studying his renowned 'Red Books' or folios, which he used to present his plans, drawings, maps and passages of writing. Not all of his commissions were associated with a Red Book, but they were nonetheless, an important element of his landscape repetoire.
Towards the end of the 18th century, Repton was embroiled in a dispute with Richard Payne Knight and Uvedale Price regarding the development of the Picturesque. The dispute centred on the relationship between landscape gardening and landscape painting. Knight and Price were experts on the master painters and as such believed that the improvement of landscapes should be based on the rules of landscape art; Repton vehemently disagreed.
Despite these disputes Repton maintained his reputation and was employed at a large number of estates, particularly in England, including Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire; Woburn Abbey, Bedforshire; Tatton Park, Cheshire; Longleet, Wiltshire; Harewood House, West Yorkshire; and Cobham Hall, Kent.
Repton died on 24 March 1818 at Hare Street in Essex, where he had spent the last four years corresponding with his friends and family as well as writing his memoirs.
Read more about Humphry Repton in the Parks & Gardens UK blog:
Ralph Hancock was born Clarence Henry Ralph Hancock in Cardiff on 2 July 1893.
He served in World War I, being promoted from Private to 2nd Lieutenant, but was wounded and invalided out. He married in 1917, and his son, Bramley Hancock, who later joined him in his business, was born the following year.
He designed a number of important gardens including the "Garden of Nations" and the Promenade on Fifth Avenue at the Rockefeller
Centre, New York in 1935 , the roof garden at Derry and Toms in Kensington, London (now the Kensington Roof Garden) in 1938 and a roof garden at Windsor Castle. He also designed and built a sunken garden at Ferrining in Sussex for Edward Hulton, the newspapaer magnate.
He was a regular Gold Medal winner at Chelsea and exhibitor in the Ideal Home Exhibitions both before and after World War II.
Hancock died in London on 30 August 1950.
Further details can be found athttp://www.ralphhancock.com
To read more about Ralph Hancock, please go to:http://www.parksandgardens.org/explore/topics/176-historical-profiles/636-ralph-hancock-frhs-landscape-artist
James Backhouse (3)
James Backhouse (3) was a nurseryman and alpine specialist active in the 19th century. He was a member of the noted Backhouse family of horticulturalists and naturalists and a member of the Society of Friends.
Backhouse was born in Darlington, England on 8 July 1794, the son of James Backhouse (2) (1757-1804).
In 1815, together with his brother, Thomas Backhouse (1792-1845), James Backhouse established James Backhouse & Son of York (and later of Leeds), a plant nursery first based at Telford Nursery, York, on what was once the old York Friars Gardens owned by the Telford family.
James married Deborah Lowe (1793-1827) of Worcester in November 1822. Deborah had been very ill when she was young, and suffered ill-health after her marriage to James. She died at the age of 34 on 10 December 1827, and was memorialised by her husband in A Memoir of Deborah Backhouse of York, 1828.
In 1831, Backhouse embarked on a combined missionary tour and plant collecting expedition of Australia, Mauritius and southern Africa, leaving his two young children in the care of family. During his decade abroad, he corresponded with his friends and family in England, including his brother Thomas who was managing and developing the nursery in his absence.
In 1851, together with his son, James (4) (1825-1890), he travelled to Norway. The two also toured the Arctic Circle and several parts of Great Britain in search of plants. Backhouse died in 1869.
Backhouse, James, A Memoir of Deborah Backhouse of York; Who Died the Tenth of the Twelfth Month, 1827; Aged Thirty-four Years (W. Alexander & Son, York, 1828).
Davis, Peter, ‘Backhouse family (per. c.1770–1945)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/56500> [accessed
21 Nov 2008]
- 'The Backhouses of Weardale, Co. Durham, and Sutton Court, Hereford: Their Botanical and Horticultural Interests', Garden History, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 57-68.
Hadfield, Miles, Robert Harling and Leonine Highton, British Gardeners: A Biographical Dictionary (London: A. Zwemmer Ltd., 1980), p. 19.
Mary Bartram Trott, 'Backhouse, James (1794 - 1869)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1 (Melbourne University Press, 1966), pp 45-46.
Also online at: Mary Bartram Trott, 'Backhouse, James (1794 - 1869)', Australian Dictionary of Biography at http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A010042b.htm [accessed 12/01/2009] .
Read more about the Backhouse Nurseries in our Historical Profile article:http://www.parksandgardens.org/explore/topics/176-historical-profiles/481-the-backhouse-nursery-of-york-1815-1955
James Pulham (1)
James Pulham was the founder of what became one of the most successful firms of landscape gardeners in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.
There were four generations of Pulhams, each called James. James Pulham senior was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk. His date of birth is uncertain, but is likely to have been between 1788 and 1796.
James and his brother Obadiah were apprenticed to John Lockwood, a local builder, where they developed a talent for stone modelling. The Pulham brothers gradually took over the business after 1824 when it moved to London, specialising in the production of artificial stone and ornamentation.
James Pulham died suddenly in 1838 and the business was taken over by his son, James, then aged 18. The firm did not become known as Pulham and Son until 1865, when the third James joined the firm.
http://www.pulham.org.uk accessed 14 May 2008
To learn more about James Pulham & Son, please click here to go to the Historical Profile article:http://www.parksandgardens.org/explore/topics/176-historical-profiles/336-james-pulham-aamp-son
Dr. Alan Barber
Dr. Alan Barber is a freelance consultant specialising in urban greenspace strategies.
He trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and was Deputy Parks Manager and then Parks Manager for Bristol City Council for 21 years, from 1971 to 1992..
Dr. Barber moved into consultancy in 1992, and has lectured widely. He is currently Simon Research Fellow at the University of Manchester.
He was an expert adviser to the Heritage Lottery Fund, helping to set up the first Urban Parks Programme. He has been a commissioner for CABE Space and a member of the Government's Urban Green Spaces Taskforce.
Dr. Barber was a founding member of the Urban Parks Forum, now GreenSpace.
To learn more about him, please click here to go to the Contemporary Profile article:http://www.parksandgardens.org/explore/topics/175-contemporary-profiles/366-alan-barber-profile
Mrs Mavis Lilian Batey
Mavis Batey is a historian of gardens and literature, and the author of many books and articles. She was Honorary Secretary of the Garden History Society from 1971 to 1985, and President from 1985 to 2000.
Mrs. Batey was born Mavis Lever in Norbury, south London. She married Keith Batey in 1942. From 1940 to 1945, Mrs. Batey served as a code-breaker for British Intelligence at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire .
In the 1960s Mrs. Batey was active in the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England. From 1970 to 1992, she was a tutor in the history of landscape at the Oxford Department of External Studies.
As Honorary Secretary of the Garden History Society, Mavis Batey played a leading role in the campaign to protect and conserve historic parks and gardens in the 1970s and 1980s.
She helped to gain legal and official recognition for historic gardens, and, working with the Historic Buildings Council, instigated the formal recording of historic gardens which led to the publication of English Heritage's Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England in 1984. She was a member of the English Heritage Historic Parks and Gardens Panel from 1984 to 1994.
Mrs. Batey was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal of the Royal Horticultural Society in 1985, and received the MBE in 1987 for services to the preservation and conservation of historic gardens.
To learn more about her, please click here to go to the Contemporary Profile article:http://www.parksandgardens.org/explore/topics/175-contemporary-profiles/335-mavis-batey
William Goldring was born in May 1854 at West Dean, near Chichester. He ran the herbaceous department at Kew Gardens from 1875-79. After this time, he was assistant editor of The Garden and editor of Woods and Forests between 1879 and 1886.
He set up as a landscape architect in 1887. His first work of significance in this capacity was at Earl's Court, where he created the Exhibition Grounds from the previous area of market gardens. He gained such recognition for this work that he was recommended to undertake the commission for the new Italian Gardens at Makurpuri in Gujurat, India. Other work abroad included a commission at Chateau Laversine, south-west France for Baron Rothschild.
In England, he is associated with work on more than 700 projects. Of particular note is his work at Napsbury, around 1902, a site which remains largely unchanged. This was laid out in an informal style featuring both native and exotic species, and retaining a number of mature trees already on the site.
Goldring's work included private houses, asylums and public parks. He was President of the Kew Guild in 1914 and remained on the committee at Kew until his death in 1919.