The secret life of the Georgian garden
The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden: beautiful objects and agreeable retreats, by Kate Felus, IB Tauris, 2016, 258 pages, 71 black and white illustrations, hardback, ISBN 978 I 784535 72 8.
Here is a book with the author’s personal stamp clearly on it. Writing in the first person singular, Kate Felus starts by describing how she lived and worked at Stowe, Bucks, at the time of the National Trust’s ‘epic restoration’ of the vast garden and its buildings, which began in 1989. From here she undertook a doctoral thesis (the basis of this publication) and now fully devotes her work to consultancy on gardens.
The secrets divulged here are sometimes risqué but mainly present for our consideration the serious reasons why Georgian gardens in the surroundings of the houses of the gentry and nobility contained so many buildings: follies, grottos, eye catchers, temples and so on, and their supplements such as walled plots and glasshouses. We have all seen these, whether dilapidated or thriving, but rarely give much thought to their original purpose. Surprisingly, The Secret Life breaks much new ground, both in its abundant sources, in the interpretation of the fabric that survives, and in the supporting documents. These cover lost buildings as well as those we may still behold.
Such buildings mainly addressed two big problems: the British climate and the crowded nature of domestic life in the houses where family and servants shared limited space. Escaping into the open spaces of the gardens and even into the farthest reaches of great parks, a sudden shower called for the welcome shelter of hospitable buildings.
Planned tours of gardens were laid on for guests. These could take the form of carriage drives round the estate. Such trips might pause for refreshment and entertainment. All of this is explained in the book, with ample evidence that reaches as far as suggesting what might have been on the menu for the outdoor meals. Where lakes were available, the entertainments could include fishing, boating or even the staging of mock sea-battles.
The Secret Life has much to offer. Its contents offer fresh insights into the significance of garden buildings for professionals as well as for a wider reading public. Both will enjoy its entertaining, lucid and thorough approach to a subject that has waited long for a specialist single-volume publication.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Capability Brown.
- Garden bridge.
- Gardens Trust.
- Hardy Plants and Plantings for Repton and Late Georgian Gardens (1780-1820).
- IHBC articles.
- Jane Jacobs and garden villages.
- Landscape design.
- Rain garden.
- The Institute of Historic Building Conservation.
- The landscapes of Cambridge.
- Walled kitchen gardens of the Isle of Wight.
- Worcester’s Georgian churches.
The first ‘Virtual School’ hosted by the IHBC was launched on 19 June with lead speakers covering pandemic-related topics shaping valued places over two sessions.
MPs and peers are being asked for their views on the planned restoration and renewal of the Houses of Parliament.
Plans are in place for a modified National Heritage Week for Ireland, which take into account ongoing restrictions on events and gatherings due to COVID-19.
Opened in 1901, and derelict for the last 30 years, the Grimsby Ice Factory is the earliest and largest known surviving ice factory in the world. It still contains an array of historic ice making equipment including four J&E Hall ammonia compressors installed in 1931.
A note on contractual obligations under the current COVID-19 pandemic has been issued by The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists(CIAT).
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has called on the government to urgently issue planning guidance to prevent unnecessary delays to development from the pandemic.
The Heritage Fund has put together a list of heritage-inspired activities to be done from home.
Spring is a good time to stand back and consider any building repairs that are required over the next 12 months, notes the LPOC, and regular inspection and maintenance is the key to keeping homes in good repair, as per its accessible step-by-step guidance.
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said “rapid and effective firefighting” had saved three quarters of the mill – which is now apartments.
Police have appealed for witnesses after thieves stole lead from the roof of All Saints Church in Halsham near Hedon during the coronavirus lockdown.
The regular newsletter showcases the IHBC’s own Continuing Professional Development (CPD) content as well as online opportunities from ‘IHBC Recognised CPD Providers’ and other conservation related training and events.
To make sure the public still has access to twelve of those famous works, #WrightVirtualVisits has been launched, which offers virtual tours of 12 iconic houses.