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An Introduction to Garden History

If you are interested in gardens generally but would love to know more about the history of gardens and garden design through the ages, then this is the course for you.

This course offers students with little or no previous knowledge a chronological panorama of the development of garden history from medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan gardens through to the twentieth century – and will end with the twenty-first century, tomorrow’s history in the making! The seven sessions will run over nine weeks and be delivered by well-known and distinguished speakers in their fields. Students will have the additional benefit of an introduction to the Garden Museum’s fascinating collections and archives.


9 October
Medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan Gardens: Elisabeth Whittle

16 October
Seventeenth-century formal gardens: Stephen Smith

30 October
The English landscape garden: Dr David Jacques

6 November
Eighteenth-century town gardens: Dr Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

13 November
The Victorian garden: Dr Jane Bradney

27 November
Twentieth-century gardens: Dr Katie Campbell

4 December
Twenty-first-century gardens: Tim Richardson

Tea and coffee will be provided from 10.45am before each session.

Note that there are no lectures on 23 October or 20 November.

The course is being run by the Gardens Trust in association with the Garden Museum.

Speaker bios

  • Elisabeth Whittle

    Elisabeth Whittle

    Elisabeth Whittle is a garden historian with a special interest in Tudor and Jacobean gardens. She has a wide knowledge of the historic parks and gardens of Wales, having been the Inspector of Historic Parks, Gardens and Landscapes for the Welsh Government's historic monuments service, Cadw, for many years. During this time Elisabeth designed a recreated medieval garden at Tretower Court in Powys and a Tudor garden at Plas Mawr, Conway, Wales. She has written extensively, most recently about the water features in Cambridge at the beginning of the 17th century. She has been joint editor of Garden History, is a former president of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and a trustee of the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith, garden historian and horticulturist, started his career as a professional horticulturist before he began teaching horticulture and garden history at Capel Manor College. He subsequently became Landscape Manager for the Grosvenor Estate in London. Since 2012 Stephen has worked as a freelance consultant specialising in historic landscapes and gardens. He is currently researching for a PhD at Queen Mary University of London.

  • Dr. David Jacques

    Dr. David Jacques

    Having trained as a planner and landscape architect, David Jacques is now a consultant, lecturer and author on historic landscapes, parks and gardens. He was Inspector of Historic Parks and Gardens at English Heritage for many years. A trustee of Chiswick House, David has also worked internationally as an advisor on the conservation of world heritage sites. His books include Georgian Gardens and Gardens of Court and Country among others.

  • Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

    Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

    Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan is a landscape architect, garden historian and author with an international design practice based in London. He holds a variety of advisory roles including Gardens Adviser to the Historic Royal Palaces. Todd lectures widely on landscape history and design and has written several books, including The London Town Garden 1700-1840 and The London Square. He is president of the London Parks and Gardens Trust.

  • Dr. Jane Bradney

    Dr. Jane Bradney

    Dr. Jane Bradney is a freelance garden historian specialising in the 19th century. She has written about the garden works of Charles Barry, Humphry Repton and John Nash as well as the historic landscapes of her adopted home county of Herefordshire. She lectures on the 19th century garden and is an active member of several county gardens trusts. In 2012 Jane became Archivist to the Enville estate with its noted 18th and 19th century park and garden.

  • Dr. Katie Campbell

    Dr. Katie Campbell

    Dr. Katie Campbell is writer and garden historian. She lectures widely and has taught at Birkbeck, Bristol and Buckingham universities. She writes for various publications and leads art and garden tours. Her most recent book, British Gardens in Time, accompanied the BBC television series. Her penultimate book, Paradise of Exiles, explored the eccentric Anglo-American garden-makers in late 19th century Florence. Katie is beginning work on Virgil and the Bees - a social history of beekeeping.

  • Tim Richardson

    Tim Richardson

    Tim Richardson is a garden and landscape historian and critic and the author of a number of books including The Arcadian Friends: The Invention of the English Landscape Garden, Avant Gardeners, English Gardens in the Twentieth Century and The New English Garden. His next book is on Cambridge college gardens (a companion to his book on Oxford). Tim teaches landscape history at London University and wrote Oxford University's course on English garden history. He is art critic for The Idler and was theatre critic at Country Life for 23 years.

Image: Canterbury Cathedral Gardens, Kent