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Talk | Todd Longstaffe-Gowan: The Lost Gardens of London

We are delighted to welcome architect, collector, and historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan for revelatory evening looking into The Lost Gardens of London.

Our fascination with lost gardens is more than a mere pervasive wistfulness for the past or a vague longing for vanished paradise – it is often fuelled by our interest in reconstructing worlds that supply us with a powerful means of making sense of the past, and a way of reading history.  London gardens, being often shut off from the continuum of everyday life around them, and so allowing particular scope for individual experimentation, readily encapsulated attitudes to the design and use of open spaces that now often seem eccentric and improbable.

Todd Longstaffe-Gowan’s talk will focus on and celebrate the evanescence of London’s vast and varied garden legacy, and will provide insights into his forthcoming exhibition Lost Gardens of London which will open at the Garden Museum in October 2024. The gardens he will examine range from the capital’s humble allotments and defunct squares to amateur botanical gardens, princely pleasure grounds, artists’ gardens and private menageries – gardens that have either vanished or that have changed beyond recognition. Lost Gardens will seek to remind us of what a precious asset gardened greenspace is, and how it has contributed over the centuries to the quality of life and well-being of generations of inhabitants of the Metropolis.

  • Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

    Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

    Todd Longstaffe-Gowan brings to his landscape design a sense of the complexities of our relation to the past that is informed by his training and experience as an architect, landscape architect, collector, cultural geographer and historian. He has a strong interest in the sculptural and dramatic potential of landscapes, and in the ways in which their aesthetic possibilities relate to the uses, activities and symbolic functions for which they are destined. He is author of several books including The London Square (Yale UP, 2012) and English Garden Eccentrics (Paul Mellon Centre and Yale UP, 2022)

Image: William Curtis’s Botanic Garden, Lambeth Marsh, c.1787 © Christie’s Images, Bridgeman Images