Historic Gardens: Research in Action

Painshill Gothic Temple
Course date(s): 
20 May 2015 to 8 Jul 2015
Wednesdays, 11.00-13.00
Course tutor(s): 
Dr Barbara Simms (course director)
Dr Sally Jeffery
Oliver Rock (HTA Landscape Architects)
Jenifer White (Senior Landscape Advisor, English Heritage)

COURSE CANCELLED: We are sorry to say that the course has been cancelled due to a lack of numbers.



This course examines how archival research findings on historic gardens can contribute to garden restoration, conservation and management. Taught on Wednesday mornings (11.00-13.00), Historic Gardens: Research in Action adopts a case-study approach to the exploration of these relationships through a combination of lectures, seminar-based discussions and site visits. 


Course details

Researching the history of a garden or landscape is an absorbing and exciting activity that draws together documentation, maps, paintings, horticulture and other information to tell the story of the garden’s development and the people involved in its creation. The results will be a well-referenced report that describes chronological design overlays and planting and may identify the garden as of significant historic interest. This short course takes researching a garden’s history a stage further by a consideration of how these findings can contribute to a garden’s restoration, conservation and management. It also provides a practical understanding of the range of methodologies currently employed in the identification, protection and care of historic parks and gardens in the UK. 


Examination of these issues is made through case studies chosen as examples of gardens restored to different historic periods and under different types of ownership and management. Visits will be made to the seventeenth century walled garden of Sir Stephen Fox’s house at Chiswick, now part of the villa; the mid-twentieth-century water gardens designed by Geoffrey Jellico at Hemel Hempstead; and Alexandra Park, a communal green space designed as part of a post-war housing development in north London. Sources of evidence for restoration and plans for garden management will be studied in both classroom sessions and with expert guides during site visits. 


The course is organised as a term of eight weekly sessions, five to be held in the IHR on Tuesday mornings (11.00-13.00) and three on site visits. Sessions will be as follows:


·         20 May: Researching a garden’s history: how and why (Barbara Simms); Case Study 1: Alexandra Park (Sarah Couch) 

·         27 May: Visit to Alexandra Park (Sarah Couch)

·         3 June: Protection and care of historic parks and gardens in the UK (Jenifer White) 

·         10 June: Seminar on Alexandra Park (Barbara Simms)

·         17 June: Case Study 2: Hemel Hempstead Water Gardens (Oliver Rock) 

·         24 June: Visit to Hemel Hempstead Water Gardens (Oliver Rock and Dominic Cole)

·         1 July: Seminar on Hemel Hempstead Water Gardens (Barbara Simms); Case Study 3: Stephen Fox’s walled garden at Chiswick (Sally Jeffery)

·         8 July: Visit to Stephen Fox’s walled garden at Chiswick (Sally Jeffery)


There is no formal assessment for this course, but students are expected to contribute to seminar discussions following site visits. The course is open to all who are interested in exploring the practical application of garden history research and will be of particular interest to those who have attended garden history courses at the IHR and elsewhere.