With this year’s tercentenary celebrations and associated press coverage, there is a mounting awareness of Brown’s designs and many more people will now recognise his style. Garden historians have long known what a characteristic Brown landscape looked like, and much work has been done on how features such as lakes were constructed.
But - until now - how these designes were actually used has been relatively obscure. Kate Felus answers this question in her recently published book: ‘The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden’. Described by The Times as: ‘a pioneering work and… a thoroughly entertaining read’ it uncovers the previously untold story of what the Georgians got up to in their gardens.
Brown’s landscapes are discussed often; how people used and experienced typical elements of his designs such as circuit drives and walks, lakes and eye-catchers. Drives formed the skeleton of the design and the views as the carriage travelled along them changed in almost a cinematic manner. The smooth turf of these drives provided an antidote to the bad roads of the time, allowing for thrilling carriage driving in vehicles that are the 18th century equivalent of the Ferrari. At many sites, large boats were built at the same time as Brown was creating or altering the lake. These vast expanses of water allowed for mock sea battles with fleets of boats and real canons. Eye-catchers in the landscape provided escape from the busy country house, as well as offering novel places for eating and drinking, afternoon naps and illicit liaisons.
To celebrate the publication of the book, Kate is giving an illustrated talk at Bignor Park in West Sussex, which features in the book, on 11th September. Bignor Park is a stunning location with unspoilt views of the South Downs, just 10 minutes from Brown’s masterwork at Petworth Park. The garden will be open exclusively and typical Georgian garden refreshments will be served afterwards. Tickets in advance only: £17 (includes talk, exclusive access to the garden before and after, Georgian garden refreshments, book signing). Tickets available in person from The Petworth Bookshop 01798 342082. Enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the event click here.
Kate will also be speaking on Georgians in ther Gardens at Claremont Fan Court School on Saturday 1st October 2pm. Further booking details here