Thursday, August 13, 2015

J. C. Loudon and his Gardening Vision

J. C. Loudon 1783-1843
John Claudius Loudon was a Scot, educated in horticulture (biology, botany, etc.) at the University of Edinburgh and a prolific garden and landscape designer and writer, despite significant physical frailty.

His most notable publications appeared in the 1820's after the Prince Regent had become King George IV. But Loudon published pamphlets and articles almost from moment he began designing gardens, landscapes and the layout of farms.

One of his most interesting pamphlets was published in 1807. Titled
Engravings, with Descriptions, illustrative of the difference between The Modern Style of Rural Architecture
and the Improvement of Scenery, and that displayed in A Treatise on Country Residences,
and practised by Mr. Loudon
the pamphlet contained 'before' and 'after' engravings of some of Loudon's work. He aimed to improve the 'picturesque' work of Capability Brown with his own 'gardenesque' style.

Mr. Loudon describes the intent of his pamphlet in the introduction:
His engravings of Barnbarroch (Barnbarrow) House, in Scotland, show clearly the significant extent of the changes he proposed.
Barnbarrow House in 1805
Barnbarrow as it would look three years after renovations commenced
In his pamplet, Loudon also used illustrations of some grounds at Harewood House (where he undertook a substantial renovation). In this area he proposed to join three sections of water into one.

Harewood House grounds 1805

Same Harewood location with proposed changes
In a telling series of illustrations of a 400-500 acre portion of an imaginary estate, Loudon shows the progression of design through one hundred years.
Figure 1 shows the formal early 18th century plan:
Figure 2 shows the layout as it would have been conceived by Brown, Repton and their contemporaries:
And Figure 3 shows his own concept for such a property. In all three cases the house is difficult to locate, clearly secondary to the overall landscape design.
A study of Loudon's work shows the development of landscape architecture into the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. In his later years, he undertook city and cemetery planning. But he began his work, in gardens, in the early 1800s, challenging the ideas of the great Repton who died in 1818.

Many of Loudon's works including his "Gardener's Magazine" are available free from Google Books. Those of his wife, Jane (nee Webb), an established author who undertook to write also on botany and flower gardening, are likewise available.

'Til next time,


Saturday, July 4, 2015

The English Social Scene ~ January, 1809

It seems odd to think of January in the middle of the heat and drought that we are enduring where I live. I don't like January, but cold air and precipitation don't seem totally repulsive at the moment!

Adverse weather aside, the January of 1809 was one full of assemblies, balls, concerts and parties. At least it was according to the newspapers I have been reading.

The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle of Monday, January 2, 1809 was particularly full of notices:

The Salisbury and Winchester Journal of the same day, advertises the Southampton Winter ball at the Dolphins Inn as did the Hampshire Telegraph, but adds other events as well.

The Bath Chronicle of the same week has, not unexpectedly, a large advertisment for its Assembly Rooms:
The Derby Assembly Rooms meanwhile were looking for sponsors to help with renovation:
It is not clear if winter balls were taking place while this process was going on.
In The Northampton Mercury there were notices of two upcoming entertainments:
And The Bury and Norwich Post was also advertising balls:
On considering the matter, I would have thought that the prospect of driving in an unheated carriage, to an ill-heated ballroom, in inadequate clothing (particularly in the case of women) would dull many people's interest in the parties and balls advertised. But perhaps Regency folk, like us, sought diversion from the dreary winter weather. There was certainly a social whirl underway in January of 1809 all across England!

'Til next time,


N.B. Newspapers from the British Newspaper Archive

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Queen Charlotte visits Bath, October 1817

In October of 1817, Queen Charlotte was recommended by her physicians to visit Bath. She had been struggling with poor health--'spasms' and pain-for some time and it was hoped the spa town would refresh her health and spirits.

The 'Annals of Bath' described her arrival:

 The rest and change of scene seemed to help. Her Majesty took an airing the next day, and in the following days visited the Pump-room, received city officials at her house, and visited a charitable institution, Bailbrook Lodge, of which she was patron.

Within days however, disaster struck the Queen, and the nation. Princess Charlotte died in childbirth at Windsor. Queen Charlotte departed Bath in haste on November 7. The funeral, the attendant ceremonies, and grief took a toll on the Queen's health. By November 24, she returned to Bath, but this time the Queen's visit was notable for its lack of ceremony. She stayed a month taking short excursions and attending briefly at the Pump-room every morning.

'Walks Through Bath', written in 1819 by Pierce Egan, described the Queen's House, and provided an illustration of it.

Queen Charlotte died just under a year later. Her visit to Bath passed into history.

But the house in which she stayed has survived in part. Queen Charlotte's Orangery, 93a Sydney Place, a bed and breakfast inn, purports to be part of the original building. And a stock photo website has two pictures taken at the site (which I cannot reproduce with paying) here and here

Queen Charlotte's visit to Bath, touched by tragedy, lives on in word and in stone.

'Til next time,


Sources: Annals of Bath
              Walks Through Bath
              and several Memoirs of Queen Charlotte are all available for download from                 Google Books.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mr. Fawkes's New Gallery

In light of the recent movie about J. M. W. Turner, it seems appropriate to return to the great artist of the Regency. Indeed, the Regency would be greatly diminished had Turner not existed; its sensibility and style would be irrevocably altered.

But we approach Turner this time from the point of view of  one of his most ardent supporters, Walter Fawkes.

I can do no better than to quote Wikipedia for the basics of Fawke's biography:

Walter Ramsden Hawkesworth Fawkes (2 March 1769 – 24 October 1825) was a Yorkshire landowner, writer and Member of Parliament (MP) for Yorkshire from 1806 to 1807.

Fawkes is be best remembered, however, as the intimate friend and one of the earliest patrons of J.M.W. Turner, the artist. Turner had a welcome and a home at Farnley Hall, Fawkes's Wharfedale residence, whenever he chose to go, and used to spend months at a time there. Mr. Ruskin has borne eloquent testimony to the influence of Fawkes, Farnley, and Wharfedale on the genius of Turner, and the Turner collection still existing at Farnley Hall contains about two hundred of the artist's choicest works.
JMW Turner and Walter Fawkes at Farnley Hall by John R Wildman
In 1819 Walter Fawkes decided to display his collection of Turner's work along with the paintings of other British artists. He set up a gallery in his home in Devonshire Place and Turner prepared a drawing of the room.
Every major magazine of the time reviewed the exhibition when it opened in the spring of 1819. And they were delighted.

From The New Monthly Magazine, June 1, 1819 

The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres had a little trouble getting to the exhibit, and felt it important enough to catalogue their efforts:
 March 27, 1819
 April 24, 1819
 May 1, 1819

A year later The Repository of Arts reported again on the exhibit, but made no secret of its disappointment in the limited access available.
From Ackermann's Repository of Arts, June 1820

Given the criticism that Turner's work sometimes garnered, we are fortunate that far-sighted, intelligent people such as Walter Fawkes recognized greatness when they saw it.

Mr. Fawkes's Gallery must have been a wonderful thing to visit; a delight for a spring nearly two hundred years past.

'Til next time,


Friday, March 13, 2015

"Observations on Fancy-Work"

With considerably fewer entertainment options available than in our current day, the Regency lady was left with only a few courses open to her for the occupation of her leisure at home. She could read, draw, or undertake plain or fancy sewing. But her leisure time was extensive, and myriad handicraft projects were devised and published by such magazines as Ackermann's Repository of Arts. Here is one such craft, given several pages in the June 1810 issue of the journal.

 Of course, Ackermann's shop offered for sale all the materials needed to complete these crafts.

There were eight pages of embossed ornaments illustrated, from the simplest of forms to the very most intricate designs from classical inspirations.

If you would like to see all eight pages, let me know and I can email them to you.

'Til next time,


Friday, February 20, 2015

The Death of a Duke (and what to wear)

As Prince Edward Augustus, the fourth son of George III and his queen Charlotte, spent part of nearly ten years in Canada between 1791 and 1800, I feel a connection with him that I do not with the other royal princes of the era.

Prince Edward Duke of Kent and Strathearn By William J. Weaver Province House Nova Scotia
Known after 1799 as Duke of Kent and Strathearn, Edward was born in November of 1767 and died January 23, 1820. In 1818, following the death of his niece and heir to the throne Princess Charlotte, Edward like two of his brothers rushed into marriage. 

His choice of bride was Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. And his was the lucky marriage. A daughter was born to the couple in May of 1819, Alexandrina Victoria; she later became the renowned Queen Victoria.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Commander-in-Chief, North America, 1791-1802  (1818)  GeorgeDawe
In February of 1820, Ackermann's Repository of Arts magazine published a notice of his death. It offers a respectful and flattering precis of the Duke's life and passing.
The same edition of The Repository of Arts published plates of appropriate mourning dresses, and a page of text ensuring that the ladies of the day were dressed well in their sorrow.

The Duke's father, George III, died only six days after his son in January of 1820. No doubt the mourning dresses donned for the duke were suitable for a king as well.

Though the death of the Duke of Kent was overshadowed no doubt by his father's passing, his place in history was assured. He had fathered the great Queen Victoria.

Until next time,


Friday, January 30, 2015

Fashionable Sportsmen

In my last blog, "T. W." in writing to the editor of The Sporting Magazine, in May 1802, made the point that not all Fashionable Sportsmen were sportsmen in the true meaning of the phrase. Rather, they were less than honourable gentlemen, and might better have been called "coxcombs", "loungers" or even "ramshackle fellows".
"T. W." went on at length:

no one else can reach the fire...

And there you are, a contemporary account of a sort of man who was not a sportsman at all, but a much less admirable sort of fellow.

'Til next time,