All around is Fairy Ground: Pleasure and the Regency Garden

It’s not often that the audience decides to invite the speaker back again during a lecture - but this happened after Timothy Mowl’s delightful visual tour and talk on Regency Gardens on 16 November. Stars of the show were Humphrey Repton, John Buonarotti Papworth and Jane Austen. The stage villain was Lancelot (Capability) Brown, on whom opinions were divided, not least between the lecturer and our chair for the evening, David Robson. 

There are very few Regency Gardens left these days, but there are some beautiful prints and we enjoyed several of them and were transported to a dream landscape of fairies, swiss cottages which were not at all swiss (nor were they cottages - with a 300 ft verandah in one case), shrubberies, borders and flower beds. We saw pretentious plans with exotic French words to describe ordinary everyday objects and lovely enfilades from the inside to the outside of houses through glass structures - all designed to delight and provide a setting for elegant early 19th century society. 

Plans were laid by several who were there to visit Sezingcote House in Gloucestershire, Blaise near Bristol and the swiss garden at Old Warden near Biggleswade - Regency Society trips for the future, perhaps? 

Timothy Mowl should be invited back in 2018 for Repton’s bicentenary, we all decided. I suspect that most who were there this time will not miss it!  

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A few days after the lecture our very own 'Swiss cottage' of the sort Timothy told us about was spotted in this print (reproduced with kind permission of the Society of Brighton Print Collectors). This one was in what is now called St Anne's Well Gardens, and was positioned at the entrance, opposite the current site of Wick Hall flats. Servants and staff would wait here whilst the gentry took the waters.
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A gondola at Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire, the garden at Sezincote, a popular engraving from about 1820 by R. Lloyd of the Royal Pavilion garden, and the Swiss Cottage at the Chalybeate (St Ann's Well Gardens) . (the latter  two reproduced with kind permission from the Society of Brighton Print Collectors.)


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