Fishing Temples

Charles Cotton's Fishing Temple in Dovedale, Derbyshire http://images.google.fr/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Ftheincompleatangler.files.wordpress.com%2F2014%2F07%2Ftempblog1.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fincompleatangler.com%2Ftag%2Ftemple%2F&h=951&w=713&tbnid=zt5AYZkoMLImJM%3A&docid=n46J805cY046bM&itg=1&ei=DOmmV4aPEMKqa4mAo7AN&tbm=isch&client=safari&iact=rc&uact=3&dur=628&page=2&start=15&ndsp=25&ved=0ahUKEwiGxZ3M6a7OAhVC1RoKHQnACNYQMwhIKBQwFA&bih=601&biw=1215

Charles Cotton’s Fishing Temple in Dovedale, Derbyshire
https://incompleatangler.com/tag/temple/

Its August and I’ve been sitting admiring my lake – how’s that for showing off?  It’s about an acre in extent and stuffed full of hideous fat carp.  It’s an attraction for local fishermen and there’s often one sitting on the bank although they hardly ever catch anything and when they do they put them back. Being vegetarian I have no interest in catching fish at all  and I’m happy to just sit and look at the water and all the waterlilies we’ve planted. But lovely tho’ my lake is, I was a little envious  of a little riverside lodge in Dovedale, which was up for sale recently.   Built in 1674 in honour of his friend Isaak Walton author of The Compleat Angler, Charles Cotton’s one-roomed fishing temple looks a rather nice place to sit and contemplate, as does Bourne Mill near Colchester

so even tho I don’t fish, and don’t even understand why anyone would want to do it, this is the first of a few posts dedicated to fishing temples and lodges. Today’s looks at the few survivors from the 16th and 17th centuries. Continue reading

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Welwitschia mirabilis: “the ugliest plant in creation”?

Life on a welwitschia mirabilis plant in the Namib Desert, David Marsh, Feb 2016

Life on a Welwitschia mirabilis plant                        in the Namib Desert, David Marsh, Feb 2016

What a mouthful that is! Even worse when you realise it’s the Latin name of a bizarre plant ‘discovered’ by a man born in the Austrian Empire of Slovak origin, who worked for the Portuguese monarchy in one of their African colonies and ended up being buried in London.

Actually bizarre is a bit of an understatement: how many plants do you know that only have two leaves, live on fog and sometimes have to be kept in a cage!

The caged welwitschia, David Marsh, Feb 2016

The caged Welwitschia, David Marsh, Feb 2016

OK I admit that’s a bit of a cheat because, like the Wollemi pine, it’s to protect the plant from humans rather than the other way around!

But why am I writing about Welwitschia on a blog about Britain’s parks and gardens? Read on to find out…

Weltwischia from a pianting by Baines, in Transactions of the Linnean Society, 1863

Welwitschia from a painting by Thomas Baines, in Transactions of the Linnean Society, 1863

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Artificial Stone 4: Post-Coade potteries

Detail of a Triton fountain by J.M. Blashfield http://www.jardinique.co.uk

Detail of a Triton fountain by J.M. Blashfield
http://www.jardinique.co.uk

While Eleanor Coade’s factory was the dominant player in the artificial stone market in the late 18th and early 19thc there were others. A few using their own magic mixtures and from the 1820s onwards others began using the new invention of Portland cement. So when William Croggan went bust in 1833 there were several other entrepreneurs ready and able to move in and pick up the pieces.

This post is about two of them – Mark Blanchard and John Marriott Blashfield whose careers ran in parallel through the mid-late 19thc. Their  architectural and decorative faux stone and terracotta work can be found all over the country in buildings like the V&A, as well as structures like Chelsea Bridge, and their  garden statuary, urns and other  ornaments are in many historic gardens and are now very collectable.

from Blanchard's catalogue, 1869

from Blanchard’s catalogue, 1869

Read on to find out why….

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Artificial Stone 3: Coade broken

The entrsance to Coade and Sealy's exhibition gallery, © The Trustees of the British Museum

The entrance to Coade and Sealy’s exhibition gallery, © The Trustees of the British Museum

In two earlier posts we have seen the rise and triumph of Eleanor Coade’s artificial stone business. [Catch up on them at:   http://wp.me/p4brf0-vR6  &   http://wp.me/p4brf0-vR8 ]  Eleanor was a successful entrepreneur dominating the market in architectural decoration and garden ornaments in later Georgian England. This was partly thanks to her own skills and partly thanks to the talent of her chief designer, John Bacon.  After Bacon died in 1799 Eleanor chose a new business partner – her cousin John Sealy and the business was renamed Coade and Sealy. But was it to continue on an upward curve?

At first it seemed so and Coade and Sealy went from strength to strength but by 1833 the business went bust. What went wrong? Read on to find out what happened to destroy Eleanor’s Coade’s enterprise and take down such an iconic name.

Coade Stone factory yard on Narrow Wall Street, Lambeth, London, c1800.

Coade Stone factory yard on Narrow Wall Street, Lambeth, London, c1800.

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Beer and Skittles … but mainly skittles

Miss Tipapin going for all nine, 1779'From the Original Picture by John Collet, in the possession of Carington Bowles. British Museum

Miss Tipapin going for all nine, 
British Museum

Games where you roll or throw something at some sort of target to make it fall over are documented since at least medieval times, maybe even in ancient Egypt.  Such games have only evolved marginally since then!   Whether its kegel, the nine-pin bowling of the Teutonic world, the ten-pin bowling of the American world, quilles which is played in France,  or skittles, a game which is recorded from before Tudor times in England the principle is much the same.

Mind you the detail is very different. I hadn’t realised quite how many variations in the game survive in Britain – each with their own specific rules but don’t worry I’m not going to try and explain them all.  These games were sometimes played indoors but in early modern Britain they were more often played in gardens… particularly those attached to inns and hostelries

from Every Woman's Encyclopaedia, 1910

from Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910

 

Read on to find out more about the origins and history of skittles in the beer garden and elsewhere… Continue reading

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What is an English Garden?

david marsh July 2106

“A contemporary re-interpretation of the traditional English garden” ?              David Marsh, July 2106

What is an “English Garden”? We all know the answer don’t we? Especially in 2016 The Year of the Garden. Even though not all of the readers of this blog are in England I’m sure the words “English Garden” conjure up familiar and comfortable images in your mind. Maybe grand herbaceous borders or expansive Capability Brown landscapes…maybe cottage gardens stuffed with roses and hollyhocks  or neatly trimmed lawn  with croquet hoops… box topiary, stone urns and lead statues…suburban bedding plants or workday productive allotments?  Actually maybe defining an English garden isn’t quite that simple after all.

The question came to mind when I saw this garden a couple of days ago…

David `Marsh July 2016

“A contemporary re-interpretation of the traditional English garden” ?                                                  David Marsh    July 2016

 

and read this description of it….

“Lawns, generous mixed borders planted with annuals and perennials, winding paths and scented rose-filled alleyways are just a few of the features of this new … garden, a contemporary re-interpretation of the traditional English garden.”

David marsh July 2016

“A contemporary re-interpretation of the traditional English garden” ?                             David Marsh   July 2016

Since most of the garden looked nothing like my idea of a typically English garden, after a little giggling, I was left feeling rather bemused and began to wonder if actually I had any idea of what I was talking about.  So then I thought best to check out what other people thought and think, so read on to find out about some possible interpretations of what makes “an English Garden”… Continue reading

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Lady Dorothy and Dangstein’s ‘aerial orchestra’

 

Lady Dorothy Fanny Nevill (nee Walpole), 1844, (1902). Artist: George Frederick Watts, from The Connoisseur, vol.2, 1902

Lady Dorothy Fanny Nevill (nee Walpole), 1844, by George Frederick Watts, from The Connoisseur, vol.2, 1902

It could have been the headline in a red-top scandal-sheet: Earl’s young daughter found in ‘a compromising situation’ in the summer house.   Today no-one would care, but in 1846 by being found hidden away in the garden, unchaperoned and with ‘ a notorious rake’ Dorothy Walpole ruined her marriage prospects.   But by the end of her life all this was forgotten, and she was revered as a great figure in the Conservative party who helped form the Primrose League, and more importantly a great gardener.

Lady Dorothy, by K Vanity Fair, 6 November 1912.

Lady Dorothy, by K
Vanity Fair, 6 November 1912.

It didn’t help that her family had a history of risqué behaviour which placed them on the fringes of polite society.  Her father, Horatio Walpole the  3rd Earl of Orford gambled heavily, and once wrote that he “would rather live in the land of sinners than with…saints.” Her brother  fathered a child with  the notorious Lady Lincoln [google her for details of her divorce case which set London tongues wagging] and then eloped with her.

They could get away with it because they were men and  it was Dorothy who drew the shortest straw. Read on to find more about how she overcame the scandal, became friends with Darwin, Disraeli and William and Joseph Hooker of Kew, and developed one of the greatest exotic gardens in 19thc Britain.

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Tredegar…Restoration grandeur and a dancing kangaroo

No sooner had I finished writing this post [many many months ago now] but Tredegar House was the subject of a TV programme with Griff Rhys Jones.  So, as I didn’t want to be thought a copycat, I decided to delay publishing …and inevitably it slipped off the radar. Which is a great pity because Tredegar deserves star billing!  It is probably the finest later 17thc building in Wales and, in the opinion of the late Giles Worsley, one of half dozen most important Restoration houses in Britain.

If you saw the broadcast then I hope this will be a slower and more in-depth account …but if you didn’t, then read on and maybe this will inspire you to find out more about Tredegar and the Morgan family or even go and visit!

screenshot
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The further adventures of Francis Masson – the man with itchy feet

Massonia depressa with seed capsules, Paul Cumbleton 2007. Wisley Alpine Log. http://www.srgc.org.uk/wisley/2007/071107/log.html http://www.srgc.org.uk/wisley/2007/071107/log.html

Massonia depressa with seed capsules, Paul Cumbleton 2007. Wisley Alpine Log. http://www.srgc.org.uk/wisley/2007/071107/log.html

Last week’s post finished with Francis Masson returning to Kew in 1775 after a  successful plant collecting expedition to the Cape of Good Hope.  But he was clearly a man with itchy feet so the following year he was off again “undertaking an extensive plan of Operations” to “The Spanish Main”. However, the Caribbean wasn’t the Cape, and that was clearly where his heart lay. He eventually  returned to southern Africa for another 10 years, although there were still more transatlantic adventures to come.

Massonia echinata L.f. [as Massonia angustifolia L.f.] Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, t. 693-739, vol. 19: t. 736 (1804) [S.T. Edwards]

Massonia echinata                                         [then known as Massonia angustifolia] 
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, t. 693-739, vol. 19: t. 736 (1804)

Masson’s success at getting seeds, bulbs and even living plants back to Britain set off what can only be described as a mad craze for Cape plants.  Linnaeus even named a genus of rather strange South African bulbs Massonia in his honour for doing this.

More significantly he is, according to Sir James Smith, the founder of the Linnean Society, the man responsible for the “novel sight of African geraniums in York or Norfolk” and for the fact that “now every garret and cottage window is filled with numerous species of that beautiful tribe and every greenhouse glows with the innumerable bulbous plants and splendid heaths of the Cape.”

There was just one problem with all this globetrotting: the late 18thc was a time of almost continual worldwide warfare with its consequent political upheavals, and plant hunting was, unsurprisingly,  not exempt from its influences.

Massonia cordata Jacq. Jacquin, N.J. von, Plantarum rariorum horti caesarei Schoenbrunnensis descriptiones et icones, vol. 4: t. 459 (1804)

Massonia cordata
from von Jacquin,  Plantarum rariorum horti caesarei Schoenbrunnensis… vol. 4: t. 459 (1804)

So….read on to find out more about the adventures and discoveries of one of Britain’s greatest, if least well-known, plant hunters…

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How Francis Masson found the world’s oldest pot plant…and a few other things

Francis Masson, G. Garrard, Linnean. Society.

detail of a portrait of Francis Masson, by George Garrard, Linnean Society.

“The country is encompassed on all sides with very high mountains, almost perpendicular, consisting of bare rocks, without the last appearance of vegetation; and upon the whole, has a most melancholy effect on the mind.”   So wrote Francis Masson just after starting out on his first plant hunting mission in 1772.  But, contrary to what you might think,  he was not exploring a botanical wilderness but one of the richest plant habitats in the world.

Read on to find out where he was and why he spent nearly 12 years of his life there, exploring, recording, collecting and dispatching seeds, bulbs and plants back to Kew including what is now the probably the world’s oldest pot plant!

High in the Cederbergs. photo by Arne Purves, 2012 http://www.arnepurves.co.za

High in the Cederbergs. photo by Arne Purves, 2012
http://www.arnepurves.co.za

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