logocolour bestWelcome to the Birkbeck Garden History Group web site. The group is interested in studying garden history through lectures, garden visits and exhibitions and in encouraging others to become interested in the subject of garden history. Click on the links along the top of the page to find out more about the BGHG and our activities. Click ‘Follow’ at the bottom of this page on the right to receive alerts when new items are posted.

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August Update

‘A growing number of middle-class women remained unmarried as men left Britain to seek commercial opportunities overseas within the Empire. Many women needed to find work to become financially independent and sought to change the status quo by entering professions. Garden and landscape design would be amongst these……….’

(Extract from A bright glimpse of fair and still places’: How women philanthropists and social reformers used landscape and gardening to improve the lives of the poor’, Chapter 3 in BGHG’s latest publication, DIGGING DEEPER (2019)

See Publications for further details and how to purchase.

New courses have been added to our Garden History Studies pages, including Plant hunting; Women and gardens; The artist and the garden; Portuguese gardens; Gardens of Tuscany; Late 19th century gardens; 20th Century gardens; The botany & history of City of London gardens; and new ‘Garden History in 10 objects’ days.

The course ‘1000 years of the English Garden’ scheduled for 2019 at Oxford Department of Continuing Education will now take place there in August 2020.

See Short Courses and Longer Courses for further details of all courses.

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July Update

New garden history course announced.

The Gardens Trust, in association with the Garden Museum, is offering a new 9-week INTRODUCTION TO GARDEN HISTORY course starting in October 2019.

Aimed at those new to the study of garden history it’s an exciting opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of park and garden design. Delivered by well-known and distinguished speakers in their field the course will provide a chronological panorama of the development of garden history from medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan gardens through the centuries to the present day.

For the full programme and details of booking, visit http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/events/an-introduction-to-garden-history

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June Update

Hay is mentioned frequently in the records of the society, proof that he was an active member and one whose good judgement and expertise was valued. An early ambition of the society was the creation of an experimental garden, partly to give advice on the best horticultural practices and partly to test, under local growing conditions, the new plants coming into Britain. To this end, at the Annual General Meeting in 1815, Sir John Sinclair proposed that two representatives from the society should be commissioned to visit Europe to discover what advances had been made in agriculture. Eventually three members made the tour: Patrick Neill accompanied John Hay and Alexander Dickson.’ 

An excerpt from John Hay (1758-1836), Scottish garden planner, and his search for the ideal heating system for glasshouses, by Doreen Wilson, Chapter 2 of BGHG’s latest publication Digging Deeper. Full details of the publication, its contents, and how to purchase can be found on our Publications page.

Two new exhibitions, both concerned with botanical art have been added to our Outside Events page:  Worth a Thousand Words at the RHS Lindley Library until 26 July 2019; and Modern Nature at The Drawing Room until 7 July 2019.

New talks have been added at Garden History Lectures & Talks with themes including the nurturing of London’s green spaces; Derek Jarman’s garden at Prospect Cottage and his continuing influence; the saving of Japanese cheery blossom; the history of the Wisteria; and the Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace.

Our Garden History Short Courses page has been updated with information on courses being offered by The Garden Historians, Oxford University Department of Continuing Education, and Denman College.

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May Update

A copy of the new BGHG Constitution, with amendments agreed at the AGM on 21 February 2019, has been added to our About Us page.

Dates for Garden Visits in August and October have now been confirmed and can be seen on the BGHG Future Events page

The Do Join Us page has been updated

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April 2019

Five new lectures or talks, 7 short and 5 longer courses on garden history have been added to our Short Courses, Longer Garden History Courses and Lectures & Talks pages. Venues include Cambridge Botanic Garden, Oxford University Department 0f Continuing Education, The City Literary Institute, Institute of Historical Research (University of London) and the Garden Museum in Lambeth. A forthcoming Study Day has also been added to Outside Events

As posted last month Birkbeck Garden History Group’s latest publication, Digging Deeper: postgraduate Garden History research papers, is now available for purchase. Full details of the seven papers and details of how to order your copy are available on our Publications page, where you will also find information about some recently, or about-to-be, published books on a range of garden history topics.

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March Update II

A major new exhibition “From the World War One Battlefields.& into the Peace”

Friday 29 March – Sunday 31 March 2019 open 10.00 – 16.00 at Wren House, Royal Hospital Chelsea, Royal Hospital Road SW3 4SR. (Enter by the Chelsea Gate located adjacent to the National Army Museum).

This free exhibition – presented by The Royal Parks Guild Guild in partnership with The Royal Parks, the Royal Hospital Chelsea and the 10th Essex Living History Group – traces events that took place in the Royal Parks and the Royal Hospital Chelsea during World War 1 and its immediate aftermath; describing, through images, living history and commemoration, the role that Royal Parks and the Royal Hospital played during and after the First World War.
During the exhibition it is proposed to have “thirty minute” talks held in the visitor centre at 2pm on each day. Guest speakers, from The Postal Museum, Historic Royal Palaces and the London Parks and Gardens Trust, will present talks on subjects such as “The Home Depot, The Regent’s Park”, a sorting office where all of the post to and from the western front was processed; the making of the emotional Battlefields to Butterflies exhibit at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in 2018 and; “The Shrine Movement” that inspired an iconic shrine to be erected in Hyde Park in 1918.

ALL are welcome. For further information https://www.trpg.org.uk/

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March 2019 Update

REMINDER: The Birkbeck Garden History Group annual Study Day – open to both members and non-members – takes place on Saturday, March 16 at the Institute of Historical Research in Bloomsbury.  Full details can be found on our Future BGHG Events page

At our AGM on February 21, a new committee for 2019 was elected and we welcomed two new members – details can be found at BGHG Committee.

Several Outside Events have been added to our site. These include three exhibitions: on Islamic Gardens, Hidden Horticulturists and Emma Tennant’s Botanical Drawings.

New items added to our Garden History Lectures and Talks page include two garden history talks at the Oxford Literary Festival which this year runs March 30 – April 7; and an afternoon study session on May 3 at the RHS Lindley Library on Japanese Garden design.

On our Publications page you will find a three new books on Japanese Gardens due to be published between now and May including one by Monty Don designed to complement his recent BBC2 TV programmes on Japanese Gardens. Four other books explore the histories of Kiftsgate Gardens in Gloucestershire, The English Landscape Garden (by BGHG president, Michael Symes), London as a Forest, and – complementing the exhibition at RHS Lindley Library, a book about gardeners who over the centuries have been trained by the RHS and influence how we garden today.


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