The park and gardens at Woburn Abbey tell a fascinating story, and one that illuminates the history of English landscaping from the sixteenth century to the present day. Drawing on the enormous quantity of material available in the Woburn Archives, as well as the historic images and details preserved in the art in the Abbey itself, this book describes how the park and gardens developed, following wider trends in landscaping as well as the individual tastes of the successive duckes and duchesses. It also places the significant developments in the park and gardens in the context of the other garens built at the time.
The dukes (and before them the earls) of Bedford have been in continual posession of Woburn Abbey since 1540. Over the centuries in all the major periods of English landscaping, gardens have been built at Woburn which not only reflect the styles of their times, but also throw light on the changing responses to the natural landscape which initiated those changes in style. Almost all of the important figures in English landscaping - from Isaac de Caus to George London and Henry Wise, Charles Bridgeman and Humphry Repton - worked for the Bedford family at one time or another. In our own time, a ten-year programme of restoration of Repton's Pleasure Gardens initiated by the present Duchess is under way. When this is finished, in 2018, the result will be the most complete Repton pleasure grounds anywhere in the world.
In this book Keir Davidson weaves specific and wider themes together in a way that brings the whole enthralling story to life, engaging the reader with historic gardens that are not simply part of a lost past, but can be experienced today.
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Keir Davidson is an experienced landscape designer, specializing in waterfalls of natural rock. He created gardens in Japan and then worked for eighteen years in the United States, building a 250-acre private botanical garden in New York State. For the past sixteen years he has been associated wiht Woburn Abbey and the Bedford family, initially as a designer of waterfalls and subsequently as a landscape historian.