We easily forget how life-changing some gardening inventions can be. In the past I’ve looked at the origins of the spade, the wheelbarrow and hosepipe and today’s post, inspired by the latest heat wave, is in the same vein.
So here’s your starter for 10. “Who invented the watering can?” Then additionally… When? and Where?
You can skip the rest of the post if you know the answers… otherwise read on!
After last week’s post about Sir Francis Dashwood, outlining the background history of West Wycombe and its wider landscape today I’m turning my attention to the pleasure grounds and parkland of the estate. Like the house itself these were designed in stages by Sir Francis over the course of his life, beginning after his return from Italy in 1735. However his ideas changed and developed and he often altered earlier features as he went along. Surprisingly there isn’t that much documentary evidence, or many extant contemporary descriptions but the grounds are recorded in two sets of contemporary paintings while the layout and, of course, many of the features he built still survive.
It’s very rare indeed to find a seemingly unspoilt designed landscape, especially one dating from the mid-18thc. Yet a few do exist, although I suspect none are as convincing, despite the changes that have inevitably taken place, as West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire.
Created by the dilettante art collector, libertine and libertarian, Sir Francis Dashwood – clearly a man with a sense of humour – it is an impeccable Georgian estate, smaller in scale than Stowe which is not far away, but equally special and if anything even more engaging. It was my birthday treat visit recently…and what a treat it proved to be.
When Rupert Murdoch bought a new house for his [apparently soon-to-be-ex-] wife Jerry Hall in 2019 I wonder if he knew much about its history. Holmwood in the village of Binfield Heath near Henley cost over £11 million which might have surprised the person who lived there in the late 18thc/early 19thc, Mark Kerr.
Apart from being the son of a marquis and having a distinguished naval career Kerr was also a talented amateur artist and seems to have had a particular interest in sketching gardens and landscapes including his own at Holmwood. While his work isn’t as colourful or witty as that of his contemporary Diana Sperling who I wrote about recently they still give a real insight in to a garden of the time.