Georgian landscape parks and gardens are the archetypal setting of the traditional English country house.
The most famous designer of the time was Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and this year is the 300th anniversary of his birth.
He worked at over 200 sites across the country and the combined acreage of his designs equates to the size of an average English county.
We are lucky to have several of his works locally: Cowdray Park, Shillinglee (where the connection has recently been discovered), Hills (near Horsham, now lost) and Burton Park, Duncton; as well as his great masterpiece,Petworth Park.
We know what a Brown design looked like, but how were they used?
Fittleworth author Kate Felus answers this question in her new book ‘The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden’.
These landscapes were designed to set off the country house and conceived as 3D pictures created in grass, trees and water, but they were also created to be used and enjoyed.
The smooth turf provided for thrilling carriage driving in the 18th century equivalent of the Ferrari, the lake gave opportunities for fishing and boating, including mock sea battles with real canons.
Follies, known then as eye-catchers, provided places for eating and drinking, afternoons naps and illicit liaisons.
Kate’s book uncovers the previously untold story of what the Georgians got up to in their gardens.
Kate has teamed up with local independent bookseller, The Petworth Bookshop, to give an illustrated talk on Sunday on the Secret Life of the Georgian Garden, at Bignor Park (near Pulborough), which features in the book.
Discover what the favourite Georgian picnic food was, what sort of music was played in the garden and what an inventive array of names they had for the fireworks that gave the grand finale of huge fêtes in the garden.
Join Kate for an entertaining talk ending with typical Georgian garden refreshments.
By kind permission of Ned and Clare Mersey, the garden at Bignor will be open exclusively for the event.
Sunday, September 11, from 11am to 1pm. Tickets in advance only £17 (includes talk, exclusive access to the garden before and after, Georgian garden refreshments, book signing).
Available from The Petworth Bookshop on 01798 342082.
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