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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars landscape legends
I found this book very detailed and a pleasure to read. The chief exponents of the 'English Lanscape Garden' such as Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh, Kent, Pope, Temple, Bridgeman etc come to life and the political aspects to thier designs which are fundermental to our understanding of early 18th century gardens are made crystal clear. The narrative is very entertaining and full of...
Published on 24 Jun 2007 by Ricky Pound

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do better
This book is full of good things but ultimately I found it an exhausting and frustrating read. It covers a lot of ground - the development of the English landscape garden from the 1680s to 1750s - which might justify its 500 page length. But it would have been a tighter, more focused study if cut by, say, a quarter.

Tim Richardson's lively, almost gossipy style...
Published on 1 Sep 2009 by Slow Lorris


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars landscape legends, 24 Jun 2007
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Ricky Pound - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Arcadian Friends (Hardcover)
I found this book very detailed and a pleasure to read. The chief exponents of the 'English Lanscape Garden' such as Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh, Kent, Pope, Temple, Bridgeman etc come to life and the political aspects to thier designs which are fundermental to our understanding of early 18th century gardens are made crystal clear. The narrative is very entertaining and full of interesting information. However, certain aspects of garden design in this transformational period seem to be neglected by Richardson as alsmost secondary or 'unimportant' to the developemnt of the English Landscape garden when in reality they were essential to not only thier development but the philosophy that underpinned them. One such aspect is Freemasonry. In reality Masonic ideology and ritual were fundermental to the construction of the English Arcadian Landscape, both as a forerunner of the modern cemetery gardens and to other notable European gardens such as Worlitz in Germany. It should never be forgoten that these garden designers and the artistic elite surrounding them, including Pope, Langley, Swift, Burlington, Thornhill, Garrick, Hogarth, Temple, Coke, Walpole, Coke (and possibly Kent) etc were all Freemasons and this shared understanding had a profound effect on the designs of gardens with thier lakes, grottos, temples and routes of initiation. The idea of the return to a 'Augustan' age through the reinvention of ancient Rome in the desire to legitimise the Williamite and Havoverian succession was indeed important, as was its concentration on mythical heroes, poets, politicians and figures of notable antiquity.

Richardson brings to life the players, the patrons, the symbolism and the motivations behind England's great early landscape gardens at a time when the English Landscape garden was to prove decisive as the greatest contribution to the European 'Enlightenemnt'.

Ricky Pound 24/06/07
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do better, 1 Sep 2009
This review is from: The Arcadian Friends (Hardcover)
This book is full of good things but ultimately I found it an exhausting and frustrating read. It covers a lot of ground - the development of the English landscape garden from the 1680s to 1750s - which might justify its 500 page length. But it would have been a tighter, more focused study if cut by, say, a quarter.

Tim Richardson's lively, almost gossipy style is perfect for describing the landowners and designers responsible for the landscape gardens. They were an eccentric bunch indeed. But I felt he lacked the popular historian's gift for succinct summary and explanation of underlying causes. Which is a shame as a potential strength of the book is its attempt to "explain" the gardens in terms of the politics and culture of England at the time. Sections on the distinction between Whigs and Tories, the poetry of the times, and landscape painting, for example, didn't come off as they might.

His central theme that the gardens were the product of party politics - the Whig/Tory divide - was I thought pushed too far and perhaps undermined other good things about the book. There seemed too many exceptions or gardens squeezed into a mould they didn't quite fit. So I wasn't sure what to make of, for example, the claim (p.363) that "Hagley's Ruined Tower can be viewed as part of Cobham's wide front against Walpole's regime". Wasn't Walpole dead by this stage?

Nonetheless the book is the product of enormous research and is a great source for lively reference before visiting any of the gardens it covers.
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The Arcadian Friends
The Arcadian Friends by Tim Richardson (Paperback - 6 May 2008)
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