Gordon Campbell is to be congratulated for producing a work of real interest and great charm. 'The Hermitage in the Garden' charts the curious history of a genre of building, as well as its inhabitants, the likes of which has gone in and out of fashion more often than flared trousers.
The first chapter charts the history of the hermitage; the second chapter explores the notion of the hermit in general whilst chapter three looks at the hermit specifically, with plenty of examples from both real life and literature. In chapter four and five the author looks in depth at the eighteenth century English and Celtic craze for hermitage building and in chapter six the story is brought up to date, including the modern take on the hermit - the garden gnome! The appendices include a comprehensive list of British and Continental hermitages.
The illustrations are good with many black and white on-page photographs and a nice selection of full page glossy pictures.
A well written book, the author allows his sense of humour shine through without ever lapsing into frivolity - quite a feat, given the subject matter! I found the subject really quite absorbing. The only two examples of the hermitage I am familiar with are at opposite ends of the scale - the small cave at Warkworth in Northumberland and the stupendous Hermitage in St Petersburg, but I realise now how much they have in common.