The Landscape Guide

British Garden History & Design Styles

This webpage provides an online companion guide for Tom Turner's history  of British Gardens: History, philosophy and design. It has a similar format to his Asian gardens: beliefs, history and design and European gardens: history, philosophy and design: they could be regarded as three volumes of an integrated book on Eurasian garden history. The links below go to many of the examples discussed in the book.

Tom Turner, British Gardens: History, philosophy and design London:Routledge 2013

CONTENTS: British Garden History


The first circular construction at Stonehenge was  made some c5,000 years ago. Horticulture began in the Levant c10,000 years ago and reached the British Isles c4,000 BCE, probably by cultural diffusion. The design of gardens for temples and palaces probably began in Mesopotamia 5,500 years ago and the Romans made palace gardens in the British Isles after 43 CE. Yet these islands became home to the most enthusiastic gardeners and London became the capital city of garden design. Why?

Chapter 1 Pre-historic landscapes in the British Isles

The earliest information about designed open space in the British Isles dates from the arrival of the 'Neolithic package' of farming techniques. This led to the making of sacred outdoor space, like Stonehenge, to enclosed settlements, known as hillforts, and to small enclosures in which plants were cultivated on a domestic scale, known as 'Celtic fields'.

Skara Brae, Butser Iron Age Farm, Céide Fields, Combehill, Dyrham Hillfort, Silbury Hill, Windmill Hill, Stonehenge, Dun Carloway Broch, Edin’s Hall Broch, Avebury Henge, Mayburgh Henge, Callanish, Newgrange, Uffington White Horse, Yeavering Bell Hill Fort, Traprain Law, Durrington Walls, Castlerigg Stone Circle,

Chapter 2 Romano-British gardens in the British Isles

The earliest British examples of the type of space we now call 'gardens', and therefore the first 'British Gardens' were made by the Romans after the Claudian invasion of 43 CE.  They built luxurious residential palaces with palace gardens of a type which had originated in the East Mediterranean and West Asia. The influence of this garden type extended into the period of Anglo, Saxon and Scandinavian invasions when 'English' culture became established, but few details survive from this period.

Villa Oplontis, Pliny's Villa, Pompeii, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Wroxeter, St Albans, Chedworth Roman Villa, Bignor Roman Villa, Glastonbury Tor, Burrow Mump

Chapter  3 Medieval gardens in the British Isles

Few details and few places survive, but there is good evidence that gardens were made in Britain during the Middle Ages. The main British medieval garden types were: castle gardens (herbers), palace gardens, manor gardens, peasant gardens and monastery gardens.

Tower of London, Warkworth Castle, Laxton Village, Na Geàrrannan, Weald and Downland Museum, Wharram Percy, Ightham Mote, Tintagel Castle, Craigmillar Castle, Bolsover Castle, Restormel Castle, Stirling Castle, Rochester Castle, Little Moreton Hall, Palace of Westminster, Bambrugh Castle, Windsor Castle, Warwick Castle, Chepstow Castle, Leeds Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Bodiam Castle, Westminster Abbey Cloisters, Skellig Michael, St Gall, Mount Grace Priory, Salisbury Cathedral Cloister, Culross Palace, Southampton Tudor House, Winchester Castle, Richmond Park, Richmond Palace, Helmsley Castle, Herstmonceux Castle, Michelham Priory,  Linlithgow Palace, Prebendal Manor House, Byland Abbey, Westminster College Garden

Chapter  4 Renaissance gardens in Britian

British gardens came under the influence of renaissance design ideas, from Italy, France and Holland, towards the end of the fifteenth century. The gardens of the sixteenth century, often described as Tudor, were part-medieval and part-renaissance in character.

Moor Park Hertfordshire Richmond ParkRichmond Palace,  Theobalds House and Garden, Edzell Castle, Chastleton House, Old Gorhambury House, Wotton House, Albury Park, Wilton House, Bradgate Park, Doddington Hall, Charlecote Park, Great Chalfield, Audley End, Knole Park, Alkborough Maze, Nonsuch Palace, Queen Mary’s Bath House, Hardwick Hall, Kirby Hall, Aberdour Castle,  Glamis Castle,  Pitmedden, Packwood House,  Whittington Castle, Hampton Court Palace Garden, Middle Temple Garden, Arethusa Fountain in Bushy Park, Somerset House

Chapter  5 Baroque gardens in Britian

The advent of Baroque influence on British gardens is associated with Charles I, Charles II and William of Orange. Parterres replaced knot gardens and avenues were projected from compartment gardens into the wider landscape, but there was usually something half-hearted about the British approach to Baroque culture - probably because England had become a protestant country with an emerging democracy.

Greenwich Park, Blenheim Palace Garden, Castle Howard, Seaton Delavel,  Hampton Court, Melbourne Hall, Sayes Court garden, Stanway Baroque Garden,  Wimbledon House,  Boscobel, St James’s Park, Wollaton Hall, Doddington Hall, Newby Hall,   Chatsworth , Cirencester Park, St Paul's Walden Bury, Bramham Park, Glamis Castle, Windsor Castle, Kinross House, Castle Ashby, Temple Newsam,  Levens Hall,  Gibside, Dyrham, Castle Howard, Hampton Court, Westbury Court, Bramham Park, Castle Howard, Wrest Park, Claremont Landscape Garden, Castle Fraser

Chapter  6 Neoclassical gardens in Britian

The famous 'landscape gardens' of eighteenth century England began as neoclassical re-creations of the imagined landscapes of the classical world.

Painswick Rococo garden,  Traquair House, Chatsworth , Abbotsford,  Moor Park in Surrey, Pope’s garden and Grotto, Stowe Landscape Garden, Studley Royal, Chiswick Park, Rousham,  Sherborne Castle, Stourhead, Painshill Park,  Holkham,  Castle Howard, Rievaulx, Duncombe,  Blenheim, Hyde Park,  Kedleston Hall, Kirkharle, The Leasowes, Alnwick Castle, Bowood, Great Tew, Claremont Landscape Garden, Petworth, Sledmere,  Kew Gardens , Downton Castle, Prior Park, Harewood House, Duke of Atholl’s Pleasure Ground, Water of Leith, Barnbarrow (Barnbarroch), Scotney Castle, Birkenhead Park

Chapter  7 Romantic  gardens in Britian

The century from 1750 to 1850 saw increasing influence of the Romantic movement on British gardens. Deaming of the world's culture, the world's gardens and the world's plants, British garden designers worked in an eclectic mix of design styles

Leigh Court,  Uppark,  Wivenhoe Park ,  Bayham Abbey, Hatchlands , Hylands Park, Downton Castle, Foxley,  Sherringham Park, Hampstead Garden Suburb,  Duke of York steps , Cobham Hall, Biddulph Grange , Sudeley Castle, Drummond Castle, Trentham Hall, Trafalgar Square, Tatton Park, The Crystal Palace, People’s Park Halifax, Warwick castle,  Waddesdon Manor,  Cannizaro Park, Avenham Park, Guildford Castle, Valleyfield,  Regent’s Park , Osborne House, Newstead Abbey, Kew Gardens , Sezincote, Alton Towers, Ashridge, Shendish, Underscar, Wakehurst Place, Sheffield Park,  Nymens, Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, Piercefield Park, The Derby Arboretum, Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, Clumber Park, West Dean, Arniston, Drumlanrig Castle, Dalmeny House, Lintertis House

Chapter  8 Arts & Crafts gardens in Britian

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, British garden designers were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. They aimed to rescue garden design from eclecticism by learning from nature, craftsmanship and the fine arts.

Kelmscott Manor, Wordsworth’s ‘Dove Cottage’, Strawberry Hill, Crystal Palace, Gravetye Manor,  Chartwell, The Red House, Brickwall, Mellerstain, Godinton, Athelhampton, Haddon Hall, Munstead Wood, Hestercombe, Lindisfarne Castle, Snowshill Manor, The Salutation,  Hanley Park, Roynton Cottage (now called Rivington Cottage), The Hill - Hampstead, Kearsney Abbey, Dyffryn, Sutton Park, Polesden Lacey, Arley Hall, Iford Manor, Manderston, Cottesbrooke Hall, Bodnant, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Hidcote Manor Garden, Hinton Ampner, Crathes Castle, Borde Hill, Coton Manor, Kellie Castle, Great Dixter 

Chapter  9 Abstract gardens in Britian

Some British garden designers were attracted t the International Modern style but their clients, in the main, retained a loyalty to Arts and Crafts ideas. Landscape architects and their clients were much more attracted to abstract design principles.

The Homewood,  Kiftsgate, Sackler Crossing in Kew Gardens, Noel Baker Peace Garden, The Gabo Fountain, Behrens House, The Water Gardens, The Barbican, Bishop’s Square,  Parque Güell, Port Lympne, Festival of Britain, Ditchley Park, The Caveman Restaurant, Bentley Wood, High Point - Highgate, Gibberd Garden, Water Garden in Hemel Hempstead, Chelsea Flower Show 

Chapter  10 Post-Abstract gardens in Britian

Having been little attracted to abstact modernism, British garden designers found it relatively easy to accept post-abstract and post-modern garden design ideas.

Derek Jarman’s Garden,  Marco Polo House, Diana Memorial Fountain, Stillingfleet Garden, Scampston Hall, Penguin Pool in London Zoo, Sutton Place, Little Sparta, Portrack Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Laban Dance School,  2012 Olympic Park, Natural History Museum Wildlife Garden 

Note: the gardens listed above are in the same sequence as they are illustrated in British garden history, which is why some garden links are duplicated

The stone circle at Stonehenge designed in relation to the landscape in which it is set

The British now associate gardens with ornamental planting - but this was a recent development in a 5000 year design history

The sacred spring at Chedworth Roman Villa is on the edge of the garden - and has a kinship with garden ponds

Leeds castle is set in a landscape designed largely for its quality as an amenity

Ham house has one of the best examples of a (restored) renaissance garden in England

The avenues from the baroque garden at Blenheim Palace - but the plan is predominantly in the Serpentine Style of Capability Brown

Chiswick Park had one of the first classical landscape gardens in England - designed by William Kent and Lord Burlington

Waddesdon Manor has a great Victorian garden in the Gardenesque Style

Sissinghurst has one of the best-loved Arts and Crafts gardens

Kiftsgate has an Abstract Modern section in a predominantly Arts and Crafts garden

Derek Jarman helped to give garden design a postmodern turn - on the south coast of the British Isles