The Garden Guide

Book: An inquiry into the changes of taste in landscape gardening, 1806
Chapter: Part III. Literary And Miscellaneous Remarks.

RP Knight and terraces

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Whatever trifling differences may still exist in our theories, it is no small satisfaction to me to discover that many of my opinions have been confirmed, and many of my thoughts repeated, although new clothed, or disguised in other words, by Mr.R P Knight, especially those on the subject of Gothic architecture,* on the absurdity of concealing the offices to a house,** and on the use of terraces, and particularly on the neatness near a house, in which he very strongly expresses my sentiments in these words: "Immediately adjoining the dwellings of opulence and luxury, everything should assume its character, and not only be, but appear to be, dressed and cultivated. In such situations, neat gravel walks, mown turf, and flowering plants and shrubs trained and distributed by art, are perfectly in character"***. *[OBSERVATIONS, p. 304. "Whether we take our models from a Grecian Temple, or from a Gothic Abbey, from a Castle, or from a College, if the building does not look like a house, and the residence of a nobleman, it will be out of character. It may, perhaps, be objected, that we must exactly follow the models of the style or date we profess to imitate, or else we make a pasticcio, or confusion of discordant parts. Shall we imitate the thing, and forget its application?-No; let us rather, &c. Let us, in short, never forget that we are building a house, whether we imitate the bold irregular outline of an ancient Castle, the elegant forms and tracery of a Gothic Abbey, or the harmony of proportions and symmetrical beauty of a Grecian Temple. INQUIRY, p. 179. "Grecian Temples, Gothic Abbeys, and feudal Castles, were all well adapted to their respective uses, circumstances, and situations: the distribution of the parts subservient to the purposes of the whole, and the ornaments and decorations suited to the character of the parts; and to the manners, habits, and employments of the persons who were to occupy them: but the house of an English nobleman of the eighteenth or nineteenth century is neither a Grecian Temple, a Gothic Abbey, nor a feudal Castle; and if the style of distribution or decoration of either be employed in it, such changes and modifications should be admitted, as may adapt it to existing circumstances; otherwise the scale of its exactitude becomes that of its incongruity, and the deviation from principle proportioned to the fidelity of imitation."] **[OBSERVATIONS, p. 271. "After describing six different forms of houses and offices, at different dates, of which the fifth and sixth had wings, "the seventh and last invented, consists of a compact square house, with three fronts; and to the back of it are attached offices, forming a very long range of buildings, courts, walls, &c. all supposed to be hid by plantation. Such is the horror of seeing the offices, that, in one instance, I was desired by the architect to plant trees on the earth which had been brought and laid on the copper roof with which the kitchen offices had been covered for that purpose!" INQUIRY, p. 214. "The practice, which was so prevalent in the beginning of this century, of placing the mansion-house between two correspondent wings, in which were contained the offices, has, of late, fallen into disuse; and one still more adverse to composition has succeeded; namely, that of entirely hiding offices behind masses of plantation, and leaving the wretched, square, solitary mansion-house to exhibit its pert bald front, &c. &c. (The offices) are often concealed in recesses, or behind mounds, the improver generally picking out the most retired, intricate, and beautiful spot that can be found near the house to bury them in."] ***[OBSERVATIONS, pp. 202, 240, 277, 279, 284. "Various examples are given of terraces in the front of houses, as forming a basement for the house to stand upon, which at once gives it importance, and supplies it with accompaniments. these, it may be supposed, were the source of that prophetic remark concerning another revolution in taste at no great distance." INQUIRY, p. 215. "The author recommends 'the hanging terraces of the Italian gardens,' they not only enrich the foreground, but serve as a basement for the house to stand upon, which at once gives it importance, and supplies it with accompaniments. Such decorations are, indeed, now rather old-fashioned; but another revolution in taste, which is probably at no great distance, will make them new again."]