The Garden Guide

Book: Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, 1795
Chapter: Chapter 3: Concerning proper situations for a house

Planning for comfort and convenience

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It was the custom of former times, in the choice of domestic situations, to let comfort and convenience prevail over every other consideration: thus the ancient baronial castles were built on the summit of hills, in times when defence and security suggested the necessity of placing them there; and difficulty of access was a recommendation which, in our happier days, exists no more. But when this necessity no longer operated (as mankind are always apt to fly from one extreme to the other), houses were universally erected in the lowest situations, with a probable design to avoid those inconveniences to which the lofty positions had been subject; hence the frequent sites of many large mansions, and particularly abbeys and monasteries, the residence of persons who were willing to sacrifice the beauty of prospect for the more solid and permanent advantages of habitable convenience: amongst which, shelter from wind, and a supply of water, were predominant considerations. Nor shall I withhold the following conjecture, which I hope will not be considered as a mere suggestion of fancy.-When such buildings were surrounded by trees, for the comfort of shade, might not the occasional want of circulation in the air, have given the first idea of cutting long narrow glades through the woods, to admit a current of wind? and is it not possible that this was the origin of those avenues which we frequently see pointing, from every direction, towards the most respectable habitations of the two last centuries?