“quand l’homme fut mis dans le jardin d’Éden, il y fut mis ut operaretur eum, pour qu’il travaillât”*

*”when man was put into the garden of Eden, it was with an intent to dress it” – from Candide, ou l’Optimisme, a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment.

From: An Economic History of the English Garden (2019), by Roderick Floud:

“…Joseph Paxton, head gardener at Chatsworth in the middle of the nineteenth century and architect of the Crystal Palace built for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Born in 1803, he was an innovative gardener, working with the 6th Duke of Devonshire to bring plants to Derbyshire from all over the world and designing greenhouses – including the so-called Great Stove – to house them. He used his novel technology to build the Crystal Palace, although his attempt to license his metal and glass greenhouses for the masses was less successful. Particularly after the death of the duke, he became a designer and architect for huge houses such as Mentmore in Buckinghamshire and the Chateau de Ferrieres in France, as well as a number of public parks. He used his growing wealth to engage in railway speculation, formed a corps of navvies to support British troops in the Crimea, became a Liberal Member of Parliament, was given a knighthood and died, in 1865, worth £112 million (£180,000)…

…Edward Milner was born in 1819 on the Chatsworth estate and became an informal apprentice of Joseph Paxton…After the 6th Duke of Devonshire died in 1858, Milner set himself up in private practice as a designer, particularly of public parks…He also established a school of gardening within the Crystal Palace School of Practical Engineering and trained Fanny Wilkinson, who became the first professional female landscape gardener in the 1880s…”

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

“Baron Meyer – the title derived from an Austrian barony conferred on his father – used his inheritance to build Mentmore, one of the most imposing houses in England, on a 700-acre estate in Buckinghamshire. Work began in 1852 and the architect Baron Meyer hired was Joseph Paxton, whose revolutionary Crystal Palace had amazed Britain the year before and earned him the nickname of ‘the new Christopher Wren’. For Mentmore Paxton chose a Jacobean style based on Wollaton Hall, the home of the Willoughby family outside Nottingham, and incorporated some of the innovations for which Crystal Palace had become so celebrated. Thus, traditional mullioned windows were replaced by huge sheets of plate glass, providing spectacular views over the Vale of Aylesbury; the central hall was in effect an Elizabethan courtyard, covered with a forty-foot-high roof of glass.

Gigantic in size, Mentmore was designed to astound visitors rather than put them at ease…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s