Charles Elliott

Politics and Parterres

The Arcadian Friends: Inventing the English Landscape Garden


Bantam Press 359pp £20 order from our bookshop

In 1733 a disgruntled but extremely rich Whig minister and one-time military man named Richard Temple, First Viscount Cobham, lost his political position and retired to his country estate in Buckinghamshire. What he chose to do then gives a whole new meaning to the expression ‘gardening leave’, for in his exile from power Cobham completed Stowe, the most celebrated and influential of all English landscape gardens. Representing the efforts of at least three of the premier designers of the era (Charles Bridgeman, William Kent and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown), who worked on the garden over the course of forty years, Stowe still survives – in rather diminished form, it has to be said – as a testament to the heights achieved by this most British of art forms.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • ‘At every waking moment Barbara Hepworth was aware of herself as a woman paving the way in a man’s world’ From the… ,
    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,
    • 'Macfarlane is a poet with the instincts of a thriller writer, an autodidact in botany, mycology, geology and palae… ,
    • 'Some scholars attribute Shakespeare’s pre-eminence to four centuries of propaganda and not to the fact that Hamlet… ,
    • RT : We would appreciate any retweets ,
    • We've just stumbled on a gem from the LR archive. The emoluments page from May 1995, in which one reviewer asked to… ,