Francis, Jill (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
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This thesis sets out to investigate gardens, gardeners and gardening practices in early modern England, from the mid-sixteenth century when the first horticultural manuals appeared in the English language dedicated solely to the ‘Arte’ of gardening, spanning the following century to its establishment as a subject worthy of scientific and intellectual debate by the Royal Society and a leisure pursuit worthy of the genteel. The inherently ephemeral nature of the activity of gardening has resulted thus far in this important aspect of cultural life being often overlooked by historians, but detailed examination of the early gardening manuals together with evidence gleaned from contemporary gentry manuscript collections, maps, plans and drawings has provided rare insight into both the practicalities of gardening during this period as well as into the aspirations of the early modern gardener. By focusing on the ‘ordinary’ gardens of the county gentry rather than the ‘extraordinary’ gardens of the aristocracy and courtly elite, this study seeks to answer such questions as who was gardening, why they were gardening, how they were gardening and how, ultimately, they viewed the spaces they had created, offering a new perspective on the defining of status and identity in early modern society.
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