The Origins and Development of the English Garden in the 18th Century

Ref: C2225533

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the formal garden, with its straight canals and long vistas, was dominant. The loosening of formality came with such gardens as that at Chiswick House and the great garden at Stowe. We will look at the work of William Kent and see how he introduced many of features of the landscape garden to come. Not all gardens were large so we will consider the smaller garden and the role of flowers as well as some of the plant introductions of the time. Capability Brown is the most famous of the garden designers of the later eighteenth century, with his undulating panoramas and carefully placed clumps, but we all also see some alternatives to his style, including gardens intended to be evocative such as Painshill or even to thrill by creating chasms and dizzying heights. We will discover this rich and varied history by examining the gardens themselves.

Course aim

We trace the development of the eighteenth century garden from the formal gardens at the beginning of the period to the landscape garden and the cult of the Picturesque.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Trace the development from formal to informal design in English gardens
  • Identify the characteristics of the work of William Kent and Capability Brown
  • Recognise the different types of garden design in the eighteenth century
  • Describe some of the new plants that appeared in England in the eighteenth century

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • If you have a chance to explore some of the gardens that are open to the public during the summer it would be helpful to do so, but it is not essential.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet

The Origins and Development of the English Garden in the 18th Century


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