English Gardens in the 18th Century

Ref: C2226931

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the formal garden, with its straight canals and long vistas, was dominant. We will trace the loosening of formality in such gardens as Chiswick House and in 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 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, lakes 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.

Additional information about this course

Half term break tbc

Course aim

The eighteenth century was a period in which many great gardens were created. We will trace the development from the formal garden, through the career of Capability Brown to the cult of the Picturesque.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Trace the development from formal to informal design in English gardens of the eighteenth century
  • Identify the characteristics of the work of William Kent and Capability Brown
  • Give examples of some of the new plants that appeared in England in the eighteenth century
  • Outline the main themes that were expressed in the eighteenth century garden

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
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

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

Download full course information sheet

English Gardens in the 18th Century


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  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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