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British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published six times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

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Academic & Professional Books  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel

Mr Hamilton's Elysium The Gardens of Painshill

Art / Photobook Out of Print
By: Michael Symes
176 pages, 150 col & b/w illus
Mr Hamilton's Elysium
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  • Mr Hamilton's Elysium ISBN: 9780711230552 Hardback Sep 2010 Out of Print #188866
About this book Contents Biography Related titles

About this book

The Hon. Charles Hamilton was one of those extraordinary eighteenth-century gentlemen who, like Lord Cobham at Stowe and Henry Hoare at Stourhead, turned their gardens into works of art. Inspired by his time in Italy, Hamilton set out to transform the accursed hill at Painshill in Surrey into a pictorial landscape complete with serpentine lake and water wheel, Turkish Tent, Chinese Bridge, Ruined Abbey, Grotto and Hermitage.

The garden soon ranked with the best in the land but it later lay forgotten until rediscovered in the 1970s. The restoration over the last thirty years or so has been as careful and dramatic as any. Now Painshill Park is visited by thousands and even the famous vineyard is flourishing again.

This book is fully illustrated with archive images and wonderful photographs of the park and its amazing buildings.


Contents Chapter 1: The gardens of Painshill Chapter 2: A brief history of the estate Chapter 3: The Hon. Charles Hamilton Chapter 4: Hamilton the collector Chapter 5: The lake Chapter 6: The buildings Chapter 7: The exotic and oriental Chapter 8: Hamilton's trees and shrubs Chapter 9: Images of Painshill Chapter 10: Hamilton and the Picturesque Chapter 11: The vineyard Chapter 12: Aftermath and restoration References Picture credits Acknowledgements Index

Customer Reviews


Michael Symes is a Trustee of Painshill Park and has undertaken much of the historical research that has underpinned the restoration. He has taught and directed the Birkbeck College MA in garden history and has written a number of books including A Glossary of Garden History, The English Rococo Garden and Garden Sculpture.

Art / Photobook Out of Print
By: Michael Symes
176 pages, 150 col & b/w illus
Media reviews

The author of this scholarly and comprehensive book was involved in the resurrection of Painshill from the first, and has produced a beautifully illustrated volume that is worthy of of its subject. The photography is of high quality and it's a particular pleasure to see sketches - William Gilpin's urgent pen-and-inks, for example - reproduced so finely. Country Life Includes a stunning selection of photographs and illustrations of the garden's landscape and buildings. Heritage Very readable and accompanied by some highly evocative photographs. Image Interiors Everyone should lose themselves in 'Mr Hamilton's Elysium'. Homes & Gardens An illuminating tour around the crystal studded grotto, Turkish tent, American plant rarities and other features that have influenced generations of garden makers. Financial Times Charts the story of its creation with early prints, paintings and contemporary accounts together with modern photographs. It is a lavish guide to this extraordinary and influential garden, a place for inspired wandering. Guardian Symes is, as usual, lucid on the history and particularly interesting on the Herculean efforts needed to bring Painshill back from the near abandon it had reached by 1970. Historic Gardens Review In an exceptional book, Michael Symes conjures up the highs and lows of Painshill's history with a rare combination of scholarship and readability. Art Newspaper A book for everyone. The general reader can learn about one of Britain's most important landscape gardens. The undergraduate studying art or social history can find a great case study in eighteenth-century culture and taste. And the academic historian who specialises in art, gardens or botany can find detailed discussions of each of these subjects, supported by scholarly references. Project managers should find it interesting too, for the book is an object lesson in how a group of people can succeed in acheiving their long-term goals with careful planning and management, teamwork and volunteer recruitment, and fund-raising. Cassone

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