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By: Douglas Ellory Pett and HRH the Prince of Wales
336 pages, 121 b/w illus, tabs
The most comprehensive survey of the subject for any county in England. Some 440 sites are grouped into districts centred on the principal towns, and arranged to correspond with the Ordnance Survey Landranger maps. The survey is richly illustrated with historic prints.
Cornwall is distinctly unique from the rest of the United Kingdom. Once the border is crossed from Devon, the geography and demography changes abruptly. No longer are there large towns and cities, heavily populated. Here, houses gather in clusters either around inlets or along highways. The countryside is more open and isolated and the climate milder. The further south west you travel the more exotic the flora, albeit escapees from cultivated gardens, growing as weeds in ditches and along roadsides. It was due to this landscape and the riches such as tin that were gleaned from it that the great houses and mansions developed over the centuries, giving them room to design parks and gardens whilst borrowing the existing countryside as backdrops. This impressive work, with a forward by HRH the Prince of Wales, surveys 440 of these sites, giving familial histories of the properties together with details of their gardens and designers. It is more than a history and list of Cornish gardens. It gives a unique insight into the social history of the county from Domesday to the present day. With the inclusion of a large number of prints and old photographs it avoids what without them would become more an academic work and broadens its appeal into the general readership. Douglas Ellory Pett is himself a Cornishman by birth, returning here after his retirement from the church. A member of the Cornwall Garden Society and the Garden History Society, he writes with an experience borne from his previous geological and other field studies in Cornwall. This is a work that should be on the shelves of every horticulturalist with an interest in garden history, both professional and amateur.
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