Sown & Sewn: the Gardens of Restoration England

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele d’Annunzio – which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award – and of Cleopatra andHeroes. Her novel, Peculiar Ground was described as ‘almost Tolstoyan in its sly wit and descriptive brilliance’ (The Guardian) and ‘full of drama, vivid characters, wit, gorgeous writing and fascinating detail’. (New York Times)

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Historical Association, she has reviewed for all of the UK’s serious newspapers and for Radio 3’s Night Waves, judged five literary prizes, and spoken at numerous literary festivals. She teaches Creative Writing at Arcadia University and at Arvon.

 

The Royalist landowners returning from exile on Charles II’s Restoration in 1660 brought with them, from Holland or France, new tastes in garden design, and a longing to put down roots. John Evelyn was one of many employed to create little Edens for them. We will see paintings and plans of the new gardens created during the late Stuart period – the last splendid flowering of the formal Italianate garden in this country. The pictures, many of them by Dutch and Flemish artists who had travelled over with the restored King, are as lovely now as these magnificent gardens once were.

Gardens, as Samuel Pepys noticed, tended to be grandly formal and ‘plain’, with few flowers, but the bed-covers and hangings and cushions produced by the ladies of the 17th century are not only wonderfully skilled, but also exuberantly colourful, full of quaint animals and fabulous blooms.

 

Caption: Embroidered Picture (England), 17th century; Public Domain