Talk: Andrew George on the gardens of Twickenham Park

Date/Time
Date(s) - Monday 19 April 2021
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location
Duke Street Church

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The speaker

Andrew George is a long-term resident of Richmond and St Margarets. His academic background is as an immunologist, working at Imperial College London. He was Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Brunel University London, and currently supports a number of organisations (in the NHS, academia and charity sector) with research, education and ethics. He is also an executive coach.

Andrew has a MA from Cambridge, a PhD from Southampton and a DSc from Imperial, and was awarded an MBE for his work in research ethics. He has always had an interest in local history, and over the last few years has given a number of talks and walks looking at the characters and gardens associated with St Margarets.

The gardens of Twickenham Park

Twickenham Park, which was located on the land that lies between Richmond bridge and the river Crane, was home to some interesting and important characters ranging from Richard of Cornwall, the original Syon Abbey, Francis Bacon, Lucy Harrington and Thomas Vernon. What is remarkable is that so many of them were leading gardeners of their time, who made in Twickenham Park a series of gardens that not only reflect the history of English gardening but  were influential in garden design.

Generations of A-level students have suffered grievously from having to analyse John Donne’s poem celebrating Lucy Harrington’s garden in ‘Twicknam’, while Francis Bacon’s writings about gardens have influenced not only garden designers to the modern time but inspired the first scientific and botanical gardens. Batty Langley was a pioneer in breaking away from the formal symmetry of early gardens, developing a rococo “arti-natural” approach to landscaping, while Tomas Vernon planted the first weeping willow in Britain in his garden.

In this talk Andrew will describe the story of how the gardens developed from 1227 until 1854 when the Earl of Kilmorey sold much of the estate to the Conservative Land Society. He will put it in context of the changing fashions in gardening, how gardens were used by their owners and some of the people who made them. It is a fascinating story that tells us a lot about the role and nature of gardens down the years.