Kew: The History of the Royal Botanical Gardens

Overview

This volume traces the evolution over more than two centuries of Kew's historic landscape, which began with two private royal gardens and expanded through the work of some of our most distinguished garden designers, including Charles Bridgeman, 'Capability' Brown and W. A. Nesfield. Eminent architects also contributed - men such as William Kent, Sir William Chambers, James Wyatt and Decimus Burton. Some thirty-nine listed buildings have survived, Kew Palace, the Pagoda, the Palm House and the Temperate House ...
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Overview

This volume traces the evolution over more than two centuries of Kew's historic landscape, which began with two private royal gardens and expanded through the work of some of our most distinguished garden designers, including Charles Bridgeman, 'Capability' Brown and W. A. Nesfield. Eminent architects also contributed - men such as William Kent, Sir William Chambers, James Wyatt and Decimus Burton. Some thirty-nine listed buildings have survived, Kew Palace, the Pagoda, the Palm House and the Temperate House being the best known. All these, together with the latest additions to Kew's architectural heritage - the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Banks Centre for Economic Botany - are illustrated and described. The principal figures in Kew's fascinating history also make their appearance in this narrative: Queen Caroline, her son Frederick Prince of Wales, Princess Augusta, his wife, George III and other members of the Royal Family; Sir Joseph Banks, who organised the first worldwide plant-collecting expeditions; Sir William Hooker and his son, Sir Joseph, who laid the foundations of the present Botanic Gardens; and successive directors who formulated policy and supervised physical improvements. Kew played a pivotal role in the development of the natural resources of the British Empire, and its part in the introduction of commercial crops to the colonies, its compilation of colonial floras, and its collaboration with overseas botanical gardens are all examined, as is its establishment as an international scientific institution in the fields of plant taxonomy, cytogenetics seed physiology and biochemistry. Previous accounts of Kew have relied almost entirely on printed sources. The present volume makes extensive use of archives in many repositories to trace not only Kew's history but also the research activities which support modern Kew's primary objective: "the better management of the Earth's environment by increasing knowledge and understanding of the pla
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Ghillean T. Prance, the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, states in his foreword, "Nobody learns more about the institution where they work than the librarian." Desmond, formerly chief librarian and archivist at Kew, proves this point with his definitive history of Britain's most famous gardens. The early chapters offer a history of the buildings in the garden and of the royal involvement in the architecture and landscaping of their properties at Kew. Every fact about the early years seems to have been ferreted out, and extensive quotations are taken from archival material. The years when the gardens were the repository of Britain's plant-collecting expeditions take the story around the world, and Desmond explains in detail how those breadfruit trees on the Bounty were tended before the mutiny. We are brought to the present with information about the research activities supporting contemporary Kew's primary objective of increasing knowledge and understanding of the plant kingdom. Fifteen appendixes cover topics ranging from boundary walls, trees, and the water supply to a detailed chronology and brief biographies of persons related to Kew's history. This detailed and engrossing history is recommended for research collections.-Daniel Starr, Museum of Modern Art Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781860460760
  • Publisher: Harvill Press, The
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Pages: 466
  • Product dimensions: 7.45 (w) x 10.64 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Colour Plates
Introduction
Acknowledgements
1 A Queen's Garden 1
2 Prince Frederick at Kew 20
3 Princess Augusta's 'earthly Paradise' 30
4 Sir William Chambers contributes 44
5 The Royal Family in residence 64
6 Sir Joseph Banks takes charge 85
7 Publicising Kew 104
8 Collectors and collecting 113
9 Years of neglect 127
10 Sir William Hooker to the rescue 150
11 Kew transformed 169
12 Scientific consolidation 190
13 Overseas activities 206
14 Botanic garden or public park? 223
15 The Ayrton controversy 239
16 Forging colonial links 251
17 An autocrat at Kew 268
18 Imperial Kew 290
19 'The botanical metropolis of the world' 302
20 Towards the future 321
App. 1 Some basic facts 357
App. 2 Chronology 359
App. 3 Bentham-Moxon Trust 385
App. 4 Admission of public 388
App. 5 Gates and public entrances 393
App. 6 Boundary walls 396
App. 7 Trees 397
App. 8 Sculpture 400
App. 9 Ornamental ironwork 404
App. 10 Water supply 406
App. 11 Francis Bauer's flower paintings 409
App. 12 Kew Green 412
App. 13 Brentford and Lot's Aits 420
App. 14 Brief biographies 422
App. 15 Printed and archival sources for the history of Kew 437
Bibliography 441
Abbreviations, Notes and Sources 446
Index 457
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