Rousham, Oxfordshire - preserving its place in history
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The development of the English Landscape Garden was a direct result of the political, social and cultural climate of 18th c. Britain. Rousham, Oxfordshire, as created by Charles Bridgeman and William Kent, may be seen as a transitional garden, included in that short phase of natural wilderness landscapes which lies between French and Dutch influenced formality and 'Capability' Brown's ruthless clearance and 'improvements'. Rousham, as Kent's only unaltered work, is of unique importance; for it is often said that it was with the advent of Kent's informality that British landscape gardening began to lead the world. Charles Bridgeman was also an important figure in the move towards a less formal garden and it has not been fully established how great a part he played; therefore a detailed survey is made of the work at Rousham to assess his contribution. Bridgeman's Rousham was still relatively 'formal', with straight lines and geometric shapes. Kent created a small but varied and relaxed garden with major plays of light, shade and perspective. Much of Kent's construction is reminiscent of Italian garden theatre scenes; Rousham is evocative, with ethereal concepts. A wide range of influences were apparent in the design of Rousham; these, their representation and survival are discussed on the basis of fieldwork and contemporary sources which are listed at the beginning of Chapter Three. In conclusion; Rousham's importance within the field of garden history is established, and an examination made of protection and maintenance to ensure survival of the features and mood of this historic survival.
Thesis, MLitt Master of Letters
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