Cultivating Taste: The Art of the English Garden, Greenwich and Beyond

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Thursdays, 24 May - 14 June | 10.30 AM - 12.30 PM
£8 | £6 concessions
Queen's House, Ground floor, Orangery & South Parlours
Queen's House

Join us this summer season to celebrate the beauty of English gardens. Our speakers will discuss a variety of topics related to the ways in which the development of different kinds of English gardens – flower, royal, and public – shaped contemporary taste, including fashion. The lecture series will conclude with an optional tour of Greenwich Park. After some lectures, books will be available for sale and signing.

Refreshments available from 10:30 AM; lectures will begin at 11 AM and will conclude by 12:30 PM. 

May 24

Flowered Fabrics: Gardens on Cloth – Connie Karol Burks, Victoria and Albert Museum

Drawing on garments and textiles selected for the V&A’s 2018 exhibition Fashioned from Nature, Curator Connie Karol Burks will explore how public interest in botany, horticulture and gardening is reflected in fashion. The talk will focus on the 17th to 19th centuries when scientific advances, trade and exploration brought many new plants to Britain and introduced new methods of recording and classifying them.


May 31

The unaffected Englishness of Queen Caroline’s gardens at Kensington Palace – Dr Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Gardens Adviser, Historic Royal Palaces

Caroline of Ansbach, consort of George II, was a keen and informed gardener who embraced the ‘New English Taste’ in gardening, which consisted, in her own words, “in helping nature, not losing it in art”. Nowhere was she more successful than at Kensington Palace where, in collaboration with the landscape improver Charles Bridgeman, she made a bold and lasting contribution to the royal landscape.


June 7

‘The chiefest for choyce, and fairest for shew’: English flower gardens in the early seventeenth century – Dr Jill Francis, Independent Scholar

This illustrated lecture/talk will explore and analyse the increased significance of the ornamental flower garden during this period. In sixteenth-century England, gardens were essentially the same as they had been for centuries, enclosed spaces whose primary function was to provide food, medicines, flavouring and fragrance for the household: to grow flowers purely for their beauty was an indulgence that few could afford. But the new century brought with it new aspirations and possibilities for the future. Adventurers returned from across the seas with untold exotic delights for the garden and new attitudes surrounding the consumption and display of luxury goods engendered new ways of thinking, allowing gardeners in a position to do so to cultivate purely ornamental gardens: rare and costly flowers, and a garden in which to display them, were becoming the new status symbols of the rising gentry class.

This lecture will be accompanied by books for sale and signing.


June 14

The Gardens and Green Spaces of Early Modern London – Dr David Marsh, The Gardens Trust

London today is one of the greenest cities in the world but was it always so? This talk will explore the origins and changing uses of the city’s gardens and green spaces—parks, churchyards, commercial gardens as well as private gardens—during the 16th to 18th centuries, to show they were not just places to hunt, grow food or bury the dead but places of elaborate displays of wealth and status for the rich, a source of pleasure and recreation for the less well-to-do, and a place of very hard work for the garden labourers who toiled in them.


The series will conclude with an optional tour of Greenwich Park on June 14 led by Park Manager Graham Dear.

Queen's House, Royal Museums Greenwich