University of Cambridge > > Quantitative History Seminar > Purchasing Paradise: gardens in the English economy, 1660-1815

Purchasing Paradise: gardens in the English economy, 1660-1815

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The landscape garden has been said to be England’s greatest contribution to European culture. Behind the hyperbole lies a century and a half of garden making, from the enormous formal gardens of the Restoration period and the time of William and Mary, which were then swept away by the landscape movement typified by Capability Brown and complemented finally by the more restrained designs of Humphry Repton and the picturesque school. These gardens represent the expenditure of billions of pounds, in modern values, in what is arguably the most conspicuous example of all of the luxury consumption of the period, literally reshaping the English countryside. But who paid for them, with what sources of funds, what was the nature of the industry which produced them and what was the impact on the economy? This paper explores these questions and in particular the role of public expenditure as well as the technological innovations which were spawned. These are topics which have been entirely ignored by both economic and garden historians but which throw new light on the economics, politics and social evolution of the long eighteenth century.

This talk is part of the Quantitative History Seminar series.

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