The Thames-side Gardens
of Pope and Walpole's
The Association of Gardens Trusts
5th-7th September 2003
St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham
The Association of Gardens Trusts' annual conference was this
year hosted by the LPGT. It took place on 5-7 September
2003 at St Mary's college, Strawberry Hill, over a weekend which,
despite threatening forecasts, produced only one shower, and that
was while most delegates were inside Marble Hill House.
In the photo are (L to R)
- Dennis Doe, Mayor of the Royal
Borough of Kingston upon Thames
- Gilly Drummond, President of the AGT
- Barbara Simms, Chair of the LPGT
- Nicki Urquhart, Mayor of the London
Borough of Richmond and Twickenham
A warm and fine three days enabled some ninety
delegates to enjoy visits to
- Richmond Hill, for its stunning views,
- the riverside walk along to Marble Hill and
- York House with its over-the-top statuary in a
- Pope's grotto
- Radnor Gardens with its summerhouse and bath
house (new to many),
- Garrick's riverside lawn dominated by the
Shakespeare temple and
- Hampton Court House with its rococo ensemble
culminating in the shell grotto.
There were also tours of Strawberry Hill house itself,
and an optional visit to the Privy Garden at Hampton
Court at the end. A 'special' was the very rare
opportunity to walk through Garrick's under-road tunnel
The lectures were tied closely to the visits and also, of
course, to the theme of the weekend.
- Michael Symes introduced the concept of
'Twickenhamshire', which reflected the changes in
gardening through the 18th century from Augustan
classical through Gothick and rococo to open landscape,
while Mavis Batey spoke of Horace Walpole's particular
- Jason Debney, in talking of the view from Richmond Hill,
took a wide historical perspective which included the
present and future - protection, the Thames Landscape
Strategy and London's Arcadia.
- Chris Sumner gave the background to York House, Orleans
House, Marble Hill and Radnor Gardens (the Earl of
Radnor's Gothic house predating Walpole's).
- Anthony Beckles Willson focused on Pope's grotto,
bringing out the two distinct phases in its creation.
- Michael Symes discussed Thomas Wright's rococo work at
Hampton Court House.
- Suzannah Fleming gave an erudite account of the
Shakespeare cult in relation to the temple at Garrick's
The conference, to judge from comments during and at the end,
was a great success from its opening reception at York House, and
the programme had several surprises and new information and
sights even for those who thought they knew the area well. With
special thanks to the organisers of the conference, Barbara
Simms, Katy Myers, Chris Sumner and Imogen Magnus, for putting
together a memorable programme and the associated literature.