Between the 1680s and the 1750s, a group of politicans and poets, farmers and businessmen, heiresses and landowners began to experiment with the phenomenon that was to become the English landscape garden. Arguably the greatest British art form ever invented, these gardens were built to charm and delight, to shock and inspire all who visited. That these gardens - including Castle Howard, Stowe, Painshill and Rousham - are still so popular with visitors today is a testament to the innovation and passion of this extraordinary group of eccentrics and visionaries. The Arcadian Friends takes a highly engaging perspective on the politics and culture of England during the Enlightenment. At the same time it will be required reading for the legions of fans of the great gardens of England. Tim Richardson introduces us to a period of poltiical and personal intrigue, where fantastic biblical landscapes competed for space with temples to sexual freedom; and where the installatioin of a water feature was a political act. The Arcadian Friends tells the story of a collection of fascinating characters whose influence changed the landscape of Britain for ever.
Tim Richardson has been writing about the English landscape garden for over 14 years. he was gardens editor of Country Life from 1995-99 and is the author/editor of The Garden Book (Phaidon), as well as author of English Gardens in the Twentieth Century (Aurum) and The Vanguard Landcapes and Gardens of Martha Schwartz (Thames and Hudson). He is also the world's foremost confectionery historian and author of Sweets: A History of Temptation. He lives in north London.