Read The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome by Gordon Campbell Online


Lavishly illustrated with numerous black-and-white and color images, The Hermit in the Garden tells the engagingly eccentric tale of the eighteenth-century craze for ornamental hermits-the must-have accessory for the grand gardens of Georgian England and beyond.Eminent historian Gordon Campbell-an authority on the Renaissance and on the decorative arts-takes the reader onLavishly illustrated with numerous black-and-white and color images, The Hermit in the Garden tells the engagingly eccentric tale of the eighteenth-century craze for ornamental hermits-the must-have accessory for the grand gardens of Georgian England and beyond.Eminent historian Gordon Campbell-an authority on the Renaissance and on the decorative arts-takes the reader on a journey that is at once illuminating and whimsical, shedding light on the history of the ornamental hermit and visiting the sites of many of the surviving hermitages themselves, which remain scattered throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. Tracing its distant origins to the villa of the Roman emperor Hadrian in the second century AD, Campbell focuses on the heyday of the ornamental hermit in England, when it became highly fashionable for owners of country estates to commission architectural follies for their landscape gardens, follies which often included hermitages, many of which still survive. Perhaps most curious, Campbell relates how landowners peopled their hermitages either with imaginary hermits or with real hermits, and in some cases the landowner became his own hermit. Those who took employment as garden hermits were typically required to refrain from cutting their hair or washing, and some were dressed as druids. These were wholly secular hermits, products of the fashion for "pleasing melancholy." And though the fashion for hermits fizzled out by the end of the eighteenth century, the craze left their indelible mark on both the literature as well as the gardens of the period. And, as Gordon Campbell shows, they live on in the art, literature, and drama of our own day-most notably, in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia-as well as in the figure of the modern-day garden gnome....

Title : The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome
Author :
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ISBN : 9780199696994
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 257 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome Reviews

  • Amy
    2019-05-21 08:47

    3.5. Not as compelling as I'd hoped, just kinda dry, but like dry-interesting, lol. Still, superbly researched, and who knew such a lifestyle existed. Worth a read for anyone who likes odd history. Very pretty book, plates and illustrations. Odd facts about real hermits, imaginary hermits, and hermit automatons, of all things. "The ornamental hermit" in your fancy garden to scare guests, or to have a sage conversation with when you tire of aristocratic life for the evening, my my. Or when you tire of your royal palace life and wish to escape to your on-site hermitage, sigh. I liked the extensive list of documented hermitages throughout Europe, fun.

  • Steven Kaminski
    2019-05-18 05:57

    This was an interesting book and kind of a diversion. You know those garden gnomes that people keep on their lawns? Well as far back as in Roman times many people who had wealth would build gardens and hire a monk or hermit to maintain them. These guys were almost sight unseen...they would tend to the grounds..make the gardens great and then retreat to their little hovels. The pictures in this book are spectacular and worth a view even if you don't read the book. But I found it interesting...

  • Linda
    2019-05-23 03:47

    Sometimes it really is true that fact is stranger than fiction. You know those little men in the pointy hats that we generally refer to as garden gnomes? They now have a history. You know those classical little “folly” buildings that dot the stately English garden landscape? Well, it turns out that some of these were not strictly decorative. Gordon Campbell, a Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Leicester, has published The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome , the first book to describe the phenomenon of the ornamental hermit in Georgian England.Professor Campbell believes that during the Reformation, the ancient custom of religious persons, sometimes called hermits, choosing to shut themselves away from the world for constant prayer and meditation came to an end with the dissolution of the great religious houses. During the 18th century, it became fashionable among the educated and the elite to be “melancholy”, devoting time to the admiration of nature and the study of philosophy. Gradually, some began constructing small rustic cottages, to use as retreats for deep thinking, or, in many cases, to impress visitors with their erudition. It wasn’t long before the wealthy began to hire men to live in their garden “hermitage”, pretending to be a reclusive but romantic part of the landscape. Although this book is a serious and impressive work of research, Professor Campbell injects threads of humor where appropriate, as when he describes the difficulties inherent in finding men willing to don rough robes, go barefooted, allow their hair, beards, and nails to grow, and, perhaps hardest of all, remain silent, for a period of seven years.Much of the book is a survey of historic and modern “hermitages” in England, Scotland, France, and parts of Europe, many of which are illustrated. There are numerous extant sites that can still be visited, though they’re no longer inhabited; health regulations prohibit! It ends with some speculation about how the ornamental garden hermit morphed slowly into the ornamental garden gnome, helped along by Disney’s Grumpy, Sleepy, et al. What they were actually contemplating was their own business.It’s probably safe to say that there is no more extensive compilation of information on this topic than The Hermit in the Garden. It’s a valuable addition to the field of garden history, and has much to say, or imply, about Western Civ.Now I must search out the perfect gnome for my own garden.

  • Jana Goldman
    2019-05-11 07:09

    I loved this fascinating book so much that my husband and are are considering building a small hermitage in our own tiny garden. Campbell gives a detailed history of these buildings that were staples in most English manor house gardens - some complete with hermits. While the idea of a hermit as someone who cut him (or her) self from society is common, it also is a way for individuals who seek a contemplative life, something that rings true in our hectic, connected, privacy-free life. Campbell also restores the image of the garden gnome -- once seen as a helpful being especially those who led miners to rich veins of ore - but was reduced to caricature by - you guessed it, Walt Disney in "Snow White."While this is a fascinating, scholarly and well-researched study of the topic, I found Campbell's excessive use of parentheses distracting. But the subject is enthralling -- who knew (well, I guess many people did) that George Harrison's gnomes on a record album cover were the original inhabitants of the gnomery created by the original owner of Harrison's historic home Friar Park?I was especially delighted that Campbell referred the hermit in "Stop Press," an Appelby mystery by one of my favorite authors, Michael Innes. I often long to have a grand manor like Long Dream - the home of Appelby's wife Judith Raven -- I bet it has a hermitage!

  • Damaskcat
    2019-05-22 06:46

    This is a beautifully produced book, with plenty of black and white illustrations and some colour plates as well. It is clear that the author knows his subject inside and out and has done a great deal of research. He traces the idea of having a decorative hermit in the garden from its origins, through its heyday in the eighteenth century and its subsequent gradual decline. Owners of large estates had hermits installed in appropriately designed hermitages as a talking point for their visitors. In many instances the hermits were actually statues or models and not real people.The author quotes some advertisements placed in various publications for hermits which stipulated that they must agree to not cut their nails or their hair for the time of their residence. Sometimes it was the landowner who took up residence in the hermitage. Some hermits were there for religious reasons but many were installed for decorative and fashionable reasons.The book contains two appendices – one contains a catalogue of hermitages and the other is an essay on the hermit, the hermitage and the continent. There is a list of works consulted for anyone who wants to read more about the subject and an index.

  • Adam Stevenson
    2019-04-30 06:06

    I was hoping for a book on ornamental hermits but this is more a book on ornamental hermitages. Over half the book describes in repetitive detail the layout of various (consistently unoccupied) hermitages in the gardens of various poshness.I’m not sure how many times I needed to read that ‘the floor was decorated in lamb knucklebones,’ but it takes some overkill to make such a sentence dull. I suppose there just wasn’t enough to make a book about ornamental hermits themselves but this did feel padded.

  • Stephen Shapiro
    2019-05-02 09:13

    One of the strangest fads in Georgian Britain has to be the building of ornamental hermitages in the gardens of stately homes, especially those that came complete with an actual hermits as a sort of living memento mori. Gordon Campbell offers a good account of the hermitages, their inspirations, and the (few) hermits who lived in them. Unfortunately, a lot of the book is descriptions of every hermitage, grotto, and hermitage-like folly in Great Britain and Ireland (and some from continental Europe), making it a pretty dense read.

  • Martin Rundkvist
    2019-05-16 09:43

    A more apt title for this book would be "The Hermitage in the Garden". The garden hermits themselves seem to have been rather rare and are in any case poorly documented. Most of the book is instead taken up by an unsystematic, heavily descriptive and rather repetitive study of a certain type of Georgian garden folly.