CORNWALL’S GREAT HOUSES AND GARDENS

by Barry Gamble

Publisher: Alison Hodge Publishers (2014)
ISBN 9780906720790

Paperback
£6.95

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In this book Barry Gamble has produced a very accessible and visually attractive gazetteer of Cornish gardens. This, to my surprise, includes my own home. The photography includes many aerial shots and, although this was perhaps done for copyright reasons, it does provide a useful overview of the setting of the houses and gardens.

This book is part of the Pocket Cornwall series published by Alison Hodge. It is a lovely overview and I have heard it suggested that it should be made available in every guest house and B&B in the county. I am sure Alison would agree. For this reason, however, I feel it could do with more details on whether and when the property is open to the public. The gazetteer is arranged from west to east and Ordnance Survey grid references are also given, but what a shame there isn’t a county map as an overview.

This book is a salutary reminder to us all that houses and gardens form a single entity. Cornwall Gardens Trust may study the gardens and leave the houses to others (most of which appear in the very welcome revised edition of Pevsner) but without the houses there would be no gardens. Equally, the study of a house without reference to its garden and hinterland is incomplete and skewed. The text draws heavily on the author’s background in mining heritage and shows the extent to which we must be thankful for Cornwall’s mining industry. Without this economic background many of the houses and gardens would not have existed.

The text is perhaps uneven, in some cases being mainly on family history, in others on either house or garden. In an academic book this would be a fault but in this gazetteer it is forgivable as it provides a focus for the interest of the particular site.

Richard Stone