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

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 6 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

Tracing its distant origins to the villa of the Roman emperor Hadrian in the second century AD, the eccentric phenomenon of the ornamental hermit enjoyed its heyday in the England of the eighteenth century It was at this time that it became highly fashionable for owners of country estates to commission architectural follies for their landscape gardens. These follies often included hermitages, many of which still survive, often in a ruined state.

Landowners peopled their hermitages either with imaginary hermits or with real hermits - in some cases the landowner even 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. Unlike the hermits of the Middle Ages, these were wholly secular hermits, products of the eighteenth century fondness for 'pleasing melancholy'.

Although the fashion for them had fizzled out by the end of the eighteenth century, they had 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 - as well as in the figure of the modern-day garden gnome.

This engaging and generously illustrated book takes the reader on a journey that is at once illuminating and whimsical, both through the history of the ornamental hermit and also around the sites of many of the surviving hermitages themselves, which remain scattered throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. And for the real enthusiast, there is even a comprehensive checklist, enabling avid hermitage-hunters to locate their prey.
 

About Gordon Campbell

See more books from this Author
Gordon Campbell lives with his wife, United States District Judge Tena Campbell, in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he practices law with the firm of Parsons Behle & Latimer. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
 
Published March 28, 2013 by OUP Oxford. 282 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Literature & Fiction, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Hermit in the Garden

The Telegraph

He replaced these with substitutes trusted to keep .

Mar 27 2013 | Read Full Review of The Hermit in the Garden: Fro...

Monsters and Critics

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.

| Read Full Review of The Hermit in the Garden: Fro...

Monsters and Critics

Attempts by artists to re-enact the lives of these landscape hermits has in recent years hit problems from health and safety - they could stay during the day but not at night for fear that there might be a landslide overnight.

Apr 30 2013 | Read Full Review of The Hermit in the Garden: Fro...

The Spectator

For Campbell the hermitage built at Bicton House in Devon in 1839 ‘marks the point at which the garden hermitage ceased to gesture towards sombre reflection or even to accommodate a hermit, and instead became an elegant garden building that looked back towards a romantic age’.

May 11 2013 | Read Full Review of The Hermit in the Garden: Fro...

Would you be willing to let a man who rarely bathed and never cut his nails or hair live in your garden—and even pay him to do so? For just over a century it was a fashion for the British landed gentry to do just that as part of one of the more unusual cultural crazes: the fad for ornamental herm...

Jun 01 2013 | Read Full Review of The Hermit in the Garden: Fro...

Rate this book!

Add Review
×