ZOOM Talk: Tom Williamson

Thursday 15 October 2020 7:30pm-8:30pm
The inaugural Margaret Helme Memorial Lecture
This event has now passed. Please contact admin@cambridgeshiregardenstrust.org for access to the YouTube recording, available for two weeks from broadcast.

Title New light on Repton: unlocking a system of landscape design

Abstract Humphry Repton is often characterized as a rather practical designer of gardens and parks, rather than as someone who thought in abstract terms about landscapes, or who developed any very rigorous and systematic approach to their creation or modification. But his overall approach to landscape was rooted in theory. His stated ambition was to ‘establish fixed principles in the art of laying out ground’. This lecture will explore those principles; how they operated in practice; and what they tell us about Repton and his world.

Our Speaker Tom Williamson is Professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia and has written extensively on landscape archaeology, environmental history, and the history of landscape design. His books on garden history include: Polite Landscapes: Gardens and Society in Eighteenth-Century England (1995); The Archaeology of the Landscape Park (1998); and Lancelot Brown and the Capability Men (2016). His latest book, Humphry Repton: Landscape Design in an Age of Revolution, will be published by Reaktion Books in October 2020.

Zoom Talk: David Marsh

Saturday 7 November 2020 12:00noon-1:00pm
Follows the AGM, starting at 11:30am
Event now closed

Title Garden history in the making? The story of my garden.

Abstract My partner and I have had a house in France for around 25 years, and for the last 10 have lived there for about half the year. We moved house in 2006, buying a rambling ruin with mediaeval foundations, two overgrown fields and a lake.

Since then we have been designing, clearing and planting a garden of about five acres. Almost everything, apart from the hedging and some of the trees, is home grown from seed or cuttings, and this is the story of how it was done… and how our French friends, neighbours and the local press reacted! The garden was opened to the public for the first time in 2015.

Our Speaker After a career in teaching and ending up as a head teacher in inner London, Dr David Marsh took early retirement to go back into full-time education on his own account. He took a four-year diploma course in Garden History that led to an MA in Historical Research at Birkbeck College, University of London in 1999 and went straight on to do a PhD on The Gardens and Gardeners of Later Stuart London. David taught at Birkbeck in the Faculty of Continuing Education, on the history of London, and archival research. He now works with a small group of colleagues organizing and teaching courses about garden history at City Lit in central London and independently at the Institute of Historical Research.

David is a trustee of The Gardens Trust, co-chairs their education and events committee and writes a weekly blog for them which you can find at thegardenstrust.blog.


Zoom Talk: Gillian Hovell

Thursday 10 December 2020 11:00am-12:00noon
CGT Christmas Lecture
Event now closed

Title How Roman garden design changed gardens forever and provided the seeds for our modern garden design

Abstract This engaging talk invites us to view our own modern gardens with fresh eyes. As we explore the Romans’ innovative attitudes to plants and landscapes, we discover how they created a new concept: town and country gardens! The surprising tales behind the plants they grew – as well as the how and why – add colour and life to plants we still grow today. Indeed, what the Romans used as herbal medicines, ceremonial and religious decoration, and what they enjoyed as tasty treats might be a little startling. Add to the blossoming mix, vistas, garden features and sculptural highlights and you have the beginnings of our stately home gardens. But, 2,000 years ago, they were all carefully selected for very special reasons; their private and public green spaces were fruitful in meaning and messages.  Decipher them with Gillian Hovell, the ‘Muddy Archaeologist’, and your own garden – its plants and features – will never look the same again.

Our Speaker After graduating in Latin and Ancient History from Exeter University, Gillian Hovell worked in BBC Television and went on to become an award-winning freelance writer and archaeologist, excavating local and international archaeological sites (including Roman Pompeian Oplontis and Neolithic Ness of Brodgar on Orkney). Gillian’s passion is to add colour and depth to our lives today by sharing the astonishing  ancient world in person, in publications, in the field and on line. She lectures on the ancient world and its archaeology nationally and internationally, as well as lecturing for York University and the British Museum. She has lectured on tours from Neolithic Orkney to the Eastern Mediterranean and covered all the civilisations of the Ancient Mediterranean. Her newly founded ‘Muddy Archaeologist Online Courses’ provide and share a friendly and vividly accessible sense of time and place.

Social Evening at Madingley Hall

The sun-drenched terrace at Madingley Hall

You are warmly invited to join the Council of Management from 6:30pm on Thursday 3 September 2020 for an informal light buffet, on the beautiful terrace at Madingley Hall CB23 8AQ, to celebrate the contributions made to CGT by founder members

Richard Gant and Philip Whaites.

The gardens will be open before and after the buffet until dusk. The cost to members and guests is £10.00 but places are limited owing to CV-19 security and must be reserved by 26 August. In the event of rain, the event will be held in the elegant and airy Hickson Room. Members are advised to bring facemasks to comply with etiquette if the event takes place indoors. Social distancing will also be observed in the gardens and on the terrace, and hand sanitisers will be provided. See Programme for booking details.

Event Now Closed

Euston Hall Visit Confirmed

Image of Euston Hall gardens courtesy of Euston Hall website.


We’re delighted to confirm that bookings are available for a self-guided visit to Euston Hall, Thetford, Suffolk IP24 2QH on Tuesday 25 August. The Palladian house and tearoom are closed but picnics are welcome in the landscaped gardens, ancient broadleaf woodland and pleasure grounds, laid out by John Evelyn and extended by William Kent and ‘Capability’ Brown. Meet (with social distancing) at any time between 11:00am and 2:00pm for a self-guided tour of the grounds. Members and guests £8; proceeds to benefit local charities. Booking deadline: Monday 17 August. Please click on the Programme page for details on how to make a booking. We hope to see you there!

Study Day 2020

The new garden at Schlumberger Cambridge, with the Michael Hopkins building behind.

Saturday 7 March 2020, at Hemingford Abbots Village Hall, 10:00am-4:00pm (Event now closed)

How Green Was My City

Our theme, paraphrasing Richard Llewellyn, examines the role, effectiveness and sustainability of green ‘lungs’ in an urban context. We are sure you will enjoy lively discussion with our eminent speakers and relax over a hearty lunch with speakers, members and guests. Full details may be downloaded by clicking here.


Dr Twigs Way

Dr David Brown
Prof Nigel Dunnett

Prof Sir Roderick Floud

Dr Simon Bittleston and
Bridget Flanagan

Who that has reason, and his smell;
Would not among roses and jasmine dwell?
Making place: Vision Park and elsewhere
Going beyond the garden: low-input,
high-impact urban landscapes
Palaces, parks, cemeteries and villas:
the cost of urban gardens
Case study: a new garden for Schlumberger

Members £25, Non-members £30, to include coffee and 2-course lunch

To register, please send a cheque payable to Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust to: Alan Brown, Foxhollow, 239 High Street, Offord Cluny, St. Neots PE19 5RT. Tel.: 01480 811947. E-mail: fox.239@btinternet.com. Or pay by BACS to Cambs. Gardens Trust,
sort code 20-29-68, a/c 30347639, quoting your name as reference, and email or telephone Alan to say you have paid by BACS.

Margaret Helme Legacy

We are sadly missing one of our longest-standing members since Margaret Helme passed away in June 2018, a well liked member and a firm CGT supporter. Charles Malyon recalls that Margaret ‘was a very generous, loyal, warm-hearted and supportive member of our Trust. A regular at so many visits, when good friendships have been made over these past 20 years, her absence always produced the question, “Where’s Margaret?” Regular attenders at our visits will miss the presence of such a cheerful, good-humoured and much-loved member.’ Margaret very generously left a legacy to the CGT and after a period of consultation and discussion, the Council of Management has decided to use the legacy to found an annual memorial lecture in her name; watch out for further news.

Christmas Lecture 2019

The cover of Kate Felus’ book, depicting the Secret Life of the Georgian Garden
Recommended parking for CGT Christmas Lecture is in Madingley Park and Ride, a 5-minute walk from Storey’s Field Centre.

Tuesday 3 December 2019 from 10:30am-12:30pm (Event now closed)

The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden

The CGT Christmas Lecture for 2019 will be given by Dr Kate Felus. Dr Felus is a garden historian and historic landscape consultant. She researches designed landscapes of all periods, but specialises particularly in 18th and early 19th century parks and gardens.

The lecture is at Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington Avenue, Cambridge CB3 1AA.
Recommended parking is in the Madingley Park & Ride, which is a 5-minute walk from Storey’s Field Centre. Click here to download a flyer with full details.
Entry £12.50 members, £15 guests, to include coffee and seasonal refreshments.

To register, please send a cheque payable to Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust to: Alan Brown, Foxhollow, 239 High Street, Offord Cluny, St. Neots PE19 5RT. Tel.: 01480 811947. E-mail: fox.239@btinternet.com. Or pay by BACS to Cambs. Gardens Trust,
sort code 20-29-68, a/c 30347639, quoting your name as reference, and email or telephone Alan to say you have paid by BACS.

New CGT Chair

Liz Whittle on a Gardens Trust tour of Sicily

Saturday 16 November 2019

The 2019 CGT AGM was held in Fen Drayton Village Hall, where over 40 members gathered to enjoy an excellent talk by Terry Brignall on the wit and wisdom of Beverley Nichols, followed by a wonderful lunch. At the AGM Dr Twigs Way announced that she has decided to step down after a dynamic three years in the hot seat as CGT Chair. Twigs nominated Elizabeth (Liz) Whittle as her successor and Liz, pictured above, was duly confirmed in post in a unanimous vote by members.

Liz writes:
I am a garden historian, with a particular interest in the Tudor and Jacobean periods. My association with Cambridgeshire began a long time ago, when I was an undergraduate at Newnham College. I am now settled in the county, living in Wilburton. For many (nearly 30!) years I was the Inspector of Historic Parks and Gardens for Wales and latterly President (now Council member) of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust. My long involvement with Welsh historic parks and gardens also led to a book about them (The Historic Gardens of Wales). I am currently on the conservation committee of the Gardens Trust (and was formerly its chairman) and am a trustee of the National Botanic Garden of Wales and of Hobson’s Conduit Trust in Cambridge.

Members will remember the excellent Newsletter articles by Liz on the Cambridge water supplies in general and Hobson’s Conduit in particular. A vote of thanks to Twigs, for her outstanding service to CGT, was proposed from the floor by Bridget Flanagan and carried by popular acclaim.

Volunteer of the Year

Judith Christie displays her Gardens Trust Volunteer of the Year award.

7 September 2019

The Gardens Trust has recently instituted a ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award, named after Gilly Drummond, who has done so much herself for garden history and who played a key role in launching Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust. This year, the award went to two volunteers: Juliet Wilmot of Wiltshire GT and Judith Christie (above) of CGT. The results were announced at the Gardens Trust AGM on 7 September 2019. Many congratulations to Judith, who said at the CGT AGM that this award was really for the excellent team that she has enjoyed working with and that she hoped the real benefit would be in improved recognition for CGT as a whole.