Research Topic: A Cultural Geography of Northamptonshire Gardens 1750-1830
The designed landscapes of the gentry in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are under researched. These landscapes, which were where the majority of the rural population of England lived, were constructed at a time of considerable agricultural, social and technological change. The pleasure grounds and parklands of the gentry, a growing number of whom were from professional or industrial backgrounds, were also undergoing a change in their form.
My research concentrates on four gentry landscapes in central Northamptonshire which shared similar topographies and soils. However, the four families had owned them for very different lengths of time, were prominent in county and country life to varying degrees, and responded to the design produced for them in very different ways. Using archival documents including maps, letters, accounts and diaries, my work aims to understand who did what, when and why at each location during the specified period, how this 'micro-study' of four landscapes relates to the current understanding of gentry landscapes in the South Midlands and how each landscape reveals relationships within the gentry, within each village and between gentry and tenants. Collectively these conclusions reveal the cultural meanings attached to the 'improvement' of Hall and or pleasure ground and parkland.