Tuesday 3 January 2012

John Evelyn & Sayes Court

The ‘developer’ is perennial enemy of the garden historian, or more specifically of those gardens and landscapes which developers feel could be put to a better - more profitable -use.  One of the most important roles performed by the the aforementioned Garden History Society (GHS) is lobbying to prevent destructive and unsympathetic development of historic greenspace, as well as offering advice on the conservation thereof.

The battle of the moment is to try and save and restore the remaining part of the garden at Sayes Court in Deptford, east London.  The GHS is ‘on the case’ and the Royal Horticultural Society also highlighted the plight of the site in this months issue of The Garden.  But why, you may ask yourself is this garden so important?

The Grove at Sayes Court from sayescourtgarden.com on Vimeo.

Because it was one of the most famous of all 17th-century gardens, created by John Evelyn (1620-1706) the famous diarist, scientist (he was a founding member of the Royal Society) , gardener - and friend of both Samuel Pepys and king Charles II.  
Evelyn aged 69 by Sir Godfrey Kneller
And enough archive evidence of the garden survives to enable a recreation of that part which today remains public greenspace...just so long as the dreaded developers don’t get their way.

So please help to save this very important part of Britain’s gardening heritage by visiting the excellent website set up by the Campaign for the Restoration of Sayes Court and offering your support.

One last fact.  Evelyn spent over 40 years composing Elysium Britannicum, or The Royal Gardens, the 'first large-scale encyclopedic work on the science and art of gardening'.  However  Evelyn never saw his great work published, indeed it was not published until 2001.  Here are a couple of Google Book links about this fascinating tome: Elysium Britannicum and John Evelyn's "Elysium Britannicum" and European gardening