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William Andrews Nesfield

(1794—1881) watercolour painter and landscape gardener


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(1794–1881), a respected painter before he began designing gardens. His first garden to become known was his own villa at Fortis Green in north London, which was publicized in J. C. Loudon's Gardener's Magazine; here and elsewhere he worked with his brother-in-law Anthony Salvin, and also worked extensively with William Burn and Edward Blore. In 1843 he was commissioned to lay out the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where his works included the broad walk, the parterre, patte-d'oie, and lake around the Palm House, and the pagoda, Syon, and cedar vistas. Among his country house commissions were parterres for Castle Howard; Eaton Hall, Cheshire; Combe Abbey, Warwickshire; and Holkham Hall, Norfolk. He became identified in the public eye with the revival of the box-and-gravel parterre in the manner of Louis XIV; he assembled a scrapbook of parterre designs from period literature which he drew on in his commissions. In 1859 he was commissioned to design the Royal Horticultural Society's garden in Kensington, and issued a press statement on the merits of parterres composed entirely of patterns in coloured gravels, which he termed ‘winter gardens’. The RHS garden was greeted with immense enthusiasm when it was opened in 1861, but a decade later his gravel parterres were falling from fashion, and by the time of his death his style was condemned. In his later years, including his alterations to the royal parks in the 1860s, he was assisted by his sons Markham (c.1842–1874), a gifted landscape designer who died young, and William Eden (1835–88), who became a pioneer of the Queen Anne revival in architecture.

From The Oxford Companion to the Garden in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Lifestyle, Home, and Garden.


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