London Landscapes – Autumn / Winter 2012

Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy

Claude Hitching

Published by Garden Art Press, for the Antique Collectors Club, Suffolk 2012 – (RRP 235) ISBN 978-1 -87067-376-1

 During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, as new plants flooded into the UK from around the world, rockeries, and decorative rockwork gained in popularity.   Many were built on a grandiose scale to display rare and unusual alpine and mountain plants, both in private gardens and later in public parks.   A large rockery might have mini-ravines, grottoes, waterfalls and even purpose-built caves. 

 Building rockwork on this scale was expensive, and rock often in short supply, so enterprising builders and landscape designers came up with a range of ingenious alternatives in the form of artificial rockwork.   The leader in this field was the firm of James Pulham and Son, of Hertfordshire, who became one of the most renowned firms of landscape gardeners for over a century from the late 1830s to1939.   Pulham designed and built elaborate landscapes of rock, water and plants all over the UK, using their proprietary artificial cement render, called Pulhamite. 

Now Claude Hitching, whose ancestors worked as ‘rock builders‘ for the Pulham family, has written a comprehensively researched and illustrated history of the firm and its work – Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy.   This is a wonderful book, tracing the history of the family firm and the marvellous structures they created, in great detail.   There are detailed accounts of 40 of the firm’s most prestigious structures, stunningly photographed by professional garden photographer Jennifer Lilly.   There is even a detailed chronological gazetteer of all the known Pulhamite sites.   Definitely a must for your Christmas present list and garden history bookshelf.

Hazelle Jackson – Managing Principal,

The Heritage Consultancy

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