Four Prestigious Book Reviews
Six months after the publication of Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy, during which time no fewer than ten enthusiastic reviews have been published in the National press, another four extremely prestigious ones have come along – just in time for Christmas! The first was a full-page review by Stephen Anderton, Gardening Correspondent of The TIMES, and the second was a two-page review by Brent Elliott, Garden Historian of the Royal Horticultural Society – and generally acknowledged as the most authoritative Garden Historian in the UK – in the Winter 2012 edition of the Garden History Journal. The third was by Hazelle Jackson, in the Autumn / Winter edition of London Landscapes, and the fourth was by Hilary M Thomas, in the November 2012 edition of Trafodion, the Journal of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust. This is what they had to say – click on the Cover Image to read the full review:
“A recent book, Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy, by Claude Hitching, is the result of many years’ patient research, pulling together fascinating information on the Pulhams’ work, which extended from grand gardens such as Sandringham and Waddesdon to modest suburban villas”
‘’Claude Hitching’s Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy is the first full-length book on the Pulham firm. . . . So (it) is able to provide a greatly expanded gazetteer, with detailed and beautifully illustrated accounts of thirty-eight individual gardens, ranging from commissions for the royal family (Buckingham Palace, Sandringham), through great estates (Madresfield Court, Waddesdon Manor, Sheffield Park) to works for local authorities (Ramsgate, Blackpool, Folkestone). . . . The book is beautifully produced, with a wealth of illustrations . .
‘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.’
‘Claude Hitching’s article, James Pulham in Wales, which appeared in the first edition of Trafodion, anticipated the publication of this ‘big book’, large in format and lavishly illustrated. . . . The present publication is the culmination of decades of intensive, patient and evidently enjoyable research . . . and is both an impressive ‘business history’, and an appropriate tribute to his grandfather. . . . Not all the sites identified are open to the public; not all the features originally incorporated into the landscapes have survived unscathed. Some have deteriorated beyond repair; some have been rescued in the nick of time, thanks to the endeavours of Claude Hitching.’
25th November – Pulhamite Featured on Channel 4 tv
The Channel 4 series, ‘How Britain Worked’ featured a section in which Val Christman – a professional geologist and garden designer, directly descended from the Pulham family – showed Guy Martin how the Pulhams used to make their artificial rocks, using a wooden frame covered in chicken wire as a base upon which to lay the cement. The script then had the finished ‘rock’ loaded on to a horse and cart, and transported through the streets to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, where it was used as part of the restoration of the old rock garden – something that the Pulhams would never have done in practice, as all their rock-building would have been done on site. This was just a touch of poetic licence used in what was otherwise an enjoyable and instructive programme.
New Pulham Garden Discovered
An article by Martyn Cox in the Mail of Sunday on 21st October featured a garden at Elmstone Court, near Canterbury, and there can be hardly any doubt that it is a Pulham garden, although I have not yet had an opportunity to visit it. This will be a major find, as this garden is not yet listed in our database.
New Silver Cup Discovered
I recently received an email from David Moreton – a Pulham descendent living in Adelaide, Australia – who inherited a magnificent Silver Cup awarded to James 4 by the RHS on the occasion of the 1914 Chelsea Flower Show. This makes three so far – the other two being housed in the Lowewood Museum, and currently on show at the Pulhams of Broxbourne Exhibition.
Original Prize Pulham Vases Discovered
Fig 3.3 in Rock Landscapes shows a group of images of the Paris Vase – sometimes referred to as the ‘Broxbourne Vase’. Some modern replicas of this vase were recently produced from an old original for installation in Miller Park, Preston, but, as the handles of that original had been broken off and lost, they are not complete. It was thought that no original vases in good condition remained in existence, but I received another email recently from someone who had just inherited a pair! There was minor damage on one of them, but, as the present owner is a sculptor, they are in safe hands. Wonderful news.
‘The Pulhams of Broxbourne’ Exhibition at Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon – Open until 2 February 2013
The Opening Ceremony of the ‘Pulhams of Broxbourne’ Exhibition took place on Saturday, 27th October 2012, and was attended by a record assembly of 77 people. The Opening Address was given by the Mayor of Hoddesdon, Cllr Eddy Rowland, after which I gave a short description of the range and variety of work undertaken by the firm of James Pulham and Son during their time in Hoddesdon and Broxbourne, between c1842 and 1939. I also spoke about how proud I was to have been instrumental in gathering the material together for the exhibition, and thanked all the staff at Lowewood for their splendid presentation. The following pictures were taken during the morning.
Myself with the Mayor of Hoddesdon, Cllr Eddy Rowland and Mrs Rowland (left), and with my wife, Pat, Cllrs Mary Sartin and Brian Rolfe, Vice Chairman and Chairman of Epping District Council
Chatting with Val Christman and her father, Jack Sexton (left), and signing a book for our Special Guest, Mark Lane, Head Gardener of Buckingham Palace
Since that time, Val and I added a new dimension to the presentation by compiling a DVD of more then 200 current and archive Pulham pictures, presented as a looped 18-minute moving montage against a quiet musical background – an experience not to be missed by anyone in the Hoddesdon area with an hour to spare. When the Exhibition closes on Saturday, 2nd February 2013, it will move on for a further showing in Epping, and plans are afoot to investigate the possibility of including it in a Touring Exhibitions Programme – a great way of spreading the message . . .
8th November 2012 – St Katherine’s, Parmoor, Frieth
On Thursday, 8th November, Val and I gave a presentation at St Katherine’s, Parmoor, Frieth, Henley-on-Thames about the story of his research into the Pulham project, which led to the publication of Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy. This was followed by a presentation by Val, who spoke about her childhood memories of Ponsbourne, Hertfordshire, where the Pulhams built a charming indoor fernery, a rocky stream and pool, and the handsome wall around the Kitchen Garden. I then signed some books, after which we had lunch and a Question and Answer session. The event was attended by an appreciative audience of about 30 people.
Site of the Month
As you know, I post a review of a different Pulham site every month on the website under the ‘Where? / Site of the Month’ tab. These are all sites for which there was no room in the book, so they are effectively ‘additional Chapters’ in which I hope all readers will be interested. I have so far added 19 sites – the latest being Wotton Park, near Dorking (December), and the previous one being Shipton Court, Shipton-under-Wychwood. And finally – as a reminder to all those who have not yet bought the book that all the experts are talking about – don’t forget that Christmas is coming, and that:
Take the Advice of the Experts
With Christmas fast approaching, thoughts will be turning to ‘What to Buy?’ for yourself and / or your friends. Forecasters are predicting a cold winter, so what could be better than to curl up with a good book? If you haven’t got your copy yet, follow the advice of all the experts, and get yourself a copy of: