The Pursuit of Paradise:
Gardens and the Human Imagination through Time
with Edward Martin,
(Suffolk Institute of Archaeology & History)
at Sutton Hoo, Saturday, 25th April, 2015.


An exploration of garden history from ancient times to the modern day, drawing on archaeological, documentary and art evidence to extend and supplement the more tangible evidence of existing historic gardens. This journey will embrace much of Europe but will not neglect East Anglia.


09.50 – 10.15: Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15: In search of Babylon – A look at the origins of the concept of a ‘paradise’ and early manifestations of it in the Near East, India and the Mediterranean, before moving into northern Europe and Britain to see how gardens developed there in the Middle Ages.

11.15 – 11.45: Coffee break

11.45 – 12.45 : Renaissance bravado – The rise of gardening as an art form in 15th-century Italy and the spread of ideas of scale, symmetry and theatricality in garden designs across Europe, with an attendant rise in the social importance of the garden.

12.45 – 14.00: Lunch break

14:00 – 14.50 : Baroque parterres, bosquets and canals – The development of designed gardens as indicators of wealth, power and fashion in the 17th and early 18th centuries, and the way the ideas trickled down the social scale.

14.50 – 15.10: Tea break

15.10 – 16.00: Consulting the genius of the place – The ‘return to nature’ of the 18th century with ‘landscape’ gardens, with important later waves of enthusiasm for formality, classicism, and even modernism.

16.00: Thanks and Close

About Edward Martin

Edward worked for many years as an archaeologist with Suffolk County Council, specialising in historic landscape studies. He co-edited An Historical Atlas of Suffolk (3rd edition 1999) and has written and lectured widely on this region’s landscape, garden and architectural heritage. He is a vice-president and a past chairman of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, and a past chairman of the Suffolk Gardens Trust.


At previous Study Days by Edward Martin participants said this when asked ‘What was best about the day?:

  • Brilliant lecture, well planned day
  • Great photographs, interesting history & background – especially Suffolk references. Thank You Edward
  • Edward Martin himself – his extensive knowledge – vast range yet also detailed information, his interesting delivery and ‘visuals’  Appetite whetted for more of him & this subject!
  • Excellent overview – great range of examples – a lot to look out for when visiting gardens
  • Brilliant lecturing; well illustrated.  Excellent aerial views and plans
  • Enthusiasm and illustrations.  Very knowledgeable
  • Edward and his illustrations
  • Interplay of national trends in gardening to local interpretations
  • Wonderful subject
  • The coherent explanation of complex issues on a very wide canvas
  • Edward kept us interested and inspired all day
  • Enthusiasm, knowledge, plentiful examples and illustrations
  • Informative and entertaining tutor
  • The marvelous variety of gardens on our earth

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

  • Anthony, J., The Renaissance Garden in Britain (Shire 1991)
  • Attlee, H., Italian Gardens. A Cultural History (Frances Lincoln 2006)
  • Bowe, P., Gardens of the Roman World (Frances Lincoln 2004)
  • Brown, J., The Pursuit of Paradise. A Social History of Gardens and Gardening (HarperCollins 1999)
  • Carroll, M., Earthly Paradises. Ancient Gardens in History and Archaeology (British Museum Press 2003)
  • Dallas, P., Wlliamson, T. & Last, R., Norfolk Gardens & Designed Landscapes (Windgather Press 2013)
  • Dalley, S., The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon (Oxford University Press 2013)
  • Harvey, J., Medieval Gardens (Batsford 1981)
  • Henderson, P., The Tudor House and Garden (Yale University Press 2005)
  • Hobhouse, P., The History of Gardening (Dorling Kindersley 2002)
  • Jacques, D., Georgian Gardens (Batsford 1983)
  • Jennings, A., Roman Gardens (English Heritage 2006)
  • Laird, M., The Formal Garden (Thames & Hudson 1992)
  • Landsberg, S., The Medieval Garden (British Museum Press 1995)
  • Mawrey, G. & Groves, L., The Gardens of English Heritage (Frances Lincoln 2010)
  • Mayer, L., Capability Brown and the English Landscape Garden (Shire 2011)
  • Strong, R., The Renaissance Garden in England (Thames & Hudson 1979)
  • Strong, R., The Artist and the Garden (Yale University Press 2000)
  • Taigel, A. & Williamson, T., Parks and Gardens (Batsford 1993)
  • Taylor, P., The Oxford Companion to the Garden (Oxford University Press 2006)
  • Thacker, C., The Genius of Gardening (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1994)
  • Turner, R., Capability Brown and the Eighteenth-Century English Landscape (Phillimore 1999)
  • Way, T., The Tudor Garden (Shire 2013).
  • Wilkie, K., Led by the Land. Landscapes by Kim Wilkie (Frances Lincoln 2012)
  • Williamson, T., Polite Landscapes. Gardens and Society in Eighteenth-Century England (Sutton Publishing 1995)
  • Williamson, T., Suffolk’s Gardens and Parks. Designed Landscapes from the Tudors to the Victorians (Windgather Press 2000)
  • Woods, M., Visions of Arcadia. European Gardens from Renaissance to Rococo (Aurum Press Ltd 1996)