ARCHIVES: Autumn 2017 issue: ToC and Abstracts

Contents

Matti Watton, Seven hundred years since a spade cost sixpence: Records of the Lambeth Palace garden

Toby Parker, Lost in the long books: Eighteenth century college gardens in Oxford

Margaret Willes, Here today, gone tomorrow

Lesley Acton, Allotment gardens: Research challenges and surprising discoveries

Richard Storey, Small gardens, big business

Abstracts

Matti Watton, Seven hundred years since a spade cost sixpence: Records of the Lambeth Palace garden

Archbishops of Canterbury have lived on the site occupied by Lambeth Palace for around 800 years. The palace garden is one of the largest private gardens in London, and has been cultivated since at least the fourteenth century. Lambeth Palace Library, which sits on the same site as the palace and was founded in 1610, is the historic library of the archbishops of Canterbury and the principal record office for the Church of England. Its collections date from the ninth century to the present day, and include archives, manuscripts, printed books, prints and artefacts. They reveal much about the history of the garden, but the survival of relevant material has often reflected the circumstances of the time rather than any acknowledgement that the history of the garden would be of interest in the future. Through using a range of material including a twelfth century charter, a nineteenth century print and a twentieth century diary written by the wife of an archbishop, the garden’s development can be traced with a modicum of confidence. Those researching the garden benefit from the variety and richness of the library’s collections, and the organisation’s long-standing desire and capability to augment them, but will probably suffer some frustration over gaps in the records. This can be seen as mirroring the experience of those with an interest in the activities of archbishops of Canterbury more generally.

Toby Parker, Lost in the long books: Eighteenth century college gardens in Oxford

This paper considers the importance of using financial papers in the study of the management and operation of Oxford college gardens in the eighteenth century. Printed works on college gardens in Oxford have generally ignored the wealth of material available in the archives.

The lack of specific garden material such as surveys and plans means that the surviving records in the financial collections are of great importance. Studying the various accounts and the surviving bills for each college provides a more accurate way for understanding of the actual costs of maintaining the gardens as well as identifying specific features. The college gardens during the eighteenth century required the services of numerous tradesmen and gardeners to keep order in the green spaces and the bills indicate the specific roles they played.

Margaret Willes, Here today, gone tomorrow

Although the British regard themselves as a nation of gardeners, with a great history, it is a history that resembles an iceberg. Rather an odd analogy, given that ice fields are horticultural deserts, but studies have concentrated on the magnificent, whether landscapes or resplendent plantings, and on owners, the rich and the famous. The gardens of ‘ordinary gardeners’ are submerged below the water line. This paper looks at the records that can shine a light on the unsung horticultural heroes over the centuries, but also shows how ephemeral these records can be.

Lesley Acton, Allotment gardens: Research challenges and surprising discoveries

This paper documents how archives were used to write a history of the twentieth century urban allotment movement in England. Beginning with a case study of allotments in Ilford (now London Borough of Redbridge), it describes how 100 years of council minutes were used as a foundation to study a previously unresearched subject. Local Ilford Allotment Society archives were then examined, so that a more balanced perspective could be presented. In order to broaden the scope of this history, research then branched out to include legislation relating to allotments, and allotment holdings in the London Metropolitan and the Quaker archive, amongst others. The demographics of the plot holders in Ilford/Redbridge was profiled and showed that contrary to the established narrative, plot holders were not necessarily drawn from the poor and working classes but instead were reflective of the communities in which they lived. This paper further discusses the physical condition of archives in the possession of allotment societies and reflects on the difficulty of the conservation and security of those collections. It also questions the ethics of separating allotment society archives from their owners in order to safeguard them.

Richard Storey, Small gardens, big business

This short note examines the theme implicit in the ‘Keeping the memory green’ conference: the impact of small and not so small gardens on the economy at both local and national levels.