landscape terms Cambridgeshire is known, quite unjustifiably, only for
its leaden skies and the endless expanse of fenland beneath. Apart from
the celebrated college gardens, where the University’s courts turned
their ‘backs’ to the River Cam, only three gardens in the county are
mentioned as being worth a visit. These are Anglesey Abbey, where Lord
Fairhaven’s hotchpotch of statuary litters some 114 formal acres,
Wimpole Hall, which reads like a Who’s Who entry of garden history
practitioners, and the University’s Botanic Garden.
reality the county has examples of every style of historic landscape,
from the archaeological remains of a seventeenth-century water garden
at Hamerton to Peter Foster’s 1979 recreation of a Batty
Langely-inspired Gothic trellis at Abbots Ripton. There are an
astonishing 300 moated sites in Cambridgeshire, the legacy of a
constant battle to drain the fens and channel the surplus waters.
Although Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown failed to get his
hands on The Backs, he did take up residence at Fenstanton Manor, where
he improved the landscape between his Caroline manor house and the
book, the thirteenth and last title in the series, will enlighten and
even the most knowledgeable visitor to the county.
Redcliffe Press, Bristol (Expected publication date, Spring 2013)