Context 159 - May 2019

46 C O N T E X T 1 5 9 : M A Y 2 0 1 9 The complexities of designed historic landscapes Landscapes A casual visit to a country house on a sunny, summer’s afternoon may well be motivated by a desire to observe some piece of architectural splendour or the collection of artefacts contained within it. The visit may be followed by a stroll in the grounds (and a cup of tea with cream scone in a thoughtfully converted stable block). How easily the principal building sits within the landscape. All the familiar elements are there to delight and please the eye: an avenue or two of magnificent, ancient trees; a walled garden rich with produce we covetously wish would supply our dining table; and a ha-ha for the children to puzzle over and probably fall off. One may picnic in the shade of a curious temple surrounded by grassy banks and terraces overlooking the waters of a lake reflecting the colours of myriad trees and shrubs from exotic places. Deer can be seen grazing calmly in the safety of bosky parkland, protected from the outside world by a robust boundary wall. The composition seems natural to us, idyllic and somewhat effortless. How often do we appreciate the investment made in creating such a place? It may well have been the work of many generations, the product of layers of changing tastes and fashions and, quite possibly, in total, a greater financial outlay than the principal building at the heart of it all. Indeed, there are a number of examples around the