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Mr. Hamilton’s Elysium: The Gardens of Painshill

Mr. Hamilton’s Elysium: The Gardens of Painshill
Michael Symes
Frances Lincoln
Publication Date: 

cloth, 176 pp., $55.00

An authority on historical research of gardens, Michael Symes describes the eighteenth-century stroll garden called Painshill in Surrey, England. At that time, the garden was the property of the Honorable Charles Hamilton. The challenging site had three geological levels with which to contend in developing a suitable landscape in the naturalistic style. Upon the completion of its development, his peers recognized the owner’s artistic talents. Considered among the most important landscapes of the period, these were described as “exquisite scenes in different styles and fine examples of practical poetry.” Unfortunately, the garden was forgotten until the 1970s when efforts started to restore the site. Symes describes the influences on the original owner, prior to explaining the origins and state of the land before it became a park and garden. Extensively referenced, the text is fabulously enriched by the wealth of archival illustrations provided by the dedicated historian.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden