The landscape of Rufford, 1700-1743: reconnecting archives with people and place

Law, Sarah (2016) The landscape of Rufford, 1700-1743: reconnecting archives with people and place. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Despite growing recognition that the early eighteenth century was a period of flux in relation to gardening taste, the landscapes of elite estates of this period (with the exception of a few iconic gardens) have received little focussed attention. Moreover, the scholarship that exists has tended to isolate considerations of the core landscape of pleasure gardens and hall from its broader socio-economic and geographic contexts. This thesis aims to shed light on how more typical early eighteenth-century estate landscapes were understood through a case study of the everyday practices and local and national contexts which underpinned the development of the demesne landscape of the Rufford Estate, Nottinghamshire, during the ownership of Sir George Savile (1700-43).

The principal resource for this study has been the archives of the Savile family, a vast and under-used collection, although fieldwork has contributed to the interpretation of landscape history. The approach to landscape is based in historical and cultural geography and is one which is alert to both human and non-human agency. Successive chapters address different facets of Sir George’s landscape engagement – the laying out of pleasure gardens, husbandry of carp, silviculture, the construction of rides, hunting – drawing out both their distinctive contributions to the shaping of the place and their collective comprehension within the management of the demesne estate. Particular attention is paid to questions of authorship and managerial structure, the influence of animals on the development of Rufford’s landscape, and the impact of the estate’s diverse physical geography on landscape engagement. Rufford Abbey is now a Country Park run by Nottinghamshire County Council. The management and public interpretation of the site has, however, been compromised by a want of primary research. This thesis establishes that both the formal qualities of the site and significant material artefacts within its landscape were the product of activities in the early eighteenth century; the detailed archival findings presented here will feed into future policy.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Watkins, Charles
Seymour, Susanne
Hardy, Linda
Keywords: landscape, garden, hunting, carp husbandry, estate management, estate gardening, silviculture, Rufford, Savile
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Geography
Item ID: 37356
Depositing User: Law, Sarah
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2017 15:41
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2019 10:22

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