Many of my current research and publication projects centre broadly around the idea of lost spaces – green and blue spaces lost to political upheavals, environmental change, and shifting landscape fashion. I am especially interested in the experiences of owners and visitors of such spaces, past and present, and in the communities that they have forged, observed, participated in, and sometimes even rejected as a result of encounters there.
This research project centres on literary engagements with estate gardens and parkland from the outbreak of civil war to the appointment of Lancelot "Capability" Brown as Head Gardener at Stowe a century later. It will do so through an examination of the writings of those who lived in and travelled between estates, engaging with not only particular landscapes but also to the networks that transcended physical geography to link them together (whether through personal visits or trade routes).
This study focuses on water management in life and art, and is part of a broader project on waterworks between 1550 and 1800, co-lead by me and Claudine van Hensbergen (Northumbria University). The first part of the project centred around a one-day conference.
The archetypal lost garden in western myth is Eden, the Christian earthly paradise. Keep an eye open for my forthcoming essay on 'Paradise and Exile' for Bloomsbury's Cultural History of Western Myth in the Age of Enlightenment (ed. Jonathan Birch, 2024).