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Chapter 7 - Building a Landscape

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2024

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Summary

MUCH OF THE writing about Bridgeman, and in fact this is probably true about most other garden designers except perhaps the most modern, places him in a universe of art and philosophy where the mechanics of creating a landscape are of less relevance than the aesthetics and the ideas. Actually, though, the making of gardens is an intensely practical business. It is necessary to know what will grow and how to look after it while it does, and how to build the roads, paths, terraces, theatres and hydraulic installations that make up the skeleton of the garden. Without that, no art is possible. Bridgeman was a master of all the disciplines needed to construct what he had designed.

Any landscape must begin with an accurate survey. The business of surveying distances over a large area of land is complicated even with modern surveying apparatus; in the early eighteenth century it was far more so, although essential for the correct apportionment of land and the avoidance of dispute. Bridgeman was clearly a skilled surveyor. The methods he used must have been those of the estate surveyor whose work was the measurement of parcels of land on an estate for an employer or client. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries measurement of the area of these parcels was accomplished using a cord of predetermined length. By the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century this cord had largely been superseded, for measuring purposes, by Gunther's chain, introduced in 1620 by Edmund Gunther (Bendall 2009, 130). Leybourn describes this chain as ‘divided into 100 Links, one of these Links being made four times the length of the other. Now, if this chain be made according to Statute, each Perch to contain 16½ Feet; then each Link of this Chain will contain 7 Inches, and 92/100 of an Inch, and the whole Chain 792 Inches, or 66 Feet’. This chain would be ‘carried by two men, who working together will mark out each length of chain with sticks’ (Leybourn 1653, 45–49). The chain was relatively inexpensive. Bridgeman's contemporary, and rival in the question of drainage of the fens, Thomas Badeslade, was paid £ for one by Sir Robert Walpole in 1719. Bendall shows that this method of measuring distances was in use by surveyors working at the same time as Bridgeman.

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Charles Bridgeman (c. 1685-1738)
A Landscape Architect of the Eighteenth Century
, pp. 113 - 136
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Building a Landscape
  • Susan Haynes
  • Book: Charles Bridgeman (c. 1685-1738)
  • Online publication: 21 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805431213.008
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  • Building a Landscape
  • Susan Haynes
  • Book: Charles Bridgeman (c. 1685-1738)
  • Online publication: 21 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805431213.008
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Building a Landscape
  • Susan Haynes
  • Book: Charles Bridgeman (c. 1685-1738)
  • Online publication: 21 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805431213.008
Available formats
×