Private Princedom Posted on January 8, 2010

Snowed up, the sun painting sharp blue shadows on a ground of silvergilt between my window and the churchyard wall. It is too cold to enjoy being outdoors. Time to look through a drawer of old papers about the house and garden accumulated over nearly forty years. One is an inscription I never got round to putting in the garden temple (I couldn’t decide between a floor slab and a frieze).

Every man’s proper Mansion House and Home, being the Theatre of his Hospitality, the Seat of Self Fruition, the Comfortablest Part of his own Life, the Noblest of his Son’s Inheritance, a kind of Private Princedom, nay, to the Possessor thereof, an Epitomy of the whole World, may well deserve, by these Attributes, to be Decently and Delightfully Adorned.

This is Sir Henry Wotton, in 1624, introducing his Elements of Architecture in the manner of Bacon. He does not speak directly of gardening, but his lapidary language spoke strongly to me when I was younger. Does it sound absurd today? No more, I suppose, than the whole idea of a garden temple.

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