Preview of the Picturesque Garden

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In February we hosted a preview of the Picturesque Garden with an evening of Austen and ostentatiousness.

Held in the unfinished garden which is not yet open to public, the event was attended by attended by recent sponsors of Hamilton Gardens development programme. Comedian Penny Ashton and her troupe entertained with an improvised musical romp in the style of Jane Austen.

Comedian Penny Ashton
Entertainment from comedian Penny Ashton

With fresh ingredients sourced from our Kitchen Garden, hearty and seasonal 18th century cuisine was the inspiration for the food and beverages served by costumed wait staff.

The 18th century Picturesque Garden movement reflected a changing attitude to nature. The gardens were intended to appeal not only to the eyes, but to the heart and mind. They were in part a reaction to Baroque formality, inspired by the new fashion for landscape paintings of wild, romantic landscapes.

Guests attending the preview evening

In author Jane Austen’s time, the fashion for the Picturesque was at its peak. Gothic ruins, mysterious caves, and “a prettyish kind of wilderness” (as she put it in her novel Pride and Prejudice) were highly sought after. The trials of charming suitors and meddlesome mothers were always resolved most satisfactorily with a marriage proposal in a garden.

The Regency era setting comes naturally to award-winning actor Penny Ashton, who wrote a musical comedy entitled Promise and Promiscuity following an obsession with anything Austen. The one-woman play has taken her around the world, with critically acclaimed performances in 70 cities in five countries. The Dominion Post declared it to be “…a unique and exceptionally innovative piece of entertaining theatre not to be missed.

Penny was joined at our function by multi-talented musician Ross Devereux, and actor Lori Dungey, known for her appearance in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring as Bilbo’s hobbit party guest, Mrs Bracegirdle.

Design illustration of the Picturesque Garden