The first parks were royal deer parks — large tracts of land set aside for hunting by royalty and the aristocracy.
Hyde Park in London, for example, was originally Henry VIII’s private deer chase.
Royal preserves evolved into landscaped parks of country houses and mansions—serving not just as hunting grounds, but also symbols of wealth and status.
During the 18th century, Britain became the world’s dominant colonial power and wealthy landed gentry wanted landscaped grounds around their country estates.
As master Gardener at Hampton Court Palace, Lancelot Capability Brown was one of the most prominent landscape architects. He would often tell clients that their estates had great “capability” for landscape, earning him the nickname “Capability Brown”.
Pemberley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is thought to be modeled after Chatsworth House—a stately home in Derbyshire—the grounds of which were another of Capability Brown’s projects.
In the 19th century, cities grew more crowded, and the old royal hunting grounds were opened to the public.
Rapid industrialization brought with it the need to set aside additional areas of land within cities for public enjoyment.
Having access to a natural environment was seen as a way to improve conditions for factory workers, provide better public health, and promote an amicable public gathering place.
What incredible foresight the Victorians had — a 2001 study conducted in the Netherlands found that a ten percent increase in nearby greenspace decreased a person’s health complaints in an amount equal to a five-year reduction in age.
It’s hard to imagine cities like New York, London, Paris, Boston, and San Francisco without parks today.
Join us as we take an artist’s tour of parks and recreation while listening to Flower Duet from Lakme.
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