William Kent: Garden as though you will live forever
Wednesday, May 01 , 2019
Here is a brief insight into the man Horace Walpole extolled as, “the father of modern gardening” along with his connection to Chilstone…
The Father of Modern Gardening
Originating from Bridlington, Yorkshire, William Kent was a man born to humble origins in 1686.
Starting out as a modest sign and coach painter, Kent had an abundance of talent, and an aptitude for social climbing.
Thanks to his artistic skills, he quickly gained patronage and embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe, (typical of the middle and upper classes at the time). He studied in Rome and, like his contemporaries, was intoxicated by Italy.
It was here that he fell under the patronage of Lord Burlington, who convinced him to return to England to promote a new architectural aesthetic. This reinvented Palladian style was received rapturously by a country keen to define the newly United Kingdom in a blossoming Georgian period, aspiring to elevate her citizens through art and culture.
From Interior Designer to Landscaper with Flair
Kent initially directed his design flair towards interiors (he’s now widely credited with being the first British designer to see the interior as a whole.)
Kent broke with formal garden traditions imported from France and Holland, adopting a poetic approach, embodying a fresh, naturalistic style. Inspired by pastoral literature and art, Kent believed “All gardening is landscape painting”. He designed a number of garden buildings and ornaments, to provide captivating focal points and contemplative spaces.
William Kent and Chilstone
Chilstone has a long history of producing elegant garden ornaments and beautiful architectural stone, with some dating back over forty years. A number of urns designed by William Kent were lovingly restored under the leadership of Chilstone’s founder, Michael Dibben.
Michael developed a unique process for accurately replicating classical English garden ornaments using cast stone.
The Chilstone secret recipe is well-guarded and produces a finish like natural stone, available in a range of colours. Through the normal weathering process, our stone faithfully recreates a sense of history, by encouraging the growth of moss and lichens.
The aged patina of an original piece can be achieved in only a few years. (In this way, they actually gain value with age and represent a sound investment!)
The History behind the Garden Urns
The William Kent Urn was originally designed for the Wilderness Garden at Great Linford Manor.
These great garden urns also feature in a famous reference work by Vardy from 1744: ’Some designs of Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent’.
During this restoration project, Chilstone took moulds and preserved these archetypal Kentian garden urns, by bringing them into the Chilstone Collection.
You can read more about the restoration work that Chilstone have undertaken such as the restoration of bespoke planters for Kew Gardens and the Florence Nightingale garden urn restoration project we undertook for Embley House…
A Garden Ornament Legacy
Through our work, we hope to play a small part in protecting this historical artistic legacy. Thanks to Michael’s vision and the dedication of our amazing staff over the years, Chilstone have become a worldwide brand, renowned for finely crafted, handmade products and outstanding, friendly customer service.
We really enjoy seeing our craftsmanship in situ, during visits to the beautiful gardens and homes of our lovely clients. This is where they truly shine.
Have you spotted any of our pieces in the great gardens mentioned?
Feel free to get in touch with your pictures and we’ll tell you the story behind the product.
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