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Peter D. A. Boyd

Garden History in the Darwin Country Website Project

Peter D. A. Boyd

Web version of

BOYD, P.D.A. 2000(a). 'Darwin Country - Cradle of Science, Technology and The Better Life!' Website Project Shropshire Parks and Gardens Trust Newsletter


Shrewsbury Museums Service is the lead museum in a partnership with the Wedgwood Museum and Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust that has succeeded in attracting almost 40,000 towards a 45,000 website project through the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)/Museums & Galleries Commission (MGC) IT Challenge Fund (33,750) and a grant from the West Midlands Regional Museums Council (5,625).

The IT Challenge Fund is specifically intended to support IT projects for life-long learning. The project (entitled 'Cradle of Science, Technology and the Better Life!') will create and subsequently maintain an integrated website (including images with associated interpretation) that provides a multi-disciplinary introduction to scientific, technological and social developments in part of the West Midlands during the 18th and 19th centuries and their affect on the wider world.

Plants, gardens, gardeners and nurserymen of the period will be a significant feature of the website. The site will be illustrated through the archives, paintings, decorative arts, archaeology and scientific collections of the partner museums and elsewhere but also use illustrations of extant gardens, garden features, trees and plant cultivars surviving from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The relationships between garden and plant fashions and the depiction of particular flowers, ferns or other plants as decoration on ceramics, metalwork, textiles and other materials will be explored. The Victorian Fern Craze, for example, can be illustrated through 19th century herbarium specimens, illustrated fern books, a wide range of Staffordshire ceramics, Salopian Art Pottery, Coalbrookdale cast iron garden seats, surviving Victorian fern cultivars and surviving ferneries such as that at Tatton Park.

An earlier fashion of the late 18th and early 19th century, the Shell Craze, created not only shell collections and led to their depiction in books and on porcelain but had a gardening aspect as Shell Grottoes were created in gardens.

A final example is the very wide range of garden flowers depicted in exquisite detail in the 19th century Coalport porcelain of Shrewsbury Museums Service, the Coalport Museum and the Coalport pattern books at the Wedgwood Museum.

I will welcome information from members of the Parks and Gardens Trust suggesting the whereabouts of surviving 18th/19th century garden features (particularly in Shropshire and Staffordshire) which might be, with permission, photographed and illustrated on the website.

We have set an initial target of 3000 web pages with images but this is likely to be exceeded. The first stages of the website (to be named 'Darwin Country') are expected to come on-line by July 2000 at http://www.darwincountry.org with 'completion' of the project by the end of March 2001.

However, it is intended that gradual development of the website will continue after this particular funding ceases and the period covered extended beyond the 18th and 19th centuries (earlier and later).

Peter D. A. Boyd,

Collections Manager and IT Project Coordinator,

Shrewsbury Museums Service,

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery (Rowley's House),

Barker Street,

Shrewsbury SY1 1QH

Tel. 01743 361196

Fax. 01743 358411

e-mail: peterboyd@shrewsbury-atcham.gov.uk

 

Note: The following link will open a page on Garden History in Darwin Country that will provide access to other pages about garden history, flowers and the decorative arts:-

http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=2758

 

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Revised: January 4th, 2002