Biography

If you would like a formal CV, please email. Otherwise, more about me below… 

When I graduated from the University of  Warwick with degree in History in 1993, I knew didn’t want to become a lawyer, accountant or teacher like my contemporaries. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but that I definitely wanted to use my history degree. I hoped my specialism would find me… and so it did. 

In 1996, returning to Stowe – where I had spent a summer in 1992, working in the garden and living in the Corinthian Arch (which was not as glamorous as it sounds) – I discovered there was this thing called ‘Garden History’. It combined all the things I loved: architecture, art and design, trees, being outdoors, old maps…  

I spent five happy years at Stowe, having parties in the temples and boating on the lake, which inspired my PhD on the social use of such gardens. But I also learnt so much of practical use to my later consultancy – the nuts and bolts of how you actually go about restoring garden buildings and landscape. I also developed an interest in the work of Charles Bridgeman, royal gardener and a designer who is often eclipsed by William Kent.

By 2001 I wanted to know more and joined Debois Landscape Survey Group, working with John Phibbs and Nick Owen. I learnt to really unpick a historic designed landscape and worked on a variety of sites, including those laid out by professional designers like ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphry Repton, but also less well-known names and talented amateurs. 

In 2003 I left to establish my own consultancy, still occasionally collaborating with Debois. I have been freelance ever since, allowing me to work flexibly around my children. 

In 2009, after several house moves and one baby, I finally finished my PhD. It gathered dust for several years, until son number two was about to start school. I spent the second half of 2015 up-cycling the material into a book – The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden, which was published in 2016, to coincide with the tercentenary celebrations for ‘Capability’ Brown. It was featured in the FT Books of the Year.

I am now working on my second book (for Yale University Press), while also undertaking consultancy on a small number of select projects.

I live in a landscape of ancient oaks and deep holloways, just north of the South Downs in West Sussex, with my partner, our two sons and Pickle the terrier.