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Bridgeman, Charles

Bridgeman, Charles (d. 1738). English landscape-architect who had an enormous influence on the design of the informal English garden, introducing features that preceded the looser plans of Brown and Kent. He is credited with the introduction of the French ha-ha to England in 1719 at Stowe, Bucks., and later used it in the simple form commonly found during C18. He also used the French pattes d'oie (literally ‘goose-foot’, but meaning avenues crossing each other) that drew attention towards various eye-catchers. Bridgeman first came to notice before 1709 when he appears to have worked under Vanbrugh and Henry Wise (1653–1738) at Blenheim, Oxon. In 1714 he began to work for Lord Cobham (c.1669–1749) at Stowe, Bucks., the most celebrated landscaped garden of the time, with its ‘informal’ walks, carefully contrived planting, use of water, and numerous fabriques, most with literary, mythological, political, or historical allusions. He collaborated with many architects, including Gibbs and Kent, and worked on many gardens, including those at Claremont (Surrey), Eastbury (Dorset), Rousham (Oxon.), and Wimpole Hall (Cambs.) (all 1720s). He may have advised Alexander Pope on his garden at Twickenham, and was possibly involved in the creation of Lord Burlington's garden at Chiswick. In 1727, with Wise, he began a report on the management of the Royal gardens, and succeeded Wise as Royal Gardener to King George II (1727–60) in 1728, working on numerous gardens, including Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, St James's Park, Richmond Park, and Hyde Park (all c.1727–38).

Bibliography

Hadfield,, Harling,, & and Highton (1980);
Jane Turner (1996);
van Vynckt (ed.) (1993);
P. Willis (2002)

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Bridgeman, Charles

Bridgeman, Charles (d. 1738). Royal Gardener to George II 1728–38, Bridgeman played a major role in the evolution of the English landscape garden. Stylistically his work lay between the geometric layouts of the late 1600s and early 1700s and the freer designs of William Kent and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Bridgeman fused formal elements (parterres, avenues, geometric ponds and lakes) with the transitional (mounts, lawns, irregular cabinets), and the progressive (ha-has, winding walks, irregular lawns and woods, and statuary and garden buildings used to exploit key vantage-points). For the crown he was active at Hampton Court, Kensington, Richmond, St James's Park, and Windsor, whilst his private commissions included Claremont, Eastbury, and Wimpole. Outstanding among his independent clients was Viscount Cobham of Stowe in Buckinghamshire, whose celebrated landscape was recorded in the perspective views of Jacques Rigaud and Bernard Baron published by Sarah Bridgeman, the gardener's widow, in 1739. Bridgeman was a collaborator with Vanbrugh, Gibbs, Kent, and Flitcroft, and friend of the painters Mercier, Thornhill, and Wootton, and of Pope, Prior and other literati. As Horace Walpole noted in his Observations on Modern Gardening, first published in 1780, Bridgeman had ‘many detached thoughts, that strongly indicate the dawn of modern taste’.

Peter Willis

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