About

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I am a historian with an interest in the connections between landscape design and medical practice. Currently a Lecturer in History at the University of Chester, I have just completed a Wellcome funded Medical History & Humanities postdoctoral Fellowship which I began at Kings College London. I previously worked as a Research Assistant on the Leverhulme Trust funded Historic Gardens & Landscapes of England project at the University of Bristol. As a fledgling garden historian I won the first Garden History Society Essay Prize in 2005 for my article on the gardens surrounding the psychiatric institution, Brislington House in Bristol. My research on the history of hospital gardens was published by Manchester University Press in June 2013 as Therapeutic Landscapes: A History of English Hospital Gardens Since 1800 .

I have also published on the visual experience of landscape as part of the therapeutic regime of the nineteenth-century British asylum both as a journal article for History of Psychiatry and for the  Parks and Gardens UK website. An article I wrote on the use of cold baths and plunge pools in the eighteenth-century garden as part of a healthy lifestyle can also be read here. In Autumn 2012 I made my TV debut as an expert on the use of cold bathing for health in an episode of Channel 4’s Restoration Man.

In 2011 I received a Wellcome Trust grant to research the eighteenth-century gardens of vaccination pioneer, Edward Jenner, and the surgeon, anatomist and biologist, John Hunter and the resultant article in Post-Medieval Archaeology can be read here. The use of gardens as scientific spaces by medical practitioners in the long eighteenth-century has become my latest focus of interest.

This website will explore the fascinating relationship between gardens, medical practitioners and ideas regarding health and wellbeing in the past, as well as considering the effect of the past on the present. Do get in touch and let me know about your research and experience of designed landscapes in relation to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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Peevish bees

John Hunter, known for his surgery and his legacy in the form of the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, also conducted other botanical and natural history experiments as recorded within his letters and published articles. Notable examples which were conducted in his garden at Earl’s Court, and include an attempt to culture … Continue reading

William Curtis and the London Botanic Garden

The first challenge with any new research project is working out exactly where to start. I knew three things about the apothecary, William Curtis (1746-1799): 1. He was plant demonstrator at the Chelsea Physic Garden. 2.He had a botanic garden in London. 3. He was the instigator of a popular journal which became known as … Continue reading

Guest feature for the VAHS blog

I have written a piece for the wonderful Voluntary Action History Society blog on the C19th National Healthy Society and their interest in green open spaces. You can read about it here… For our March feature, Clare Hickman of King’s College London writes for us on the National Health Society. She explains how this association of doctors and … Continue reading

Putting history in its place – Lichfield

Anyone who has been schooled in the dark arts of garden history by Professor Timothy Mowl will be aware of how vital it is that you visit the place on which you are working wherever possible. Sometimes this is just to get the scale of the landscape, or its relation to other features within the … Continue reading

Walking the Malago river

While trying to find some photos I took of Victoria park in London a few years ago, I came across this pen and ink sketch of myself and Professor Peter Coates looking intently at the little known Malago River in Bristol. It was part of a fascinating art project by Rebecca Beinart and you can … Continue reading