Hospital Gardens

In 2002 I started a PhD at the University of Bristol funded by the GNS Trust. Supervised by Professor Timothy Mowl, the thesis documented the use and design of hospital gardens in England since 1800 using both garden and medical history approaches.

I have since turned the PhD manuscript in a broader study which will be published in May 2013 as Therapeutic Landscapes: A History of English Hospital Gardens since 1800 by Manchester University Press.Cover The aim of Therapeutic Landscapes is to bring together historical and contemporary debates on the use of the garden as a therapeutic space for the first time. I narrate the story of the landscapes associated with psychiatric, general and specialist medical institutions and ask what did they look like, how were they used and how did this relate to medical concepts? The book traces the history of these gardens from the grottos, Chinese galleries and summer houses of elite nineteenth-century lunatic asylums, through Florence Nightingale’s championing of the Victorian pavilion hospital design with its courtyard gardens, and the open-air institutions of the Edwardian period with their revolving chalets. It concludes with a discussion of new hospital gardens being created by designers such as Dan Pearson in the twenty-first century. I hope that it will be of essential reading for those interested in the histories of place, space and material culture, and in particular medical historians, garden historians and historical geographers.

Other writing on hospital gardens

Spring 2018: Although not strictly on hospital gardens I have a chapter on open-air schools in a new edited collection – ‘Care in the Countryside: the theory and practice of therapeutic landscapes in the early twentieth century in Landscape and Green Spaces: Gardens and Garden History in the West Midlands eds Malcolm Dick and Elaine Mitchell (Hertfordshire University Press, May 2018)

December 2014: ‘Cheerfulness and tranquility: gardens in the Victorian asylum’ in Lancet Psychiatry Vol 1, No.7

June 2012: ‘Therapeutic Landscapes’ in Green Places, 37_40

2009: ‘Cheerful Prospects and Tranquil Restoration: The Visual Experience of Landscape as part of the Therapeutic Regime of the British Asylum, 1800-1860’, in History of Psychiatry, 20 (4): 425-441

2008: ‘Therapeutic Landscapes: The Design and Use of Nineteenth-Century Lunatic Asylum Grounds’, published online by York University at

2007: Editorial, ‘Moral Therapy, Asylums & Gardens’, Journal of Medical Biography, 15, 187

2006: ‘Therapeutic Gardens: An Overview of the History of Hospital Gardens in England from 1800’, published online at

2005: ‘The ‘Picturesque’ at Brislington House, Bristol: The Role of Landscape in Relation to the Treatment of Mental Illness in the Early Nineteenth-Century Asylum’ in Garden History, 33:1 (Summer 2005), 47-60


One comment

  1. Pingback:  The Buildings and Site of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and why they matter. – Save Liverpool Women's Hospital

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