Our new vice-President: Ted Fawcett

Posted on March 9th, 2011 by Charles Boot
Ted searching for evidence of Lady Elizabeth Lee's Flower Garden at Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire. Photo by Rosemary Jury

Ted searching for evidence of Lady Elizabeth Lee's Flower Garden at Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire. Photo by Rosemary Jury

The Society is delighted to welcome Edward Fawcett as its newest vice-President. Known to most as Ted, he joined the newly formed Society in 1965 and attended its AGM & Conference in York in 1969. Ted said of this that “nobody spoke to me except Brigitte de Soie, over from Paris, who helped me organise the GHS’s first tour of gardens in France” in 1971. According to the Society’s newsletter, this attracted nearly fifty members, visiting 15 gardens over four days, at a cost of £38 10 shillings per person. Ted adds, “We started badly as I had forgotten the change in hour and we had no coach,” one of the tour marched off and could not be found. “After that ‘success’, as Charles de Noailles [then himself a GHS vice-President] opened all doors … we had the works”. The trip included visits to Le Bois de Moutiers, Limpiville, Versailles and Ermonville, the latter proving so fascinating that the party overstayed and almost missed the return ferry. Ted recalled, “As we entered the dock the gangway was swinging up. Michael’s [the driver’s] klaxon brought it down, and we were away, a dramatic end to an eventful trip”.

Ted adds more, “It was stimulating to be in at the start, inventing garden history as we went. Mavis volunteered to be Secretary [1972] to the executive Committee and… what a star she became! I had slightly more of an idea of how to run a meeting than the others so Graham Thomas pushed me into becoming Chairman. I also used the National Trust lectures that I organised at the Purcell Rooms (at The Festival Hall complex) to introduce the Trust to garden history [Ted was the NT’s Director of Public Relations from 1969 to 1984]. Happy innocent days, now we are part of the Establishment.”

From 1978 until 1984 Ted ran residential courses at West Dean on the Conservation of Historic Gardens, so it was not that surprising that in 1986 he was instrumental in founding the Graduate Diploma course at the Architectural Association, London, entitled ‘Conservation of Historic Landscapes, Parks and Gardens’, which led so many to become active in that process. There were nineteen students in that first year, and Ted brought in the ‘the leading figures in garden history and conservation as lecturers so that the students could be introduced directly to the people whose books and articles they were reading.’

Ted became Chairman of the GHS again in 1988 and held that office until 1995. He was also Chairman of ICOMOS UK Gardens and Landscapes committee in the early 1990s and a ‘corresponding member’ of the ICOMOS International Committee for Historic Gardens and Sites. In 1998 Ted successfully led the AA course to formal recognition by the Open University, but stepped down from its leadership in 2000, though continuing as tutor responsible for assessment. He finally retired from the AA in 2002.

Ted’s letter of thanks on being asked to stand as a vice-President by our Chairman is, as one would expect, charming. “As I am now nearing 90, you won’t have to put up with me for too long! The GHS is lucky to have you [Dominic Cole] as Chair. You have a gift for informality and will never let it get old and stale.”

The same could also be said of Ted.


Every flower as it blows
Must do honour to the rose,
For she is their virgin queen
And over nature spreads her reign.

In the hedge or the garden,
Single, or petals richly laden,
Purest white or deepest red,
Climbing trees or densely planted,

Exciting eyes and filling lungs
With the passion that she brings
By our noses to our minds.
Overturning sense, she winds

Herself to our delight
Through heart and body, day and night,
Lovely, generous, filled with power,
Leading onwards to her hour.

Ted Fawcett,


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