Annual Essay Prize

The Mavis Batey Annual Essay Prize

Our 12th Annual Essay Prize has been renamed in honour of our former President, the late Mavis Batey. It seems a fitting memorial to such an inspirational woman, who did so much to build the discipline of garden history through her various roles in the garden history field.

Mavis Batey, photo by Nick Bennett

Mavis Batey, photo by Nick Bennett

Our annual competition is intended to encourage vibrant, scholarly writing and new research, especially by those who have not yet had their work published. It is open to any student, worldwide, registered in a bona-fide university or institute of higher education, or any student who has graduated from such an institute in the past twelve months.

Submissions must be 5,000 to 6,000 words and the only restriction on subject matter is that it must be of relevance to garden history. The prize includes an award of £250, free membership of The Gardens Trust for a year and consideration for publication in our peer-reviewed, scholarly journal Garden History. All previous winners have been accepted for publication, and often the best of the non-winning entries are invited to submit to the journal as well.

Download the Terms, Rules and Entry Form

Closing date for submissions is Tuesday 31 May 2016.
Any further enquiries can be made to:
essayprize@thegardenstrust.org

11th Annual Essay Prize, 2015

The prize has been won by Josepha Richard from Sheffield University, for her fascinating essay Uncovering the Garden of the Richest Man on Earth in Nineteenth Century Guangzhou: Howqua’s Garden in Henan China. This essay is of particular interest as very little work has been done on early nineteenth century Chinese horticulture by either Western or Eastern garden historians. The merchant’s gardens of Canton (Guangzhou) were often the only Chinese gardens encountered by Europeans, as most foreigners at the time were forbidden to travel beyond the port city. While these gardens were described in visitors’ diaries, paintings and early photographs, Richard has examined Chinese as well as European sources, to provide a conjectural reconstruction of the grandest and most famous of Canton’s merchant gardens. The judges were particularly impressed by Richard’s scholarly approach, the range of references she unearthed, and her thoughtful – and convincing – analyses of what is often mere scraps of information.

Melanie Veasey of Buckingham University was also Highly Recommended for her essay The Richest Form of Outdoor Furniture: The Open Air Exhibition of Sculpture at Battersea Park, 1948. This detailed exploration makes excellent use of primary sources, particularly the archives of the London County Council, to examine the legacy of this seminal outdoor sculpture exhibition which introduced the British public to contemporary art, created a fashion for open air sculpture and established the reputation of Henry Moore.

Other entries addressed such diverse subjects as monastic ruins in eighteenth century gardens, royal parks and war memorials in the urban landscape.

Katie Campbell,
Chair of Judges

Our annual competition is open to any student, worldwide, registered in a bona-fide university or institute of higher education, or any student who has graduated from such an institute in the past twelve months.

Submissions must be 5,000 to 6,000 words and the only restriction on subject matter is that it must be of relevance to garden history. The prize includes an award of £250, free membership of The Gardens Trust for a year and consideration for publication in our peer-reviewed, scholarly journal Garden History. All previous winners have been accepted for publication, and often the best of the non-winning entries are invited to submit to the journal as well.

Download the Entry Form for 2015’s competition, now closed.

10th Annual Essay Prize, 2014: result

The 2014 annual GHS essay prize was won by Karen Fitzsimon from Buckingham University. There was a strong field this year, with entries from as far afield as Cardiff and Kew, Bath and Sheffield, but Fitzsimon’s essay, Order In the Landscape – Rediscovering Preben Jakobsen was the unanimous winner.  This important piece of scholarship reassesses the work of the well known but little understood Danish landscape architect. The judges were particularly impressed with the author’s use of primary sources, her exploration of Jacobsen’s influences and inspirations, and her analysis of existing sites and site plans.

Karen will be talking about Order in the Landscape: rediscovering Preben Jacobsen on Wednesday 11 March in our 2015 London Winter Lecture Series.

 

Suzanne Patman of RBG Kew was Highly Commended for A New Direction in Garden History – a lively exploration of guerrilla gardening.  Nick Chibnall, a Ph D student at Buckingham, was also Highly Commended for The Palms of the Orient, a detailed and scholarly examination of the hotel gardens of the late nineteenth century Riviera.

This year’s other entries encompassed a range of subjects, from Thomas Mawson’s prospectus for a landscape architecture course, through the attitudes of women writers to the C18 English Landscape movement, to the place of the Royal Parks in the national consciousness.

The sheer range and vibrancy of the writing demonstrates that Garden History is thriving, and we look forward to another crop of stimulating essays in next year’s competition.

Katie Campbell, Chair of Judges

9th Annual Essay Prize 2013: result

The 2013 GHS essay prize was won by Jane Whitaker, a PhD student at Bristol University, for her fascinating essay, The Old Arcadia, The Garden of the First Earl of Pembroke at Wilton.

Jane Whitaker was presented with her certificate and award by GHS Chairman, Dominic Cole, over lunch at Attilio’s, Cowcross Street

Jane Whitaker was presented with her certificate and award by GHS Chairman, Dominic Cole, over lunch at Attilio’s, Cowcross Street

While much is known about the later garden at Wilton, this essay takes a fresh look at the site and unearths a forgotten Renaissance garden. Whitaker has placed her subject well within the cultural context of the time, with frequent references to contemporary poetry and politics, while the garden itself is convincingly analysed against the framework of Elizabethan rural estates. The essay is well researched and well argued, making excellent use of archival and cartographic sources; what most impressed the judges, however, is the way Whitaker challenges accepted wisdom and breaks new ground, making a real contribution to our knowledge of Renaissance horticulture in general and of Wilton in particular.

The now Dr Jane Whitaker will be talking about Gardens fit for a Queen: Gardens at Cowdray and Bisham in our 2015 London Winter Lecture Series on Wednesday 25 March.

2013’s entries covered an impressive range of subjects, from Victorian artists’ gardens, through classical iconography in C18 landscape parks to a study of the role of the Thompson family in English horticulture, but despite such riches, the judges’ choice was unanimous.

Our 2012 winner Dr Clare Hickman will be our second speaker in 2015’s London Winter Lecture Series on the subject Therapeutic Landscapes: The role of gardens in English hospital settings since 1800   on Wednesday 11 February.