The Bloomsbury group was a circle of artists, writers and intellectuals who embraced a culture of sexual equality and freedom, informality and fierce intellectual debate, largely at odds with their strict Victorian upbringings.
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is Britain’s most famous landscape designer, who codified the English landscape style and worked at over 250 sites, for a client list that included the majority of the House of Lords. Brown learnt his trade experimenting at Stowe, making his mark on the landscape before moving on to transform the the English countryside and many aristocratic estates.
When Thomas Carlyle turned eighty in 1875, he received a birthday tribute from over one hundred eminent Victorians. Philosopher, historian, biographer, translator, novelist and essayist, he was hailed as the voice of the age.
Born in 1885, Clementine Ogilvy Spencer-Churchill (née Hozier) was far more than just Winston’s wife. She was a keen promoter of social and humanitarian causes, often in defiance of Winston, including women’s rights.
Sydney Renée Courtauld (1873-1962) was a social reformer and philanthropist dedicated to improving women’s access to education. She helped secure part of the present Ashridge Estate for the National Trust.
Actress, producer and designer, Edith Craig was a suffragette and socialist, and later director of the feminist Pioneer Players. Her partner, Christopher St John, born Christabel Marshall, was a feminist playwright, suffragette, and author.
The Great Beast 666, Perabduro, Ankh-f-n-khonsu, the wickedest man in the world, Aleister Crowley was a noted – and controversial – occultist. Defiantly unconventional in every respect, he lived life according to his own dictum: ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.’
Dr Wilfrid Fox (1875 - 1962) was a physician turned horticulturist whose best known legacy is Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey. However, his influence on Britain’s landscape is far wider through his involvement with the Roads Beautification Association and as a passionate advocate for tree planting.
Ferguson’s Gang was formed in 1927 with five core members, all of whom were women. Their aim was to raise awareness of the need to protect rural areas and they supported the organisation they considered to be the most dedicated to preserving England’s heritage: the National Trust.
Giuseppe Garibaldi is perhaps best known for helping to unify the various states of the Italian peninsula under one monarchy in 1860. However, Garibaldi’s heroic exploits also earned him considerable admiration in England in the 1860s.
Thomas Hardy is famous for his novels of nineteenth century rural life. Rich in description and dialect, they are written museums of a vanished culture. Hardy set them in Wessex, an imaginary region mapped onto the geography of south and south-west England.
Little is known of Herbert of Derwent Water, a seventh-century hermit who lived on an island in the middle of the Cumbrian lake. But Herbert and the island named after him were the inspiration for writers as diverse as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.
The man who would become known as Lawrence of Arabia was born Thomas Edward Lawrence in 1888. Lawrence was an archaeologist and historian, before working in the Middle East as an intelligence officer and liaison to forces participating in the Arab Revolt. He was later employed by Winston Churchill to help redraw the map of the modern Middle East.
George Villiers, second duke of Buckingham (1628-1687), was a powerful courtier and politician during the reign of Charles II (1660-1685). It was during Charles’ reign that he acquired the Cliveden estate and built a mansion, part of which remains standing today.
Born in 1689, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was an English aristocrat and lady of letters. More important than her literary achievements, however, she was responsible for the introduction of the smallpox inoculation to Britain and Western Europe.