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‘Twickenhamshire’ was Horace Walpole’s term for the extraordinary cultural community that flourished in Twickenham and its environs, on the Middlesex bank of the Thames, in the eighteenth century, the Age of Enlightenment. Leading thinkers, writers, actors, artists and arbiters of taste at the time shaped the community not only in progressive ideas about the arts but by the physical manifestation of its gardens and villas, the changing designs of which embodied such ideas.
Central to all was the river, a national icon for centuries. In the first half of the period, the so-called Augustan Age, the Thames was imbued with a classical and Renaissance aura through comparison with Roman sites. Twickenham became known as the ‘classical village.’ The river also determined the appearance and orientation of the gardens and villas that led down to it.
This book, illustrated by many (and mainly) historical images, shows the teeming creativity of the owners and how their properties reflected their character and interests. It demonstrates the extensive networking that enabled ‘Twickenhamshire’ to form a coherent and identifiable whole, not in uniformity but in the sum of the individual contributions.