Harold Peto


Harold Peto (1854-1933) was one of the leading garden designers of the Edwardian era. He became interested in garden design after a successful career as an architect, and was commissioned to build a number of gardens in England and the South of France.The Edwardian era, looking back, has assumed the character of a belle époque, a summer of golden afternoons in the years between the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and the outbreak of the First World War.

It is associated in garden terms with the country house, surrounded by architectural topiary, terraces and steps.

Peto's gardens combine colour and design with architectural work, which has enabled them to survive for a century. He was a great admirer of the Italian Renaissance, and is associated with the Classical revival fashionable at the beginning of the twentieth century. Garden architecture was a defining characteristic of Edwardian gardens, as Arts and Crafts architects turned their back on landscape gardens in favour of a revival of the old formal style.The scale and intimacy of the old English manor gardens of the Tudor period, with walled areas around the house, were used again in the Edwardian period. Some additional features became highly fashionable after 1900, such as pergolas, rotundas and temples. Harold Peto was one of the few architects who revived Greek and Roman temples in the early twentieth century and used them as an eye-catcher in many of his gardens.Peto's enthusiasm for plants was combined with his skills as an architect and interest in the Italian Renaissance. As he said, 'Old buildings or fragments of masonry carry one's mind back to the past in a way that a garden entirely of flowers cannot do'.Gertrude Jekyll greatly admired the work of Peto, including his work in her books, and sending him copies with affectionate personal dedications.


Peto's Gardens include:

Bridge House, Surrey

Easton Lodge, Essex

Hartham Park,Wiltshire

Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

Heale House, Wiltshire

Crichel House, Dorset

Hinton Admiral, Hampshire

High Wall, Oxford

Petwood, Lincolnshire

Ilnacullin, Co. Cork

West Dean, Sussex

Wayford Manor, Somerset

Burton Pynsent, Somerset

Iford Manor, Wiltshire

Witanhurst, Highgate, London (was called Parkfield)

There are other gardens in Britain on which Peto may have worked, although there is no firm documentation to support this.

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