A History of Groves  book cover
1st Edition

A History of Groves

ISBN 9781138674806
Published August 31, 2017 by Routledge
240 Pages 78 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The grove, a grouping of trees, intentionally cultivated or found growing wild, has a long diverse history entwined with human settlement, rural practices and the culture and politics of cities. A grove can be a memorial, a place of learning, a site of poetic retreat and philosophy or political encampment, a public park or theatre, a place of hidden pleasures, a symbol of a vanished forest ecology, or a place of gods or other spirits. Yet groves are largely absent from our contemporary vocabulary and rarely included in today’s landscape practice, whether urban or rural. Groves are both literal and metaphorical manifestations, ways of defining spaces and ecologies in our cultural life. Since they can add meaning to urban forms and ecologies and contribute meaningfully to the significance of place, critical examination is long overdue. The editors have taken care to ensure that the text is accessible to the general reader as well as specialists.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. The sacred places of the immortal ones: Ancient Greek and Roman sacred groves  2.Seeing the Wood for the Trees: The long-term aesthetics of woodland in England  3.The sacredness of groves  4.The history and development of groves in English formal gardens (1600-1750)  5.Colourful groves: The origins of the woodland garden  6.Groves as metaphor for the fragmented redwood forests of California  7.Sacred groves in African contexts (Benin, Cameroon): Insights from history and anthropology  8.Groves in Chinese gardens and beyond them  9.Korean village groves  10.The shrine groves of modern Japan  11.Nature mystification and the example of the ‘Heroes’ Groves’ in early twentieth century Germany  12.Dan Kiley: Groves, space and complexity

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Jan Woudstra is Reader in Landscape History and Theory at the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield. His MA thesis at the University of York explored the wilderness in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century gardens, and he has retained an interest in the topic, evidenced in various publications including ‘The Early Eighteenth Century Wilderness at Stainborough’, New Arcadian Journal, no.57/58 (2004–05), pp. 65–84. In 1997 he completed his PhD at the Department of Geography, University College London, with a thesis entitled ‘Landscape for Living; Garden Theory and Design of the Modern Movement’.

Colin Roth is an interdisciplinary specialist in the psychology of aesthetics. His primary research field is in Danish culture through the ‘long’ nineteenth century, and his articles have appeared in the Royal Library Copenhagen’s journals Fund og Forskning and Carl Nielsen Studies, more recently in a sequence for food professionals in Chef magazine. He has been a regular lecturer at the Tate and the Royal Academy of Arts. His editorial work began in the 1980s with the first Journal of the Derby Porcelain International Society, since when his wide disciplinary range has enabled him to work across the fields of musicology and ballet, art history, architecture and landscape. Dr Roth is currently co-director of the Centre for Nordic Studies at the University of Sheffield.


"Human beings have had a long, deep, cultural relationship with trees, a relationship which transcends national cultures. That said, as we have become more urban based and our landscapes more ‘designed’ as a result, this relationship seems to have been somewhat underestimated, something this wonderful publication seeks to put right. The book enthusiastically traces the cultural concepts of The Grove from pre-historic times up to the present day, from the spiritual to the practical and the artistic, and provides compelling evidence of the growing relevance of The Grove to improving the quality of contemporary human experience. The contribution of a number of authors to this stimulating and creative publication is a significant milestone in the re-awakening of our interest in the cultural relationship between us and our trees."

Professor Alan Simson, School of Art, Architecture + Design, Leeds Beckett University, UK.

"Evoking everything from classical deities to druids and amorous liaisons in Augustan pleasure gardens, groves have always been special tree places. Ranging across millennia and traversing the globe from ancient Greece to China, Japan, North America and Africa, this rich and learned collection of essays by an international team of experts, offers an enchanting new slant upon our love affair with trees. The editors and authors are to be congratulated on having created such a varied, readable and stimulating volume which will surely long remain the definitive study of a hitherto surprisingly neglected subject."

Paul Elliott, College of Arts, Humanities and Education, University of Derby, UK.