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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Architecture - The place of the summerhouse in public parks

Richmond Park England

A much more extravagant summerhouse in the grounds of Tring House Herefordshire
A recent post on this site mentioned how‘summerhouses,’ located in Lomatia Park Springwood, were used by tramps during the latter part of the 1930s.  This set me to wondering about the history of these small buildings that graced – but have now all but disappeared - many parks.  However, locating the history has been no mean fete and this offering is by no means complete.

One article suggested that the modern jargon describes the ‘Gazebo or Summerhouse as a structure built in the garden for rest and recreation.’[1]   The structure is regarded as a place of refuge and has taken on different architectural forms which in the extreme include styles like Renaissance, Baroque, Palladian, Chinese, Gothic, Indian, American and so on.[2]  Most were modest in size and relatively cheap to construct however, there were exceptions especially structures that were built in private homes.[3]  As such, the summerhouse has a long history because it would seem that they gained popularity in England during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries where they were placed in ‘large parks and private estates.’[4]

Another article confirmed the above and suggested that in the 1920s a firm in England began to manufacture revolving ones in order to catch that elusive English sun.[5] It would seem there is a brisk trade at auctions for anyone interested in acquiring a genuine old summerhouse.  Pre-war examples by Barnard, Bishop & Barnard from Norwich and the firm of Henry & Julias Caesar sell for thousands of pounds.[6]

However, the ones that were found in public parks in Australia were usually of the modest kind;  built out of weatherboard or a combination of wood, brick or sandstone.  Examples, although difficult to access because of road widening, exist in Blaxland, but the concrete fabricated  ones in the park at Mount Victoria are more easily reached.

Jackson Park Faulconbridge

Concrete structures Mount Victoria Park

Pope's Glen Wentworth Falls

War Memorial Park Woodford

Pamela Smith      

[1] The Australian Summerhouse Company, ‘The History of Gazebos,’
[2]  Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Katrina Burroughs, Times Online, ‘Gimme Shelter,’, 22.7.2007, accessed
[6] Ibid.

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