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Lost in the Long Books: Revealing the organisation, operations and uses of the collegiate gardens in the University of Oxford between 1733 and 1837

Parker, Andrew Toby Mabson (2021) Lost in the Long Books: Revealing the organisation, operations and uses of the collegiate gardens in the University of Oxford between 1733 and 1837. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This is the first scholarly assessment of the collegiate landscapes of the University of Oxford based in their organisation, operation and use between 1733 and 1837. The thesis was a localised case study using primary data from archival sources and contemporary literature. The identified material was then assessed and interpreted using thick description and Reception theory. Adopting approaches used in material culture studies made it possible to identify the technologies and skills that had been used in the gardens. The core period of the study (1733-1837) was selected to cover an era during which the University retained its position as the paramount civic authority in the city of Oxford and became a cultural centre in England. The thesis establishes that the gardens were maintained by contractors rather than the colleges employing their own labour. These businessmen in turn sub-contracted skilled gardeners by the day to service the needs of the gardens. The analysis of financial data from contractors’ bills demonstrated that figures previously considered wages for work in the garden were instead day rates to be paid by the colleges. This discovery has implications for our understanding of the wages for skilled and unskilled labour in the gardens. The findings in this thesis demonstrate that the contractors managed sophisticated horticultural businesses to service the college’s needs. This study informs landscape history through the exploration of collegiate landscapes, garden contracting, wages and the wider employment of Oxford’s horticultural trade in the gardens. Furthermore the roles of other trades, such as carpenters and the largely absent material culture in the gardens are assessed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: gardens; landscapes; Oxford University; academic landscapes; university; gardeners
Depositing User: Andrew Parker
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2021 08:48
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2021 08:48
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/29465

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