Object of the Week:
Illustrated Letters in the William Shute Barrington Archive
By Alice Ridgway, Archivist
January 16th marked ‘Blue Monday’ the most melancholy day of the year. However, mine was brightened by discovering some charming drawings in the William Shute Barrington archive, which we hold in the Archive of Garden Design.
The archive contains correspondence, plans, plant lists, sketches and paintings between 1920-1940 relating to the gardening career of Viscount William ‘Bill’ Reginald Barrington (1873-1960). After a career in the military, Barrington restored and redesigned gardens at a number of stately homes in East Sussex and further afield. His gardening philosophy aimed to give the illusion that a garden had existed forever, stating that ‘its relationship to the surrounding fields, hills and buildings should have a naturalness borne of scrupulous attention to detail’.
The letters I found were sent by Guy Roderick Falkner, an unknown gardening friend of Barrington. They thank him for his plant cuttings and hospitality and give short updates about his horticultural projects. My favourite drawing features two cartoon birds – most likely a depiction of the tame pair of starlings that lived with Barrington alongside his partner, Violet Gordon Woodhouse.