Gazetteer Project – BGT Research Programme

Restored gazebo at Moor Close, May 2010

The primary objective of this research programme will be to create a record of the parks and gardens of historical and local significance in Berkshire.

This stone fruit basket with putti is one of a pair above the gates of Basildon Park

Objectives

Of equal importance will be to share this information to a wider public. This will be done by publishing a Gazetteer and to  publish detailed studies of selected parks and gardens either as monographs or as  publications that will deal with more than one  thematically related park or garden.

As many of the parks and gardens are privately owned care must be taken of any information that is not in the public domain and how this information appears in published books and documents.

Parks and Gardens will be abbreviated as P&Gs in the rest of this paper.

Decide on what is a Park or Garden

At some point BGT will have to agree a definition that will enable a decision to be made about whether a a property, or part of a property or a landscape feature does or does not fall within the interest of the Berkshire Gardens Trust. This is best deferred until we consider the Gazetteer Inclusion Criteria (see below).

Agree the Geographical Scope of the Trust

There has already been discussion within the BGT committee about what account should be taken of the somewhat larger pre-1974 Berkshire referred to as historic Berkshire..

This matter was resolved by agreeing that, for those P&Gs that fall in current Berkshire but were once part of  adjoining counties,  we could note their historic link in our records and publications. Likewise, for those P&Gs that were once part of historic Berkshire, we could encourage the adjoining garden trusts in which these P&G now fall, to make this clear in their records and publications.

If in our research we do come across information that may be of relevance to adjoining garden trusts we could ensure that they are informed and hopefully they will reciprocate by passing relevant information to the BGT.

Create Initial List (Depository)

This is a list of all the P&Gs that may be of interest to BGT. There are no constraints as to what may or may not appear on this list.  It will be created by reviewing what has already been published and inviting members to submit any parks or gardens and cemeteries that they may recommend, especially those that are not in the published material.

Agree Initial List attributes/characteristics

This is a set of attributes (all references to attributes in this paper can also be thought of as characteristics or headings) that will indicate what information should be gathered about the P&Gs that appear on the Initial List.  The minimum would be: Identity (Name or Address) of Park or Garden,  Local Authority and Parish(s) within which a Park or Garden is located and the source of the recommendation. Once we agree the Gazetteer Inclusion Criteria (see next item) this list of attributes may have to be expanded and further information gathered about the P&Gs on the Initial List.

Agree Gazetteer Inclusion Criteria

This will be a set of agreed rules that can be applied to P&Gs on the Initial List and which will determine the P&Gs that will appear in the Gazetteer.

To reach a consensus on this item will be difficult and may be time consuming. Some research will have to be done to gather together the criteria that organisations such as English Heritage and other garden trusts use. These can be discussed during the workshops, proposals put forward and in this way agreement could be reached about a set of criteria that will suit the Trust.

Expand Initial  List Attributes

Once the  inclusion criteria has been agreed the attributes of the Initial List will have to be reviewed and expanded and further information gathered about each P&G. We may for instance decide that only P&Gs that are or were once open to the public will be included in the Gazetteer. (It is unlikely that such a constraint will be adopted and is just used here as an an example.) This will introduce a new attribute  and information for this attribute will have to be gathered for the P&Gs on the Initial List.

Image and Reference Gathering

In parallel with these activities a store of any images or references that we come across should be collected and stored and their locations recorded..

Agree Gazetteer attributes

This is a set of attributes that will describe the P&Gs in the Gazetteer. Many of the attributes will have already been agreed and information gathered about them in the preceding items of work but additional information will be required such as, a short, original description of the park or garden.

Create Gazetteer

This is  the process of applying the agreed inclusion criteria to the Initial List and deciding which of the P&Gs on the Initial List will become entries in the Gazetteer. Each entry may consist of a short description and the agreed attributes as well as a selection of images. Final checks will have to be done on the accuracy of the entries and whether any entries or images infringe privacy or copyright concerns. A distinction may have to be made between the Gazetteer that will be published and a database of information that will be used only for research purposes.

Publish Gazetteer

To reach the point when we will be ready to publish will involve a sequence of decisions that can have major cost implications such as whether some or all of the images will be in colour, whether the Gazetteer will be a paper back with perfect binding or a hard cover book with saddle stitching to mention a few. I suggest that it would be pointless to go into this level of detail at this stage as this would be an ideal area to look for sponsorship, which will in turn determine how ambitious we can be. Early consideration should however be given to an introduction as well as a foreword by some suitably eminent person.

Intensive Research Projects

While the work is being done on the Gazetteer certain P&Gs will be identified that will merit more intensive research.

Projects can be set up to gather information about these P&Gs. There will usually be an investigation phase that will determine the information that may be available about the P&G in both published and unpublished sources.  A physical survey of the Park or Garden will be desirable and a recording of its present state and of the existence and state of any features. An important and challenging aspect of this work will be to try and identify what the Park or Garden was like at important phases during its history. Because of the ephemeral nature of P&Gs it is worth bearing in mind that in some cases we will be researching P&Gs that are no longer in existence.

Unlike the Gazetteer, we are here considering far more diverse and variable sets of data. The use of some of this data will also be constrained by privacy issues. Publications based either on individual P&Gs or P&Gs that have a common theme could be considered and this area of work will also generate articles which can appear in a BGT Journal.

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