Gertrude Jekyll (1999, The History Press Ltd)
Recommended by Hattie Walters
Unlike Gertrude Jekyll’s numerous other “garden books”, which are predominately dedicated to the planning and maintenance of a garden over the year, Old West Surrey was intended to memorialise the elements of rural working-class life that she saw rapidly disappearing from her beloved late nineteenth-century stomping-grounds. Roving from the architectural features of specific properties to characters remembered from childhood church sermons, fragments of dialect, dress, custom, and house ornament; and peppered with her own photographs and illustrations, Jekyll’s text is devoted to recording her impressions of local culture, used to promote her own Arts and Crafts sensitivity to place. This work is an important example of the twentieth-century reclamation of the distinctiveness of local village life, and Jekyll’s prime concern is the countryside included in her personal definition of Old West Surrey.