Gardens of Earthly Delight
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Gardens of Earthly Delight : The History of Deer Parks

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This is a highly original, profusely illustrated, and well researched account of deer parks. With humility and respect Fletcher touches on errors commonly made by archaeologists and historians, taking issue with long held theories while drawing on his lifetime working with deer to formulate plausible explanations as to, for example, why they were not domesticated until the 20th century, how parks evolved from haga and elricks , why deer parks were created throughout Eurasia, why fallow so rapidly ousted red deer from medieval British parks, and much more. He ranges from meat sharing amongst chimpanzees to the symbolism of venison as the elite product of hunting, ensconced within seven centuries of the English Royal Warrant, through the 300 year long prohibition on its sale within England and the continuing illegality of selling hunted venison within the USA, the aristocratic pursuit of park breaking, and the imposition of the Black Act. He stresses the cross-cultural importance of rulers being seen to hunt, compares ancient Chinese parks, the colossal Asian ring hunts, and the water hunts of Germany as expressions of man's urge to contain deer. Within Britain, which has for a thousand years held more deer parks than any other part of the world, he describes how deer were fed, transported, enclosed, captured, castrated and housed, and how they were hunted in the confines of parks. The recent theory as to the use of trenches for handling deer in medieval Scotland is explored. The international symbolism of white deer, collared deer and enclosed deer is discussed. Recently, parks provided deer for English carted hunts and Scottish sporting estates; now we recognise their ecological and recreational value. We learn how parklands may be our spiritual home - the environment in which we are most content - and that parks have always been, in a fashion, designed landscapes.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 296 pages
  • 184 x 244 x 19mm | 861.82g
  • WINDGATHER PRESS
  • Macclesfield, United Kingdom
  • English
  • b/w & col illus
  • 1905119364
  • 9781905119363
  • 1,234,684

Review quote

A detailed and scholarly history of deer parks, from their role as hunting grounds of medieval nobility to modern-day visitor attractions at country-house properties.' -- The Countryman The Countryman A delightful and thoroughly researched analysis of man's interaction with deer through the centuries. It provides a fascinating insight into the domestication of farmed animals and attitudes to hunting and man's treatment of animals. To all those wishing to understand the complexity of the relationship between humans and animals and how this has impacted on our landscape and culture, this book is most strongly recommended.' -- The Veterinary Record The Veterinary Record This is an accessible, wide-ranging and immensely enjoyable history by a deer veterinarian who gained a PhD in the subject at Cambridge and can convincingly quote from Italo Calvino, Gaston Bachelard and William Wordsworth.' -- Country Life Country Life This is a singularly enjoyable book on a neglected topic which is of some importance in the history of Englishness. Its surprising elisions and poetic turns are a recurring source of delight.' -- Literary Review Literary Review Deer parks now have an excellent new book which is full of yet more fascinating information.' -- Financial Times Financial Times But what sets this book apart, and makes it so stimulating for anyone interested in historic deer management, is the fact that Fletcher is a deer vet (and understands hunting). Here are accessible discussions of deer management, habitats and the characters of the different breeds (fallow deer are easily managed and can be carried on a man's back or even caught in mid-air as they leap), with some tolerant rebuttals of landscape historians' much repeated inherited truisms. Highly readable - shelve alongside Rackham's History of the Countryside.' -- British Archaeology British Archaeology John Fletchers absorbing Gardens of Earthly Delight: The History of Deer Parks looks into the more ancient origins of country house parks, many of which began as enclosed deer parks dating back to the Middle Ages.' -- Times Literary Supplement Times Literary Supplement This handsome, lavishly illustrated book offers a wealth of information on a number of topics beyond what may be expected from its title, including landscape history, the physiology, behaviour and characteristics of different deer species, and the practicalities of deer management.' -- The Medieval Review The Medieval Review Clearly and engagingly written, packed with new insights, attractively produced and very reasonably priced, this is one of the most important books on landscape history to appear in recent years. It deserves to be widely read, by professional historians as much as by the wider interested public.' -- Historic House Historic House What [John Fletcher] has achieved is a well written and well put together book about the history of the deer park. This is a thoroughly informative read. -- Cornwall Gardens Trust Newsletter Cornwall Gardens Trust Newslettershow more

About John Fletcher

John Fletcher is a specialist deer vet with a worldwide reputation in the behaviour, biology and practical management of deer, especially in parks and on farms.show more

Table of contents

1. Carving out the meat: beyond deep history - the manipulative cunning of apes 2. Deep history and why hunting matters 3. Our natural habitat: glades, groves and parkland 4. Elricks and kites, hayes and ha-ha's 5. Paradeisos and classical hunting parks 6. East of Eden: Chinese parks and the Sons of Heaven 7. Xanadu and the nomads 8. Flowers of the high medieval: how fallow deer came to Britain from the paradise gardens, the Arabic origins of ornamental landscape, and flirtation 9. Beautiful and tame: why we chose fallow 10. How the deer were hunted in the parks: coursing, and venery 11. Noli me tangere - le cerf prive in paradise 12. Parks in contention: Forest Law, park breaking and poaching 13. The parker's duties: pales, salters and trenches, browse, grease and fence months 14. Ornament: antithesis of utility, bedfellow of status - Tudor parks and beyond 15. The Restoration and landscape: from ashes to avenues; purgatory to paradise 16. The Black Act: expulsion from Paradise - beyond the pale 17. Giving it away: venison as conspicuous consumption, a gift beyond price 18. Against the odds - carted stags and show hunts: British and German attitudes to containing deer for sport 19. Castles for deer: from hunting to husbandry 20. Mounting heads: trophies, monarchs and dictators 21. Ecological oases, urban lungs, and venison farms Terminology of deer and treesshow more

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