As part of their centenary celebrations, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has lifted their ban on garden gnomes for this year only. In The Hermit in the Garden: Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome, Gordon Campbell argues that it’s possible gnomes came to occupy the cultural void created by the demise of the ornamental hermit. The hermit and the gnome are both human figures in the garden, figures with historical and mythical resonances. The ornamental hermit, however, has all but disappeared, whereas gnomes live on as distressed gentlefolk, banned from Chelsea (aside from this year, of course), but nonetheless indomitable in spirit.
In celebration, during the Flower Show this week, we’re sharing a few pictures of our favourite hermitages from Campbell’s book. This one, at Killerton, the Devonshire home of the Acland family (now National Trust), is a luxury three-room hermitage known as the Bear’s Hut, which once accommodated a pet black bear brought from Canada.

Image © Professor Gordon Campbell. Do not reproduce without permission.

As part of their centenary celebrations, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has lifted their ban on garden gnomes for this year only. In The Hermit in the Garden: Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome, Gordon Campbell argues that it’s possible gnomes came to occupy the cultural void created by the demise of the ornamental hermit. The hermit and the gnome are both human figures in the garden, figures with historical and mythical resonances. The ornamental hermit, however, has all but disappeared, whereas gnomes live on as distressed gentlefolk, banned from Chelsea (aside from this year, of course), but nonetheless indomitable in spirit.

In celebration, during the Flower Show this week, we’re sharing a few pictures of our favourite hermitages from Campbell’s book. This one, at Killerton, the Devonshire home of the Acland family (now National Trust), is a luxury three-room hermitage known as the Bear’s Hut, which once accommodated a pet black bear brought from Canada.

Image © Professor Gordon Campbell. Do not reproduce without permission.