Vol. 1 No. 1 (2024)
Research Articles

Unlocking Landscapes Through Westonbirt’s Archive: Exploring the Inclusive Possibilities of Entangled Histories of Plants, Places and People

Clare Hickman
Newcastle University
Sarah Bell
University of Exeter

Published 2024-04-15


  • Sensory history,
  • Social history,
  • Inclusion,
  • Landscape,
  • Trees,
  • workscapes
  • ...More

How to Cite

Hickman, Clare, and Sarah Bell. 2024. “Unlocking Landscapes Through Westonbirt’s Archive: Exploring the Inclusive Possibilities of Entangled Histories of Plants, Places and People”. Plant Perspectives 1 (1):165-88. https://doi.org/10.3197/whppp.63845494909711.


There are growing calls across research, policy and practice to enable historic designed landscape experiences – from country estate gardens through to public parks and arboretums – that are accessible and engaging for all. In this paper, we highlight how meaningful access reaches beyond measures to enable physical presence in a landscape to the ways in which such landscapes, and human-plant relationships, are storied and interpreted, ensuring that people can also identify as part of the evolving stories of such places. Using twentieth century archival sources, particularly the diaries of foresters, held on site at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum in Gloucestershire, UK, we suggest ways in which sensory history approaches can be used to bring greater depth, context and diversity to historic designed landscape interpretation. Applying these approaches to archival research offers the potential to broaden the stories shared about such landscapes, enabling people to learn about and relate to the varied social and sensory histories of these significant places, plants and the people that shaped them.


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