Dr. David Jacques OBE

Dr. David Jacques is an independent scholar and a consultant in historic landscapes, parks, and gardens.


Dr. Jacques’s contribution to the history of landscape design has been profound. It has ranged over all periods since Tudor times, with seven books and thirty book chapters in British and foreign publications, and about 50 articles in British and foreign journals.

His best known books have been Georgian Gardens published in 1983 which demonstrated that there were many designers other than Capability Brown, and was on most garden history reading lists for 35 years.

Other notable titles include Gardens of Court and Country published in 2017 which provided for the first time a full account of the formal garden tradition in England 1630-1730. It was selected as an ‘Outstanding Academic Title’ by Choice, the publication of the American Libraries Association, and was shortlisted for the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History 2018.

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He has been pivotal to some the more spectacular garden restoration projects and also in the conservation of parks and gardens at international, national and local levels. This has fuelled his thinking on methods and theory, resulting in conferences and publications on the uses of archaeology in restoration, and the development of the first online database of historic parks and gardens (since developed into www.parksandgardens.org , the leading on-line resource for the field in the UK).

He has also led the thinking on conservation philosophy for gardens for 30 years, thereby having a wide influence in this topic at home and abroad.

In the field of cultural landscapes, he was prominent in the move in the early 1990s to alter the World Heritage criteria to accommodate landscapes. He edited a newsletter for the ICOMOS Landscape Working Group, and chaired the crucial meeting that devised the new wording. He has subsequently assessed some difficult nominations of landscapes for the World Heritage List.

Jacques’s first piece on landscape appreciation was in 1980, in which he criticised the then prevailing methods of landscape evaluation, and proposed a different starting point. His arguments were accepted, and thus helped to change the governmental approach. A heavyweight book on landscape theory and appreciation, started in the 1990s, was eventually published in 2019.

His teaching included running an MA in Landscape Conservation at the University of York 1994-8, being a visiting professor to the Centre of Conservation Studies, De Montfort University (Leicester), and setting up and running the MA in Landscape Conservation at the Architectural Association 2000-6. It continues with lecturing at the Institute for Historical Research, London.

” Seeing that the human race so readily disrespects its only home, the Earth, I have made it my mission to explore how a better relationship might be achieved; hence my interest in environmental ethics and landscape theory my entire adult life. “

Dr. D Jacques

Chiswick House Gardens.

300 years of creation and re-creation

Publisher: Liverpool University Press

Written by Dr Jacques his latest book is a culmination of 35 years commitment and research as consultant, inspector and trustee.

” I’ve had a long and varied career as an academic and consultant but I keep coming back to Chiswick. Because I’ve worked on it for so long it’s become like a dear old friend. ” – Dr David Jacques

It examines especially the times when the gardens were at the forefront of debates on creation and restoration (Burlington’s time including the origin of the landscape garden, Duchess Georgiana and the 6th Duke when rosaries and parterres were reintroduced, the first serious attempt at garden restoration by the Ministry of Works in the 1950s, and being one of the premier restorations funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in the 2000s).

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David Jacques’s parents were a Wellington bomber pilot who retrained to fly the first helicopters seen in Britain, and an Oxford graduate who had worked on intelligence matters at the Foreign Office during the war.

In 1959 the family relocated to Sugnall Hall, near Eccleshall, Staffordshire, where his mother had inherited a traditional agricultural estate.

Jacques attended Wellington College, Berkshire, 1962-1967, where he studied the sciences and also art. His interest in historic gardens followed the purchase of English Gardens and Landscapes by Christopher Hussey, and a visit from William Alvis Brogden to the estate at Sugnall which had a connection with his PhD topic, Stephen Switzer.

Whilst studying engineering at the University of Leeds he visited his grandmother who gave him a copy of New Lives: New Landscapes by Nan Fairbrother.

After reading this, and being aware of the environmental crisis, he decided in 1970 that his life’s work should be to investigate the right relationship between humans and the world.

The course on landscape architecture at the University of Sheffield was in many ways a disappointment, for it largely ignored history and theory. He pursued his own studies along these lines, developing his analytical skills which were later put to use in his examination of Modernist theory, resulting eventually in a book on Christopher Tunnard, landscape appreciation, also the subject of articles and later a book, and on conservation theory for parks and gardens.

He contributed to exhibition at the V&A on The Garden in 1979, and was afterwards commissioned to write a book on Georgian Gardens, which in turn led to lecturing and speaking on this and other matters.

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The publication of his book also persuaded English Heritage to appoint him in 1987 as its first permanent inspector on parks and gardens.

Enjoying a mixed career as a practitioner, writer, academic and speaker, Jacques left English Heritage partly in order to run the family estate (and restoring its walled kitchen garden), and partly to complete a doctorate at the Courtauld Institute of Art on English formal gardens, and combined this with consultancy work and teaching. He was also able to contribute to several organisations.

He was Chairman of the Garden History Society’s Conservation Committee from 1996 until he was apponted as Chairman of the Society from 1998 until 2000.  Jacques also served as a Trustee and active committee member of the Landscape Design Trust, the publisher of journals in the landscape design world from 1994 until 2018.

Jacques was also appointed a Trustee of the Chiswick House & Gardens Trust from its outset in 2005 until 2019 – a place where he had already been much involved from 1983 as a consultant and when at English Heritage.

His involvement with the International Council for Monument and Sites (ICOMOS) commenced in 1984, and he was prominent in the worldwide discussions on cultural landscapes 1990-3, and chaired ICOMOS-UK’s Gardens and Landscapes committee 1993-8.

Meanwhile Jacques was also on the International Scientific Committee for Cultural Landscapes 1990-2000, and again from 2014 to the present, being made a board member in 2017. Jacques undertook a number of missions on behalf of ICOMOS in their capacity as official advisors to UNESCO regarding the designation of World Heritage Sites.

Gardens of Court and Country.

English Design 1630-1730

Publisher: Yale University Press

Gardens of Court and Country published by Yale University Press provides the first comprehensive overview of the development of the English formal garden from 1630 to 1730.

” This is the book for which serious historians of garden history in this country have been waiting… The result is a triumph, and a publication that will remain a cornerstone of all future studies.”
-Roy Strong, Country Life

Often overshadowed by the English landscape garden that became fashionable later in the 18th century, English formal gardens of the 17th century displayed important design innovations that reflected a broad rethinking of how gardens functioned within society.

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Jacques’s first employment in 1973 was with Land Use Consultants where he worked as a landscape planner with a special interest in the problems of large-scale engineering works, including reclamation and restoration of derelict land.

After a brief spell in private practice he joined Travers Morgan 1978-87. There he specialised in landscape planning, environmental assessment and public inquiries. He brought in and ran two large historic landscape survey commissions for the Department of the Environment – Hampton Court Palace and Bushy Park in 1982 and the grounds at Chiswick House the next year. He became an associate in 1985.

At English Heritage his tasks were to maintain the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and to deal with conservation work. In fact, although he did deal with conservation matters including public inquiries, most of his work arose from the Great Storm of 1987.

Jacques organised surveys of the damage, obtained funding to assist, and devised the world’s first grant scheme specifically for parks and gardens.

David returned to consultancy in 1993, he worked on a range of projects, including being leader of the landscape team to restore the Privy Garden at Hampton Court.

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Following this he served on the Gardens Advisory Committee of Historic Royal Palaces until present; cultural landscapes specialist on the World Heritage SIte nomination document for the Rideau Canal, in Ontario; management plans for Chiswick House Grounds in 1996 and 2004; monitor on Heritage Lottery Fund projects in York and Wales; member of a consortium that devised the restoration of 85 Ha. of gardens at La Venaria Reale, near Turin; member of the team, with responsibility for the garden design, that re-created the Tudor castle garden at Kenilworth Castle; and advice to Historic Royal Palaces on the grounds of Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.

His teaching included running an MA in Landscape Conservation at the University of York 1994-1998, being a visiting professor to the Centre of Conservation Studies, De Montfort University (Leicester), and setting up and running the MA in Landscape Conservation at the Architectural Association 2000-6. It continues with lecturing at the Institute for Historical Research, London.

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