20March 2019

Field of the Cloth of Gold & The Calais Project

Caroline Holmes

Caroline Holmes is a garden historian of ancient, modern and contemporary people, places and plants. Academic but not dry through images and words she delves into the myriad ways humans have shaped landscapes .She lectures internationally on the architecture, plantings and uses of UK, French, Italian and Spanish gardens, as well as the export of English garden dreams to the former British Empire and beyond. Equally Italian influences across Europe and those of the French ‘Heroic Period’ into the Netherlands and Russia. She is a Director of UK Countryside Tours whose brief is 'Telling the Stories of England'.

Caroline is Course Director for the University of Cambridge’s ICE International Summer Programmes creating and presenting modules for Interdisciplinary programmes. Subjects have included: English Houses and Gardens – defining Englishness; The Roman Garden – architecture, illusion and plantsmanship; Castles, Palaces and Houses of British monarchs. She is a speaker for The Arts Society, formerly NADFAS, and the RHS.

Caroline is author of 11 books, several of which were researched in France and Australia. Three explore the Impressionists from the perspective of their plants and gardens. She is recipient of two Herb Society of America awards: 2011 Gertrude B. Foster Award for Excellence in Herbal Literature and 2017 Elizabeth Crisp Rea Award. Finalist in the Garden Media Guild’s 2014 Reference Book of the Year Award for ‘The RHS Herbs for Gourmet Gardeners’.

Caroline is a consultant designer, projects include Humanist Renaissance inspired gardens to enclose Notre Dame de Calais, officially opened in September 2016 and now preparing for the 2020 anniversary of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. She also devised the planting for the Poisons Garden in The Alnwick Garden.

Through the work of Cardinal Wolsey Henry VIII and Frances I of France signed the Treaty of London as a non-aggression pact between the major European powers of the time.  By 1520 this treaty was nearly falling apart and Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon met with Frances I in a field near Calais.  Both rulers tried to outdo the other in the sumptuousness of their encampments and the field became known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

The second  part of the lecture is about the Notre Dame de Calais, a huge restoration project of the only English Perpendicular church in continental Europe and for which Ms. Holmes designed a voyage of gardens in Tudor Renaissance humanist style.