The artificial grotto has a long and intriguing history in architecture and garden design. The earliest grottoes in ancient Greece were pagan shrines dedicated to water nymphs. During the Roman empire these evolved into formal temples to water gods and in the sixteenth century grottoes were revived by Renaissance architects to lend an authentic air to neo-classical villas.
This book describes the origins of the grotto in Renaissance Italy, its heyday in eighteenth-century England, its decline in the nineteenth century and its return to favour in the late twentieth century. Over 250 surviving grottoes are listed by the English Heritage National Monuments Record, in varying states of repair, and there are more to be discovered. This book contains a comprehensive gazetteer of grottoes and shell houses that the public can visit. About the author Hazelle Jackson is a social history graduate with a life-long interest in subterranean dwellings and man-made caves. She has travelled to the remoter parts of the British Isles to seek out and record the history of shell houses and grottoes.
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