27 May 2014

R. C. Turner: Mellor's Gardens (1989)

 R. C. Turner's Mellor's Gardens: The Unique Pilgrims Progress Garden at Hough-Hole House, Rainow, Cheshire was first published in 1984 and updated in 1989. It is not only a fascinating source of information on Mellor's Gardens (which I shall deal with in the next but one post), but also on the Mellor family and the ideas of James Mellor junior, the brain behind the gardens.

James Mellor senior (1752–1828) bought Hough-Hill House in Rainow, where he owned a cotton mill in the village. After a disagreement over a Methodist chapel he built in the village – charging rent for the seats – James and his wife Mary became followers of the Anglican priest David Simpson (1745–99), who was a friend of John Wesley. Their children – Mary, James, Rachel, Ann and William – were brought up strictly.

James Mellor junior – who never married – took over the management of his father's mill after his death, although he gave it up in the 1930s to take up farming around Hough-Hill House. On retiring at sixty he then put his ideas for his garden into practice. Inspired by Emanuel Swedenborg's theory of 'correspondence', that everything in the natural world has an equivalent in the spiritual, he devised a way of illustrating this, in his garden, by scenes from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.

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