In 1903 William Wood and Son, horticultural specialists to His Majesty the King, placed an advertisement in The Garden magazine announcing two new introductions to their range. These were exotically named summerhouses: the ‘Resiance’ and its little sister the ‘Resianette’. The magazine also ran a feature in the same month (actually lifted from a Wood & Son circular), in which the writer announced that ‘we here present two pictures of distinctly novel structures which appear to be very much in advance of ordinary summer houses’.
Messrs Wood were based in Wood Green in North London, and had grown to become an important company which offered a full range of garden and landscape services: estate development, horticultural building, engineering and contracting and landscape gardening as well as supplying all horticultural requisites. Their literature proudly displayed their Royal Warrant as horticultural specialists to King Edward VII, and announced their many horticultural prizes and medals.
The Resianette was the smaller of the two new garden ornaments, and its alternative title makes clear its target market: The Ladies’ Bijou Summerhouse. Elevated above ground to protect from damp, it could also be enclosed with curtains to provide shade and had a terrace for taking tea and reading.
Whilst the ladies kept their pale complexions, the men could lounge about in the Resiance (an archaic term for a residence) which featured a ‘Sun Bath’. The upper storey rotated around a central column so that the open side faced the sun – so new was this idea that the article added a helpful ‘for sunbathing’ in parentheses. The upper floor might house a telescope and the lower floor an aquarium or fernery. The finishing touch to this ‘very picturesque adjunct’ would be roses and ramblers entwined around the pergola which encircled the building.
How many Resiances were snapped up is not known, but at least one Resianette was constructed and it went on display at the 1905 Royal Horticultural Society show at Chelsea. In honour of King Edward’s Queen Consort the building was described as the ‘Alexandra Tea or Summer House’.
The two buildings, as well as other ‘chalets’, were still being marketed in the company’s 1909 catalogue. By that date the wellbeing properties of the Resiance in particular were being promoted, with it described as ‘a temple of health and pleasure’ where one could sunbathe or sleep outdoors. With the buildings being offered for sale for 6 years by this date it must be assumed they were a success with the public, but the Flâneuse has failed to find any further record of these wonderful, if ephemeral, garden buildings. As ever, if you have further information please get in touch.
The work of Messrs Woods was featured in an article by Valerie Joynt in the current issue of Garden History, the journal of The Gardens Trust. A mention of the two garden ornaments set the Flâneuse scurrying into the archives and Valerie is thanked for sharing her research. Find out more about joining and receiving the journal here https://thegardenstrust.org
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