architecture, garden history, Observatory, Rustic shelter, Summerhouse

The Resiance and The Resianette: two ‘distinctly novel structures’.

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 as pictured in The Garden magazine, 24 October 1903.

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.

The Resiance, as illustrated in The Garden 24 October 1903.

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 Resianette on display at the Royal Horticultural Society show in Chelsea in 1905. Illustration from The Garden 29 July 1905.

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

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to get in touch with any thoughts or ideas please scroll down to the comments section at the foot of the page.


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7 thoughts on “The Resiance and The Resianette: two ‘distinctly novel structures’.”

  1. Jocelyn Hattersley says:

    I replied last week to the Spike Milligan Folly TV programme. Your comments are very welcome and interesting.

    Is there a register of Follies or a booklet or book that is possible to buy please?
    Jocelyn Hattersley

    1. Editor says:

      Hello Jocelyn. There are two books that you should have. One is Barbara Jones ‘Follies and Grottoes’ 1974 and the other is Gwyn Headley and Wim Meulenkamp ‘Follies, Grottoes and Garden Buildings’ 1999. You should also have a look at the map on the Folly Fellowship website And of course you can search this website by keyword or look at the county index. Thanks for your interest.

      1. Jocelyn Hattersley says:

        Thanks, I’ll get into that immediately!

        Thank you your knowledge is amazing!


  2. Gwyn Headley says:

    Thank you for a great new addition to my vocabulary. Henceforth it will never be off my lips:
    OED: RESIANCE: Formerly: abode, residence. In later use: a place of residence, spec. a type of multiple dwelling in a projected city of the future.
    A many of idle gentlemen, that make their resiance and abode there, not to profite, but to continewe their delicate life.
    W. Painter, Palace of Pleasure vol. I. xliij. f. 140
    Thorowe his personall resiauns, if he happen to dwell and bee resident in the same.
    W. Harrison, Hist. Descr. Islande Britain ii. iv. f. 74v/2, in R. Holinshed, Chronicles vol. I
    The world knoweth, how they haue domineered in the places of their resiance.
    M. Sutcliffe, Briefe Examination Menacing & Disleal Petition 145
    Intending to keepe resiance in a Citie.
    P. Holland, translation of Xenophon, Cyrupædia 172
    E. Phillips, New World of English Words
    in J. Harris, Lexicon Technicum vol. I.
    This type of block is admirably suited as the site for this new and advanced form of multiple dwelling—the resiance… The resiance is a large, not too shallow, somewhat tall, and graceful building… Of course, these resiances should not be disfigured by projections or wings so deep that they would contain rear apartments.
    R. R. Kern, Supercity ii. 21
    Read about the new city domicile—the resiance.
    Journal of Social Forces vol. 3 382/1 (advertisement)
    Two floors will be devoted to the factory and the third floor will be used as a resiance for the management.
    Berkshire County Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) 28 April iii. 3/2

    1. Editor says:

      Good afternoon Gwyn, and I am delighted that today’s post set you off on a voyage of discovery. Thanks for sharing the history of this word, which will also enter my vocabulary.

  3. Rosemary Hill says:

    I want one! Actually I want one of each, but will have to make do with the useful addition to my vocabulary -what a fascinating and joyful post thank you so much!

    1. Editor says:

      Hello Rosemary. Yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have one as a writing hut at the bottom of the garden. We can but dream.

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