uniquely personal landscapes

Pre-war – 1922 to 1939 – Brenda Colvin’s work consisted almost exclusively of private gardens. Post-war the publication of her seminal book ‘Land and Landscape’ led to significant commissions for large-scale landscapes like public parks, universities, power stations, reservoirs and Aldershot Military Town. In 1965 Brenda moved the office from London to West Oxfordshire, where a chance encounter with Hal Moggridge was to secure the practice’s long-term future. In Hal she found, for the first time in her long professional life, the makings of a partner. Their shared approach to the art and science of landscape architecture sparked an instant connection and in 1969 the practice became Colvin & Moggridge.

Through the 1970s and into the 80s Colvin & Moggridge continued to be heavily involved with big public infrastructure projects such as reservoirs, power stations and the continuing work at Aldershot. In line with Margaret Thatcher’s policies of privatisation, the big public projects gradually gave way to work for major companies such as Blue Circle Cement, Tarmac and JCB. In 1981 Brenda died having imbued the practice with her powerful ethos to the very end, Chris Carter joined Hal as partner and Hal started work on the 200-year plan for the restoration of Blenheim Park. Blenheim and the great storm of 1987 led to a succession of restoration plans for some of the most celebrated designed landscapes in the country. In 1992 the first Royal Parks project was commissioned. The Royal Parks appointment gave rise to a number of high-profile projects within the parks and created the need, once again, for a London office – the first since Brenda moved her office to Filkins in 1965. A particularly interesting development of the Royal Parks work was the Sky Space study which received the Europa Nostra award in 2003 and led to a similar study of skylines for Edinburgh and the Historic Royal Palaces.

By 2004 both Hal and Chris were practice consultants and a new management team, Mark Darwent, Mike Ibbotson and Martin Bhatia, was in place. In 2013 Clare Paige replaced Mike Ibbotson as director. Today, the practice has huge experience when it comes to the restoration and rejuvenation of Capability Brown landscapes. Restoration Management Plans under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for sites such as Petworth and Compton Verney have followed the storm damage restoration schemes of the 1980s. The success of the Sky Space studies has led to a continuous stream of Landscape and Visual Assessments for proposed developments, particularly those set within sensitive landscapes. Private garden work continues, often for large gardens and parkland, and associated with the construction of new country houses. Aldershot Military Town has been replaced by the urban expansion of Harlow at Newhall and quarry work remains a mainstay, with Hanson Cement and Hepworth Building Products the large scale industrial landscape projects of today.

The continuity of Colvin & Moggridge makes for a precious landscape resource. Our wish is that the unique spirit, sound principles and vast knowledge contained within our practice not only endures, but continues to evolve, as it has done since 1922.