On Wednesday 22nd November over 70 members and their guests enjoyed an excellent talk on the life of Alicia Amherst, who became Lady Cecil and then later Lady Rockley. Given by Sue Minter, who had flown up from Devon to be with us and drawing on the contents of the archive at the Chelsea Physic Garden and much help from the family who provided illustrations from photo albums, Sue took us through her research which resulted in the privately published biography “The Well Connected Gardener”.
Few in our audience knew much about Alicia Amherst: her connection to Norfolk, her writing (she wrote the very first History of Gardening in England in 1895), her wild flower paintings (she produced a field guide with composite plates covering the flora of the British colonies in 1935, which became the Collins guide), her work with the Chelsea Physic Garden, where she was a member of the Management Council for 40 years, her links with Howard Carter, her political career, or her travel and painting. However, by the end of this informative talk, it became clear that Alicia Amherst deserves her place in history alongside other more familiar Victorian horticulturists, such as Gertrude Jekyll and Ellen Willmott.
After the talk, members and guests enjoyed a ‘Christmas’ tea with mince pies, stollen and Christmas cake.”