In Italy, where rediscovered Roman ruins became the centrepieces of great Renaissance and Baroque gardens. In Britain, ruins of the Dissolution and Civil War - such as Fountains and Wardour - were 'reclaimed' by the Picturesque movement of the 18th century. But why did the project to preserve the bombed churches of London as Picturesque ruins fail so badly? Has Britain become just too tidy?
Christopher Woodward is the new director of the Museum of Garden History. His book In Ruins (2001) was a runner-up in the Rhys Prize for British writers under 35 and was described as 'a masterpiece' by the Literary Review and the Independent on Sunday.