Obituary: Professor Charles McKean



It is with great sadness that we hear of the death of Professor Charles McKean who less than a year ago delivered the joint GHSS/AHSS lecture on Country House Policies 1550–1709.  His vivid descriptions of the Scottish Renaissance Garden were a poignant reflection on what was lost beneath the turf once those capable English landscapers got to work in the 18th century. Charles McKean’s contribution to Scotland’s built heritage cannot be overstated and with this came his understanding of the importance of the garden and landscape to the setting of our castles, palaces and villas. His recreations of early gardens, such as the plan we used to publicise his 2012 Autumn Lecture, are legendary. Althea Dundas Bekker commented, before our GHSS visit there in June, that she hoped he might one day turn his trained eye on Arniston. Sadly that is not to be. For us in the GHSS, his lecture in 2012 will be a constant reminder that however much we think we know, there is always more to be found and that we should not attempt to understand the landscape around a house at first glance but keep on looking to discern what the rolling pasture, copses and woodlands might conceal. We have lost a friend but he has imparted his knowledge and enthusiasm to many like-minded people and for this we are extremely grateful.

The next issue of our GHSS newsletter, Pleasaunce IV, will contain a tribute to his special contribution to our understanding of the Scottish landscape and gardens. Meanwhile, an obituary has appeared in the Herald online

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Painswick Roccoco Gardens, the Red House, Photo © Joab Smith