Board of Trustees
Peter Hughes is Chairman of the Board of the Gardens Trust. After a career as a barrister in private practice, head of a large London set of chambers, and, from 2007, as a Circuit Judge, Peter Hughes retired from the Judiciary in July 2018. As head of chambers he had significant managerial and administrative experience. He completed a master’s degree course in Garden and Landscape History at London University in September 2020. He lives with his wife in the Lake District, where they care for an Arts and Craft house and garden. He is a member of the Cumbria Gardens Trust and, having been a member of the Garden History Society, of the Gardens Trust.
Chris Blandford is a landscape architect, master planner, and heritage specialist. He is Vice Chair of the Gardens Trust. Until 2017 he was Chairman and CEO of the award-winning CBA Studios, which he founded in 1977. Working nationally and internationally, he gained a broad range of technical experience in both the conservation and development fields, as well as considerable managerial and commercial expertise. He is a Fellow of the Landscape Institute, President of World Heritage UK, Vice Chairman of the South Downs National Park Design Review Panel and a past trustee of ICOMOS. He has regularly advised government on design, heritage and environmental matters. In retirement he lives and works in the Weald of Sussex surrounded by the extensive garden that he and his wife have created over 40 years.
Deborah Evans is a landscape architect, historian and horticulturalist. She established her own consultancy in 2015 having worked in the public and private sectors. Between 2006 – 2014, Deborah was English Heritage (now Historic England) Landscape Architect for the East of England and East Midlands. She had previously worked for Cadw, the National History Museum, Wales and the National Trust, at the latter as the first Head Gardener/Estate Manager at Tyntesfield where she helped secure one of the largest HLF grants ever made. Deborah is an established trainer in the heritage sector, most recently relaunching the Managing Wildlife in the Historic Environment course at West Dean College. Deborah has been a member of the National Trust’s Historic Environment Advisory Group since 2016.
Clare Hickman is Reader in Environmental and Medical History at Newcastle University, where her teaching and research focus on the intersections between designed landscapes and concepts of health and medical practice. She is the author of several books and articles including The Doctors Garden: Medicine, Science and Horticulture in Britain (Yale University Press, 2021) and Therapeutic Landscapes: A History of English Hospital Gardens Since 1800(Manchester University Press, 2013). She is also exploring the role arts and humanities scholars can play in developing more inclusive approaches to thinking about the use and experience of historic landscapes.
After working in the design industry for ten years, Francesca studied horticulture and garden design at Berkshire Agriculture College before running her own garden design business. Francesca has an MA in Garden History and is currently in her fourth year of a PhD at Queen Mary’s University of London, researching nineteenth-century gardeners, nurserymen, and the associations that came to their aid. She is a life member of Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust and London Parks and Gardens Trust as well as Archivist and guest speaker for Perennial (formerly known as the Gardeners Royal Benevolent Institution). She leads walks around London on the 19th century horticultural press and is a regular speaker on garden history to horticultural societies around the country.
Paul Rabbitts is currently Head of Parks and Open Spaces at the City of Southend on Sea Council and has designed, managed, and restored public parks for 33 years. Qualified as a landscape architect, he is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and founder member and current Chair of the Parks Management Association, who represent parks management professionals across the UK. He is also a published author of 30 books, about parks, bandstands, the Royal Parks, local history as well as biographies on Grinling Gibbons, Sir Christopher Wren and architect Decimus Burton. He lectures widely across the UK about parks, the icon of public parks, the Victorian and Edwardian bandstand, including Gardens Trusts, Arts Societies, and anyone else prepared to listen. An advocate for parks for many years, he is currently working on an updated version of People’s Parks – The Design and Development of Victorian Parks in Britain, originally authored by Dr Hazel Conway. He can be followed on Twitter @bandmasta with all kinds of ramblings.
Jill Sinclair is a US-educated garden historian, author and lecturer. She serves as a trustee of the Historic Gardens Foundation and has been joint editor of its magazine Historic Gardens Review. She is a tutor on the history of the English landscape garden for the University of Oxford. Now based in South Yorkshire after many years living abroad, Jill is advising a Sheffield charity on restoring a significant garden by Percy Cane and until recently was chair of the Friends of Sheffield Botanical Gardens.
Catriona Stenhouse is a banking and finance solicitor, currently working for a law firm in London with specialism in real estate. She has great interest in gardening and history, having obtained the RHS’s Certificate in Horticulture in 2021 and an MA in Heritage Management, from Historic Royal Palaces in 2022. For the latter she chose to research the heritage value ascribed to trees by those managing busy heritage sites.
Lisa Watson worked for the National Trust at Stowe Landscape Garden for 17 years, starting as a volunteer and then becoming Estate Secretary until she retired in 2009. She has been Company Secretary of London Parks and Gardens and is their Chairman. She was Treasurer of the Association of Gardens Trusts.
Joanna Davidson is ex-officio on the Board of the Gardens Trust. She is Chairman of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust (WHGT) and lives on Anglesey. Her degree was in archaeology, followed by more than a decade of farming. Joanna retrained in horticulture, establishing a small business which has enabled her to design, plant, advise and lecture on horticulture in North Wales for the last 20 years, whilst also running a small plant nursery.