fonds FWIL - Letters to and from Fanny Rollo Wilkinson, 1855-1951, landscape gardener

Identity area

Reference code



Letters to and from Fanny Rollo Wilkinson, 1855-1951, landscape gardener


  • 1878-1890 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.01 cubic metres

1 file

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Fanny Rollo Wilkinson was born on 6 June 1855 in Manchester. In 1883 she completed an eighteen month course at the Crystal Palace School of Landscape Gardening and Practical Horticulture. In this she was a pioneer as it was very unusual for a woman to pursue a career in the business side of gardening, and she had initially met much resistance in her attempts to enter the school.

In 1884 she was elected honorary landscape gardener to the Metropolitan Public Gardens, Boulevard and Playground association, and by 1887 she had become landscape gardener to the Kyrle society, whose aim was to provide culture, facilities, beauty and pleasant outdoor spaces to the working class poor. In this role she was responsible for designing and creating Vauxhall Park in London.

Over the course of her role in the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, which began as honorary but later became waged and more practical, she supervised the laying out of over seventy five public gardens in London, including Red Lion Square Gardens and Tower Garden. Wilkinson was also the first woman principle of Swanley Horticultural College and remained in this role until 1916, returning briefly from retirement in 1921-2.

Fanny Wilkinson was a founder member of the Women's Agricultural and horticultural International Union, founded in 1899, which during the war re-purposed itself as an organisation that the government could use to recruit women to work on the land. During her life she was also close to many other pioneers of female careers in various areas, including Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the rest of the Garrett family and their social circle.

Fanny Wilkinson died at the age of 95 on 22 January 1951.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was gifted to the Borthwick Institute in 2013 by Dringhouses Local History Group.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Five letters to and from Fanny Rollo Wilkinson. Three letters from Fanny to her mother, Mrs Edith Wilkinson, at Middlethorpe Estate, and two letters from Frances Bain to Fanny. Details of the letters are as follows:

Letter from Fanny to her mother, Mrs Edith Wilkinson, concerning the weather, her work with Henry Fawcett, letters she received from the Prince of Wales, her work on lakes and a suggestion to build a wooden bridge for the garden, 8 December 1882.

Letter from Fanny to her mother, Mrs Edith Wilkinson, regarding arrangements for Christmas and a dinner that she had held, 13 December 1883.

Letter from Fanny to her mother, Mrs Edith Wilkinson, regarding a recent storm, Lady Cole and George Edward Browne, 27 January 1884.

Letter to 'My Dear Fanny' from Frances Bain expressing sympathy at her illness, discussing the weather and Lady Harburton's article, 14 July 1879.

Letter to Fanny Wilkinson from Frances Bain, 11 April, n.d. [1880].


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The archive has not yet been catalogued. However a full list of its contents can be seen in the above scope and content.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association Archive, 1882-1972, is held by the London Metropolitan Archives (Reference: CLC/011). Records of the Women's Agricultural and Horticultural International Union are held by the University of Reading as part of their Women's Farm and Garden Association Archive (Reference: SR WGFA).

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by Gaby Davies, 15.08.16.




Accession area