Ref NoDHW
Title(Derick) Humphrey Waterfield Archive
Admin/Biog History[Derick] Humphrey Waterfield was an artist and landscape gardener. Waterfield was born in August 1908 at Hagley Hall, Rugeley, Staffordshire, to Barbara and [Frederick] Derick Waterfield. His brother Anthony was born a year later in 1909. Waterfield's father and paternal grandfather, Sir Henry Waterfield, were both in the Indian Civil Service. In 1911, his mother inherited the equivalent of £9.2 million today from her father John Pritt Gardner, and the following year the family bought Le Clos du Peyronnet, a house with a substantial garden, in Menton on the French Riviera. The Waterfields spent the First World War in Menton and Humphrey Waterfield became fluent in French. After the war, Waterfield was educated at prep school Templegrove (1918-1921) and then at Eton (1922 and 1926). He read History at Christchurch College Oxford between 1927 and 1930 and was awarded a first class degree. Around this period, he travelled to British Columbia in Canada, followed by a sightseeing tour of France in summer 1929. While at Oxford, he decided to become an artist, and studied at Ruskin College with Albert Rutherston before attending the Slade School of Fine Art at the then University College, London [UCL] in the early 1930s.

In 1933, Waterfield met Agnes 'Nancy' Dalrymple Tennant, who was twelve years his senior. They would go on to have a lifelong, but platonic relationship. Waterfield decided to move from London to Essex in 1935 and he found a piece of land of about three acres in Broxted, near Thaxted. He commissioned an architect called Gerald Flower who worked for Ernö Goldfinger to build him a modernist single storey house, but it was Goldfinger who designed the house. In 1936 Waterfield began work on the garden, with assistance from Tennant. He moved into the house upon its completion in 1938. The house and garden became known as Hill Pasture, and saw later changes including the addition of a second storey and three further acres of land.

In 1940, Waterfield's parents were still at Menton, and in fear of the impending German occupation of the area, they decided to take their own lives. A conscientious objector, Waterfield joined a volunteer ambulance service set up by Quakers, called the Friends Ambulance Unit. His service with the FAU saw him deployed to Finland in 1940 and the Middle East and North Africa between 1941 and 1942. Waterfield later served with the Unit in France, where he was taken prisoner and sent to an unofficial prisoner of war camp in Strasbourg for six months. During the war, Tennant tended the garden at Hill Pasture as best she could, and the house was rented out. Her letters to Waterfield during the war can be found in the Giles Waterfield archive (GAW).

After the war, Waterfield returned to Hill Pasture and redesigned the garden at Le Clos due Peyronnet. He also completed work on several other gardens, including Grey's Court, Henley-on-Thames, now owned by the National Trust; Abbots Ripton Hall, Huntingdon, which has a memorial to Waterfield in its garden; The Chace, Ugley, Bishop's Stortford; Horham Hall, Thaxted, Essex; Val Rahmeh, Menton; and Villa Colfranco, Lucca, Italy.
In 1955 he undertook a three-month tour of Syria. He also travelled to North America, South America and Ireland, although the dates of these visits are unknown.

Waterfield lived principally on private income and on the garden commissions noted above. During his lifetime, Hill Pasture and other gardens he designed were featured in Country Life, Ideal Home and House & Garden. Posthumously he continues to receive critical acclaim for his garden design in magazines, and a book titled 'Eden's Keepers: The Lives and Gardens of Humphrey Waterfield and Nancy Tennant' by Sarah Barclay was published by Clearview Books in June 2022.

Despite his artistic ambitions, he appears to have exhibited in only two exhibitions during his lifetime: in 1936 as part of 'The Group of Oxford Painters' at Cooling Galleries Ltd. in New Bond Street, and in 1962 he had a solo exhibition at The Adams Gallery in Davies Street, which was arranged by his friend Clive Bell.

Waterfield died in 1971, reportedly as the result of a motor accident.

Adapted from 'Painter, Gardener, Scholar': Humphrey Waterfield, 1908-1971', Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
DescriptionThe collection comprises eight journals (1929-[1971]), five sketchbooks (1929-[1971], six notebooks (1927-[1971]) and a pamphlet from an exhibition of Waterfield's paintings (1962). The journals and sketchbooks record Waterfield's travels, including the period he spent as a volunteer in the Friends Ambulance Unit during the Second World War. Some also include his musings on cultural or personal subjects. With one exception, the notebooks contain pieces of creative writing in various forms including poetry and prose.

The archive also contains correspondence to Waterfield's great-grandfather, Thomas Nelson Waterfield (1799-1862), he worked within the India Board of Control as Secretary of the Political and Intelligence Department. The letters are written by Francis Folijambe Courtenay, Private Secretary to the Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie, dating from 1848-1857. This was originally donated to the Centre in error - the entire collection was acquired during the Covid pandemic and sent to the Centre from France - but a decision was made to retain it, following discussion with the donor.

The language used by Waterfield in his journals and notebooks necessarily reflects the attitudes of the period in which he was writing. In consequence, some of the terminology used - for example to describe ethnicity - is outdated.

Sometimes it has been necessary to quote from the journals and notebooks in the catalogue descriptions: in these instances, the text is enclosed with apostrophes.
Date1848-1970
LevelCollection
Extent4 boxes
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