Ken from Stroud plans to establish an anarchist commune on Mars and asks how he can create an anarchic landscape to go with it. Well, there are those, like Tim Richardson and Nigel Everett, who reckon to be able to read a landscape’s politics. In the 18th century the choice was really limited to Whig or Tory. The first lavish, large and fanciful, designed to give a Whig grandee exclusivity and grandeur; the second, honouring the countryside and its people – really little more than a farm. I suppose Stourhead, with all its follies scattered around a secret lake, might be an example of Whiggery and Forty Hall, a tessellated villa landscape of fields with walks around them, of Tory-ism.

But Ken was really asking me for the politics that one might attach to the great 18th century landscapes of Capability  Brown and was hoping that I would authorise him to dismiss Brown as a novice and a no-good ne’er-do-well, and his landscapes as Whiggery and hence unnatural, wasteful, extravagant and not-needed-on-Mars. Unfortunately I can’t. Instead I suggested to Ken that he refer to Tim’s The Arcadian Friends and Nigel’s The Tory view of Landscape. The Eagle comic used to publish very good diagrams that showed how to build a rocket.

Good luck Ken! Hope this helps.