Sometimes you pick up rather fantastical bits of information — so fantastical in fact that afterwards you’re never quite sure whether you’ve actually read about it somewhere or whether you’ve made it up. In my case, one of these tidbits of information was the mechanical hermit: in the course of the gothic revival, not only fake medieval castles or ruins in your garden became all the rage among the rich and powerful, but also installing a hermit in a fake grotto or in an equally fake chapel in your park. But as hermits, real or fake, tend to need food and as the British climate makes living in a grotto not really jolly experience, a lot of flesh-and-blood hermits were eventually replaced by mechanical ones.
And lo and behold, I really didn’t make this last bit up: I’ve just done a search in Google Books and here’s what I’ve found:
About this book Read this bookAn Encyclopædia of Gardening: Comprising the Theory and Practice of … By John Claudius Loudon