Elaine Mitchell

Elaine Mitchell

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: 'A handsome flower garden about half an acre, square': urban gardens in the east midlands' manufacturing towns of the 18th century
Supervisor: Dr Malcolm Dick
PhD History


Intrigued by this description of a garden in the centre of Birmingham at a time when the town was perhaps better known for its manufactories than its green spaces, it has taken me over three years to embark on the research that I hope will satisfy my curiosity about this and other town gardens. But I have not been idle in the meantime. 

This handsome flower garden came to light during research for my BA dissertation on Birmingham’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. An appetite for history, and particularly the history of my adopted region, had been fed to such an extent by Peter Leather and Dr Malcolm Dick over the course of my BA at the University that to continue my learning on the MA in West Midlands History was the only sensible way to satisfy my hunger. The programme allowed me to build on the foundations laid over the previous years, giving me the opportunity to broaden and deepen my understanding of key themes of the region’s history. My dissertation continued my intereuate research interest in garden history within the urban context by exploring Jones & Clark, one of Birmingham’s earliest manufacturers of metal-framed glasshouses.

My PhD research into town gardens will attempt to address a gap as far as the history of green spaces in the west midlands is concerned and will seek to add texture to the social and cultural aspects of the 18th century urban landscape. As Managing Editor of History West Midlands (www.historywm.com) I hope that more of this region’s history will be revealed through research carried out by those who, like myself share a curiosity about the many different aspects of the history of the West Midlands.