Stephen Wass

DPhil in Architectural History


Voyages to the House of Diversion: Seventeenth-Century Water Gardens and the Birth of Modern Science

Research abstract

During the 17th. century Oxfordshire was the site of two remarkable gardens: Thomas Bushell’s Enstone Marvels and Sir Anthony Cope’s park at Hanwell. Scientific developments in the later part of the 17th. century partially originated with a community of like-minded and talented individuals who inhabited a social and cultural world centred on Oxford and particularly Wadham and Christ Church Colleges. The violinist Thomas Baltzar gave recitals to this circle whilst living at Hanwell and his host, Sir Anthony Cope, was described as a virtuoso on account of his interest in natural philosophy. It seems likely that whilst building on ideas inherited from Sir Francis Bacon early scientific thinkers used time in these gardens to broaden and refine their scientific understanding. This programme of historic and archaeological research explores the nature of this relationship to reconstruct its social, cultural and geographical background with an emphasis on the technologies employed in such gardens.


Dr. Rowena E. Archer, Dr. Jonathan Healey


University of Bristol 1971 - 1975  B.Ed. (Hons.) Theology 

University of Leicester 2010 - 2012   M.A. Historical Archaeology (Distinction)                                        Prize: best post-graduate dissertation 2012 Association for Industrial Archaeology

University of Oxford D. Phil from 2013


The Amateur Archaeologist Batsford (1992)

Possible Early Christian Enclosure and Deserted Medieval Settlement at Prescote.Oxoniensia Volume 76 (2012) 

An Archaeologist in Wonderland: Exploring Aspects of the Allestree Collection Christ Church Library newsletter (Forthcoming)

Papers and lectures

Voyages to the House of Diversion: Negotiating the Choppy Waters of Historical Archaeology. GAO Conference (2014)

A Way With Water: Water Resources and the Creation of an Eighteenth-century Park Kellogg College Seminar (2014)

Cardinal Wolsey's Teddy Bears Feldon Archaeological Society Christmas Lecture (2013)

Research interests

Historic gardens and garden archaeology

History of science in the seventeenth century