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London : G Robinson

The improved culture of three principal grasses 1775

21.9 x 14.8 x 2 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1057372

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  • Bound in brown calf, rebacked.

    George III was keenly interested in improving crops and stock-breeding, an interest almost certainly aroused by Lord Bute, whose own early adulthood was spent 'amusing himself with the study of agriculture, botany and architecture'. From the 1760s George III was improving the estates he had inherited at Richmond and Kew, which included two farms, and by the mid-1780s he was also farming in the Little Park in Windsor. His experiments in breeding Merino sheep to improve wool quality, under the supervision of Sir Joseph Banks, included public auctions of surplus stock. Until 1790, however, the King had no direct input in the running of Richmond and Windsor Great Parks. On the deaths in 1790 and 1792 respectively of the Duke of Cumberland and Lord Bute, George III took both Rangerships himself, and employed Nathaniel Kent as Land Agent. For the next decade he was assiduous in his frequent inspections of improvements to parkland and farms in Windsor Great Park.

    In his 1791 proposals for Windsor, Kent states that 'any judicious and well applied Experiments made by His Majesty in the present Instance, would stand so conspicuously pre-eminent, that Noblemen, and Gentlemen, would follow so striking an Example'. The King's substantial collection of books on agricultural improvement, listed in the Kew Library catalogues of 1780 and 1785, was transferred to Windsor in the 1790s, necessitating the insertion of an extra leaf in the Windsor catalogue. Many of these books were given in 1927 to the library of the School of Agriculture in Cambridge (since 1974 in Cambridge University Library). This volume on improvement of pasture, and several of Young's publications, remain in the Royal Library.

    The marginal annotations in the present publication are in the King's hand: 'Sainfoin is good green food for Cattle'; 'If the Hay is stained by Showery Weather in making, mixing a Peck of Salt with a Ton of Hay will make the Cattle feed on it'; 'Cattle thrive better on Lucerne or Sainfoin that [sic] on the best Meadow Grass.' Each provides an 'aide-mémoire' of the salient point of a paragraph, presumably to speed up reference to the volume by a practising farmer.

    Catalogue entry adapted from George III & Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste, London, 2004.

    From the library of George III at Kew Palace. Likely transferred to the king's Windsor Library at Cumberland Lodge c. 1794.

  • Measurements

    21.9 x 14.8 x 2 cm (book measurement (conservation))

    22.0 x 2.0 cm (book measurement (inventory))

  • Alternative title(s)

    The Improved culture of three principal grasses : lucerne, sainfoin and burnet, to which are added some observations on clover.