A/06/20 Thomas William Sanders FLS FRHS (1855–1926) Collection

Born in Martley, Worcestershire 6 November 1855 and was baptised at the parish church of St Peters 9 December 1855.

In 1884 he moved to Lee to become the head gardener at the Firs owned by John Wingfield Larkin. T.W. Sanders designed a winter garden that earned wide renown, under a great glass roof that had been constructed for a railway station in Cario. It became famous for its rich but informal effect and was visited by many gardeners, by 1894 the Firs was demolished and the garden built over.

In our artwork collection we have paintings of the gardens including the Fennery, Vista and water garden at the Firs, Lee by A.W. Head (Ac59/61-63).

T.W. Sanders left The Firs to became the deputy editor of Amateur Gardening under Shirley Hibberd. He took over as editor in 1886 and remained editor for over 40 years only stopping when he died. He was a prolific writer of gardening books 37 writing alone and 30 editing only and 6 editing and compiling himself.

We have a portrait of him by Philip Cole Tennyson (Ac59/64) and two certificates presented to him by National Amateur Gardener Association, which he helped found and served as its President from its foundation in 1890 until after 1911.

One was presented in London in 1911. He was also presented with a medal from the National Chrysanthemum Society, for his years as vice chairman of the society in 1899.

He was a resident of Lewisham living at 124 Embleton Road from 1896 until his death at the age of 71 in 1926. The house was bombed during the Second World War.

He was a founder member of the Masonic Philanthic Lodge and was its first Grand Master in 1904. The lodge was for masons who were members of the National Amateur Gardeners Association and amateur members of similar societies.

In 1906 he visited Sweden and the country appointed him Knight first class of the order of Vasa. In 1912 he was elected to Lewisham Borough Council and served as Chairman of the Libraries Committee (1915–1918). He was a member of the Linnean Society.

He died 10 October 1926 of pneumonia at Lewisham Hospital and is buried at Hither Green Cemetery.

See the Ideal Homes website for images of The Firs and gardens.

Catalogue of A06 20 T W Sanders

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