Collector – overview 2018-03-23T20:41:43+00:00


Temple is renowned for being an unusually meticulous and discriminating collector with a quite incredible memory.  He is creator of some of world’s most astonishing collections of unique archives. His private collections of books, postcards and historical records of Britains parks, gardens and landscapes are probably the best in the world.

Today these are of national importance to Britain as they provide valuable records to further our knowledge and understanding of past landscapes and townscapes, as well as provide significant resources for the planning of their future.

What did he collect?

  • Early postcards

The so-called golden age of the picture postcard was in years following the mid-1890s. Temple collected thousands of 1860 – 1930 postcards, specifically of British public parks and gardens, designed landscapes, architecture, townscapes and village scenes

  • Decorative books of the 1800’s

Early colour printed books, Victorian illustrated children’s books and those with unusual bindings, typography or design.  Examples are the 1862 facsimile of Tyndale’s first English New Testament and 14 Mauchlineware bindings of fern and leaf pattern

  • Papers and material relating to the design of historic British landscapes, gardens, parks and their associated buildings and design

Most of the collection is historic, illustrative and unpublished, some dating back to the 1720’s: drawings, sketches, watercolours, plans, maps, books.  Also includes records created by Temple himself through his own research and scrupulous photographic records of buildings, including those threatened with demolition at the time.

During his lifetime over 230 collages were sold or given by him as gifts or accepted in various permanent collections at public art gallerys. What remains of his original collection today, those labelled by Temple as ‘not for sale N.F.S’, are on private loan

Where are these collections today?

see ‘links’

During his lifetime Temple presented or sold most of his collections.  His aim was to ensure they are preserved for future use and enjoyment and made accessible for the public to see at these locations:

  • Nigel Temple Collection: Postcards: Historic England

A comprehensive collection of 5,000 British public parks and gardens across Britain 1880 – 1910 and many earlier and later examples. Includes images of garden buildings and architecture, sculpture, rustic bridges, chalets and gate lodges. This postcard collection is one of the most comprehensive sets of records of public gardens known to the Historic England Archive [HEA]. It has a significant national value due purely to the consistent approach for one particular garden type as well as for the conservation information. Postcards were transferred to HEA by Nigel Temple in 3 separate acquisitions: 1997, 1999 and 2002. This now provides valuable comparative data on all aspects of garden design and features as well as planting

The Nigel Temple Collection of early postcards of British Public Parks and Gardens can be seen on the Historic England website at

A slide show of selected postcards prepared by Historic England can be seen at

  • Nigel Temple Records: Historic England Archive 

Total 5,390 items in four series. Most are unpublished and relate to early British parks, gardens, landscape and architecture

  • Nigel Temple Papers: Special Collection:  University of Manchester Library  

Total 70 items. Temple’s passions for architecture, landscapes and gardening are reflected in this small but significant collection. A highlight is the magnificent Les Promenades de Paris (Paris, 1867–73) by Jean Charles Adolphe Alphand (1817–91) who worked with Baron Haussmann on the redesign of Paris. Other finely illustrated volumes include John Buonarotti Papworth’s Hints on Ornamental Gardening (London, 1823)

  • The Nigel Temple Collection: Royal Institute of British Architects Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Total 50 items relating to garden architecture, mostly unpublished, including 12 from the 18th century dated 1757 – 1763

  • Gloucestershire Archives
  • Cheltenham Local Studies Centre
  • Royal Horticultural Society RHS
  • Farnham Museum
  • The Farnham Trust
  • Gardens Trust
  • Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust
  • Folly Fellowship

The entire book collection was sold at auction by his widow:

1) Victorian Bindings from the Library of Dr. Nigel Temple Dominic Winter July 21 2004

2) Dr. Nigel Temple Collection of Children’s Books Christies South Kensington 4 December 2003. Catalogue 73 lots 25 pages


Nigel Temple bookplate