When Gnomes Took Over The World

Lampy, Britain’s oldest surviving garden gnome, was insured for £1 million on 28th November, 1997.


Imported from Germany, his human dad was Sir Charles Isham, an eccentric aristocrat who adorned his rockery in Northampton with a selection of gnomes, the rest of whom were later destroyed by his daughters.


In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly trace how gnomes have experienced moments of fashion and disdain throughout their history; explain how World War II disrupted the British gnome industry; and consider how the phenomenon of "gnoming"—photographing gnomes at various landmarks - hit its peak (literally) in the 1970s… 


Further Reading:

• ‘Gnome expense spared’ (BBC News, 1997): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/36143.stm

• ‘The home in 50 objects from around the world #36: the Lamport Gnome’ (Financial Times, 2022): https://www.ft.com/content/7ba9f444-72fd-44bd-ad91-877775e8b4c2

• ‘UK: DEVON: WOMAN WHO COLLECTS GARDEN GNOMES’ (AP, 2015): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MolgvutenJM


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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Ollie Peart.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2023.


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