Paul Temple: garden design plans and photographic material

Scope and Content

The archive consists of plans and photography relating to gardens designed by Paul Temple OBE and staff at Paul Temple Ltd, including commercial garden design work, exhibition gardens for Chelsea Flower Show and other national and international garden festivals, and his own garden, and photography of gardens he visited.

Administrative / Biographical History

Paul Temple (1920-2007) was born on 16 Mar 1920 in Retford, Nottinghamshire, to Ernest and Annie Temple, the youngest of three children. When Temple was six the family moved to Twyford, Berkshire. With his older siblings at boarding school, he grew up largely as a solitary child, and discovered a passion for gardening on being given a packet of seeds. At seven, as a result of a detention spent sharpening chisels for the woodwork department, he learned how to use and care for tools, and began to develop an interest in design and construction.

He left school at 17 and worked for a couple of years with Granville Ellis, a family friend and landscape gardener. Two years later, in 1939, he worked on his first Chelsea Flower Show garden and was considering training in landscape architecture when war was declared and he joined the Royal Artillery Corps.

After the war Temple's first job was as landscape manager at Winkfield Manor Nurseries. He married Barbara Quick in 1949 and they had a daughter, Gillian. The couple started a garden design business, Paul Temple Ltd, based in Hampton. The company also supplied floral displays at trade shows and exhibitions. Following a move to new premises by Fisons, one of their clients in the early 1950s, the company started supplying and maintaining plant displays for the office reception areas of large companies in London, essentially the start of the interior landscaping industry.

Paul Temple Ltd first exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1963, and Temple went on to exhibit a total of fifteen show gardens, the last in 1986. Designing and building a garden at Chelsea ensured a full order book for the rest of the year. During the 1970s and 1980s the business grew and the company moved to Harmondsworth, specialising in all forms of landscaping, from exhibition gardens, to roadside verge mowing, private landscapes to tropical shopping malls.

In 1981, with a small handful of like-minded colleagues, Temple established the Society of Garden Designers to provide training and a professional association for this growing field of work. He was a founder member of the Institute of Horticulture, established to represent commercial growers and horticulturalists. In 1984 Temple was invited to assist with the development of the UK's first International Garden Festival in Liverpool, where he directed the Interior Landscape Pavilion. He was involved with the Stoke Garden Festival in 1986 and Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988, and in 1990 was invited by the British Government to design and manage the British Garden at the International Garden Festival in Osaka, Japan, with support from the RHS. Around 1991 he sold his contracting business, which at its height had about 40 staff, and he set up Paul Temple Associates, focussing solely on landscape design.

In 1978 Temple was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal for outstanding contribution to the advancement of the science and practice of horticulture. In 1981 his rock garden was awarded the first ever Best in Show award for a garden at Chelsea Flower Show. In recognition of his services to the landscape and horticultural industries, Temple was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List of 1991. He served as a garden assessor at Chelsea Flower Show through most of the 1980s and early 1990s, and on various RHS committees, including the Bursaries Committee from 1991 until 2003. Paul Temple died on 30 Jan 2007 at the age of 86.

Business premises:

1964-65: Paul Temple Ltd, Hampton, Middlesex

1965-1990 Paul Temple Ltd, Holloway Lane, Harmondsworth, West Drayton, Middlesex

1980s/2000s: Paul Temple Associates, 24 Waldegrave Park, Twickenham

2003: Paul Temple Associates, Old Mill Place, Pulborough


The collection was catalogued in two main series of plans and photography.

Summary of contents:

TEM/1 Plans

TEM/2 Photographic material

TEM/2/1 Photographs

TEM/2/2 Negatives and medium format transparencies

TEM/2/3 35 mm mounted colour transparencies

Access Information


Open for consultation at the Lindley Library London. It is essential to check opening hours and make an appointment. Readers are required to wear protective gloves when consulting objects or photographic material.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Gillian Temple, daughter of Paul Temple, in Apr and Nov 2015

Other Finding Aids

Online via the Archives Hub, and as a paper copy in the Reading Room.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Liz Taylor, RHS archivist, in April 2021, with documentation assistance given by Mara Uzzel and packaging assistance given by Annie Johns, RHS Lindley Library volunteers.

Conditions Governing Use

Assigned to RHS

Appraisal Information

Selection of travel colour transparencies was carried out and those not required were returned to the donor.

Custodial History

The material was in the care of Paul Temple's wife and later of his daughter