The Englischer Garten or "English Garden" is a large urban public park in the centre of Munich, Germany, stretching from the city centre to the northeastern city limits. It was created in 1789 by Sir Benjamin Thompson (1753-1814), later Count Rumford (Reichsgraf von Rumford) and extended and improved by his successors, Reinhard von Werneck (1757-1842) and Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell (1750-1823), who had advised on the project from the beginning.
With an area of 3.7 km² the Englischer Garten is one of the world's largest urban public parks: it is larger than New York's Central Park but smaller than London's Richmond Park, which is the biggest city park in Europe. The name refers to the style of gardening; the term English garden is used outside of the English speaking world to refer to the style of informal landscape gardening which was popular in the United Kingdom from the mid 18th century to the early 19th century, and is particularly associated with Capability Brown.
As the Hofgarten was the only public park in Munich, there was a clear need for something new; but this was not the primary motivation for the creation of the English Garden. Rather it was part of a series of military reforms being pursued under the guidance of Sir Benjamin Thompson, who would later be made Count Rumford and Bavarian war minister . Born in Massachusetts, Thompson had served on the English side in the American Revolutionary War and after the British defeat had moved to Europe, where in 1784 he had entered Carl Theodor's service. In 1788 Thompson proposed that in peacetime the majority of soldiers should be given leave to do other, civilian, work, such as farming and gardening. In February 1789, Carl Theodor decreed that military gardens should be laid out in each garrison city. The gardens were meant to equip the soldiers with good agricultural knowledge and serve as recreation areas, but they were also supposed to be accessible to the public.
The planned location for the Munich gardens was the area north of the Schwäbinger city gate. This had been the hunting grounds of the Wittelsbach rulers since the middle ages, and was thus known as the Hirschanger or Hirschau (both names mean "deer enclosure"), though the latter came to be transferred to the "Lower Hirschau", the northernmost part of the grounds, originally not included in the garden. A more densely wooded part to the south was known as the Hirschangerwald. The realisation of the project was begun in July 1789.
In August 1789, Carl Theodor released a decree, which stated that the area east of the military gardens should be converted into the first European public park. This was implemented by the Royal Gardener Friedrich Ludwig Sckell (von Sckell from his knighthood in 1808), who had studied landscape gardening in England and had previously worked for Carl Theodor at Schwetzingen; Count von Rumford supervised the project. The park was initially named "Theodors Park", but it very quickly became known as "The English Garden". In the spring of 1792, the park was officially opened to the approximately 40,000 citizens of Munich.
Thompson left Munich in 1798. His successor, Baron von Werneck attempted to make the garden pay for itself through its agricultural use. To that end he expanded the park in December 1799 to encompass the Hirschau, which was improved to provide pasture. The fields of the military gardens were added to the Englischer Garten in January 1800. Werneck's improvements had been costly and in 1804 he was replaced by Sckell, who was given the post of Bayerischer Hofgärtenintendant ("Bavarian Court Garden Supervisor"). Although Sckell had had a guiding role from the beginning, many aspects of the execution differed from his ideas, which he set out in a memorandum of 1807. His long supervision of the garden (1804-1823) was marked by a movement away from agricultural use and concentration on the landscape garden. For instance, two mills at the point where the Schwabingerbach (Schwabing stream) leaves the Eisbach (Ice stream) were removed and an artificial waterfall was created in 1814-1815.
Under Sckell, the park took on its modern form. The only significant addition since then was the creation of the hill for the Monopteros by his nephew Carl August Sckell, who succeeded him as director of the park. In the twentieth century, their have been minor gains to the park's extent, most notably the addition in 1952 of thirty hectares of land, where the locomotive factory of Joseph Anton von Maffei had stood, and in 1958-62 of a further 67 hectares from the Hirschauer Forst (Hirschau Wood). The century almost brought less welcome changes to the park. In the second world war, bombing damaged the Monopteros and destroyed the Chinesischer Turm, and 93,000 cubic meters of rubble were dumped in the Hirschanger. The area was only cleared in 1953, when a sports ground for schools was made in its place. There were also natural disasters: many trees were destroyed by heavy storms in 1988 and 1990 (the storm "Wiebke"); Dutch elm disease has almost destroyed the elm population of the park. Both kinds of losses were compensated by a "tree donation" campaign organised by Munich's Abendzeitung ("Evening Paper") in 1989 to 1990 on the occasion of the park's 200 year anniversary; among the 1500 new trees that could be planted were 1000 elms, using only varieties resistant to Dutch elm disease.
Between the Monopteros and the Japanisches Teehaus lies the Schönfeldwiese ("Schönfeld meadow"). In this part of the Gardens nude sunbathing has been permitted since the 1960s, something which many Germans practise. It caused quite a sensation at the time and also made the English Gardens well-known, even outside Munich. The Schönfeldwiese proper lies to the south of the Schwabingerbach, which crosses the English Garden at this point before flowing northwards along its west side; but the name is sometimes used of the whole larger open space. The expanse to the north of the Schwabingerbach, the Carl Theodorswiese ("Carl Theodors meadow") has the oldest construction in the park: the "Burgfriedsäule", a boundary marker from 1724, topped with the Münchner Kindl stands in a grove of trees below the Monopteros.
When the nearby wooden Apollo temple had fallen into disrepair, an early idea of Sckell's for a hilltop temple was taken up and a new stone building of similar design was commissioned (an early plan even calls the Monopteros "Apollo Tempel", a name it never actually bore). This small (16 m high), round, Greek style temple was designed by Leo von Klenze. It was built on a 15 m high foundation, around which a small hill was created in 1832, using leftover building material from recent work on the Munich Residenz (Royal Residence). Hill and temple were completed in 1836. Ten Ionic columns support a shallow copper covered dome; palmettes adorn the sima. A particular feature of the monopteros is the use of polychrome stone painting, an interest of Klenze at the time, who intended the building to serve as a model for its use.
Before the Monopteros was built, a small circular temple had stood by the Eisbach a little to the south of the Chinesischer Turm. Designed by Johann Baptist Lechner (1758-1809) and erected in 1789, it became known as the Apollo temple after an Apollo statue by Josef Nepomuk Muxel was added to it in 1791. While the basis of the temple was tuff, the temple itself was wooden; and by the early eighteenth century, this had fallen into disrepair. In 1838, Leo von Klenze built an exedra or stone bench (Steinerne Bank) in place of the temple, with the inscription "Hier wo Ihr wallet, da war sonst Wald nur und Sumpf" ("Here where you meander was once only wood and marsh"). The temple's circular basis served as the basis for the curved bench.
On July 13 1944, the original tower burned down after heavy bombing; but a society to rebuild it was formed in 1951 and the new tower, made true to the original by consultation of detail photos and old drawings, was completed in September, 1952.
In the late nineteenth century up to 5000 servants, handworkers, soldiers and students would come to the tower early on a Sunday morning to dance to the music of a brass band. The dance began around 5.00 and ended around 8.00, so that servants could return to serve their employers' breakfast or attend church. As a dance for servants it was known as the "Kocherlball" (cooks' ball). In 1904 the custom was forbidden by the police on moral grounds. But in 1989, to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the park, a revival was made, with around 4000 attending; and the dance has since been celebrated each year in July.
A children's carousel was put up near the tower in 1823, similar in design to the current one. By 1912 a replacement was needed, which is still in use. It was designed by the Schwabinger sculptor Joseph Erlacher and the decoration painter August Julier. Alongside the usual horses, the carousel has less expected creatures to ride, such as ibex, stork and flamingo. Its wooden roof and pillars were restored from 1979 to 1980.
Located south of the tower are the "Ökonomiegebäude" (Economy buildings), which were designed by Lechner towards the end of the 18th century as an agricultural model plant. Today, the Ökonomiegebäude are occupied by the management of the Englischer Garten.
A little to the north of the Chinesischer Turm, the Rumford-Saal (Rumford Hall) or Rumfordhaus (Rumford House) is a small building in Palladian style. During its construction it was known as the "großer Saal" (great hall) or "Militairsaal" (military hall); but it was later renamed to honour the garden's founder, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford. It was built in 1791 by Lechner as an officers' mess (Offiziers-kasino) and was used first by the army, later by the court. The building, 30 m long and 10 m wide, has one and a half storeys; front and back have a portico with six wooden Ionic pillars. Its dining hall, adorned with many mirrors which give it its name, the "Spiegelsaal" (mirror room), has place for 150 people. The building is currently used by the city of Munich as a children's centre ("Kinderfreizeitstätte").
Sckell's enlargement of the lake brought it close to Kleinhesselohe; and the little beer garden there was to be a forerunner of the modern Seehaus ("lake house"), with 2,500 seats. In 1882 to 1883 Gabriel von Seidel built a boathouse with food service. This was replaced with a new building by Rudolf Esterer in 1935; with a terrace overlooking the lake, this was very popular until 1970, when it was demolished. A competition for a new design was won by Alexander von Branca, with a design modelled on a Japanese village; but the work was found too costly and never executed. For fifteen years service was from temporary buildings, until in 1985 the current Seehaus was built to a design by Ernst Hürlimann and Ludwig Wiedemann. Today, the lake and the Seehaus are well-loved leisure destinations; pedal boats are also leased here to those who want to splash around.
Two monuments near the lake honour its creators. The Werneck-Denkmal, a monument to Werneck, stands on a rise near the east side. It was erected in 1838 on Ludwig I's suggestion to a design by von Klenze. A little south of it, on the bank of the lake, the Sckell-Säule ("Sckell pillar") honours Ludwig von Sckell. This, also designed by von Klenze, was erected in 1824, a year after Sckell's death; the design was executed by Ernst von Bandel (1800-1876), who would later be known as the creator of the Hermannsdenkmal.
The English Garden is divided into two portions by the busy street Isarring. The southern part is around 2 km long, while the northern part, called the Hirschau, is around 3 km long. In contrast to the southern part, which on sunny days contains as many people as one would find in a medium-sized town, the Hirschau has a peaceful character. While in the southern part, the grass in the open expanses (heavily used for sport and sunbathing) must be kept short, in the Hirschau some meadows are allowed to grow and mown for hay in June and August, while others are used as pasture for sheep. Two beer gardens, the "Aumeister", built in 1810-11 by the court mason (Hofmaurermeister) Joseph Deiglmayr (1760-1814) and the "Hirschau", built in 1840, are located at the north and south end of the Hirschau. The northern part of the garden also contains a small amphitheatre, built in 1985 and called the new amphitheatre. (An amphitheatre built in 1793 to a similar plan, but in a different position, a little north of the Rumford-Saal, has not survived; this had been used primarily for fireworks exhibitions). The new amphitheatre is used for open air performances in summer.