Henry Compton

The Passionate Plantsman

Today is the anniversary of the death of the passionate plantsman Bishop Henry Compton.
Compton was famous for his substantial garden at Fulham Palace, which was home to more than a thousand exotic plants. Naturally, Compton was drawn to rare plants and new specimens. And, his position as a bishop gave him access to the botanical discoveries that were being sent to England from the American colonies.
For instance, we know from his correspondence, that Compton was especially intrigued about the swamp honeysuckle from Virginia. Compton sent a young priest and botanist named John Bannister to Virginia to botanize for him. Banister went on to help found the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.
Bannister proved to be an excellent contact for Compton. He sent him seeds to grow at Fulham Palace, along with detailed notes about his discoveries. Sadly, Banister's life was cut short when he was accidentally shot during an expedition.
Like any avid gardener, Compton sometimes felt a little guilty about the amount of money he spent on gardening. So, as penance, he not only collected plants for his own garden, but he also was a patron to prominent botanical figures - like the Tradescants.

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Henry Compton
Henry Compton

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