I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t simply love a tree house.
There is something so romantic about them, something a little bit risky but liberating. It’s almost a primeval instinct to get off the ground and be safe in the arms of a protecting tree. That’s why people have been building homes in trees for thousands of years.
But tree houses have also been built for sheer pleasure with the first ever recorded recreational tree house dating to the first century AD. During the Roman era Pliny the Elder described one made for Caligula in a Plane tree at Velitrae. This was of the platform style, but others were enclosed in the trunks of trees. Renaissance Italy saw a resurgence of their popularity due to the description in the Francesco Colonna’s immensely popular book Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499). The powerful Medici family also incorporated them into their gardens near Fiesole and Pratolino, thus setting a new trend.
In England, treehouses became popular additions to the formal gardens of the seventeenth century. One garden visitor, Celia Fiennes, described her visit to the Duke of Bedford’s gardens at Woburn in 1697; “the Gardens are fine, there is a large bowling-green with 8 arbours kept cut neatly, and seats in each, there is a seat up in a high tree that ascends from the green 50 steps, that commands the whole park round to see the Deer hunted.”
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