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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 41

Object
Matters

The strange, hermitic history of the garden gnome. Words by John Ovans. Photograph by Cecilie Jegsen.

“The hermit is never to leave the place, or hold conversation with anyone for seven years during which he is neither to wash himself or cleanse himself in any way whatever, but is to let his hair and nails both on hands and feet, grow as long as nature will permit them.” 

Not to be confused with your personal care routine during lockdown, the above quotation comes from classical archaeologist Sir William Gell’s book A Tour in the Lakes Made in 1797, in which he outlines one of the most curious professions in history—that of the ornamental hermit. 

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This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-One

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