Between the 17th and the 19th centuries, a certain reproachful and voyeuristic trend emerged among wealthy British landowners. Not content with inanimate garden ornaments such as gnomes and bird baths, these people hired real, living and breathing persons, to live as hermits in make-believe hermitages erected on the lavish grounds of their estates. Most of them were required to make scheduled appearances on the grounds in appropriate clothing whenever the employer was entertaining guests. They were known as “garden hermits” or “ornamental hermits”.
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A garden hermit in Germany in the late 18th century