Celebrating Humphry Repton

Antony House seen through the trees

It is two hundred years since the death of Humphry Repton, the great landscape architect who left his mark at Antony. Join in the celebrations and find out more about this talented visionary.

Humphry Repton (1772-1818) was a leading landscape designer who helped define the concept of the landscape garden and is regarded as the greatest English landscapist to follow ‘Capability’ Brown. Repton was invited to Antony by Sir Reginald Pole Carew, MP for Fowey and Privy Councillor under Pitt, who recommended him.

Repton produced finely illustrated books featuring watercolours and aquatints on hinged flaps to show ‘before’ and ‘after’ views. These manuscript volumes, bound in red morocco became known as ‘Red Books’, and were produced to sell his landscape ideas to prospective clients. Such a book was prepared for Pole Carew in 1792.

Repton's red book designs for Antony
A page in Humphry Repton's red book showing landscape garden plans for Antony
Repton's red book designs for Antony

Repton brought informality back to the gardens of stately homes like Antony. He wanted the landscape to flow up to the house. His vision for Antony was for the terrace to act as a viewing platform from which clumps of trees were planted to allow vistas down to the river.

The Red Books allowed Repton to record his orginal designs free from the interference of clients and other factors. As some of the pages in the book show, not all of Repton's plans for Antony were realised and many are no longer part of the landscape due to changes over the years. His Red Books encapsulated his dreams and ideas which have influenced landscape gardening ever since.

Repton's design for the south west side of the house
View of Antony in Repton's red book
Repton's design for the south west side of the house

The garden team at Antony spend much of their time maintaining the grass, spotting weeds, straightening edges, tidying and pruning, and that is essential, but what Repton did and what is still his permanent memorial, is that he looked upwards and created designs that even if neglected for years could still shine through.

A Repton Celebration Day will take place on Sunday 10 June and will include tours throughout the afternoon. Come along to meet the garden team and find out more about Repton's influence at Antony.

If you can't make the celebration then join a Glorious Garden Tour taking place on dates throughout the year. These tours are taking on a Repton focus for 2018 so you won't miss out.