Our Humphry Repton landscapes
2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Humphry Repton, one of Britain’s best-loved landscape designers. Repton helped shape landscapes where the barriers between gardens and parks were broken down; estates that combine the polished look of ‘Capability’ Brown with the more naturalistic and dramatic landscapes of the Picturesque Movement.
The National Trust looks after many parks and gardens influenced by Repton including Sheringham Park, Norfolk, which he described as his ‘most favourite work.’
Repton was a skilled water colour painter, each commission was accompanied by one of his ingenious 'red books' to illustrate his proposal. In total he produced nine of his famous Red Books at our places.
Here are some of our best places to see Repton’s work:
Other connections we have to Repton
Sheffield Park, East Sussex
Repton visited Sheffield Park several times in 1789 and again in 1790. We don’t know if a Red Book was produced but it is thought that his recommendations were concentrated near the house where he created a series of four small lakes on the site of what is known today as the ‘First Lake’.
West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire
Repton was commissioned to produce designs for John Dashwood King at West Wycombe Park sometime before 1796. He included sketches and extracts from his recommendations in Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening in which he referred to the production of a Red Book.
Lady Suffield, of Blickling, approached Repton for advice but there is no evidence that this was formally given. Repton did paint ‘Lady’s Cottage in the Great Wood’ on the estate (c. 1780 one of his earliest known watercolours) and his son John Adey is known to have provided designs for flower beds and garden structures.
Dyrham Park, Bath & Woodchester Park, Gloucestershire
Repton refers to Dyrham Park in Observations and a letter and design for a pavilion can be found in Gloucestershire Record Office. A letter from Repton to his son William dated 1809 suggests he carried out work at Woodchester Park for Lord Ducie.
Repton regularly used the library at Felbrigg when he lived at nearby Sustead. The owner of the estate (and Repton’s landlord) William Windham supported Repton’s studies of agriculture and botany, and provided him with introductions to learned men including Sir Joseph Banks, some of which helped Repton to secure his first commissions. He also completed sketches of the estate.
There is no paper evidence of Repton ever having completed design work at Felbrigg but we do know that significant landscaping, ‘Reptonian’ in character, was carried out on the estate during Repton’s time.
Repton completed sketches of a number of other properties for publication in Peacock’s Polite Repository, a yearly almanac come diary with scenic engravings: Shute Barton (primarily a holiday cottage), The Weir in Herefordshire, Knole in Kent, Chastleton in Oxfordshire and Wakehurst Place in Sussex. The sketches may be an indication that he carried out work but we don’t have any further evidence.