Celebrating Humphry Repton 2018
In 2018 we will be celebrating the work of Humphry Repton, the last great landscape designer of the eighteenth century. 2018 is the bicentenary of his death in March 1818.
From Textiles to Landscapes
Repton was born on 21 April 1752 in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. He started work in the textile business but was not successful. Then his social contacts began to give him jobs improving the landscapes of their estates.
His first two landscape jobs were in Norfolk. They were for Jeremiah Ives, textile merchant and mayor of Catton and for Thomas Coke of Holkham Hall in 1788. In his memoirs Repton said: ‘In every place I was consulted I found that I was gifted with a peculiar facility for seeing almost immediately the way in which it might be improved.’
He went on to work on hundreds English estates, becoming a worthy successor to the great Capability Brown. Estates where he worked include Tatton Park in Cheshire, Uppark House in West Sussex, Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, and Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire.
Repton’s Red Books
Repton produced ‘Red Books’ or folios to present his plans, drawings, maps and description of improvements he proposed to make. They did not all have red covers to begin with. Then he realised that this was a good selling point to his clients. He did not create them for every place where he worked and they did include all his work. He also made drawings and plans in other formats, such as notebooks. The Red Books show Repton’s vision for the landscape and his view that landscaping was an art.
The ‘Father of the English garden’
As well as improving large estates, Repton designed flower gardens nearer the house. Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, Endsleigh Cottage in Devon, and Valleyfield Estate in Fife, Scotland are places with Repton flower gardens. He also laid out Bedford Square and Russell Square in London. He has thus been described as the ‘Father of the English garden’.
Repton’s work thus links the landscape design of the eighteenth century and the gardenesque movement of the early Victorian years. At the end of his life he said ‘as a landscape designer I have never been superseded by a more successful rival. My own profession, like myself, was becoming extinct.’
Do join in this collaborative celebration of one of our greatest landscape and garden designers! County Gardens Trusts and other groups will be arranging events around the country to celebrate Repton’s work throughout 2018.
If you are organising events, you can use the Celebrating Humphry Repton logo. There will soon be an event calendar so you can publicise your events and see what else is going on. Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter to stay up to date.
If you would like to get involved or receive email updates email firstname.lastname@example.org. The more people who join in, the better the celebration!