Repton Family Picnic ‘at the place where fun was invented’

Repton Family Picnic

Northamptonshire Gardens Trust hosted a Repton Family Picnic on a gloriously sunny 30th June at Wicksteed Park in Kettering. This fun day celebrating Repton was the third annual Gardens Trust Family Picnic and a wonderful mix of generations enjoyed the day. Grandparents, children, grandchildren and friends took part in a range of activities themed around celebrating Humphry Repton this year.

Tracey Clarke, the Community Link Manager for Wicksteed Park, and her volunteers took the group on a tour of the newly created lake, including the famous water chute, and the landscape towards Barton Hall. The water chute was listed in 2016 by Historic England as a protected heritage site. At the end of the tour, Stephen Radley brought to life the scenes from the Repton Red Book commissioned by Charles Tibbett for Barton Hall. Stephen gave us a fascinating insight into the reasoning behind Repton’s proposals and how far they were achieved. He is studying for a PhD. at the University of Nottingham under the guidance of Professor Stephen Daniels, who wrote the definitive book on the celebrated landscape gardener.

Following a picnic in the shade, participants played 18th century games, such as tugs of war (left), both between and among the generations, while the creative could decorate and plant a pot. These activities were organised by Linden Groves,  under her alter ego as Hahahopscotch. The Repton Family Picnic concluded with a celebratory cake and, of course, with a ride on Wicksteed’s famous model train.

Charles Wicksteed would certainly have agreed with Repton’s statement, ”For the honour of the country, let the parks and pleasure-grounds of England be ever open” and Humphry Repton may well also have approved of Wicksteed offering a Gateway to Health and Happiness. Thank you to Humphry Repton and Charles Wicksteed for your love of landscape and for all those who contributed to such a fun day.

Would you like to host a future Gardens Trust Family Picnic in your area? If so, please contact

Carol Fitzgerald, Northamptonshire Gardens Trust

The Gardens Trust is running an HLF-funded Sharing Repton project, which we hope will encourage more inclusive and enjoyable events like this. For more details, contact

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Painswick Roccoco Gardens, the Red House, Photo © Joab Smith