Celebrating Landscape Architect Humphry Repton
Born in Bury St Edmunds, Repton’s life and career was rooted in the East of England and this bicentenary provides the opportunity for a much deserved celebration of his genius.
Repton advised on designs for around 400 English landscapes and gardens. In the East of England, 39 of Repton’s landscapes are included in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. How many have you been to?
Why not visit one of the roughly 120 parks or gardens he designed in the East of England? Read on for our recommendations, and be sure to use your photos to Enrich the List.
Here are some of our favourites:
Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex is a Grade II* parkland expanded and embellished on advice from Repton in 1797. It has been managed as a public park since 1966 and its gardens, parkland, lake and mansion make for a wonderful day out.
Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, owned and managed by the National Trust, is a substantial Grade I historic designed landscape with numerous layers of history, including gardens and parkland drives as set out in Repton’s 1801 Red Book for the 3rd Earl of Hardwicke.
Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire is a significant commission in Repton’s career where he advised on a comprehensive scheme for the landscape, including themed gardens, for the 6th Duke of Bedford in 1802. It's included in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens at Grade I. There is a special study day taking place in April.
Panshanger is a Grade II* parkland in Hertfordshire where Repton not only had extensive involvement in advising on designs but also oversaw some of the works as they were being implemented. Panshanger is a site in transition, currently on the Heritage at Risk Register as site owners Tarmac complete mineral operations alongside restoration of the historic designed landscape as part of a new country park. Despite this, the Repton landscape is still evident and the site is partly open to visitors.
Ashridge in Hertfordshire is an exceptional example of a Repton garden, including a monk’s garden, a rosarium and an American garden. Registered at Grade II*, there will be special open days for the gardens in the summer. Much of the parkland and wider estate is owned and managed by the National Trust.
Sheringham Park in north Norfolk is among Repton’s last commissions, where he and his architect son, John Adey Repton, designed a new house, garden and park for Abbot Upcher in 1812. Repton described it as "my most favourite work". It is registered at Grade II* and now owned and managed by the National Trust.
Written by Christopher Laine, Heritage at Risk Landscape Architect in the East of England
Also of interest...
Historic England’s research role in the 2018 Humphry Repton Bicentenary Festival, and map of aerial photographs covering Designed Landscapes
A report drawing on research carried out on plants and planting schemes for late Georgian gardens (1780–1820)
Historic England’s research role in the 2016 Capability Brown Festival, and map of aerial photographs covering Capability Brown’s landscapes