Repton Bust From Haddonstone E1541149906783

Urban regeneration project wins Gardens Trust competition to encourage wider participation in historic landscapes

The Bust of Humphry Repton
The bust of Humphry Repton, kindly donated by Haddonstone

The Gardens Trust has been delighted to receive varied and enthusiastic entries for their recent Sharing Landscapes competition to win a bust of Humphry Repton, with the bust very kindly being donated by Haddonstone. The task set was to think of an imaginative way to ensure that as many and diverse people as possible see the bust, and all our contestants really rose to the challenge.

Humphry Repton laid out the landscape gardens for the Page Family home, Wellers, in the late 18th Century which then grew into the original Wembley Park in the late 19th century with the arrival of the Metropolitan Railway. The 1920’s saw the conversion of the park into the site for the British Empire Exhibition and the original Wembley Stadium. Today development by Quintain at Wembley Park is ongoing around Wembley National Stadium and The SSE Arena, Wembley to create a new residential quarter on land that was previously surface car parking and exhibition sheds. As a living urban regeneration scheme, Wembley Park has a broad range of activities and open space on offer and attracted over 11.6 million visitors and local residents in 2018. At the heart of this district will be the new Park, designed to draw inspiration from Humphry Repton’s original design. Once completed, this will be an exciting location for Repton’s bust, creating a wonderful way to celebrate a true visionary who started the creation of the landscape setting for Wembley over 200 years ago.

Julian Tollast, Head of Masterplanning and Design for Quintain at Wembley Park said: “Wembley is known throughout the world as a place for great performances. The principles that Repton embodied in his visionary work have helped shape our own thinking in designing and now delivering a truly memorable landscape in the public realm and residents gardens that are enjoyed not only on event days but now every day of the year.”

As Repton himself wrote of Wembley in 1793 “on Wednesday I go to ... a most beautiful spot near Harrow. I wish I could shew (sic) it to you.”

Judges also admired other entries.

They were particularly interested in Stubbers, Essex, near to Repton’s Romford home. Stubbers is home to a not-for-profit adventure activity centre, welcoming visitors of all ages from North East London, South Essex and beyond. Excavations in the 1970s revealed the remnants of Repton garden walls and pavilion, along with a surviving walled garden. Over the past 10 years garden volunteers have worked hard to bring new life to the garden so it can be fully used and appreciated and Repton’s bust would be located in the walled garden, seen by participants on Stubbers’s organised events and the many other visitors. In 2018 there were over 56,000 visitors, not including those visiting the wider estate. Repton’s bust would also be re-created as a giant wood-carving as part of the new adventure play area, creating a focal point in the garden.

At Henham Park, Suffolk, a very intact Repton landscape, it was suggested to locate the bust in the core of the landscape, on high ground amongst an avenue of recently rediscovered ancient oaks, and also glimpsed from ‘The Approach’. Here it could be discovered by the 40,000 visitors to the Latitude Festival every July, an event featuring the very best in music, comedy, literature, poetry and theatre, and the 20,000 people who visit the annual Steam Rally in September.

The entry from Pentillie Castle, Cornwall would have had Repton’s bust seen by the two thousand annual visitors to the August Pengrillie BBQ Festival, Bed and Breakfast guests, wedding parties, and garden and afternoon tea visitors. Along with access to Repton’s Pentillie Red Book, it would promote Repton’s legacy to a large group of visitors unaccustomed to garden history, in a uniquely relaxed and informal atmosphere.

The panel of judges comprised: Dr James Bartos, Chair of the Gardens Trust; Stephen Daniels, Professor Emeritus of Cultural Geography at the University of Nottingham and author of Humphry Repton: Landscape Gardening and the Geography of Georgian England; and Will Haxby, Marketing and Ornamental Sales Director, Haddonstone.

The Gardens Trust’s Chairman, Dr James Bartos, said: “The Gardens Trust is delighted to see fresh ways of thinking about sharing garden history with a wide audience and hope that this competition is just the beginning of a move to encourage new people to get involved with historic parks and gardens.”

Will Haxby, Marketing and Ornamental Sales Director, Haddonstone said: “Haddonstone is delighted to be partnering with the Gardens Trust by launching the Sharing Landscapes competition. We have worked with the Gardens Trust for a number of years and have been particularly involved during the celebrations marking the bicentenary of Humphry Repton’s death. We commissioned professional sculptor Hannah Northam to produce a Humphry Repton bust as part of the celebrations and we are thrilled to be donating this very special design as the competition prize”.

Professor Stephen Daniels said: “The work of the London Parks and Gardens Trust has put Wembley on the Repton map, learning more of his design there than was previously recognized. This is an exciting opportunity to deploy the bust to commemorate a vanished landscape, and to highlight Repton’s work to a large new audience.”

For more information about the competition, visit www.humphryrepton.org, or follow @humphryrepton, #humphryrepton, #sharinglandscapes, or fb.com/humphryrepton

Sharing Repton: Historic Landscapes for All

A £99,500 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has made it possible for the Gardens Trust to pilot activities that are designed to welcome wider local communities to historic landscapes, with a long-term view to nurturing a new wave of volunteers and supporters for these heritage assets. The grant will also enable the Gardens Trust to create an infrastructure for sharing skills, guidance materials and training workshops, with other historic parks, gardens and designed landscapes so that they too can offer similar local community events in the future.

These pilot activities are taking place at five renowned Humphry Repton sites:

  1. A family excursion to Wicksteed Park, Kettering, which ran in September 2018 with invited guests from the multicultural Victoria Centre community centre in Wellingborough enjoying children’s activities such as paper boat-making and tree-measuring, as well as a tour of the park. We look forward to repeating this event in 2019.
  2. A family fun day celebrating world cultures and cuisines at the Catton Park Heritage Open Day, Norfolk, that ran in September 2018. The family day was packed full of free activities and entertainment from around the globe, with opportunities for visitors to try their hand at everything from Chinese calligraphy to bushcraft activities to martial arts, Bollywood dancing and other forms of movement inspired by different cultures from around the world.
  3. The Warley Woods Big Red Book Project which ran in the Black Country from September 2018-May 2019, at which parents and children from Abbey Junior School, and local residents learnt to research and record their local Repton landscape in a uniquely fun volunteer project. The project included four training workshops and resulted in a leaflet, open day and information added to the Historic Environment Record.
  4. An introductory conservation workshop for refugees in October 2019, at Kenwood Park, London with London Parks and Gardens Trust and English Heritage, followed by a planting session in April 2019 in Russell Square.
  5. A Repton and garden history workshop and tour at Blaise Castle, Bristol with Avon Gardens Trust is still to come in summer 2019.

About Humphry Repton

Humphry Repton was born on 21st April 1752 in Suffolk, into the well-to-do family of a tax collector. He trained for a career in commerce but it became increasingly clear that he did not really have a head for business.

In 1773 he married Mary Clarke, with whom he was to have a much-loved family. After unsuccessful times in various employments including the textile trade and as a private secretary, in 1788, at the age of 36, he set himself up as a ‘landscape gardener’. Repton is in fact credited with inventing the job title!

In order to launch his new career, Repton approached his social contacts to ask for work improving their estates. His first landscape job was at Catton Hall for Jeremiah Ives, a textile merchant and Mayor of Catton. Catton survives today as a public park run by the Catton Park Trust. Other commissions were to include Blaise Castle in Bristol, Endsleigh Cottage in Devon, London’s Russell Square and Kenwood, Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire, Tatton Park in Cheshire, Uppark House in Sussex, Valleyfield in Fife and Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire.

Repton wanted to fill the gap left by the death of Capability Brown in 1783. He initially championed Brown’s landscape style but later adopted the ideas of the picturesque movement. His work therefore links the landscape design of the eighteenth century and the gardenesque movement of the early Victorian years.

His work reintroduced terraces, gravel walks and flower beds into the area around the house, to provide a foreground for views of the landscape. Repton also designed separate flower gardens, with more elaborate ornamental or themed planting, a style which became popular in the nineteenth century.

In 1811 Repton had a serious carriage accident, after which he often had to use a wheelchair. He died on 24 March 1818 and is buried in Aylsham in Norfolk.