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Mr Humphry Repton

Humphry Repton (1752–1818) was a prominent English landscape designer and horticulturist, renowned for his innovative work in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Born on April 21, 1752, in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, Repton's contributions to landscape architecture earned him a lasting legacy as a successor to Capability Brown and a key figure in the transition from the picturesque to the formal garden style.

Repton's early life was marked by financial struggles and a lack of formal education. However, he displayed a keen interest in botany and horticulture, eventually leading him to establish himself as a self-taught landscape designer. His first foray into the profession came in 1788 with the publication of "Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening," a collection of his ideas and principles.

Despite early business failures in the textile industry Repton was able to call upon his social contacts to become patrons for his first landscape commissions. His first was at Catton, Norfolk, England for the mayor and textile merchant, Jeremiah Ives, and his second was at Holkham, England (1788) for Thomas Coke.

One of Repton's defining characteristics was his use of the "Red Book," a personalized document that included watercolor illustrations and detailed descriptions of his proposed designs for clients. These books allowed him to effectively communicate his vision and were instrumental in securing numerous commissions from the aristocracy. Not all of his commissions were associated with a Red Book, but they were nonetheless, an important element of his landscape repetoire.

Towards the end of the 18th century, Repton was embroiled in a dispute with Richard Payne Knight and Uvedale Price regarding the development of the Picturesque. The dispute centred on the relationship between landscape gardening and landscape painting. Knight and Price were experts on the master painters and as such believed that the improvement of landscapes should be based on the rules of landscape art; Repton vehemently disagreed.

Despite these disputes Repton maintained his reputation and was employed at a large number of estates, particularly in England, including Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire; Woburn Abbey, Bedforshire; Tatton Park, Cheshire; Longleet, Wiltshire; Harewood House, West Yorkshire; and Cobham Hall, Kent.

Among his notable works is the redesign of the gardens at Sheringham Hall in Norfolk (1791), where he introduced the concept of the "before-and-after" illustration, showcasing the transformation of the landscape. Another significant project was the remodeling of Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire (1802), where Repton's contributions extended beyond the gardens to the overall estate.

Repton's career reached its zenith during the Regency era, as he worked on prestigious projects for high-profile clients such as the Prince of Wales (later George IV). His approach often involved a combination of formal elements and naturalistic features, demonstrating his adaptability to different tastes and settings.

Despite his successes, Repton faced challenges, including financial setbacks and competition from other landscape designers. Nevertheless, his influence endured, and he continued to work until his death on March 24, 1818, Hare Street, Romford, Essex, where he had spent the last four years corresponding with his friends and family as well as writing his memoirs.


  1. Stroud, Dorothy. (1962). "Humphry Repton." Country Life.
  2. Repton, Humphry. (1788). "Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening."
  3. Lambert, David. (1996). "Humphry Repton: Landscape Gardening and the Geography of Georgian England."
  4. Colvin, Howard. (1999). "A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600–1840."

These references provide insights into Repton's life, works, and the historical context of his contributions to landscape architecture.

Read more about Humphry Repton in the Parks & Gardens UK blog:

http://parksandgardensuk.wordp... http://parksandgardensuk.wordp...

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