Celebrating Humphry Repton

Humphry Repton (21 April 1752–24 March 1818)

Humphry Repton was more akin to a modern-day landscape designer and consultant. Unlike Lancelot Brown, who both designed and frequently managed the creation of his vision, Repton’s clients, having paid for his advice and design, in most cases, the arrangements for the realisation of those ideas was left to the client themselves.

It is still a mystery as to what extent his designs were executed, if at all, and this is the focus of much of the research nationwide in this celebratory year.

He worked on eight sites in Northamptonshire.

He created Red Books* for:

• Barton Hall

• Courteenhall

• Finedon Hall

• Milton Park (now in Cambridgeshire).

He produced a report for Norton Hall; watercolours and correspondence relating to Harlestone and Laxton; and a letter with accounts relating to Aynho has been discovered.

Research is currently being undertaken within the county to discover to what extent the designs within these beautiful Red Books were carried out.

The launch of our exhibition

We were proud to launch our Celebrating Humphry Repton in Northamptonshire exhibition at the Chichele Garden Fair, Higham Ferrers, on Saturday 26 May 2018.

Our Celebrating Humphry Repton Exhibition


Boards 1–3

  • Introduction
  • Before and After – his Red Books
  • Timeline (1752–1818)

Boards 4–6

  • LAXTON The unfortunate commission …
  • FINEDON HALL “a perfect model of ancient symmetry”
  • HARLESTONE PARK Present day Northampton Golf Club

Boards 7–10

  • BARTON HALL The upwardly mobile commission ‘A Gentleman’s Residence’
  • AYNHO PARK What happened after Repton’s visit?
  • COURTEENHALL The house on the hill ‘A beautiful knoll’

The results of our research so far …

Repton at Barton Seagrave Hall.pdf

Repton at Barton Seagrave Hall by Stephen Radley

Stephen Radley is a PhD student at Nottingham University. These observations are part of his continuing research into the cultural geography of Northamptonshire gardens from 1750–1830.

Barton Hall from Repton to Wicksteed.pdf

Barton Hall from Repton to Wicksteed by Carol Fitzgerald

*Red Books

The way Repton presented his landscape designs was a key part of his success. He produced ‘Red Books’ or folios of his plans, drawings, maps and a description of the improvements he proposed to make. They famously include watercolour paintings with overlays showing ‘before’ and ‘after’ views of the estate.

The books did not all have red covers until he realised that this was a good selling point. Repton did not create Red Books for every place where he worked and they did not 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.

Extract from The Gardens Trust website

Humphry Repton's Red book for Ferney Hall, Shropshire

Header image courtesy of Northamptonshire Records Office, NRO map 2861