This year is the bicentennial anniversary of the death of Humphry Repton (1752-1818), self-proclaimed successor to Capability Brown and the last great English landscape designer of the 18th century. Setting out proposals for around 400 landscapes, Repton was an influential designer who helped to establish the more intricate and formal styles that became a feature of the 19th-century garden. He also became famous for his unique method of presenting to his clients: using paper flaps to show ‘before’ and ‘after’ views in personalised books, known as ‘Red Books’ after their distinctive bindings.
In celebration of this anniversary, and as part of the Repton 200 festival also taking place this year, RHS Libraries have collaborated with students from Writtle University College to take a fresh look at his gardening principles. The students, in their third year of study on Writtle’s Landscape Architecture and Garden Design courses, have had the opportunity to learn about Repton’s ideas and respond to their own public landscape design projects.
Through his own words – from original works at the RHS Lindley Library – and through the landscape – with curated tours at RHS Garden Hyde Hall – the students have explored Repton’s thoughts on boundaries and views, the picturesque, accessibility, and on working with and presenting to clients. Writtle’s students will be the landscape designers of the future. With the community as clients and sustainability at the heart of public projects, they have taken Repton’s approaches and pushed them further.
This library display at RHS Garden Harlow Carr Library
will feature the students' final project designs, each presented through the student’s own take on Repton’s famous ‘before and after’
Visitors will also get an opportunity to see three facsimile copies of his Red Books from Sheringham Hall in Norfolk, Anthony House in Cornwall, and Attingham Park in Shropshire.
: Raised beds from Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening,1816 © RHS Lindley Collections