Posted: June 11th 2018
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Humphry Repton’s death. He is buried in Aylsham, 30 miles from Holkham and to commemorate his work at Holkham, we have erected a stand overlooking the lake in the park.
Humphry Repton is a renowned landscape gardener from Suffolk who wanted to follow in the illustrious footsteps of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who had transformed so many great parks in the eighteenth century.
Repton, known for his influential landscape designs at Longleat House, Woburn Abbey, Kenwood House and Kensington Gardens, produced his first iconic ‘Red Book’ for Holkham park in 1789.
Thomas William Coke (later 1st Earl of Leicester of the 2nd creation) had inherited Holkham in 1776, as great-nephew of the builder of the hall, and commissioned Repton, as a leading garden designer of his age, to reimagine the pleasure grounds of the lake.
Humphry Repton viewed his commissions like an artist might and in his Red Books he set out his ideas and recommendations, often showing ‘before’ and ‘after’ views.
In his volume for Holkham, created in 1789, which we are fortunate to still have in our archives, Repton described the parkland as ‘a vast expanse of lawn, an immense sheet of water, and woods…too large for painting to express’.
Over his lifetime he produced many such books, often bound in red leather. Repton used his Red Book of Holkham to detail his plans, hints and sketches for creating walks, a rope ferry to cross the lake and a boat house, among other ideas.
Visitors will now be able to trace back the landscape seen today to its natural origins.