Renowned gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh MBE will open a new exhibition at Woburn Abbey at a press launch on 21 March 2018, which celebrates the bicentenary of Humphry Repton and his influential work for the Dukes of Bedford.
Recognised as the first person to invent and use the title ‘landscape gardener’, Humphry Repton regarded himself as the rightful successor to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Repton produced over 400 designs and schemes for gardens great and small, but of these, he stated: “none were more fully realised than at Woburn Abbey”.
Open to the public between 23 March and 28 October 2018, the new exhibition ‘Humphry Repton: Art & Nature for the Duke of Bedford’ explores the fascinating relationship between Repton and one of his greatest clients. On public display for visitors to see for the first time will be his most elaborate and comprehensive ‘Red Book’, his famous presentation document of proposed designs. Repton’s Red Book for Woburn was commissioned in 1804 and illustrates his innovative plans for the Pleasure Grounds and Park, many of which were subsequently realised by the 6th Duke of Bedford.
In addition, the exhibition will give guests the opportunity to discover Repton’s other works for the family including those at the picturesque Devon estate of Endsleigh, Oakley House and Russell Square in London. Never before seen unexecuted designs will feature alongside works of art and archival treasures, which bring to life the creative legacy of Repton. There will also be Repton-related family trails, activities and events throughout the year.
Alan Titchmarsh MBE said: “I am delighted to be opening an exhibition which celebrates the work of a man whose prime object was to beautify the land surrounding a fine country house and to help house and garden work in harmony. Repton and his ‘Red Books’ well deserve their place in the history of British landscape gardening.”
Having explored the Repton’s legacy in the exhibition, visitors need only step outside to discover Repton’s beautiful landscape designs. Since 2004 the present Duke and Duchess of Bedford have been restoring many of Repton’s features in the Woburn Abbey Gardens. These include the folly grotto, the Cone House, the menagerie and the striking Chinese-style pavilion, which was completed in 2011 and went on to win a Hudson’s Heritage Award. In 2013, Woburn’s project to restore the 19th century Humphry Repton landscape won the ‘Best Restoration of a Georgian Garden’ at the Georgian Group Architectural Awards.
Martin Towsey, estate gardens manager said: ‘I am proud that Woburn Abbey is marking the bicentenary of Humphry Repton with this captivating exhibition, which represents the culmination of 14 years of hard work by the Woburn Abbey Gardens team to restore the gardens to their former glory.’
To find out more, visit www.woburnabbey.co.uk/Repton.