Papers and works of Humphry Repton, 1752-1818

Scope and Content

The collection consists of a number of small deposits, accessioned as DM 180, DM 184, DM 1031, DM 1047, and DM 1054 respectively.

Administrative / Biographical History

Humphry Repton was born in Bury St. Edmunds in 1752, son of John and Martha Repton. He was educated in Bury and Norwich, before being sent, in 1764, to Workum to learn Dutch, then to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where he remained until he was 16. After returning to Norwich he learned his trade in silks and calicoes. In May 1773, he married Mary Clarke and set up business as a general merchant. His business failed and he went to Sustead, Norfolk, where his sister lived. He spent his time there as a country gentleman, studying gardening and botany at the urging of friends. After accompanying the Chief Secretary of the Lord Lieutenant around Ireland in 1783, he moved into a cottage, now called Repton Cottage, in Romford, Essex.After returning to England he embarked on a scheme to improve the conveyance of mail with John Palmer, but this also failed, forcing Repton to pursue new ventures to increase his income. In 1778, Repton declared that he would become a 'Landscape-gardener'. During his years at such work, he developed from the formal style of Lancelot Brown to a more natural and varied style, combining "artistical knowledge with good style and good taste." After his work at Cobham, Kent, in 1790, he was employed by many noblemen to work on their estates. In 1811, Repton suffered an accident while returning from a ball which damaged his spine, rendering him incapable of further work. He died in 1818, and was buried at Aylsham Church.


DM 180, 184 - Letters, 1788-1800, from Humphry Repton to the Reverend Norton Nicholls with notes on general Maxims of Taste (1814) by Humphry Repton.DM 1031 - Abbots Leigh, near Bristol, Report (Red Book), by Humphry Repton, 1814.

Access Information

Accessible to all bona fide readers

Acquisition Information

Purchased in 1952 & 1985


Compiled by Martin Hall, Assistant Archivist, University of Bristol Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Typescript catalogue available in Special Collections

Alternative Form Available

Supporting facsimiles of Repton's works and correspondence

Conditions Governing Use

Permission must be obtained from Special Collections

Additional Information

Special Collections houses the following printed sources:'Observations on the theory and practice of landscape gardening...', Humphry Repton, 1805. Special Collections, Oversize, SB 471 REP'Fragments on the theory and practice of landscape gardening...', Humphry Repton, 1816. Special Collections, Oversize, SB 471 REP'An essay on the picturesque, as compared with the sublime and the beautiful; and, on the use of studying pictures, for the purpose of improving real landscape', Uvedale Price. 1794. Featuring Price's letter to Humphry Repton, and Repton's reply. Special Collections, SB 469.5.P4 PR1'An enquiry into the changes of taste in landscape gardening, to which are added some observations on its theory and practice, including a defence of the art', Humphry Repton. 1806. Special Collections, SB 471 REP

Geographical Names