Norris Castle with every indication of treasure

Norris Castle, with every indication of treasure

A gloss from the Type-Setter: the Professor, scarcely a dressy figure, though he proclaims himself a man of sensitivity – for the Professor, incoherence is defiance, in the Bohemian way – having long lain under the hobnail of authoritarian rule – now Austrian, now German, lately Russian –  believing chaos is independence  and as a result, though what he writes may stir the heart it communicates not to the head.

Will you permit the Type-setter therefore to refine, in the notes that follow, the Professor’s voluble ejaculation to something more like tolerable language. The editor, peace be upon him, frisked the monkey that Repton did not work at Norris. The Professor disagreed,  All too often the heat they generate when in opposition wilts the high-neck collar of the Type-Setter. So it was on this occasion. He apologised therefore for its unwonted crease and, with a single raised eyebrow, indicated that he would retire to his rooms to make the necessary repairs. Had he been called upon to arbitrate, he might have put three points to our editor: that this question of attribution is not a betting matter; it is not a question of truth, but of seeing if it might be possible to find some means, independent of documented fact, by which to determine where Repton did and where he did not work. The evidence, as he understand it, falls as follows:

’Evidence for: Repton published a sketch of Norris Castle in 1805 in Peacock’s Polite Repository. He might first have seen the site in 1798 when he was visiting his partner of the time, John Nash, who lived next door at East Cowes Castle. Repton usually published with Peacock sketches of places where he had commissions.

Evidence against: there are six such sketches of places within walking distance of East Cowes Castle on the Isle of Wight. From which we might conclude that Repton had taken a little walking tour, sketching as he went, and then he decided to publish the sketches with Peacock a few years later, at a time when he didn’t have much else in his portfolio.

Evidence for: the sketch itself shows the towers of Norris Castle with conical roofs (that were never built). Repton purported to be selling topographical sketches (illustrations of real places), so he wouldn’t have improvised and therefore must have seen James Wyatt’s plans for the castle but they were subsequently changed. This encourages the preliminary conclusion that he worked with Wyatt on the estate.’ [Notes from the Professor, trans. the Type-Setter]

Oofy here: Editorial: can’t stick this stuff – Repton was a cockscomb. Butter my thumbs. End of story. Where’s Herefordshire.