A gloss from the Type-Setter: while some will know me as the Nonesuch, the man of immaculate taste, there will be those still unaware of my contrary distaste for the beasts, and other such objects of the field, and hence a great aversion to the outside world. It is to this trait – it has been called a craven surrender to a childish fear, I will admit as much  – that our Editor alluded in note 1821, and it has warmed me to my editorial role – whatever difficulties the post may bring to my posture, they are as nothing to the shock of  flies on an otherwise impeccable and doubly pressed silk shirt. Allow me then to bring Humphry Repton’s  landscapes to you through the medium of his sketches, without the trouble of  muddy boots, cow-berries and barb-wire in the crotch.

As promised in my recent note 1820 therefore, I now append the Professor’s submission for the Gothic (he prefers ‘Sondergothik’ – that late form of Gothic peculiar to Central Europe which speaks to the romantic, fantastical and sometimes overwrought soul of the Czech nationalist):

‘Humphry Repton was perfectly happy to work with the inspired idiosyncracies of Gothic design that James Wyatt provided for Norris Castle.

“It is not sufficient to make a house on some general plan which may be equally applicable to all situations, since every house must have its eating room, its drawing room, and perhaps a breakfast room and library, but the peculiar habits and wishes for the person who is to inhabit the house should also be attended to. For this reason I have supposed the library of Mr Ecclestones own room to be two stories high in the octagon Tower and I have provided a dry walk on a paved terrace in one front, and a covered walk or cloister in the Entrance front.”[1]

He would have approved of the use of gothic for the kitchen garden and farm:

“As the comfort of the place will depend on its Situation, so its propriety will depend upon the grounds, buildings, and its various accompaniments partaking of the Character of the house: for a palace apparently dropt by accident in the midst of a sheepwalk, or a farm, is as much out of character, as a farm surrounded by pleasure ground.”[2]

“Should the idea of Gothicising the House be adopted, the same Character ought to be extended to every building about the premises.”’[3] [Notes from the Professor, trans. the Type-Setter]

 

Oofy here: Editorial: Have you seen the kitchen garden or farm or what-d’-you-call-it at Norris? It’s a child’s fort. Towers at the corners. Farmyard in the middle. All the trimmings for cattle, horses, chickens, pigs. Bob’s your uncle. Hardly needs an architect. Perfect. See it from the castle. Point is. The Prof isn’t exactly stretching himself since he’s just copying out bits of old Repton.

The Kitchen Garden

‘Repton would have been happy also to have the kitchen garden on show:

“The part of my plan which will be most open to criticism, is that which I am now to explain. The approach will be said in same degree to interfere with the situation prepared for the kitchen garden; but this, so far from being an objection, may be converted into a very pleasing source of variety, as the plantations described on the map will completely hide every wall from the road & only shew the front of the gardeners’ houses, these being decorated with treillage and creepers, will mask its character & make a cheerful object that may interest the attention after so long a road over the open lawn. A few laths painted green will produce the effect required, & shewn in the sketch No.4. But the plantations near this house shd be of the more curious flowering plants, & such as the gardener may be supposed to nurse with peculiar care, among these I think fir, & evergreens will not be out of character, & will tend to hide the walls in winter.”[4]

Repton was prepared to make a feature of the kitchen garden, but Plas Newydd’s had nothing of the uncompromising character of the Farm at Norris.

“To those gardeners or nursery-men who are used to consider a kitchen garden in a flat country, or in the neighbourhood of great cities, it will seem strange that I shd not have fixed upon some open spot, where a large square area might be appropriated to the kitchen garden: but in a mountainous country, where strong currents of wind are the greatest enemies of vegetation, it is far better to have ten gardens of half an acre each, than one garden of five acres; & if the walls are built so near each other as not to shade the borders in which the fruit trees are planted, they will produce more certain crops, in proportion as they break the power of the winds.

It is not only by the walls that the mischief of winds will be counteracted, it is also by plantations surrounding these walls; and, therefore, two or three small gardens, so sheltered, are preferable to one large one sub-divided. I suppose I have made ample provision of walls by one to the west, & four cross walls with south exposure in the present garden D to which may be added the little garden E, & also an additional garden with it, if it shd be deemed necessary: & the forcing houses may be placed either in D or F or both. These walls will furnish a great quantity of fruits, & with very broad borders they will bring forward early vegetables; but a large area in the nursery G may be shared for other fruits & common garden stuff. This kitchen garden will be one of the greatest treasures of Plas Newydd, but had it been placed [?] near Llanedwin, it wd have been further from the house, & much further from the stables, which have a natural connection with the kitchen garden, while the farmer, on the contrary, is always jealous of it, & grudges every kind of manure that is not laid on the land.”[5]

In short, we might conclude that Repton would have designed the kitchen garden at Norris very differently, and all that has been said of the kitchen garden might also, in the case of Norris, be said of the farm.

The Farm Yard

“as this building stands very high, & is seen from many parts, it ought perhaps to assimilate more with the lawn & stables, by partaking of the Gothic character: this I conceive might be readily effected by taking away the farther wing, & making an arched gate as the entrance to the farm-yard & adding a tower at the corner, in which a staircase might lead to the top, from whence, I believe, the Paris mountain wd be visible.”[6]

Repton would have wanted to use the towers as places of prospect (the kitchen garden towers at Norris seem to have been erected as ornaments only and had no interior stairs).’ [Notes from the Professor, trans. the Type-Setter]

[1] Designs for Scarrisbrick in Lancashire  a Seat of Thomas Scarrisbrick Ecclestone Esqr. by H. and J. A. Repton, 1802.

[2] HATCHLANDS in Surry a Seat of George Holme Sumner Esqr., 1800

[3] Compton Place, Sussex A Seat of the Right honble Lord George Henry Cavendish With Plans for its Improvement by H. Repton assisted in the Architectural department by his Son John Adey Repton, 1803

[4] Plas Newydd in the isle of Anglesey North Wales A Seat of The Rt. Honble the Earl of Uxbridge, 1799.

[5] Plas Newydd in the isle of Anglesey North Wales A Seat of The Rt. Honble the Earl of Uxbridge, 1799.

[6] Plas Newydd in the isle of Anglesey North Wales A Seat of The Rt. Honble the Earl of Uxbridge, 1799.