Oofy here: Editorial:  I hear a fellow speaking. Makes perfect sense. Beautifully expressed. A treat. Then think of saying something m’self, I get the phrases. Jumbled up though. Can’t work out which comes first. When I get going. Not too bad. Then I wonder if it was the same for the other fellow. So I tell myself I’m in control and quite smart to get the words out right, but actually must be something else in control and speaking through me. Aliens!

Point is. Red books. Was Repton speaking for himself or was he just a mouth-piece for an alien? Did he understand the picturesque, or did he just go along with us, without thinkin’ for himself? So how can the Professor distinguish components of the landscape that are Reptonian from things that would have happened anyway? Memo to the Prof. Type-setter. Translate.

The kitchen garden terrace

The gate into the secret garden of the Terrace

The gate into the secret garden of the Terrace

‘“A Flower garden should be an object detached & distinct from the general scenery of the place; & whether large or small, whether formal or varied, it ought to be inclosed by an inner fence to keep out hares: within this inclosure rare plants of every description should be encouraged & a provision made of soil & aspect for every different clays[?]. Beds of bog earth should be formed for the American tribe. The aquatick plants, same of which are peculiarly beautiful should grow on the surface, or near the sides of the water, and the numerous class of rock plants, should have banks of rugged stones provided for their reception, without the affectation of their appearing to be the natural production of the soil. But above all there should be poles & hoops for those beautiful creeping plants which form themselves into natural festoons when supported by Art & attention. Yet with all these circumstances of beauty, the flower garden should not be visible from the roads or general walks about the place. It may therefore be of a character quite different from the rest of the scenery & its decorations should be as much those of Art as of Nature. … at Valleyfield where the flower garden is in front of a wall 300 feet in length, the attempt to make the scene natural would be affectation. As the two great sources of interest in a place are Variety, & Contrast, the only means by which these can with propriety be introduced are in this flower garden, which becomes as a separate object, a kind of episode to the general scenery of Valleyfield….. the farther end may be decorated by an Architectural building, which I suppose to consist of a covered seat between two aviaries.

It will perhaps be objected that a long straight walk can have little Variety; but the greatest source of Variety in a Flower garden is derived from the selection & diversity of its shrubs & flowers.”[1]

Surprisingly, Humphry Repton recommended a terrace garden like Norris’s at Valleyfield. He landscaped another, very similar, at The Hasells. The ornamental terrace here is one of the most Reptonian elements of the Norris design.’

Oofy here: Editorial: If you’re stuck with imagining the terrace at the back of the farm yard at Norris, think of an enclosure, long and narrow. Think of tigers walking up and down, up and down, all day long behind great iron bars. Get the picture?

“‘It will perhaps be objected that I have not sufficiently reprobated or corrected the many strait lines, with which the grounds abound, because we are told by the Serpentine Improvers of modern Gardening, that “Nature abhors a strait line”. Without actually admitting this assertion to be in all cases true, I will allow that there may be more grace and beauty, and variety in some instances, in a sweeping line of walk, yet there is doubtless so much convenience, and often so much Grandeur in a strait line, that I see no reason why both kinds may not occasionally be preserved.’[2]

Repton was ready to allow straight lines, such as that of the terrace on the back of Norris’s kitchen garden, in his designs.

The walk and pleasure ground

Next come the walks which were laid out through the coppice woods between the castle and Bathing House, to the north, and Landing House, to the south.

‘No walk, however beautiful, is long frequented unless it leads to some interesting object, & this is perhaps an unanswerable argument in favour of the situation proposed for the kitchen garden. Lady Uxbridge’s walk becomes the great line of connection between the house & the garden, while the approach road, which may be considered as a grand walk, affords a new line to return from thence to the house. The long straight avenue is so much in character with the style of the house that it ought to be preserved to a certain distance, especially as there are few points of view in which the house appears to surer advantage than from the mouth of this walk, as represented in sketch No.5. I have therefore marked a cross walk to branch from Lady Uxbridges’ towards the spot which seems best calculated for a dairy H because the cows may be milked in a spot I, to which the Dairy maid will have a straight walk from the office court. This dairy may have an ornamented front towards the walk with a scalding room on one side and a staircase on the other, to communicate with the stable court, for Lord Uxbridge’s own friends use. Lady Uxbridge’s walk may be highly dressed with flowering shrubs & neat borders of turf, but I also described on the spot, & on the map, a narrow path of a wilder character, leading to a tree on a bold promontory at X where a covered seat wd give a view of the woods beyond the terrace, which shd (as I have already observed) be brought into notice.[3]

The walks through the East and West Copses, choked with adventitious growth

The walks through the East and West Copses, choked with adventitious growth

Norris has just such an ornamental walk but it is significant that it does not have any complex of garden rooms, for Repton did not develop his interest in these until 1804 or so, with Montreal, Woburn, Ashridge and Cassiobury. There they could be explicitly gothic, as at Ashridge.

‘Each of the separate Gardens already enumerated should form a perfect whole within itself, and the Entrances or Gates should be in Character with each. The door in the above design for the termination of the dressed ground may open into a covered seat of a very different Character represented below.’”[4] [Notes from the Professor, trans. the Type-Setter]

[1] Valleyfield 1801

[2] Woodford, 1801

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

[4] WOBURN ABBEY DESIGNS OBSERVATIONS AND PLANS FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE GROUNDS AT WOBURN ABBEY A SEAT OF HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF BEDFORD &c &c &c BY H. REPTON 1804