‘The approaches at Norris Castle are symmetrical and have a certain overriding geometry. There is nothing else like this in Repton’s oeuvre, hence they are unlikely to have been designed by him. However approaches were one of his greatest interests.

“I still hope the good taste of the country will support my opinion, that the approach to a nobleman’s home should bear some relation to the dignity of the mansion, or its proprietor: & therefore conceive the approach to Plas Newydd should in some degree announce its magnificence, or at least take advantage of those spots from where the natural beauties of the situation may be displayed with good effect: & this shd not be confined merely to the boundary of the Domain, it may begin on the summit of the hill, where the house & woods are first seen in the road from Bangor ferry.”[1]

“This part of the road being remarkably bleak & naked, it would be a great improvement to make a plantation on the west side of the road, which wd shelter it from violent winds. And by shutting out a very uninteresting view over the barren part of the island, direct the eye towards the Streights & make Plas Newydd the leading feature in the landscape.”[2]

The principal approach, from Fort Norris, does have a linear spread of trees on its west side. Its linearity is unusual, but Repton would have applauded the principle of using trees to control views to the trees and the first view of the house.

“this lodge will not have a good effect till it is amply backed by the plantation described in the map No.1 thro’ which the approach is supposed to pass for some distance till it suddenly bursts on a lawn beautifully sloping towards the water.”[3]

Repton was always anxious to plant trees by the lodges at the entrance to the landscape, as happened at Norris.

“The approach passes from the gardener’s house over a small lawn more richly decorated with trees, & by keeping the skreen low & narrow at the corner K the eye will be led to a wood, & some grass fields beyond the high road, which wd look like a continuation of park if one cross hedge were removed. It then winds thro’ a wood of large trees romantically covered with ivy, & bursts out in a spot so rich in variety of objects, that it has at present one feature too much. We see at once an ample range of lawn to the right, & a magnificent pile of stable buildings to the left, while the situation of the cromlech in front is another interesting object: but from this spot is also seen, tho’ not to advantage, the top of the house, & from the comparative magnitude & elevated station of the stables, the mansion, which ought on its first appearance, to be unrivalled, appears depressed & insignificant. I therefore suppose the skreen of plantation which surrounds the offices to be brought so forward at L, that no part of the house should be visible from the approach, and therefore the eye will be more at leisure to roam over the great plain to the right, where a lawn enriched with large trees, furnishes an extent of path of which we have no idea from the road as it now descends to the house.”[4]

“The Approach skirting along the side of the valley, & availing itself of the wood of Oaks will shew the Castle to great advantage: the opposite hills rising in one place covered with sweeping lines of wood to which the attention will be called by a seat on the summit: in another, broken by playful groupes of trees blended with thorns, holleys, & furze & in a third place contrasting these by a breadth of lawn, which will derive its interest from being unbroken, while the trees I have shewn in Sketch No 1 will form a foreground to the picture. This Approach should be considered merely as the road for Carriages; but Carts &c will go over the hill, to the house, by the back road, which leads immediately to the Offices.  The Approach may therefore be neatly kept.”[5]

“This oblique direction of the Approaches will prevent the Sea from being visible till we enter the House, which I understand was very properly intended by the late Mr Norris in his design adding the Terraces.”[6]

These extracts show the importance of the approach to Repton and the great importance of the ‘burst’ – that is, the first and most impressive view of the house – recorded in several engravings, at the turn between the Farm and Castle at Norris; his use of the off-skip (in this case the woods of Osborne); and his readiness (as with the principal approach, which runs in from Fort Norris) to conceal the house entirely if he could not make a satisfactory composition of it.’ [Notes from the Professor, trans. the Type-Setter]

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

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

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

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

[5] Luscombe 1799

[6] Witton, 1801