Repton returned to Devon and Cornwall in around 1802, and perhaps he had returned more often than that (see note 1848) and he was to begin two further Cornish commissions a few years later (Tregothnan in September 1809; Antony and Pentilllie in 1810). In 1803 William Mason’s English Garden at Mount Edgcumbe was to be extended and redeveloped to form part of a sequence of formal gardens for Sophia, Countess of Mount Edgcumbe. She died in 1806 and her monument stands in the French Garden. These sequences of ‘garden rooms’ are characteristic of Repton’s late work. Here he is introducing the idea at Woburn Abbey in 1805: “The gardens, or pleasure-grounds, near a house, may be considered as so many different apartments belonging to its state, its comfort, and its pleasure. The magnificence of the house depends on the number, as well as the size of its rooms; and the similitude between the house and the garden may be justly extended to the mode of decoration.”
Once again one might say that he was inspired by Mount Edgcumbe to take his work in this radical new direction, so he recapitulated his theme at Montreal in 1812: “The separate and detached gardens and inclosures scattered over the place, are beautiful in themselves but do not blend sufficiently with the general scenery. These detached gardens as episodes to the great Lawn, might each be varied in its character as The Arboretum – the American Garden – The Thornery – the Evergreen – the Aquatic – the Wild flower garden etc etc.”. At Ashridge in the following year he took it up again and at Wanstead (also 1813) he produced a design for twelve distinct garden rooms.
Once again however, it turns out that he had begun to develop the idea before work began on the sequence of gardens at Mount Edgcumbe – it is implied at Bulstrode (1790) and executed at Cassiobury (c1801). The red books for these two do not survive but he created a sequence of formal gardens for both, and here he is at Valleyfield in about 1801, with his mind clearly running with the same thoughts: “within this inclosure rare plants of every description should be encouraged & a provision made of soil & aspect …. 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 “.
To conclude: the formal gardens of the pleasure ground at Mount Edgcumbe fit neatly into the course of Repton’s career and rather than suppose a Jungian synchronicity, the simpler explanation must be that he had a hand in their design.’ [Notes from the Professor, trans. the Type-Setter]