The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

300 Frequently Asked Questions about Capability Brown, and a further 200 about Humphry Repton

Category: Goths & Classics (Page 1 of 2)

1836: was Repton influenced by Horace Walpole? – by Mrs Anne Radcliffe?

Oofy here: Editorial: Less Rhubarb. Drop it.

A gloss from the Type-Setter. Our editor rightly feels that too much ink is spent on Horace Walpole because the man is so quotable. The Professor on the other hand is greatly attached to the gothic.

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1822: What about Gothic?

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.

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216: Why the Tuscan order?

This issue of the Ionic order (notes 162 and 222) clings to me like goose-grass on the jerseys of children. In all probability it is as foolish, but Mrs S of London has inquired about the Tuscan columns used in William Pitt’s farms at Burton Pynsent. The gardener and home-builder, Capability Brown, who does not seem to have used the Ionic order in his buildings, may have known these, and certainly knew the Tuscan temples (with their Tuscan columns) at Wotton. I would go so far as to say that he was comfortable with Tuscans, however at the point of reaching this conclusion, my lucubrations were brought prematurely to a close with a whoop from Captain Ken, who had just made a triple twenty on the dart-board at my elbow.

Buoyed by his triumph, he suggested, when I unfolded to him what had been on my mind, that just as architects of the Italian Renaissance had adopted the Tuscan as a native Etruscan form and hence their own, so might the 18th century have brought it to England for its primitive honesty – a thing that Brown is like to have fostered within himself. Perhaps, Mrs S, we should leave the Captain, in the moment of his triumph, with that likely answer.

222: Ionic or Iconic?


Kedleston Hall from Adam's Long Walk

Kedleston Hall from Adam’s Long Walk

I confess that I cannot resist pressure. As a rule therefore I will retire to my tower until the siege party has wearied of its efforts, but here is Mme de V, writing from France once again, and asking for still more detail on the essays of the noble Capability Brown in Ionic architecture.

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187: Did Brown take a view on ivy?

Mr Honey picked up a nasty bruise on his knee on a recent visit to a country place. His memories of the episode are indistinct but he has offered that there was a fine cellar, that the place was all tangled up and Gothicked with ivy, and that really the people there should take more care.

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162: Did Brown show a particular affinity for the Ionic?

The Gothic Temple at Burghley - hardly Gothic, not exactly classical, but with a fine entrance at the back

The Gothic Temple at Burghley – hardly Gothic, not exactly classical, but with a fine entrance at the back.

How fond and how French in their originality and particularity are the questions that Mme de B de V has sent me from France.

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63: Why should we be interested?

Professor M of the Home Counties asks why the Capability Brown should be regarded as the classic landscape gardener above any of those other men who were his foremen and contemporaries. He points out that they have been much more rigorously studied – Richard Woods by Fiona Cowell, William Emes by Keith Goodway, Nathaniel Richmond by David Brown, the Whites by Deborah Turnbull.

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98: How wild was wild?

We must always allow that there should be limits to wildness.

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31: What’s up with variety?

Everybody loves variety, whether French:  ‘The finest gardens are those which are the most varied’ [Diderot]; Chinese: ‘Each of these Valleys is diversify`d from all the rest, both by their manner of laying out the Ground, and in the Structure and disposition of its Buildings.’ [Joseph Spence]; or English: ‘Mr Pope used to say that all the beauties of gardening might be comprehended in one word, variety.’

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28: Was Brown jumped-up?

A wave of correspondence has broken across the desk of the Brown Advisor on the related subjects of Brown’s social position, flies, tea and cake.

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs