Humphry Repton's Red Books of Panshanger and Tewin Water, Hertfordshire, 1799-1800
With an Introduction by Twigs Way
Volume XXVII - published 2011
In 1799 the 5th Earl Cowper, Peter Leopold Francis Nassau Clavering-Cowper, and his distant cousin Henry Cowper commissioned landscape gardener Humphry Repton to submit plans for ‘improving’ their three connecting estates of Tewin Water, Panshanger and Cole Green. Repton was also asked to draw up plans for a new house on the north side of the river Mimram. He visited Tewin Water in May 1799 and Panshanger in June 1799, and subsequently produced ‘red books’ for both estates. Although there were delays in the building of the new house, work started straightaway on the landscape improvements recommended by Repton. Much of the Repton’s designed landscape has now been destroyed but the Red Books for Panshanger and Tewin Water provide evidence of his schemes. Panshanger Park was perhaps the finest and most important landscape designed by Repton in the county.
The sketches in Repton’s original Red Books comprise watercolours with overlaid flaps: the flap is closed to show the ‘before’ scene and lifted to reveal the ‘after’ scene. Due to constraints of production costs, rather than reproduce the flaps, this edition (in A4 landscape) presents full-colour reproductions of each sketch both ‘before’ and ‘after’. The coloured endpapers are a facsimile of the marble endpapers in the original. The Introduction by Twigs Way outlines Repton’s work, his design principles and the practical application of them.
As most of Repton’s surviving Red Books are in private ownership, the publication of this full-colour edition of the Panshanger and Tewin books brings into the public domain rare examples of Repton’s design skills. It will be of great interest not only to historians of Hertfordshire but also to garden historians everywhere.