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Norfolk’s historic gardens feature in new book

PUBLISHED: 15:46 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:01 16 July 2018

One of the images featured in a new Norfolk Gardens Trust book on the work of Humphry Repton in Norfolk
Photo: Norfolk Gardens Trust

One of the images featured in a new Norfolk Gardens Trust book on the work of Humphry Repton in Norfolk Photo: Norfolk Gardens Trust

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A Norfolk charity dedicated to preserving the county’s horticultural heritage has celebrated its 30th anniversary, with a visit from celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh and the launch of a new book on the work of legendary landscape designer Humphry Repton.

Design for Northrepps, one of the images featured in a new Norfolk Gardens Trust book on the work of Humphry Repton in Norfolk
Photo: Norfolk Gardens TrustDesign for Northrepps, one of the images featured in a new Norfolk Gardens Trust book on the work of Humphry Repton in Norfolk Photo: Norfolk Gardens Trust

Norfolk Gardens Trust (NGT), which, with a membership of nearly 650, is the largest of its kind outside London, aims to research, conserve and campaign for the county’s historic gardens, parks and designed landscapes.

Since 2013, an NGT trust research group has published three books, including a title on the work of Capability Brown in Norfolk.

Norfolk Gardens Trust members at Aylsham Church for the launch of a new on the work of Humphry Repton in Norfolk
Photo: Norfolk Gardens TrustNorfolk Gardens Trust members at Aylsham Church for the launch of a new on the work of Humphry Repton in Norfolk Photo: Norfolk Gardens Trust

The latest of these, entitled Humphry Repton in Norfolk, saw 10 NGT volunteers work with University of East Anglia landscape archaeologist and historian Professor Tom Williamson to gather material on Repton’s work at 23 historic Norfolk sites, including Witton, Bracondale, Northrepps and Sheringham Park.

NGT vice-chairman and research group co-ordinator Sally Bate said the hardback, which she also co-edited, had grown to include 228 pages and 305 images.

Design for Honing, one of the images featured in a new Norfolk Gardens Trust book on the work of Humphry Repton in Norfolk
Photo: Norfolk Gardens TrustDesign for Honing, one of the images featured in a new Norfolk Gardens Trust book on the work of Humphry Repton in Norfolk Photo: Norfolk Gardens Trust

“We put out a call for Repton information to members and the wider public and were astonished by the amount of material that came flooding our way,” she explained. “It became a herculean task to get everything photographed and into the book.”

Published as part of the Repton 200 Festival, which marks the bicentenary of the designer’s death, the book includes the ‘before and after’ watercolour designs Repton famously presented to clients in a series of leather-bound red books.

Working with the Norfolk Museums Service, NGT researchers also funded the photography of a little-known book of Repton’s sketches, made in 1779–80, when he lived in Sustead, near Aylsham.

“Norfolk is lucky that seven of these red books have survived and all the images from them can be seen together in the NGT book,” Ms Bate said.

The book was launched at Aylsham Church, a few metres away from where Repton is buried, with TV gardener and writer Alan Titchmarsh presented with a signed copy at a celebration held in the walled garden at Sheringham Hall.

“This was a truly local collaboration, with many Norfolk people, organisations and businesses involved,” Ms Bate said.

Humphrey Repton in Norfolk, priced £20, is available from local bookshops, or from www.norfolkgt.org.uk

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