REPTON, Humphrey

1752 - 1818

Humphrey Repton

Born Humphry Repton, at Bury St Edmundís, Suffolk on 21 April 1752, son of John Repton, a collector of excise, and his wife Martha née Fitch. In 1762 his father moved to Norwich and set up a transport business where Humphry attended Norwich Grammar School. At age twelve he was in the Netherlands to learn Dutch and prepare for a career as a merchant where his leisure pursuits included sketching and gardening. On his return to Norwich was apprenticed to a textile merchant and married in 1773 Mary Clarke, and set up his own business which was unsuccessful. His parents died in 1778 and with a modest legacy moved to a small country estate at Sustead, near Aylsham, Norfolk. Repton tried his hand as a journalist, dramatist, artist, political agent, and as confidential secretary to his near neighbour William Windham of Felbrigg Hall, during Windham's very brief stint as Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Northington. Repton also joined John Palmer in a venture to reform the mail-coach system, but while the scheme ultimately made Palmer's fortune, Repton again lost money. His capital dwindling, Repton moved to a modest cottage at Hare Street near Romford in Essex and in 1788, aged 36 and with four children and no secure income, he combined his sketching skills with his limited experience of laying out grounds at Sustead to become a 'landscape gardener' ,a term he himself coined. His first paid commission was in 1788 at Catton Park, to the north of Norwich, and to help clients visualise his designs, Repton produced 'Red Books' with explanatory text and watercolours with a system of overlays to show 'before' and 'after' views. In 1811 Repton suffered a serious carriage accident which left him needing to use a wheelchair for mobility. He died at Romford, Essex on 24 March 1818, and is buried in the Churchyard at Aylsham.

Works by This Painter