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Repton flip book

Humphry Repton’s eighteenth century pop up book comes to life!

The DX Lab has been experimenting with open-source slider technology for our curator Sarah Morley who wanted to find a new way to experience the works from this collection item. The original item is a flip-book of gardens.  The technology solution that we found to work really well is JuxtaposeJS. This tool:

‘Helps storytellers compare two pieces of similar media, including photos, and GIFs. It’s ideal for highlighting then/now stories that explain slow changes over time’

Humphry Repton’s Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening… , 1795 Humphry Repton was a leading 18th-century landscape designer who refined the concept of the landscape garden and is regarded as the greatest English landscape designer to follow ‘Capability’ Brown. Repton produced finely illustrated books featuring watercolours and aquatints on hinged flaps to show ‘before’ and ‘after’ views. These manuscript volumes, bound in red morocco became known as ‘Red Books’, and were produced to sell his landscape ideas to prospective clients. Repton produced over 400 Red Books for various clients. Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, Repton’s first published book, uses a selection of examples from his Red Books to summarise his approach to landscape gardening. In the introduction Repton writes:

‘To improve the scenery of a country, and to display its native beauties with advantage, is an art which originated in England, and has therefore been called English Gardening; yet as this expression is not sufficiently appropriate, especially since Gardening, in its more confined sense of Horticulture, has been likewise brought to the greatest perfection in this country, I have adopted the term Landscape Gardening, as most proper, because the art can only be advanced and perfected by the united powers of the landscape painter and the practical gardener’.

Please note the numbers in the original book are not sequential.

I. A scene in the garden at Brandsbury, where a sunk fence is used instead of the pale, which had been so injudiciously placed as to exclude a very rich and distant prospect.

IIa. Rivenhall Place. The first improvement consists in the removal of some tall trees and bushes, together with the barn and stables, which incumber the house; and the subsequent change is effected, by continuing the water along the valley, and altering colour of the house.

IIb. Rivenhall Place. The first improvement consists in the removal of some tall trees and bushes, together with the barn and stables, which incumber the house; and the subsequent change is effected, by continuing the water along the valley, and altering colour of the house.

III. Wembly. The old red house altered, by changing its colour, adding battlements. The offices at a distance, are brought nearer, to join the house; and the shrubbery removed, to show more extent of park and prospect.

IV. The west front of Welbeck altered, by raising the earth above the lower story and thus placing the house upon an eminence. – The roof also is partly hid by turrets; and further improved, by changing its colour.

V. View of the water at Welbeck; introduced, to describe the different effects of a Grecian of a Gothic building at a distance; the one abounding in perpendicular, the other in horizontal lines

VII. Two ideal houses, to show the effect of contrasting the prevalent lines of trees and Buildings.

VIII. The effect of removing trees, in the oblique view of an avenue at Langley Park.

IX. This view, taken from Hanslope Park, shows, that in looking along an avenue, it is not sufficient to cut down many of the trees to destroy its effect, unless the stems of those left be hidden by a thicket of thorns, holly, and brush-wood

XI. A view of the water, and some of the large oaks, at Welbeck. The lake is here altered to a river; and the ground being raised near the house, the situation of the building is in appearance considerably elevated.

XII. View from the house at Tatton, showing the manner of connecting the two waters; and also the effect of the net-fence as a false scale, which lessens the size of the nearest water.

XIII. A scene near the entrance of the grounds at Castle Hill, showing the effect of cattle, to mark the extent of a lawn which slopes from the eye:- without such objects, the ground is lost, and foreshortened.

XIV. View from the tower at Wembly: this is rather a prospect than a landscape; and therefore the pencil gives an inadequate idea of its real beauty. But this scene is attempted, to show how breadth of light and shade is produced, and that flutter corrected which had been the consequence of too many trees dotted on the lawn. In the unimproved state of this view, there is an evident confusion; and the chief circumstance attracting notice, is the smoke of a distant lime-kiln. – But, by introducing objects within the park, the view becomes more appropriate and concentred; and the distance is rendered more subordinate in the general composition.

XV. View from the house at Lathom; showing the effect of removing a pond, which is so near the eye, that its glare prevents the lawn being seen beyond it.

XVI. The entrance into Tatton park from the end of the town of Knutsford.- This idea not being carried into execution, the plate was not originally intended to have been here introduced, especially as the architectural design for the entrance gate is not yet finished; but after the MS. Of Tatton had been so unfairly misrepresented, it became necessary to insert the Chapter VII. Instead of other matter, which had been actually prepared for this Volume.



Richard Barber

I live in Rivenhall Place which still retains much of Repton’s layout despite having soldiers billeted in the two world wars and the grounds used for agricultural production. Rivenhall Place was Repton’s first commission in Essex (where he lived) but the whereabouts of the Red Book is no longer known, although Repton himself makes reference to it in another document. Do you have the red book or is it just the pictures? I know of another black and white set of pictures in the Essex Records Office (just restored) which are similar to those here showing two options for improvement – one gothic (expensive) and one in line with Capability Brown – which is what was implemented but without some of the additions to the house.

Stuart Read

Thanks so much for this – what a joy! Sorry to come to it late- but bravo to all involved. Brings Mr. Repton to rather-more-vivid life/after-life!

Cheers from Sydney

Deborah Kirk

Are the sliders still working? I can’t get them to load. Thank you.

Paula Bray

Hi Deborah, yes they are working for us. What Browser are you using?


A friend is now living at “Stafford Knott” in Laxton, Northamptonshire UK, and we are trying to uncover its history, we have discovered that Repton was instrumental in the building/landscaping of the village of Laxton, Are there any references to “Stafford Knott”, in the Red Books? it was originally built as a public house serving Ale from the cellar in 1812…thank you for your time

Anne aggiss

I wish to use the Repton flip book in an exhibition to celebrate 200 yrs of Repton.

The exhibition is a free exhibition held at The Grove Gt Saling Essex UK. The Grace was one of Repton’S Commissions. Can you please make the link available to me .
So that it can be used within a PowerPoint presentation.

Thanking you in advance of your prompt response.
Best regards

Anne Aggiss

Paula Bray

Hi Anne
Thanks for your comment. Please feel free to use this for your exhibition and let us know how it goes.

Sheila Meekums

These are really amazing images. Many of the County Gardens Trusts are currently researching Repton to commemorate his contribution to English landscaped gardens. The whereabouts of the Red Book for Stoke Park Bucks is a mystery. Does anyone know if it still exists? Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust Research and Recording Group.

Rosalind Durant

A wonderful use of the digital programme. So helpful for accessing the red books. Thank you.

Howard Benson

Hello. Have you any plans to digitise Repton’s red book for Oulton in Yorkshire. It would be a great help if you could