|Description||The Red Book of Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh, near Bristol, by Humphry Repton, 1814. 11 pages, illustrated with watercolour drawings.|
Leigh Court was owned by the Bristol banker Philip John Miles.
Leigh Court and its Red Book are briefly discussed in Mowl and Mako, 'Historic Gardens of Somerset' (Redcliffe Press, 2010), pp. 143-146.
Humphry Repton was born in Bury St. Edmunds in 1752, son of John and Martha Repton. He was educated in Bury and Norwich, before being sent, in 1764, to Workum to learn Dutch, then to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where he remained until he was 16. After returning to Norwich he learned his trade in silks and calicoes. In May 1773, he married Mary Clarke and set up business as a general merchant. His business failed and he went to Sustead, Norfolk, where his sister lived. He spent his time there as a country gentleman, studying gardening and botany at the urging of friends. After accompanying the Chief Secretary of the Lord Lieutenant around Ireland in 1783, he moved into a cottage, now called Repton Cottage, in Romford, Essex. After returning to England he embarked on a scheme to improve the conveyance of mail with John Palmer, but this also failed, forcing Repton to pursue new ventures to increase his income. In 1778, Repton declared that he would become a 'Landscape-gardener'. During his years at such work, he developed from the formal style of Lancelot Brown to a more natural and varied style, combining 'artistical knowledge with good style and good taste'. After his work at Cobham, Kent, in 1790, he was employed by many noblemen to work on their estates. In 1811, while returning from a ball, Repton suffered an accident which damaged his spine, rendering him incapable of further work. He died in 1818, and was buried at Aylsham Church.
The Red Book of Leigh Court, was purchased with assistance of the Victoria and Albert Museum Fund, and the National Art Collections Fund.