When the 6th Duke of Bedford inherited Woburn in 1802, he commissioned the famous landscape gardener, Humphry Repton (1752-1818), to create designs to enhance the gardens and parkland. 2018 celebrates the bicentenary of Humphry Repton.

Recognised as the first person to invent and use the title ‘landscape gardener’, Humphry Repton regarded himself as the rightful successor to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Repton produced over 400 designs and schemes for gardens great and small, but of these, he stated, “none were more fully realised than at Woburn Abbey”. He published his theories in two influential books, Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1803), and Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1816). In these, he promotes his style and references his important work for the Duke of Bedford.

With the Duke being Repton’s most important client, at a time of declining commissions, the Woburn Red Book is one of his largest works. It contains Repton’s most ambitious and detailed designs covering the approaches to the Abbey, the lakes and plantings in the surrounding parkland and the formal Pleasure Grounds.

Exhibition - Humphry Repton: Art & Nature for the Duke of Bedford

Open to the public between 23rd March and 28th October 2018, the new exhibition explores the fascinating relationship between Repton and one of his greatest clients. On public display for visitors to see for the first time will be his most elaborate and comprehensive Red Book. 

In addition, the exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to discover Repton’s other works for the family including at the picturesque Devon estate of Endsleigh, Oakley House and Russell Square in London. Never before seen unexecuted designs will feature alongside works of art and archival treasures, which bring to life the creative legacy of Repton. There will also be Repton-related family trails, activities and events throughout the year.

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Repton landscapes at Woburn Abbey Gardens

Having explored the Repton’s legacy in the exhibition, visitors need only step outside to discover Repton’s beautiful landscape designs. Since 2004 the present Duke and Duchess of Bedford have been restoring many of Repton’s features in the Woburn Abbey Gardens. These include the folly grottothe Cone House, the menagerie and the striking Chinese-style pavilion, which was completed in 2011 and went on to win a Hudson’s Heritage Award. In 2013, Woburn’s project to restore the 19th Century Humphry Repton landscape won the “Best Restoration of a Georgian Garden” at the Georgian Group Architectural Awards.

Other Repton features in the Woburn landscape include; The Aviary, set to be further restored in 2018 and the Doric Temple.

 

Events & Exhibitions

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Humphry Repton: Art & Nature for the Duke of Bedford

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Open to the public between 23rd March and 28th October 2018, the new exhibition explores the fascinating relationship between Repton and one of his greatest clients.
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Summer Holiday Children's Activities

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There's plenty to keep younger visitors entertained at Woburn Abbey during the summer holidays, two trails, crafts and games!
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National Afternoon Tea Week

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Renowned speaker Gillian Perry will talk you through the social history of Afternoon Tea. This English custom was popularised by the 7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria at Woburn Abbey.
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Bat Walk

Take an exclusive tour of the Woburn Abbey Gardens at night and learn about the nocturnal activities of the bats living in the gardens.
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Bat Walk

This event has now sold out but we have more dates available.
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Life in a Noble Household

Discover what it was like to work in a great Ducal household from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
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Bat Walk

Take an exclusive tour of the Woburn Abbey Gardens at night and learn about the nocturnal activities of the bats living in the gardens.
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Terrarium Workshop

Bedford Estates Head Gardener, Tom Abbott will show you how to create a terrarium which you will then get to take home.
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Bat Walk

Take an exclusive tour of the Woburn Abbey Gardens at night and learn about the nocturnal activities of the bats living in the gardens.
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Woburn Abbey triathlon

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Now in its eleventh year, the Woburn Abbey Triathlon - organised by registered charity tri for life, and delivery partner, Human Race events - has raised over £2.4m for its charity partners.
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Woburn Abbey Honey Festival

Join us in a celebration of everything honey, set against the stunning backdrop of Woburn Abbey and Gardens.
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Dining Like A Duke

From the earliest times, the consumption of food has evolved from the basic requirements to survive into one of the grandest expressions of wealth and style.
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Adam Frost: Intro into Garden Design

This event has now sold out - please check back at a later date as we are planning similar events to this in the future.
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NSPCC Luxury Gift Fair Evening Champagne Reception

This exclusive Evening Champagne Reception will be hosted by Her Grace, The Duchess of Bedford. Browse over 50 stalls of inspiring gift ideas whilst enjoying a glass of Champagne and canapés. All proceeds from the event tickets will go to the NSPCC.
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NSPCC Luxury Gift Fair

The NSPCC Luxury Gift Fair is an annual event and a highlight of the Woburn calendar.
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Off Road Deer Park Tours

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Join the Deer Keepers for a 1.5 hour tour of the Woburn Abbey Deer Park where you will able to get up close to the beautiful deer.
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Treasury of Trees Walking Tour

Join us for a guided walk in our Quercetum and Pinetum areas of the gardens to discover our treasury of trees.
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Treasures of the Library & Afternoon Tea

Enjoy a private view of some of the treasures housed within Woburn Abbey’s extensive library collection.
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Brunch with Queen Victoria

Follow in the footsteps of the Queen and her 1841 visit to Woburn Abbey. Enjoy a delicious lunch in the Duchess' Tearoom followed by an in-depth talk with time to explore the Abbey at your leisure.
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Housekeeper's Know-how

Ever wondered what it takes to preserve and care for a great stately home and its treasures? While we’re closed for the winter, our housekeeping team invites you behind-the-scenes for an exclusive glimpse into what it takes to complete Woburn Abbey’s annual ‘deep-clean’
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Christmas Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

A masterclass in Christmas flower-arranging with floral expert, Jonathan Moseley.
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Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2019

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Early Bird rates can now be booked on-line for the Gardeners' Garden Show.