Image for Humphry Repton at Woburn Repton's Watercolour Design For The Rockery Pavilion.

The First Landscape Gardener

Humphry Repton was the first person to use the title of Landscape Gardener. He made it up by combining his interest in landscape painting with his skills in practical gardening.

On his inheritance of Woburn, the 6th Duke continued his brother, the 5th Duke of Bedford's, development of the Estate. In 1804 he invited Repton to suggest proposals for landscaping the Abbey grounds after all of the building work at The Abbey. Repton sent his Red Book, filled with his ideas for the estate, to Woburn in January 1805. 

This book contained a number of plans that were eventually carried out such as a new approach from the London Road, the thornery plantation and a viaduct. Others were partly carried out such as the pleasure grounds layout, hills either side of the driveway and changes to the Basin Pond dam. Finally, some suggestions were not enacted at all. These included new road layouts, including the driveway to the West Front, and alterations to the pond shoreline.

Image for Humphry Repton at Woburn

It is the pleasure grounds that form the main area considered to be Woburn Abbey Gardens today. Although the paths and excavations were completed, the Menagerie built and the bridge over the Greenhouse pond constructed, most of Repton’s vision for the pleasure grounds was unrealised.

It seems that perhaps his ideas of “fanciful decoration” were just not to the taste of the Duke and Duchess. In the end, with the input of Sinclair and Wyatville, gardens for recreation and relaxation were built over the subsequent decade, together with exciting and magical places for the children to play.

You can learn more about the work of Humphry Repton and his plans for Woburn Abbey at one of our study days. Take a look at our event listings for more information. 

Events & Exhibitions

Image for VIP Garden Show package Saturday 22nd June

VIP Garden Show package Saturday 22nd June

We invite you to enjoy a very special day out at the Woburn Abbey Garden Show with our exclusive VIP packages.
Image for Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2019

Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2019

and
Set against the stunning backdrop of Woburn Abbey and within 42 acres of Abbey Gardens, "The Gardener’s Garden Show" offers one of the best locations of any show in the UK.
Image for VIP Garden Show package Sunday 23rd June

VIP Garden Show package Sunday 23rd June

We invite you to enjoy a very special day out at the Woburn Abbey Garden Show with our exclusive VIP packages.
Image for Twilight Parkland Tour

Twilight Parkland Tour

Experience the grounds of Woburn Abbey in a whole new light on this exclusive out-of-hours tour of the parkland and gardens.
Image for Carriage Tours

Carriage Tours

and
An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
Image for Bee Walk

Bee Walk

Discover the importance of attracting bees to your garden and, more importantly, how to attract them.
Image for Carriage Tours

Carriage Tours

and
An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
Image for Twilight Parkland Tour

Twilight Parkland Tour

Experience the grounds of Woburn Abbey in a whole new light on this exclusive out-of-hours tour of the parkland and gardens.
Image for Twilight Parkland Tour

Twilight Parkland Tour

Experience the grounds of Woburn Abbey in a whole new light on this exclusive out-of-hours tour of the parkland and gardens.
Image for Carriage Tours

Carriage Tours

and
An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
Image for Bat Walk

Bat Walk

Take an exclusive evening tour and learn all about the species of bats living in Woburn Abbey Gardens. Then, using bat detectors, you will learn to listen and identify the echo location signals bats use to navigate and hunt.