In 1809, Humphry Repton, the famous landscape gardener, was invited to Stoneleigh Abbey by Reverend Thomas Leigh to advise him on updating the abbey landscape
Repton created a ‘Red Book’, a collection of watercolour images of the house and grounds as they existed with suggested alterations and written commentary explaining the changes in detail.
Repton was a supporter of the Picturesque movement, and combined his love of painting with his amateur skill in gardening to create a natural landscape that worked in harmony with the house. He made many suggestions for Stoneleigh Abbey, including drastic architectural updates to the southern aspect of the house and rerouting the River Avon to create a reflective lake with contrasting swift-moving and slower-moving watercourses, boat houses, and bridges.
His plans also included a new drive with decorative lodges leading to the house to allow easier access from Kenilworth, Coventry and London. Repton continued in his role at Stoneleigh Abbey until 1813, when the Reverend Thomas Leigh died. It is clear that Repton’s work was well-respected, for Jane Austen mentions him by name in Chapter 6 of her novel Mansfield Park.
This year visitors to the Abbey can experience breathtaking Repton views firsthand, taking a stroll along the River Avon or a country walk into the nearby woodland. With connections to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, King Charles I, and Jane Austen the Abbey has many tales to tell. Groups are always welcome to walk in the footsteps of these notables on guided tours of the Georgian period West Wing and enjoy tea and cake in the idyllic setting of the Orangery.
For more information visit www.stoneleighabbey.org , or phone the Estate Office on 01926 858535.