This Spring we have enjoyed the very best and worst of the spring weather on field trips with our students whilst visiting two designed landscapes created almost a century apart, and very different in style and character.
In February we visited Sheringham Park in north Norfolk, one of Humphry Repton’s final commissions. Repton produced the Red Book for Sheringham in 1812, which included the design of the house as well as the surrounding parkland.
The main path to the house follows the line of Repton’s entrance drive, which winds through woods on top of the hill before turning a corner to reveal the house nestled at the bottom of a wooded hill.
The temple on the edge of the park was part of Repton’s design, but was only built in the 1970s, before the National Trust took on Sheringham. The park is relatively small compared to others in Norfolk, but is perfectly formed, with wide ranging views over the surrounding landscape and towards the sea (shrouded in mist when we were there).
From an early nineteenth-century landscape to one of the most impressive early eighteenth-century formal landscapes in Norfolk – Houghton Hall, in the north-west of the county. The hall and landscape were created for Robert Walpole from the 1720s onwards, and due to a period of neglect in the later eighteenth-century, the park retains much of its original formal character.
The landscape was designed by Charles Bridgeman, and many of his avenues, and one which predates his work, survive, albeit with much later replanting in some cases. Below, Professor Tom Williamson discusses the east view with undergraduate students, the construction of which included ‘the matter of moving the hill’ recorded in documents in the Houghton archives.
Within the park at Houghton are a number of pre-parkland features, including a deserted medieval village, oak pollards and the earthworks of the agricultural landscape that existed before the creation of the park. Above, our students walk over the faint earthwork of a medieval headland from the lost open fields of Houghton.
Sheringham, too, has its share of parkland earthworks, including a number of field boundary banks within the woods.
The study of parkland earthworks is a key part of landscape history, and in July we will be taking part in the CBA’s Festival of Archaeology with a guided walk around Earlham Park in Norwich to discover the ‘lumps and bumps’ within the park.