Books about Hertfordshire’s Parks and Gardens

The following books have been published by the University of Hertfordshire Press under their Hertfordshire Publications imprint and can be purchased via their website : or via Amazon or in any good bookshop.

Humphrey Repton – Landscape Design in an Age of Revolution

 By Tom Williamson

Humphry Repton is one of England’s most interesting and prolific garden and landscape designers. Renowned for his innovative design proposals and distinctive ‘before and after’ images, captured in his famous ‘Red Books’, Repton’s astonishing career represents the link between the simple parklands of his predecessor Capability Brown and the more elaborate, structured and formal landscapes of the Victorian age. This lavishly illustrated book, based on a wealth of new research, reinterprets Repton’s life, working methods and designs, and why they proved so popular in a rapidly changing world.

Medieval Parks of Hertfordshire

 By Anne Rowe

To date, over sixty medieval parks have been identified in Hertfordshire – a large number for a relatively small county. In this ground-breaking study of parks created in Hertfordshire between the eleventh and the fifteenth centuries, author Anne Rowe has adopted a holistic approach to landscape history. The geographical locations of the parks have been determined and, in most cases, mapped using a combination of field- and place-name evidence, old maps and detailed fieldwork. The documentary history for each park has been compiled, including, where available, details from manorial accounts, which provide an insight into park management in medieval times. All the data for each park is presented in a valuable gazetteer, together with the cartographic and field evidence which has been used to locate the parks in today’s landscape.


Tudor & Early Stuart Parks of Hertfordshire

By Anne Rowe

This meticulously researched book opens a window onto Tudor and early Stuart Hertfordshire and illuminates a significant aspect of the county’s landscape history.

This book forms a continuation of the research published in Medieval Parks, Anne Rowe’s highly regarded volume of 2009. Now she turns her attention to the deer parks that existed in Hertfordshire during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Drawing on the earliest county maps, most notably those produced by Saxton in 1577 and Norden in 1598, and both State papers and estate records, Anne Rowe builds a detailed picture of Hertfordshire’s Tudor and Early Stuart parks.

Structure and Landscape – William Wilkins and Humphry Repton at Haileybury 1806-1810

edited by Toby Parker and Kate Harwood

The study day organised by HGT at Haileybury in 2015 presented new information about the East India College and its landscape.
These proceedings of that study day, with some additional papers, provide new insights to both the buildings and Repton’s landscape and his considerable involvement in the site as well as the importance of the college as innovative in concept, design and execution.

To purchase this book please send a cheque made payable to Hertfordshire Gardens Trust for £14.00 to include p&p to: HGT, 78 Broadstone Road, Harpenden, Herts AL5 1RE.

For any queries please email

Humphry Repton in Hertfordshire

By Susan Flood and Tom Williamson

Repton made a particularly significant contribution to the landscape of Hertfordshire, working at no less than eighteen places in the county, ranging in size from great mansions like Cashiobury and Panshanger to more modest ‘villas’ owned by wealthy businessmen and industrialists, such as Woodhill in Essendon. This book describes in detail all of these commissions, assessing in each case the extent to which Repton’s ideas were actually implemented and how much survives of them on the ground today. Particular attention is given to those places for which Repton prepared one of his famous ‘Red Books’, such as Tewin Water, Lamer House, New Barnes and Wall Hall. But sites where Repton’s contribution is less well documented are also discussed, including Organ Hall and Hilfield House in Aldenham, Cashiobury Park, Brookmans Park, Bedwell Park, Wyddial Hall, and Marchmont House in Hemel Hempstead. The book presents complete transcriptions of all the key documents relating to Repton’s activities, including the texts of seven Red Books. The introductory essay by Tom Williamson sets Repton’s activities in Hertfordshire within the wider context of his career, and also shows how his work in the county can cast important new light on his style, and on its economic, aesthetic and ideological implications.

Hertfordshire: a landscape history

By Anne Rowe and Tom Williamson

More than three decades after the publication of Lionel Munby’s seminal work, The Hertfordshire Landscape, Anne Rowe and Tom Williamson have produced an authoritative new study based on their own extensive fieldwork and documentary investigations, as well as on the wealth of new research carried out over recent decades by others – both into Hertfordshire specifically, and into landscape history and archaeology more generally.

The authors examine in detail the historical processes that created the county’s modern physical environment, discussing such things as the form and location of settlements; the character of fields, woods and commons; and the distinctive local forms of churches, vernacular houses, and great mansions, along with their associated parks and gardens.

Both the rural landscape and that of Hertfordshire’s towns and suburbs have their particular stories to tell and the authors track Hertfordshire’s continuing evolution right through to the twenty-first century. Lavishly illustrated with maps and photographs, this authoritative work will be invaluable reading for all those with an interest in the history, archaeology, and natural history of this fascinating county.

Hertfordshire Garden History, Volume 2: Gardens pleasant, groves delicious

Edited by Deborah Spring

Hertfordshire Publications – an imprint of University of Hertfordshire Press, August 2012. ISBN: 978-1-907396-81-6. 156mm x 234mm. 272pp. Paperback. RRP £16.99

This second volume of Hertfordshire garden history considers how Hertfordshire’s historic parks and gardens – some still existing, many others lost – have been influenced by, and reflect, the social and economic history of their time.

Hertfordshire’s proximity to London swiftly made the county into a place for both the display of success and respite from its demands.  Beginning with the hunting parks and Renaissance gardens of the Bacons, Cecils and Capels in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and their gradual replacement by designed landscapes, the book shows how in Hertfordshire individuals have long sought greater space and comfort within easy reach of the capital.  The theme continues through to successful Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian entrepreneurs and professionals seeking an idealised country existence while travelling daily to the City, culminating in the tree-lined legacy of the early garden cities.

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown played a role in shaping the Hertfordshire landscape whilst in the nineteenth century industrial development made an impact.  The Arts and Crafts movement brought contributions from famous designers, Lutyens and Jekyll at Knebworth, and Mawson at Berkhamsted and Bushey.  In parallel, services developed to supply the demand for elaborate gardens and the book also examines the role of plant nurseries, estate gardeners and the Lea Valley glasshouses during the two world wars and beyond.  Throughout the book, examples are drawn from both well-known and less visible or vanished Hertfordshire gardens of the past 500 years.

This volume draws on new research by members of the Hertfordshire Gardens Trust, whose director of research is Tom Williamson, Professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia.

To buy a copy online please go to this link Hertfordshire publications.

Parks in Hertfordshire since 1500

Hugh Prince

An authoritative history of Hertfordshire’s great parks, looking at the cultural, political and economic influences on their changing fortunes over the past 500 years.

Over the centuries, the county’s proximity to the capital proved particularly attractive to ambitious and acquisitive newcomers, with great houses and their parks changing owners at a rapid rate. When it came to the design and development of their parkland, landowners followed the prevailing fashions from keeping in step with courtly enthusiasm for deer-hunting in the 16th Century to embracing the golden age of landscape gardening in the 18th Century. Against this backdrop, Hugh Prince examines the business of managing parks as crucial elements of landed estates and establishes the special role played by parks in the display of landowners’ power.

Hertfordshire Garden History: a miscellany (2007)

Edited by Anne Rowe

A book of essays written by Members of HGT’s Research Group and Conservation Team with an introductory chapter by Professor Tom Williamson, Chair in Landscape History at the University of East Anglia

Essays include:

  •   The 17th Century garden of the Earls of Salisbury at Quickswood
  •   A reappraisal of the work of Charles Bridgeman at Tring Park
  •   The Influence of the East India Company on Hertfordshire Gardens
  •   The landscapes designed by Richard Woods at Brocket Park and Newsells Bury
  •   A ‘lost’ 18th Century garden at Roxford
  •   The influences behind the creation of John Scott’s grotto at Ware
  •   The famous Victorian orchid nursery of Frederick Sander
  •   The creation of Clarence Park in St Albans
  •   The work of the Pulham family in the l9th and early 20th Centuries
  •   The effects of wartime shortages on the creation of the gardens at Queenswood School

Published by and available from the Herts Garden Trust

A history of Knebworth’s Parks (2005)

Anne Rowe, The Herfordshire Gardens Trust

Research by Anne Rowe into the landscape of the parish reveals the existence at different times of no fewer than three parks at Knebworth. This well illustrated narrative reveals the locations of the two medieval parks and then describes the development of the Knebworth Park which replaced them, from the l7th Century to the present day.

To purchase this book please email for details.

The Parks and Gardens of West Hertfordshire (2000)

Tom Williamson and the Hertfordshire Gardens Trust

This book represents the results of investigations of historic landscapes west of a line drawn along the old Watling Street (the A5) as far north as the M25, then along the M25 to the M1 and then as far north as the county boundary. This district has a certain topographical coherence. It represents in effect the towns of Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempsted, Watford and Rickmansworth and the parishes and their hinterlands. It embraces the valleys of the Gade and Bulbourne and that of the lower Colne.

Several country houses around which the most extensive designed grounds were laid out were demolished in the last century and where they do survive, they are now mostly used as schools, conference centres and hotels with golf courses, playing fields and farms. Neverthless we discovered examples of the work of some of the greatest English garden designers – Charles Bridgeman, Capability Brown, Humphry Repton, Edward Kemp and Thomas Mawson.

Some 42 gardens in all are featured taking the reader through from gardens before the 18th Century, early 18th Century landscapes, the age of the landscape park, picturesque and gardenesque, high Victorian landscapes and the late 19th Century and beyond. The book is 118 pages long and is filled with beautiful black and white and colour photographs.

Out of print but available through the Hertfordshire Library Service.

Hertfordshire Gardens on Ermine Street (1996)

Richard Bisgrove and The Hertfordshire Gardens Trust

The Trust’s first publication and the story of some great gardens along Ermine Street (the A10) featuring designers such as Humphry Repton, Capability Brown and more recent designers such as Brenda Colvin. There is a gazetteer of over 100 gardens with descriptions and synopses of some of the more important gardens such as Haileybury – and the East India Company, Hertford Castle, Hamels, Julians Park – described in the l930s as one of the most beautiful in the country, Wormley Bury and Youngsbury.

To purchase this book please email for details.

Other books of Hertfordshire Interest

          Dury and Andrews’ Map of Hertfordshire: Society and landscape in the 18th century

A. Macnair, A.Rowe and T. Williamson

This book is about the map of an English county – Hertfordshire – which was published in 1766 by two London map-makers, Andrew Dury and John Andrews.
For well over two centuries, from the time of Elizabeth I to the late 18th century, the county was the basic unit for mapping in Britain and the period witnessed several espisodes of comprehensive map making. The map which forms the subject of this book followed on from a large number of previous maps of the county but was greatly superior to them in terms of quality and detail. It was published in a variety of forms, in nine sheets with an additional index map, over a period of 60 years. No other maps of Hertfordshire were produced during the rest of the century, but the Board of Ordnance, later the Ordnance Survey, established in the 1790s, began to survey the Hertfordshire area in 1799, publishing the first maps covering the county between 1805 and 1834. The OS came to dominate map making in Britain but, of all the maps of Hertfordshire, that produced by Dury and Andrews was the first to be surveyed at a sufficiently large scale to really allow those dwelling in the county to visualise their own parish, local topography and even their own house, and its place in the wider landscape.


In 1799 the 5th Earl Cowper, Peter Leopold Francis Nassau Clavering-Cowper, and his distant cousin Henry Cowper commissioned landscape gardener Humphry Repton to submit plans for ‘improving’ their three connecting estates of Tewin Water, Panshanger and Cole Green. Repton was also asked to draw up plans for a new house on the north side of the river Mimram. He visited Tewin Water in May 1799 and Panshanger in June 1799, and subsequently produced ‘red books’ for both estates. Although there were delays in the building of the new house, work started straightaway on the landscape improvements recommended by Repton. Much of the Repton’s designed landscape has now been destroyed but the Red Books for Panshanger and Tewin Water provide evidence of his schemes. Panshanger Park was perhaps the finest and most important landscape designed by Repton in the county.

The sketches in Repton’s original Red Books comprise watercolours with overlaid flaps: the flap is closed to show the ‘before’ scene and lifted to reveal the ‘after’ scene. Due to constraints of production costs, rather than reproduce the flaps, this edition (in A4 landscape) presents full-colour reproductions of each sketch both ‘before’ and ‘after’. The coloured endpapers are a facsimile of the marble endpapers in the original. The Introduction by Twigs Way outlines Repton’s work, his design principles and the practical application of them.

As most of Repton’s surviving Red Books are in private ownership, the publication of this full-colour edition of the Panshanger and Tewin books brings into the public domain rare examples of Repton’s design skills. It will be of great interest not only to historians of Hertfordshire but also to garden historians everywhere.

Volume XVII: Garden-Making and the Freman Family: A Memoir of Hamels 1713-1733

Edited and with an Introduction by Anne Rowe

The Memoir, written by the Reverend George Smith, vicar of Braughing, records the creation of elaborate formal gardens at Hamels for Ralph Freman MP. It contains much information relating to estate management, including the renovation of buildings, the exploitation of local resources, and pond management, and it also names numerous craftsmen who worked at Hamels and describes extreme weather events. The Introduction provides a history of the Hamels estate, considers the gardens in the context of other early eighteenth-century gardens in Hertfordshire, analyses the Memoir’s contents and describes the surviving evidence of Freman’s gardens.

Books published by others Garden Trusts

Enticing Paths – A Treasury of Norfolk Gardens and Gardens

Edited by Roger Last

Enticing Paths, edited by Roger Last, looks at aspects of gardens and gardening in Norfolk over five centuries. It ranges across the whole spectrum of gardens and garden design and history, including the Bishop’s Garden and Carrow Abbey in Norwich, the work of Thomas Jeckyll and George Skipper, lost gardens such as Brundall Gardens and Didlington Hall, aspects of Sandringham and Blickling, the plant collections of Maurice Mason, the Snowdrop breeding of Heyrick Greatorex, Lakes in Norfolk Landscape Parks, Norfolk Gardens as seen in Art, and much more. It is lavishly illustrated with 480 pages and over 500 pictures. Anyone with an interest in Norfolk will enjoy this book, which will also make the perfect Christmas present.

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