New Book | Thomas White (c. 1736–1811)

Posted in books by Editor on March 8, 2023

From Oxbow Books:

Deborah Turnbull and Louise Wickham, Thomas White (c. 1736–1811): Redesigning the Northern British Landscape (Oxford: Windgather Press, 2021), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1914427008, £40 / $55.

Book coverThis volume aims to restore the reputation of Thomas White, who in his time was as well respected as his fellow landscape designers Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphry Repton. By the end of his career, White had produced designs for at least 32 sites across northern England and over 60 in Scotland. These include nationally important designed landscapes in Yorkshire such as Harewood House, Sledmere Hall, Burton Constable Hall, Newby Hall, and Mulgrave Castle, as well as Raby Castle in Durham, Belle Isle in Cumbria, and Brocklesby Hall in Lincolnshire. He had a vital role in the story of how northern English designed landscapes evolved in the 18th century. The book focuses on White’s known commissions in England and sheds further light on the work of other designers such as Brown and Repton, who worked on many of the same sites. White set up as an independent designer in 1765, having worked for Brown from 1759, and his style developed over the next thirty years. Never merely a ‘follower of Brown’, as he is often erroneously described, White was admired for his designs, which influenced the later, more informal styles of the picturesque movement. The improvement plans he produced for his clients demonstrate his surveying and artistic skills. These plans were working documents but at the same time works of art in their own right. Over 60 of his beautifully-executed coloured plans survive as a testament to the value his clients placed on them. This book makes available for the first time over 90% of the known plans and surveys by White for England. Also included are plans by White’s contemporaries, together with later maps, estate surveys, and contemporary illustrations to understand which parts of improvement plans were implemented.


List of Figures

1  Thomas White in Context
2  Early Career and Working with Brown
3  First Commissions, 1765–68
4  Established Landscape Designer, 1769–80
5  Later Career, 1781–1803
6  Getting the Commission
7  His Landscape Designs
8  Working Methods
9  Arboricultural Activities
10  Thomas White in Scotland by Christopher Dingwall
11  White’s Sites in England



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