In August 1768, William Gilpin, then headmaster of Cheam School in Surrey, made an excursion through Banstead and Reigate to Dorking and thence to the Rookery at Westcott, returning via Mickleham and Ashtead. His previously unpublished manuscript description of this expedition is held by the Bodleian Library at Oxford. It mentions the great estates and describes the ‘Picturesque’ scenes which he observed along the way.

This book gives an account of his life and ideas and relates the history of these estates - Gatton, Betchworth Castle, Denbies, the Rookery, the Deepdene, Norbury and Ashtead Park - including research carried out by members of the Surrey Gardens Trust. It is copiously illustrated, mostly with contemporary maps, engravings and watercolours, including a number by John Hassell which have been acquired recently by the Surrey History Centre.

In Pursuit of the Picturesque was written by Joan Percy and published by the Surrey Gardens Trust. It costs £9.95 plus £1.25 postage and packing. ISBN 0 9540630 0 7. 116 pages, 55 black and white and 35 colour illustrations.

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Dr. Syntax losing his way

The Rookery
Engraving of the Rookery

Sketch Map Showing the route of William Gilpin's Excursion in Surrey
(click to enlarge)

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