Richard Payne Knight

a biography from the Garden and Landscape Guide

Born - Died : 1750 - 1824

Richard Payne Knight was a connoisseur, author and owner/designer of Downton Castle, between 1774 and 1778. Pevsner, in the Art Bulletin for December 1949, traces the origins of the Downton design to Vanburgh Castle and Strawberry Hill. Richard Payne Knight was the grandson of an ironmaster and the son of a clergyman. Pevsner believed he was more interested in sexual symbolism than anything else. This interest is revealed in Knight's book on The Worship of Priapus. Richard Payne Knight wrote a Poem, The Landscape (1794) in which he mocked the 'smooth' style of Lancelot Brown. This led to the 'picturesque controversy' between Knight, Price and Repton. Richard Payne Knight designed a castellated mansion with a picturesque garden at Downton. The architectural style was 'mixed', just as Humphry Repton was later to propose a 'mixed' approach to garden design. He also came to agree with Repton that a house should have a terrace in the foreground to frame the view of the landscape.

Gardens designed by Richard Payne Knight