‘Capability’ Brown – Start Your Voyage of Discovery!

A steady trickle of media articles concerning Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is building to quite a flow at the moment as the 2016 Festival Year picks up pace. For many people it will be enough to read an article or two, and in doing so build an appreciation of Mr Brown and his work. For others opportunity might arise to read an information panel at one of the many ‘hub’ landscapes such as Compton Verney, Croome or Weston Park.

But, what if you want to know more, want to learn more about Lancelot, his life and times – where can you start?
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Need to know more about Capability Brown?

A short post this may be, but possibly one of the more useful ones to pop out of this venture for a while. Amongst the many publications and websites that are increasingly referring to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, I bring news of another blog, but one that deserves to stand out from the crowd, featuring a wealth of information on our man Brown; from a man that knows.
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Contribute to a New Digital Record of Capability Brown


Chatsworth Park from the Garden (c. Matthew Bullen) Chatsworth Park from the Garden (c. Matthew Bullen)

PRESS RELEASE: The Historic Houses Association (HHA) today launches a digital window on to 18 of England’s greatest Capability Brown landscapes, and is calling for visual contributions from visitors.

The new microsite showcases HHA Member landscapes designed in the 18th century by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the father of landscape architecture, and is live at http://www.hhacapabilitybrown.co.uk.

This new site provides the opportunity for visitors to the gardens to see their own photos featured on the homepage. Images can be submitted on Twitter using the hashtag #HHACapabilityBrown and will be uploaded and credited. Visitors’ photos will appear alongside the beautiful images of these striking landscapes taken by professional photographers.

View of Chatsworth Estate (c. Chatsworth Estate) View of Chatsworth Estate (c. Chatsworth Estate)

The microsite currently profiles world-famous landscapes such as those at Blenheim Palace and Chatsworth House, alongside less well-known but very important locations such as Kirkharle in Northumberland, Brown’s…

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Alan Titchmarsh on Capability Brown

Twenty sixteen is fast approaching for a wide group of people with an appreciation of a particular period of English history. The century was the eighteenth, when a certain Lancelot Brown arrived, a seemingly average boy who eventually became known as England’s greatest gardener.

Through his training and early career steps, Brown picked up on a new style of gardening, or landscape gardening to be more precise, and forming his ideal vision went on to re-form and landscape over two hundred sites across Britain. In completing his commissions, Brown helped to establish a natural style of gardening that would be imitated by many, and adopted world wide. As some would say; our greatest and most original contribution to world art.

Next year turns out to be 300 years since Mr. Brown was born, and there is a year-long festival in store for all who wish to partake. One notable individual to join the fray is gardening presenter Alan Titchmarsh, who brings to the fore a TV series that demonstrates his long held appreciation for Brown. A short description states; ‘Alan celebrates the 300th anniversary of his horticultural hero by helping to create one of Brown’s lost masterpieces at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire’. 

Episode one aired this week on More4, titled ‘Alan Titchmarsh on Capability Brown‘, and I’d thoroughly recommend taking 45 minutes to watch on Channel 4’s ‘on-demand’ service, the link posted below. As a general introduction, the series is perfectly pitched and provides a great insight into Brown’s work. Through Alan’s eyes, Brown’s vision and true capability shines through as he takes on a real and large scale gardening project that was designed, but unexecuted by Brown due to his passing. 

In the first episode, the original, beautifully prepared Brownian plans are explored with expert John Phibbs, and Alan tries to understand more about Brown the gardener with a trip to his Northumbrian birthplace and training ground of Kirkharle, and visits to the stunning landscapes of Stowe and Burghley. With a touch of CGI and some reconstructive archaeology, the structure and creation of a Brownian landscape is explored and unravelled.

Alan’s reaction to Brown’s 1780 plans typified the connection people have with Brown’s acheivements. Touched with a sense of awe and respect, he poured over those maps like many of us have, mentally walking and exploring those drawn paths, eyes following carriage drives, crossing bridges and sweeping across sculpted lawns to a perfected countryside view. 

This is certainly a TV series of the moment, full of grandeur yet digestible in its offering, so far explaining clearly what Brownian landscaping was all about; it perfectly sets the scene for the year ahead, and leaves us wanting more!

Enough chat from me, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. So, if you’re wondering what this Capability Brown talk is all about just now, I’d suggest you watch this programme and see for yourself who we’re all talking about!

Catch up on More 4 on-demand by clicking on the following link: 


Or click the following link for more information on the Capability Brown Festival: http://www.capabilitybrown.org 

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What would you do with a £20 note?

The picture of a person on a bank note can be an image that blends into the background of daily life. For the featured character however, and especially for the people and places that may be connected with that person; being featured can bring valuable focus, attention and support.

The next £20 note will celebrate Britain’s achievements in the visual arts, which includes designers, architects and craftspeople. The Bank of England would like the public to nominate who they would like to feature on the back of the £20 note – it can take less than 60 seconds to vote.

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown I feel fits the bill perfectly, and with his appropriately timed CB300 Tercentenary Festival approaching in 2016, what better time to show a little extra support for England’s Greatest Historical Gardener.

Brown’s artistic contribution to 200+ landscape gardens and parks continue to be enjoyed daily by people breathing deeply, are filled with valuable flora and  fauna, and are an important part of Britains allure to tourists. Making the £20 note a ‘Brown Note’ will trigger people’s awareness and support, and bring valuable support for heritage landscapes and gardens of all types.

A Vote for Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is a vote for heritage and gardening in Britain, you know it makes sense 😉

VOTE BROWN! ✅   : http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/Pages/characters/nominationform.aspx

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Capability Brown Festival

Great news indeed – a nationwide festival to mark the 300th Birthday of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown has been given a major boost after receiving support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Lancelot Brown,  by Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland. c1773.  National Portrait Gallery.

Lancelot Brown,
by Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland. c1773.
National Portrait Gallery.

An impressive list of partner organisations include English Heritage, the Landscape Institute, the National Trust, the Historic Houses Association plus many more who are spearheading the campaign to celebrate one on the nations best known gardeners throughout 2016. Following not far behind are representatives from many landscape gardens across the land.

The work will have two strands, the first being to increase public access to some of the sites where Brown worked or advised, and with sites numbering in the region of 250, coordination of this alone is no walk in the park (pardon the pun). The second strand aims to help people understand Brown’s work and gain a grasp of his achievements.

In addition to supporting the festival, the Heritage Lottery Fund has recently given funding to ‘Brown’ projects such as Highcliffe Castle to improve parkland, to Ampthill Great Park to restore landscape, and to Compton Verney to ‘Re-view’ its Brownian landscape including restoration of a Brown designed chapel – yes Lancelot took on built commissions too!

From a Personal perspective, I can say that a character that I’ve held in high regard for many years will finally be given a platform for greater appreciation and understanding. Furthermore, with some of the nations largest heritage, gardening and arts organisations involved alongside some of the nations favourite heritage gardens; we’re set for a bumper year indeed!

For more information and updates from the festival team, head over to the official Capability Brown Festival website: http://www.capabilitybrown.org

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Capability Brown – 2014 blog review

Lancelot Capability Brown

2014 in blogging

This blog was viewed about 6,100 times in 2014.

There were 72 pictures uploaded.

The busiest day of the year was February 10th with 97 views. The most popular post that day was In Remembrance of Capability Brown – February 1783.

The top referring sites in 2014 were:

  1. twitter.com

  2. gardenhistorysociety.org

  3. nttreasurehunt.wordpress.com

  4. facebook.com

  5. historicalgardensblog.com

Where did they come from?

72 countries in all! Most visitors came from U.K but the United States & Australia were not far behind.

Thanks to everyone who dropped by and read a post or two, and thanks also to those who shared a link – your support and encouragement is very much appreciated!

Fingers crossed for another busy year with lots of Brownian activity to shout about!

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