On this day in history, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716 – 1783) was baptised in St Wilfred’s Church, Kirkharle. Set in the rugged Northumbrian landscape, this charming church would be the place of Worship for the Brown family for many years to come.
Lancelot’s record in the register is proudly on show, if a little hard to decipher, and a commemoration plaque clearly makes proud reference to Kirkharle’s famous son.
Kirkharle these days appears a peaceful location, frequented regularly by visitors to the courtyard development. The old estate buildings have been adapted sensitively housing boutique shops, arts and crafts workshops and a lovely coffee house and restaurant.
Although much changed from Lancelot’s day, (the hall having been reduced in size to a large farmhouse,) the location holds much magic for those trying to pick up on Brown’s early days – helped in no small measure by interpretation panels illustrating Brown and his achievements.
I’m certain that Kirkharle would have continued to hold a special place in Lancelot’s heart, indeed later in his career he produced a plan for the estate, which wasn’t actually executed. The plan was discovered some years ago, and has since been recreated much as Lancelot intended, and offers another tangible link that is really special.
Kirkharle, including its courtyard development, St Wilfred’s and the outlying landscape is an incredibly evocative place, and one that I’d recommend for a visit if you’re within range. Look for St Wilfred’s, soak up the atmosphere and dream a little. Walk around the establishing ‘Brownian’ lake, pause beside Kirkharle Burn and listen to the briskly flowing water.
After all this, grab a coffee and ‘Brownie’ in the restaurant, and read the exhibition panels to learn more about the fascinating career Lancelot made for himself, from such humble beginnings. Whilst you’re there, you may want to look for your next Brown location, maybe Wallington just a few minutes away by car?