Wandering Around Wallington

I recently made a visit to the National Trust property of Wallington, situated in Northumberland and not very far from the birthplace of our man ‘Capability’ Brown. I was intrigued and keen to follow-up the connection between this impressive estate, Lancelot’s older brother George and our man Brown.

Wallington+Hall

Wallington’s East front. © Gary Webb 2014

George Brown, apparently known as ‘Geordie’ was born in the autumn of 1713, and in due course gained an apprenticeship as a stonemason at the nearby Wallington estate, owned by Sir Walter Calverley Blackett. George remained on the estate team all his life, being involved it would seem in maintenance and improvements to Wallington and its surroundings.

In the mid/late 1730’s Sir Walter employed the architect Daniel Garrett to substantially update the property in the Palladian style. Garrett was responsible for much change at Wallington, and although he died before its completion is also credited with building the impressive Clock Tower, which visitors still pass through on entering the courtyard.

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The Clock Tower, Daniel Garrett, completed c1754. © Gary Webb 2014

George Brown would have worked with Garrett turning drawings to reality, and it’s fair to say with such lavish changes to Wallington, word of each development would have been swiftly passed on to brothers John and Lancelot, both at this point working on the neighbouring estate. News of surveying, plan drawing, and of buildings being raised and embellished.

Flora+Statue_Wallington

Flora, along with many other lead statues grace the terrace wall, above the walled garden. © Gary Webb 2014

Now, I’m not one for gambling but I’d bet that all this activity would have influenced the maturing Lancelot, not just for the architectural creativity but also for the process where a ‘travelling’ architect could gain commissions from clients keen to improve their property. It’s easy to imagine the ambitious Lancelot, encouraged no doubt by a supportive George, becoming used to drawing techniques, construction basics and fashionable architecture. Maybe Lancelot even picked up second-hand accounts of the contract negotiations between architect and client – who knows?!

dragon+heads+Wallington

The dragons heads, now on the front lawn at Wallington. Striking to say the least! © Gary Webb 2014

Daniel Garrett’s improvements in the late 30s brought much change, including the mock ruin Rothley Castle . The dragon heads that adorned it, as shown above were originally from Bishopsgate, London.

Another notable name from the day was James Paine who designed the impressive bridge across the Wansbeck, just below Wallington c1750. It is unsurprising therefore that local boy Lancelot was invited to add his layer, but not until he had reached his forties and proved himself capable!

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James Paine bridge over the Wansbeck. © Gary Webb 2014

Brown’s achievements at Wallington are somewhat understated but these include, according to the guide a ‘fishing lake’, a pleasure ground, and also potentially; the walled garden. I can’t quite gather who built the ‘Owl House’, or gazebo above the walled garden, c1766 but its elevated position allows a clear view of Paine’s bridge mentioned above.

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View across the Mary Pool, early 20th century. © Gary Webb 2014

Brown’s work on the walled garden is hard to appreciate today, especially as it received later attention and adaptation but this walled plot is far from average; it is beautifully appointed and worth a look if you can find opportunity – don’t miss, at the lower end of the garden the subtle but unusual water levelling system in the pond at the lower end of the garden – a Brown feature do you think?

Wallington+walled+garden_oculus_pond

An oculus? © Gary Webb 2014

Looking at Lancelot’s achievements later in life it is easy to see where those early sparks appeared, not only at Kirkharle but at Wallington; both properties at that time investing heavily in landscape and architecture. My journeys to Kirkharle are covered elsewhere, but if you’re looking to see what might have inspired Brown, I’d certainly advise you to Wander around Wallington, for its connections are strong, and its influence, through George is important not to overlook.

Reading for this post:

The Omnipotent Magician – Jane Brown

Wallington, National Trust Guide Book – Raleigh Trevelyan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Lancelot Capability Brown

Hello and Welcome to my Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown blog! I thrive on the richness and diversity found within our historic gardens and landscapes and I hope through this blog to paint a picture of Lancelot Brown’s 18th Century world, his landscapes and life. I’d like this blog to spread the Brownian word far and wide, so please join in, suggest post subjects, send in potential articles or links to anything and everything with 'Capability'. I’ll also be looking forward to the Capability Brown Tercentenary Celebration of his birth in 2016, and look forward to an incredible year where the work of Brown can receive more praise and recognition than ever before. I've also launched a Twitter account under the title of @Brown2016 where for the next few years I plan to help spread the word and at the very least play my part in the build-up to a special year for all who enjoy landscape gardening in its true form. All views are my own and do not represent those of any organisation.
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