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: 


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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