Capability Brown Landscape Gardener

Capability Brown Landscape Gardener


Lancelot Brown 1716 – 1783

Lancelot Brown is the most famous gardener who popularised English landscape design. Lancelot Brown’s nickname ‘Capability’ came from his saying about an estate he was commissioned to work on ‘It has great capabilities’ .

During his life he was Sheriff of Huntingdon, gardener to King George III, architect and innovator of ‘Landskip’ gardening. At the age of 24 he went to Lord Cobhams garden at Stowe where he learnt from William Kent who had studies Italian and Grecian gardens and John Vanbrugh. In 1764 Lancelot Brown was appointed Master Gardener at Hampton Court.

Lancelot Brown described himself as a ‘place-maker’ not a ‘landscape gardener’. He didn’t want a series of tableaux within a garden, he wanted a piece of countryside. Formality and straight lines had to go and to avoid fences he created the Ha-ha a sunken version. Flowers were cosigned to walled gardens and trees imported to suit his design.

Some of his designs were elaborate and involved changing hills and lakes and some thought them lavish. After his death the strong vision he had carried through in his work fell out of favour and only in the last century was he fully rehabilitated.

Capability Brown is believed to be responsible for over 170 gardens surrounding the finest country houses and estates in Britain. He never worked in Ireland saying ‘he hadn’t finished England yet. His work still endures at Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Harewood House, Milton Abbey and below is a further edited list of his work. Get out and visit some of these 18th century landscapes:-

• Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
• Althorp, Northamptonshire
• Aske Hall, North Yorkshire
• Burghley House, Lincolnshire
• Battle Abbey, East Sussex•Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire  e
• Burton Constable Hall, East Riding of Yorkshire
• Cambridge, The Backs
• Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire
• Chatsworth, Derbyshire
• Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
• Grimsthorpe Castle
• Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
• Harewood House Leeds
• Holkham Hall, Norfolk
• The Hoo, Hertfordshire
• Hornby Castle, North Yorkshire
• Kiddington, Oxfordshire
• Kirtlington, Oxfordshire
• Knowsley, Liverpool
• Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire
• Leeds Abbey, near Leeds Castle, Kent
• Lleweni Hall, Clwyd
• Longleat, Wiltshire
• Lowther, Cumbria
• Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire
• Petworth House, West Sussex
• Ragley Hall
• Roche Abbey, near Sheffield
• Scampston Hall
• Sheffield Park Garden
• Sledmere House
• Stowe Landscape Garden
• Syon House
• Temple Newsam
• Warwick Castle
• Wentworth Castle, South Yorkshire

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is one of our top 100 gardeners of all time


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