Capability Brown - 300 years

Hands up - Who has heard of Lancelot Brown?

What if I were to ask you whether you had heard of Capability Brown? 

If you are unfamiliar with this inspirational character, now is the time to gain a snippet of insight! 

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The exact birth date of Lancelot Brown is unknown, however, it was recorded that he was baptised on the 30th August 1716 in Kirkharle, Northumberland. His parents were William and Ursula Brown, a modest couple who worked hard on both the land and in service within a large manor house on the Kirkharle Estate, owned by the Loraine Family. It is known that the Loraine family were particularly fond of the Brown's, admiring their hardworking ethic and attitude.

From his local village school, Lancelot began work as a gardener at Kirkharle in 1739, progressing into the works of design and contracting.

The nickname 'Capability' is thought to have derived from the description of his landscapes as they had 'great capabilities'.



Why is he worth talking about?

This year, numerous estates have been celebrating 300 years of this incredibly talented individual by organising special events within the landscapes he nurtured.

What makes Brown different to others in his industry and of his time, was his ability to visualise a landscape that was completely independent to anything mastered before. He had the foresight and credence to predict success in his accomplishments and follow this through with ultimate skill and professionalism. The unique and impressive architectural landscape and structures inspired and created by Brown, have become iconic to the quintessential 'English' garden.

Legacy

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Early Plans for Blenheim Palace
Over a 40 year career, Brown worked on over 250 sites, of which more than 150 survive today. It was reported that he would often work on 6 projects at a time alongside help from numerous foremen, surveyors, landscapers and labourers.
Can you imagine a schedule that busy? I feel like slumping down in a chair with my feet up just thinking about it! The fact is even more impressive, especially since he would have to travel on horseback or carriage between sites. It wouldn't have been so easy as hopping in a car and whizzing along the M5 for a couple of hours.

Capability Brown not only was a fantastic designer and entrepreneur, he would have been a suave salesman, persuading the richest of the rich to part with millions of pounds to create beautiful and productive landscapes that would take time to mature and shine.

It was all about patience, and it must have been hard to persuade this idea to people who would have wanted perfection in an instant. Brown's ambition was to sell the idea of legacy - the concept that himself and the aristocracy will live on through these fantastic creations of immense scale, changing the face of the 18th Century and beyond.

You may have visited some of these sites, but if not, why not start planning your next day trip or weekend break:
Bowood Gardens, Wiltshire
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Compton Verney, Warwickshire





There really are a countless number of stunning gardens and properties to visit, each with their own unique structures and landscapes, but displaying the same iconic Capability Brown features.


For a comprehensive list and timeline of  Brown's accomplishments, I have found a fantastic article on the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardens-to-visit/everything-you-need-to-know-about-capability-brown/

Alternatively take a look around your local area to see if you live or are close to a Capability Brown creation. 

Now I am no teacher, but I hope you have a learnt a little more, even if it is just enlightening yourself to 'Capabilities' baptism date.

Let me know how you've found this weeks blog - a little different to the norm but I felt it was necessary to celebrate this brilliant historic figure.

Have a fabulous weekend and don't forget to let me know what you've been up to!

(becky@hayloftplants.co.uk)

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