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Capability Brown 300: Landscape of the month

Here is a list of the landscapes featured during the Capability Brown 300 project.

June 2014: Mount Clare with accompanying article What is Capability Brown’s legacy at Mount Clare?

July 2014: Rycote Park There is a project called Rediscovering Rycote hosted by the Bodleian Library which includes a wealth of information and research including maps and historic images of Rycote.

August 2014: Compton Verney. A number of resources are available including an article written by Head Gardener, Gary Webb: Re-viewing the Landscape of Compton Verney and a short interview with Gary on www.capabilitybrown.org which can be read here. Gary also maintains his own blog which sometimes features information about Compton Verney such as his post in October 2013 about Compton Verney's Lost Garden. You can learn even more about Compton Verney by following their blog. Of particular interest in the blog is the section on historic features in the grounds which discusses the West Lawn and the ice house and the section on Tree Facts which provides a Fact Sheet about their Cedar of Lebanon trees. You can also enjoy a collection of photographs of Compton Verney on this Flickr page.

September 2014: Tong Castle with accompanying article written by Dr Paul Stamper, Tong Castle: A Shropshire Brown Commission. You can learn more about Tong Castle by visiting the Discovering Tong website. Additional images of the castle and grounds can also be found on the Wolverhampton's Listed Buildings website and the Lost Heritage website.

October 2014: Madingley Hall, including an article written by Dr Christopher Taylor, Lancelot Brown: Engineer and Businessman, in which he uses Madingley Hall as an example of Brown's practical achievements within the landscape. There are also a number of images of the hall and gardens  available on Flickr.

November 2014: Plas Dinefwr. When you visit our site record, be sure to click through to the images to view historic as well as modern photographs. Capability Brown is believed to have consulted on the landscape of the park around 1775. This included a walk specifically designed by Brown which was a circular route around Newton House, with carefully composed planting and framed views. Read more about rediscovering information about the walk in Lord Dynevor’s archive here. In 2011, the National Trust made the 'Capability' Brown walk more accessible to the public. There is a detailed Route Overview on their website. For detailed information about Dinefwr Park and it's history, visit the Llandeilo Through the Ages page which includes a separate page all about the numerous specimen Trees in Dinefwr Park.

December 2014: Capability Brown was employed at Trentham from 1759 to 1780 and created the mile long lake and the surrounding parkland. In 2014, the Trentham Estate began work to restore the landscape that Brown created. For further information about the project and progress be sure to follow Trentham's blog. A leaflet about the project is also available online. When you visit our site record, be sure to click through to the images to view historic as well as modern photographs.

January 2015: Burghley was one of Capability Brown's longest projects, he spent 24 years there! In 2014, the Burghley Estate began work to restore some of Brown's landscape views and features that have been lost over the years. Be sure to read our latest article Restoring Capability Brown's vision at Burghley to learn more about the project. Additionally, click here to read an article by Bunny Guinness in The Telegraph (31 March 2014) about the start of the restoration project. When you visit our site record, be sure to click through to the images to view historic as well as modern images.

February 2015: Wimbledon Park. Lancelot Capability Brown designed the  parkland for John, 1st Earl Spencer (1734-1783). Be sure to read our latest article Capability Brown's Wimbledon Park, in His Day and Ours to learn more about the landscape.

March-April 2015: Kirkharle Hall. Capability Brown was born in the village of Kirkharle in 1716. He worked as a junior gardener on the Kirkharle estate before moving south in 1739, and is thought to have advised the 4th Baronet, William Loraine, later in his career. To learn more about restoring and managing the estate, read: Restoring and managing Kirkharle: a perpective from owner John Anderson The Lake: Brown designed the original plan for the lake at Kirkharle but it was never carried out. However, in 2010, the lake was created following Brown's plan. It is now open to the public. Visit the Kirkharle project page to learn more about creating the lake and watch the Countryfile video. Kirkharle was featured on capabilitybrown.org in August 2014 (click on the link to read more).

May 2015: Scampston Hall. Capability Brown designed the park at Scampston in 1782. It incorporates a series of lakes and naturalistic planting of the period. He also designed the Palladian bridge. To read more about the family history and the parkland, click on the links provided.

June 2015: Ampthill Park, originally a deer park, surrounded Ampthill Castle, which was built in the early-15th century by Sir John Cornwall. The castle was ruinous by the end of the 16th century and the present Park House was built in the late-17th century to replace the Great Lodge. The house was re-modelled in 1769, and the park was landscaped by Lancelot Brown in 1771-2. Ampthill Park is owned and managed by Ampthill Town Council in association with The Greensand Trust and is open to the public. In 2014, the Council received £600,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore and enhance the park's landscape. Read the HLF press release to learn more about this project now underway. The Ampthill Town Council has an informative website about the park, including a gallery of images and a Tree Trail leaflet which identifies some of the more significant and ancient trees in the park including those planted by Capability Brown. Our database record is fairly extensive for Ampthill Park for anyone interested in learning more about this landscape's significant history. There are also a number of other resources available which tell the history of the park. These include a Chronology produced by Ampthill History Forum and a downloadable leaflet about visiting the park by The Greensand Trust.

July 2015: Hallingbury Place was the site of a Tudor mansion owned by the Parker family. The estate was sold to the Houblon family in 1729. Lady Alice Archer Houblon, in her account of the family history published in 1907, mentions that Capability Brown was engaged by Jacob Houblon in the late 1750s for work at Hallingbury Place. This chronology is however disputed by other sources and it seems more likely that whilst Capability Brown did work for the Houblon family at this time, the work was at Hatfield Forest. By 1773, the house had been re-modelled in Palladian style. Capability Brown was again engaged by the family about this time. Click on the Hallingbury Place link above to visit our database record which provides a detailed account of the history of the estate including references and images. Owned and managed by the National Trust, further information and details about what can still be seen can be found on their website.

August 2015: Valence (also known as Valence School and Hill Park) features 18th-century gardens on a site which dates from medieval times. The gardens were first developed in the mid-18th century, with later landscaping by Lancelot Brown in the late-18th century. Further developments were undertaken by Edward Milner in the mid-19th century and by Henry Ernest Milner in the late-19th century. Valence is now a school and not open to the public. However, researchers in the Kent Gardens Trust have contributed a detailed account of the history of the estate including references and images. Thanks to their extensive research, much can be learned about Valence even without visitng it. Click here to read more about this interesting place and learn about Brown's involvement there.

September 2015: Temple Newsam comprises a landscape park and pleasure grounds set in a larger estate. The estate was largely created during the 18th century by William Etty and Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Features include an 18th-century walled garden, a formal garden, lakes and rhododendron walks. The park is open throughout the year. The house and farm have limited opening times. For more information visit: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Temple-Newsam.aspx. In 2008, Capability Brown's hand-drawn map of Temple Newsam (dated 1762) was conserved at West Yorkshire Archive Service’s studio in Wakefield. To read more about this project, please visit: http://www.archaeology.wyjs.org.uk/documents/archaeology/newsletters/News26pag8.pdf Temple Newsam is included on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. You can learn a lot more about this interesting place and Brown's involvement there including seeing a number of images on our database of the landscape by clicking on the links provided.

October 2015: Heveningham Park has formal gardens and pleasure grounds covering four hectares, set in a landscape park of 205 hectares. A park is recorded on the site in 1575. A new manor house was built on the site of the present hall in 1653. In 1714, the house was re-built and a formal wilderness garden with allees and vistas was laid out. Sir Robert Taylor was commissioned to rebuild the Hall in 1777 and Lancelot Brown was consulted regarding the park in 1782. The Grade I house and landscape were nearly lost in the 20th century. They were eventually rescued by Jon Hunt and his wife when they purchased the estate 20 years ago. With the help of Kim Wilkie, the Hunts have completed Lancelot Brown's ambitious plans for the site including a chain of lakes. In August 2014, The Telegraph published an article, Arcadia in Suffolk, which tells the story of  Jon Hunt and his work to develop the Wilderness Reserve of which Heveningham Hall is a part, though the hall remains as their private residence. You can read the full article here.

November 2015: North Stoneham Park is a late-18th-century park designed by Capability Brown on the site of a medieval deer park. Our detailed database record includes research from the Hampshire Gardens Trust. Additionally, The Friends of North Stoneham Park have a website with further detailed information about the origin and history of the park. In 2015, a landmark development project was approved within the park, to begin in 2016. The latest news about the development project can be read here.

December 2015: Belvoir Castle. In 1780 Capability Brown was consulted on landscaping Belvoir and improving the Castle, but although detailed drawings were prepared (at a cost of £496) his ideas were not implemented. In 2015, Alan Titchmarsh was invited by the Duchess of Rutland to begin an epic makeover of the landscape, with Brown's plans in mind. This can be viewed via Channel 4's three-part series, 'Alan Titchmarsh on Capability Brown'. The Duchess of Rutland also commissioned an oblisk by Laury Dizengremel, the Castle’s artist-in-residence, to mark 300 years since the birth of landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The castle and gardens will be open to the public from 13th March 2016. Please visit their website for details.

January 2016: Digswell Park (around Digswell House) lies mainly in a valley running west to east on the south of the house towards Digswell Lake from which it is separated by a main road. It is now used as urban open space. Digswell Place is now connected to the Park by historic Monks Walk and is adjacent to Sherrardspark Wood which has rides and walks. Capability Brown was paid for work here in 1771-73, in laying out a park around Digswell House. Following purchase of the estate by the Cowpers, a Reptonian landscape was developed, with Nathaniel Kent being employed from 1812 and visits from Repton. In 1919 the land was sold to Ebenezer Howard for Welwyn Garden City with some land being developed and Sherrardspark Wood and Digswell valley being retained as public open spaces. There is an Exhibition at The New Maynard Gallery in Welwyn Garden City of the change from Capability Brown’s landscape at Digswell through to Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City and what can still be detected of the original design. It is on from 11th January to 27th February 2016.  Kate Harwood and the Hertfordshire Gardens Trust have kindly provided digitised copies of the exhibition panels so that it can be enjoyed by more than those able to go in person. See below: http://www.parksandgardens.org/projects/capability-brown/927-digswell-exhibition

February 2016: Shillinglee Park. The importance of the Shillinglee Park lies in the high aesthetic value of the house and ancillary buildings, its roots in the landscape, its structural planting and in its close connection with the surrounding estates of Petworth Park, Cowdray Park and Burton Park. All have connections to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, with known work by Brown at Petworth and Cowdray and accounts for work carried out at both Burton Park and Shillinglee Park. Until recently, Capability Brown's connection with Shillinglee Park wasn't confirmed. However, Sally Walker and the Sussex Gardens Trust have done extensive research to prove Brown worked there. You can read the full research report here. You can also view a digitised handwritten bill, signed by Lancelot Brown for his work at Shillinglee.

March 2016: Langley Park, Slough. An 18th-century landscape park with woodland, with additional 19th- and 20th-century plantations. At its most extensive, the park covered 193 hectares. It is now in divided use, with about 52 hectares designated as a country park and open to the public. George Spencer, the 4th Duke of Marlborough, commissioned Lancelot Brown sometime after 1758 to landscape Langley Park during his time working at Blenheim. In Brown's account book under Blenheim an entry reads 'A plan for some alterations for Langley. The contract £2,810' (quoted in Bucks County Council 1997). The country park is open to the public. To visit, please see the Buckinghamshire County Council website for directions, details of what's on and opening times. The Friends of Langley Park also have a website with a wealth of information about the park including topics such as conservation work, tree species, restoration, event listings and a photo gallery. Also available are guided walks: a Tree Trail and a History Trail. On a related topic, Claire de Carle (Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust) recently published an article about Capability Brown's work in Buckinghamshire. It is titled Celebrating Many Shades of Capability Brown in Buckinghamshire.

April 2016: Newnham Paddox in Coventry. Newnham Paddox has a mid-18th-century landscape park occupying about 115 hectares, with 19th-century formal gardens of some 20 hectares which were largely abandoned in the late-20th century. The park was landscaped by Lancelot Brown between 1745 and 1753. A 12 hectare sculpture park was laid out in the early-21st century called Newnham Paddox Art Park. The house was demolished in 1952. However historic photographs of it can be seen on the Lost Heritage website. The principal building to which the site relates to now is the 18th-century stable court which was converted to domestic use in the mid 20th century. The Feilding archive is the long series of correspondence dating from the time of the 1st Earl of Denbigh in the early 17th century to that of his successors in the 20th. Information about this archive can be found on The National Archives website here. One specific point of interest about Lancelot Brown on the archive information page states the following: To single out individual or unusual items of interest in an archive such as this is undoubtedly rash, but "the building book" kept with the accounts deserves comment for recorded in it is detailed information on the rebuilding of Newnham Paddox in the mid 18th century by Lancelot Brown who received £7,528.2d.9d for his work between 1768 and 1781.

May 2016: Wynnstay also known as Watstay. Wynnstay is one of the largest and most important 18th-century landscape parks in Wales. It retains many of its historic features, some of which are attributed to Richard Woods and Capability Brown. A pleasure garden designed by Brown survives as well as part of a rockwork cascade. There are many monuments and built structures in the park and a formal terrace around the house. The estate belonged to the powerful Watkins Williams Wynn family from the mid-18th to the mid-20th century. The house became a school in the mid-20th century and is now largely converted into luxury apartments. Here are a few additional resources about Wynnstay which are definitely worth a read: Wrexham County Borough Council, Moss Valley, Coflein. There are a number of contemporary and historic photographs included with our database record. Here is a direct link.

June 2016: Leeds Abbey. The remnants of this site were extensively examined by archaeologists 1973-5 but the rest of the site has lain undisturbed for 200 years and is likely to have potential for further investigation. Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is known to have worked there c.1765-72, redesigning the landscape for John Calcraft who also owned Ingress where Brown was carrying out work during the same period. Despite the fact that the site is overgrown, the form of the land and the appearance of the lake can be appreciated especially during the winter months when there are no leaves on the trees. Some idea of the views across the lake can be imagined and, in particular, that from the north end of the lake south-westwards towards the pigeon houses (‘chapel’). There is no public access to the grounds.

July 2016: Rise Hall in Yorkshire. The Fauconbergs had a deer park at Rise in the 13th century. A plan of 1716 shows the Bethells’ house, which had 13 hearths in 1672, on the site of the present Rise Hall, set in modest formal gardens. The owner chiefly responsible for the landscaping was William Bethell, owner 1772-1799, but some improvements were probably carried out by Richard Bethell, owner 1814-1864. This is a well-preserved example of a large landscaped park laid out in its present form in the late-18th century, typical of the work of Capability Brown who provided a plan for improvements in 1775.

August 2016: Navestock in Essex. A new house was constructed at Navestock in the early-18th century, a 'mansion house' being noted in 1717. The mansion was a nine bay brick building, two storeys high above a half basement, with a three bay single storey extension at each end with a balustraded parapet. A park had been formed around the new house by 1726. Lancelot Brown was commissioned to improve the landscape shortly after the death of the second earl in 1763. The adjacent manor of Bois Hall was acquired to allow the enlargement of the park. Further changes included the construction of the lake, a highway diversion, the removal of the avenue and the reorganisation of the pleasure ground. More than a century after its abandonment, many of the features of the park and pleasure grounds can still be identified. The area of the pleasure grounds, its sunken fence and walled vegetable garden remains unaltered, though now very overgrown in parts. The park is under arable cultivation but the majority of the peripheral woodland has survived.