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Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (also known as 'Capability' Brown)

Who was Lancelot 'Capability' Brown?

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was an English gardener, landscape designer and architect active in the 18th century.

Life and Work

He was born in 1716 at Kirkharle in Northumberland, England. He was educated at the school in the nearby village of Cambo and later worked for Sir William Loraine in Kirkharle.

Brown was employed by Lord Cobham at Stowe in 1741. He took responsibility for both landscaping and architectural works, establishing himself as an independent designer and contractor. Several large commissions followed (more than 40 between 1750 and 1760), and his reputation earned him an average of £8,000 per year.

He gained an appointment as master gardener at Hampton Court and Richmond in 1764, and through the 1760s he undertook more than 65 commissions. He worked at Blenheim from 1764, and this is generally thought of as his masterpiece.

Brown died suddenly on 6 February 1783. He was buried at Fenstanton in Huntingdonshire, England where he had owned a small estate purchased in 1767.


  • Brimacombe, P. Capability Brown: the master gardener (Stroud: Pitkin Guides, 2001)
  • Brown, Jane The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, 1716-1783 (London: Chatto and Windus, 2011)
  • Clifford, Joan Capability Brown: an illustrated life of Lancelot Brown 1716-1783 (Aylesbury: Shire Publications, 1975)
  • Colvin, Howard, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects: 1600-1840, 3rd edition (London and New Haven: Yale University Press), pp. 165-167.
  • Fryer, H. (Ed.) Lancelot (Capability) Brown: Warwickshire commissions (Warwickshire Gardens Trust, 1994)
  • Gibson, Michael 'Capability' Brown in Staffordshire (Stafford: Staffordshire County Library, 1981)
  • Hadfield, Miles et. al., British Gardeners: A Biographical Dictionary (London: A. Zwemmer, 1980), pp. 47-51.
  • Hinde, Thomas Capability Brown: the story of a master gardener (London: Hutchinson, 1986)
  • Hyams, E. Capability Brown and Humphry Repton (London: JM Dent, 1971)
  • Kent Gardens Trust Capability Brown in Kent (Kent Gardens Trust, 2016)
  • Mayer, Laura Capability Brown and the English Landscape Garden (London: Shire Publications, 2011)
  • Parks and Gardens UK Capability Brown Selected Resources (accessed 08/10/2015)
  • Phibbs, J A list of landscapes that have been attributed to Lancelot ‘Capability' Brown (Garden History 41: 2, 2013) pages 244-277
  • Ransomes Film Unit Capability Brown (film from 1964)
  • Stroud, Dorothy Capability Brown (Country Life, 1950)
  • Turner, Roger Capability Brown and the Eighteenth-century English Landscape (Chichester: Phillimore, 1999)
  • Tyne and Wear County Council Museums and Landscape Institute Capability Brown and the Northern Landscape (Newcastle: The County Council Museums, 1983)
  • Willis, Peter 'Capability Brown's Account with Drummonds Bank, 1753-1783' (Architectural History: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain 27, 1984), 382-91
  • Woodhouse, A. Capability Brown of Kirkharle (2000)

The list of 'Associated Places' relates to sites where work to Brown's design was actually carried out. It does not include places where Brown was commissioned to produce a plan but the commission was not executed. Nor does it include places where a more informal consultation with Brown took place.

Associated Places