(Above photo - The nearest Capability Brown design to Canonbury Antiques is at Luton Hoo )
When Lancelot Brown was born in 1715, no one could tell he would end up as England’s greatest landscape architect. He was a consummate artist, a trait that made people start referring to him as “Capability.” Before he started work on a garden, he would tell the owner that it had “capability” to be greatly improved. Soon, people were referring to him as Capability Brown.
In his lifetime, he transformed more than 170 parks across England. You only need to move across the country to see how much his work has endured. In 1764, Capability Brown was made the royal gardener for King George III. He is credited with designing and transforming the Grecian Valley. He also worked for Lord Cobham and William Pitt.
Capability Brown’s Unique Style
(Above photo - Chatsworth House gardens by Capability Brown )
One of the reasons for his popularity is the simplicity with which he approached his landscapes. You would hardly notice too much detail or clutter in his designs. Mostly, he would have tree clumps bordering sweeping pastures. Other details included screens of green trees as well as shelterbelts on the perimeter. That would hardly make sense in the modern world. However, at that time, people engaged in pursuits like carriage riding, shooting, and hunting. Owners of castles needed a lot of space to carry out all of that.
Popular Landscapes That Capability Brown Worked On
In present-day England, there are several landscapes developed by Capability Brown that still stand today. They include the following:
1. Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire
We put this in at number one for the simple reason it's the closest to Canonbury Antiques - only 25 minutes drive up the M1 into Bedfordshire. Well worth a visit after purusing goods at our showroom - the afternoon tea at Luton Hoo comes highly recommended followed by a stroll in the gardens at Luton Hoo. There has been a house at Luton Hoo since 1455 - the current house has been featured in many films including 'Eyes Wide Shut' and 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' as it's the perfect English Estate in microcosm and close to London. Well worth a visit.
2. Croome, Worcestershire
(Above photo - Croome Court, Worcestershire )
This was the first project by Capability Brown on the house with parkland. Even though the property had been run down, it has since been restored. It is no longer as overgrown as it had become over the centuries. Visitors to the property can behold the beauty both inside and outside.
3. Trentham, Staffordshire
(Above photo - Lancelot 'Capability' Brown worked on the landscape at Trentham between. 1759 and 1780 for the Earl Gower )
When it comes to elegant gardens in England, this is perhaps the best example. It is a magnificent garden that features a mile-long lake, an Italian garden, a maze, and woodland. Tourists like exploring the shores of the lake on foot or riding a boat aptly christened Miss Elizabeth. The picture-perfect nature of this garden is irresistible to anyone looking for a beautiful green background.
4. Harewood, Yorkshire
When designing a garden for this imposing house, Capability Brown ensured there was a complete match in the different elements. That’s the reason the property has a massive lake standing on 32 acres. The house itself holds a lot of treasures inside. People who come visiting cannot help but marvel at the enormous art collection featuring Turner’s watercolor collection. Overall, Harewood estate spans over 1,000 acres.
5. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
(Above photo - Perhaps Brown's greatest achievement - Blenheim Palace )
If Capability Brown’s talent was to be measured on account of scale, the project at Blenheim Palace was perhaps the grandest. It features more than 2,000 acres of carefully landscaped parkland. No wonder it is considered England’s “most beautiful view.” The formal gardens are so grand that the property has since been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Of course, these are only a few of the properties on which Capability Brown had a mark. There are many more out there.
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