Capability Brown

Often referred to as England’s greatest gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was born in the Northumberland village of Kirkharle in 1716 at a time when enormous wealth and changing tastes saw landowners begin to transform their gardens and estates from formal geomtric layouts into pastoral parklands and pleasure grounds. After working locally and then at Stowe from 1749 he worked independently for an impressive range of over 250 clients. His designs set a fashion for open, naturalistic landscapes, populated by grazing herds and punctuated by eye-catching buildings. 

Brown was hailed as an arbiter of taste and almost as a genius. His work was seen to be uniquely natural British and this status was recognised publicly by his appointment at the Royal Gardner in 1764. Yet his work fell from favour after his death, dismissed as dull and insipid and he was almost forgtten untilthe mid-20th century when it was recognized that he was the man behind England’s green and pleasant land — creating landscapes that were no “natural” that subsequent generations just assumed it was the product of Nature herself.