England’s greatest landscape gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, 300th anniversary in 2016 will offer green-fingered visitors and English landscape fans the opportunity to explore many of the 200 iconic sites designed by the man who helped shape the pastoral view of England’s green and pleasant land

The Capability Brown Festival 2016 will provide an opportunity to explore some of Brown’s gardens and landscapes not usually open to visitors. A bonus for garden lovers will be the year-long celebration of the Year of the English Garden 2016, a VisitEngland programme of events and itineraries in honour of one of England’s greatest attractions and to mark Capability Brown’s tercentenary.


Exhibitions & events celebrating Capability Brown’s anniversary in 2016

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, south central England – One of England’s grandest palaces, Blenheim, in the heart of Oxfordshire, has an iconic history leading from its construction in the early 18th century as a masterpiece of Baroque architecture to being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The Palace grounds are testament to the genius of Capability Brown, who re-landscaped the 2,000-acres of surrounding parkland – carefully contrived to look natural. To celebrate his work the Palace will host an exhibition, Capability Brown & the Landscape created for Blenheim (13 February – 2 May 2016). www.blenheimpalace.com

Burghley House, Lincolnshire, central England – The ninth Earl of Exeter employed Capability Brown from 1755-1779 to landscape the park in the current fashion, sweeping away avenues and formal gardens, creating the Serpentine Lake and planting intimate groups of trees around the perimeter of the park. The House will launch a new exhibition in March 2016 showcasing Brown’s involvement at the Estate, as well as self-guided ‘Brown’ tours. For the first time, the original views and vistas will also be restored for visitors to enjoy his landscaping vision in all its glory.  www.burghley.co.uk




Compton Verney, Warwickshire, west England – a Georgian stately home, national art gallery and ‘Capability’ Brown landscape, near Stratford-upon-Avon, will be the regional hub for the Capability Brown 300 celebrations. Home to some of England’s most quintessential Brown features, the Compton Verney exhibition will be a year-long display about the 120 acres landscaped by Capability Brown and other Brownian landscapes in the region. www.comptonverney.org.uk

Yorkshire, north England – The first-ever exhibition dedicated to the Yorkshire landscapes of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape (25 June – 11 September 2016) will celebrate the tercentenary of Brown’s birth and also mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Yorkshire Gardens Trust. A beautiful and distinctive memento for visitors will be the accompanying book considering each of the landscapes with specially-commissioned photography. www.yorkshire.com/view/attractions/harrogate/mercer-art-gallery-125696


Discover more of Brown’s Parks and Gardens

Croome, Worcestershire, west England

Capability Brown’s masterful first commission, including the Neo-Palladian Mansion, Croome Court, with its commanding views over the glorious mini-mountain range, the Malvern Hills, was once home to the Earls of Coventry and became a secret war-time base. At the heart of the park lie the mansion house and the parkland is now open to discover ‘Brownian’ highlights, such as the Dipping Pond, constructed in 1764. One of the gardens most significant features, it acquired its name from the function of dipping buckets to collect water to distribute around the garden, and for the nearby horse stable block. For wild-life fans, the Dipping Pond has become a new haven for various forms of wildlife, with some rare species of frogs and newts being spotted. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/visitor-information/article-1355852388553


Petworth House and Park, West Sussex, south-east England

Set in a beautiful 700-acre deer park, landscaped by Capability Brown and immortalised in J.M.W. Turner’s paintings, the vast late 17th-century mansion, Petworth House, is famed for its fine collection of pictures, with numerous works by Turner. Famous too, 300 years later, are the magnificent views of the Grade I-listed historic deer park, two lakes, tree-crowned hills, temples and rotunda that Brown enriched with the planting of newly introduced trees and shrubs of the day. Visitors may be surprised, literally, by the ha-ha, a design feature that was an essential component of the “swept” views of Capability Brown – a recessed landscape design to create a fence while preserving views. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house/?p=1356312809382


Chatsworth, Derbyshire, north central England

It cost £40,000, a huge amount of money in the 18th century, to create Capability Brown’s landscape fort Derbyshire’s stateliest home. Chatsworth – which featured in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – is graced by a 1,000-acre park on the banks of the river Derwent. During 2016 Chatsworth will have interpretations and explanations of the wonderful work Brown did around the garden and parkland; visitors wishing to inhabit his vision are recommended by the Head Gardener to walk along the Broadwalk and look west towards the village of Edensor where you can see Brown’s influence most clearly on the garden and parkland. www.chatsworth.org


Stowe, Buckinghamshire, south England

The breath-taking landscape and vistas of Stowe are a must-see for any Capability Brown fan; after all it’s where the great man was married and where he lived, in one of the Boycott Pavilions! Stowe House is situated at the centre of the 250-acres of gardens, 28 stunning temples and pathways designed and still used to entice visitors to certain views, only revealed at the last moment. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe/?p=1356309612819


Year of the English Garden 2016

English gardens have inspired many an artist, poets, novelists, the great Romantics; and gardeners, throughout the ages. And, in 2016 VisitEngland will showcase glorious and great gardens across the country for visitors of every ilk. Currently, more than 3,400 parks and gardens are open to the public. Find out more – www.visitengland.com


Further information: www.capabilitybrown.org, www.visitengland.com

Images: Blenheim Palace courtesy of Blenheim Palace

Compton Verney – via VisitBritain