The landscape legacy of Capability Brown

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
One of the early admirers of Capability Brown's work at Blenheim was was King George III, who, on passing through the Woodstock Gate in 1786, is said to have exclaimed, “We have nothing to equal this.”

Revolutionary landscaper Capability Brown transformed Britain’s stately home gardens with his designs. Here are a few examples of his exquisite work

The grounds of Longleat, Wiltshire, were landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century
The historic Longleat House set in parkland landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century. Credit: VisitEngland/Longleat

The revolutionary landscape style that Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown brought to the great houses of England in the 18th century is now synonymous with our image of stately homes. The likes of William Kent before him and Humphry Repton afterwards also coaxed wealthy clients to abandon earlier fashions for formal gardens in the Tudor, Dutch and French manner. But it is Brown who is most famous for the landscape tradition that came to epitomise Englishness, setting our grand houses in (artfully contrived) Edens of parkland.

In this, the Year of the English Garden, we celebrate some of his finest vistas.

Here are some of the best examples of Capability Brown’s work:

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
One of the early admirers of Capability Brown’s work at Blenheim was King George III, who, on passing through the Woodstock Gate in 1786, is said to have exclaimed, “We have nothing to equal this.”
View from the terrace of Bowood House in Wiltshire. Credit: Anna Stowe Botanica/Alamy
View from the terrace of Bowood House in Wiltshire where a pond replaced a hamlet of houses. Credit: Anna Stowe Botanica/Alamy
Capability Brown designed the formal gardens and surrounding parkland at Burghley House, Lincolnshire. Credit: VisitBritain/Tony Pleavin
Capability Brown designed the formal gardens and surrounding parkland at Burghley House, Lincolnshire. Credit: VisitBritain/Tony PleavinElizabeth I.
The sweeping views at Weston Park in Shrewsbury are typical of Brown's naturalistic style
The sweeping views at Weston Park in Shrewsbury are typical of Brown’s naturalistic style
East Front of Hampton Court Palace. Credit: Historic Royal Palaces
The oversized yew trees by the East Front of Hampton Court Palace are a legacy of Capability Brown’s tenure as Chief Gardener. Credit: Historic Royal Palaces

For the full feature see the Jan/Feb 2016 (March 2016) issue of BRITAIN.

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