Capability Brown biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Lancelot "Capability" Brown was born in Kirkharle, Northumberland in 1715 (more about his nickname "Capability" in a moment). Young Lancelot was educated at Cambo School, before serving as a gardener's boy in the service of Sir William Loraine. From there he moved on to Wotton, owned by Sir Richard Grenville.
From Wotton he joined the gardening staff of Lord Cobham, at Stowe, Buckinghamshire. There he served under William Kent, one of the founders of the new English style of Landscape Gardening. The men became close, and Brown married Kent's daughter.
At Stowe, Brown was responsible for actually implementing Kent's designs, but it seems clear that Lord Cobham also allowed Brown to take on work for his aristocratic friends while he was still employed at Stowe.
Lord Cobham died in 1749, and Brown left Stowe to set up his own gardening practice based in London two years later. To say that Brown was successful in his profession is an understatement of the highest order.
He became immensely sought after by the aristocracy, and it is estimated that he was responsible for some 170 gardens surrounding the finest country houses and estates in Britain. So numerous are his designs, and so widespread was his influence, that it is almost harder to find a prominent country house that did not have a garden designed by Capability Brown.
Lancelot Brown soon acquired the peculiar nickname "Capability" from his habit of telling clients that their gardens had "great capabilities". In his talented hands, they certainly did.
List of Capability Brown gardensA partial listing of surviving gardens designed by Capability Brown that are open to the public
Audley End House
Burton Constable Hall
Castle Ashby Gardens
Grimsthorpe Castle and Park
Highclere Castle and Gardens
Prior Park Landscape Garden
Sheffield Park Garden
Stowe Landscape Garden
Wrest Park Gardens
Contents © David Ross and Britain Express
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