1* Portrait of Capability Brown
THE CAPABILITY BROWN FESTIVAL LEGACY
- Introduction and Festival legacy
- What next?
- Preparing for the Humphry Repton Festival in 2018
Portrait of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, c.1770-1775, Cosway, Richard (1742-1821)/Private Collection/Bridgeman Images
The world famous landscape designer Lancelot (Capability) Brown was born in 1716, and 2016 marked the 300th anniversary of his birth. The year-long festival celebrated his achievements around the country. There are over 250 sites attributed to Brown across England and Wales, with 35 in the Heart of England’s 5 counties (Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire). Brown is considered by many to be the Father of the quintessentially English landscape and changed the face of England with his ground-breaking designs that are, today, taken for granted - they are so natural that people don’t realise they are designed landscapes, many of which have survived.
The Heritage Lottery Fund provided resources to enable the festival plans to be developed and implemented.
- Many public events took place throughout 2016, bringing new audiences to Brown’s designed landscapes:
- from the more traditional exhibitions, talks and guided tours through to fun runs, triathlons and high tech geocaching
- as well as sporting activities, appreciation and enjoyment of nature was also encouraged throughout the festival, including bat walks, birdwatching, and pond dipping
- The Brown festival, the first of its kind, was so successful that more such festivals on landscape designers are being considered, to encourage even more people to visit our historic parks and gardens, as part of the wider festival legacy
- The background to the festival, local activities and information about the sites can be downloaded here
- Birmingham acted as the hub for meetings, signposting visitors to events around the region. Legacy events are planned at some of the key Capability Brown sites:
- The guided CB-themed open-top bus tour has been added to its portfolio of heritage tours:
- The County Garden Trusts in the Heart of England produced a map of the Brown sites in our 5 counties. Printed maps may still be available at local sites, or the file can be downloaded here:
- Warwickshire GT also produced a map of the sites in Warwickshire, which can be downloaded here
- The festival had good media coverage, including television programmes (which are repeated from time to time), and even had international newspaper and magazine articles about Brown and his work
- The dedicated festival website has information as well as resources and links:
- Several new books on Capability Brown’s work were produced in 2016 (see website above)
- A set of 8 postage stamps was issued by Royal Mail in August 2016 (Brown’s birthday month), showing some of his most famous sites. Three of these are in the Heart of England: Berrington (Herefordshire), Compton Verney (Warks), and Croome (Worcs)
Photo credit: **Croome, near Pershore, Worcs
Katherine Alker, Croome, National Trust
- With 20 partner organisations working together for the 2016 Brown festival, our collective experiences will help us prepare future festivals, celebrating the pioneers who shaped and developed our landscapes
- Come and see what’s on offer: encouraging more adults and children to visit historic landscapes and support these special sites to survive into the future, for all to enjoy. Youngsters of today are the landscape architects, horticulturalists and garden historians of tomorrow, and will become the custodians of these wonderful sites
- Garden History Education: Developing more awareness of our natural and designed landscapes, and their creators, is increasing the demand for more courses. Improving these facilities is already being discussed
- With our Heart of England steering group already in place, we are now looking to build upon our 2016 festival activities and arrange more celebratory festivals in the midlands.
- Humphry Repton (1752-1818) is regarded as Capability Brown’s successor. Brown has over 250 attributed sites, Repton has more! Preparations are now underway for a Repton festival in 2018, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Repton’s death, with 32 of his sites within our midlands counties. Some of our local Capability Brown sites had later work carried out by Repton, such as Croome (above).