- "Mr. Brown ...had his say upon the business to him"
In 1763-5 Lancelot ’Capability’ Brown did work to the value of £1,500 (worth £2,569,000 in 2015) at Branches in Suffolk for Ambrose Dickens. Dickens refused to pay an additional £58 1 shilling and 8 pence (worth £99,490 in 2015) and Brown ‘tore the account before Mr Dickens's face and had his say upon the business to him'.
The manor of Cowling was bought by Francis Dickins, a London lawyer, shortly before 1720. He built a new house on his lands and was living at Cowlinge by 1728. He seems to have renamed the property as a ‘good seat' called Branches is mentioned in 1735 by J. Kirby in Suffolk Traveller. No park is shown on Emanuel Bowen's Map of Suffolk of 1755. Francis Dickins died in 1747 and was succeeded by his widow Rachel, who died in 1761.
Francis's cousin Ambrose Dickens, a barrister of Wollaston in Northamptonshire, then inherited the estate in 1761. In 1763-5 Capability Brown did work to the value of £1,500 for Ambrose Dickens, but Dickens refused to pay an additional £58 1 shilling and 8 pence and Brown ‘tore the account before Mr Dickens's face and had his say upon the business to him'. This was recorded in Brown’s Account Book – the only example of Brown behaving in anger in the entire book.
There is no surviving plan, illustration or description of Brown's work at Branches Park. There is, however, a map of the estate made in 1766 for Ambrose Dickens by Thomas Spencer of Wickhambrook in the Suffolk Record Office (Bury St Edmunds) acc. no. 744/4/10. The vista through the thickets at the north end of the park may be shown on J. Hodskinson's Map of Suffolk (1783) but not on the 1766 estate map which shows the large round pond on the east boundary and the comma-shaped pond south of the house.
Ambrose Dickens died in 1778 and was succeeded by his son Francis, who sold the estate in 1807.