Langley Park (Bucks)
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is thought to have created the long, serpentine lake at Langley Park for the 4th Duke of Marlborough.
While Capability Brown was working at Blenheim Palace in the 1760s he was asked by the 4th Duke of Marlborough to make a plan for improvements at Langley Park. Brown’s plan for the family’s hunting lodge near Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire has not survived. He is thought to have designed the lake south and west of the house that is the main feature of the park.
Alterations at Langley
Brown is known to have done work for the 3rd Duke of Marlborough, who bought Langley Park in 1736 to use as a hunting lodge and built the present house, designed by architect Stiff Leadbetter (1705-66, who also designed Nuneham House: Wikipedia). His main project was done for the 4th Duke of Marlborough, probably while he was also working at Blenheim Palace. In Brown’s account book a note reads “A plan for some alterations for Langley. The contract £2,810” (more than £4.7 million in 2015).
There is no known plan of what Brown did at Langley Park. The pleasure grounds are in the north-east corner of the park. In Brown’s time this area was centred on a domed temple in the Palladian style, designed by architect Roger Morris (1695-1749, Wikipedia). A semicircular brick ha-ha, built before Brown, borders what is now a rhododendron garden to the south and west.
Lake and planting
Brown’s plan may have included creating the sinuous lake south and west of the house in the surrounding parkland. This was developed from an existing brook and can be seen from the house and the wider parkland.
The land in the park slopes from a high point at the north-east corner of the estate. Rides were cut through the woodland areas. Brown may have been responsible for planting single trees, clumps and narrow belts around much of the park boundary.
Langley Park today
Robert Bateson-Harvey bought Langley Park in 1788 and the estate remained in the family until it was sold to Buckinghamshire County Council in 1945. The park and gardens are listed Grade II, and much of the estate is now a public park. In 2014 work began on redeveloping the house and gardens as a hotel and spa.
Historic England: historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000603