In 1768 Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was employed by the Honourable Edward Willes to work on his garden at Little Grove

Capability Brown received substantial payments for work at Little Grove, near Barnet, North London, but there are no details of what he proposed or did there. His account book (see online) lists payments amounting to £700 (nearly £1.2 million in 2015) made between September 1768 and July 1770. Willes had bought the site, of around 17.5 hectares (43 acres), in 1767.

The walled garden

It is thought that Brown may have designed the walled garden to the west of the house. There is no walled area shown on the Dury and Andrews map of 1766 (left) but it is present on the 1817 Enclosure map and on later maps and plans.

The remains of the kitchen garden wall now extend to around 50 metres. Research suggests that it was likely to have been built in the 18th century, based on the type of bricks and brickwork that were used.

When the property was sold in 1817 the sales notice in The Times newspaper listed: "an excellent kitchen garden, walled round, hothouse, grapery, green house and orchards, poultry garden and meadow land; the whole about 55 acres, surrounded by dry gravel walks and thriving plantations, and with full grown timber trees."

It is not known how many of these features were added by Brown. Elements such as a winding driveway, specimen trees and wide ranging views of the countryside are all typical of other landscapes he designed.

Little Grove today

The house was pulled down in 1931 and the estate was built over. Today, satellite imaging reveals long stretches of the 18th-century wall, as well as a large pond and mature trees.


London Parks & Gardens Trust:

Capability Brown's account book, page 72: