Peper Harrow

Godalming, Surrey
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Overview

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown worked at Peper Harrow in 1750s for George Brodrick, third Viscount Midleton

Brown's account book records two payments from Peper Harow's owner George Brodrick, Viscount Midleton, £400 (£719,300 in 2015) paid in 1757 & another of £50 (£88,730 in 2015) in 1758. The charges suggest he provided a survey and a plan, and some follow-up visits, with the landscaping work being undertaken by the estate staff. Midleton was amongst the petitioners putting forward Brown's name for an official post in the Royal Gardens in 1758.

John Rocque's county map of 1762 may show Brown's landscape and although there are no contemporary descriptions of Brown's work here, the views from the south-west front of the house, the cedars planted on rising ground on the western slopes of Mount Sion and Jackman's Hill and the drive crossing the pleasure grounds to the west of the house all bear the stamp of Brown's work.

Brown may be responsible for the landscaping of the river, including earthmoving to create an island within the main view from the house. Oxenford Lodge may have been designed by Brown and there are several London plane trees, cedars, oaks and copper beeches in the park dating to his era.

Viscount Midleton pulled down the old house and spent large sums of money on a new house and park at Peper Harow, commissioning plans from leading architects in 1752. Brown was asked to submit house designs but these were rejected. One of these house plans is signed L.B. William Chambers (1722-96) a regular competitor of Brown’s, won the contract to design the new house.

After Brown

In 1942 the estate was broken up into several farms, and property in the outlying villages of Shackleford and Eashing was sold at auction in 1944. During the Second World War, Peper Harow House was requisitioned as the Canadian Army headquarters and there are still several pillboxes along the banks of the river.

In the post-war years Peper Harow was occupied by the Peper Harow Trust and became a school. Some of the park has been ploughed in the past but it is now a private residential area surrounded mainly with pastureland grazed by sheep and subject to environmental stewardship agreement. In recent years new trees have been planted including two Cedars of Lebanon, holm oaks, acers, beeches and oaks.