The Capability Brown Festival year has been a spur for new research about Brown's work and for sharing existing information. One legacy of the Festival will be access to this wealth of information and research through information pages linked to the Interactive Map on the Capability Brown website.
The research about Brown's work is full of revealing stories and quotes: Brown labouring into the evening on his plan for Belhus, working with his rival Chambers at Ingress, creating "A perfect paradise" for riding and walking at Langley Hall and modernising the medieval estate of Ashridge for the 'Canal Duke'. In August 1783, a progress report to Sir John Ramsden at Byram from his brother-in-law said it was “much done, and much undone, & in such a profusion […] of Improvements, that they throw them around by shovels full at ye door”. And what, one wonders, led to the remark in a letter to the owner of Panshanger in 1756 saying "As to Brown's sauciness, I believe you have nothing to combat it with, but Patience"?
In many cases, new research by the County Garden Trusts has uncovered information about sites where previously little was known. For Warnford, new unpublished research about what Brown did there was discovered. You'll be able to learn about the supper given by Elizabeth Montagu, 'Queen of the Bluestockings', to the unemployed weavers who dug her park at Sandleford Priory, and the former MP and governor of the Windward Islands who didn't pay Brown's bill for his work at Maiden Erlegh.
Over 40 sites on the Interactive Map now have a page giving a brief summary of what is known about Brown's work there, and linking to other sources of information. These include the local garden trusts, site owners, Historic England listing entries and aerial maps, Parks & Gardens UK, Capability Brown's account book, online historic maps and books. So far, Brown sites in Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk and Yorkshire have information pages. Explore the information by entering the name of a site in the map's search box or clicking on a pin, and then on the site information link.
Maps are also being drawn for the larger Festival sites to explain Brown's work and what can still be seen there. You can see an example of the map on the entry for Croome - just click on the Map link at the bottom to download it. The next step will be to add more maps and illustrations, where possible, and to create downloadable leaflets for those planning to go and see Brown's work for themselves.
We are very grateful to all those who have generously shared their research and helped to provide this fantastic resource for everyone interested in Brown's work.
About the Author: Susannah Charlton is managing the Knowledge Legacy project for the Capability Brown Festival.