Lancelot “Capability” Brown died 233 years ago today, on 6th February 1783.
He had dined the night before with Lord Coventry, an old friend and owner of Croome, one of Brown’s earliest projects. On return to his daughter Bridget Holland’s house in Hertford Street in Mayfair, he is thought to have fallen as the result of a fit, possibly an attack of the asthma which he had suffered for many years. He hit his head as he fell and died around nine the next day.
“Your Dryads must go into black gloves, Madam. Their father-in-law Lady Nature’s second husband, is dead! Mr Brown dropped down at his own door yesterday”
wrote Horace Walpole to Lady Ossory, although he also sent made a much nicer epitaph to William Mason.
“With one Lost Paradise the name
Of our first ancestor is stained;
Brown shall enjoy unsullied fame
For many a Paradise he regained”*
Brown was buried at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Fenstanton in Cambridgeshire, the only place he is thought to have owned property and where he held the title of Lord of the Manor in his later years. The church is currently fundraising to restore Brown's family memorial.
*Quotes taken from “Capability Brown” by Dorothy Stroud; 1975; Faber and Faber ISBN 0 571 10267 0.