Over 135 national and international renowned speakers and delegates attended a major 3 day conference in September 2016 to explore Capability Brown’s work in a global context.
Organised by the Cultural Landscapes and Historic Gardens Committee of ICOMOS-UK (International Council on Monuments and Sites UK), it was hosted by the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering and the University of Bath, and supported by Historic England, the National Trust, the Gardens Trust, and Bath and North East Somerset Council. The conference began with an Introductory Address from his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, who was welcomed to the university by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell.
Highlights included a Keynote speech by Professor John Dixon Hunt, University of Pennsylvania and an evening reception at the National Trust's Prior Park, a Brown designed garden with its iconic Palladian bridge overlooking the World Heritage City of Bath. There was a Civic Reception at the magnificent Bath Assembly Rooms where the speakers and delegates were welcomed to the City of Bath by the Chairman of BANES Council, Councillor Alan Hale and addressed by Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust who spoke about the conservation of Capability Brown landscapes in their care. There was also a tour of Brown's landscape at Croome Court, Worcestershire, recently restored by the National Trust.
The Conference was preceded by the 2016 annual meeting of the ICOMOS-IFLA International Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes (ISCCL), Chaired by the current President, Steve Brown (Australia), who were meeting in the UK for the first time in 29 years.
Following these hugely successful events Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens at the National Trust commented: ‘I just wanted to say many congratulations for putting on such an excellent conference last week. Having speakers from far and wide certainly stressed the appeal and spread of Brown’s influence and it was so good to hear so many different perspectives… Thank you for all you did – incredibly, but understandably over three years to pull it all together. The whole things seemed to run so effortlessly, a sign of a well-planned event. I felt privileged to have been present at such an auspicious gathering and to have had a small part to play. It was excellent too that the NT could support this important event.'
Conference papers have been published in a special edition of the journal Garden History. Copies are available to purchase from ICOMOS-UK.