Following on from our last blog and the Alan Titchmarsh series on Channel 4, we have had more people visiting the lovely St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Fenstanton. This is, of course, where Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was buried after his death in 1783. A headstone marks his probable last resting place, while a Portland Whitbed stone memorial to him and his family sits inside the church.
As you may have heard, this memorial is in a state of some deterioration. There is still work going on to get grants towards the restoration of this memorial, potentially in 2017, if the money can be found. It is anticipated that in excess of £50,000 will need to be raised and we have, therefore, now set up an official crowdfunding page to help towards this. Please help us with this; your donations, however little you can spare, would be very gratefully received. Please don’t forget to Gift Aid if you are eligible.
We would also like to take this opportunity of thanking Steffie Shields for the JustGiving page she set up towards the memorial restoration fund, and although we don’t have the final figure it should be in excess of £700, which is brilliant – thank you Steffie.
Jane Tovey, Croome Archivist, very kindly contacted us recently to tell us of a letter held at Worcestershire Record Office. It was written 300 year ago, almost to the day, by Brown’s son to the 6th Earl of Coventry, who was Brown’s first major client and they remained lifelong friends. Therefore, on his death Brown’s son wrote to Lord Coventry:
November 27th 1783
The great Friendship your Lordship honoured my Father with, when living, convinces me that every tribute paid to his memory will be acceptable to your Lordship. I have therefore taken the Liberty to enclose an Epitaph which I propose to have engraven on a monument now erecting, which will be placed in Fenstanton Church, where he lies buried. Some prose will be added, but the lines I send are the product of Mr Mason’s pen. Few people have as yet seen them and I do not wish them to be made very public ‘till the Monument is completed.
I hope your Lordship will excuse this Liberty as it arises from the affection of a Son anxious to do the fullest Honour to the memory of his Father and hand his name to posterity with every advantage in his Power.
Jane suggests that the evidence in the Croome archive shows that Coventry was very influential in creating the landscape style that Brown became so famous for and to some extent acknowledged here by his son.
We have obtained a digital copy of this letter which will form part of our Brown display in Fenstanton Parish church in 2016.
About the author: Niki Whitby is a member of Fenstanton's Capability Brown 300 committee.