Kirkharle Courtyard is a visitor centre situated in the midst of beautiful rural Northumberland. This is where the renowned 18th century landscape architect, ‘Capability’ Brown, was born in 1716. It was here that he was educated and learnt his trade, was inspired by the countryside, spent a third of his life and began his career. A career that culminated in becoming gardener to the King, George III. Lancelot Brown was baptised in our beautiful Grade 1 St Wilfrid’s Church on 30th August 1716 - just a short stroll from the Courtyard.
In 1980, the present owners John and Kitty Anderson, found a long lost plan in a desk in their home. The plan was drawn by Brown, probably in September 1770, when he stayed with Lady Loraine of Kirkharle Hall. It envisages a serpentine lake running east from the Hall. The plan was not implemented at the time, but in 2008 the Andersons put it into effect. The lake, with associated planting and fully accessible circular pathway, is now beginning to mature and a cascade has just been completed to mark this very special year. Today we can get an idea what one of Brown's new young landscapes would have looked like to him and his clients.
Kirkharle Courtyard is also home to 12 craft workshops and a coffee house. 2016 has seen a wide range of ‘Capability’ Brown events take place throughout the year including guided walks, talks, book launch, a play, a bike ride and much more.
Over the August Bank Holiday weekend, the birthday celebrations included a Flower Festival, a traditional church fete and a service of thanksgiving for the life and work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, conducted by Bishop Christine of Newcastle in the church where he was baptised three hundred years ago. A new altar frontal has been commissioned to mark this momentous year and is being worked by the stitchers of Fine Cell Work, an amazing charity that trains prisoners in paid skilled creative needlework.
We hope that many of Brown’s enthusiastic followers will join us for the ongoing celebrations.
About the Author: Kitty Anderson, Kirkharle Courtyard.