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Landscape artist's work lives on.

Byline: JUSTINE HALIFAX Staff Reporter @birminghammail

THIS year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of the great Capability Brown and venues across the country will be marking the milestone, including Staffordshire's Weston Park.

Described as "England's greatest gardener" and "the last of the great English 18th century artists", landscaper Capability Brown has left his mark across the country.

Lancelot Brown, nicknamed Capability because he told his clients that their property had "capability" for improvement, was responsible for designing over 170 parks at some of England's finest country houses and stately homes, many of which still endure.

Home to the summer V Festival, Weston Park, at Westonunder-Lizard, on the Staffordshire and Shropshire border, is just one of them and is holding a series of events this year to mark Brown's birth and his significant contribution to its status as a national treasure.

A Weston Park spokeswoman said: "While the proliferation of Capability Brown's work across the country is vast, it is our pleasure grounds that makes Weston so significant - that of Temple Wood and Shrewsbury Walk.

"For these naturalistic paradises are classic Brown representations, which are little altered from how they looked when they were conceived in the 1760s.

"However, they are an unusual find in the 21st century, at which time it is believed there are only five such schemes in existence."

It was back in 1765 that Brown began his transformation of Weston Park after Sir Henry Bridgeman inherited the estate.

Brown, who a year later was appointed King George III's Master Gardener at Hampton Court Palace, was commissioned by Sir Henry as part of a flurry of activity he undertook to improve the house and its grounds, for which he had great ambitions.

For the house, fine furniture and artworks were ordered from London and Paris, whilst for the grounds, having seen the work undertaken for friends and others from the London society, Sir Henry knew there was only one man for the job.

The scheme took over two years to complete, requiring a complete revision from formal planting to the composure of a natural, harmonious world and hundreds of workers were said to have been drafted in to carry out the work.

Gareth Williams, curator to the Weston Park Foundation, the trust which now cares for the estate, said: "The pleasure grounds and the park survive almost unaltered and unspoiled by development or roads since the time that Brown and his client walked the freshly-sown turf.

"All around, Brown's legacy continues to live and breathe at Weston."

Capability Brown's work also lives on at venues including Blenheim Palace and Warwick Castle. Described as a fast worker, by the 1760s, during the time Brown worked at Weston Park and for King George III, Brown was said to have earnt an average of PS6,000, which would be equivalent to a whopping PS740,000 today, for one commission, where most landscapers would earn PS500.


Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's landscape designs have changed little at Weston Park in 250 years

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 17, 2016
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