The Capability Brown Festival has ended.

The name and achievements of Lancelot "Capability" Brown are now widely recognised, so much so that one of the questions for the 2017 Life in the UK Citizenship test now asks “Which landscape architect designed grounds around country houses so that the landscape appeared to be natural, with grass, trees and lakes?”.

The overall aim of the Capability Brown Festival was to celebrate the contribution of Brown to the shaping of designed historic landscapes, with emphasis on:

  • new and larger audiences for Brown’s work and for historic landscape design more broadly (‘audiences’ meant visitors, project participants, readers, viewers, researchers and students more sites with an increased capacity to engage with the public;
  • new knowledge about Brown and his work;
  • more and better relationships between individuals and organisations with a shared interest in Brown and in historic landscapes.

The key driver for the Festival was to develop new audience for Capability Brown landscapes and we commissioned 23 Audience Development Projects - download the summary here.

24 sites which delivered projects on behalf of the Festival now have a downloadable Capability Brown leaflet, and over 140 Brown sites have a new site page, all linked to our interactive map. Each site page includes the results of key research on Brown sites, which complements the aerial maps of many sites, generously supplied by Historic England. Leaflet maps are available for AshridgeBelvoir CastleBerrington HallBlenheim PalaceBowoodBurton ConstableCastle AshbyChatsworthCompton VerneyCoombeCroomeEuston HallGrimsthorpeHatfield ForestPetworthSherborne CastleScampstonStoweTrentham GardensUgbrookeWallingtonWeston ParkWimpole Estate and Wrest Park.

We are very grateful for the significant work that many County Gardens Trust and NADFAS volunteers have undertaken in support of the Capability Brown Festival in helping to source research on sites throughout the country, and the hundreds of volunteers who gave time at Capability Brown sites. In total 4,786 of hours of voluntary work were given to the Festival.

The Festival website has been collected by the British Library’s UK Web Archive and will be available through their online archival collections search www.webarchive.org.uk . This ensures the capture of the website in a manner akin to the way national copyright libraries function for books. 

The library of print books accumulated by the Festival team has been donated to the library of the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, which also holds the Landscape Institute’s archive. They will become part of the research library there. As part of the Festival legacy, The Gardens Trust with support from Historic England, published Vulnerability Brown: Capability Brown landscapes at risk in October 2017 to review the issues facing the survival of these landscapes as well as suggested solutions.

Historic England published the first-ever catalogue of Capability Brown’s survey and design plans on the 302nd anniversary of Brown’s baptism day (30 August 2018). The 110-page catalogue is free to download from the Historic England research reports database. The catalogue showcases the 82 known survey and design plans by Capability Brown and his office and is a legacy project from the Capability Brown Festival in 2016. Dr Sarah Rutherford and Ceryl Evans undertook the cataloguing work for Historic England, commissioned by Jenifer White, National Landscape Adviser at Historic England.

The Executive Summary of the Evaluation Report on the Capability Brown Festival 2016 can be read here

The Festival was managed through the Landscape Institute and overseen by a Project Management Board with representatives from our partners: Jenifer White (Historic England), Leslie Pearman (Natural England), Emma Robinson (Historic Houses Association), Linden Groves (The Gardens Trust), Phyllis Starkey (LI trustee), Ingrid Samuel (National Trust) and chaired by Mrs Gilly Drummond OBE. The Director of the Capability Brown Festival was Ceryl Evans.

The Capability Brown Festival was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.