What master-pieces would you place in the top XX of the best of Capability Brown’s works? Will not our best judge be drawn from his contemporaries?

His best and most experienced apologists, René-Louis de Girardin, Victe d’Ermenonville (17351808), William Mason and Thomas Whately were the three authors who, with William Gilpin, constituted Repton’s ‘Breviary’, as he put it in a letter to his friend Norton Nicholls. Later he included Sir William Chambers, Jacques Delille and Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld as well.

Girardin met Mason, with whom he subsequently corresponded, on his English tour, and he probably knew Whately as well.

His book has the benefit of a foreigner’s objective eye and his garden Ermenonville is still among the finest English gardens in France. He erected a tablet and monument there – not exactly to Brown, but to the English poet and gardener William Shenstone, who was the next best thing. However with no mention of Brown, there is no clear endorsement of any one property