Whether or not Lord Chalkstone had some political intent in describing his audience at Drury Lane as unequal, the reaching out of parkland towards woods and common land is not just a reaching out for variety and contrast; it shows a particular interest in inequality, that is, uneven land.


From the beginning of the eighteenth century designers had ambitions for ever more varied terrain on which to lay out their more or less geometric designs. One can see it in Le Nôtre’s Saint-Cloud (from 1680), in Bridgeman’s Langleys, Essex, and in Thomas Archer’s estate at Hale, Hampshire; one sees it at Hackfall, and one could see it still at Ingress Abbey (the most sublime landscape in the home counties) before Crest built a housing estate across it. There Capability Brown and his inevitable incubus, Sir William Chambers the architect, among others, laid out schemes above and below the sheer faces of the chalk quarries that face the Thames, downstream of Greenhithe.

There is a tension between those four words, variety and extent, contrast and inequality, yoked together in 1757 by Brown’s friend David Garrick as descriptors of his style. Between them they licensed anything.