Miss A, who lives at Bridport and has some familiarity with the Portland quarries, asks how Capability Brown managed to make such a tidy job of his landscapes, given the scale of the operation.
“A beautiful bloom they have on ‘em” in her words, “swept through with a birch broom”. However insuperable her question may seem when one scans it from the top of a blank page, this seems to me to be one that melts away as pen approaches paper: his lakes were grand in conception, but more often than not were made by damming a valley and cutting and filling the bed to give a fairly even overall depth, so they sorted themselves. Elsewhere, as at Stapleton, outside Pontefract, the lake was used to flood an excavation, dug out for brick clay, gravel or stone, so providing materials from which to construct the landscape, while also enhancing it. Nowadays Miss A, if I may, my attention is more taken by some of his quarries and I suspect that as a quarrywoman, descended from a long line of quarry workers, you will also be intrigued by these.
One thinks of those at Berrington and Weston for example, where the hill has been quarried away for stone directly in front of the house. It makes the slopes steeper and the view more dramatic – in the first case framing the view south over that long arm of the lake, in the second becoming the view.