Free with their experience and knowledge, there are persons amongst the correspondents to the Brown Advisor who perfectly present their problems and are greatly to be praised for it. One such is Mrs C who has written again from the Solent, being well aware of my interest in Brown as a farmer, this time asking what we know of Brown’s treatment of farm-houses.
We might begin with Thomas Whately’s remark: ‘the farm-yard itself, if an advantageous situation be chosen for it… properly blended with trees; may be made a picturesque composition’.
Her inquiry coincides with a report from Mr D of Yorkshire on ‘the steep sided valleys carved by the roaring torrents and grinding rocks of the retreating Ice Age out of the chalk of the Yorkshire Wolds’. There’s something in the speech that always betrays the Yorkshireman.
Mr D goes on to mention the farmhouses at Sledmere, designed both to be seen from the house and to see from it. One might add to Sledmere’s the farmhouses of Hornby Castle, similarly decorative. Then there are the straight-forward sham buildings, whether farm-houses or barns – I recall with pleasure the sham at the suitably named Howsham, and the barn with the blind quadrafoil window near the south end of the Stockton Ride at Berrington, but we should not forget the more dramatic White House, south of Chillington, Park Farm at Eridge and, best of all, Oversley Farm, high on the stub of the hill east of Ragley. Then there are farms that combined with the house to make one long range of buildings (Ashburnham, by the stables at Berrington, and LLewani), but I do not forget either the farm at Doddington, Cheshire, hidden behind a bank, beside the approach. The single idea that unites all these different treatments is the desire to make the management of parkland seem effortless. I would add, for the benefit of Mrs C, that the same applies to the concealment of the kitchen garden where the serious craft and toil of gardening is on display – whereas in the pleasure ground around it, everything is as it should be in Eden, easy and untroubled.