Recent news from correspondents across the country in response to my note 96 suggests that Brown-deniers are coming out of the woodwork in this tercentennial year and gathering in numbers.
Mr O of Hexham tells me that Hesleyside should be struck from the list of landscapes that might be attributed to Capability Brown. Mrs S of York is at pains to remove Byrkley Park, Hyde Park, Kimbolton, and Woodsome Hall. Mr S of Chancery Lane, London, is striking down Ditchingham, Crewe, and Grove House. Gosfield is under threat. While Mrs W of Aldeborough has eliminated Down, Downham, Elvedon, Haldon, Park Place, Thorncroft and Weald, Mrs L of Ilkley has taken a strong position against Birdsall, Horsforth, Ripley Castle, Hollin Hall, Cannon Hall, and Goldsborough. But there are more to come: Wrotham is now suspect, Porter’s Park and Brocket hang by a thread while, even as I write, Adderbury and Wolterton are on the tumbril. More challenging still, Mr G of Oswestry has knocked out everything in Shropshire, and the same has happened for the entire county of Somerset: now what if Staffordshire too were to fall?
I must confess that I am drawn to these sans culottes who wish Brown’s tercentenary at the devil and would throw him out of an entire county. Their ambition and sense of scale – to demolish a county’s heritage with a single stroke of the pen – has a bold fearlessness that might have delighted the great man himself.
However I have in my possession a note from – let us say – Miss X, who works at a well-known and much-loved library in London and has no wish to entertain the guillotine. It is this note, rather than the stirring of rebellion, that prompts me to reflection. Her problem begins with a certain class of people – let us call them Jacobins – that will not accept an attribution for Brown at a landscape unless there is sound documentary evidence. Fair enough. But then where there is documentary evidence, they set it aside as unsound if it does not happen to suit their politics.
The risk for the central revolutionary committee of the Capability Brown Festival 2016 Project Management Board is that every county and every individual will come up with their own list of Brown landscapes and the result, well Miss X, the result will have blood on the streets. They may Koo and they may Kluck, but you, and every like-minded person with you, will find a welcome at the Tatler’s Waste-Bin and a place to rest until their Klan has passed.