Mr G writes from Wolverhampton has asked me whether Chillington has the second biggest (after Blenheim) of the lakes constructed by Mr ‘Capability’ Brown, himself a man of unquestioned parts..
It may be, but I would point him towards others of no small dimension, such as Coombe Abbey, Warwickshire, and Patshull in his own county. His query is matched by a call from Mrs W who writes from Suffolk to ask the Brown Advisor to offer simpler information to readers and followers. Well, Chillington does have a big lake, but I cannot emphasise too strongly that size of a lake is no measure of its contribution. The great lakes at Belvoir are larger than intended by Brown, as are those of Southill and Stoke Place, but do they improve on his more sinuous and riverine designs? There is no need for Mr G to leave his county to take a view of the fish ponds at Swynnerton, which are not large and around 100 yards apart, but combine in views form the house to give the sense of a river flowing south out of the Potteries. He might, on a whim, call in at the Newport Pagnell services, whence, a couple of miles across country will bring him to Gayhurst, where even Repton commended the arrangement of ponds: they appear to bring the mighty Ouse itself into the orchard before the house.
In short, Brown was happy to sacrifice the area of his water to an improvement in effect.