Kedleston Hall from Adam's Long Walk

Kedleston Hall from Adam’s Long Walk

I confess that I cannot resist pressure. As a rule therefore I will retire to my tower until the siege party has wearied of its efforts, but here is Mme de V, writing from France once again, and asking for still more detail on the essays of the noble Capability Brown in Ionic architecture.

Again I find myself replying this was not a style that he practised. I recommend her to look instead at the drawings of his contemporary Robert Adam, with whom Brown often worked, for many of his plans survive and can be consulted at the Sir John Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn fields in London. I add that anyone who can get to the exhibition on Brown at Blenheim Palace will find some of his architectural drawings there – they are all Gothick, which is a kind of mannered classical design, though far from Ionic.

But then I wonder if I should ask why Brown never designed Mme de V’s Ionic buildings, and then I wonder if I should not challenge those who think Brown and Adam never met. Is this possible? Was England so big, so heavily populated with architects and landscape gardeners that they would never have run into one another, despite working together on so many projects at the same time? – I have already listed some of these (note 122), and have also recorded the strong sympathy that united their ways of reconciling a building to its setting. Ah but I had not noted the inadequacy of Adam’s essays in the English style – at Osterley perhaps and at Kedleston – and perhaps I have been backward in making clear my lack of regard for Brown as an architect?

It sounds to me as though the two might have come to a mutually agreeable understanding, each to do what they were best suited to.