Recently met, a lady who remains anonymous, asked me that just man, Capability Brown, did at Wimpole.
Well we know he built the tower, but what else did he do for the considerable sum of £3,000 that he was paid? The question led me in a gross non sequitur to speculate that William Emes (who followed Brown at Wimpole, as he did at Tixall, Ingestre, Eaton and no doubt others) might have been hired not to redraw Brown’s design at Wimpole, but to finish off the great man’s plan. Perhaps Emes, described by the Cliffords, father and son, as a ‘pupil’, and elsewhere as a ‘follower’ of Brown, was literally that, as well as cheaper or less busy.
This line of thinking springs from a consideration of Brown’s famous plan for Wimpole, which stops suddenly and without a border, just north of the house. The plan shows that the old kitchen garden, on the north side of the house, was to be removed. What it does not show is where Brown proposed to move it to. The site eventually chosen is radical but within easy reach of the farm and the service area. An alternative might perhaps have been found in the vicinity of the present car parks, at the back of Kendal’s stables. At any rate, to knit the themes of Emes together with those of Brown, the kitchen garden is now attributed to Emes and was indeed built by Emes. However its site is off the edge of Brown’s plan anyway – in short before we attribute the siting of the kitchen garden to Emes should we not learn where Brown had planned to put it?
And before we set up Emes as an independent designer with a fresh design at Wimpole, should we not look at other instances where a man was employed independently to execute Brown’s designs?