The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

300 Frequently Asked Questions about Capability Brown, and a further 200 about Humphry Repton

Category: Earthworks (Page 1 of 2)

301: Was Brown a land artist?

Mrs M writes from New York to ask whether the great gardener (but perhaps in this context he might be better described as an earth-mover) Capability Brown might be compared to the American land artists on the fourth quarter of the 20th century.

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274: Could Simon Warner be right?

One is never entirely alone in the metropolis that is Harrogate. True it is Yorkshire, but this is not the Yorkshire we are familiar with, a place of crags and craggy visages, of whinstone and wind-swept moors, here the cream of society meets at Betty’s and barely a seat to be had, even on a Wednesday.

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272: How did paddocks work?

272 Ugbrooke outwork

The outworks of the Danish Camp at Ugbrooke might easily be mistaken for the pale of a mediaeval deer park.

The question that exercises my good friends from Devonshire, on the other hand, is ‘where the deer were at Ugbrooke?’ ‘Did they wander freely over all the extensive parkland, or were they contained in smaller paddocks?’

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245: Did Brown work at Wentworth Castle?

The spoil heap at Wentworth Castle

The spoil heap at Wentworth Castle

Days come in late March or in April, when Spring has not wholly disentangled herself from Winter, but there is a freshness to the air and it is better to be out than to be in. So I am advised by the good folk of Health and Safety , who have asked me to warn you that happiness can cause damage in confined spaces.

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243: What is the ‘valley adventitious’?

A grove of sweet chestnut on the side of an adventitious valley at Benham

A grove of sweet chestnut on the side of an adventitious valley at Benham

There will occur, in landscape, natural valleys, small advances in the slope, hardly enough to be named.  At Burghley they carried springs and Capability Brown drained and smoothed them off when he made the lake, but in later works – Ugbrooke, Ashridge, Gatton, Benham above the lake – he offered to these adventitious declivities the same spare planting that he gave to the ‘valley direct’ at Claremont.

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242: What is the ‘valley transverse’?

The valley at Bowood runs behind the house to the lake

The valley at Bowood runs behind the house to the lake

In my last I introduced the ‘valley direct’ in the face of stern opposition. The ‘valley transverse’ is a more fugitive idea and the opposition, I fear, will be still more fierce. Yet in my rambles with the Captain I have on several occasions noticed valleys in the landscapes of that happy hunter, Capability Brown, that neither run direct to the house, nor are set at right angles to it, in the way that I described in my last post. 

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241: What is the ‘valley direct’?

The valley direct, cut into the slope that runs from Prior Park to the bridge

The valley direct, cut into the slope that runs from Prior Park to the bridge

I am rebuked by Dr S in far-away London for a recent communication (note 236) in which I made little attempt to explain to my readers the differences between the ‘valley direct’, the ‘valley transverse’ and the ‘valley adventitious’.

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236: What do you know about valleys?

The golden valley, as fine an example of the valley adventitious as you will ever see

The golden valley, as fine an example of the valley adventitious as you are ever likely to see

Miss S writes to tell me that being newly arrived in Berkhamstead she took herself to view the town’s great landmark, known as the Golden Valley, and she wonders now if that master of beech-hung beauty, Capability Brown, whom she knew by reputation, could have worked his wizardry there.

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134: What is an earthwork?

Dr R of Herefordshire, himself a dedicated archaeologist of the shorts, long socks and sandals school, is anxious first to categorise earthworks by the use for which they were intended (saw-pits, charcoaling sites, hill-forts etc.) and second to distinguish constructed earthworks from natural eruptions in the soil that happen to suit some purpose of man.

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140: Did Brown communicate with his foremen?

Finding myself at liberty in North Yorkshire, I took a stroll through the delightful grounds of Scampston where I found myself in company with the equally delightful Mrs H of Richmond who asked me how Brown managed to instruct his foremen, and how he knew how much to pay them.

06 Drawing by Nicholson.jpg

In Nicholson’s painting, the grassy bank on the near side of the cascade at Scampston is dished, apparently to show off the water

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs