The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

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

Category: Views (Page 1 of 3)

1827: Approaches?

‘The approaches at Norris Castle are symmetrical and have a certain overriding geometry. There is nothing else like this in Repton’s oeuvre, hence they are unlikely to have been designed by him.

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1825: Pleasure grounds?

Oofy here: Editorial:  I hear a fellow speaking. Makes perfect sense. Beautifully expressed. A treat. Then think of saying something m’self, I get the phrases. Jumbled up though. Can’t work out which comes first. 

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234: Could Brown have made his lake at Belvoir?

234 Belvoir lakes

The lakes at Belvoir Castle, drawn by Nick Haycock; outlines added by the editor.

An unexpected but nonetheless welcome slew of fresh post has washed across the breakfast table, leaving in its receding tide the wrack of those questions that arise unbroken and yet entangled in the miasmic effusions of that Zeno of mystery, the lake-maker Capability Brown.

The most prominent amongst them was captured a fortnight ago by Mr R of Islington, who has not been alone in asking: if Brown made his lakes by damming up a valley, how much did he have to excavate?

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271: Why is Berrington so odd?

271 Berringtonhouse

Berrington shows off two of its fronts in the principal view from the far side of the lake.

A second specific question comes out of Herefordshire. In summary it is ‘why is Berrington so infernally annoying?’

How can a place manage to look so conventional while breaking every rule that one might imagine its designer, Capability Brown, to have established for his practice?

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269: Can you recommend Harrogate?

In a short but heartening exchange, Mr Honey, flapping himself around his calves, as is his wont, with a horse-whip declared that ‘Nothing, but nothing beats a picture’. He was fresh in from Yorkshire and very full of himself, but I shall summarise his fuller account.

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266: Could Brown see two fronts at once?

Captain Ken is an excellent and reliable fellow, if inclined to extreme scepticism when he comes across any suggestion of the Brown Advisor’s. He numbers archery amongst his past-times and it was while we were amusing ourselves at the butts that he asked me whether I was sticking to the notion that Capability Brown preferred to show off his houses in a head-on view. I said I did, for Brown was a friend to freedom and a foe to forced solutions: if head-on was the most obvious way to see a house, then head-on is what he would provide. Indeed I had already published my opinion on the matter (note 12 for example).

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264: What does Kent have to do with it?

Capability Brown was no dandy but a diamond-decent  down-home sort of chap and when Mr C of Essex asked me what that great master of gardening Capability Brown might have learned from Kent, I took it to my companions at the Tatler’s Waste-bin who wondered whether he had the county in mind or the man said to have been his master, that coiffed stylist, William Kent.

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220: Did Brown really use geometry?

No more than a fortnight ago I found myself in colloquy with Mrs M from Barnsley who asked if that asked if the lugubrious Capability Brown really used geometry as much as I think he did.

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252: How is it for you? (2) Skills

Before writing this, the second of four notes on our understanding of Capability Brown, I took my proposal to the Tatler’s Waste-bin for the consideration of my fellows, and the attempt was approved. Here then is our matured consideration of the up-bringing, skills and attainments attainments – in short the reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic of Capability Brown.

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219: Did Thomas Whately know Capability Brown?

I was delighted to meet Dr S, whom one seldom meets outside his native Surrey, striding amongst the glorious hedgerows of paschal Buckinghamshire. As two people will who share a common interest, we fell to a discussion of the ridings, as they were designed by that king of the English countryside, Capability Brown.

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs