The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

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

Tag: Berrington (Page 1 of 2)

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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254: How is it for you? (4) Theory, judgement and attribution

My fellows at the Tatler’s Waste-bin have asked me to make this fourth be our final resumé of progress in the study of the work of Capability Brown during 2016, his tercentennial, his triumphal year. They fear lest we show too great a partiality for Dr Sarah Rutherford’s work. Here then is a further miscellany of observations largely gleaned from her text.

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193: Now, tell me about Yew rows?

I find myself caught in a dilemma in respect of the plants used by the King’s gardener Capability Brown. On the one hand, Dr L writes from Essex to ask for more practical detail, as she is encouraging her students to consult the Brown Advisor. On the other hand Mr R of Finsbury Park, London, would prefer a deeper, more abstract, probe into the meaning of the formidable Capability Brown, if there be such.

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185: What can we say about Holly?

The difficulty with holly, ‘winter’s pride’ as the poet Thomas Gisborne put it, is not that it is hard to find in the landscapes of of that captain of capability, Lancelot Brown, but that it is impossible to tell whether it has been planted or has arrived naturally.

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175: Did Brown use exotics in parkland? London Plane

London Plane (Platanus x hispanica) was a tree that very much came into its own in Brown’s day. At the beginning of his century, Thomas Hamilton had to confess that ‘tho they are now comeing in Request here, … as I have no kind of Experience of them, I shall be Silent’.

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147: What is so grand about Berrington?

Berrington as village (11)

Is Berrington a house, or is it a fortified hill-top Tuscan town?

In earlier posts, such as notes 31 and 58, the Brown Advisor has endeavoured to separate out variety, greatness and extent, suggesting that these qualities should be held in balance. Islands, as the poet Shenstone remarked, give beauty, if the water be adequate; but lessen grandeur through variety.


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135: What is ‘the very extremity of Mr Brown’s taste’?

Mr C of Dagenham, a formidable scholar of the old school, has asked me why anyone should regard the landscape at Shugborough as anything like Brown’s work.

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93: Will anyone stand up for thorn?

‘The hawthorn.., has little claim to picturesque beauty… Its shape is bad. It does not taper, like the holly, but is rather a matted, round, heavy bush.’ Notwithstanding the Rev William Gilpin’s attack, there is a case to be made for hawthorn as the native that Capability Brown planted in greater numbers than any other tree, ‘the pride of park scenery’ as William Marshall called it.

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142: Get da pitcher?

Mr L from New York called to tell me he’s in pictures and ‘dis Brown guy – whadda ya got?’

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124: What is the Concave?

The postman has bounced again, and this has brought further inquiries to my breakfast table, all on the subject of quarrying and mess.

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs