The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

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

Tag: Burton Constable (Page 1 of 3)

281: Was Brown asking for trouble?

Mr Honey comes in spinning like a top – I have seldom seen such irritability in a man – and flings onto our table first one issue then another then another of The Spectator – a journal with which I feel myself to be closely associated. Indeed it is one in which I take a nigh-on paternal interest.  Each of these issues has within it another attack on the landscapes of Capability Brown.

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285: What of Steffie Shields?

A delayed train to Carlisle having given me an hour or two in hand at Newcastle, I resolved to indulge myself with Steffie Shields Moving Heaven and Earth Capability Brown’s gift of landscape.

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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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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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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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239: Have you forgotten Joseph Doody?

Of course once one starts on one thing, something else is sure to happen. This suggestion that gardeners and designers, even significant ones like William Emes, might on occasion have been taken on to finish what the effortlessly euphuistic, Capability Brown, had begun, scarcely ventured upon in notes 217, 218 and 238 now brings a shower of other examples down on my head: Why not Michael Milican, working to Brown’s instruction at Chatsworth, but paid by the Duke and not by Brown? Why not Winkles – Brown’s man at Tottenham, who never figures in Brown’s accounts?

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247: Who was James Clarke?

Just as the sun when it sinks to its rest in the western sky may appear vanquished by the forces of the dark, so on occasion the hopes of mankind will sink like balloons, their speculations punctured by cold facts.

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216: Why the Tuscan order?

This issue of the Ionic order (notes 162 and 222) clings to me like goose-grass on the jerseys of children. In all probability it is as foolish, but Mrs S of London has inquired about the Tuscan columns used in William Pitt’s farms at Burton Pynsent. The gardener and home-builder, Capability Brown, who does not seem to have used the Ionic order in his buildings, may have known these, and certainly knew the Tuscan temples (with their Tuscan columns) at Wotton. I would go so far as to say that he was comfortable with Tuscans, however at the point of reaching this conclusion, my lucubrations were brought prematurely to a close with a whoop from Captain Ken, who had just made a triple twenty on the dart-board at my elbow.

Buoyed by his triumph, he suggested, when I unfolded to him what had been on my mind, that just as architects of the Italian Renaissance had adopted the Tuscan as a native Etruscan form and hence their own, so might the 18th century have brought it to England for its primitive honesty – a thing that Brown is like to have fostered within himself. Perhaps, Mrs S, we should leave the Captain, in the moment of his triumph, with that likely answer.

214: Did Brown really dislike deer?

In my last (note 213), I offered to my companions at the Tatler’s Waste-bin a list of all those landscapes of that fine man and lord-lieutenant of Huntingdon, Capability Brown, for which I had records of an active deer park.

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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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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs