The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

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

Tag: Wotton (Page 1 of 2)

1846: Did Repton work for a lower class of person than Brown?

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, though unsupported by any evidence, that Humphry Repton worked for a lower class of people than Brown.

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295: Where did he get his trees?

Mrs W of Newcastle-upon-Tyne has asked where the indigenous and ingenious Capability Brown, idol of Indians and Chiefs alike, got his trees and it’s a good question, especially when it comes from that splendid city Newcastle, strong indeed in the matter of coal-mines and ships, but less so when it comes to the commercial tree nurseries of the 18th century.

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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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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.

210: What makes a plan Brown’s?

At the annual bean-feast of the Brown Advisor, we eat crisps only and only drink ginger beer and liquorice water. Thus we toast our youth as we turn to sober discussion of the topics of the day.

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186: What can we say about Holm Oak?

The Holm oaks are clumped along Green Lane at Milton Abbey

The holm oaks are clumped along Green Lane at Milton Abbey

‘The ilex, or ever-green oak, presents a character very different from that of the yew. The yew is a close bodied, compact tree. The ilex is generally thin, and straggling; tho we sometimes see it, in soils, which it likes, form a thicker foliage.’ Such, from his vantage point in the New Forest, was the judgement of the Rev. William Gilpin.

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182: What better plant than Box?

William Marshall’s encomium takes us to the heartwood:  ‘we know of no shrub or tree whatever, the Oak, the Ash, the Elm, and the Beech excepted, so deserving of the planter’s notice as the Box.

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83: Where did he get it from? – Charles Bridgeman

Lady L from Yorkshire asks about the relationship between the evidently esteemed Capability Brown, engine of endeavour, and his predecessor Charles Bridgeman.

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172: Why were Brown’s limes common?

Throw out the gripes of Stephen Switzer, and that much respected Reverend, William Gilpin, as well as his confrère Thomas Hale, who regarded it as ‘not very picturesque’, because it presented too uniform a surface.  Let us sing the praises of the common lime.

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162: Did Brown show a particular affinity for the Ionic?

The Gothic Temple at Burghley - hardly Gothic, not exactly classical, but with a fine entrance at the back

The Gothic Temple at Burghley – hardly Gothic, not exactly classical, but with a fine entrance at the back.

How fond and how French in their originality and particularity are the questions that Mme de B de V has sent me from France.

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs