(Credit: David Noton)
Two of my subscribers work in the field of water treatment (I’m not sure if they know each other but might after this) so I thought they would be interested in the problem faced by Capability at Croome Court. Because the estate was on marshy ground, on a plain between two rivers, the Avon and the Severn, it had to be drained before work on the garden could start. I gather from my reading that the main house was placed where it was impossible to see the village and the formal gardens were dug up. Brown had the old church demolished and a new one built on a more prominent site. Winding paths framed carefully chosen views of the parkland, house, a fine tree or garden building. The plan of Croome Park by John Snape (below) shows the estate in 1796 after Brown's work (reproduced courtesy of Worcestershire Archive and Archaeological Service). Brown put in lots of culverts, underground drains which channelled the water away from the house and towards the site of a new river in a boggy area called Seggy Mere. The river is actually a narrow lake 1.75 miles long, snaking across the parkland- all created with manual labour. (Capability Brown.org)
(Credit: Blenheim Palace)
(Credit: Blenheim Palace)
(Credit: Harewood House)
From 1773 he helped Lord Milton to enlarge the estate by removing the old village of Milton. To replace it, Brown designed the model village of Milton Abbas with its attractive streets of thatched cottages, lying out of sight of the house just as he had at Croome Court. I'm not sure how I feel about Mr Brown now and his creative works as he was trying to keep some of my ancestors from the view of Lord Milton! I'm off to Dorset next year so I will check out Mr Brown's work in the area and give you an update. The new village looks delightful but what happened to the families who lived there while the new cottages were being built?
John Phibbs, expert on Lancelot Capability Brown explains:
You have to remember that Brown loved streams... (because) A stream has sound, and animals will come down to drink. He also made ponds, canals and cascades, and he was a master at drainage. In some places, the fencing at the edges of lakes is controlled so that animals gather at a specific ‘beach’ to drink, becoming a component in a vista seen from the house. (telegraph.co.uk)
By designing grassland and parkland trees, woodland and water parkland features in an intricate pattern, Brown created a varied mosaic of habitats, concentrated in one place, that provide plenty of homes for wildlife, some of them very rare. They include grassland, wood pasture, woodland and wetland habitats but most important are the hundreds of parkland trees he incorporated or new trees he planted which are now 300 to 1000 years old. They are important for their decaying wood and the nooks and crannies that develop in old wood, that lichens, fungi and invertebrates such as beetles need to survive, as well as providing roosts for bats. These trees reach a very great age because they grow in open grazed areas rather than competing for light and nutrients in woodland. Brown’s landscapes offer important refuges for wildlife and stepping stones for species to connect with habitats in the more intensively farmed or developed landscape that surrounds them. (cababilitybrown.org)
(Credit: capabilitybrown.org-by permission of the National Trust)
The Hero Image illustrates a typical landscape garden as designed by Capability Brown with the wide sweeping grassland surrounded by trees planted in sympathy with the landscape which features a great expanse of water. This garden is the Prior Park Landscape Garden Bath, Somerset.
Where to now? Gardens make me think of gnomes and gnomes make me think of Halloween. A challenge I am sure but tomorrow you will see what I make of these links.