Free access to Capability Brown sites for Heritage Open Days

The Capability Brown Festival is holding a series of events to tie into the Heritage Open Days project, which runs from 8-11 September.

Autumn view of The Oxford Bridge at Stowe. Copyright: NT Images/Andrew Butler
Autumn view of The Oxford Bridge at Stowe. Copyright: NT Images/Andrew Butler

The 27 special events, part of hundreds around the country celebrating 300 years since the birth of landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown being held this year, give visitors free access to the gardens and houses at a selection of renowned properties, as well as lesser known private and public secret green spaces and community gardening projects with great stories to tell.

Visitors can:

  • Roam around 250 acres of garden at Stowe in Buckinghamshire, where Brown looked after the gardens from 1741-1751. The doors will also be thrown open to temples and monuments that are normally closed. Stowe House, Church and Gothic Temple will also open to the public.
  • Discover a secret landscape with guided tours of a lost Capability Brown gem at the Woodlands Farm in Staffordshire which was part of the Fisherwick Estate – once one of his biggest projects, now the working Woodhouse Farm CIC. An 18th century walled garden, cherry orchard, a ha-ha and other elements of the original Brown landscape are just some of the areas gradually being uncovered on the site, plus something for younger ones with rare breed cattle, pigs and chickens.
  • Excite the senses at Sheffield Park and Gardens, East Sussex with its 'playing with perspective' trail involving mirrors, sounds and textures and see the garden from a whole new perspective. This trail, taking inspiration from Capability Brown, encourages visitors to explore the garden using all their senses and uses mirrors to replicate the reflections in the lakes to encourage them to see things a little differently.
  • Explore the world of 18th century gardening with a behind the scenes curator's guided tour of rare books and artwork from the collections of the RHS Lindley Library, Vincent Square, London. Visitors will also have a chance to see the new exhibition on Capability Brown 'A Capable Businessman', which includes his Account Book.
  • Visit Cadland Gardens in Hampshire and take a guided tour of Capability Brown's smallest surviving pleasure garden. Sited by Capability Brown to take advantage of views across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight, Cadland Gardens are his smallest surviving pleasure ground. It is a miniature landscape garden with a circular belt walk, broad vistas, intimate peeps out to sea, the delights of scent and foliage and the play of light and shade on the grass.
  • Enjoy access to an 18th century Palladian mansion designed by Capability Brown for Clive of India at Claremont House in Surrey. It later became the home of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. The young Queen Victoria spent many of her birthdays here and it was a favourite family home. The exiled King and Queen of the French, Louis Philippe and Marie-Amelie, lived here after the 1848 Revolution.
  • Cross one of only four Palladian bridges in the world, take in sweeping views of the World Heritage City of Bath, and learn about the mysteries surrounding Capability Brown in Prior Park Landscape Garden, Somerset. Children can enjoy bug hunting on the rotten trail or pick up a 50 Things to do before you before you're 11 and 3/4 book and tick off some of the activities, such as climb a really big hill or catch a falling leaf. 
  • ‘Walk with Capability’ at Temple Newsam Park, in West Yorkshire and enjoy a circular stroll with Capability Brown through the landscape to see some of his grand designs for the estate. 
  • Enjoy free admission to the grounds and stables of Burton Constable in Yorkshire with guided tours of the parkland in the county’s best documented landscape by Capability Brown. In addition visitors can try Burton Constable’s new aptly-named limited-edition beer 'Incapability Brown Ale'.

Heritage Open Days is one of the Capability Brown Festival’s partners and is co-ordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust. Some 40,000 volunteers across England organise 5,000 events to celebrate history, architecture and culture.

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