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2016 marks the 300th anniversary of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, England’s ‘greatest gardener.’ Nicknamed “Capability” because he would tell his clients that their property had “capability” for improvement, we celebrate and question his achievement through an examination of his career, his style and originality, and his legacy. Inscape joins a nationwide celebration of the man who transformed the 18c English landscape.

The Brownian landscape park is an idyll, a living, breathing Claude Lorraine painting, whose very subtleties reveal the genius of the man- his polymathic skills in many disciplines especially in architecture, engineering and design: his profound understanding of scale and perspective, his pure instinct for the placement of monumental trees, his hitherto little-suspected knowledge of flowering shrubs, his ability to visualise lakes and rivers where none had previously existed, and his sheer determination to move hills and carve the land and replace rigid geometry with sinuous, irregular more natural lines. Even his ease of wit and charm were noted by his contemporaries. Mythologized and maligned in almost equal measure, he has been accused of sweeping away numerous exquisite formal gardens in favour of sheep pasture to line his patrons’ pockets. Richard Payne Knight and Uvedale Price reviled him – suggesting that his gardens were both over-manicured and exhausting in their scale.

To further our understanding of his work, we have arranged a special three-day study. We stay in a splendid example of a Capability Brown landscape at Bowood, and see him at Corsham Court, where he was architect as well as landscape gardener. As contrast we explore Westbury Court, an exceptional survival of a formal garden of the 1690’s. At the exquisitely beautiful Iford Manor, we see a superb later garden, a work of genius by Harold Peto, who lived here from 1899 to 1933. With the perspective of these two gardens we discuss both the contributions to and the subtractions from the English landscape made by Brown, and ask if his intentions, and those of ‘formal’ gardeners, were really so very different after all.

COST £995 members, £1045 non-members, single room supplement £95, deposit £250. This cost includes two nights accommodation at Bowood Hotel, all breakfasts, two lunches with wine, two dinners with wine, all tuition and lectures, entry fees, private tours, all travel during the tour, all gratuities, VAT. This cost excludes travel to and from the tour.