The Christmas period is usually associated with frosty mornings, crackling fires and flickering candles, adorned Christmas trees giving off that wonderful pine aroma, cups of hot chocolate (or spiced mulled wine!) and long overdue catch-ups with family and friends – all within the comfort of a beautifully decorated and cosy house.
But there’s plenty to explore in the great outdoors too, as many of Capability Brown’s landscapes remain open for families and friends to visit throughout the festive season!
This year, the Capability Brown Festival has celebrated the 300th anniversary of 18th century landscape gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, by showcasing hundreds of events at some of Brown’s landscapes across England and Wales. While some of these landscapes have now closed, there are many whose doors are open to winter walkers.
Brown’s first commission of Croome (now cared for by the National Trust) in Worcestershire is open daily (except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) for visitors to explore. It was here that Brown re-built the Church of St Mary Magdalene, which is hosting a Christmas Carol service on 17 December. Visitors can also enjoy the first ever Christmas Light Festival decorating Blenheim Palace’s parkland in Oxfordshire, Brown’s largest landscape (closed on Christmas Day) or visit Stowe in Buckinghamshire, where Brown began his career in 1741 (cared for by the National Trust) to discover the 24 hidden doors as part of their Landscape Advent Calendar. Other Brown landscapes open for exploration include Audley End in Essex (cared for by English Heritage), where visitors can see Brown’s signature serpentine lake, and independently-owned Trentham in Staffordshire, where another of Brown’s key features, the ha-ha, can be seen. Trentham is also currently hosting the first ever full length statue of Capability Brown, who will be overseeing this landscape until spring.
The festive season is a perfect time of year to get outside with loved ones and clear any Christmas cobwebs
Ceryl Evans, Director of the Capability Brown Festival says: “The festive season is a perfect time of year to get outside with loved ones and clear any Christmas cobwebs, so why not add ‘discover my local Capability Brown landscape’ to your Christmas list? Visit our website to find your local Brown landscape: www.capabilitybrown.org/map”
Brown, referred to as England’s most famous gardener, is associated with around 250 landscapes and had a glamourous client list including King George III, six Prime Ministers and half of the House of Lords.
Ceryl Evans concludes: “Despite the Capability Brown Festival focussing on this anniversary year, we are keen to reinforce that Brown’s landscapes will be open for discovery post 2016 – a fitting legacy for the Festival and the historic landscapes of Capability Brown.”
To find a Brown landscape near you, visit www.capabilitybrown.org/map