A set of eight special stamps has been announced by the Royal Mail today to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.
Capability Brown is remembered as ‘the last of the great eighteenth century artists’ and as ‘England’s greatest gardener’.
Nicknamed ‘Capability’ from his habit of describing locations as having ‘great capabilities’, he changed the face of eighteenth century England through his innovative approach to landscape gardening.
He designed the landscapes of country estates, by moving hills and creating flowing lakes and serpentine rivers. He also excavated valleys, planted expanses of turf, clumps of trees and bands of forest.
The stamps showcase eight of the best loved examples of Capability Brown’s work and a celebration of his contribution to the English landscape.
Locations featured on the stamps are: Blenheim Palace, Longleat, Compton Verney, Highclere Castle, Alnwick Castle, Berrington Hall, Stowe and Croome Park.
Celebrated for creating landscapes on an immense scale, with a focus on vistas rather than gardens and parkland – it is often said that the images Brown created are as deeply embedded in the English character as the paintings of Turner and the poetry of Wordsworth.
Often viewed as an example of one of Brown’s finest projects, The Duke of Marlborough enticed Brown to Oxfordshire in 1763, with the promise that he should begin work at Blenheim Palace immediately.
Set in 900 acres of parkland modeled by Brown. For his efforts at Longleat in Wiltshire, Brown was paid over £6,100 between 1757 and 1762 by Lord Weymouth.
Brown’s 1768 arrival at Compton Verney, Warwickshire, sparked Lord Willoughby de Broke to undertake ambitious changes to the family seat – including both the house and landscape.
Henry Herbert, later 1st Earl of Carnarvon, summoned Brown to Highclere Castle shortly after he inherited the Berkshire estate in 1769. The castle was used as the location for the TV series, Downton Abbey.
Shortly before 1770, Brown began work at the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland’s northern estate, Alnwick Castle, after having previously worked for them at Syon. Northumberland was the county of Brown’s birth.
In 1778, Brown supplied a landscape plan for Thomas Harley at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire, working there in perfect partnership with his son-in-law, the architect, Henry Holland Jnr.
Stowe, the vast Buckinghamshire estate belonging to the formidable Viscount Cobham, was where Brown cut his horticultural teeth. He modelled the Grecian Valley with the Temple of Concord and Victory.
Brown was first consulted regarding Croome Park in Worcestershire in 1751, when George William Coventry inherited the earldom. This was his first independent commission.
Royal Mail will provide a special handstamp on all mail posted in the village of Kirkharle, Brown’s birthplace, from 16 – 22 August 2016. The handstamp will run from 16-22 August 2016, and will feature a line drawing of Brown based on the portrait of him painted by Richard Cosway, c.1770-75.
Throughout 2016 the nationwide Capability Brown Festival celebrates the life, work and legacy of Brown, in the 300th year of his birth. The Capability Brown Festival has, and continues to see, a myriad of events including exhibitions, guided walks, musical and theatrical performances and family friendly events held at many of his 250 landscapes across England and Wales, with more planned for the coming Autumn months.
Ceryl Evans, Director of the Capability Brown Festival, said:
It is wonderful that Royal Mail has issued a set of Special Stamps to celebrate the work of Lancelot “Capability” Brown in his tercentenary year.
“The Capability Brown Festival is working to raise the profile and understanding of historic landscapes. What better way to bring these stunning images into people’s lives in homes and offices than on a stamp?”
Philip Parker, Royal Mail, said: “During his lifetime, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown literally changed the face of Georgian England. By the time of his death, he was known to have shaped or influenced around 250 landscapes – these stamps pay tribute to the lasting legacy of his work.”
The stamps are available from 16 August 2016 at www.royalmail.com/landscapegardens and 8,000 Post Offices.