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Major Festival Launches Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Capability Brown Throughout 2016



Throughout 2016 the work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown will be marked with a major Festival of events, celebrating his life, work and legacy in the year of the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Royal Gardener and the grandfather of the profession of landscape architecture, Brown was an engineer, entrepreneur, salesman and extremely effective businessman. It was the combination of these skills which led to his success and his shaping people’s picture of the quintessential English countryside that is recognised throughout the world today.

This new Festival, funded by a £911,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and managed by the Landscape Institute, brings together for the first time a range of organisations to tell the story of this great man with more Brown sites made accessible for a wide range of audiences, and volunteers supported to develop their skills to help people understand the landscape as much as the house they may be visiting.

The memorable nickname ‘Capability’ is thought to come from his commenting to potential clients that their estate land had great “capabilities”. On launching the programme, Ceryl Evans, Festival Director said: ‘Brown’s amazing career consisted of his advising at around 250 sites covering an area of around 200 square miles, running a business stretching across England and Wales. We are delighted to have so many of these sites taking part in the Festival as they will be helping to tell the story of the impact and importance of this landscaping genius. As part of the legacy of the Festival we want to reach new audiences beyond his existing fans, to those who know nothing of his work but simply enjoy beautiful landscapes.’

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Capability Brown Festival was awarded £911,100 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Jim Dixon, Trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: ‘Without Capability Brown we wouldn’t have such a wonderful image of the quintessential English garden and without National Lottery players, it would not be possible to hold this festival to mark his legacy. We’re delighted to be supporting such a unique opportunity to bring together sites from across the country to celebrate the man who shaped them and create new opportunities for people to experience his landscapes and story.’

Events include:


Brown worked at some of the most famous estates in the country such as Chatsworth, Blenheim and Stowe. Many of these sites will be putting on events to celebrate the tercentenary including:

  • Major exhibitions telling his story – Capability Brown at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire; Noble Prospects: Capability Brown in Yorkshire at the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate; The Empress and the Gardener exhibition at Hampton Court Palace, showing for the very first time drawings connected with Brown and his workshop, collected by the anglophile Catherine the Great of Russia; as well as others such as at Harewood House, Yorkshire, and Milton Abbey and Highcliffe Castle in Dorset
  • Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire will provide the opportunity to explore a newly implemented Brown landscape from a recently rediscovered plan he had drawn up for the estate, seeing what Brown and his clients would have seen when the new landscapes developed.
  • A year-long programme of events and exhibitions at Weston Park on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border, showcasing and celebrating Capability Brown, his work on site and in the wider region.


It wasn’t just the major estates that Brown worked with and smaller sites will be putting on activities as well including:

  • The public park, Temple Newsam in Yorkshire will be animating the space in the park with a new dance commission. The performers will be made up of participants from the local housing estates and supported by professional dancers to develop and create the choreography
  • Euston Hall in Suffolk will welcome classes from the local primary school to learn about the landscapes
  • Brown’s birthplace, Kirkharle in Northumberland and Fenstanton, his final resting place in Cambridgeshire will be celebrating with a range of events across the year
  • Welsh Historic Gardens Trust will tour venues including hotels and churches with a bilingual exhibition to discuss his impact with those gardening for themselves

*Please note, some of these smaller events are for small and specific audiences and will not be advertised widely.


As well as site specific events, there are a number of other activities which will encourage people to get involved in new and interesting ways:

  • Capabili-Teas – Georgian inspired afternoon teas with authentic recipes from the period available at a number of sites from Easter, with a focus on Brown’s birthday month of August. The recipes are also available in the publication Hudson’s Historic Houses and Gardens 2016, to encourage people to bake themselves and take their homemade Georgian-inspired picnic when visiting a Brown landscape. These recipes will be downloadable from the Festival website in time for Easter.
  • The Embroiderers’ Guild is contributing to the celebrations with a series of over 40 unique textile exhibitions at venues across the country, taking inspiration from Brown’s designs, as well as the landscape more generally
  • In partnership with Warwick Castle, Beatfreaks, an award-winning youth engagement agency, will commission six young artists aged 16-25 from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to create images and poems based on their interpretation of the site’s Capability Brown landscape and its links to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These works will be shared and distributed on site and online
  • Rediscovering a lost landscape at Tong Castle, in Shropshire with guided walks on the landscape almost lost beneath the M54 motorway
  • Burton Constable in Yorkshire will host an artist in residence exploring the Brownian landscapes alongside a year-long programme of events and exhibitions reaching out to the nearby city of Hull.
  • Scampston in north east Yorkshire is running a geocaching project to get people out and about exploring the landscape using GPS to find the geocaches
  • Compton Verney in Warwickshire will be running the Capability Brown Express to and from neighbouring towns to help new visitors travel to the site


Attracting new audiences to explore, enjoy and understand our natural landscapes is an important part of the Festival and some specific projects are being funded to support that objective. Although not necessarily open to the public more widely, some examples include:

  • A new sensory trail through Brown’s 18th Century pleasure grounds at Croome in Worcestershire, cared for by the National Trust, aimed at supporting children and young people with physical and leaning difficulties to explore landscapes
  • A new music commission is being composed by Graham Ross, the Director of Music at Clare College, Cambridge, as a pastoral piece for solo violin and chamber orchestra, drawing its inspiration from Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending and a poem by John Clare (1793-1864), an English poet whose love of the English landscape profoundly shaped his writing. It will be premiered at the Fringe in the Fen Festival in Fenstanton in July
  • Chatsworth House in Derbyshire will be working with children in care, children with life-limiting medical conditions, and refugees, encouraging them to explore the Capability Brown landscape and learn about Brown’s time there.
  • Trentham in Staffordshire will be working with their local Wildlife Trust to get city-dwellers out into the countryside
  • 11 ‘Hub’ sites will be staging small exhibitions promoting their neighbouring Brown sites, some of which have limited access, as well as setting the scene about Brown and his work to provide impact across the country
  • A short animated film providing an engaging introduction to Brown’s work, aimed at a family audience
  • New discoveries from the Festival’s research programme will be communicated widely to encourage other people to share their knowledge about Brown

Gilly Drummond, Chair of the Capability Brown Festival said ‘Inevitably these are just a snapshot of some of the many events that will be taking place across the country from now until the end of October. I am delighted to see how the Festival has grown, through the enthusiasm and support of its partners. It would also not have been possible without the support of National Lottery Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.’

Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator, Historic Royal Palaces, on hand to help launch the Festival said ‘This year, the nation celebrates the work of the great Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, a man who began his long career being despised as a ‘cabbage planter’ and ended it lauded as an artist who ‘adorned his country’.  His ambition was to ‘finish England’, and he certainly made a good job of it, leaving a legacy of hundreds of parks and gardens up and down the country for us to enjoy as we celebrate the 300thanniversary of his birth this year.’

Visit for more information about events and an interactive map of locations.


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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