Lancelot 'Capability' Brown at Stowe

16 March 2016


In this year of the tercentenary of the birth of Lancelot Brown, it is interesting to look at familiar Stowe images with a different view point. The 1739 Bridgman map of the estate reminds us of the French/Italianate style of gardening at this time, particularly the formal parterres either side of the south front.  It is this that Lord Cobham, with the vision of Kent, Bridgeman and Brown, breaks down into the new English naturalistic style – the difference now is stark.

At the heart is the then ‘small’ mansion, showing a greater sense of symmetry than later additions illustrate. It is possible to see how the service buildings either side of the main mansion will eventually be linked up to create one larger house, particularly the lengthening of the south front facade. The map also shows how views of the house from the gardens are few, perhaps trying to reinforce the idea of creating a ‘delightful surprise’ when coming across such a vista. This idea continues today.

Keep an eye on our What's On page to see what events and activities are happening across the Stowe estate during this Capability Brown 300 year. Book you tickets now for our series of Capability Brown talks which are taking place in the summer.

Anna McEvoy - House Custodian