Capability Brown masterclass with leading expert John Phibbs, 6 September 2016

The Triumphal Arch gateway into Berrington Hall

A LATE MASTERPIECE Berrington is like a bomb planted by Brown right in the middle of the territory of his most vociferous opponents, the Herefordshire squires, Sir Richard Payne Knight and Uvedale Price.

The park is uncompromising and appears vulnerable to all of their criticisms - so smooth, so polished, so neat. Yet it is a complex Chinese Box of a design, full of tricks and puzzles that confound their attacks. It is not going to be easy to get round them all in a day, particularly a day in November. 


10.00 We meet at the hall for coffee.
10.30 John Phibbs will give a short introduction to Brown, to the place of Berrington in Brown’s work, and to the day.
11.30 We will tour the house and garden – it is difficult to get a proper understanding of a Brown landscape without seeing the views from the windows and the garden is one of the oddest things at Berrington.
12.45 Lunch – this will have to be brief if we are to fit a decent walk into the afternoon.
14.00 Off to the park. This walk will certainly include the hill just north-east of the house, and if time permits, we shall walk down the principal approach to the south, past the lake and across the main road into the edge of Long Plantation.
15.30 Return to the house for tea.
16.00 Depart.

Some Conundrums

Here are a few of the puzzles of Berrington, to whet your appetite before the day begins:

  •  Why isn’t the Triumphal Arch at the entrance to the park?
  •  Why can’t you see the lake properly from the house?
  •  Why is the entrance on the wrong side?

No doubt these questions will never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction, but John will give them his best shot. Whatever the weather, it will be a great day.


The cost per master-class is £129.00 per person. This will include lectures, a tour of the house to establish its setting in the landscape and a long walk through the landscape led by John. Refreshments will include morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea. For those arriving by train, we can arrange a transfer service.