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Where to see ‘Capability’ Brown landscapes

The gothic temple and palladian bridge in the foreground at Stowe, Buckinghamshire
The gothic temple and palladian bridge in the foreground at Stowe, Buckinghamshire | © National Trust Images/Ian Ward

Lose yourself in a landscape of serpentine rivers and Gothic follies, with sweeping drives and parkland fringed by trees… Today we care for 18 places with landscapes created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – a pioneering 18th-century gardener, designer and entrepreneur. Here are some of his most important works.

Ashridge Esate, Hertfordshire
Brown visited Ashridge in 1759 on the invitation of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, although little is known about the work he carried out. Even so, the Golden Valley bears all the hallmarks of classic ‘Capability’ Brown, with sweeping vistas and rolling pastures fringed by woodland.Visit Ashridge’s Golden Valley
Berrington Hall, Herefordshire
In 1775, London banker Thomas Harley purchased the Berrington estate. To display his wealth, Harley commissioned Brown to create what would turn out to be his final landscape. Berrington is a beautiful example of Brown’s foresight, as it is only now the oak and beech trees have matured that the park truly looks as he intended – 200 years after he envisioned it.Visit Berrington Hall
Croome, Worcestershire
Croome was Brown’s first large-scale project, commissioned by the 6th Earl of Coventry in 1751. Up to this point the fashion had been for formal gardens, but over time Brown’s more naturalistic style changed the face of 18th-century garden design. Following the landscape designer’s death in 1783, the Earl erected a memorial by the lake at Croome to commemorate his work and ‘inimitable genius’.Visit Croome
View down a lush green grassy valley, lined with trees starting to take on autumn colour
Autumn in the Golden Valley at Ashridge Estate | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler
Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire
In 1775 Brown was invited to Newton House – nestled within the park and grounds of Dinefwr Castle – to advise on the landscape. His suggestions included planting trees and relocating the farm and kitchen garden. It’s believed that he also designed one of the walking trails around Dinefwr Park, which makes the most of the natural vistas that frame the house.Visit Dinefwr
Hatfield Forest, Essex
Most of Hatfield looks like a typical medieval hunting forest, but in the centre you can find a landscaped lake, non-native trees, and the beautiful Shell House picnic shelter. It was long believed that Brown had been involved in the works, but this was only recently confirmed by researchers who found a 1757 plan for the area by Brown, and a receipt for £50 paid for his work.Visit Hatfield Forest
Petworth, West Sussex
When Charles Wyndham inherited the Petworth estate in 1750, he found himself the owner of gardens that were widely criticised by his contemporaries. He commissioned Brown to wipe away the now-unfashionable formal landscape, and replace it with the serpentine ponds and rolling pastures that were the hallmarks of Brown’s growing success.Visit Petworth
View over the lake at Petworth, West Sussex
View over the lake at Petworth, West Sussex | © National Trust Images/John Miller
Stowe, Buckinghamshire
Brown’s time at Stowe was influential for him both professionally and personally. He began his career here in 1741 and it served as the proving ground for his future. Stowe’s ‘Grecian Valley’ is classic example of the naturalistic style that made him famous. Brown married Bridget Wayet in St Mary’s Church, and lived with her and four children in one of the Boycott Pavilions.Visit Stowe
Wallington, Northumberland
Born just 2 miles away, Brown’s daily walk to school in Cambo village took him through the Wallington estate. Although he left Northumberland in 1739, he returned in the 1760s to advise Wallington’s owner, Sir Walter. The extent of his work is unclear, although we know he laid out the designs for the Low Lake, and may also have been involved in the creation of the High Lake.Visit Wallington
Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
Wimpole’s magnificent parkland is the work of many of the greatest names in landscape gardening, including Charles Bridgeman and Humphry Repton. However the most important element is surely Brown’s North Park. Created in the 1760s and 1770s, it provides an idyllic setting for the hall and features an extraordinary focus in the form of a picturesque Gothic folly.Visit Wimpole Estate
Evening visitors take their dogs into the Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden, North Wales

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