Director-General of National Trust visits Wallington to mark 300th birthday of Capability Brown

Celebrating 300 years of influential North East designer

The Director-General of Europe’s largest conservation charity was in Northumberland on Friday (11 March) to plant one of a series of trees to celebrate 300 years since the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

Dame Helen Ghosh of the National Trust made a special visit to Wallington, a landscape that the designer would have explored on his daily walk to school, as part of a year of commemorative events to mark the tercentenary.

Capability Brown is arguably Britain’s most influential landscape designer, creating designed and managed parkland, and influencing landscape design across Europe in the 18th century. The National Trust looks after 21 sites that can be attributed to his hand and 18 where Brown’s designs can still be seen today.

Capability Brown was born in Kirkharle, just down the road from Wallington, and went to school in Cambo, on the Wallington estate. Dame Helen planted a tree in the Walled Garden as part of a wider plan to restore and conserve the landscape, and got a sneak preview of five original Brown designs that will go on public display in the house at Wallington later this year.

Dame Helen Ghosh, director-general of the National Trust said:

“This is one of a series of tree plantings at some of Capability Brown’s best-known landscapes. Each place I am visiting captures some of the chronology of Capability Brown‘s work and the development of his landscapes, so I was keen to go to the place where Brown grew up. The tree planting highlights the conservation and landscape management work that we do here at the National Trust, and is part of our wider efforts to restore a healthy, beautiful natural environment at the places we look after. This year we’ll start to restore many of Brown’s landscapes to bring them back to their former glory.”

Paul Hewitt, Countryside Manager for the National Trust said:

“Capability Brown was a local boy made good. We’re delighted that Helen chose Wallington, a place that we have no doubt would have inspired Brown as a young boy, as one of the special places she wanted to visit during this year of commemorative events. Here at Wallington we’re hosting guided walks, expert talks, tours of Rothley Lake where we believe Brown advised on the design, and exhibitions including original designs and textiles produced by the Embroiderer’s Guild.”

The National Trust has been exploring Brown’s links to Wallington in the run up to this year’s tercentenary, and the extent to which he may have influenced the design of the estate. They believe Brown advised Sir Walter Calverley Blackett on the positioning of the Walled Garden, and may have even designed the Owl House, a former banqueting house overlooking the garden. They Trust also believe that Brown may have advised Sir Walter on the design of his new pleasure grounds at Rothley, something Paul and his team are investigating further this year.