Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was probably England’s greatest landscape designer. His life and times will be celebrated in 2016 with a kaleidoscope of events centred round his Northumbrian birthplace at Kirkharle, just off the A696.
Starting at Easter time with an evening fireworks display and torchlight procession round Capability’s serpentine lake beside Kirkharle Courtyard, volunteers dressed in period costume will be on hand to offer information and guidance, helping visitors to enjoy the whole ‘CB’ experience, with refreshments provided.
Two book signings will take place at Kirkharle during the year. John Phibbs, principal of Debois Landscape Survey Group, is a renowned garden historian and author with more than 30 years’ experience of planning and management of historic landscapes, conservation and restoration planning. He has written eloquently about Capability and his work. His landmark book on Brown, often described as ‘England’s greatest gardener’ and titled “Place-making, the art of Capability Brown” was published by Rizzoli this year. Artist Tim Scott Bolton has been painting Capability Brown landscapes across the UK, and will be signing his book, titled “Capability Captured” illustrating these paintings. He explained: “We are seeing the Brown landscapes in their late maturity and certainly in a more magnificent state than he ever saw them in. The now lofty trees were then only then in his imagination.” Details on the website when dates are confirmed.
A timetable of events will be available for visitors from Easter onwards and will include an invitation to families to plant new trees into Capability’s landscape. There will also be trips to nearby Rothley Low Lake, another Capability gem.
Events will climax with a birthday Flower Festival starting on August Bank Holiday Friday in Kirkharle’s St Wilfrid’s Church, where the great man was baptised on 30 August 1716. Also on Friday evening Alexander Armstrong will be in concert – another local boy made good and now internationally renowned. On Saturday historian and broadcaster John Grundy will deliver a talk about Brown, his Kirkharle life and the extent of his influence on English landscapes.
A service of thanksgiving for the life and work of Capability will take place in St Wilfrid’s on Bank Holiday Sunday and on Monday there will be a traditional fete, including displays of traditional crafts.
Guided walks to St Wilfrid’s Church and round the Lake will be a regular feature of the ongoing celebrations. Brown himself walked to school from Kirkharle to Cambo every day, a distance of five miles, and the landscape through which he walked stimulated his imagination. He began his gardening career under Sir William Loraine at Kirkharle, but his dreams of limitless landscapes in ‘an image of heaven’ had to wait until he moved south some 23 years later, establishing his considerable reputation and making his fortune.
Join the celebrations at Kirkharle through 2016 and share in the 300th birthday party for a very unique man.
Admission is free to Kirkharle Courtyard: www.kirkharlecourtyard.co.uk Some events will be free and others by ticket only. Check the website for more details as they become available.