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Capability Brown Landscapes

Historic England was a partner in the national Capability Brown Festival in 2016 celebrating the 300th anniversary of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-1783). We worked with a number of partners on new research into the work of this most renowned of landscape designers.

Brown worked with landowners across England to create stunning, large-scale landscapes. Brown was known as the 'omnipotent magician'. He dominated his profession and was prolific - his work is everywhere, but his was such a naturalistic style that all his best work was mistaken for untouched nature.  The English Landscape Style developed by Brown and his contemporaries spread across Europe, Russia and North America and continues to shape contemporary landscape design.

Recent Research

We commissioned University of East Anglia’s Landscape Group to review our research knowledge about Capability Brown landscapes.

The county gardens trusts and other researchers added to our knowledge of individual Brown landscapes and recording their finds. Details of Brown's work at 141 sites along with 24 leaflet maps can be viewed on the Capability Brown website.

Map of aerial photographs

Aerial photographs are a great landscape research resource. Search our interactive map to find our recent aerial photographs of key landscapes associated with Capability Brown. Coloured map

Clicking on the map provides a link to the list entry for each of the parks and gardens included on Historic England's Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For those not registered, a link has been created to the relevant entry on the Parks and Gardens UK website.

Each photograph is represented by a dot. Clicking on the dot, brings up details of the date on which the photograph was taken, along with a reference number and a link to view the image. There is also a link to the Historic England Archive should you wish to know more about any particular site or to order a larger copy of an image.

Some images may show features not directly associated with Capability Brown's landscapes, such as cropmarks and other earlier or later landscape design features and structures.

Place-making - The Art of Capability Brown

In Historic England’s 2017 book, John Phibbs draws on a wide range of documentary evidence to examine the motivation behind Capability Brown’s landscapes, their value and structure, and their place within the English landscape tradition. Phibbs reveals the thinking behind Brown’s genius and shows us how to interpret his enormous body of work.




Published 22 May 2017

The art of Capability Brown. Challenges many of the received wisdoms about Brown’s landscapes.




Woman with glasses

Jenifer White

Jenifer White, one of our National Landscape Advisers, leads on the Capability Brown Festival for Historic England. Jenifer is a chartered landscape architect specialising in the conservation of historic parks and gardens.

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