The architect and designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, born in 1716, is credited with formulating the iconic English landscape garden. Even today, his rolling lawns, scattered with tree clumps and ornamented with glittering lakes, continue to define our perception of rural Britain. As a result, his hundreds of landscapes have eclipsed the study of eighteenth-century garden history almost entirely.
But how many of those schemes were genuinely Brown’s sole vision? And when we look at the man behind the name, what, in fact, was his true ‘capability’? This course examines, possibly controversially, that it was not just his aesthetic insight – nor even his practical gardening talents – that set Brown apart from his peers, but something entirely more mercenary.
Laura Mayer is an independent lecturer and researcher. She holds an MA in Garden History and a PhD on eighteenth-century architecture and landscape design. Laura has worked on conservation projects for the National Trust, taught on academic courses and led groups around some of England’s most famous estates, including Highclere Castle, the setting for Downton Abbey. She has also published extensively, most notably on Capability Brown, and Humphry Repton.