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Artists’ Papers Register

A location register of the papers of artists, designers and craftspeople held in publicly accessible collections in the United Kingdom and Ireland

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Brown, Lancelot (1715-1783) 

Gender: Male

Other names
Capability Brown (Pseudonym or nickname)

Functions, occupations and activities
English landscape gardener and architect; baptized in Kirkharle, Northumb. (30 August 1716); following his schooling at the nearby village of Cambo, Brown was first employed c 1732 by Sir William Loraine of Kirkharle; in about 1739 he decided to make a career for himself further south, and his first known commission (c 1740) was the formation of a lake at Kiddington Park, Oxon; within a few months he came to to the notice of Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobham, and was taken on at Stowe, Bucks, (March 1741); his nominal position was Head Gardener, but after a few weeks he was acting as paymaster and had assumed responsibility for some 40 workmen, including masons, carpenters, carters, plasterers and under-gardeners; in the 1740s he kept on carrying out projects under his supervision; in the autumn of 1751 he moved with his family from Stowe (where he married in 1744) to a house in Hammersmith, then a village near West London; from then on his commissions increasingly involved architectural designs; a measure of his rapid success at this time is indicated by his nickname 'Capability', current by 1760; said to have derived from his habit of referring to the capabilities of the places about which he was consulted, it may nevertheless have been meant to indicate his skill in dealing with the unpromising terrain with which he was frequently confronted; in 1764 he was appointed Master Gardener for Richmond, Surrey, and Hampton Court, Middx.; although he suffered from asthma for many years, he travelled extensively through England and Wales in the course of his work; died in London (6 February 1783).


Archival Resources
Number noted: 11

Correspondence (70 items), c1755-84
Held at: British Library, Manuscript Collections
Document reference: Add MS 69795

Letters to 8th Earl of Northampton relating to Fen Stanton, 1764-71
Held at: Castle Ashby
Document reference: Vol 5 1118
Comments: Access by appointment only

Two plans for gardens at Lowther, 1763, 1771
Held at: Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle
Document reference: Lowther MSS
Other information: Accessions list 1967

Plans and landscape designs for Ashburnham, 1767
Held at: East Sussex Record Office
Document reference: ASH

Correspondence and papers including plan relating to Petworth, 1752-65
Held at: Private
Document reference: 6616, 6623, 5177
Comments: Access by appointment only

Plans and elevations of Cadland, c1775
Held at: Private
Document reference: A32/1-8

Account book,
Held at: Royal Horticultural Society: the Lindley Library
Other information: ASLIB Directory of Literary and Historical Collections 1993

Building estimate (Claremont) (1 item), 1816
Held at: Sir John Soane's Museum
Document reference: I.B.19

Peper Harow House plans, 1752-53
Held at: Surrey History Centre
Document reference: 1567

Letters (10) to 1st Earl of Chatham,
Held at: The National Archives: Public Record Office
Document reference: PRO30/8

Letters to Methuen family relating to Corsham Court, 1760-63
Held at: Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office
Document reference: WRO1742

Date of creation: 07 November 2002, 14:42:55