This spring, one of the country’s most famous 18th-century landscapes launches a year-long celebration of its creator – Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – in this 300th anniversary year of his birth.
The majestic 700-acre Petworth Park which surrounds an equally magnificent mansion, is one of the finest surviving and unspoilt examples of an English landscape designed by Brown, who transformed it from formal gardens to a pastoral delight.
From exhibitions of textiles, artworks, animations and films, to themed walks and talks by historians and archaeologists, Petworth’s Brownian tribute provides a unique insight into this most prolific of landscapers, combining archive material with the latest interactive technology.
Petworth’s Pleasure Grounds and Park were one of Brown’s earliest large scale commissions (begun in 1753), and considered by many to be his masterpiece, taking 12 years and no less than five contracts to complete.
Walking through Petworth Park today, the landscape gives the impression of being totally natural, but in reality, it could not be more unnatural – an elaborate fake on a truly epic scale.
Brown swept away Petworth’s orderly formal parterres, gardens and giant rampart terraces.
In their place he created rolling hills and isolated groups of trees, wide sweeping vistas and curvaceous lakes - all designed to depict a ‘perfect’ vision of a natural landscape - right to the door of the house.
An admirer of the romanticised settings of Italian classical painting, Brown introduced follies too, whilst new carriageways ensured the park could be easily admired.
Until September 4 local branches of the Embroiderers Guild are showcasing work inspired by Petworth’s famous landscapes.
Over the summer months, Petworth’s visitors have the unique opportunity to be part of an ambitious ‘living’ textile, by adding their own stitches to a reproduction of Capability Brown’s original plan of Petworth Park, featuring lakes, vistas, carriage drives and trees.
For further information on Petworth House and Park and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house or call 01798 342207.
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