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Bell End Farm - Rosedale

North York Moors, England

Capability Brown Festival

Posted by Luci Ackers on Apr 21, 2016
Sledmere House -  © Copyright Pauline E and licensed for reuse
Sledmere House - © Copyright Pauline E and licensed for reuse

Celebrate the 300th anniversary of one of England's greats!

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was a world-renowned landscape architect. Many of the parks and gardens he designed are located around Greater London, but he was responsible for stunning landscapes at famous locations all throughout England. This year marks the 300th since his birth, why not visit one of his excellent properties to see what all the fuss is about?

More than 250 sites can be attributed to Capability Brown in the UK and he has, as a result, earned himself the reputation of England's greatest gardener. During the 18th century he designed the parklands and gardens of great houses and stately homes in a way that oozed natural beauty. Being based at Rosedale means you're in a prime position to discover three of his fantastic Yorkshire havens.

From Rosedale, the closest example of Capability Brown's work is the parkland at Scampston Hall, just over forty minutes away. The Grade II* listed 17th Century country house has large, serpentine grounds which, true to Brown's usual style, are woven with a series of lakes and planting in-keeping with the time. He was respected for carefully crafting environments completely compatible with their surroundings, and befitting the classic ideal of the English countryside.

Scampston Hall - © Copyright Pauline E and licensed for reuse

Sledmere House, just under an hour from Rosedale, is a Georgian building whose 960 acre parkland owes its design to the famous landscape architect. A tranquil parkland is surrounded by trees and planted through with rich gardens. There's a formal parterre as well as a paved sculpture court to discover. This is a fantastic place to walk. Capability Brown's aim with all his projects was to create beautiful, naturalistic spaces with views that subtly lead the eye through incredible vistas often culminating in a peaceful lake scene or, in some cases, a picturesque folly.

Sledmere House - © Copyright JThomas and licensed for reuse

The Georgian country house Aske Hall is a slightly longer drive, roughly an hour and a half from Rosedale, just north of Richmond. The grounds are home to a lake, pleasure grounds and a walled kitchen garden. The Temple is a great place from which to enjoy an extensive view out over the surrounding landscape, with an artfully created vista cut through the trees. Capability Brown's works are famed for their idyllic charm; his creations were never over affected or jarring, instead carefully placed treelines, gently rolling greens and subtle lakes only enhanced the natural beauty. His ethos revolved around the idea that grounds should seamlessly blend into their surroundings. He cleverly used ha-has and hills to manipulate the eye's depth perception and smooth his signature sweeping views.

Ornamental lake at Aske Hall - © Copyright Colin Gregory and licensed for reuse

As this year is a special one for the famous architect, 2016 sees the first ever festival to be held in celebration of his works. The Capability Brown Festival will be hosting a huge range of events, openings and exhibitions in recognition of the 300th year of Capability Brown's birth. Many of the properties he worked on are now in the care of heritage trusts and organisations, meaning his grounds have brought joy to so many over the last 300 years, old and young alike. The idea is to make his sites accessible for all and to encourage as many people as possible to visit, appreciate and learn about his work. The festival team are aiming to open as many of his sites this year as possible, including ones not usually open to the public. You can learn more about what to expect from the festival on the website.

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Luci Ackers
Author: Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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