Capability Brown 300th Birthday Celebrations

Countdown to Capability Brown 300th Birthday celebrations begin as Festival wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

An influential group of organisations, landowners and individuals are one step closer to marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown with a nationwide festival celebrating his life and influence in 2016. The Capability Brown 300 Celebration and Festival has received a first round pass* and will receive £139,200 development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The bid is led by the Landscape Institute on behalf of a partnership which includes the Association of Gardens Trusts, NADFAS, English Heritage, the Garden History Society, the Historic Houses Association, the National Gardens Scheme, Natural England, Parks & Gardens UK, Visit Britain, Visit England, Kolab and the National Trust. They plan to bring the beauty and importance of Brown’s landscapes to a wider audience and celebrate the legacy of one of history’s most influential landscape architects with the Capability Brown 300 Celebration and Festival.

Known as the ‘father of landscape architecture’, Brown’s surviving landscapes include the World Heritage Site at Blenheim Palace, Highclere Castle (the location of the ITV series Downton Abbey), Alnwick, Chatwsorth, Syon Park and Compton Verney.  Capability Brown changed the face of the nation and created a landscape style which forms the backdrop for most people’s picture of the quintessential English countryside.

Gilly Drummond, Chair of the Capability Brown 300 Steering Group, said: “Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and a marvellous partnership we can now give Capability Brown, England’s greatest landscape artist his due recognition and spread the understanding and enjoyment of his genius for sustainable landscape design to a much wider audience, both nationally and internationally. We will move at speed to ensure that Capability Brown’s Birthday Celebrations and Festival 2016 will delight and inform as many people as possible all over the country.  With the help of owners and managers and the support of volunteers, we hope to be able to have a huge number of Brown’s parks and gardens open to the public in 2016.” 

Paul Lincoln, Director of Policy and Communications for the Landscape Institute said: “As the first ever celebration of Brown’s extensive works, the Festival brings together a huge range of events, openings and exhibitions. Detailed information and a full listing of his sites will help build knowledge about Brown and fix him at the forefront of modern thinking on design and management of the natural environment. The Festival will bring together a huge group of volunteers and provide opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to increase their knowledge and understanding of the way in which Brown’s legacy remains relevant to how we plan, manage and design our landscapes.”

Drew Bennellick, HLF’s Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage, said:  “As a landscape architect I have always appreciated the thrill Capability Brown must have experienced as he surveyed the land and considered how to transform the English landscape with his designs; moving hills, creating vast lakes and managing distant views.  We are delighted to be giving initial support towards this project which offers the chance for more people to understand, experience and enjoy the beauty of Brown’s creations, many of which have benefitted from our past investment.”

For further information visit 

*A first-round pass means the project meets HLF criteria for funding and HLF believes the project has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money. The application was in competition with other supportable projects, so a first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals. Having been awarded a first-round pass, the project now has up to two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award.

On occasion, an applicant with a first-round pass will also be awarded development funding towards the development of their scheme.