The second half of the winter season lectures start the celebration in 2016 of ‘Capability’ Brown’s works and also prepare for our summer visits.


William Cowper   
‘A Gardener in the Landscape’ by David Bond

William Cowper who lived just over the county border in Olney was one of the leading writers of the later 18th century and a great favourite of Jane Austen.  He was keenly interested in gardening and a great lover of the quiet English countryside of the Ouse Valley. For our literary walk this Summer we will be exploring his part of the world and this talk will serve as an introduction to that visit.


TUESDAY, 15th MARCH, 2016

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 1716-1783
‘A very odd mortal, but entertaining for a while’ by Jane Brown

One person’s verdict, another called him ‘a noble genius’.  How well can we understand a man born 300 years’ ago?  Jane Brown, author of THE OMNIPOTENT MAGICIAN [Chatto 2011, Pimlico 2012] will explore Brown’s character and humanity through the worlds of his family, his lordly clients, his workforce and his friends.


THURSDAY, 14th APRIL, 2016                       

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING for the year ending 31st December 2015.

LECTURE following the Annual General Meeting:

‘Moving Heaven and Earth, Capability Brown’s Gift of Landscape’ by Steffie Shields

Horace Walpole’s amusingly apposite and oft-repeated nickname, ‘Capability’, has actually done Lancelot Brown a surprising disservice.  It seems to dumb down the improver’s botanical skills, let alone the pioneering scale of his engineering and architectural inventiveness.  Few realise that Brown hired civil engineer John Smeaton on the one hand, while providing theatre for David Garrick or sport for kings on the other.  As royal gardener, he advised admirals and prime ministers, and charmed ‘blue-stocking’ ladies with his wit, before galloping hundreds of miles to inspect pumping engine parts and stink piles, with oak acorns and beechnuts in his pockets.  An eighteenth century celebrity, contemporary architect and developer, Brown trained the likes of Henry Holland Jr and Sir John Soane in the use of office space and the importance of light and dark, at the same time changing the way entire estates were managed.

Steffie’s lecture explores some of the surviving highlights of Brown’s ‘land-craftsmanship’ in the local area including hitherto unpublished plans and newly discovered records.  So much more than a nickname, this extraordinary visionary with the eye of faith was a polymath genius, proud to be a man of science and integrity.  ‘Moving Heaven & Earth’ reveals the ‘Shakespeare of Garden Arts’, who taught us to read the story of landscape like the pages of a book.


 All meetings will be held at Great Houghton Village Hall and will start at 7.30 p.m.   

Guests are very welcome – entrance fee £3.00 

There is plenty of parking available