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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Conference at Audley End: Capability Brown and Designed Landscapes in Essex.Tuesday 24 May 2016


Date: Tuesday 24 May 2016
Time: 9:30am – 4:30pm
Venue: St Marks College, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex. CB11 4JD
Cost £45 (excluding VAT)

As part of the Capability Brown Tercentenary year celebrations this day conference will explore Brown’s contribution to the gardens of historic houses in Essex, and the wider issues of the understanding, management, and restoration of designed landscapes in the county, and beyond.
The conference will include a keynote session by garden historian and author Dr Twigs Way, and talks by Dr Sarah Rutherford, author of the recently published book, ‘Capability Brown: Father of Landscape Gardens’, as well as local experts.

For more information on the conference please contact us in the following ways:
t: 0333 013 2738

9:30am: Registration
10:00am: Adrian Gascoyne & Dr Liz Lake. Welcome
10:10am – 10:40am: Dr Twigs Way, Garden Historian and Writer. Keynote speaker
An overview of Brown’s life and career, highlighting aspects which may set him in perspective and encourage consideration of the man within the landscapes: aspects to be covered include the fortunate timing of his birth, his seemingly meteoric rise to genius, his relationship with art and nature not to mention his clients, the ‘rarity’ of the plans and the vagueness of the contracts that bedevil an analysis of his landscapes.
10:45am – 11:15am: Michael Leach, Essex Gardens Trust and co-author of book on Brown
in Essex
“Brown Sites in Essex”
An overview of the evidence for, and the extent of, Brown’s involvement in nine (or possibly ten) sites in Essex, varying from short visits and advice to extensive contract work. Also a closer look at his substantial improvements at Navestock which, though abandoned in 1811, remains largely intact and is the only Essex site not modified by later landscape designers.
11:15am – 11:30am: Break
11:30am – 12:00pm: Magnus Alexander, Historic England
Capability in Context: Recent English Heritage Research at Audley End
Since 2009 several English Heritage (now Historic England) teams have been working at Audley End looking at the surrounding landscape in order to place the house into context. The results of most of this work were published last year (
This paper will summarise these results and use them to outline the extent (or otherwise) of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Browns contribution to the grounds of Audley End House.
12:05pm – 12:35pm: Dr Sarah Rutherford, Freelance Author specialising in Historic Gardens and Designed Landscapes
“Browning Hatfield Forest”
The talk will discuss Brown’s proposals to transform a 1740s detached pleasure ground at the heart of the medieval Hatfield Forest from its formal lines into the English Landscape style, how much he really contributed, and what survives. Brown’s 1757 proposal plan is a key document. This will be set in the wider context of other relevant commissions countrywide. The talk is based on research carried out for Sarah’s recently completed Conservation Plan commissioned by the National Trust for the designed landscape within the Forest, as well as research for her new book on Brown. As Horace Walpole distilled Brown’s genius ‘So clearly did he copy nature that his works will be mistaken for it’.
12:35pm – 12:50pm: Discussion
12:50pm – 1:50pm: Lunch
1:50pm – 2:20pm: Simon Cranmer, National Trust
“Managing Visitor Capacity in a Medieval and Brownian Landscape”
Visitor numbers to Hatfield Forest have doubled in the last ten years to the point where footfall is damaging the landscape and endangering statutory compliance. Simon Cranmer, the Operations Manager for the National Trust property, talks about the causes behind and challenges of increased visitor numbers and how they are managing the problems.
2:25pm – 2:55pm: Kate Harwood, Hertfordshire Gardens Trust
Restored to Glory? Restoration of historic parks and gardens from a Hertfordshire perspective
A look at how a gardens trust can help in the restoration of historic parks and gardens; from research and recording through lobbying and awareness-raising to practical help. Herts GT has been involved in various ways in restoring Repton, Jekyll, Mawson, Jellicoe and Lutyens gardens as well as a Bridgeman park. We are currently working towards the restoration of the Capability Brown and Humphry Repton site at Cole Green/Panshanger and the considerable challenges that poses in highlighting some of the heritage aspects post gravel-extraction.
3:00pm – 3:30pm: Fiona Wells, Freelance Consultant
Bats, Beetles and Brown – the conservation importance of designed landscapes
Many designed landscapes have undergone relatively little change over long periods compared to the countryside surrounding them. Historic parks thus often support a wide diversity of specialist habitats and associated species. Thorndon Park is a Grade II* registered park, parts of which are also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Since 1992, the Woodland Trust has been working on restoring elements of the landscape that Brown retained in the Old Park. This talk is based on recent research and work by Dr Twigs Way and Fiona Wells for a plan that incorporates the key wildlife and historic elements of the Thorndon landscape to provide a framework for further work.
3:45pm: Discussion
3:45pm: Walk to Audley End
4:00pm: Tour of Audley End
4:45pm: Walk back to St Marks College
5:00pm: Finish

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