In Capability Brown’s tercentenary year, one of his landscapes, Paultons Park in Hampshire, is welcoming one million visitors who have not actually come to celebrate Brown...
- Watercolour of Paultons, attributed to Brown, courtesy Hampshire Gardens Trust
- Engraving of Paultons, Hampshire Record Office: 728.8 G F Prosser, Select Illustrations of Hampshire, 1833-9
Between 1772 and 1774 Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped the 230-acre park at Paultons for owner Hans Stanley.
Hans Stanley employed Capability Brown to improve the park by creating a lake and thinning the woodland. The estate at Paultons on the northern edge of the New Forest, Hampshire, is on mainly low-lying land, spanning the River Cadnam, a small tributary of the River Test.
A new lake for an old manor
There are records of a manor at Paultons dating back to the 11th century. By 1646 the estate was owned by the Stanley family, who enlarged it and had built a mansion by the middle of the 18th century. Isaac Taylor’s map of 1759 shows that the land was densely wooded and crossed by several avenues.
When Hans Stanley employed Brown to improve the park in 1772, the scheme involved building weirs across the river to form a crescent-shaped lake. Brown also thinned the woodland to create a boundary of trees.
In the early 1800s, new owner Hans Sloane (later Sloane-Stanley) extended the house, created a porticoed entrance on the south-west side, and added a new bridge across the lake, further upstream. A walled garden was also created on the southern arm of the lake.
In the late 19th and early 20th century the pleasure gardens to the south east and south west of the house were redesigned in a more formal scheme, but the park and farmlands were left unchanged.
In 1979 the estate was sold off in lots. The Paultons Family Theme Park opened in 1983 on the site of the mansion, which had burned down in 1963, and its gardens. In the 1990s golf courses were developed, north of the lake, in the area landscaped by Brown.
The river and lake are no longer major features of the landscape, due to the effects of silting and the spread of trees and undergrowth along the banks.
Hampshire Gardens Trust: research.hgt.org.uk/item/paultons-park-and-paultons-golf-centre/
The Hampshire Gardens Trust research website carries research summaries. Full research reports are deposited at Hampshire Record Office and are catalogued as HGT [name of site]: www3.hants.gov.uk/archives.htm. Any other enquiries should be addressed to email@example.com.