George Byng employed Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in around 1765 to work on the landscape at Wrotham Park.
Capability Brown's surveyor Samuel Lapidge did a survey of Wrotham, near Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, and there are notes in Brown’s account books recording two visits there, but he gave no further details. A plan of the estate before 1780 shows that the park was mainly confined to the western half of the estate, and north of the kitchen garden. The area was planted with a number of circular clumps of trees and with belts of trees along the north and south boundaries, but only two clumps were planted on the west boundary. A kidney-shaped pleasure ground was laid out on three sides of the house, to the north, west and south.
The Byng family
Admiral John Byng, George’s uncle, had bought some 62.5 hectares (150 acres) of the Pinchbank estate in 1750. At that time the estate map shows that the house had a walled garden laid out with a formal water feature.
In the mid-1750s Admiral Byng commissioned architect Isaac Ware (1704-66, Wikipedia) to build a new house on approximately the same site as the earlier house. The Palladian mansion stands on a promontory between the two broad, shallow valleys that cross the estate. The estate was renamed Wrotham Park after the Byngs' earlier home in Kent.
It is thought that Admiral Byng never moved into Wrotham. He was executed in March 1757 as a result of a failed engagement with the French fleet at the Battle of Minorca.
Extending Wrotham Park
From the 1770s, the park was enlarged in three phases by successive generations of the Byng family. The pleasure grounds, which were laid out in the gardenesque style (find out more), possibly as early as 1820, include mature trees, a serpentine lake and a network of paths.
The Wrotham Park estate now comprises around 116 hectares (287 acres), surrounded by 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of farmland. It remains in private ownership and is hired out for private functions and as a filming location.
Parks & Gardens UK: www.parksandgardens.org/places-and-people/site/3599
Historic England aerial photograph: services.historicengland.org.uk/capability-brown-map/index.html
Open House London Fact Sheet: www.openhouselondon.org.uk/london/search/factsheet.asp?ftloh_id=8518
Wrotham Park: www.wrothampark.com