Capability Brown is a local boy who made good. Born at nearby Kirkharle, Northumberland, Brown’s daily walk to school took him through the rolling farmland of the 20,000 acre Wallington Estate, now cared for by the National Trust.
Brown maintained a connection with Northumberland throughout his life and is thought to have regularly visited his brother George who worked as a stone mason for Wallington’s owner, Sir Walter Calverley Blackett. Historians have suggested that Brown advised Sir Walter to relocate the Walled Garden and may have had a hand in designing the Owl House that now overlooks it. We are asking visitors to vote on this ‘Capability Conundrum’… so far we have 82% for and 18% against.
Brown did advise Sir Walter on the design of his new pleasure grounds at nearby Rothley. Five original drawings, dated 1769, lay out his designs for the ‘Low Lake' - a causeway and an associated house. These beautiful plans are on display in the Mansion House alongside 50 pieces of work created by members of the North East Embroiderers’ Guild. Members are in the House every Thursday afternoon demonstrating their fine needlework skills.
For our family audience, the indoor play space has been inspired by landscape. There is a seat in the form a ‘Ha-Ha’ and a story wall of Brown’s life in cartoon from artist Tim Britton. Families can investigate perspective with ‘magic’ mirrors and kaleidoscopes; have a go at building their own Wallington landscape using large scale aerial photos of the property and building blocks and can dress up for a ‘Georgian selfie’.
While exploring the grounds, visitors can also discover if they are ‘Licenced to Landscape’ through a family friendly trail, taking in the amazing digital ‘sandbox’ on route which enables then to create landscape features using augmented reality... we think the visionary Mr Brown would approve!
All Capability Brown events run until the end of October. Please visit Wallington’s website for details.