Capability Brown at Scampston

Capability Brown changed the face of eighteenth century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers.

In 1771 W.H St Quintin, 5th Baronet, first wrote to Capability Brown and requested his help in the re-design of the park at Scampston, to replace an earlier garden built to a design by Charles Bridgeman in the early 1700s. By 1773 Brown had submitted a plan for the Parkland at Scampston, and he continued to visit over the following years to monitor the progress as his plans were brought into fruition.

At Scampston, you can see Brown’s style was derived from two practical principles of comfort and elegance. The landscape needed to provide for every need of the Hall at Scampston, but it also needed to cohere and look elegant.

His landscapes appear seamless owing to the use of the ‘ha-ha’, or sunken fence. At Scampston this sits just before the A64. The ‘ha-ha’ was used to confuse the eye into believing that different pieces of parkland, though managed and stocked quite differently, were one. His expansive lakes were made to appear as though a single body of water - as if a river through the landscape - that like the parkland itself, ran on indefinitely.

Brown’s work at Scampston is best admired from the upper bedroom window which sits beneath the dome. From here you can clearly see how he created vistas across the landscape, framed carefully by trees and other natural features. On a clear day you can see all the way across to Deer Park Lodge, built originally as a folly to admire from the Hall, and incorporated carefully into Brown’s designs for the landscape.

This effortless coherence is taken for granted today in a way that was predicted in his obituary:

"Where he is the happiest man he will be least remembered, so closely did he copy nature his works will be mistaken."

Throughout our opening season, monthly guided heritage walks ‘Walking in the footsteps of Mr Brown’ take place through the Parkland. These will give further insights into Brown’s influence on the park at Scampston. Please check our events calendar or ask in the ticket office for more details.