Exhibition explores the lost garden of Capability Brown

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One of the great landscape gardeners of Britain, Lancelot Capability Brown visited Horsham and created a miniature masterpiece in 200 acres.

Then, a lord who bought the town some 50 years later ploughed it up, and turned it over to cattle and corn.

That was 200 years ago, since then Brown’s creation has been forgotten and lost to the world.

Now, thanks to two remarkable maps, Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum is telling the story of the ‘lost’ garden in their new exhibition, Capability Brown in Horsham: Discovering a Lost Garden, which runs until March 12.

Capability Brown in Horsham: Discovering a Lost Garden not only includes the original survey done by Lapidge, Brown’s assistant in 1766, but also the original designs that Brown produced two years later.

These two remarkable and precious documents will be the star exhibits in this fascinating exhibition.

Thanks to the generous support of Toovey’s Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers, the maps have been enlarged, so visitors can discover for themselves the lost garden of Horsham created by one of this country’s greatest garden designers.

Hills was a Jacobean mansion that through marriage ended up being owned by the Ingram family of Temple Newsam in Yorkshire.

Hills was their southerly outpost.

Just as Temple Newsam had a Brown makeover, so did Hills, and much to local comment at the time as a contemporary diary and letters describe, which will also be on display.

Hills Place lies on the outskirts of Horsham and some 50 years after Brown laid out the grounds the Duke of Norfolk ploughed up the gardens to turn them into farmland.

He also set about pulling down the large manor house, in so doing creating a ‘lost’ garden, the maps being the sole survivors.

Alongside the historic maps and letters, a group of highly talented botanical artists from the Horsham area, taught by Leigh Ann Gale, will be exhibiting their watercolours inspired by Brown’s landscape.

For, although Brown is known for his parklands, he was also keen on the latest flowers and plants.

Botanical art saw a renaissance in the 18th century as the popularity of the watercolour grew as a medium and scientific knowledge about plants permeated through to garden owners.

By exhibiting the works by very capable (pun intended) local botanical artists alongside fantastic, rare and historical documents, seems an apt way to mark and celebrate the 300th anniversary of Brown’s birth.

The exhibition Capability Brown in Horsham: Discovering a Lost Garden can be viewed at Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, in The Causeway.

The exhibition is only made possible thanks to the support of Toovey’s Auctioneers and Valuers, based at Washington.

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