'Capital Capability' - How The Thames Inspired The Famous Royal Gardener

Chiswick Pier Trust forthcoming lecture on Capability Brown's local links

Chiswick Events

Sign up for our weekly Chiswick newsletter

Comment on this story on the

‘Capital Capability’ – a talk by Steffie Shields
on Capability Brown’s life and work in London and beyond, inspired by the River Thames
on Tuesday 27th September at the Chiswick Pier House

There is little doubt, even if Horace Walpole jokingly described his works as ‘Home-Brewed Rivers with a Spade and a Watering-pot’, that Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-1783) took inspiration from living alongside the River Thames.

Steffie Shields will reveal the driven polymath behind the famous nickname and explore both Brown’s artistic legacy and his pioneering work with water in the landscape.

Brown set up a professional architectural and land improvement practice a stone’s throw from the leading nurseries and market gardens in West London. And as Royal Gardener, he advised admirals and prime ministers, and charmed ‘blue-stocking’ ladies with his wit, before galloping hundreds of miles to inspect pumping engine parts and stink piles, with oak acorns and beechnuts in his pockets. Sharing some surprising, little known stories about his life and works around London and up and down river, (Brown worked in 27 riparian London boroughs), Steffie will address a key question in everyone's minds "How did Brown do it?"

Steffie Shields is a professional garden photographer, writer, and historic landscape consultant.
Having researched ‘Capability’ Brown for over twenty-five years, she has now compiled a
photographic archive of over 200 attributed works. She lectures country-wide, has appeared
on Channel 4 television and been an advisor for More 4. Her photographic awards include
several commendations in the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. She has been a Cambridge tutor (since 2007) and advisor to the Capability Brown Tercentenary Festival and to Alan Titchmarsh’s TV series ‘Brown at Belvoir’ (2015). She lectures country-wide. Recent Chairman of the Association of Gardens Trusts (AGT) now a Vice-President of The Gardens Trust, she curated a contemporary photography London exhibition ‘Lenses on a Landscape Genius – Lancelot Capability Brown’ at the Building Centre this summer to convey Brown’s legacy to a wider audience.

Brown brought up his family in Hammersmith, just downstream from Chiswick Pier, for the 13 years between leaving Stowe and becoming Royal Gardener at Hampton Court. These were some of his most productive years and we have invited the team involved with commissioning the first life size bronze statue to Capability Brown, which they plan to erect by the river at Hammersmith this year, to join us to talk about his local connections and the splendid new memorial.

Doors open at 7pm and the illustrated talk will start at 7.30pm. Tickets are £3, or free to members of the Chiswick Pier Trust. Refreshments and signed copies of her new book ‘Moving Heaven & Earth, Capability Brown’s Gift of Landscape’ published by Unicorn Press this year will be available to purchase.

For up to the minute information and how to get to the Pier check their web site.

September 23, 2016

Bookmark and Share