BRITAIN'S greatest landscape gardener is being celebrated in Essex this summer, when VisitEssex pay homage to Lancelot Brown.

Born in Northumbria, the prolific gardener nicknamed 'Capability' Brown, cast his green fingered design magic across many locations in Essex, including Audley End, Hatfield Forest, Copped Hall near Epping, Brentwood’s Thorndon Hall and Navestock Hall close to Ongar.

The Brownian-themed series of weekend celebrations take place at Audley End House and Gardens, Hatfield Forest and St Mark's College Audley End.

Capability Brown, arrived at Audley End in 1762, commissioned by the house’s owner Sir John Griffin, to landscape the surrounding parkland. In typical fashion, he appeared to reshape nature to his own design, widening the River Cam flowing in front of the house, laying out the graceful approaches and tree-planting on an epic scale.

Contemporary sources note that Brown introduced ‘1,300 larches, with limes, silver firs, Portuguese laurels, poplars, birches and 3000 Dutch alders’ to the grounds.

A spokesman for VisitEssex, said: "The best way to appreciate the sheer grandeur and range of Capability’s imagination is to walk amongst it. Audley End’s team of experts and guides will be conducting tours of the gardens with a self-guided trail for families. Visitors might even bump into Capability Brown himself as they wander along!"

The first of the weekends takes place on Saturday June 25 and Sunday June 26 then again on July 9 and 10 at the stunning Jacobean mansion near Saffron Walden.

Visit for more information.

A little further down the calender, over at Hatfield Forest on Tuesday August 30, you can enjoy a new play by writer and director Michael Whitmore performed by Quantum Theatre. The Historie of Capability Brown is said to be a "rip-roaring romp through the great gardener’s life and times".

The play charts Brown’s rise from relatively humble beginnings in rural Northumberland to fame, fortune and becoming the 'must-have' garden designer of his age.

The Big Brown Bash - also at Hatfield Forest - takes place on Wednesday August 31 and is your chance to unleash your own 'capabilities' by having a unique, hands-on experience as a 21st Century Brownian, by volunteering to help clear the scrub by the lake.

Brown worked on a hidden gem there in 1757, when Jacob Houblon tasked Brown with perfecting the landscaping of the lakeside gardens he had started. At the heart of this landscape was a tea house decorated with shells from around the world. The Shell House was decorated by a Houblon’s fifteen year old daughter, Laetitia. Brown created a magical Georgian pleasure ground shrouded by the medieval forest. Now you too can create history by helping to restore the historic views across the lake.

Visitors can also enjoy a guided walk and talk around the lakeside area. For times and prices please visit

For those looking to immerse themselves further in the life and work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and understand the contribution he made to the gardens of historic houses in Essex, including at Copped Hall, Thorndon Hall and Navestock Hall, a special one-day conference is being held.

It takes place on Tuesday May 24 at St Mark’s College, Audley End and will focus on Brown’s contributions to designed landscapes in Essex and explore "the wider issues of the understanding, management and restoration of designed landscapes in the county and beyond". It will also include a keynote session by garden historian and author Dr Twigs Way, and talks by Dr Sarah Rutherford, author of the recently published book, Capability Brown: Father of Landscape Gardens, as well as local experts.

For full details, visit