Discovering ‘Capability’ Brown – Heart of England Tour (EGT3)

Friday 24 June to Thursday 30 June 2016

NEW FOR 2016

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-1783) was at his death referred to as the ‘Omnipotent Magician’ who had transformed ancient deer parks and woodland surrounding ‘Country Seats’ and Stately Homes for England’s nobility. He created amenable landscape parks of smooth grass, scattered trees in clumps and belts and regulated waters (he solved problems of drainage and made lakes).

Outside these green Arcadian places of delight, the world of 18th century England was changing.  Agricultural land was being enclosed and canals were soon to link industrial centres in a network of communication.  Turnpike roads made it easy for the aristocracy to travel from London to their country estates.  As the world of the aristocracy became that of Jane Austen the country moved closer to that of Dickens in a background of foreign wars and revolutions.

Brown was the master of composition and he moved earth to make heavenly dreamscapes that have matured steadily over the centuries.  Entering one of his landscapes we leave 21st century urban sprawl and global communications and walk with the genius of the place.

Price: Price: £1,150; single room supplement £190

The package includes:

  • English conversation classes and informative dosssier
  • Four nights stay in a hotel; two nights stay in The Abbey study centre / retreat house (bed, breakfast and evening meals)
  • Transport and garden admission
  • Expert guide accompanying every visit
  • Birmingham Airport arrival transfer
  • Personal & baggage insurance (please see our Terms & Conditions Page)


Day Period Activity
Friday 24/6 ARRIVALS
Arrivals Birmingham Airport or Stratford-upon-Avon Railway Station (depart London Marylebone Station).

Welcome reception Stratford-upon-Avon.

Morning English conversation class and course briefing.

Discover Stratford-upon-Avon. Visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

Afternoon Visit to Charlecote. Shakespeare supposedly poached deer at this ancient seat of the Lucy family. This rebuilt 16th century house sits on the banks of the River Avon and Brown was asked in 1760 to widen the river and “impart a natural and easy level”. He smoothed the scene and prevented flooding. There are cedars here and he built a bridge and a cascade on a tributary river. He also became a friend of the family.
Morning Brown had a strong rapport with his patrons and returned to his creations again and again. Croome he made for Lord Coventry (and it is poignant that Brown died on the steps of Coventry’s town house in London). A practical man not distracted by Grand Tour visions Brown saw the Croome landscape in need of drainage. The water he drained away filled a serpentine riverine lake and when the place was dry enough he could plant his signature Cedars of Lebanon. He also built a new church here and developed vistas as well as planting shrubberies from 1751 (nb ‘shrubbery’ only coined in 1749).
Afternoon Visit to the celebrated Arts and Crafts garden of Hidcote Manor created by Lawrence Johnston
Monday 27/6 BOUGHTON
Morning English conversation class and course  briefing 21st Century Landscape Interpretation.

Visit to Boughton, the palatial home of the                     Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry. The  17th century landscape is being restored to much acclaim by Kin Wilkie

Afternoon Return to Stratford
Evening Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Morning At Rousham we have a unique and perfect masterpiece of design by William Kent (1737-1741) where he created this superlative arcadian microcosm that is totally enchanting. From the solid manor house and its lovely walled garden the walk along the terraces above the river Cherwell is a theatrical unveiling of classical installations. Ceres-Mercury-Bacchus and Apollo live in these dappled glades. A light and intimate experience!
Afternoon Walking tour of Oxford before transferring to The Abbey Sutton Courtney
Evening Dinner at The Abbey
Wednesday 29/6 STOWE
Morning English conversation class and garden briefing.

Depart for Stowe.

Afternoon Aged 25 in 1741, Brown became Head Gardener at this magnificent showcase. William Kent and Charles Bridgeman had worked before him. Stowe garden of nearly 30 temples and fabriques in 100 hectares is a lot to absorb. It should be the setting for a Ruritanian palace rather than a private school but the National Trust has done a magnificent job of renewal.  Brown’s personal touch is more impressive because he built no temple and in the Grecian Vale developed his signature turf, trees and water.
Evening Farewell dinner at The Abbey
Morning Return to Oxford for free time and visit to the Oxford Botanical Garden
Afternoon Departures from Oxford Railway Station

Manchester Language School reserves the right to change the programme according to the availability of the gardens, personnel and venues listed and substitute appropriate alternatives.