In the early 1800s, the Duke of Rutland’s gardens at Belvoir Castle – rumoured to be the work of Capability Brown (1716-1783) – were considered to be amongst the finest in the land. Since then they have been largely forgotten, until now. By chance, Brown’s astonishing plans for Belvoir -lost for nearly 200 years – were recently discovered in the archives. While at first glance, much of Brown’s design is still instantly identifiable in the landscape, closer scrutiny of his plans has revealed huge insights into his creative direction in the latter stages of his career. But how faithful was the implementation and why did it take over 45 years to complete?
the Duchess of Rutland – Emma – uncovers the extraordinary secrets that almost bankrupted the Manners family in the late 18th Century, putting a stop to any dreams for new gardens. Brown’s plans were shelved – but not forgotten. In an incredible turn of fortunes, and with a new century heralding the Industrial revolution and start of the Romantic generation, Belvoir was under construction. The 5th Duke of Rutland with his ambitious wife, Elizabeth, rebuilt the Leicestershire Castle in fantastically fashionable Gothic style. That they chose to continue with Brown’s ideas, considered too boring by many critics after his death, is testament to the fact that his plans have resulted in the creation of one of the most radical landscapes of his long career.
This is Emma’s story about her historic garden’s development and the fascinating people that made it happen. It’s also a tour of the Pleasure Grounds – the formal terraces, woodland and spring gardens; and parkland, which she has painstakingly restored to coincide with the tercentenary of Capability Brown’s birth, in 2016. She shows how his enduring landscape is still as appropriate for today and – crucially – for the next generations’ agricultural, environmental, sporting and aesthetic purposes. her candid and informative text is complemented by stunning photography and includes views of private areas of the garden not usually open to the public.