The accounts book used by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is going on display for the first time at the Lindley Library in London – and it reveals he was among the 18th century’s richest businessmen, worth over £508 million in today’s money.
Capability Brown changed the face of British landscape with his sweeping designs remodelling the countryside to include picturesque vistas, lakes and natural-looking serpentine streams. This year marks the 300 th anniversary of his birth, and to celebrate the RHS is putting on an exhibition including 18th century books and prints which shed light on the way Brown worked.
His account book, newly restored for the exhibition, details payments received from 125 clients from 1759 to his death in 1783. They include the King, six prime ministers, seven Dukes, 26 Earls, 19 Knights and Baronets, two Generals and a judge. His highest-spending client, after the King himself, was Lord Clive of India, who spent the equivalent of £51.8 million on his new house and garden in Claremont, Surrey. He was also paid the equivalent of £54 million for his work maintaining the King’s grounds at Hampton Court.
A capable businessman
A Capable Businessman runs from 5 September to 15 October at the RHS headquarters in Vincent Square, London. For more details, visit www.rhs.org.uk.