Royal Mail Stamps Guide: Landscape, 16 August 2016


16 August 2016
LG-Alnwick-Castle-sjpg-50454.jpg Alnwick Castle
Royal Mail pays tribute to the talents of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, one of England’s greatest gardeners.

Royal Mail pays tribute to the talents of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, one of England’s greatest gardeners.

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, a talented gardener who created stunning landscapes and gardens for some of the country’s wealthiest landowners

The signature look that Brown created for his gardens and landscapes changed the face of 18th-century England. His designs left behind the neat and ordered formal gardens of the medieval and Tudor eras, bringing in a fashion for landscape on a huge scale – with Brown literally moving hills and creating lakes and serpentine rivers on some of the country’s greatest estates to realise his vision of garden artistry. His gardens became nationally famous and wealthy landowners vied to secure his services and have Brown create a personalised landscape to showcase their splendid mansions.

The eight stamps Royal Mail have selected each showcase Brown’s talents for changing his surroundings in order to create 18th-century England’s idea of the perfect pastoral landscape.

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, which would later become known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, is the site of one of Brown’s most dramatic landscape creations. After arriving on site in 1764, he flooded and partially submerged a John Vanbrugh bridge in order to create a dramatic ‘great river’ between two lakes.

We move further south for stamp two, which features the Longleat estate in Somerset. Here, Brown dismantled a formal garden and engineered new water features, creating a mile-long series of lakes and a Pleasure Walk.

Brown’s talent for re-engineering water courses was again employed at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, where he worked alongside architect Robert Adam to create both buildings and features in the landscape which surrounded the Georgian mansion. 

The fourth location is Highclere Castle in Berkshire, perhaps now best known as the location for the TV series Downton Abbey. Here, Brown performed his typical signature sweeping changes, draining marshland, creating a new hill and smoothing out valleys in order to achieve his pastoral vision.

Brown’s home county of Northumberland is the location of the fifth stamp, which features Alnwick Castle. The castle had been in ruins when the duke and Duchess of Northumberland inherited it in the 18th century, but they soon secured the joint services of Brown and the architect Robert Adam, who also worked together at Compton Verney. 

Brown’s final landscape design is the subject of stamp six, which features Berrington Hall in Herefordshire. This project showcased his signature style of scale and drama, with a new Great Water created from a tributary of the River Lugg.

The final two stamps feature Stowe in Buckinghamshire, where Brown learned the horticultural trade, and Croome Park in Worcestershire, the subject of a ten-year project by Brown to drain a large expanse of marshland to create a lake and surrounding walk, as well as a Gothic church. 

Stamp details


2nd: Blenheim Palace

2nd Longleat

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1st: Compton Verney

1st: Highclere Castle

£1.05: Alnwick Castle

£1.05: Berrington Hall

£1.33: Stowe

£1.33: Croome Park

Issue date: 16 August, 2016

Design: Robert Maude & Sarah Davies

Size: 41mm x 30mm

Format: Landscape

Printer: International Security Printers

Print process: Lithography

Perforations: 14.5 x 14

Phosphor: Bars as appropriate

Gum: PVA