Designed by the renowned landscape gardener ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s, the Grand Cascade forms part of a complex dam structure at the western end of the lake he created across the estate.
The project involved temporarily lowering the level of the lake and then dismantling and reinstating the two main protective walls of the cascade, which funnel water into the dam and control its flow.
In total approximately 150 metres of the wall needed to be repaired. Wherever possible the team used the existing stonework, which they retrieved from the lakebed, cleaned and then re-instated.
A section of the original apron, made from a mix of sand and clay and used to line the manmade lake, was also replaced. During the project, timbers from the original construction were also re-discovered still in place.
We carried out the project in partnership with award-winning inland waterway and coastal civil and environmental engineering company, Land & Water.
The Grand Cascade has been described as one of England’s most picturesque waterfalls.
“The craftsmanship employed by ‘Capability’ Brown and his team nearly 300 years ago is remarkable and it’s a credit to them that we are only now following in their footsteps to make sure we can preserve such important landscapes at Blenheim for the next three centuries,” said Roy Cox our Estates Director.
“The essential repair and maintenance work carried out by Land & Water has been excellent and it just goes to highlight the incredible skill of the original team, working under Brown’s foreman Benjamin Read, who carried out the entire job by hand,” he added.
The project is part of our goal to complete £40m of restoration work by 2027.
Believed to have been born in 1716, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was the most sought after landscape designer of the 18th century. He was at the forefront of a new style of ‘naturalistic’ landscape gardening which replaced formalised, geometric garden layouts with more flowing and open parkland.
Brown reputedly earned his nickname by reassuring his aristocratic clients their estates had the ‘capability’ for improvement. Blenheim was one of ‘Capability’ Brown’s most significant landscape projects.
Commissioned by the 4th Duke of Marlborough in 1763, he spent a total of 11 years transforming the Palace’s landscaped parkland which, although appearing quite natural, is ‘contrived to pleasing effect’.