0 Capability Brown Landscape ensure Stoke Park is a cut above

MANSION NORTH WEST MEDThe nation is currently celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of the legendary landscape designer Lancelot 'Capability' Brown - and, at Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel you can not only admire his parkland but, simultaneously, play golf on a world-class course.

For it was 'Capability' Brown who created the 300 acres of stunning mid-18th century parkland in which the Stoke Park estate sits. The equally revered golf architect Harry Colt created the championship golf course in 1908, but retained the feel of the park, with trademark Brown elements such as the large lake, clumps of trees and the sweeping drive still dominating.

Brown's career as a landscape designer lasted more than three decades, during which time he created stunning natural beauty at more than 170 estates including Chatsworth House, Blenheim Palace and Stowe, and in London's Hyde Park and St James's Park. It was his work at Stowe which led to the commission at Stoke Park, as the lady of the house, Lady Cobham, had been resident at Stowe with her husband, before Viscount Cobham's death in 1749.

The deer park at Stoke Park even attracted the celebrated artist Sir Edwin Landseer - who sculpted the iconic lions in Trafalgar Square - who would visit frequently to paint the magnificent stags for which he became famed with such work as the Monarch of the Glen.

Many of Brown's creations remain today and are held in high esteem, though only a handful retains a golf course. And, arguably, none so spectacularly as Stoke Park, which, last winter, renovated every bunker on the Colt course - the first nine holes of the historic 27-hole layout - as part of a seven-figure investment in a facelift of the whole course.

Stoke Park's estate manager, Alex Millar, who enjoys a walk in the parkland with his dogs every morning before work, explained: "I've been fortunate to work on this estate for more than 25 years and I never grow tired of walking in this historic landscape. It still has the feel of a 'Capability' Brown landscape: natural, but with familiar elements.

"It's a joy every day and to be able to play golf in this environment - with all the history there is around you - is a real bonus."

Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel is one of just two five-AA Red Star golf clubs in England and the historic land on which it stands is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. It was awarded the accolade of 'Ultimate Members Club' at the fifth annual 59Club Service Excellence Awards, held earlier this year.

The historic course played host to the PGA Matchplay in 1910 and, even more famously, the golf match between Sean Connery's James Bond and Auric Goldfinger, in the 1964 film, Goldfinger. It also has a thriving golf club with around 800 active members.

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