Plaxtol Men’s Society is open to men of all ages from the village and surrounding areas. It was founded in 1966 to provide a venue for socialising and widening members’ interests by engaging interesting speakers.
Its season is from October to March, normally on the 2nd Monday of the month in Plaxtol Memorial Hall. It has an Annual Dinner in April and a summer outing.
PROGRAMME for 2016 to 2017
All meetings: open at 7:45 with tea and coffee
Speaker: at 8:00pm
Venue: Plaxtol Memorial Hall
Russell Bowes gave an excellent talk entitled “The Capable Mr Brown” to a well-attended February meeting of the Men’s Society. Brown, born in 1716 in Cumbria, had humble beginnings. Christened Lancelot – an uncommon forename among the tenant farmers of his background – suspicions have been raised that his mother, who was in domestic service, may have had a liaison with the local baronet. In any event Lancelot was given a job in the estate vegetable garden after leaving school at the then advanced age for someone of his parentage of 15. He eventually graduated in 1741 to Stowe – the seat of Lord Cobham – whose extensive gardens were planted in the fashionable formal style favoured by the French nobility and imitated in England by rich landowners.
The fashion was changing towards a more pastoral look however and Brown now had the opportunity to be at the forefront of this development. He was appointed head gardener at Stowe, became known as the “very capable Mr Brown” and started to “naturalise” Lord Cobham’s estates. Brown qualified as an architect in 1743 and found himself being lent out by Cobham to work on other estates; his reputation was growing and in 1744 he married in the estate church at Stowe.
By 1751 Brown had moved with his wife Bridget to Hammersmith, then a rural outpost of London, and was approached by Lord Egremont to manage his estate; his clients also petitioned the King for Brown to be appointed Gardener Royal; the petition failed, possibly because George III was not a fan of the pastoral style of garden. The King was reportedly heard to say that he hoped to pre-decease Brown so that he could see Paradise before Brown started work on it! Extremely busy now, with major works under way under his supervision at various gardens, Brown was famous. One of his more eminent clients was David Garrick, the famous Shakespearean actor-manager.
In total he worked on 350 gardens in his lifetime; working at a time when money was plentiful among the aristocracy and re-developing large estates was fashionable, Brown was a man of his time. Conversion to pastoral landscapes required enormous feats of engineering, with the uprooting of trees –using an invention of Brown’s – and massive excavations of earth to create the required lakes and undulating meadows. Our speaker showed rich illustrations of these works in progress and contemporary paintings of the results.
March 13th 2017: A talk by Kevin Reynolds – “The Best of Kent”.
The Annual Dinner 2017: On Thursday 20th April – further details to follow.
A Summer Outing 2017: To be arranged and notified to members by email.
Chairman: Tom Hogg 01732 811016 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Treasurer: Tom Owen 01732 810955
Secretary: Alan Chacon 01622 872172