The Day Capability Brown & Queen Elizabeth II Visited Cannon Hall



We feel that every visitor to our spectacular Museum, Park & Gardens is special to us! Many of our visitors think of the Hall, the 70 acres of historic parkland and beautiful landscape gardens as their own, knowing that their visit will offer a unique experience for every age, and in each season throughout the year. A place to relax; unwind; exercise themselves, the kids and their pets; a place to learn; and a place of culture.

In the past, the Estate has been host to many VIP’s. This months blog shares the stories of two very special occasions!


Capability brown
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown


Historians have confirmed that the famous landscape architect visited Cannon Hall in 1778.

A letter written to the hall’s owner, Walter Spencer-Stanhope from Mr John Beaumont esq of Whitley, outlines the writer’s thoughts on Brown’s visit, where he apparently objected to the planting of Cannon Hall’s much-loved avenue of trees.


The gardens at Cannon Hall were designed by Richard Woods (1715 – 1793), a contemporary of Brown, who despite designing more than 40 projects around the country, never quite grew to the prominence of his rival. His designs included more flowers than Brown’s, and that possible rivalry between them could go some way to explaining Brown’s comments.

The letter to Spencer-Stanhope, unearthed in Annals of a Yorkshire House, reads: “Mr Brown in consequence of the night air was much incommoded with asthma. I attended him on Wednesday to Cannon Hall where he paid you some compliments, but objected a little to your new planted avenue … He has not given me his opinion on the ‘capabilities’ of the place.”

It, alongside other documentation unearthed by the team, was analysed by the Capability Brown 300 Trust, who after examining their own records, confirmed “100 per cent” that the landscape architect had visited Cannon Hall.

The role of Woods in 18th century landscaping is becoming increasingly recognised, and the park he designed at Cannon Hall is Grade-II listed by Heritage England.

The ‘Annals of a Yorkshire House’ will be on display in the library at Cannon Hall until October 2016.

By Lindsay Pantry.


An estimated 15,000 people descended on Cannon Hall Park, to give the Royal Party a fabulous warm Barnsley welcome. The Queen and Prince Philip spent twenty minutes wandering amongst visitors and meeting dignitaries, though the day was a truly special one for the people of Barnsley Borough. As always the park and house look magnificent!

Were you (or anyone you may know) at Cannon Hall on this day? We would love to hear from you!  What do you remember? How did the day make you feel? Send your memories to or leave us a comment. Look forward to reading them.

Click on the link to open the Barnsley Chronicle Souvenir Supplement issued to celebrate the Queen’s visit to Cannon Hall

15 July 1977

The following slides were recently donated to Barnsley Archives.





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