Thanks to Max Lankester and the Friends, Sir John Soane has received belated official recognition for the design of the Park's Richmond gate
There are many myths about Richmond Park, and a long-standing one is that the Richmond Gate and its associated Lodge were designed by "Capability" Brown, the renowned landscape designer.
It is true that there was a minor official – a clerk of works for Richmond and Kew – whose name was Browne; and a contemporary aquatint of the new gates was produced by Jonathan Brown, a Richmond painter of miniatures. As John Cloake points out in Vol II of his "Palaces and Parks of Richmond and Kew", those was hardly reasons to suppose that Launcelot "Capability" Brown was involved.
The gate piers bear the date of their construction in Roman numerals: MDCCXCVIII, namely 1798. Given that Capability brown died in 1783, it is extraordinary that when the Gates and Lodge were listed back in 1950 the official description stated that the architect had been Brown.
In November 2009 Max Lankester, on behalf of the Friends, applied to English Heritage for the listing description to be corrected. English Heritage conducted a lengthy evaluation of the evidence, and on 24 September 2010 an order was signed on behalf of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport making the changes which the Friends had sought. The report justifying the change and setting out the history of the gates can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
So exactly 60 years after Capability Brown was wrongly credited with the work, the record has now been put right. Sir John Soane, who also designed alterations to Pembroke Lodge and Thatched House Lodge, now gets belated recognition. The summary from the report says:
"Richmond Gate and Lodges, designed by Sir John Soane in his role as King's Deputy Surveyor of Woods and Forests, should remain designated at Grade II. The address and list description, which date to 1950, should be amended to correct and expand the description and take account of new research which attributes the design of the Gate and Lodge to Sir John Soane rather than Lancelot `Capability' Brown."