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Stoney Grove
Prepared by Emma Knytleigh
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Eighteenth-Century Sketches

Like the house, the grounds at Stoney Grove were designed by William "Culpability" Heath (1739-1802), an accomplished designer of the second half of the eighteenth century.   Born in London, he spent his early years as a nurseryman before hiring on with Lancelot "Capability" Brown, the leading light of  the British lanscape movement.  Early projects included work at Wrest Park and Longleat, Bowood, Harewood and Crome Court.

After a falling out between  the two men, historically recorded as a disagreement about the placement of a shrubbery, but in actuality most likely a result of Heath's romantic attachment to Brown's daughter, Heath struck out on his own.  He received his greatest commission in 1780, when William Blake hired him to design the house and grounds at Stoney Grove. Two early sketches of the landscape plan have recently been found at the British Library.

Heath's later work includes the design of  the park at Whitlow Court in Surrey, a modernisation of the grounds of Alton Meadows in Berkshire, and   the design of Jameson's villa at Ploverhampton in Kent.

Heath earned the nickname "Culpability"  six years before his death when a bridge he designed at Alton Meadows collapsed and  the owner’s daughter was drowned. Although later investigations established his design was not at fault, the name "Culpability" stuck and he never worked again.  He died in London in 1802.