Yes it’s true – I did indeed know the man who was the last man alive to see Capability Brown!
Every community has certain individuals who are held in great respect and Michael and Shirley Behagg were certainly no exception. The Behagg family have farmed in Fenstanton for generations and have contributed greatly. Michael was renowned for his even-handed approach to Life which was possibly why he made a good magistrate and served the parish well as an active member of the Parish Council. He and Shirley were also very involved with the parish church.
It was just after the Millennium, around 2001 when attending one of the Behagg’s mulled-wine parties held to raise funds for the Church, that a somewhat startling conversation was held.
I was chatting to Michael about our local history and he suddenly said
“You know, I am the last person alive to see Capability Brown?”
When he saw the perplexed look on my face he recounted the tale….
Many years ago, the Church urgently needed a new heating system and the only viable location where an oil tank could be positioned was alas in a place already occupied by Capability Brown and his wife Bridget.
The only option was to relocate the graves elsewhere within the consecrated churchyard. So Lancelot and Bridget were exhumed and their mortal remains respectfully re-interred elsewhere within the same area. Michael was the last person to see the remains before they were finally covered.
Regrettably there were no markers placed nor was there any recorded reference in the site plan, for the area had been unused for such a long time – so no one knows the exact position where they are buried.
It is for that reason that a small stone was subsequently erected saying
Lord of the Manor
1767 – 1783
Lies buried near this spot“
So you see, Michael Behagg really was the last person alive to see Capability Brown!