Ashdown House - Spring

Ashdown House - Spring

Ashdown House

Ashdown House

Ashdown House (also known as Ashdown Park) is a 17th-century country house in the civil parish of Ashbury in the English county of Oxfordshire. Until 1974 the house was in the county of Berkshire, and the nearby village of Lambourn remains in that county. Ashdown House is associated with the "Winter Queen" Elizabeth of Bohemia, the sister of Charles I. Along with his house at Hamstead Marshall, it is said that the William, the first Earl of Craven built Ashdown for her, but she died in 1662 before construction began. Elizabeth Stuart (19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662) was, as the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, Electress Palatine, and briefly, Queen of Bohemia. Due to her husband’s reign in Bohemia lasting for just one winter, Elizabeth is often referred to as The Winter Queen. She was the second child and eldest daughter of James VI and I, King of Scots, England, and Ireland, and his wife, Anne of Denmark. She was also the granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots.

 

Although the architect is uncertain, it is thought that Craven commissioned Captain William Winde to build the Dutch-style mansion as a hunting lodge and refuge from the plague. The house features 8,000 square feet of living space, a large central staircase, reception rooms, interlinking drawing and sitting rooms, a kitchen, a dining room and eight bedrooms. The property includes two lodges, three cottages and a hundred acres of land. The house is isolated, and the view from the roof includes park-like grounds and gardens, and beyond, woods and pastures. Nearby is a large group of sarsen stones and Alfred's Castle, an Iron Age hill fort. Alfred's Castle is a small Iron Age hill fort in Ashbury. It has a large enclosure attached that shows as a cropmark. Excavation has shown this to be contemporary with the small enclosure, started in the 6th century BC. The hill fort was established within a series of late Bronze Age linear ditches and revealed much evidence for occupation within it. In the late 1st century, a Romano-British farmhouse was built within the abandoned prehistoric enclosure. King Alfred won a great victory against the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown, in AD 871. Being located just to the west of Ashdown House, Victorian antiquaries associated Alfred's Castle with the King's troop movements before the battle.

 

At least one of the woods of Ashdown Park predates the house. Glastonbury Abbey held the manor of Ashbury until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. A deer park was established for the Abbey in the south of the parish. It is bounded by an ancient embankment enclosing a rounded area characteristic of Medieval deer parks. The embankment would have been topped by a park pale, probably of cleft oak stakes. The park may equate to the Aysshen Wood that a terrier of the parish in 1519 recorded as covering 415 acres (A land terrier is a record system for an institution's land and property holdings. It differs from a land registry in that it is maintained for the organisation's own needs and may not be publicly accessible). The former deer park is now the Upper Wood of Ashdown Park. Although a few alterations were made to the house, the building remained largely as-built until it was requisitioned for use by the army during World War II. The occupation left it in a near derelict state.

 

The National Trust has owned Ashdown House since 1956 when it was donated to the trust by Cornelia, Countess of Craven (wife of William Craven, 4th Earl of Craven). The house is tenanted, and has been renovated by recent lease holders. In 2010 Pete Townshend bought a 41-year lease on the property and in 2011 a structural renovation was begun. Public access is restricted to the stairs and roof, with broad views of Berkshire Downs. There is also public access to the neighbouring Ashdown Woods. Admission to the house is by guided tour.There is an Adapted toilet. Induction loop in reception and portable one for guided tours. Grounds accessible via tarmac, loose gravel and flat grassy paths. House not accessible to all as it has 100 stairs.

 

Location : Lambourn, Newbury, Berkshire, RG17 8RE

Transport : Hungerford (National Rail) then bus (90). Bus Routes : 90 stops outside.

Opening Times : Wednesday and Saturday 14:00 to 17:00

Tickets : Adults £5.00;   Children £2.50.   Cash only

Tel. : 01793 762209