Friday, 31 August 2012
First there is Ashdown - the physical location, the "down covered in ash trees" which features in the Anglo-Saxon records as the generic name for the entire line of the Downs. This was the site of the Battle of Ashdown and local tradition places the battle on the land between Alfred's Castle and the Bronze Age Barrows to the south (more of them when we get to B!)
Then there is Ashdown House itself and Alfred's Castle, the Iron Age settlement. There is also the historic village of Ashbury, of which Ashdown became the "big house" in 1662. Ashbury has its own 15th century manor house, an ancient church, parts of which go back to the Norman period, and lots of other interesting historical features. It definitely deserves a blog piece.
interlocking landing strip can apparently be seen in the garden of Old Forge in Ashbury. British, American and Canadian troops were stationed at Ashdown (more on them when we reach W!) and they flew Spitfires and Mustangs out of the airfield (this is attested to by the paintings of Spitfires and Mustangs that were found on the walls of the drawing room after the troops had left. There was also a lifesize painting of Rita Hayworth!) There was a canteen at Red Barn and some of the crockery is still being dug up out of the fields whenever they are ploughed.
Ashbury Living History Project. We don't have much written information on the role of the Ashdown airfield so if anyone knows anything of Ashdown's wartime history, please get in touch!
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Keith was also very active in the Coleshill Auxilliary Research Team and in their tribute to him they write: "He leaves a wife and family and a huge void in the hearts of local historians." A beautiful summary of Keith's contribution and the impact of his loss. Thank you, Keith.
Thursday, 9 August 2012
Thursday, 2 August 2012
Thank you to Mrs Black’s This ‘n That for awarding the Ashdown House Blog the Kreative Blogger Award! We are all very honoured. Look out for a black cat on your visits to Ashdown as Minerva the shoppe keeping cat can sometimes be seen strolling around the grounds. We love her eclectic blog!
Upon acceptance of such award it is traditional that the recipients carry out the following instruction. We are to share with you 10 things you may not have previously known about us, and to recommend 10 blogs that are worthy of the Kreative Award.
So here are ten things you may or may not already know about Ashdown House:
Elizabeth of Bohemia never saw Ashdown, the house William Craven built for her, because she died before it was completed. However her son, the dashing Prince Rupert of the Rhine did visit the house, as did his equally dashing cousin King Charles II.
The entwined initials of William Craven and Elizabeth were carved onto the original gateposts at Ashdown.
The house has a box parterre garden because this was considered a “masculine” garden design to complement the hunting lodge which was considered to be a “masculine” building.
There is said to be a secret passageway cut through the chalk connecting Ashdown to the manor house at Russley Down several miles away.
At the beginning of the 18th century Ashdown was used by Jacobites plotting the restoration of the Catholic succession.
There was an icehouse at Ashdown. There's a blog piece about it here. There may not be much of it left now but it was a jolly interesting building in its time!
The weathervane on the roof of the Victorian stables is original and features a coach and horses and also sports an earl’s coronet!
The Craven state coach was painted gold with a blue velvet interior and was even more elaborate than that belonging to Queen Victoria. It is now housed in the Carriage Museum at Arlington Court which is well worth a visit.
Ashdown is haunted by the ghost of stable lad and by the sound of a baby crying in the woods. Some of us have heard the crying and also seen shadowy figures and candlelight behind the shuttered windows of the house. Over the years there have been several other ghostly sightings as well.
There is only one staircase at Ashdown and no servants’ stair. The staircase turns in an anti-clockwise direction to allow a right-handed swordsman the advantage when fighting down the stair.
10 blogs we recommend:
There are so many wonderful blogs out there and we already feature some we follow on our sidebar. Here we’ve chosen a few that represent the different aspects of our interests at Ashdown, including history and natural history.
Number 1 London - The best address in London! A blog with an interest in England past and present.
The Purple Empire - All about butterflies from the National Trust expert, Matthew Oates.
Fair Isle Bird Observatory The blog of the world famous bird observatory on the wild and beautiful island of Fair Isle.
Hoydens and Firebrands - Various fascinating aspects of 17th century history.
Status, Scandal and Subterfuge - Frances Bevan writes about the history of the St John family and their mansion Lydiard Park. Not only did the St John and Craven family intermarry, the St Johns were also involved in the Jacobite plotting of the 18th century (see above!)
Two Nerdy History Girls - Two great historical authors who consistently reveal extraordinary and fascinating facts about many different aspects of history.
Untold Lives - The British Library sharing stories from the past.
Puppy with a Purpose - We have to confess to a vested interest here. Puppy with a Purpose is the blog of our very own guide dog puppy in training, Rochester, and is all about his experiences as he learns to be a fully qualified Guide Dog. Rochester is sponsored by Swindon Guide Dogs and pays lots of visits to Ashdown, enjoying running in the woods in his time off duty!
Jane Austen's World - Bringing Jane Austen, her books and the Regency period alive. We are very proud of the Craven/Austen connection here at Ashdown House!
Georgian London - Fascinating and fabulous!