Canons Ashby is a National Trust property in Northamptonshire that we visited over the early May Bank Holiday. I’m splitting the visits into three sections with posts on the gardens and the church to follow in the coming weeks. Ashby is an old word for farmstead so Canons Ashby (note no apostrophe) literally means the farmstead of the canons (priests) from the Augustinian priory that was established in the mid-12th century. Over the years the Black Death and Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries lead to the area falling into disrepair until the remains of the building were bought first by Sir Francis Bryan in 1537 and then a year later by Sir John Cope.
In the 16th century Sir John Cope gave the estate to his son-in-law John Dryden and using masonry from the old priory buildings built the distinctive tower part of the building. The Dryden’s continued to live in the house for the next 400 years, adding and removing bits of the interiors and exteriors which has left it with a rather interesting shape where some of the rooms aren’t really aligned.
The house came under National Trust control in 1981 when parts of the building were close to collapse. They did a significant amount of work to preserve the building and uncovered some real gems that previous generations had covered up. One such discovery was that of an 18th century painted mural depicting scenes from the Bible that had been covered by panelling.
One room in particular with unexpected grandeur was that of the drawing room. Not only does it contain an amazing fireplace but also an impressively decorated plaster ceiling – the drop pendant in the middle would have been where a chandelier was hung.
It’s an interesting place to visit especially to see the way improvements and changes to the house have shaped its appearance today. You can find more photos here.
What a fascinating house Louise, thanks for sharing. It’s gone onto our list for the next time we’re back in The UK. Looking forward to the bits about the garden and church.
Thank you! It was great after the pandemic to start using my National Trust membership again.
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