St Leonard’s is the parish church of Rockingham Village and sits just below the walls of the castle – it is open to visitors on days when the castle is open to the public. There was probably a chapel inside the castle in the 11th century and in the 15th century a church on the site of the present building was destroyed in the Civil War; the present church dates to 1650.Continue reading
The gardens at Rockingham Castle are made up of several different terraces that are divided from the plain Terraced Lawn directly in front of the castle building by the Elephant Hedge – so called because they are sculpted to look like a row of elephants.Continue reading
After our visit to Canons Ashby we were looking for somewhere to visit to break up our drive back to Nottingham and decided that Rockingham Castle was the perfect choice. It’s still a family home and is only open on certain afternoons throughout the year, so always check the website and pre-book tickets (adult £14.00) if you plan to visit. It’s also worth noting that photography is not allowed inside the building itself.Continue reading
Canons Ashby Priory was an Augustinian priory founded in 1147. The priory was built in stone in 1253 and the unusual colour of the outside is because of the use of three different types of stone. The addition of the tower in 1350 demonstrates the wealth of the priory; funds for it were largely raised by charging locals for the use of a well on their land.Continue reading
The gardens at Canons Ashby present a lovely first impression of the estate. Edward Dryden, beginning in 1908, was largely responsible for the development of the gardens as it looks today. He wanted to create an organised landscape of geometric shapes.Continue reading
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.
Back in May (yes, I got behind again) I took a trip to Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire. It’s an English Heritage property once owned by Sir Christopher Hatton, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s favourites. He hoped that the Queen would pay a visit to Kirby, which she never did, though James I and his wife were to visit several times.