It is the ultimate in romantic gestures. Ashdown House is a Valentine’s Day gift in bricks and mortar (or chalk, actually), a house built by the Earl of Craven for the love of a woman who never lived to see it – Elizabeth of Bohemia, The Winter Queen. On Elizabeth’s return to England from exile in 1661 the Earl of Craven, knowing of her desire to live quietly in the country, commissioned not one but two houses for her pleasure. The first, Hamstead Marshall, was designed to mirror Elizabeth’s palace in Heidelberg. The second, Ashdown, was a hunting lodge so that Elizabeth could continue to pursue her lifelong passion for hunting.
In honour of the approach of St Valentine’s Day, the fascinating blog lostpastremembered, which marries food and history, has posted a piece about William, Elizabeth and Ashdown. As well as detailing the Earl of Craven’s devotion to his lady over the course of forty years, the blog piece gives a wonderful insight into all things culinary from the period, from the way the table would be laid for a banquet at Elizabeth and Frederick of Bohemia’s castle in Heidelberg, to a stunning recipe for Raspberry Sauce with Port to complement the romance of the story. You can read the whole post here - and make the dessert as well if you wish!