Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bronze Age Barrows and Balleroy Ponies

We're on B in the A - Z of Ashdown! B is for all sorts of Ashdown-related topics: The 1000 year old badger sett in the woods which is mentioned in the records of the medieval hunting chase, the rare and not so rare butterflies that fill Ashdown's glades in the summer months and the variety of birds that nest in the trees there.

There is also the beer. South Lodge, as well as containing the kitchens for the main house, was also the brewery. At a time when water was not safe to drink, beer was the staple beverage for men, women and children ( a low-alcohol version, small beer, was served to children.) The beer brewed at Ashdown was so good that the Cravens sent a carriage every week from Hamstead Marshall to fetch their supply.

 Also on B we have the Bronze Age barrows that can be seen on the line of the hill to the south west of the house. There are three round barrows visible on the skyline but also a pond barrow which is only visible on the ground as a depression sometimes filled with water. It is said that these barrows mark a Bronze Age territorial boundary. Certainly they are situated so as to be in clear sight from miles around.

And finally B is for the Balleroy Highland ponies. Balleroy is the name of the chateau in Normandy which is said to have inspired the design of Ashdown House. William Winde, Ashdown's most probable architect, was a pupil of the French architect Mansart who designed Balleroy in 1626. The stud that is now based in Ashdown village breeds handsome Balleroy highland ponies with a very sweet temperament!

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