Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ashdown in the Media!

On Monday 2nd July at 2.00pm the fascinating story of Ashdown House will be featured on BBC Berkshire's History Hour! BBC Berkshire is situated at Caversham Park which by a happy chance was once one of the First Earl of Craven's estates. It was confiscated during the English Civil War and Charles I was imprisoned there.

There will be a report on the show and on Caversham Park itself here on the blog next week. Meanwhile over on Twitter we are posting up regular photographs of Ashdown, the house, the woods and the estate, showing all the unusual aspects of the house and its history not always visible to the visitor.

The picture above is of the Coleshill frieze, a collection of the gilded plasterwork decoration from Coleshill House that is normally on display in the hall at Ashdown. Coleshill, built 10 years before Ashdown, will be another fascinating topic for a future blog piece. The plasterwork gives an idea of the type of glorious design that would once have graced both houses.

Follow us on Twitter at @AshdownHouseNT!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Diamond Jubilee Beacons

On the night of Monday 4th June four thousand beacons will be lit across the UK to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Locally, there will be a beacon lit at the top of Ashbury Coombe at 10pm and another at White Horse Hill.

The lighting of beacons across the UK has a history spanning centuries. Used in the past as a means of communication and warning in times of war, the beacon chain has also become a sign of unity and celebration.

The records of the Ashbury estate make reference to the beacon built in 1588 to warn of the coming of the Spanish Armada. In those days there was an Armada beacon on Alfred's Castle hillfort, one in a long line stretching along the Ridgeway and south to the coast. In those days the men responsible for watching and waiting and for lighting the beacon if necessary lived at Red Barn. Although Red Barn Cottages have been demolished now they were occupied into the 20th century and for many years housed the gamekeepers who worked on the Ashdown estate, in particular the Jones family.

It is inspiring to think of the history of beacons along the Ridgeway, no doubt stretching back thoousands of years, and the way that the celebration on Monday night connects us to the past.