Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Exhibition

The letter "E" in the A - Z of Ashdown represents Elizabeth of Bohemia, her eldest daughter Princess Elizabeth Palatine and also a number of members of the Craven family whose names began with the letter E. Today, though, I am blogging about the new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, which is entitled "The Lost Prince: The Life and death of Henry Stuart." There is a link here.

Henry, eldest son of King James I and VI, was the elder brother of Elizabeth of Bohemia. He was said to embody all the princely virtues and his death from typhoid at the age of eighteen caused widespread mourning and led to the accession of his younger brother Charles instead. The exhibition explores Henry's life and the reaction to his death. Amongst the paintings and artefacts on display are some featuring Elizabeth and the whole exhibition gives an insight into the Jacobean court. A must for all fans of the period!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

In the style of Downton Abbey!

We have reached the letter D in the A - Z of Ashdown House. D is for a number of things relating to the history of Ashdown; there are the deer, for a start, since Ashdown Park or Aysshen Park as it was known then was originally a medieval deer park belonging to Glastonbury Abbey. Then there is the rather intriguing dew pond that used to exist by the coaching stables but has dried up now. And there is William Dobson, whose magnificent portrait of Prince Rupert, Colonel Murray and Colonel Russell hangs on the second landing. Oh, and it features a dog, and I have blogged previously about Boye, Prince Rupert's most famous dog.

Today what caught our eye for the letter D was a link to Downton Abbey. Fans of the programme may have seen this gorgeous house on the right, which is Sir Anthony Strallan's home in the series. It is Hall Barn in Beaconsfield, in the 17th century the home of Edmund Waller, the Poet Laureate and Royalist. The house was built before 1675 and is surrounded by 17th and early 18th century pleasure grounds, park and woodland. Waller was banished abroad for a time and travelled widely in France and Italy.

Like Lord Craven at Ashdown, Waller brought back ideas of the continental style of architecture and this is evident in the style of his "new" house at Beaconsfield, which is contemporaneous with Ashdown. The architectural similarities between the two houses are very striking. Call us biased, but we think that these two are amongst the most gorgeous houses around!