Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Commemorating the marriage of the Winter Queen

With the recent 400th anniversary of the wedding of Elizabeth of Bohemia and Frederick, Elector Palatine, there has been a series of programmes on the BBC commemorating the couple and their marriage. There was a feature on the wedding music on the  Early Music Show on Radio 3 on 16th February. Unfortunately this isn't available to listen again but you can download it as a podcast here. The wedding celebrations were organised by Sir Francis Bacon and included over a week of lavish entertainments including music by Robert Johnson, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Campion and John Coperario. There were also 17th century ballads, dances and catches.

In A Point of View on Radio 4 on 24th February Lisa Jardine spoke not only of the celebrity style of the couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge of their day, but also of Elizabeth as a powerful political force in 17th century Europe. You can hear Professor Jardine's programme here and there is an article based on it here.

History Today also featured an article on the marriage of the Winter Queen which is available here. To celebrate the event we are posting up not the portrait of Elizabeth that we have hanging in the collection at Ashdown which shows her in her widowhood but the miniature of her painted in her youth by Nicholas Hilliard. This shows why she was considered to be one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Ashdown House is getting ready for the 2013 Season!

Spring is around the corner, the snowdrops and daffodils are coming through and in less than 2 months, Ashdown House will be open again. We can't wait to show you around!

The 2013 National Trust Handbook does not feature any opening times for Ashdown so we're giving all the dates, times and other information here on the blog in order for people to plan their visits. I'll be repeating this throughout the season. We would like to encourage as many visitors as possible to come to Ashdown because as one of the little gems of the National Trust, this is a house well worth visiting!

Opening times for Ashdown remain unchanged from 2012. Ashdown House and the parterre gardens are open on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, 2pm - 5pm.

The first day of opening is Wednesday April 3rd and the season runs to Wednesday 30th October. The woodland is open all year round every day except for Fridays.

Our rather special guided tours take place at 2.15pm, 3.15pm and 4.15pm. We view the elegant entrance hall, the magnificent 17th century staircase and take in the view from the frankly splendid roof platform. Along the way we take a look at Ashdown's renowned 17th century portrait collection and give visitors some background on the fascinating characters who have been a part of Ashdown's 350 year old history, including the dashing cavalier William, 1st Earl of Craven, Elizabeth Stuart the Winter Queen, King Charles II and even Jane Austen. From the royal court to the servants' hall, Ashdown has a tale to tell!

Throughout the year there will be talks, walks and exhibitions in the Information Centre. Our talented lace makers, wood turners and re-enactors will be around to give people a flavour of 17th century life. For those who prefer to visit at their own pace there are self-guided walks around the gardens and also a children's tour. (Don't miss our gorgeous Balleroy ponies!)

Also not to be missed is the atmospheric Iron Age hillfort of Alfred's Castle, said to be the rallying point for Alfred the Great's army before the Battle of Ashdown against the Vikings in AD871.

The ancient track the Ridgeway is nearby, as is the magnificent hillfort at White Horse Hill and Wayland's Smithy Long Barrow. The picturesque village of Ashbury with its 15th century manor house and pub, The Rose and Crown, is just down the road and there is fabulous walking and cycling all around on Weathercock Hill and the Berkshire Downs.

I hope we have whetted your appetite for a visit!

For more information please see the Ashdown House National Trust page at:

You can follow us on Twitter as well on @AshdownHouseNT

There is also an information line on: 01494 755569.

For all bookings and any other enquiries please do contact the regional office on 01793 710252 or email or direct to this blog at

We look forward to seeing you soon!