With a history dating back over 700 years, Ashridge House in Hertfordshire has been lived in by King Henry VIII and Elizabeth I as well as having served as a wartime hospital.
History of Ashridge
In 1283, Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, founded a monastic house for the Bonhommes order called ‘The College of Bonhommes’ at ‘Assherugge’. The monastery was re-endowed by Edward the Black Prince and gained a reputation as a centre for scholarly excellence and learning. The college of monks was dissolved during the Reformation. Afterwards, in 1539, Henry VIII bestowed the estate on Princess Elizabeth, later Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth spent 8 years at Ashridge, and it was there that she was arrested by her half-sister Mary in 1554 and taken to the Tower of London. Elizabeth survived, and after her sister died, the estate remained in Crown hands until Elizabeth herself died, after which time the Earl of Bridgewater, Thomas Egerton, bought the estate.
His descendant, the 2nd Duke of Bridgewater, employed famous architect James Wyatt to create a Gothic Revival house which were to be surrounded by scenic gardens. After the First World War, the house became a hospital, and at the same time the woodland part of the estate passed to the National Trust.
In 1959, the house was converted into a business school, which it remains today.
The present house is regarded as one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the UK and is now a Grade I listed building. Its gardens are National Trust owned and are popular among visitors and locals alike.
Ashridge is also a popular wedding and conference venue, alongside it being a business school. As a result, tours are only available during non-term time.
Getting to Ashridge
Ashridge is a two and a half hour journey from Kings Cross Underground Station in London. After getting the Thameslink to St Albans, take the 300 bus to Hemel Hempstead to stop ‘Marlowes’, then the 31 to ‘War Memorial.’ From there, the site is a 15 minute walk. Alternatively, it’s an hour and 15 minutes by car via the M1.
Elizabeth I sites
Follow in the footsteps of the famous Queen Elizabeth I, from Bath Abbey to Ashridge and more.