Canons Ashby House - History and Facts | History Hit

Canons Ashby House

Daventry, England, United Kingdom

Canons Ashby House is an Elizabethan manor house in Northamptonshire, now run by the National Trust.

Lily Johnson

31 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Wehha / CC

About Canons Ashby House

Canons Ashby House is an Elizabethan manor house located in Northamptonshire, that was the home of the Dryden family for over 400 years. Largely preserved in its 1710 state, Canons Ashby House provides a collection of fascinating artwork and history perfect for lovers of the era and casual tourists alike!

Canons Ashby House history

Originally built in 1550, Canons Ashby House underwent a number of major upgrades over a 150 year period with its final alterations taking place in 1710. Built by John Dryden, it became the home of the Drydens for over 400 years – a family containing Poet Laureates, MPs, religious reformers, and antiquarians.

Most famous of its brood is John Dryden, great-grandson of Canon Ashby’s founder, who was appointed England’s first Poet Laureate in 1668 and dominated the literary scene of Restoration England.

Another prominent member of the Dryden family was Anne Hutchinson, also a great-granddaughter of the house’s founder. A popular religious reformer who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634, Hutchinson’s opposition of the established Puritanism in the New World lead to her eventual banishment from the colony, along with a number of her supporters.

Furnished with fine wall paintings and plasterwork, Canons Ashby remained the home of Drydens through the 19th and early-20th centuries, when the antiquarian Sir Henry Edward Leigh Dryden and his historian and photographer daughter Alice Dryden lived there.

In the late 20th century, the family began to let the house out to various tenants, including accomplished goldsmith Louis Osman. While at Canons Ashby, he and his wife Dilys Roberts made the coronet worn by the Prince of Wales at his investiture at Caernarfon Castle.

Canons Ashby House today

Today Canons Ashby House is run by the National Trust and is a Grade I listed building, with its structure and architecture largely unaltered since the last additions in 1710.

Visitors can explore its grand state rooms, as well as the collections of art, antiques and tapestries that adorn them. The servants’ quarters may also be explored, providing both sides of the domestic story of Canons Ashby.

The estate also boasts large formal gardens – a rare survival of 18th-century garden design – as well as extensive parkland that offer a glimpse into early medieval landscapes. A wander through the remains of the priory church also affords visitors an insight into the canons that gave Canons Ashby its name.

Getting to Canons Ashby House

Canons Ashby is located near Daventry in Northamptonshire, and can be access from Junction 11 of the M40, following the A422 towards Northampton followed by the B4525. Alternatively Junction 16 can be taken from the M1, from which the A45 towards Daventry can be taken, followed by the A5. Brown signs to the site are featured as you near, and there is parking 200m from the garden and toilets.

The nearest train station is Banbury, 10 miles away, while the nearest bus stops at Woodford Halse, 4 miles away, therefore a taxi may also be required if using public transport.

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