Canons Ashby

Canons Ashby is an Elizabethan manor house, owned these days by the National Trust, and it is set in 18th. Century style gardens.

The estate was built by the Dryden family using the remains of the medieval priory which was dissolved by Henry VIII.  The Priory Church (established in mid 13th. century) is all that remains of the earlier priory buildings.

The house and gardens have survived largely unaltered since 1710 and are still very like how they were during the time of Sir Henry Dryden, a Victorian antiquary, who was passionate about the past. 

Although small compared to many National Trust sites you can visit the House, which features grand rooms, tapestries and Jacobean plasterwork, contrasting with the domestic detail of the servants' quarters.  There is also the opportunity to wander around the beautiful gardens and the historic parkland. You can also visit the impressive priory church, where you can see the story of the canons of Canons Ashby.  They do taster sessions in the morning and full access to the house in the afternoon, and you can even stay the night.

The gardens at Canons Ashby are not large but are an example of early 18th century garden design.  The layout and structure of the garden have changed little since.  The formal gardens comprise terraces, paths, topiary and various types of flower beds inspired by a style popular inVictorian times.  These include the Sundial terrace with a focal point of the sundial dating from 1710 and the mulberry lawn with its 100 year old mulberry tree. The garden drops away to the field below separated by a sunken wall that prevents cattle getting into the garden without interrupting the view over open countryside.

There is also a functioning croquet lawn and don’t miss the the metal target in the corner that was used for musket practice.

Below the formal gardens there are also fruit and vegetable terraces leading down to the Lion gates. Some produce grown in these gardens can be purchased from time to time in season, they have an honesty box on a bench.  There is also a small stone hut, which, amongst other things, is used for drying herbs, so worth a visit to catch the smell.

herbs drying in the shed - the small was wonderful

When we visited there were some lovely old vintage cars on a tour of the country side and they were parked up, so made the visit more interesting.  There are also some lovely chickens just wandering around the grounds.  They keep a blog here of daily pictures taken Websta Canons Ashby

Places to Eat, Drink & Shop: 
There is a tea rooms at the  site which has a reasonable snack menu for lunch. There is also a standard National Trust shop but not that large. There are plenty of places to have a picnic in the parkland surrounding the house and you will probably meet the freerange chickens.    

chickens awandering

and a few more
Visiting vintage cars

and this chap just landed at my feet, so had to take his picture
Directions: Canons Ashby is about 40 miles from Ampthill and on a good day it should take just over 50 minutes to drive there. Leave Ampthill and drive along the A507 to Junction 13 of M1 - joining the motorway heading north. Leave the M1 at Junction 15A and drive in the direction of Banbury/Oxford along the A43 and you will soon see the Brown signs for Canons Ashby. A good tip is to head for Towcester and take a different route home along the A5 (Watling Street). Towcester is a historic and bustling market town worth a short stop for a wander around and perhaps for something to eat and drink. Your drive between Canons Ashby and Towcester will take you through a number of typical picturesque Northamptonshire villages. 

Parking: There is a decent sized free car park within easy walking distance of the House and Reception Centre (200 mtrs). The walkway from the car park is flat and they run transport for people with mobility issues. And they have an overflow car park on the grass near the church.

National trust website: