The house from an early 20th century postcard
Built / Designed For: 1st Earl of Craven
House & Family History: Ashdown was built as a hunting lodge, or villa, in the classical style by William, 1st Earl of Craven, for Elizabeth, the Winter Queen of Bohemia (sister of Charles I). Lord Craven was apparently in love in Elizabeth, though she died in 1662 before construction for the house even began. There are no reliable records for the architect or date of Ashdown, but it can be reasonably assigned to the architect William Winde on stylistic grounds and is very much in the style of the Anglo-Dutch design of the mid-17th century brought to England by the Restoration of Charles II. The five-bay house is unusually tall for its width and is frequently compared to a doll's house. Its original setting was in a forest with long, straight avenues that radiated out in four directions. During World War II Ashdown was requisitioned by the army, who left the house in near-derelict condition when they vacated. Cornelia, Countess of Craven, donated Ashdown and its estate to the National Trust in 1956. The house has been leased to tenants since it came under the ownership of the National Trust; in 2010 Pete Townshend purchased a 41-year lease on Ashdown.
Collections: Asdown once contained the noted Craven Art Collection, which has been largely dispersed and sold.
Country Life: XXXIII, 454, 1913.
Title: Belton House Guidebook - 1992
Author: Tinniswood, Adrian
Year Published: 1992
Reference: pg. 8
Publisher: London: The National Trust
Book Type: Softback
Title: How to Read a Country House
Author: Musson, Jeremy
Year Published: 2005
Reference: pg. 24
Publisher: London: Ebury Press
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Buildings of England: Berkshire, The
Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus
Year Published: 1966
Publisher: London: Penguin Books
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Current Seat / Home of: Pete Townshend; here since 2010.
Past Seat / Home of: William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven, 17th century.
Current Ownership Type: The National Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction