The house from a 1910 postcard
Earlier Houses: There were earlier houses on, or near, the site of the current house.
House & Family History: The Ashley-Cooper family have owned the St. Giles Estate since the early 15th century. Anthony Ashley-Cooper laid the first stone of the current house in 1650 and was created 1st Earl of Shaftesbury by Charles II in 1672. The architect has never been identified, though rumors about Inigo Jones having a hand in the design have never been put to rest because of the classically-inspired east and north facades. Handel was a frequent visitor in the 18th century, during the time that the tapestry room was famous for its exceptional set of Brussels tapestries depicting the triumph of the gods. During World War II the house was requisitioned by the government and used as a school. St. Giles was open to the public for a time in the 1960s and 70s, but closed by the 10th Earl, who demolished the large Victorian additions. In spite of substantial fines, the 10th Earl allowed the house to fall into dereliction. The 10th Earl was murdered in the south of France in 2004 and the 11th Earl died, unexpectedly, from a heart attack in 2005. The current owner, the 12th Earl, Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, has moved back into St. Giles House and begun the lengthy task of its restoration, almost 50 years after it was boarded up and virtually abandoned by his father, the 10th Earl. The Ashley-Cooper family is frequently cited as being one of the wealthiest families in the United Kingdom.
Collections: Most of the furniture from St. Giles House was sold by Christie's on June 26, 1980.
Garden & Outbuildings: The house sits in a large park with a serpentine lake, through which runs the River Allen. At its height at the end of the 19th century, the St. Giles Estate comprised 22,000 acres; today the estate stands at approximately 9,000 acres.
Architect: Thomas Cundy, Sr.Date: 1816-20
Architect: Thomas GloverDate: Circa 1670
Architect: Henry FlitcroftDate: 1740-44
Country Life: XXXVII, 336, 370, 1915. LXXVII, 380 [Furniture], 1935. XCIV, 464, 508, 552, 1943. CXXV, 1252 [Grotto], 1959.
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 2008
Reference: pgs. 292, 382, 430
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Hardback
Title: World of Interiors, The (magazine)
Year Published: NA
Reference: Aug 2012, pgs. 36, 37, 40, 41
Publisher: London: The Conde Nast Publications Ltd.
Book Type: Magazine
Title: Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, 1990
Author: Kidd, Charles; Williamson, David (Editors)
Year Published: 1990
Reference: pg. P 1109
Publisher: London: Debrett's Peerage Limited (New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc.)
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
Author: Sayer, Michael
Year Published: 1993
Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Current Seat / Home of: Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl of Shaftesbury; Ashley-Cooper family here since the 15th century.
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, 1651-83; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 2nd Earl of Shaftesbury, 1683-99; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, 1699-1713; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 4th Earl of Shaftesbury, 1713-71; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 5th Earl of Shaftesbury, 1771-1811; Cropley Ashley-Cooper, 6th Earl of Shaftesbury, 1811-51; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, 1851-85; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 8th Earl of Shaftesbury, 1885-86; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, 1886-1961; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, 1961-62.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home
Ownership Details: Available for weddings, field sports, and other events.