Ashdown House (NT)



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In a beautiful position on the Berkshire Downs, this unusual Dutch-style house was built by the first Lord Craven for Elizabeth of Bohemia, the 'Winter Queen'. Sadly, she never got to live there as she died before it was finished. Inside the now-tenanted house, access is limited to the hall, the 100-step staircase where a collection of portraits and paintings are displayed, and the roof. Often compared to a dolls' house, the elegant building survived remarkably intact until it was requisitioned for use by the army during World War II, and subsequently left in a derelict state. It was donated to the National Trust in 1956 by Cornelia, Countess of Craven. Three herds of deer live in the woodlands surrounding the estate, which are open to visitors all year round. Other parts of the grounds, which contain a parterre, Balleroy ponies and Alfred's Castle, can be visited only when the house is open.

Ashdown House (NT)


About the area

Discover Berkshire

Berkshire essentially consists of two distinct parts. The western half is predominantly rural, with the Lambourn Downs spilling down to the River Lambourn and the Berkshire Downs to the majestic Thames. The eastern half of Berkshire may be more urban but here, too, there is the opportunity to get out and savour open spaces. Windsor Great Park and Maidenhead Thicket are prime examples. Threading their way through the county are two of the South’s prettiest rivers – the Lambourn and the Pang. Beyond the tranquil tow paths of the Kennet and Avon Canal, Greenham Common’s famous airbase has been transformed to delight walkers of all ages.

Reading and Newbury are the county’s major towns, and the River Kennet flows through them both. Reading is a vibrant, multicultural centre with great shopping and plenty of history. Oscar Wilde was incarcerated in Reading prison in the late 19th century, and wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol about his experience. Newbury is probably best known for its race course, which opened in 1905, although the first recorded racing at Newbury was a century before that. Famous people born in the county include Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Winlset and Ricky Gervais.

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