Canons Ashby

This Tudor H-shaped manor house was built around 1550 for John Dryden. The home of the Dryden family since its construction, this Elizabethan manor house has survived more or less unaltered throughout its life. The interior contains wall paintings and Jacobean plasterwork of the highest quality. The Kitchen and dairy offer an intimate view of life 'below stairs'. There are also a formal garden, an orchard featuring varieties of fruit trees from the 16th century, and St Mary's Church - all that remains of the Augustinian priory from which the house takes its name. The material for the unusual squat tower of the house came from the demolished east end of the church.


This unexpectedly grand church is all that is left of the Augustinian priory which gave Canons Ashby its name. The priory once dominated a flourishing medieval village but all that can be seen today are furrows and bumps in the grass. The church has been reduced to a quarter of its original size but it is still impressive with a pinacled tower that can be seen for miles around.

Did you know...
John Dryden of Canons Ashby, born in 1525, died on 30 Sep 1584 is the 13th great grandfather of President George W. BUSH through his daughter Bridget Dryden and is the 12th great grandfather of Diana SPENCER through his son Erasmus Dryden.


In the 1590's John Dryden's son Sir Erasmus, the 1st Baronet, added the wings to the east that enclose the cobbled internal courtyard. In comparison to the finished stone of the exterior, the walls of the courtyard are rough and irregular and set with leaded windows. The walls encircling the garden are pierced by baroque gatepiers built around the same time as the garden in 1710.


Sir Erasmus Drydens second son, also called Erasmus, had a son called John Dryden who became the first Poet Laureate and wrote a variety of plays and musicals. Dryden often visited his cousins who resided on this estate.