Standing at the heart of a 10,000-acre
working estate and surrounded by 200 acres of parkland
designed by Capability Brown, Castle Ashby is the
ancestral home of the Compton family, the 7th Marquess of
Northampton. Formerly a derelict 13th century castle, the
castle was demolished with the permission of Queen
Elizabeth I and replaced with the magnificent building
Built in 1574, the house,
with its soaring towers and decorative balustrades was
started by Henry, 1st Lord Compton and was continued by
his son, William, who later became Earl of Northampton.
Did you know ?
The parapet of stone lettering around the top of the house is dated 1624, and its inscription runs as follows:
NISI DOMINUS CUSTOS CUSTODIVERIT DOMUM FRUSTRA
VIGILAT QUI CUSTODIT EAM: NISI DOMINUS AEDIFICAVERIT
DOMUM IN VANUM LABORAVERUNT QUI AEDIFICANT EAM
'Except the Lord build the house they labour but in vain they who build it; Except the Lord keep the house the watchman waketh but in vain.'
Capability Brown, the architect and landscape gardener began work in 1760. He increased the ponds overlooked by the house into ornamental lakes, dug a ha ha, or sunken fence, around the park and built the Dairy and the Temple against the Menagerie. In 1867 the architect, Godwin turned the old kitchen garden into an elaborate 'Italian garden' with breathtaking views across the parkland. The sunken lawn to the front of the house was once a bowling green but is now a croquet lawn. King William lll suggested the planting of the avenues leading to the house. Mainly of elm, they took almost 25 years to create. Only the southern Grande Avenue remains. Three and a half miles of it that runs over the Northampton - Bedford road into the deer park. Oak, Walnut and Lime trees mainly populate this avenue.
The historic Orangery was
built by Matthew Digby Wyatt in the 1870’s. This
fascinating building was once a temperate house and now
houses a frequently updated selection of plants and
flowers. The church of St Nicholas stands next to the
house. It has a small, embattled tower containing six
bells and used to contain an almshouse for the poor,
Castle Ashby is the only Stately Home in England that is not open to the public, lived in by its owners and can be booked in its entirety on an exclusive basis for corporate or private celebrations and weddings.