Canons Ashby House in Northamptonshire is an atmospheric gem of an Elizabethan manor house that was once the ancestral home of the Dryden family. It was built from the remains of a 12th century medieval priory following its dissolution in 1537 by Henry VIII.
The Priory and its Church were established in 1147 by a group of Augustinian canons, and although now modest in size, the church originally resembled the size of a small cathedral. It was one of the first religious houses to be recommended for dissolution by Henry VIII.
The floral beds to the front of the property were inspired by a style of garden first seen during the Victorian era.
Flower island beds and borders offset by manicured lawns came into being with the arrival of a new machine in 1830 called a 'lawnmower'. The planting schemes employed at first were very precise and regular but as time past, and under the influence of Gertrude Jekyll, flowerbeds eventually became more loose flowing, and painterly.
As Puritans, the Dryden family were supporters of Cromwell and Parliament. Lady Dryden was treating a platoon of soldiers to mutton pies and ale in the great kitchen, when a young shepherd boy posted by her as a look out, blew a warning call on his flute. The soldiers rushed out of the house in the direction of the church and were then chased by a party of Cavaliers. The Roundheads dashed inside the church and barricaded themselves into the tower. This proved to be a mistake as the Cavaliers set fire to the church to smoke them out. The Roundheads were left with no choice but to surrender, and were captured and imprisoned in Banbury.
They were eventually released unharmed, but the poor shepherd boy lost his life as a reward for his loyalty. A sacrifice never forgotten by the Dryden family who raised this statue to his memory.
I am showing an object from inside the house and would love you to answer two questions. I will switch on 'comments moderation' and then reveal the result at the end of the week. If you answer either one of the questions correctly I will hold on to your answer until the next post - this will give everyone an equal chance.
This is a two dimensional wooden figure, the date of which can be pinpointed almost precisely to 1716, so it is 300 years old. It shows a Guardsman and the initials GR painted on his hat date it to between 1714 when George 1 ascended the throne and 1717 when it was included in an inventory for the house. The date can be narrowed even further because of the Scots Guards uniform that he is wearing - the Scots Guards were first formed in 1715 at the time of the first Jacobite rebellion. These figures appear in various guises - cats and dogs, children, women or men all dressed up in their Georgian finery.
1. Do you know what they are called? - they have two titles either of which will be acceptable and
2. What was their purpose?