Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Canons Ashby House


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 house contains contents accumulated over four hundred years by the Dryden family. Tudor, Jacobean and Baroque elements blended together to form a rich backdrop of panelling, tapestries, wall paintings and decorative plasterwork. 







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?

30 comments:

  1. Interesting post but I have NO IDEA what the answers to your questions are. I'm looking forward to your next post so I can learn!

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  2. The Dryden family home was built from the remains of a medieval priory following its dissolution by King Henry VIII. So far, so good. But would VERY wealthy, landed families eventually become simple Puritans? Apparently so since as Puritans, the Dryden family became supporters of Cromwell and Parliament.

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    1. You make an interesting and valid point Hels.
      Immediately following the Dissolution, these former monastic buildings were granted by Henry VIII to a childhood friend named Sir Francis Bryan. His main contribution was to rebuild the church on a smaller scale, but after owning the property for only one year he then sold the estate to Sir John Cope of Banbury. The estate then passed by marriage to the Drydens of Cumbria. It is known that the Drydens were a Puritanical family from essays and poetry written by John Dryden, who was the first "Poet Laureate".
      In wikipedia it states "In 1650 Dryden went up to Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he would have experienced a return to the religious and political ethos of his childhood: the Master of Trinity was a Puritan preacher by the name of Thomas Hill who had been a rector in Dryden's home village.

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  3. What a fascinating history this old place has. It is quite touching that the Dryden family thought to honor the shepherd boy with a statue. I am afraid I have no clue about the wooden guardsmen. 
    Oh boy, King Henry VIII sure destroyed a lot of beautiful architecture! They always talk about the two wives who lost their heads, with no mention of the 72,000 other people he killed.

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  4. A beautiful place!

    I have no idea about the wooden figure.

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    1. I will show the answer in a few days time William.

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  5. Like the garden plantings. Both questions beat me. No idea at all.

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    1. White flowers offset with various shades of green can look really appealing as it does here - I liked it too.

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  6. Had another think about it. Something to do with Glorious Revolution and William of Orange maybe?

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    1. These figures were often seen in larger houses around this period.

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  7. The Great Rebellion is my other guess for G.R but that was earlier in history, early 1600s I think. I'm giving up :)

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  8. All the history in this building baffles the mind. I'm glad the 12th century tower was preserved and incorporated into the design of the house.
    About the Georgian figure I had no idea, but I confess to doing an Internet search. I believe it's a dummy board, and the purpose is a little obscure. One idea was that they were purely for entertainment and whimsy, and another was for security - to indicate someone in a building. Fascinating!

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    1. Hello Lorrie - you did well to find the answer - what would we do without Google?

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  9. Such a lovely Elizabethan manor house, and I love the shepherd's statue very much. I can't come up with a single guess about the wooden figures - and await the answer with much interest.

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    1. It appears to be proving much more difficult than I had imagined to come up with the correct answer.

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  10. Hello, Rosemary! At last I’m back to blogging. I’m so attracted by the Canons Ashby House. The architecture is the one which gives me my favorite British touch or feel with its colors, forms, and materials. The back door which is ajar looks inviting. As to the quiz, I have no idea.

    Yoko

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    1. It is so lovely to have you back again Yoko, and do hope that the summer has been good to you. I am glad that you found the architecture of Canons Ashby pleasing - I liked it too.
      Only one person has given me the correct answer so far, and she said that she found it by searching the internet! Whatever would we do without google.

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  11. A great story and a beautiful place - you know how to pick them Rosemary! I looked and looked but cannot come up with anything about such a wooden figure. My guess - perhaps they were placed in the windows to scare off the Jacobites, or just to make it look like the occupants were at home when they were actually away from the house on their holidays, haha!!

    Thanks for the good wishes regarding our safety in oncoming Hurricane Florence - I'm really worried about this one.

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    1. Dear Mary - I am so amused by this - what a wonderful piece of guesswork.

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  12. What a lovely manor house! I visited Lanhydrock in Cornwall and just fell in love with it. Happy Wednesday evening, Rosemary!

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    1. I love Lanhydrock too Satu - happy days to you too.

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  13. Hello Rosemary, The gardens and house are quite charming--I was glad they were able to rescue them. I do find the stucco tower a little disconcerting--I wonder it that was its original appearance?
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I believe that the square tower was rendered in order to cover up various alterations made over the years. Perhaps it would look better if it was painted in a colour that was more sympathetic with the colour of the old stonework.

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  14. That is a delightful almost whimsical statue of the of the young shepherd.I too am at a loss when it comes to guessing the answer.

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  15. I haven't a clue - will have to wait until next post

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