History of Ashdown House
The Winter Queen
Elizabeth, the daughter of James I of England and VI of Scotland, married Frederick, the Elector Palatine and they reigned as King and Queen of Bohemia for just one year, 1619-1620. Frederick was defeated at the battle of White Mountain and Elizabeth was forever known as the Winter Queen. They went to live in exile in The Hague.
A love story begins
Lord Craven first met Elizabeth when he was a young soldier and also in The Hague. He became devoted in his service to Elizabeth. After Frederick's death, Craven provided financial support to Elizabeth as he was one of the wealthiest men in England.
A loyal friendship
Craven stayed loyal to Elizabeth and when they returned to England she lived in his house in Drury Lane. He acted as the informal head of her household, escorted her to the theatre, and spent so much time in her company that he was rumoured to have secretly become her husband although there is no actual evidence to support this.
A safe haven
Lord Craven was concerned about the plague in London and wanted to build Elizabeth a mini palace in the country away from germs. Knowing her love of hunting he chose Ashdown. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died before the house was completed. She bequeathed Craven her papers, hunting trophies and portraits including many which now hang in Ashdown House.
Lord Craven never married and lived to be 89. The last member of the family left Ashdown 1926 and the house was given to the National Trust in 1956.