History for kids

 A house fit for a queen, built with love © Andrew Cornick

A house fit for a queen, built with love

Did you know the house was built for a queen?

Who built Ashdown House?

Craven the Cavalier, a very rich man

Craven the Cavalier, a very rich man

William Craven was one of the richest men in England. He inherited his money from his father, and he also owned lots of land. This included the Ashdown Estate, where he came hunting. He built Ashdown House in 1662.

William gave King Charles lots of money to help him win the English Civil War. But he didn't fight in England, he stayed in Europe. A grateful King made William an Earl. While he was in Europe, he met the King's sister, Elizabeth, who was Queen of Bohemia. She had lost all her lands in a battle and was living in Holland.

Why did he build the house?

When her husband died, Elizabeth had no money. William brought her back to London and looked after her.

People thought they had secretly married. Because of the plague in London, he built Ashdown House for her.

More things to do

Visit our things to see & do page for more ideas of fun outdoors activities to do, like spotting deer and woodland walks.

Things to spot


Charles II, nephew of Elizabeth of Bohemia, used to hunt in Ashdown woods © The Craven Collection - NTPL John Hammond

Elizabeth sadly died before the house was finished, but she gave all her paintings and hunting trophies to William.


Princess Sophie, youngest daughter of Elizabeth of Bohemia © Andrew Cornick

Can you spot the pearl necklaces on the paintings of the ladies who lived here?


Stairway to the roof. © Adam McGrady

The staircase at Ashdown House is very wide. How many steps does it have?