History

Ancient sites

Ivinghoe Beacon dominates the landscape © Matthew Oates

Ivinghoe Beacon dominates the landscape

From Iron Age farms to Roman settlements, the Ashridge Estate is brimming with history. The remains of a hill fort, which once guarded the area against attack, can still be seen at Ivinghoe Beacon.
Bonfires are still lit on the beacon for special celebrations such as the Millennium and Royal Jubilees.

Ashridge deer

Ashridge deer during the rutting season © Colin Sturges

Ashridge deer during the rutting season

Fallow deer have been a feature of Ashridge since the 13th century. They were hunted by Henry VIII when he used Ashridge as a country residence.

In the autumn they can be seen rutting as the males fight for supremacy.

Royalty at Ashridge

Henry VIII enjoyed hunting at Ashridge © Henry

Henry VIII enjoyed hunting at Ashridge

Ashridge House was popular with Royalty from 1290 when Edward I held a parliament in the monastery, until 1604 when the estate passed into private hands.

Henry VIII held court here and his children sometimes lived here.

Monastic foundations

Most of the monks' days were spent in silence

Ashridge began life as a monastery founded by Edmund of Cornwall, nephew of Henry III, in 1283 to house a holy relic. The monks were known as Bonhommes or blue friars because of the colour of their robes.

The Egertons

First private owner of Ashridge House

Thomas Egerton, chancellor to Elizabeth I, bought the estate in 1604. He added domestic wings to the ancient monastic buildings and his son married a daughter of the Countess of Derby for her fortune.

Designing the park

Ashridge Estate

Capability Brown, a famous landscape architect, worked on Ashridge's parkland in around 1760. His work was continued 50 years later by a student of his, Humphrey Repton.

The Brownlows

Second Earl Brownlow

The third Earl Brownlow developed the estate and took a keen interest in his employees. During his ownership in the 19th century many famous people stayed at Ashridge House.

The Canal Duke

The granite column of the Bridgewater monument reaches 33 metres high

John Egerton assumed the Bridgewater title. The third duke established the name in connection with waterways. He became known as the 'Canal Duke' and the monument was built in his memory.

Ashridge in wartime

Squaddies billeted at Ashridge the Second World War

During both World Wars the house was used to train and billet troops. In the Second World War it became a convalescent home for St Albans Hospital.

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