Sir Henry Dryden the Antiquary

Sir Henry Dryden stands outside the Church Priory

Known as ‘the Antiquary’, Sir Henry Dryden inherited the estate in 1837 at just 19 years old and was the squire for most of the Victorian period.

He inherited his father’s interests in Antiquarian interests including local history and archaeology – hence his nickname ‘the Antiquary’.

As a young man, he referred to himself as ‘the last of the Black Canons’ (the Augustinian order who built the priory in the 12th century). His friends described him as ‘a genial person….’ Quaint and sometimes unconventional, even in 1880, he was wearing the Regency dress of his youth.

Sir Henry made few changes to the structure of Canons Ashby. He reinstated the mullioned windows in the east front and his plans were used for the garden restoration completed in 2012.

Inside he changed only one room – the Book Room. He did not use the term ‘library’ as it was from there that books were loaned, whilst a book room is where  books are kept.

Sir Henry married late in life at 47, to Fanny Tredcroft who was 42. They had one daughter Alice.  When she was born, complaining that ‘there are too many women in the house already’, he sacked two kitchen maids. Both were quietly reinstated by his wife.

He made detailed drawings and plans of the house which have been an invaluable source of much of the restoration undertaken by the Trust in recent years.