Revealing Secrets: Historic building recording at Canons Ashby

Historic photograph of the Pebble Court at Canons Ashby

In order to understand more about this quirky and complicated building we are working with archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) to do a detailed historic building survey of the house. Their findings will help us develop our conservation, interpretation and visitor engagement for Canons Ashby in the future.

Follow our progress

The building survey will take place between October 2017 and Spring 2018. During this time the archaeologists will be photographing and surveying each section of the house in minute detail, and we will be posting updates of their progress and any exciting discoveries on this page. Visitors to the house may also get the chance to see the archaeologists in action and learn more about how archaeological techniques can unravel the history and development of a building.

Can you help?

In addition to the practical surveying of the house, we will also be trawling through Canons Ashby’s vast archives to uncover further clues about its past.

Do you have any old photos of Canons Ashby which could help us? Please share them with us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and include the hashtag #CArevealed.

Latest updates

03 Sep 18

Final survey report now published

MOLA have completed their final report summing up their findings from the historic building survey and recommending areas for future work and additional research.

The survey revealed a multi-phased and complicated sequence of development and alteration from the mid-16th to the 19th century. The house originated as a pre mid16th-century farmhouse which was expanded and modernised by John Dryden in the period 1551-1584, resulting in an H-plan house with tower. This formed the basis for later developments which expanded the structure into a courtyard plan form.

The general approach to the alterations at Canons Ashby, particularly in later generations, has been aptly described as trying to achieve maximum effect for the minimum interference. It is this character of recycling and transformation which makes interpretation of the building's development particularly difficult but also gives the house its amazing atmosphere.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from our Heritage Records Online website

An aerial view of the house and immediate surroundings from a drone

17 May 18

Presenting new findings

With the building survey now finished, MOLA’s archaeologists have spent the past few months reviewing all the data gathered. Today they kindly presented some of this new knowledge to our very intrigued staff and volunteers.

Over the next few weeks MOLA will be busy writing up their findings into a final report. We look forward to sharing the highlights of this once it’s been completed!

Archaeologists presenting findings of historic building survey to Canons Ashby staff and volunteers

18 Dec 17

Exploring Canons Ashby in 3D

As well as using traditional drawn and photographic survey techniques to record Canons Ashby, the archaeologists have also carried out a complete laser survey (see earlier update). The data from the laser survey has now been used to create some photogrammetric 3D computer models of several intriguing features within the house.

Check out and explore the 3D models here

3D Model of understair space adjacent to the Servants' Hall at Canons Ashby