Visiting Canons Ashby house
Visit the Tudor manor house at Canons Ashby, where the warm, welcoming house features grand rooms, stunning tapestries and Jacobean plasterwork, contrasting with the domestic detail of the servants' quarters. Staff and volunteers are on hand, ready to answer your questions as you explore.
Recent research suggests that this corner of the house was originally Wylkyn’s farmhouse, the oldest part of the house. The room was extended eastwards in the late 16th century by Erasmus Dryden, to create the existing layout and modernised at the beginning of the 18th century.
The Great Hall was originally entered from what is now the Green Court. The entrance was changed when Edward Dryden remodelled the house in the early 18th century and replaced the old entrance porch with a fine, tall baroque doorcase which he placed in the middle of the wall. He commissioned his cousin, Elizabeth Creed, to paint an overmantel with arms and armour.
The Dining Room
This room was part of John Dryden’s first phase of building, the tower house. It was completely remodelled by Edward Dryden in about 1710 and described in the 1717 inventory as the ‘right-hand parlour’. It’s a beautiful example of an early Georgian oak-panelled room.
The Book Room is part of Sir Erasmus Dryden’s extension to the house of around 1590 and still has the original panelling. The chimney piece and overmantel with its doric pilasters and columns are also of this period. The room was described as the ‘left-hand parlour’ in the 1717 inventory and was subsequently used as a Billiard Room. Sir Henry Dryden the Antiquary created the room as it is today and gave it the distinctive name of the Book Room. The oak bookcases were designed by Sir Henry and made by the estate carpenters in the 1840-50s.
Sir Henry’s Museum
Sir Henry’s insatiable curiosity about the past was ignited when, as a boy of 10, he helped his father excavate the remains of the priory buildings next to the church. Sir Henry later mounted archaeological expeditions all over the British Isles and beyond and created thousands of measured drawings and watercolours of sites and finds.
There is photographic evidence that he created his museum to house his collection of drawings, artefacts and watercolours. He wrote many learned papers on history, archaeology and mediaeval architecture and became a respected authority on these subjects, earning him the nickname ‘the Antiquary’.
This room was created when Erasmus Dryden built the south range of the house around 1590. The original purpose was as a grand reception chamber, where Erasmus would have met and entertained his guests. The Great Hall was only used for large functions. Spenser’s Room was probably his private reception chamber or office.
Sir Henry named the best guest bedroom after the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser who, as a relation of the Drydens, had been a frequent visitor to Canons Ashby many years before. Sir Henry would not have been aware of the extraordinary Elizabethan wall paintings discovered beneath the 18th-century panelling by the Trust during repair work in the 1980s.
This was the main first floor room of the tower house built by John Dryden in the 1550s. It was altered in about 1710, when Edward Dryden modernised the south range of the house. He installed three new sash windows in the south wall, replacing the original 16th-century fireplace that had stood here with the existing fireplace on the opposite wall.
Canons Ashby was home to the Dryden family for over 400 years and has a rich history. Discover how the house developed and about the people that made the house we see today.
The garden provides plenty of space for the family to have a great day out and enjoy the fresh air. You can also stretch your legs with one of the walks in the wider grounds.
Canons Ashby is a two pawprint rated place. Dogs are welcome at Canons Ashby, whether it's a walk in the parkland with the family or lunch in the tea-garden whilst your pup companion relaxes. Find out more about bringing your four-legged friend for a visit.
Grab a bite to eat in the tea-room, and find a souvenir to remember your visit in the Coach House shop. Head to the old brewhouse where you will now find a second-hand bookshop.
Discover family-friendly activities and days out with the kids at Canons Ashby, including nature trails, wild play and school holiday events.