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Castle Ashby, Castle Ashby

Description: Castle Ashby

Grade: I
Date Listed: 3 May 1968
English Heritage Building ID: 235416

OS Grid Reference: SP8626959249
OS Grid Coordinates: 486269, 259249
Latitude/Longitude: 52.2247, -0.7384

Location: Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire NN7 1LJ

Locality: Castle Ashby
Local Authority: South Northamptonshire District Council
County: Northamptonshire
Country: England
Postcode: NN7 1LJ

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Listing Text

13/16 Castle Ashby


Country house. Begun 1574 for Henry, 1st Lord Compton and completed c.1600 for
William 2nd Lord Compton and 1st Earl of Northampton (created 1618). 1624-35
major remodelling including construction of south screen, and raising and
enlarging of east and west ranges. Hall range doubled in depth, other additions
and alterations made early C18. West range partly remodelled and other work
carried out 1748. Hall rebuilt 1771-72 following collapse of roof. Extensive
renovation 1797-1807. Long Gallery and Chapel remodelled by T.G. Jackson,
c.1880. Hall rebuilt by Fairfax Wade 1884 following second collapse of roof.
Other C20 alterations. Coursed squared limestone and limestone ashlar, lead
roofs, stone internal stacks. Courtyard house, originally U-plan. Entrance front
to south consists of 2-storey, 9-window screen flanked by 3-storey, wings.
Screen has pedimented central bay with wide segmental-arched doorway and
Venetian window to 1st floor above, both flanked by round-headed niches. Bearded
head to keyblock of doorway. Screen is articulated by superimposed orders, a
Tuscan order to ground floor with 3 bands of vermiculated rustication, and an
unfluted Ionic order to 1st floor. Vermiculated rustication to alternate blocks
of doorway. Tuscan order has entablature with triglyphs and metopes bearing 3
crests of the Comptons either side of doorway - demi-dragon, wyvern holding
sheaf of corn, and beacon with scroll reading NISI DOMINUS - otherwise martial
trophies. Centre breaks forward slightly and has attached columns framing
doorway, window and niches. Pilasters to rest of screen, whose end bays break
forward, with paired pilasters to inner angles. Raised blank panels to ground
floor, 12-pane sash windows to ground floor of end bays and to 1st floor, all
with moulded and eared stone surrounds. Pediment bears large cartouche of arms
and is set against plain, solid stone-coped parapet. Lettered parapets either
side reading DOMINUS CUSTODIAT INTROITUM TUUM. Facing courtyard, screen has 7
bays, similar articulation with round-arched arcading to ground floor either
side of centre, attached columns throughout and lettered parapet reading DOMINUS
CUSTODIAT EXITUM TUUM. Against end bays rise 5-storey octagonal stair turrets to
wings flanking screen. Turrets are of coursed squared limestone except for top
storeys of ashlar, which are belvederes with windows to all sides, now mostly
blocked inside. Stone cross windows and lettered parapets bearing family motto,
and dates 1624 (s.e. turret) and 1635 (s.w. turret). Tudor-arched doors to
court, that to south-west turret with arms to spandrels of 1st Lord Compton and
his wife, Frances Hastings, who died 1574. Front ends of wings flanking screen
are symmetrical, of 2 bays with 4-light stone mullion and transom windows
innermost and similar 3-light windows outermost. inner 1st floor windows are in
superimposed oriels that to 2nd floor projecting slightly further. 1st floor
oriels are supported by consoles either end and to centre, with carved consoles
and gadrooning in between to south-west oriel only, and arcaded fluting to base
of 2nd floor oriels. Lettered parapets with Latin text adapted from Psalm 127,
QUI AEDIFICANT EAM. Beginning over south front of west wing with Nisi Dominus,
text continues round inner sides of courtyard, in varum appearing above front
end of east wing and ending over east front where east range meets north range
with date 1624; section over hall dated 1771. East front facing garden has
irregular composition and baby windows either end. Left end bay has large
Venetian window to chapel with blocking to head of central round-arched light
which is flanked by blank raised panels. Similar panels below lights of 4-light
stone mullion window above. Right end section has pair of 2-storey canted bay
windows with mullion and transom windows, which flank stone cross window to
ground floor and 3-light stone mullion and transom window to 1st floor.
3-storey, 10-window range in between has former open loggia to ground floor with
round-headed arches divided by pairs of diamond banded pilasters flanking narrow
niches. Similar niches to 1st and 2nd floors between pairs of sash windows with
moulded stone surrounds; raised blank panels below niches and 2nd floor windows,
and sash windows to all floors. Loggia enclosed 1691. Rainwater heads dated 1748
either side of chapel bay. Mid C19 terracotta cherubs by Blashfield 1868 in
niches, representing months. Lettered parapets of right end bay windows reads
SALUS EST IN DOMINO. Latin text from Psalm 128 verse 1 begins above right end
bay and continues over north front: BEATI OMNES QUI TIMENT DOMINUM QUI AMBULANT
IN VIIS EJUS and continuing LAUDATE NOMEN DOM. to end round the corner over one
end of west range INI AMEN 1827. North front: 2 storeys, basement and attic:
10-window range, of roughly symmetrical composition. Central door with moulded
stone surround approached by flight of steps. Segmental-arched windows above to
1st and 2nd floors with stone mullions and transoms and moulded stone surrounds.
Central bay flanked by plain giant pilasters. 2 bays of cross windows either
side with moulded stone surrounds. Segmental-arched heads, then full height
canted bay windows with stone mullion and transom windows. 6-light window to 1st
floor far left with stone mullion and transoms and king mullion, pairs of cross
windows to far right. 2-light stone-mullioned basement windows and horizontal
oval windows to attic with moulded stone surrounds. Plain giant pilaster to
right angle only. Rainwater heads to inner angles of bay windows dated 1721, two
more to left end dated 1772. 3-storey, 10-window west range faces back court and
has 6-panel doors to left and right of centre, with moulded stone surrounds,
that to left with fanlight, that to right with overlight. Leaded cross windows
with moulded stone surrounds, stepped in pairs to left of centre where they
light west staircase and pair of 2-light stone mullion windows above with
similar surrounds. Early C18 single-storey screen walls come forward and curve
outwards to frame central 7 bays with service rooms behind. Plain stone-coped
parapet to 7-bay centre, taller lettered parapets to 2 bays either end. That to
right reads FICANT EAH and does not relate to anything else; possibly part of an
earlier inscription (VCH). Side to inner courtyard has unusual 2nd floor stone
cross windows with shouldered heads. Interior: stone rib-vaulted undercrofts
below hall and former stone parlour, the latter rebuilt at lower level c.1920.
Large carved wood chimneypieces from Northampton House, Canonbury, in Hall dated
1599, and King William's Room dated 1601 with terms supporting 2-tiered
overmantel, cartouches of arms and allegorical figures in niches. Plasterwork
ceiling of c.1625-30 in King William's Room with strapwork and cartouches of
arms; similar ceiling in Old Library. West staircase of similar date: open-well
serving all storeys with fine carved wood openwork panels to balustrade and
carved stone doorcases to landings. Lady Margaret's Bower - a small room
decorated by 2nd Earl who succeeded 1630 and was killed 1643 at Battle of Hopton
Heath. His arms impaling those of his wife decorate painted wood corner
chimneypiece. Painted wood panelling with large round-arched panels with small
landscape panels above inscribed with a sign of the Zodiac. Recess for day-bed
and plaster ceilings with strapwork. Painted decoration attributed to Matthew
Sooderick by E. Croft-Murray. East staircase of c.1666, open-well with openwork
acanthus panels to balustrade. Carved wood drops to overmantels of State rooms
in style of 6rinling Gibbons. Mid C18 plaster cornices to 1st floor rooms of
west range. Neo-classical plasterwork roundels to former Sculpture Room. End
Drawing Room remodelled c.1807 possibly by C.H. Tatham. Chinese Bedroom created
c.1871 by E.H. Godwin using late C18 Chinese wall-paper; dark green lacquered
woodwork and ceramic fireplace with Chinese fish, probably by Minton. Dressing
room en-suite. Chapel remodelled by T.G. Jackson with woodwork inspired by
original chapel pew, since converted to bedroom. South screen attributed by
Colen Campbell to Inigo Jones, but some surviving evidence suggests that the
architect was Edward Carter. Mr. Johnston, who supervised rebuilding of Hall
range 1771-2 according to accounts, may be John Johnson of Leicester. The Mr.
Tatham mentioned in Lady Northampton's letter of September 1806 as in change of
work be carried out in East range is probably C.H. Tatham.
(Buildings of England: Northamptonshire: 1973, ppl39-144; VCH: Northamptonshire:
Vol 4: 1937, pp230-232; Castle Ashby Archives; G. Jackson-Stops: Country Life:
Jan. 30 1986, pp243-253 and Feb 6 1986, pp3l0-15; 6th Marquis of Northampton:
History of the Comptons: privately printed 1930)

Listing NGR: SP8626959249

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.