Castle Ashby Gardens
Castle Ashby Gardens

The ancestral home of the 7th Marquess of Northampton, the grand country house at Castle Ashby stands at the centre of an estate stretching to 10,000 acres. Beside the house is a lovely 25-acre garden which is regularly open to visitors.

Garden History

The gardens make up part of a larger landscape garden designed by Capability Brown around 1761. Brown introduced a ha-ha, created a series of garden ponds, and added a dairy and classical temple to the landscape. Later, in 1860, a terrace garden was created, and the kitchen garden was transformed into a romantic Italian garden using the family coat of arms as its design motif.

The highlights of the gardens include an orangery, a rainbow border, fuschia house, the formal Italianate gardens, a butterfly garden, and a large arboretum. There is a triumphal arch, a neoclassical conservatory, and nature trails to lead visitors through the gardens.

There is also a children's farmyard area featuring rare breeds of animals and a very popular garden centre at the front entrance. Many locals just go to the garden centre and ignore the gardens themselves; don't make that mistake, for it is well worth an extended stroll through the formal garden areas.

Also accessed through the garden is the historic medieval church of St Mary Magdalene, which houses very grand memorials to the Compton family of Castle Ashby house

Visiting Castle Ashby Gardens

I'm much more of a 'historic house' man than I am a garden enthusiast; I usually regard the gardens surrounding a stately home as rather a nice extra; a pretty setting for the house itself. However, having disclosed my bias, I must say that I was very impressed with the gardens at Castle Ashby; the rigid formality of the Italianate gardens and the orangery were softened by the ponds and neo-classical bridge.

You could easily spend several hours wandering happily around the gardens here. And if you're inspired, the garden centre is next to the parking lot, so you have to enter and exit through the temptation of picking up a little something for your own garden!