Ascott House is just outside Aylesbury on the road to Leyton Buzzard. I visited it with a friend last bank holiday and have just found time to process the photographs.
The house is a bit odd. There’s the remains of Jacobean farmhouse buried within it somewhere, but most of dates from the mid-19th century after it was bought by a member of the Rothschild family as a hunting “cottage”.
The architect wanted to create the impression that it had grown piecemeal over the previous couple of hundred years. He failed. Spectacularly.
Just as well that you don’t really go for the house. The other thing you don’t go for is the tea room, but more of that anon.
You can only go into a small part of the house – three or four rooms and the corridors that link them.
What you see are some very fine paintings, including work by Gainsborough, Hogarth and Stubbs as well as fascinating private collection of Chines porcelain. The fact that these are personal collections in a relatively domestic setting rather than a curated collection in a museum or gallery gives them a particular charm. I particularly liked a couple of late 16th or early 17th century portraits of children.
What you do go for are the gardens, sculptures and fountains.
The whole place is hedged about with the most amazing traditional and contemporary topiary. Some areas have a formal, Dutch-style design – others mix modern artistry with classical themes – yet more are unashamedly contemporary. We didn’t manage to see everything and it is certainly somewhere that I would like to revisit at a different time of year to see the seasonal changes and do some serious photography.
If you do go – one tip – avoid the tea room – the service is, to put it charitably, glacial.
More pics at Ascott House