During our week looking at Victorian eclecticism we also explored the Gothic revival. As it happens I’d recently visited James Wyatt’s Ashridge House in Hertfordshire with the family for the pumpkin trail. Only the gardens were open, but I was keen to explore the hall’s exterior as I’ve previously only seen it at distance from other parts of the Ashridge estate:
The elevated setting is undeniably spectacular, as is the house at first glance, but there’s something about the much-altered building that’s not quite right – perhaps it’s the crenellations? It conjures childhood visits to the hall at Alton Towers, so perhaps there’s something suggestive of ‘theme park Britain’ in its desire to recreate the past … though I’ve just read Ashridge’s entry in Pevsner, who is firmly in the other camp, calling it ‘..the best example of Wyatt’s truly romantic handling of the Gothic style’!
I’m keen to return to have a look inside once we’re allowed to – the fact that it’s been altered so much since its priory days certainly make it a fascinating building. At time of writing the house was putting on more outdoor events open to the public in (I assume) the absence of their usual business college bookings.