A Visitor’s Guide to Ascott House Buckinghamshire

Ascott House is a hard place to categorize. Technically it isn’t an art museum, it is a family home, but the quality of the art and furniture collection certainly ranks it with many art museums.

The original farmhouse was purchased by Mayer de Rothschild in 1873. In 1874 Leopold de Rothschild took it over as a hunting box and converted it from a Jacobean farm house into a mock Tutor mansion. Extensive formal gardens offer a place to wander but for me the main draw was the lovely art collection.

I fell in love with the portrait of a dreamy looking woman. She has a faraway ethereal look also in the Hall are a Gainsborough, a Reynolds and a Stubbs.

In the Dining Room is an outstanding Dutch painting by Cuyp “Dordrect on the Maas”. The whole dining room is filled with Dutch paintings. One small one is very nice, Itinerant Musicians by Jan Steen. To complement the art collections is classic French and Chippendale furniture. The Library is dominated by a full length portrait of the Duchess of Richmond by Gainsborough which it turns out isn’t really the Duchess of Richmond. Ascott_House_Front

For the lover of Chinese porcelain, shelves in the Porcelain Room which resemble bamboo are filled with pieces from the Ming and K’ang Hsi dynasty in China. Anthony de Rothschild’s collection of over 400 pieces was given to the National Trust in 1949. A wonderful painting of the Virgin and Child with St John by Andrea del Sarto is also in the Porcelain Room.

All of this is placed in only 5 or 6 rooms mixed with comfortable sofas, bright cushions and family pictures. Ascott House is the best of both worlds; part decorative arts museum, part family home. We were lucky to have been able to visit here. They have limited opening from Aril to late July and then they are open daily except Mondays until September. Visits are in the afternoons only. They don’t have a guide book. That is very frustrating for visitors.

The gardens are quite lovely and can be visited for a lower rate than the house if you want to just enjoy them. A variety of different types of gardens some formal and some allowed to grow more naturally are offered. The views are quite superb and the gardens are very highly regarded.

It is quite a long walk from the parking lot to the house. If you are either a garden or an art lover, this is a great house to visit. Managed by the National Trust, Ascott House has recently added a tea room at the Cricket Pavilion. Entrance is £10 for the house and garden and must be paid in cash.

Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascott_House#/media/File:Ascott_House_Front.jpg Public Domain

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