Do you ever find that you’ve lived somewhere for years and missed visiting a total gem that’s right on your doorstep? That’s exactly whats happened to me recently. I’ve lived in this part of the country for well over 30 years and had never visited a particular National Trust property. When I realised it was only 30 minutes away it was time for Monkey and I to make amends as we spent a day having fun at Canons Ashby.
Within easy reach from Banbury, Towcester and Daventry, I can’t believe we’ve not spent a day having fun at Canons Ashby before now. We arrived bright and early on a sunny April day. It’s worth noting that the house isn’t open on Thursdays, and on other days it doesn’t open until 1pm. The grounds aren’t as extensive as other National Trust properties we go to regularly, but we still managed to fill our day, which rather impressed me. You do probably need a fair day though to achieve this.
The gardens feature various terraces, each one with its own style and all have been restored since the National Trust took over the property in 1981.
The beds look glorious in the sunshine and you couldn’t help but admire the Top and Sundial Terraces. The flowers added a real splash of colour and are apparently replanted again for the summer. We made the most of being one of the first visitors to the gardens that day, and enjoyed having the space to ourselves while we could. Monkey loved looking at the different flowers and was really rather taken with the wooden wheelbarrow.
Monkey was fascinated with the sundial dating back to 1710, the timing wasn’t too far out either.
We got to explore the Fruit and Vegetable Terraces and meet the newly installed inhabitants. It’s fair to say that Monkey loved meeting Mr and Mrs Scarecrow. We even looked out for the bees.
Canons Ashby had been home to the Dryden family from 1550 and the Lion Gates at the end of the terraces show their family crest. You can imagine horses and carriages coming through the gates in a bygone age. Apparently the road leading up to the gates was once flanked with elm trees, and at some point in the future these will be reintroduced.
You can walk down some steps to explore the parkland on the edge of the grounds.
We were conscious that the lambs were still quite small, and neither of us wanted to start a cow stampede, so we walked around the edge of the parkland trail and headed to look across the fishing lake before heading back towards the more formal grounds again.
Who can resist a quick game of croquet? Although my son cheats, fact.
We were both fascinated by the musket training target. There were clearly some very bad shots as the stone wall was peppered with shots.
Walking into the Green Court, you move into yet another style of garden, I really did feel as if I’d stepped back in time.
Monkey made friends with the Shepherd Boy statue that dates back to 1713. I think he wanted to turn one of his sticks into a flute.
We’d picked up a house trail leaflet when we’d got our tickets for the house and I have to say, it’s a great trail, I’ve never seen my son so enthused by one. He totally got what he had to do (find stolen laundry) and he loved all the activities to complete in the booklet along the way. I’ve raved so much about this trail over the last month and know a few families who took me up on the recommendation and have said the same. It’s a great idea, and kids just seem to love it.
As my 7 year old is commonly known on my Instagram feed these days as Stick Boy, having fun at Canons Ashby including a number of sticks and a stop at the den pen.
It’s also worth visiting the Priory Church of St Mary across the road.
There are some interesting headstones in the graveyard too.
Have you visited a little gem of a place recently?