To many people, 'Ashridge' is The National Trust land and woods or the Monument (to the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater) and Monument Drive. However, the house, its park and gardens, have been at the centre of the Ashridge Estate for hundreds of years. The park was landscaped by 'Capability' Brown who created the 'natural' landscape of the Golden Valley in the mid-18th century, now part of the Ashridge Golf Club.
The gardens are inextricably linked to the first person to define himself as a landscape gardener, Humphry Repton. The gardens that are laid out immediately to the south of the existing house are based on the plan drawn up by Repton in 1813. The plans were adapted, and in some areas modified, by (Sir) Jeffry Wyatville, but in essence retain the spirit of Repton's orignal design.
The construction of the house (now the Ashridge Business School) and the layout of the new pleasure grounds meant the original monastic buildings and gardens at Ashridge were removed. However, associations and links with the house's medieval and monastic past were included in the garden designs proposed by Repton and can be seen today in The Rosary and The Monks' Garden.
The gardens at Ashridge have evolved with the changing fashions in garden design. As well as flower gardens, straight lines of tall trees form avenues that fan out from the back of the house.
Reputedly planted by Princess (later Queen) Victoria in 1823, the magnificent oak in the photo above stands on the back lawn. The Princess would have been only about 4 years old at the time the oak was planted - it now boasts a girth of 4.8m!
This impressive avenue of Wellingtonias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) was planted in 1858, shortly after the species was introduced into England. In about 150 years these trees have grown into giants and most trees already have a girth of between 6m and 8m and are between 30m - 40m tall. The avenue has as its focal point the Prospect Mound which is believed to date from Tudor times.
The gardens are open to the public between Easter and September from 2pm - 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays.
Ashridge Business School is signposted on local roads.
Before visiting, please check with the Business School that the grounds are open.
Ashridge Business School