Friday, December 7, 2007

Aynhoe Park, Northamptonshire

Aynhoe Park is a striking country house in Northamptonshire, constructed in golden stone for several generations of the Cartwright family, who lived here from 1615 until the mid-1950s. This picture shows just one wing of the building. The house evolved over the decades between the 17th and early-19th centuries, and includes work by two great architects, the baroque master Thomas Archer and the Regency genius John Soane. Capability Brown landscaped the grounds.

In a way though, this illustrious pedigree doesn’t matter very much. What matters most about this house is its location. It’s a country house in the middle of a village, one that stands on its head the convention of the upper classes isolating themselves in large parks and sweeping away their tenants’ cottages when they spoil the view. So when you approach Aynho from Banbury, the road bends dramatically to the left – and there’s the house, one the best surprises English architecture has to offer.

Actually, the cottages of the village don’t spoil the view either. Aynho is one of Northamptonshire’s most beautiful places. Naturally, the houses are all built of local limestone. Naturally, lots of them have espaliered apricot bushes growing up the walls. A delicious place, if ever there was one.

1 comment:

Peter Ashley said...

Ayno church is unusual in having eighteenth century additions added on the north and south elevations, just in order to match up with the house. A lovely village indeed, sometimes difficult to remember it's in Northamptonshire, which it so nearly isn't.