DescriptionLutyens’s work at Ashby St. Ledgers represents his longest relationship with one building and one client. The client was the Honorable Ivor Guest (Lord Wimborne), who purchased the property shortly after marrying the Honorable Alice Grosvenor in 1902. When Lutyens was brought in, there was a historical Jacobean manor house on the site. The property had a long history, notably owned during the 14th-16th centuries by the Catesby family. The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a plan to blow up King James and his Parliament, was reportedly hatched at Ashby St. Ledgers and Robert Catesby died while resisting arrest for his part in the escapade.
Lutyens’s additions and renovations were designed to blend with the Jacobean house, built with similar local stone and roofing. The first changes were made in 1904 with the addition of a Music Room behind the original building, a two-story high North Hall, and a dining room. The new east front was a balanced, symmetric composition with the existing south-east block mirrored by a new block at the other end of the new music room. The symmetry of the elevation was reinforced by the placement of the chimneys, tall dormers, and balustrades.
Lutyens then made alterations to the smaller existing house on the property, joined to the main house only by remains of a courtyard wall. The ground floor of this smaller house became a flat for servants, while the first floor became a nursery wing. The two houses were joined together by a linked arch west of the smaller house. A bridge above the arch connected the nursery wing with a gallery leading back to the main house. On the ground floor, a pantry and service rooms were added behind the dining room with a new kitchen and scullery wing eventually projecting off this to the north.
In 1908, Lord Wimborne purchased a complete house from Ipswich, which had previously been exhibited at the White City as an example of fine half-timber work. Lutyens was brought in to oversee the installation of this house at the north end of the main house, next to the North Hall. Light was provided through the installation of a small internal courtyard.
At this time, the north wing was completed, with five enclosed bedrooms on the first floor, a mezzanine level below for twelve servants’ rooms, and a large Servant’s Hall on the ground floor, complete with its own pantry and larders.
In 1924, Lutyens was brought back to extend the Dining room to a length of 76-feet. In 1938, the room was once again expanded by Lutyens, this time with a large square bay on the south side. Plans were drawn up for a large Banquet Hall extending out from the Ipswich Room, but these were never executed.
After the death of Ivor Guest, the 1st Viscount Wimborne in 1939, Lutyens designed his memorial in the churchyard at Ashby St. Ledgers.
Extensive changes, with some damage to the Lutyens’s interiors, were made to the house by the 2nd Lord Wimborne. The house was sold in 1976 by the 3rd Viscount Wimborne. After a period of neglect, the house was brought back into the family by the 4th Viscount, who embarked on an extensive restoration of the property before selling to his cousin and his wife, Henry and Nova Guest. (Contributor: Robin Prater)
Also Cited InBailey B & Pevsner N (2013) Northamptonshire. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Richardson, M. (1973) Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects: Edwin Lutyens. Farnborough: Gregg International Publishers.
Weaver, L. (1913) Houses and Gardens by E L Lutyens. London: Country Life.
Richardson, M. (1994) Sketches by Edwin Lutyens: Drawings from the Collection of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA Drawings Monographs No. 1). London: Wiley.
Aslet, C. (1982) The Last Country Houses. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Listing GradeII*, II, II
Listing Reference1367130 1001024 1076464