History of Ashburnham Place

A brief journey into the rich history of Ashburnham Place which today is a gift for many.

Battle of Hastings 1066

Ashburnham Place is believed to have been the home of the Ashburnham family for at least 950 years, following William the Conqueror’s arrival.
Reliable historical records from 1194 show that the family gradually grew in both importance and wealth. However, the path to prosperity was not a smooth one.


Accession of Charles I

Brothers John and William Ashburnham recovered the Estate and rebuilt St Peter’s Church in 1665 as a “thank offering to God” before they rebuilt their home on the current location, previously it was located on the West Lawn.

The Account Book Of King Charles I

The account book of King Charles I

John Ashburnham The Cavalier

John Ashburnham the Cavalier


Sir John Ashburnham, sold the Estate to pay his debts and died in Fleet Prison, London 1620”


John Ashburnham “the Cavalier”, was Groom of the Bedchamber to King Charles I. Married Frances (nee Holland) and reclaimed the Estate in 1639”


John Ashburnham charged by Queen Elizabeth I for refusing to compromise his Catholic faith.

The White Room Now Known As The Fernery

The White Room now known as the Fernery

William Ashburnham

William Ashburnham


John, 1st Baron Ashburnham acquired 7000 acres of Welsh estates by marrying the heiress Bridget Vaughan


William, 2nd Baron Ashburnham


John, 1st Earl of Ashburnham,
and Viscount St. Asaph


John, 2nd Earl of Ashburnham

In the greater stability of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, members of the family enjoyed the lavish lifestyle of the aristocracy.

Ashburnham Place was one of their homes, and great sums of money were spent in making it fashionable.

Bertram 4Th Earl Of Ashburnham

Bertram 4th Earl of Ashburnham

The John Ashburnham Room

The John Ashburnham Room


George, 3rd Earl of Ashburnham


Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham had seven sons and four daughters. None of his sons had a surviving male heir and so with the death of the 6th Earl in 1924, the Estate was inherited by Lady Catherine Ashburnham.


Bertram, 5th Earl of Ashburnham


Thomas, 6th Earl of Ashburnham

Lady Catherine

Painted portrait of Lady Catherine


Lady Catherine Ashburnham; daughter of the 5th Earl of Ashburnham.

When Lady Catherine inherited the Estate in 1924, she moved to Ashburnham Place which was already beginning to deteriorate.  She lived at Ashburnham Place until her death in 1953. Her coffin filled the forty-fifth and final space in the crypt built by John the Cavalier almost 300 years before. The last in this line of the Ashburnham family, it confirmed the end of an era and a start of a new vision for Ashburnham Place.


John Bickersteth, the great grandson of Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham and as the nearest male heir, inherited Ashburnham Place and the Estate in 1953. For five years he sought the Lord’s guidance for this place.

God spoke to John through the book of Haggai, to tell him of His plans for Ashburnham Place.

“The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house”, says the LORD Almighty. “And in this place I will grant peace”, declares the LORD Almighty
– Haggai 2:8-9

Lady Catherine On A Carriage

Lady Catherine in her carriage to the stables now known as House 2

Wedding Of Revd John Bickersteth To Miss Marlis Kindlimann – 1961

Wedding of Revd John Bickersteth to Miss Marlis Kindlimann – 1961

Aerial View Of Ashburnham Place

Aerial photograph Ashburnham Place


John Bickersteth, the grandson of Lady Margaret Ashburnham, the 5th and 6th Earl’s sister

The vast estate and huge inheritance tax bill that accompanied it were inherited by John Bickersteth, a twenty-seven year old theology student. John was forced to sell most of the estate and its treasures in order to pay the huge death duties. For several years, he was uncertain about what to do with his inheritance. He had no option, but to demolish most of the crumbling mansion, which resulted in the distinctively shaped building we see today.


Christian Trust, formed on 1st April

On the 1st April 1960 John gave the house and 220 acres of grounds and gardens to the newly-formed Ashburnham Christian Trust, which he directed until his retirement in 1988.

The Ashburnham Christian Trust now welcomes tens of thousands of guests each year, and is home to a community drawn from around the world.

“It is our prayer that all who come here will experience the peace and love of God and find Ashburnham Place to be a place of blessing.“

© 2024 All rights reserved. Ashburnham Heritage Trust.

Content used with kind permission of the copyright owners.

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