Ascott House as it appears today, belies its age. Long, low and gabled, it looks like a heavily restored Tudor house. Its core is indeed an old farmhouse, thought to date from 1606. The original farmhouse has undergone many changes. It was first moderately enlarged in 1874 to form ‘Ascott Cottage’ but was almost immediately expanded to make a fully fledged hunting-lodge with extensive stables, kennels and other outbuildings, before being again further enlarged to make a substantial Edwardian country house. In 1937–8, it was extensively remodelled when 37 rooms were removed to create the present appearance of an unassuming, rambling old manor house.
The Hall Room
Important paintings hang in the Hall Room including The Hon. Thomas Needham (d.1773) the eldest son of the 10th Viscount Kilmorey, in the uniform of the 3rd Footguards by Thomas Gainsborough, RA (1727 – 1788) and the Five Brood Mares at the Duke of Cumberland’s Stud Farm in Windsor Great Park by George Stubbs, ARA (1724 – 1806).
The Dining Room
Devey’s dining room was removed during Anthony and Yvonne de Rothschild’s remodelling of Ascott in the late 1930s. At the same time this new room was created out of the former schoolroom and housekeeper’s room. The walls were painted by Renzo Mongiardino with trompe-l’oeil blue-and0white Delft tiles in imitation of the dados found in seventeenth-century Dutch interiors. The carved word fireplace is in the early eighteenth-century style.
The Lobby is hung with British sporting paintings including Two Horses in a Paddock by George Stubbs, ARA (1724-1806) and Four Brothers of the de Rothschild Family Following Hounds by Sir Francis Grant, PRA (1802-1878).
The Common Room
In the late 1880s James Williams, Devey’s former partner, remodelled this as a drawing room with an elaborate plaster ceiling and inglenook fireplace, and a large timber-framed conservatory opening off it to the west. The conservatory disappeared in 1912, when Walter Godfrey added the drawing room (now Porcelain Room), and in the late 1930s Anthony and Yvonne de Rothschild radically simplified the decoration. The only trace of Devey’s work surviving inside the house is the frieze. The fireplace was installed during Anthony and Yvonne’s redecoration and dates from the Renaissance. The room was redecorated by Robert Kime in 1997.
The Porcelain Room
The Porcelain Room was created by Walter Godfrey in 1912 as the drawing room, on the site of the former conservatory at the western end of the house. He installed light oak panelling and a Jacobean-style fireplace, which was replaced by the present, simpler marble version during Anthony de Rothschild’s remodelling in the late 1930’s. The room was converted for the display of the important Ascott collection of Chinese ceramics in 1997 under the direction of Robert Kime, who designed the chinoiserie bamboo cabinets.
The Library originally formed the billiard room, which was added to the north of the present Common Room by James Williams in the late 1880s. In the late 1930s Anthony and Yvonne de Rothschild turned it in to an oak-panelled library. The inset bookcases contain a collection of artists’ books assembled by them in the 1930s. The woodwork was lightened under the direction of Robert Kime in 1997.