John Martin Robinson
- A beautiful guide to one of England’s hidden gems, which contains some of the very finest pictures in the National Trust and is surrounded by splendid gardens
A palace-like cottage, the most luxurious and lovely thing I ever saw, was how Mary Gladstone described Ascott. It was the creation of Leopold de Rothschild, whose architect George Devey had progressively transformed a simple farmhouse on the site from 1874. Leopold inherited part of his father’s superb art collection, which consisted primarily of Dutch and Flemish 17th-century cabinet pictures, but also of fine French 18th-century furniture. Leopold and his youngest son Anthony added important paintings by Cuyp, Hobbema, van Ostade, Gainsborough, Reynolds and Stubbs, so that Ascott today contains one of the best small picture collections in Britain. Anthony also acquired Chinese ceramics of the highest quality. The garden at Ascott has always been one of the property’s best-known features. Covering over 30 acres, it is an unusual blend of the formal and the natural. The other remarkable aspect of the grounds is their array of brilliantly hued foliage, with a wide range of variegated and golden-leaved shrubs. In 1949 Anthony de Rothschild and his wife gave the Ascott collection to the National Trust, together with the house and grounds.
The architectural historian John Martin Robinson, FSA, was educated at Fort Augustus, St Andrews (MA) and Oriel College, Oxford (DPhil). He worked for the Historic Buildings Division of the GLC from 1974, and is an active member of the Georgian Group. The book also includes contributions from other scholars.