Asthall Manor, overlooking the swans and stumpy willows of the Windrush Valley, dates from the early seventeenth century, but probably occupies a medieval site. Lady Joan Cornwall and her son Sir Edmund Cornwall are believed to have lived in it during the fourteenth century.
The present house – or an earlier version of it – was probably built for the Jones family, who occupied it until the 1670s or 1680s, followed by the Peacock family, and then, from then mid-eighteenth century and for much of the nineteenth, by the Bateman family.
The Manor was a convalescent home during the first world war, and in 1919 it was bought by Lord Redesdale, father of Nancy and the other Mitfords. It was on Asthall Manor, as well as the Redesdales’ other houses, that Nancy’s fictional Alconleigh is based. In 1926, the Manor was sold to the Hardcastle family, who retained it until 1997.
Directions from Banbury
Follow signs to Chipping Norton. From Chipping Norton, take signs to Burford.Continue on the A361 through Shipton-under-Wychwood (where the road bends round to the left) and on to Burford. Drive on up Burford High Street, until you reach the roundabout at the top. Turn left towards Oxford. At the next roundabout, take the left turning, signposted to Minster Lovell. Turn immediately left again, signposted to Asthall. As you drop down into the village, look to your left. You will see an avenue of trees on your left. Turn left down this avenue and follow the signs to the exhibition.
Directions from London
From M40 take Junction 8 (Oxford). Go round Oxford following all signs to Cheltenham. Approximately 20 mins from Oxford on A40, you pass two turnoffs to Witney. Continue another 5-10 minutes, and you come to a big roundabout. Burford and Cheltenham are straight on, but you take the right hand turn to Minster Lovell. Now turn immediately left to Asthall. Come down the lane, and as you approach the village you see an avenue of trees on your left. Turn left down this avenue and follow the signs to the exhibition.
Walks at Asthall Manor involve climbing steep staircases, and walking across uneven grassy lawns.