History near you

History near you

The Ashburnham Family by Mary, Lady Ashburnham
Talk on Tuesday, 9th September
East Street Museum

Photo:  Broomham Hall, now known as Buckswood School, was once the home of the Guestling branch of the Ashburnham family.  Founded in 1933, Buckswood moved to Guestling in the year 2000 and now has 250 international students from nearly 50 countries as well as 200 local day students.

A capacity audience gathered at the East Street Museum on Tuesday evening (9th September) to hear Mary, Lady Ashburnham, age 90, raised in Udimore and now a Rye resident,  tell us stories sad, amusing and instructive about the Ashburnham  family and its role in a thousand years of English history.  In particular we learned about the Guestling branch — barons — of the family who lived at Broomham  Hall — which we now know as Buckswood School —

Lady Ashburnham was raised on a farm in Udimore and clearly considers herself fortunate to have grown up in a time when children could roam, climb, fish and explore unsupervised and certainly without the restrictions of Health and Safety.  Her husband Denny was named for the English landowner and politician Sir Denny Ashburnman,  1st Baronet (c.1628–1697),  who sat in the House of Commons at various times in the late 17th Century.

But the stories began with Bertram Ashburnham, Constable of Dover Castle when William the Conqueror came to England.  (The post was later merged with that of Warden of the Cinque Ports.)  Bertram lost his head and  later Ashburnhams  spent time in the Tower  but the Restoration brought happier days and several Ashburnhams had a flair for finding wealthy heiresses to help build the family fortunes.  From the 18th century the Ashburnhams were best known for their prominence in the ironmaking industry of the Weald and for the  library and art collection at Ashburnham Place, west of Battle, and considered one of the finest houses in the Southeast.  That branch of the family died out in 1953 with the death of Lady Catherine  Ashburnham and all that remains of the fine house is now part of a Christian conference centre (thought the former medieval deer part Ashburnham Park remains as a site of scientific and scenic  interest).

The 15th century manor house belonging to the Guestling branch of the family has fared better.   Since 2000 it has been Buckswood of Broomham Hall and is  home to students from some 50 countries — half the student body and can  boast  high ratings and extensive grounds including riding stables  and a performing arts centre.

Thanks to our own Lady Ashburnham for providing such an interesting evening  and helping us to appreciate another facet of our local area.



First posted in Notable People, Past Talks, Surrounding Towns and Villages on 29th September 2014
Last updated: 30th November 2014