Ashdown House was the residence of the Earls of Craven. In 1662, tradition has it that the 1st Earl of Craven fleeing the plague in London arrived at his Berkshire estates, and immediately struck by the beauty of the spot decided to have a house constructed for his amour, the Queen of Bohemia, as a country refuge. Building began, probably by William Winde, soon after, but, sadly, the lady died that same year. Built in the new style of Sir Roger Pratt, architect of nearby Coleshill, Ashdown is a tall structure with large windows, dormers, roof balustrade and cupola. It became a hunting lodge surrounded by a large deer park, conveniently near the Earl's main country residence at Hamstead Marshall. The Earl died without issue, and the house was inherited by his cousin's family, who became Barons Craven. Later, the 6th Baron's widow, the notorious Margravine of Anspach and her new husband lived there upon their initial return to England in the 1790s where she wrote several plays and operas. The house was used by the army during the Second World War and was then left derelict until 1956 when it was given to the National Trust.