Ardington House
Ardington, Berkshire

Ardington House was built in 1719 for Edward Clarke by the Strong family, master masons at Oxford, the great feature of the interior is the staircase hall, which occupies the whole centre of the house on the ground floor. The pursuit of symmetry at Ardington has led to a bold experiment of a sort seldom attempted in English houses. A so-called 'imperial staircase' rises in two flights on either side of the south door leading to the garden, and returns to a single flight to the upper landing. The twisted oak balusters are of exactly the same pattern as those of the more conventional staircase at Britwell Salome and it is possible that the Oxford joiner, Thomas Fawcett, who worked at Woodperry, may have been responsible for this spectacular feat of workmanship.

Mason-architect Strong came fresh from working with Vanbrugh on Blenheim Palace (Oxfordshire). His knowledge of pattern books, and experience of Vanbrugh's staircase at King's Weston (Gloucestershire) which was slightly different in form but with the same 'suspended' upper flight, might have induced Strong to risk a novelty.

Ardington House is open to the public during the Summer.

    Nash Ford Publishing 2002. All Rights Reserved. The location of this country house is now administered by Oxfordshire County Council.