Ascott is a country house near Leighton Buzzard, all black and white half-timber and red-tiled roofs. It is a de Rothschild property, now in the hands of the National Trust, and its treasures include many superb Chinese ceramics.
The collection was formed by Anthony de Rothschild, mainly in the 1920s and 1930s. He was active in the Oriental Ceramic Society and had agents in China who sought out pieces to suit his tastes, especially the vivid colours of the fahua wares.
These are bright turquoise and purple-glazed ceramics from the mid to late Ming dynasty (1368-1644), produced mainly in south China (Jingdezhen, in Jiangxi province). They are displayed to stunning effect in the Porcelain Room, in specially designed bamboo cabinets.
However, perhaps the most significant piece here is a large grain jar and cover from the Tang dynasty (618-907). It was probably buried in the tomb of someone very rich: the dark midnight-blue glaze is made of cobalt, which had to be imported from the Middle East and was very expensive. The glaze was applied in layers to give beautiful undulating lines across the vessel surface.
The Library Passage and other rooms contain further Chinese ceramics – more on this to follow.
Ascott, near Leighton Buzzard, Buckinghamshire
Above: The Porcelain Room, Ascott. Image at http://www.ascottestate.co.uk/ascott-house-gardens/ascott-house.