The sketch, taken from a photograph looking up St Brannock's Road, shows an open hillside behind, as yet not built on, and so it must have stood in isolation, looking out over its garden which falls away steeply to the brook below. The hillside accounts for the fact that it has two main entrances, one at road level on the north and another on the terrace looking west on the floor below. Both have fine porches, neither meant for tradespeople. Their entrance is squeezed into the narrow yard below the high retaining wall on the east side.
Ashleigh has thankfully retained almost all its Victorian features and show how attractive the buildings of Ilfracombe were at the height of its prosperity. The use of varied materials brings colour and texture to otherwise plain walls. The front walls are mainly of what looks like "New Road Stone" (from the Muddiford area), fine examples of "snekking", where squared stones of different sizes are built up against each other to maintain the horizontals. The quoins at the corners and the window surrounds are in buff Marland brick, while panelled bands of red Fremington brick bind the building like ribbons. The deeply overhanging eaves are supported by wooden brackets, and ironwork railings surmount the porch on the north face, and the conservatory and staircase extension on the west. Two redbrick chimneys with fine ribwork on them, along with a tall ironwork finial, give interest to the roofline. The only noticeable alteration is that the glass roof of the conservatory by the lower porch has been replaced with slates. The attached conservatory on the south side of the house has been altered, making it a sun lounge. Otherwise, Ashleigh looks much as the builder intended, the basement floor having been rendered from the start. The only disadvantage now, is that large yew trees obscure the clear view of the building that the photographer had when he took the family, proudly sitting on the terrace in front of their fine mansion in Edwardian times.
Does anyone know who they were?
Jim Bates - November 1997
It is exciting to see the new theatre rising and receiving its cladding of white bricks. It is also promising to see stacks of black bricks alongside the white. Does this mean that the unbroken white is to be relieved by some kind of contrasting colour (if only black), so much a characteristic of Ilfracombe's polychrome brickwork of Victorian times?
We hope so!