Set on top of a hillside overlooking the beautiful Ashridge woodland is the Bridgewater Monument. An internal spiral staircase leads to its viewing balcony, which offers sweeping views of 5,000 acres of forest, the Grand Union Canal, and the quaint village of Aldbury. On a clear day, you can see as far as 30 miles, catching views of London on the horizon.
The column is locally known as the Ashridge Monument, as it stands on the Ashridge Estate. The impressive Victorian-era, Greek-style pillar reaches 108 feet tall, making it an eye-catching feature on the property.
It serves more than mere decorative purposes. The column was erected to commemorate the “father of British inland navigation,” Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, in 1832. He commissioned the Bridgewater Canal, which is said to be the United Kingdom’s first true canal.
The Duke didn’t ever see this monument to him. The column was completed 29 years after he died to honor his legacy. Apparently, his mother, who did not get on with the Duke, said she wanted the monument built away from her home so she’d have no reminders of her “infernal son.”
Know Before You Go
Parking is free. The public can climb the tower during weekends from April to October. The nearby cafe has information on walking and bicycle trails plus sightings of recent wildlife like deer owls mushrooms and other flora and fauna. Binoculars are recommended for sightseeing. Wear boots, and feel free to take your dog if you're planning to explore the woods.