Ashdown House was built in the early 1660s for William, 1st Earl of Craven, and was designed by either Balthazar Gerbier or William Winde. Legend purports that Ashdown was built during an outbreak of plague in London as a refuge for Elizabeth of Bohemia, to whom Craven was devoted. It is more likely, however, that it was planned by Craven as a hunting lodge. The exterior design – a tall central block flanked by two low pavilions and adorned with a cupola and gilded globe – may have been influenced by the tall town houses seen by Craven during his time as a soldier in the Netherlands, although the 17th-century château of Balleroy in Normandy, designed by François Mansart in 1626, may have been a more direct inspiration. Inside Ashdown House, a robust oak staircase leads up to the cupola and to a viewing platform on the roof.