Audley End is renowned as one of the finest Jacobean houses in England. The house started life in 1139 when Geoffrey de Mandeville the 1st Earl of Essex founded a Benedictine priory at Walden, which, in 1190, became Walden Abbey. Since then it has changed hands a number of times and each owner has extended, reduced, remodelled and modernised it.
In 1538 the abbey was suppressed by Henry VIII and granted to Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor. He transformed the abbey buildings into a mansion. In 1667 King Charles ll bought it because of its proximity to Newmarket races.
During 1941 - 4, after the death of the 7th Lord Braybrooke Polish soldiers of the Special Operations Executive secretly trained there, preparing to be parachuted into German-occupied Poland.
In 1948 the 9th Lord of Braybrooke sold Audley End to the nation for £30,000, leaving the pictures and furnishings on loan. And in 1984 English Heritage took over guardianship. Recent restoration has focused on the kitchen wing, stables and Braybrooke nursery suite.
As usual photography wasn't allowed inside but I sneaked a few! please don't tell them :-)
We didn't time our visit very well. We had been out to lunch and called in on the way back in the afternoon. We visited the house first, ground and first floor and then wanted to go outside to see a re-enactment of the King's soldiers preparing for war, planning to visit the nursery floor later. Unfortunately we lost track of time and the house was closed by the time we got back. I was disappointed because I think there is a dolls house in the nursery. We can visit again though, it makes for a lovely day out.
All the King's men
King Charles telling us (the audience) how his men were going to race off against each other and we could have a wager on who would win. They were divided into four colour groups, everyone chose their colour and the winning ones got a bag of sweets. We chose red but blue won.
The drummer controlled the reins with his feet
The winning colour doing a lap of honour.
The lovely gardens and park were designed and built by Robert Adam and Capability Brown.
~ Be well ~