Audley End House and Gardens
Essex, CB11 4JF
Henry VIII gave Walden Abbey to Sir Thomas Audley, who transformed it into this grand country home.
Thomas Howard, the First Earl of Suffolk, built his house to entertain King James I. Designed along the lavish lines of a royal palace, it so impressed Charles II that he bought it in 1668 as somewhere to stay when he attended the races at Newmarket, although it later returned to the Suffolk family. During the 18th century Robert Adam added an impressive suite of reception rooms on the ground floor and 'Capability' Brown was brought in to landscape the parkland. Phased demolition of parts of the house have reduced its size, but it still retains a sense of grandeur. As a complement to the life above stairs, visitors can get a sense of below stairs life in the restored Service Wing and see horses in the historic Jacobean stables. In 2014 the nursery opened its doors to reveal the daily life of the Victorian children who once played there.
More than 30 lavishly decorated rooms are open to the public, displaying in their historic context the accumulated Howard Neville and Cornwallis collections. These include Robert Adam furniture, a late 18th-century state bed and important natural history and silver collections. Paintings include works by Holbein and Canaletto, and an outstanding series of 16th-19th-century British portraits.