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Historic Towns & Picturesque Villages

Porlock Museum.


a Seaside Town in the county of Somerset

Pictures of Audley End

a Historic Building in the town of Saffron Walden, in the county of Essex

About Audley End

Once, centuries ago in the days of Henry VIII a Benedictine Abbey stood here. A casualty of King's Dissolution caused by his desire to marry Anne Boleyn, the land was given by the King to Lord Audley who built himself a house in the grounds.

The house passed to Lord Howard of Walden, created Earl of Suffolk by James I. He began the stunning Jacobean house, that was to become the largest and most impressive Jacobean house in England. Having two courts built around the ruins of the Benedictine monastery, it was twice the size of the house we see today. Interestingly, after the Restoration Charles II acquired the property, but it was returned to the Howards in 1701, when the 5th Earl instructed noted architect Sir John Vanbrugh. At this time the outer court was demolished and the interior was greatly altered. The delightful exterior of the earlier house, complete with its roof surrounded by balustrading and topped by turrets remains. So too, does the magnificent great hall. This very special room is entered through two ornate porches built in the 17th-century-it is a handsome hall with a flat ceiling decorated with ornate carved wood and plaster panels, there is a screen with carved decoration and flights of stairs lead off. The hall is enhanced by a decorative fireplace surrounded by fine paintings.

On the ground floor there are reception rooms ascribed to Robert Adam. The Great Drawing Room is a room of overwhelming grandeur, here Adam's skilfully scaled down the size of the furniture to allow for the undesirable low ceiling, not fitting for the formal style of 18th-century design. His design of the Little Drawing Room for the Ladies was based on the use of roman columns-gracious in appearance but problematic for Lady Griffin and her companions who had difficulty moving around the room clothed in grand evening attire!

Audley End is full of interest. It has the ambience of a comfortable Victorian mansion with fascinating collections ranging from stuffed birds, shells and fossils to rare antiquities and priceless works of art. Not least, is the atmospheric richly decorated Gothic chapel and the glorious flower filled gardens. The kitchen garden is of particular interest, full of herbs, fruit and vegetables, it looks just as it did in Victorian times, when all the fresh produce was used to feed the household.

Of great interest for children is Lord Braybrooke's miniature railway running through 1.5 miles of delightful estate woodland. A shop on site sells memorablelia of the romantic age of steam and items from Thomas the Tank range.

This glorious house provides an interesting and entertaining time for everyone. It is cared for by English Heritage and is situated close to Saffron Walden, Essex.

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