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England

Audley End House (Audley House)

  • Earlier Houses: The inner court walls of the current house were built directly on top of the abbey cloister.

    Built / Designed For: Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk and Lord Treasurer

    House & Family History: The monastic buildings of Walden Abbey, of which nothing survives today, once stood on the site of today's house. The monastic buildings were first converted into a private house by Sir Thomas Audley, created Baron Audley of Walden in 1538 by Henry VIII. The king granted Walden Abbey to Sir Thomas, a lawyer and speaker of the House of Commons, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries for his support of Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon (Sir Thomas was appointed lord chancellor in 1533 and passed the death sentence on Sir Thomas More and presided at the trial of Anne Boleyn). The current house, which replaced Sir Thomas's converted abbey house, was built by Thomas Howard (lord treasurer to King James I and later 1st Earl of Suffolk) in the early 17th century. Thomas Howard inherited the Estate through his mother, heiress of the 1st Baron Audley of Walden, and spent the astronomical sum of £200,000 (approximately £40 million in inflation-adjusted 2016 values using the retail price index) to build a house to impress, in this case, primarily to entertain the king. When James I visited Audley End for the first time, he uttered the now famous quote "Too large for a King but might do for a Lord Treasurer." The Estate was purchased by another king--Charles II--in 1668 for £50,000 and remained a royal property until 1701. After it passed from royal ownership, within a generation, the House was mostly demolished, leaving the part which stands today by the 1770s. The forecourt was demolished circa 1720; Lady Portsmouth demolished the east side of the central court, including long gallery and chapel, 1749-50; the first floor rooms were demolished in 1763. After World War II the 9th Lord Braybrooke was forced to sell Audley End to the nation when he was charged with double death duties. In the early 20th century one of the wealthiest men in Britain, Lord Howard de Walden, let Audley End. His lordship was a crew member in the first, and only, motor boat competitions at the 1908 London Olympics and an author who produced several plays under the pseudonym of T.E. Ellis.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: Capability Brown landscaped the Park in 1763. The River Cam flows under Robert Adam's bridge of 1764; in addition, Adam designed follies, including the Temple of Victory on Ring Hill in 1772 and the Teahouse of 1783. R.W.F. Brettingham designed the Temple of Concord in 1790 to celebrate George III's return to health after his first bout of "insanity."

    Chapel & Church: John Hobcroft (Hobcraft) designed the Chapel.

  • Architect: John Vanbrugh

    Date: 1708
    Designed: Alterations and demolitions for 1st Earl of Bindon

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    Architect: John Thorpe

    Date: Circa 1615
    Designed: Outer court for Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk.
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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    Architect: Lancelot Brown

    Date: 1763
    Designed: Park

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    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: 1764
    Designed: Three-arched bridge

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    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: 1763-65
    Designed: Decorated interior of House for Sir John Griffin

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    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: 1772
    Designed: Temple of Victory on Ring Hill

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    Architect: John Hobcroft (Hobcraft)

    Designed: Chapel

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    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: 1782-83
    Designed: Palladian bridge and teahouse

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    Architect: Robert William Furze Brettingham

    Date: 1790
    Designed: Temple of Concord for 4th Lord Howard de Walden

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  • John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. II, p. 86, 1853.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, 1818.

    Country Life: Jul 24, 1925. LIX, 872, 916 plan, 1926. LX, 94, 128 plan, 1926. CLX. 104 [Victorian views], 1976.

  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pg. 1072
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 979
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses, Volume III: East Anglia
    Author: Kenworthy-Browne, John; Reid, Peter; Sayer, Michael; Watkin, David
    Year Published: 1981
    Publisher: London: Burke's Peerage
    ISBN: 0850110351
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade I

  • "The Balloon and the Baron" (1960 - TV movie). "Woman of Straw" (1964). "Gardeners' World" (2002 - TV series). "Antiques Roadshow" (2016 - TV series). "The Crown" (2016 - TV series, as interiors of Windsor Castle). "Trust" (2018 - TV series).
  • Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Geoffrey de Mandeville, 1st Earl of Essex, 12th century. Sir Thomas Audley, later 1st Baron Audley of Walden, 16th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, 17th century; Henry Howard, 6th Earl of Suffolk and 1st Earl of Bindon, until 1718. Sir John Griffin Griffin, later 4th Lord Howard de Walden and 1st Lord Braybrooke, 18th century. Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden and 4th Baron Seaford, early 20th century (as tenant).

    Current Ownership Type: English Heritage

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01799-522-399

    Fax: 01799-521-279

    Email: customers@english-heritage.org.uk

    Website: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No