Audley End House
Audley End House Summary
- Address: Audley End, Saffron Walden, CB11 4JF (Map)
- Tel: +44 (0)1799 522842
- Fax: +44 (0)1799 521276
- Owner: English Heritage
- Administrator: Visitor Operations Team
- Website: Go to the Audley End House website
Audley End House Description
Audley End House and Gardens was one of the great wonders of the nation when it was built by the first Earl of Suffolk, Lord Treasurer to James I. It was on the scale of a great royal palace, and soon became one after Charles II bought it in 1668 for £50,000, using it as a base when he attended the races at Newmarket.
Returned to the Suffolks in 1701, substantial parts of the house were demolished. Even so, what remains is one of the most significant Jacobean houses in England.
Successive owners have since left their stylistic imprint both within the graceful exterior and on the surrounding parkland. As we see it now, Audley End’s interior, with its historic picture collection and furniture, is largely the product of its owner in the mid-19th century, the third Lord Braybrooke.
The challenge for the visitor today is to piece together the many changes over time that have created such a harmonious whole. The rooms at Audley End are a blend of many generations of taste, the differences sometimes subtly combined, sometimes dramatically exploited. The main structure has remained remarkably little-altered since the main front court was demolished in 1708 and the east wing came down in 1753. Some rooms have been changed substantially, especially the huge Hall with its powerful Jacobean screen and ceiling.
In the 1760s Adam brought his individual brand of graceful neoclassical architecture to the house, as seen in the Great Apartment, while ‘Capability’ Brown transformed the parkland. Sir John Griffin Griffin, later fourth Baron Howard de Walden and first Baron Braybrooke, introduced sweeping changes before he died in 1797. The third Baron Braybrooke, who inherited house and title in 1825, stamped his taste equally firmly upon it and with longer-lasting results. He installed his huge picture collection, filled the rooms with furnishings, and reinstated something of the original Jacobean feel to the State Rooms.
The fourth Lord Braybrooke was more interested in archaeology and ornithology than redecorating. His Natural History collection is a real feature of the house. After Audley End was requisitioned in World War II, the ninth Lord Braybrooke resumed possession and in 1948 the house was sold to the Ministry of Works, English Heritage’s predecessor.
Much has been done recently to restore the park and the Victorian gardens, including the magnificent parterre. A special guidebook focuses on the extensive grounds and ornamental gardens. After 250 years, the great Kitchen Garden is now open to visitors. Hidden behind its high brick walls, much of the 19th-century structure survives, including an impressive 170ft-long vinehouse, possibly containing its original vine. The walls have been ‘re-clothed’ with carefully trained fruit trees, and paths have been edged with 8,000 box plants.
The best of Victorian traditional methods will be married with the latest organic techniques, for a harvest of vegetables, soft fruits and flowers, much of which will be sold on site.
- Winner of the 1999 NPI Awards in Eastern Counties
- Popular open-air concerts, craft & garden shows during the summer
- Organic Kitchen Garden with produce for sale
Note: Visitors are advised to contact Audley End or visit their Website for up to date information on admission prices and opening times if they are planning to visit, or for details of special events before making their journey.
Opening Times - 2012
- 1st - 15th April: Daily, 12 - 5 pm
- 16th April - 3rd June: Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 5 pm
- 4th - 10th June: Daily, 12 - 5 pm
- 11th - 30th September: Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 5 pm
- 1st - 28th October: Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 4 pm
- 29th October - 4th November: Daily, 12 - 4 pm
- Last admission 1 hour before closing
- Closed 5th November - 31st March
Gardens, Stables & Service Wing*
- 1st - 31st March: Saturday & Sunday, 10 am - 4 pm
- 1st - 15th April: Daily, 10 am - 6 pm
- 16th April - 3rd June: Wednesday - Sunday, 10 am - 6 pm
- 4th - 10th June: Daily, 10 am - 6 pm
- 11th - 30th June: Wednesday - Sunday, 10 am - 6pm
- 1st July - 30th September: Daily, 10 am - 6 pm
- 1st - 28th October: Wednesday - Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm
- 29th October - 4th November: Monday - Friday, 10 am - 5 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 10 am - 4 pm
- 5th November - 17th February: Saturday & Sunday, 10 am - 4 pm
- 18th - 24th February: Daily, 10 am - 4 pm
- 25th February - 28th March: Saturday & Sunday, 10 am - 4 pm
Last entry 1 hour before closing.
Closed: 24th - 26th December and 31st December - 1st January
*Gardens, Stables & Service Wing (not available on event days)
Admission Prices - 2012
House & Grounds:
- Adult - £13.00
- Child (5 - 15 years) - £7.80
- Child (under 5 years) - Free
- Concession - £11.70
- Family (2+3) - £33.80
- Adult - £9.00
- Child (5 - 15 years) - £5.40
- Child (under 5 years) - Free
- Concession - £8.10
- Family (2+3) - £23.40
15% discount for groups (11+)
EH Members free.
All Photographs - 'Copyright English Heritage'.
More information on the garden can be found on The Gardens Guide.
Your Reviews of Audley End House
Jan Sroczynski (31 August 2009)
I visited the house to see the Station 43 - Spies, Soldiers and Secrets event. My father, Major Zdizslaw was trained at Audley End House as an SOE agent and parachuted into Poland in 1944. The event was really excellent, professionally run with very knowledgeable staff- however even more than this was the really warm welcome we received and the personal guided tour around this amazing house which is being lovingly cared for by English Heritage and its amazing staff. On behalf of my family I can only say thank you for a fantastic day. Also thank you to Ian Valentine - the author of Station 43 - who obviously loves this place and worked here and I believe he still does whenever he has the time. Well done English Heritage for the fine work you are doing.
Additional Info for Audley End House
- Dogs allowed
- Disabled Access
- Meals Available
- Live Entertainment
- Car Parking
- English Heritage
Updating this Home
If you are the owner or manager of this property, now is your chance to update your information. In your interests, updates are checked to ensure that no incorrect information is entered from an unauthorised source.