Walk through the massive front door into a very special historic house. Audley End house is a spectacular Jacobean mansion and one of the great sights of East Anglia.
Behind the architecture, furniture and furnishings is the story of Audley End and its successive owners - from Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII in the mid 16th century, through earls and kings, to the Neville Family in the 19th and 20th centuries.
A Great Great Hall
Every great house has a great hall and Audley End is no exception. The great hall dates from the early 17th century and rises through two storeys. Look for the ornate carving on the Jacobean oak screen carved with grotesque masks and pairs of male and female half figures. The screen used to hide the servants from their masters.
Can You Find the Sea Monsters?
The saloon is one of the most splendid of Audley End's interiors. The extravagant plasterwork dates from the building of the house and befitted its Jacobean use as the great chamber. The furnishings reflect the taste of third Lord and Lady Braybrooke, who transformed the saloon into a comfortable and informal living room in the 1820s. It is also called the 'Fish Room' after the dolphins and sea-monsters you will find on the ceiling!
How Many Books in the Library?
The library was created by the third Lord Braybrooke in an historical manner achieved through careful copying of existing details in the house. The library not only housed the family's books but acted as an informal sitting room in the 19th century with its comfortable sofas. From the bay window you get a lovely view across the parterre garden which was laid out in 1832.
A Chapel Within a House
The chapel is a rare surviving example of the late 18th-century ornamented Gothic style, with all its furniture intact. Look for where the family sat at morning prayers warmed by a fire burning in the chimneypiece. In contrast - the outdoor servants and kitchen staff entered via a staircase from the service areas below.
Grand Designs in the Bedrooms
Audley End House has several bedrooms and dressing rooms that you can explore. Look out for the state bed - one of the most important surviving late 18th-century beds in the country. The bed, together with the stool, armchairs and the portrait of Queen Charlotte was commissioned in anticipation of a royal visit in 1794.
The Robert Adam Rooms (Guided tour only)
Open by guided tour only, the ground floor houses the Robert Adam designed suite of eight rooms in the height of neoclassical taste in the 1760s. Here you will find the use of decoration and furnishings which are in direct contrast to the rest of the house.
Enter the 'jewel-like' little drawing room with its bright colours and ornate patterns. This was used as a withdrawing room to which the ladies would retire, leaving the gentlemen to continue talking and drinking in the neighbouring dining parlour.
Nursery Suite and Coal Gallery
These recently opened rooms bring to life the stories of the children who lived here and the daily routines of the servants who worked in the house.
The Nursery Suite
Visitors will be transported back to the 1830s when the third Lord and Lady Braybrooke and their young family were living at the house. The nursery suite of rooms on the second floor will provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the eight children (five boys, three girls), their governess, nursemaids and tutors. Visitors will be able to experience the rooms as they were intended with a host of toys to play with and items to explore as they delve into the story of childhood in a Victorian country house.
Also previously unseen is the Coal Gallery, restored to the way it was in the mid-19th century when this part of the house would have been a hive of activity as coal was shovelled and water boiled. Bunkers will be refilled with real coal, cupboards stocked with soap and candles, and soundscapes introduced to create the hustle and bustle of the servants' daily routine.