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Live and breathe the story of England at royal castles, historic gardens, forts & defences, world-famous prehistoric sites and many others.
We have changed the opening arrangements of our sites to play our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. The gardens and grounds of Audley End House and Gardens are open to local visitors and Members to use for exercise during the lockdown period. You will need to book in advance in order to visit, and we ask everyone to bear in mind the government’s latest advice on travelling before you plan your visit. All the interior spaces including the House will be closed, but the grounds remain open. We have additional safety measures in place at all of our sites including social distancing, enhanced cleaning and limits on visitor numbers to protect the health of all our Members, visitors, staff and volunteers. Thank you for your understanding and patience during this difficult time.
Please note: The grounds and gardens at Audley End are open. To comply with government guidelines, all interior spaces including the House, Service Wing and shop are currently closed. The toilets and play area will be open and the cafe will be open for takeaway light refreshments.
We've made some changes to help keep you safe, and things might be a little different when you visit. Here's everything you need to know.
Admire the interiors of what was once one of the largest and most opulent houses in Jacobean England. Wander around our spacious grounds and admire the glorious gardens designed by Capability Brown, including our beautifully restored parterre and organic kitchen gardens. Take a stroll over to the stable yard and meet our friendly horses before topping up your energy with a delicious treat in the cafe.
Geoffrey de Mandeville, 1st Earl of Essex, founds a Benedictine priory at Walden, which becomes Walden Abbey in 1190.
The abbey is suppressed by Henry VIII and granted to Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor. He transforms the abbey buildings into a mansion.
Find out more about Audley End's history
Audley's grandson Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, rebuilds the house, making it the largest private residence of its day.
Charles II buys Audley End, which is handy for the Newmarket races. The Earls of Suffolk become keepers of the new palace.
The house is returned to the Howards, and gradually reduced in scale to make it more manageable. By 1725 only the inner court remains.
Elizabeth, Countess of Portsmouth, inherits part of the estate, and buys the house from Lord Howard of Effingham. She saves it from decay and reduces the house even more, demolishing the east range.
Elizabeth's nephew Sir John Griffin Griffin, a professional soldier, inherits. He employs Robert Adam to modernise the house and 'Capability' Brown to remodel the gardens and park.
Sir John becomes 4th Baron Howard de Walden and creates state apartments, taking a leading role in their design together with his wife, an accomplished decorator.
Read a description of Audley End
Richard Neville, 3rd Baron Braybrooke, inherits. He remodels the house to restore its Jacobean character, and publishes a history of Audley End in 1836.
When the 4th Lord Braybrooke inherits, he begins to redisplay his extensive natural history collections at Audley End, where they remain today.
The house is let to Thomas Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden, who enlivens it with great parties.
After Ellis and his wife leave, convinced that the house is haunted, the 7th Lord Braybrooke returns to Audley End and it becomes a family home once more.
After the 7th Lord Braybrooke's death, Polish soldiers of the Special Operations Executive secretly train here, preparing to be parachuted into German-occupied Poland.
The 9th Lord Braybrooke sells Audley End to the nation for £30,000, leaving the pictures and furnishings on loan.
See highlights from the collections at Audley End
English Heritage takes over guardianship. Recent restoration has focused on the kitchen wing, stables and Braybrooke nursery suite.
Learn more about the history of Audley End