Sources for Audley End House and Gardens

The following lists provide a summary of the main sources for our knowledge and understanding of Audley End House and Gardens.

Sir Peter Lely’s self-portrait with the architect Hugh May, of about 1675–6, which now hangs in the north lobby at Audley End
Sir Peter Lely’s self-portrait with the architect Hugh May, about 1675–6, which now hangs in the north lobby at Audley End © Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government and allocated to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, for Audley End, 2019

Primary Sources: Published

Cresswell, W, Diary of a Victorian Gardener: William Cresswell and Audley End (English Heritage, Swindon, 2006)

Greenaway, DE, and Watkiss, L (eds), The Book of the Foundation of Walden Monastery (Oxford, 1999) [accessed 10 Nov 2014]

Neville, HA, and Neville, G, Letters from Turkey and the Crimea, 1854 (London, 1870)

Neville, R (Lord Braybrooke), The History of Audley End and Saffron Walden (London, 1836) [the first study and a primary source for his own work; accessed 10 Nov 2014].

Primary Sources: Unpublished

Little documentary evidence for Audley End survives from before the mid-18th century, other than the Office of Works accounts for its maintenance as a royal palace, from 1668 to 1701 (in The National Archives), and Henry Winstanley’s incomparable illustrations of it (see Visual Sources). By contrast, the work of the Countess of Portsmouth, Sir John Griffin Griffin and successive Lords Braybrooke is particularly well documented in their archives, most of which are in the Essex Record Office. 

Berkshire Record Office

The records of the Neville family relate to the Billingbear estate but include correspondence and miscellaneous papers of the 2nd Lord Braybrooke (see the Berkshire RO online catalogue).

Bristol Record Office

There are some accounts, wills and inventories of the Suffolk family among the Astry papers (Arabella Astry married Charles, 7th Earl of Suffolk), within the archives of her heirs the Smyth family of Ashton Court (a full catalogue is available online).

  • Letter by C Howard to the Earl of Suffolk at Audley End, enclosing the king's approbation (now missing) for the Lieutenancy of Essex, 1719 (AC/AS/5/1)
  • Bundle containing: file of vouchers (accounts of goldsmith, coachmaker, shoemaker sexton, etc.) for monies spent on the funerals of the Earl and Countess of Suffolk, 1722 (see also AC/F9/2); bundle of vouchers for wages and miscellaneous expenses due from the earl and countess's estate, c 1721–3; ditto, including copy-inventory of goods belonging to the late Earl of Suffolk and Bindon in Audley End House, taken 27 April 1722, c 1722–3 (AC/AS/5/4)
  • Bundle of copy inventories (household goods, plate, livestock, etc. at Henbury and also one for Audley End) and account relating to the estate of the late Earl and Countess of Suffolk and Bindon, c 1722 (AC/AS/5/5)
  • Papers relating to Smyth v Suffolk & ors, 1723, including copies of decree, order, petition, depositions, etc, deeds and settlements; also copy above exemplification and copy of inventory of goods belonging to Charles William, Earl of Suffolk and Bindon, in Audley End House (3 bundles), 27 April 1722 (AC/AS/15/2–4).

Cambridge University Library

Holds the diary of the 4th Lord Braybrooke, when stationed in Canada, and his archaeological excavation reports. His principal published reports are:

  • Antiqua explorata : being the result of excavations made ... in and about the Roman station at Chesterford, and other spots in the vicinity of Audley End (Saffron Walden, 1847)
  • Sepulchra exposita, or An account of the opening of some barrows; with remarks upon miscellaneous antiquities; discovered in the neighbourhood of Audley End, Essex. By the Hon. R.C. Neville (Saffron Walden, 1848)
  • Saxon obsequies illustrated by ornaments and weapons: discovered by the Hon. R. C. Neville, in a cemetery near Little Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire, during the autumn of 1851 (London, 1852).

Essex Record Office

The Audley End collection (catalogue prefix D/DBy; full catalogue available online) is an extensive estate and family archive that, apart from manorial records and title deeds (from the grant of Walden Abbey to Thomas, Lord Audley, in 1540), belongs largely to the period after the acquisition of the house and part of the estate by the Countess of Portsmouth in 1751. It includes:

  • Building accounts and correspondence relating to work by Lady Portsmouth (A364, F31), Sir John Griffin Griffin (especially A241–61, A365–366 and C30, a letter from Robert Adam) and the 3rd Lord Braybrooke (A320) 
  • Braybrooke family papers, 18th–20th centuries: correspondence, journals, accounts, etc (AB422)

There are also papers in other Essex collections, including:

  • Marriage settlement of the 10th Earl of Suffolk (D/DXb 67–72)
  • Lease of the estate to Lord Howard de Walden, 1904 (D/DU 1109/1).

The National Archives

  • Office of Works accounts (WORK 5/39)
  • Lord Chamberlain’s accounts (for contents) (LC 5/14)
  • Wills and inventories (1722) of Henry, Earl of Suffolk, and Charles William, Earl of Suffolk (PROB 3/21/110 and 3/23/39).

Norfolk Record Office

  • Mortgages of the Audley End estate (1701–7) and a deed of separation (1728) between Charles and Henrietta Howard (see the Norfolk RO online catalogue).

Polish Underground Movement Study Trust, Ealing

  •  Polish Special Operations Executive records, from the Second World War.

Saffron Walden Museum

  •  Early 20th-century photographs, cuttings, etc.

Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

  • 18 drawings by the office of Robert and James Adam for Audley End house and park for Sir John Griffin Griffin, 1763–85 [accessed 17 November 2014].
The 4th Lord Braybrooke's natural history collection in the picture gallery
The 4th Lord Braybrooke's natural history collection in the picture gallery at Audley End

Material Sources and Collection

The furniture and pictures at Audley End, acquired or on loan from the Braybrooke family, include much that was chosen or made specifically for the house and related buildings, notably the furniture designed by Robert Adam for the ground-floor reception rooms and the Temple of Victory, on Ring Hill. Sir John Griffin Griffin’s Old Masters form the core of the collection of paintings.

The 4th Lord Braybrooke’s archaeological collections were transferred to the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in the 1950s, although a few items found at Audley End remain at the house.[1] His natural history collection lines the walls of the picture gallery and lower gallery at the house. It comprises mainly tableaux of mounted birds and animals in cabinets.

Archaeological material from excavations and investigations at the house, including material from the site workshop of the 18th-century plasterer Joseph Rose,[2] is in the English Heritage Archaeological Collections Store at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire.


A view of Audley End House from the west, by Edmund Garvey (c 1782), showing the Adam bridge separating the two lakes
A view of Audley End House from the west, by Edmund Garvey (c 1782), showing the Adam bridge separating the two lakes © From a private collection, on loan to English Heritage at Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

Visual Sources

There are many visual representations of Audley End, but the following are particularly informative about the evolution of the house and landscape:

  • late 18th-century copy of an estate plan (before 1605) showing Thomas, Lord Audley’s house converted from Walden Abbey, Audley End House [reproduced in P Drury, Audley End (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2014), 42]
  • plan of the house by John Thorpe, before 1616, Sir John Soane’s Museum [published in J Summerson (ed), The Book of Architecture of John Thorpe in Sir John Soane’s Museum, Walpole Society, 40 (London, 1966), 97 & plate 93
  • map of Audley End by George Sargeant, 1666, The National Archives, MPE1/366 [reproduced in Drury and Smith (2010), 44]
  • set of engravings by Henry Winstanley, 1676–88 [copies in several repositories and in the Audley End Scrapbook, compiled c 1809 by the 2nd Lord Braybrooke]
  • park and garden by Charles Bridgeman, c 1725, Bodleian Library, Gough Drawings A4, fol 67
  • estate plans, 18th century, Essex Record Office, T/M 123 (1753), D/DBy P1 (c 1755), D/DQy 8 (1783)
  • view of Audley End from the west by Edmund Garvey, 1782, Audley End House [painted for Sir John Griffin Griffin’s London house]
  • six views of Audley End by William Tomkins, 1788–9, Audley End House, A 5519/3, 5, 7, A 5944/12–14
  • Audley End album, including historical and record drawings of the house mostly by Placido Columbani [English Heritage Collection; held at Audley End House]
  • collection of images in Essex Record Office, I/Mp 381–2.

Plans, Drawings and Photographs in the Historic England Archive

Items in the Historic England Archive at Swindon relating to Audley End House and Gardens include:

  • copy of the design by ‘Capability’ Brown for the landscape around Audley End House, 1762
  • copies of watercolours of the house made by MJ Neville in 1844–70 (AA060701–27, 34, 44, 64)
  • photographs by Bedford Lemere & Co in the 1890s (BL10621–86)
  • album of plans and drawings etc from the 1760s to 2008 (MP/AEH) .

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed online, including the archive’s large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the enquiry service.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archive price list.

Published Secondary Sources

Addison, W, Audley End (1953) [useful especially for the social and political background of successive owners]

Alexander, M, et al, Audley End House, Essex: Historic Landscape Investigations, English Heritage Research Department Report (forthcoming)

Batey, M, ‘Two romantic picturesque flower gardens’, Garden History, 22:2 (1994), 197–205

Colvin, HM, Mordaunt Crook, J, Downes, K and Newman, J, The History of the King’s Works, vol 5: 1660–1782 (London, 1976), 131–3

Drury, P, ‘No other palace in the kingdom will compare with it: the evolution of Audley End, 1605–1745’, Architectural History, 23 (1980), 1–39 [overview primarily of the Jacobean house using documentary and fabric evidence; subscription required; accessed 25 Nov 2014] 

Drury, P, ‘Walden Abbey into Audley End’, in Bassett, SR, Saffron Walden: Excavations and Research 1972–80, CBA Research Report 45 (London, 1982), 94–105 [summarised knowledge of the abbey and its conversion before the 1986–7 excavations] [accessed 10 Nov 2014]

Drury, P, ‘Joseph Rose Senior's site workshop at Audley End, Essex: aspects of the development of decorative plasterwork technology in Britain during the eighteenth century’Antiquaries Journal, 64 (1984), 61–83 [subscription required; accessed 17 Nov 2014]

Drury, P, Audley End (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2nd revised edn 2014) [buy the guidebook]

Drury, P and Gow, I Audley End, Essex (English Heritage guidebook, London, 1984)

Drury, P and Smith, P, ‘The Audley End stable block in the 17th century’, English Heritage Historical Review, 5 (2010), 44–81 [subscription required; accessed 10 Nov 2014]

Gapper, C, Decorative Plasterwork in City, Court and Country, 1530–1640 (updated text from PhD thesis, ‘Plasterers and Plasterwork in City, Court and Country c 1530–c 1660’, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 1998) [accessed 10 Nov 2014]

Hann, A, ‘Labour recruitment on the Audley End estate in the late 19th century’English Heritage Historical Review, 5 (2010), 134–55 [subscription required; accessed 10 Nov 2014]

Hughes, G, ‘The Paul Saunders tapestries at Audley End House’, English Heritage Historical Review, 2 (2007), 106–15 [subscription required; accessed 17 Nov 2014]

Jenkins, S, Tate-Harte, A and Granville, A, ‘Tudor paintings at Audley End’English Heritage Historical Review, 7 (2012), 18–35 [subscription required; accessed 17 Nov 2014]

Laird, M, The Flowering of the Landscape Garden: English Pleasure Grounds, 1720–1800 (Philadelphia, 1999)

Linford, N and Payne, A, Audley End House and Park, Saffron Walden, Essex: Report on Geophysical Surveys, 2009–2010, English Heritage Research Department Report 6/2011 (Swindon, 2011)

Millward, J, and Martin, C, The Museum Room, Audley End House, Essex, English Heritage Research Department Report 79/2007 (Swindon, 2007)

Neumair von Ramsla, JW, Des durchlauchtigen hochgebornen Fürsten und Herrn, Herrn Johann Ernsten des jüngern Hertzogen zu Sachsen ... reise in Franckreich, Engelland und Niederland (Leipzig, 1620), 191–2

Oswald, A, ‘A hillfort on Ring Hill, Littlebury, Essex’, in Patterns of the Past: Essays in Landscape Archaeology for Christopher Taylor, ed P Pattison, D Field and S Ainsworth (Oxford, 1999), 23–8

Page, W and Round, JH (eds), The Victoria History of the County of Essex, vol 2 (London, 1907), 110–15 [accessed 10 Nov 2014]

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [subscription required; accessed 17 Nov 2014]

  • Thomas Audley, Baron Audley of Walden (1487/8–1544)
  • Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk (1538–1572)
  • Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk (1561–1626)
  • John Griffin Griffin, 4th Baron Howard de Walden and 1st Baron Braybrooke (1719–1797)
  • Richard Griffin, 2nd Baron Braybrooke (1750–1825)
  • Richard Cornwallis Neville, 4th Baron Braybrooke (1820–1861).

Priddy, D (ed), ‘Excavations in Essex 1987’, Essex Archaeology and History, 19 (1988) 266–8 [note of excavations, including garden plan]

Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, vol 1: North West (London, 1916), 233–9 [accessed 14 Nov 2014]

Sanders, L and Williamson, G (eds), Littlebury: a Parish History: Littlebury, Littlebury Green, Catmere End and parts of Audley End (Littlebury, 2005), esp 92–121

Seymour, T, My Grandfather, A Modern Medievalist: The Life of the 8th Lord Howard de Walden (Swindon, 2012), 8–14 [accessed 10 Nov 2014]

Smith, P, Stable Building, Audley End House, Saffron Walden, Essex, English Heritage Research Department Report 65/2008 (Swindon, 2008)

Smith, P, Supplement to Audley End Stables, English Heritage Research Department Report 62/2009 (Swindon, 2009)

Smith, P, The Coach House and West Stable, Audley End House, Saffron Walden, Essex: Recording and Fabric Analysis, English Heritage Research Department Report 119/2011 (Swindon, 2011)

Summerson, J (ed), The Book of Architecture of John Thorpe in Sir John Soane’s Museum, Walpole Society, 40 (London, 1966)

Sutherill, M, ‘Garden buildings at Audley End’, Georgian Group Journal, 6 (1996), 102–19

Sutherill, M, ‘The buildings of the Elysium Garden at Audley End’, Georgian Group Journal, 7 (1997), 94–104

Sutherill, M, ‘John Hobcroft and James Essex at Audley End House’, Georgian Group Journal, 9 (1999), 17–25

Valentine, I, Station 43: Audley End House and SOE’s Polish Section (Stroud, 2004)

Wells-Cole, A, Art and Decoration in Elizabethan and Jacobean England (New Haven and London, 1997)

Williams, JD, Audley End: The Restoration of 1762–97 (Colchester, 1966)

Williams, JD, ‘The finances of an eighteenth century Essex nobleman’, Essex Archaeology and History, 9 (1977), 113–28

Williams, JD, ‘A pattern of land accumulation: the Audley End experience, 1762–87’, Essex Archaeology and History, 11 (1979), 90–100

Williams, JD, ‘The noble household as a unit of consumption: the Audley End experience, 1765–1797’, Essex Archaeology and History, 23 (1992), 67–78

Youngs, SM, et al, ‘Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1987’, Medieval Archaeology, 32 (1988), 241–3 [note of excavations, including abbey plan; accessed 17 Nov 2014]

Unpublished Secondary Sources

Oxford Archaeological Unit, ‘Audley End, Essex: conservation plan’, English Heritage (2001)

Waugh, H, ‘Country house consumption and material culture and Audley End, c 1750–1830’, PhD thesis, University of Northampton (forthcoming.)


1. P Drury, ‘Walden Abbey into Audley End', in Bassett, SR, Saffron Walden: Excavations and Research 1972–80, CBA Research Report 45 (London, 1982), 94–105 [accessed 10 November 2014].
2. P Drury, ‘Joseph Rose Senior's site workshop at Audley End, Essex: aspects of the development of decorative plasterwork technology in Britain during the eighteenth century’, Antiquaries Journal, 64 (1984), 61–83 [subscription required; accessed 17 November 2014].

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