River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Another Day out in East Anglia

October 2005

Graham gives an excellent insight into the joys of a visit to Audley End

Audley End was a palace in all but name. The Walden Abbey site was donated to Sir Thomas Audley by Henry VIII and he adapted the abbey into a vast mansion. Eventually, Charles II bought the building as it was a convenient jumping-off point for Newmarket races. Gradually, about one half of the building was demolished, leaving it very much as it is today.

It really is a most imposing house and there are over 30 rooms available for the public to visit. Many great paintings are on view including several by Caneletto. If you are bibliophile, the library will captivate you with its many collections of natural history books. We also found the butler's pantry and the kitchen very interesting.

Outside there are nearly 10 acres of garden landscaped by the famous Capability Brown. At the rear of the house is a particularly fine 19th century parterre and rose garden. Visitors can also see Robert Adam's Tea House Bridge and ornamental garden buildings, and the Elysian Garden cascade. The thriving organic walled Victorian Kitchen Garden is an absolute joy with its box-edged paths, espaliered fruit and well-labelled vegetables and herbs. It is approximately 200 foot long by 170 foot deep, and all along the length of one edge is a marvellous vine-house.

A twenty minute pre-tour talk is available on entering the house which is well worthwhile. Produce grown in the kitchen garden is for sale in the shop, and there is an excellent cafeteria. If you go to Audley End, do allow about three hours which will enable you to complete a walk round the grounds. Visiting is available only on certain days up to the end of October so an advance call on 01799 510444 would be a good idea. If only the gardens interest you, there is a separate admission rate for them Audley End is on the B1383, one mile west of Saffron Waldon, just inside the Essex border. I do hope that you will be able to go one day and reap the enjoyment we did.

Graham Forster

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