Monday, November 09, 2015

Audley End - a magnificent English Heritage house.

Front view
This was my first visit to Audley End but it certainly won't be my last. When we arrived I felt like a child at a fairground and didn't know where to go first as there was so much to see.
Abram Booth, a Dutch envoy who visited in 1629, said – "Such a magnificent building and so splendidly furnished that it excels all royal residences."
Unfortunately you are only allowed to take photographs in the service wing and the nursery and coal gallery.
Audley End was considered one of the greatest it houses of Jacobean England. It had been built on the foundations of Walden  Abbey, a Benedictine monastery. Henry VIII granted Walden to his chancellor, Thomas Lord Audley, who converted the monastery into a house.
Audley's grandson, Thomas Howard, first Earl of Suffolk and Lord Treasurer to James I, rebuilt the house to accommodate the king who visited in 1614. Charles II bought the house from the third Earl in 1667 as a ready-made palace but it was already considered outdated. William III gave the house back to the Howards in 1701.
Over the next 100 years Capability Brown removed the remains of the formal landscape and Robert Adam was employed to build galleries behind the hall and create new reception rooms.
The final changes were made in 1820 by Robert Neville, the third Lord Braybrook. He wanted to make the house Jacobean again and moved the principal reception rooms back to the first floor. This is how the house remains today.
During World War II Audley End was occupied by the Polish section of the special operations executive. The house was purchased for the nation in 1948.
Boilers for hot water in coal room.
Coal gallery
I was fascinated by the unique coal gallery on the second floor. Coal was winched up from the ground and stored in this room which connects the two wings together. In here are the two boilers which provide hot water for the bedrooms. How convenient this must have made life or the servants. The hip baths can be seen in the picture and each one is labelled with the name of the bedroom from which it came.

Child's bed
The nursery floor was far more luxurious than I'd expected – and the children would have been warm and comfortable in their own domain with plenty to occupy them.
Stairs to nursery floor.

 The service wing is attached to the left of the main building and although the kitchens are magnificent I imagine the food was stone cold by the time it reached the table – even more so when the principal reception rooms were returned to the first-floor.

 We didn't have time to look at everything and I'm definitely going back next year. The only thing that I didn't like was the fact that they still keep horses in the stable block and I don't like to see these beautiful animals shut into stalls where they can't even look out and see the world go past. Horses are meant to be kept outside and preferably without shoes on.
Fenella J Miller

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Christmas at Castle Elrick $0.99  £0.99
Christmas at Castle Elrick is a Regency fairy tale - Miss Verity Sanderson the beauty and Sir Ralph Elrick the beast. He was severely injured in the Napoleonic wars and has been brooding in his castle for years waiting for Verity to reach her majority and come to him. Her father had promised his daughter to Ralph in return for his financial support. Verity decides marriage to a wealthy stranger is preferable to remaining with her step-mother and half-sisters so sets off, the week before Christmas, to become his wife. 
Castle Elrick is a cold, unwelcoming place situated on the bleak Northumbrian coast and Ralph and his small staff are not the only residents. Will Christmas be a celebration or will the ghosts of Castle Elrick force them apart?


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I loved your photos, Fenella. They certainly make it clear how labour intensive running a great house actually was. Just looking at the laundry room made me want to collapse with exhaustion. And the ironing must have taken forever!

Fenella J Miller said...

Elizabeth -it was a bit sanitized - but did give the impression of how things were in 1820. The custodians were also knowledgeable and able to talk informatively about the place.