Utilising our English Heritage Membership again we opted for a trip to Audley End House in Saffron Walden. A totally worthwhile hour’s drive and diesel despite the English rain.
The house takes its name from Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII. Then the grandson, Thomas Howard rebuilt the house between 1603 and 1614. Charles II bought Audley End in 1668 but eventually it returned to the line of the Suffolk family in 1701. Once the Suffolk line died out in 1745 the estate was bought by the Countess of Portsmouth for her nephew and heir, Baron Braybrooke. By the time the 1820s came around the house had gone through many many changes.
The house was engaging, fascinating and even *cool* apparently and the space of the grounds perfect for our four children. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to photograph inside but I can tell you it was grand. The sheer volume of rooms with huge numbers of really size able paintings, decorative and intricately detailed furnishings all laced with an influence from overseas either from their travels or possibly gifted to them.
The Taxidermy collection, as always, stirred up much interest with our bunch and the children really got to show off their knowledge of species.
English Heritage staff were both knowledgeable and happy to spend time talking to the children. Discussions on how many clothing changes a day would be necessary as they moved through their daily activities and how servants did everything for them thus there was very little need for privacy as we have nowadays with bathrooms and locks on doors. We decided that still our five year old fashionista’s had more changes than these wealthy ladies and that a maid would be useful just to keep on top of picking up the clothes and hanging them back up.
The library was vast, the books were both small and huge. We thought about how we might read such large books or indeed use these books if there were map books or accounting books perhaps and low and behold another kind member of staff pointed out the special wooden stand for such a purpose. We left her searching the shelves for a book on the Geography of Essex as it appeared there was one for every other county except the county the house stood in! I wonder if she found it?
Experiencing history in this way is definitely the way to appreciate the era’s gone by.
A bumble bee is in there somewhere – mobile phone shot sorry.
After the main house we headed for the servants areas to see how they made such a huge country house like this happen on a daily basis.
Spot the video projections on the walls
Then a jaunt through the grounds to the Organic Kitchen Gardens.
Amongst the Peaches
A climb in the play area and a quick cuppa because the English Summer was performing in it’s usual rainy, chilly style.
Next came the stables where we got to meet two magnificent horses, try on a few *wouldn’t save your head* riding hats and watch some clips explaining the various jobs of the groundsmen which were actually really engaging to my bunch.
Finally, in true English style, we made a dash back to the car stopping at every large tree for moments of shelter and eventually climbed back in the red bus soggy and wet and keen to finish some more picnic leftovers.