… and to be more precise it's at Audley End. As you all probably know (Who am I kidding?) 'end' is the Saxon word for 'home' and this was Thomas Audley's home.

Not a bad home eh? These Jacobean piles are two a penny around here (Essex and Suffolk) and this one is on the outskirts of Saffron Walden in Essex about a 70 minute drive from us.

There are also a number of other 'ends' around here. I remember coming past Cole End on the way; there is Sparrows End a little south of here near Wendens Ambo (of which more later) and there is a Duck End in Finchingfield.

Audley End was originally the site of a Benedictine monastery (Walden Abbey), granted to the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Audley in 1538 by Henry VIII but was later converted to a domestic house for him, known as Audley Inn. That dwelling was later demolished by his grandson, Thomas Howard (the first Earl of Suffolk and Lord Treasurer), and a much grander mansion was built, primarily for entertaining King James I.

The layout reflects the processional route of the King and Queen, each having their own suite of rooms. It is reputed that Thomas Howard told King James he had spent some £200,000 on creating this grand house, and it may be that the King had unwittingly contributed. In 1619, Suffolk and his wife were found guilty of embezzlement (oops!) and sent to the Tower of London. However, a huge fine secured their release, but Suffolk died in disgrace at Audley End in 1626.

Sir John Griffin, later fourth Baron Howard de Walden and first Baron Braybrooke, introduced sweeping changes in 1762, in particular, the commissioning of Capability Brown to landscape the parkland.

The house is now only a third of the size of the original and is in the ownership of English Heritage although the contents are owned by the current Lord Braybrooke.

We arrived about 10:30 in the morning on a fine sunny day. The first thing that we noticed was this astonishing topiary hedge grown from Yew and Box. It's really quite, er, lumpy.

I don't know why it's been trimmed this way but I'm certainly glad that I don't have to maintain it.

As the sun was at the back of the house we decided to start there. Those bright blue flowers are Forget-me-not and, I assume, a cultivated variety rather than the wild one as the wild ones are a paler blue.

On the high ground behind the house is the Temple of Concord built in 1790 in honour of George III.



After coming down off the high ground we went back to the front of the house and beyond into the parkland then down to the River Cam, which runs through the estate, where we saw the Adam Bridge designed by Robert Adam who also remodelled a number of the reception rooms in the house. Ducks? What ducks? Oh, those ducks. They were making their way towards a lady with a pram hoping that she might be a provider of food. They were out of luck. They obviously didn't like the look of me.

At this point we were very close to the Old Stables and yet another bridge.

That person lurking on the very right-hand edge of the picture is Amanda. She does a very good lurk. You may also notice that there is a black swan nibbling grass on the bank.

These are the Old Stables. Quite fancy for stables.


We continued along by the river until we reached the Victorian Kitchen Gardens and they were vast.

That is Amanda disappearing rapidly into the distance being 'pulled' by the attraction of two very large greenhouses.

See, I told you, she couldn't wait to get inside but I managed to get to the larger of the greenhouses first with its pretty amazing display of Schizanthus (the poor man's orchid).


Ater leaving the Kitchen Garden we found ourselves in the Pond Garden.

That figure is Amanda trying to get away from me as usual. Is she trying to tell me something?

There are two rectangular ponds with, in the dark shadows at the end, a large vertical rockery of ferns and shamrocks. There was also a solitary duck in the far pond and the water level was quite low down and we did wonder if the duck would be able to take off and fly as there wasn't much room but we were also sure that the staff would be used to that sort of occurance and would rescue the duck if need be.

After leaving this garden we emerged into the Elysian Garden with a number of very large trees of which this mighty specimen was one. Amanda thought it was an Oriental Plane.

The little building over the stream is the Tea House Bridge designed by Robert Adam.


We had managed to choose a day, unknowingly, when entrance to the house was by guided tour only. They apparently also have what they call 'free flow' entry which means that you can wander round at your own pace but not today. In either case photography in the house is prohibited and, needless to say, that annoyed me greatly.

It will probably annoy many other people as well. We got just 30 minutes for our tour which is not a lot for the entry charge. At one time it was possible to pay to enter the gardens only but that does not now seem to be available so bear in mind that almost half the charge was for the house and you may get only 30 minutes for your money. There is nothing on the English Heritage web site, that I can see, about Audley End that mentions the two types of access to the house.

So once again we have no interior photographs.

After we left Audley End we travelled the few miles to Wendens Ambo. The name originates from the joining of two villages, Great Wenden and Little Wenden to form Wendens Ambo where Ambo means both Wendens. There is a railway station within the village, Audley End, which is the nearest station to Audley End House two miles away and habitation here dates back to Roman times.

This is the view from just inside the churchyard.

and this is the church. A rather cute little church and quite old. It seems to have been built about the time Domesday Book was written (1086 A.D.) with later additions in the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th centuries.

There was a fragment of a wall painting dating from about 1330 in the Chancel.

The church organ casing dates from the late 1700s

and the Chancel Screen dates from the 15th century.

Amanda, shown on the other side of the screen, does not date from the 15th century.

We went home.