These first two photographs of the Hall and Drawing Room are from the website as it is not possible to take photographs inside the house.
Audley End takes its name from Sir Thomas Audley, Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor who, after 1538, adapted the extensive buildings of suppressed Walden Abbey as his mansion. His grandson Thomas Howard, first Earl of Suffolk, rebuilt the house on a massive scale between 1603 and 1614. Known as 'the Palace of Audley End', this Jacobean 'prodigy house' was three times its present size, and one of the largest mansions in England. But in 1618 Suffolk fell from favour and into massive debt, and his great house went into decline.
Charles II bought Audley End in 1668 as a base for attending Newmarket races: his Queen Catherine of Braganza held court here that Autumn.
Repairs were carried out by Sir Christopher Wren, but their cost proved ruinous, and in 1701 William III returned Audley End to the Suffolk family.
The witty and accomplished Henrietta Howard lived here, before leaving her 'obstinate, drunken and brutal' husband, the 9th Earl, for a royal lover and her new Thames-side mansion, Marble Hill House.
When the Suffolk line died out in 1745, Audley was bought by the Countess of Portsmouth for her nephew and heir, Sir John Griffin Griffin, later the first Baron Braybrooke. He made extensive changes to the house, adding a suite of neo-Classical rooms designed by Robert Adam and a Gothic chapel. His refurbishments included a rare set of English Soho tapestries, now conserved and displayed in the Tapestry Room: this has also been redecorated to depict the room as it would have appeared when the tapestries were first installed there in 1767. Meanwhile, 'Capability' Brown was employed to remodel the grounds.
Today the house's interior largely represents the taste of the third Baron Braybrooke, who during the 1820s redecorated many of its rooms in the Jacobean style.
Doors and windows
Tea House Bridge
Entrance to the extensive organic kitchen gardens
This is how it would once have been
Audley End is a mansion with a difference and we can tour the newly restored service wing where one can get a 'peep' at a "parallel world" where armies of servants laboured to ensure the smooth running of this great mansion.