I was looking through some photos recently and I realised that I had never got around to doing a blogpost about Audley End. We went there on our way back from our trip to Holland last May. We had actually driven past the place the year before but as it was after 4 pm we weren’t able to go into it.
It’s a very large 17th century Jacobean house not far from Saffron Walden in Essex. It’s apparently a third of its original size which is quite amazing, over the years the rest of it has been demolished, but it still seems a complete house now. The parkland was designed by Capability Brown – as so many of them were.
The house has had a very checkered career over the years but nowadays Audley End is owned by English Heritage and if you are a member of Historic Scotland you get in free. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are interested in historic houses and gardens and you find yourself in East Anglia.
Below is a photograph of the nursery.
A sitting room.
A doll’s hosue.
The photo below is of a wee bridge and much smaller house which I think is/was used to house staff.
You can see more images of Audley End here.
This is the one place which we were determined to get to during our recent road trip to the south of England. We moved from the west of Scotland to Braintree over 33 years ago when Jack got a job as a research chemist. This is the first house that we ever bought but it was really too far away from his work in Hertford but house prices there had doubled the year before and were unaffordable. It was brand new when we moved in and Braintree was deep in snow, we had never seen anything like it in Scotland!
The amount of commuting involved to get to work was just ridiculous and what with that and my dad being terminally ill we ended up going back to Scotland after a couple of years so that I could help my mum to look after dad. But we had always wondered what the place was like after all these years, it hasn’t really changed very much but we were really surprised to discover that the rough ground in front of the house hadn’t been built on. In fact it has been turfed and there are nice trees there now and benches looking over to this view.
Of course the River Blackwater has always been there but the trees were much smaller then, you would never know that the village of Bocking is at the other side of them. It’s quite scenic really and we were lucky to be living right on the edge of the estate but we didn’t realise that at the time as we had always lived on the edge of the town and had a view of hills where we lived before. I wish we had that now!
Anyway, they always say – never go back – but we enjoyed our trip down memory lane and we’re hoping to go back to visit Essex again in the future.
It was while we were in Cambridge that one of our friends there suggested that we should take a look at Saffron Walden as we had never been there before. I’ve always loved that name so after a couple of days in Cambridge we ended up in Saffron Walden where I discovered that I love the place too.
Driving into the town I remarked to Jack that I hadn’t realised that Saffron Walden had a cathedral. It doesn’t, but there’s a massive parish church which stands on a small hill above the town and does a very good impression of a cathedral. You can see it from quite far away but when you’re in the town it doesn’t seem high at all, strange. There’s always been a lot of money in that area, the town was famous for producing saffron centuries ago so there used to be fields of crocus all around the place, but I suppose saffron all comes from much warmer countries now as they’ll be able to get more than one harvest each year.
I don’t know what it is about S W but it’s a bit like stepping back in time – in a nice way. It’s not just because all of the buildings are fairly ancient and twee. It might be something to do with the fact that it’s obviously peopled by folk that are comfortably off or if they are poverty stricken they’re good at hiding it. It’s all very genteel. No empty shops that I could see so it’s all very different from places which are struggling at the moment.
I actually heard a woman in a shop exclaiming – Oh my giddy aunt! It’s years since I’ve heard anyone using that expression. I felt like giving her a hug because she’s one of an almost extinct species! So you’ll gather that S W is a sort of jolly hockey sticks place.
It’s another town with lots of independent shops and wee boutiques, a second-hand bookshop which smelled absolutely divine, even outside on the pavement, but it was one of the few bookshops that I didn’t buy a book from, I don’t think it was expensive but it just didn’t have anything that I was looking for.
Unfortunately I seem to have taken mainly photos of the church, I’ll have to break myself of that habit. It’s beginning to seem like a tour of English churches rather than a road trip!
I suppose it’s part of what’s known as the stockbroker belt but it’s certainly a lovely town and we hope to go back there again sometime in the future. Especially as when we were driving away from the place we passed Audley End which we hadn’t realised was so close but by that time it was too late to stop off and go around it.