Looking for a family-friendly stately home, a short drive from London? Look no further than Audley End, a magnificent house and garden, just off the M11 in Essex.
The English Heritage attraction was one of the largest country houses in England. Unbelievably, the grand, showy building we see today is only a third of the size of the original Jacobean mansion.
While the house remains closed during the pandemic, the service wing, stable yard and extensive grounds are all open for you to explore.
English Heritage has done a cracking job of ensuring the park remains a fun, family friendly place to visit. Kids will be thrilled by the Summer Quest, a kind of historical treasure hunt through the grounds. Solved all the clues? A certificate awaits.
The venue is also brought to life by a team of actors, who pose as workers from Audley End’s past.
“Meet the servants as they step out of their stuffy rooms and into the clean fresh air while the Lord and Lady of the house are away on holiday. Meet Mrs Crocombe the Cook and Mrs Warwick the Housekeeper and then discover Mr Vert the head gardener busily tending to his Lordship’s garden and John Barker the Groom spending time with his beloved horses in the stables.”
The grounds at Audley End, landscaped by the famous Capability Brown, are also a joy to explore. A walk around the lake, among the mature trees, or through the planted gardens (especially the gorgeous parterre) is a joy, and a Covid-safe activity away from other people.
All tickets to Audley End must now be booked in advance. English Heritage members still get in for free, but must also prebook a slot.
See also: Seven National Trust homes reopen.
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