English Heritage is responsible for the care and presentation of an outstanding national collection of fine and decorative art, social history and archaeological artefacts from over 400 historic properties across England. Audley End House takes its name from Sir Thomas Audley, Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor, who 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. This 'Palace of Audley End' was three times its present size, and one of the largest mansions in England, but in 1618 he fell from favour and into massive debt, and his great house went into decline. The collection of about 400 paintings at Audley End House was principally formed over three generations, from 1762, by Sir John Griffin and the 3rd Lord Braybrooke. Many of the works on display in the house are currently on long-term loan from the Braybrooke family. Approximately a tenth of the paintings on view belong to English Heritage. These works are of high quality and contribute significantly to the integrity and appreciation of the historic interiors. English Heritage owns the group of thirteen portraits of the ancestors of Sir John Griffin, 4th Lord Howard de Walden, later 1st Lord Braybrooke by Enoch Seeman and Biagio Rebecca, which can still be seen inset into the panelling in the Saloon, part of the new decorative scheme designed in the 1770s. Other important works in the collection that are associated with the house include six topographical paintings by William Tomkins depicting the landscaping of Audley End in the 1780s and three portraits commissioned by the 1st Lord Braybrooke from Benjamin West, of himself and his two wives.
English Heritage, Audley End House
Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4JF England
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