An aerial view of Audley End house, showing its formal gardens.
Audley End was once one of the greatest houses in England, a spectacular early 17th-century mansion set in an outstanding landscaped park. Now just a third of its original size, its history is one of vastly fluctuating fortunes, with episodes of ambitious development followed by periods of decline. The gardens and parkland, shaped by various owners to complement the house, reflect many changes in English garden fashion. In 1763, Sir John Griffin Griffin commissioned Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to undertake extensive changes to the landscape. Brown is famous for creating landscapes which looked completely natural but in fact were carefully designed, using manmade lakes, rolling hills and tree planting. He started to remodel Audley End’s grounds according to this vision but, due to a falling out with Griffin Griffin, never completed his designs. Many of his changes, however, are still evident in the landscape today.