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We are very, very lucky people.

No, its not because we live in Essex – home of the white stiletto, and spray tan *Stereotype*, but because we live five minutes drive from this….

Audley End Review: Front of house

Its not mine you understand *I wish*

It is, in fact, English Heritage’s, bought in 1948 by them, but it still remains the seat of the Lords Braybrooke. A very famous family round these here parts, with a story that rivals Downton Abbey

Its a truly beautiful house, and there is so much here to do with the kids, you would struggle to get it all done in a day, particularly if there are events on at the house which happen throughout the year.You need to allow time to explore:

  • The house, particularly the kitchens. There is a step Inside activity pack to download on the Audley End website to help the kids explore too. We didn’t go in the house because a) Stuntboy is a little restless, b) We love the gardens, and there is so much to do we wanted to make the most of the sun.However, for those with children who are a little more sedate, or even for people who like a good gracious pile, the house is well worth popping into. In particular the stuffed animal collections are fascinating>, and even made Stuntboy pause last time we stopped by…
  • Parterre gardens
  • Kids playground
  • Stables with the resident horses
  • The coach house, where the kids can have fun dressing up
  • A cafe (which sells the wonderful local Saffron Ice Cream), and a tearoom
  • A restored fire engine, and 
  • Huge grounds, including a pond, the Temple of Concord, and kitchen gardens.

English heritage have excelled themselves in recent years, opening a new playground, restoring the fire engine, and recreating the stables which are now a centre piece of any visit to the house. As always, its free for members, and £13.40 for adults, and £8.00 for 5-15 year olds (£34.80 for families – 2 adults and 3 children). This represents good value for a full days outing. There is more than enough to keep the kids entertained.

Before even entering the house, there is sufficient to distract the kids, as long as the groundsmen don’t mind you climbing on the trees a wee bit…

We (well, I say we….) spent a good deal of time swinging from the branches in some of the wonderful old trees in the grounds, and there is plenty of space to explore further. Don’t forget to take footballs, frisbies, and even your bikes. A wonderful thing about this house is that they freely let the kids cycle up and down the paths, something that isn’t always the case in older houses in the UK. However, at Audley End, they do seem to realise how critical families having fun is to their survival, and so everything is geared up to keep us coming back for more.

The walk to the stables takes you past a tranquil (usually) lake, where THE most exciting thing was the duck and her seven little babies….

Audley End Review: Ducks

…the little ones did seem intent on running off except for, as stuntboy put it…”the sensible one” who was determined to stay with Mum

There was more wildlife to spot – a water vole family, which my kids loved searching for amongst the trees. We didn’t manage to get a picture, but had a good time trying!

Having played at David Attenborough looking for our vole, we made our way to the coach house, which was a new addition for this season. The children spent a long time dressing up in the clothes that stable workers would have worn in the late 19th Century, and grooming the wooden horses set up all around the building.

Audley End Review: Coach House Collage

I was even instructed to be their “horse inspector” to make sure they had done a good job. I donned my coat and top hat to make sure their horses were “turned out proper.”

We couldn’t leave the stable area without popping along to see the horses, both Fergus and Jimmy where there for us to see – though my daughter wasn’t impressed with the smell and insisted on leaving after only a short time watching them….

Audley End Review: Stables

Next on to the playground where there is some stunning Wooden play equipment for the kids including a replica Audley End climbling frame…

Audley End Review: Playground

The kids spent a good deal of time running off steam here, despite the hot weather – though the sea-saw may be a bit small for them now…

Unfortunately, we realised that we were running out of time for the teahouse to be open, so we hot-footed it over there to hopefully to grab a sandwich, and a cuppa. Unfortunately, this was the only disappointing part of the trip. The tea room had run out of food. It was after 5pm, and they shut at 5.30pm – so we were a tad late. However, note to management, stock up on sandwiches on hot days, you are going to need them! We did have a cheese scone though, so it wasn’t all bad. The scone was lovely, as was the organic fruit juice.

After tea, we walked to the front of the house to take in the stunning aspect. My daughter thought that it looked like Sleeping Beauty’s castle, as it nestled behind the coiffured hedges, with a small section parting for the approaching prince on this horse…

Audley End Review: Sleeping Beauty

She even galloped off on HER horse to rescue the Princess!

Audley End Review: Galloping

We could leave without checking out the Parterre gardens which we all felt sure would be in bloom, and looking breath-taking. We weren’t wrong…

Audley End Review: Parterre Flowers

Though it appears that my daughter decided at this point that it would be suitable to add a bit of colour to the proceedings herself by employing some rather interesting poses with the flowers. What do they say about working with children? *so true*


Last, but not least, there was still time to have fun in the Haha around the house, which is according to Wikipedia:

…a turfed ditch with one sloped side, and one vertical side that is faced with a masonry retaining wall. A ha-ha is a feature used in landscape garden design to keep grazing livestock out of a garden while providing an uninterrupted view from within.”

Though it doesn’t seem to be very effective at keeping kids out…

And I am also not sure that this particular type of Livestock would be very helpful for the house’s kitchen either…

Audley End Review: Haha

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable visit…I think its probably about the 50th time we have been, and still the kids want to go back for more. Audley End is going to be one of those places that when my kids have grown up and are looking back on their childhood, it will remind them of who wonderful, and lucky they really were.