Monday, June 8, 2015

Audrey End by Henry Winstanley (1644-1703) & by an unknown artist

Audley End House reportedly "after" Henry Winstanley (1644-1703), but this depiction seems more 1st-hand than Witstanley's. This was an overmantel from Bower Hall, Steeple Bumpstead, Essex, said to be painted about 1710. Purchased for the UK Government Art Collection & now in Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Whitehall.

Audrey End Henry Winstanley (1644-1703)

The site had been chosen 6 centuries earlier by the Benedictine monks who founded Walden Abbey. Elements of the monastic landscape survive, including Audley End village & the monastic fish pond, Place Pond, the rectangular plan of which was softened in the 18C.

Henry Winstanley’s late 17C engravings of the ‘palace’ created by the 1st Earl of Suffolk show the house as the centerpiece of an extensive formal layout of courts & gardens, organized on an east-west axis.

To the west, beyond the inner court of lodgings (removed in stages throughout the 1st half of the 18C) was a vast entrance forecourt, divided by a canalized river Cam, with the London to Cambridge road beyond. The stable block marks its intended north side, although outside the forecourt as completed.

The domestic appearance of this stable block indicates its original use as a range of basic lodgings, but it was rapidly converted by the removal of the 1st floor & the creation of large doorways in its north side, opening on to a stable yard.

The formal landscape persisted in simplified form until the mid-18C. The Countess of Portsmouth began to soften it & moved the walled kitchen garden away from the house. Under Sir John Griffin Griffin, ‘Capability’ Brown began the landscape garden that survives today, & Robert Adam designed most of its buildings.

 William Tomkins (1732-1792) Audley End from the South-West

William Tomkins (1732-1792) Audley End from the South-East c 1788

William Tomkins (1732-1792) Audley End View from the Tea House Bridge 1788

 William Tomkins (1732-1792) Audley End the Tea House Bridge

A view of Audley End House from the West, by Edmund Garvey (c 1782), showing the Adam bridge separating the 2 lakes

The features visible in the gardens now are mainly the work of the Capability Brown & Robert Adam, commissioned in the late 18C by Sir John Griffin Griffin to refashion the estate. The site, on flat ground next to the river Cam, flanked by its steep valley slopes, provided Brown with an almost ideal landscape canvas.

The remaining forecourt walls were demolished to open up the extensive views over the lawn. The river Cam was reworked into a serpentine lake – one of Brown's design hallmarks – with naturalistic groupings of trees were planted to the south & west. The Cedar of Lebanon near the house dates to Brown's time.

Adam designed the new bridge over the river Cam, now called the Adam Bridge, on the road connecting Saffron Walden to the Newport–Cambridge road. His Temple of Victory, Lady Portsmouth’s Column & Tea House Bridge also survive.