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Audley End: A window to the past as stately home visitors experience the historic gardens in all their autumnal glory

A gilded frame positioned in the gardens of Audley End House is giving visitors a window to the past as they experience the same historic views as seen by the estate's famous landscape gardener hundreds of years ago.

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown designed the formal gardens at the English Heritage stately home near Saffron Walden in the 1700s. He was England's pre-eminent designer of the time and was responsible for transforming more than 250 gardens and parklands from the 1740s up until his death in 1783.

English Heritage unveiled glowing gold viewing frames at five of its properties in October, including Audley End, to allow visitors to capture stunning autumn views – and it has proved extremely popular.

Visitors have been capturing the historic views of Audley End House (60264397)
Visitors have been capturing the historic views of Audley End House (60264397)

Field Marshal Sir John Griffin Griffin, 4th Baron Howard de Walden and 1st Baron Braybrooke, who inherited Audley End at the age of 53, commissioned Brown. His work included widening the River Cam to create the appearance of a linear lake, as well as new driveways and lawns, and extensive tree planting.

The two had many disagreements along the way and did not part as friends, with Brown writing in one of their letters: “Mr Brown informes Sir John Griffen that he has received his note and as Sir John meant to say nothing that was agreeable to Mr Brown after seven months silence it would have been as well to let It sleep on…”

Visitors to Audley End in the autumn are greeted by strikingly beautiful trees, many from the late 18th century, displaying their autumnal hues of yellow, orange and bronze.

How landscape gardener Capability Brown would have viewed the estate (60264386)
How landscape gardener Capability Brown would have viewed the estate (60264386)

A large variety of pumpkins and squashes are grown in the kitchen garden, making a colourful and interesting spectacle. Near the parterre, there are the Kentucky coffee trees, the Howard oak (Quercus x audleyensis, one of only two in the world) and the avenue of limes.

Other historic sites that took part in the project include Osborne House, Queen Victoria's residence on the Isle of Wight, and Down House, the Kent home of naturalist Charles Darwin.

Christopher Weddell, English Heritage’s senior gardens advisor, said: “The historic gardens in our care are among the finest in the country and provide magnificent views of autumn colour for our visitors today as they did for their famous residents.

"Our historic gardens were crafted to be seen as works of art in their own right and our expert garden teams care for them as carefully as our historic interiors; both are precious and irreplaceable.

The frames are carried in to place (60264394)
The frames are carried in to place (60264394)

"It is our hope that the beautiful gilded picture frames, standing proud in the landscapes, will frame the views for visitors and let them look through a window into the past.”

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