Cumbrian people visiting the beautiful Jacobean mansion of Audley End in Essex will find over 100 rooms adorned with antique chests, Victorian balloon back dining chairs and other treasures – which could potentially be sold off in the near future.
The Audley End has been the family seat of the Braybrooke family since 1788. They still own the estate, but Audley End House itself was sold to the nation in the 1940s and is today managed by English Heritage, which has placed it at number two on its list of Great Furnished Houses.
The trouble is, that furniture is actually on loan. The house may be publicly owned, but the priceless artworks, antique marquetry furniture and other contents are not – they remain the property of the Braybrooke family. This is not a problem so long as the current owner, Lord Robin Neville – the 10th Baron – is alive. He resides in a 17th century lodge close to the mansion, and is so devoted to the 6,000 acre estate he even built a miniature railway for visitors. Unfortunately, complex inheritance rules mean that when the 80-year old is no longer here, Audley End will pass not to his children but a distant family member – and there is nothing to stop her selling the mansion contents.
English Heritage is hoping there will be a happy end to this Downton Abbey-style saga, but there is nothing to stop Lancashire residents enjoying an aristocratic lifestyle. Visit an antiques dealer in Preston, and a Victorian balloon back dining chair can be found for halls of any size.
No comments yet.