Woburn Abbey Architects

Shaping The Abbey

Woburn Abbey, as it can be seen today, has been shaped by a number of architects, each of whom was a leading designer of their day. Henry Flitcroft, Sir William Chambers, Henry Holland and Sir Jeffry Wyatville are amongst the most notable examples.


Image for Architecture The Grand Staircase

Henry Flitcroft (1697-1769)

Flitcroft was commissioned in 1747 by the 4th Duke to rebuild the entire West range of Woburn Abbey.  He designed the impressive suite of State Apartments which run the length of the West front in the Palladian style. Flitcroft also designed the impressive Grand staircase which is cantilevered from the walls and has a beautiful wrought iron balustrade. To increase the sense of height, Flitcroft cleverly narrowed the staircase towards the top to become a single lane flight of stairs.

Henry Flitcroft is responsible for the two Stable blocks in the grounds, known as North Court and South Court. Built around 1750, the west flanks of both Courts are topped by impressive octagonal drums and domes. 


Sir William Chambers (1723 -1796)

Swedish born Chambers became one of the most influential early neo-classical architects of his time.  He specialised in the popular Palladian style, but enhanced his designs with French, Italian and Oriental styles. He was employed by the 4th Duke to make various alterations to the Abbey and was responsible for Chambers Bridge. The bridge separates Basin Pond from New Pond and was constructed around 1770 with three semi-circular arches.  This is the bridge you cross as you drive through the deer park on your way up to the house.


Image for Architecture A Chimney Piece Designed by Henry Holland

Henry Holland (1745-1806)

Henry Holland began his architectural career as his father’s assistant, and developed a close connection with Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Through this association with Brown, Holland was introduced to some of the grandest families in the country, from whom he soon received commissions.

Holland was commissioned by the 5th Duke to modernise Woburn Abbey. He redesigned the South front, building a sophisticated three part library, divided by screens of columns. Holland also designed and built the Chinese Dairy in the gardens, as well as the large indoor riding school and tennis court located behind Flitcroft’s two Stable Courts. This latter structure was demolished in the 1950s due to dry rot.

Image for Architecture Bust of Henry Holland

Henry Holland was still at Woburn in 1789 building a conservatory complete with an impressive Venetian window. The conservatory was linked to the Abbey via a covered walkway which extended round to the new riding school and onwards to the Chinese Dairy. The Duke later changed this building to become a sculpture gallery, housing busts of his favourite political heroes; and commissioned Holland to build the Temple of Liberty within it in 1801.

Unfortunately, the young Duke suddenly died in 1802, and it was his brother John, the 6th Duke, who completed the works.


Image for Architecture The Sculpture Gallery

Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766-1840)

Wyattville became the Duke’s architect in 1806, and was commissioned to design and build Endsleigh, a cottage orné, in Devon. According to an inscription in the stables, Endsleigh ‘was built and a residence created in the sequestered valley by John, Duke of Bedford, the spot having been previously chosen for the natural and picturesque beauties which surround it by Georgiana, Duchess of Bedford...’  The foundation stone was laid by their four eldest sons on September 7th 1810.  The interiors were entirely decorated and furnished by Wyatville; the landscaping carried out by Humphry Repton.

The 6th Duke also commissioned Wyatville to adapt Holland’s conservatory in 1816 to make it into a more impressive setting for his increasing sculpture collection.  Wyatville designed the Temple of the Graces, in preparation for Canova’s sculpture The Three Graces (now in the collection of the V&A and NGS).  The central bay has eight magnificent antique columns, brought back from Rome by the 5th Duke, and installed by Wyatville to support his shallow dome.  In 1822 he constructed the Camellia House which adjoins the East End of the Sculpture Gallery.

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Events & Exhibitions

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Outdoor Theatre

Brought to you by the Lord Chamberlains Men, as the all male cast perform Shakespeare's hilarious farce, The Comedy of Errors.
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Parkland Tour - July

Come along on a tour around our beautiful deer park, and experience it as Humphry Repton intended.
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Woburn Abbey Gardens Tour and Lunch 13th July

Enjoy the splendour of the Woburn Abbey Gardens through the seasons with our 2017 private garden tour and lunch at The Sculpture Gallery.
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A Day with Pippa Greenwood

Learn to 'grow your own' from this well-known gardening expert.
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Bee Walk

Discover the importance of attracting bees to your garden and, more importantly, how to attract them.
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Garden Safari Week - July

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Calling all Garden Explorers! Come and join us on our Garden Safari this summer holiday.
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Parkland Tour - July

Come along on a tour around our beautiful deer park, and experience it as Humphry Repton intended.
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Garden Safari Week - August

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Calling all Garden Explorers! Come and join us on our Garden Safari this summer holiday.
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Parkland Tour - August

Come along on a tour around our beautiful deer park, and experience it as Humphry Repton intended.
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Bat Walks

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Take an exclusive tour of the Woburn Abbey Gardens at night and learn about the nocturnal activities of the bats living in the gardens.
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Autumn Gardening Skills

This session is designed to give you a range of horticultural skills and enable you to get hands on with plant material to gain the confidence with your own garden maintenance. The perfect introduction if you are not sure where, when or how to get started in your own garden.
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Bat Walks

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Take an exclusive tour of the Woburn Abbey Gardens at night and learn about the nocturnal activities of the bats living in the gardens.
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Pruning Study Day

This session is designed to give you a wide range of pruning skills and enable you to get hands on with plant material to gain the confidence with your own garden maintenance.
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NSPCC Luxury Gift Fair

The NSPCC Luxury Gift Fair is an annual event and a highlight of the Woburn calendar.
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Off Road Deer Park Tours

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Join the Deer Keepers for a 1.5 hour tour of the Woburn Abbey Deer Park where you will able to get up close to the beautiful deer.
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Natalie Williams' Soul Motown Revue

The Sculpture Gallery is delighted to welcome back Natalie Williams' Soul Family this November for an exclusive evening of musical entertainment and fine dining.
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Off Road Deer Park Tours

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Join the Deer Keepers for a 1.5 hour tour of the Woburn Abbey Deer Park where you will able to get up close to the beautiful deer.
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Carriage Tours October

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An exciting experience, enjoy a tour in a historic Landau Carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
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Christmas Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

A masterclass in Christmas flower-arranging with floral expert, Jonathan Moseley.
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War Notes from Woburn: Remembrance Sunday

The Sculpture Gallery is delighted to welcome back Lili la Scala this Remembrance Sunday, performing a poignant blend of vintage songs while guests enjoy a traditional two course Sunday lunch.
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A Touch of West End

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Woburn's Sculpture Gallery is delighted to welcome back A Touch of West End this December for a fabulous evening of fine dining and musical entertainment.
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Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2018

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After the huge success of the 2017 Garden Show this June we are pleased to announce that tickets can now be purchased for the 9th Woburn Abbey Garden Show taking place on 23rd and 24th June 2018. Set against the stunning backdrop of Woburn Abbey, ‘The Gardener’s Garden Show’ offers visitors one of the best location of any show in the UK, taking place within the 42 acres of Abbey Gardens.