The Canaletto paintings

Image for 24 Canaletto Paintings One of the views of Venice by Canaletto

The largest private collection of Venetian Views by Canaletto on Public View

Lord John Russell (who became 4th Duke of Bedford in 1732) visited Venice while on his Grand Tour in 1731. He was with his younger sister, Elizabeth, Countess of Essex and her husband, William Capel, 3rd Earl of Essex. It is thought that Lord John met with Joseph Smith, Canaletto’s agent, and the paintings were subsequently commissioned. It was fashionable to order a set of views of the places visited on the Grand Tour as a souvenir of your visit.

24 paintings eventually arrived in England; and within the Abbey Archives we have three bills to Joseph Smith, dated 1733, 1735 and 1736, and totalling just over £188 (about £16,000 today). 

Image for 24 Canaletto Paintings The Dining Room

The Dining Room

Woburn Abbey houses the largest private collection of views of Venice by Canaletto, and 21 of the 24 paintings are displayed in the Dining Room. 

The pictures were first hung in Bedford House in London, until the house was demolished in 1800. Francis, 5th Duke of Bedford, had the West-facing windows in the Dining Room blocked in to enable all of the Canaletto paintings to be hung in one room and during the nineteenth century it was called the Venetian Drawing Room.

When, in 1955, the house was opened to the public, the 13th Duke had the West-facing windows unblocked to open up the view once more. Accordingly several of the pictures had to be moved. One of the large ones, Regatta on the Grand Canal, is now in the Blue Drawing Room, and two of the smaller ones are hanging over the doors in the Breakfast Room. 

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Events & Exhibitions

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Woburn Abbey Venison for Sale

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From November 2016 until February 2017 The Duke of Bedford is once again offering the opportunity for you to buy venison of the highest quality directly from Woburn Deer Park. The deer roam freely over 3,000 acres of mixed traditional park land, enjoying a stress-free life and are primarily grass-fed.
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Bach to the Future

We are delighted to welcome the return of the Altamira Chamber Orchestra to The Sculpture Gallery to perform a selection of Bach's most popular pieces.
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Mothering Sunday at The Sculpture Gallery

Celebrate Mothering Sunday at The Sculpture Gallery with a bespoke afternoon tea followed by a private guided tour of Woburn Abbey Gardens.
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Spring Gardening Skills

Let the Woburn Abbey Gardens Team give you the confidence to tackle essential jobs in your own garden with this seasonal session.
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Easter Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

A masterclass in Easter flower-arranging with floral expert, Jonathan Moseley.
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Carriage Tours April

An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a historic Landau Carriage around the grounds and gardens.
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Parkland Tour - April

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

Take an in-depth look at the career of Humphry Repton and what made him such a remarkable landscape gardener.
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Carriage Tours May

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Extra dates added due to popular demand! An exciting experience, enjoy a tour in a historic Landau Carriage.
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Woburn Abbey Gardens Tour and Lunch

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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Kitchen Gardening

Learn a variety of skills to take away and use in your own Kitchen Garden.
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The Magic of Opera

Internationally renowned Bjorn Dobbelaere to conduct a 21 piece orchestra, whilst Bridget Costello and Marcus Liljedahl will perform a selection of the most popular arias and duets.
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Wedding Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

A masterclass in wedding flower-arranging with floral expert, Jonathan Moseley.
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Parkland Tour - May

Come along on a tour around our beautiful deer park, and experience it as Humphry Repton intended.
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Teddy Bear Festival

Leading collectors, experts and the top names in the industry will be bringing along a fine selection of rare and famous teddy bears. There will be antique artist and modern bears for you to browse and buy.
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Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2017

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After the huge success of the 2016 Garden Show this June we are pleased to announce that tickets can now be purchased for the 8th Woburn Abbey Garden Show taking place on 24th and 25th June 2017. Set against the stunning backdrop of Woburn Abbey, ‘The Gardener’s Garden Show’ offers visitors the best location of any show in the UK, taking place within the 42 acres of Abbey Gardens.
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Introduction to Garden Photography

A great opportunity to learn the basics of digital photography
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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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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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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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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.