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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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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Father's Day 2017

Sit back and relax with a traditional two course Sunday lunch this Father’s Day at The Sculpture Gallery
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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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Garden Photography (morning session)

A great opportunity to learn about digital photography and enjoy the Woburn Abbey Garden Show
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Garden Photography (afternoon session)

A great opportunity to learn about digital photography and enjoy the Woburn Abbey Garden Show
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Garden Show - Waitrose Offer

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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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Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2017 VIP Packages

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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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The Lord Chamberlains Men presents the Comedy of Errors

Bring your family, friends a picnic and a blanket to enjoy a fantastic summers evening of 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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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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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

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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

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.