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.

Events & Exhibitions

Image for Humphry Repton: Art & Nature for the Duke of Bedford

Humphry Repton: Art & Nature for the Duke of Bedford

to
Open to the public between 23rd March and 28th October 2018, the new exhibition explores the fascinating relationship between Repton and one of his greatest clients.
Image for Christmas Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

Christmas Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

This event is now sold out - Jonathan Moseley will be at Woburn for 3 workshops in 2019.
Image for Housekeeper's Know-how

Housekeeper's Know-how

Ever wondered what it takes to preserve and care for a great stately home and its treasures? While we’re closed for the winter, our housekeeping team invites you behind-the-scenes for an exclusive glimpse into what it takes to complete Woburn Abbey’s annual ‘deep-clean’
Image for Carriage Tours  - April

Carriage Tours - April

An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
Image for Adam Frost: Introduction to Planting

Adam Frost: Introduction to Planting

Find out how to approach designing the beds and borders in your garden. Whether you are starting from scratch or want to refresh existing areas of your garden, Adam will share the essential things you need to know to get started.
Image for Spring and Easter Flower Celebration with Jonathan Moseley

Spring and Easter Flower Celebration with Jonathan Moseley

Celebrate the arrival of spring with this masterclass in spring flower-arranging with floral expert, Jonathan Moseley.
Image for Humphry Repton Study Day

Humphry Repton Study Day

Immerse yourself in the life and work of the last great landscape designer of the 18th century.
Image for Carriage Tours  - May

Carriage Tours - May

An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
Image for How to Run a Stately Home: Talk and Lunch

How to Run a Stately Home: Talk and Lunch

Join Simon Pestell, former Butler to The Duke and Duchess and now the Abbey’s Head Housekeeper, to find out ‘How to Run a Stately Home’.
Image for Summer Flowers Sensation with Jonathan Moseley

Summer Flowers Sensation with Jonathan Moseley

Celebrate the wealth of opportunities summer offers for growing and arranging flowers with floral expert, Jonathan Moseley.
Image for VIP Garden Show package Saturday 22nd June

VIP Garden Show package Saturday 22nd June

We invite you to enjoy a very special day out at the Woburn Abbey Garden Show with our exclusive VIP packages.
Image for Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2019

Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2019

and
Early Bird rates can now be booked on-line for the Gardeners' Garden Show.
Image for VIP Garden Show package Sunday 23rd June

VIP Garden Show package Sunday 23rd June

We invite you to enjoy a very special day out at the Woburn Abbey Garden Show with our exclusive VIP packages.
Image for Carriage Tours  - June

Carriage Tours - June

An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
Image for How to Run a Stately Home: Talk and Lunch

How to Run a Stately Home: Talk and Lunch

Join Simon Pestell, former Butler to The Duke and Duchess and now the Abbey’s Head Housekeeper, to find out ‘How to Run a Stately Home’.
Image for Carriage Tours  - July

Carriage Tours - July

An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
Image for Carriage Tours  - August

Carriage Tours - August

An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.