The World-Renowned Collections

During your visit to Woburn Abbey, there are a number of items within the collection that are not to be missed. 

Image for Must Sees The Armada Portrait

1. The Armada Portrait in the Long Gallery

The portrait of Elizabeth I is attributed to George Gower and dates from 1588. A legendary symbolic painting, it commemorates the victorious sea battle against the Spanish Armada and portrays the Tudor Queen as Empress of the world and commander of the seas.

2. The Crypt Porcelain Display 

Amongst the highlights on display is a celebrated selection of porcelain from the Sèvres dinner service presented to the wife of the 4th Duke by King Louis XV, in appreciation of his role in negotiating the Treaty of Paris in 1763. It is the only Sèvres service to be gifted to an English aristocrat by the King of France. 

3. 24 Views of Venice by Canaletto (1697 - 1768)

The future 4th Duke of Bedford visited Venice while on his Grand Tour in 1731. These paintings were subsequently commissioned and remind us of the fascination of this beautiful city for the traveller. One of the family’s favourites is 'The Entrance to the Arsenal', where the great fleets of the Republic were built. 

4. The Grotto

The Grotto (built probably between the later 1620s and 1641) was designed as an undersea cavern which included piped water cascading into a basin.  The stone is carved to resemble seaweed and stalactites, with dolphins formed from mother-of-pearl and the ceiling inlaid with ormer shells. This room is a unique surviving example of a 17th-century Grotto.

Image for Must Sees The Holland Library

5. The Silver and Gold Vaults

A selection of some of the family silver and gold includes the 4th Duke’s wedding present to his second wife Gertrude, commissioned from Paul de Lamerie, one of the finest Huguenot silversmiths.

6. The Holland Library and The Book Room

The Library was designed by Henry Holland in the neo-classical style. There is an extensive collection of botanical and ornithological books, some of which are displayed in the Book Room including the impressive lifesize illustrations in the facsimile copy of 'Birds of America' by John James Audubon. 

Please note, the Holland Library is only open to the public Tuesday-Thursday.


Image for Must Sees Oakley House Doll's House

7. The Oakley Doll's House

New for 2016, visitors to Woburn Abbey can now peek behind the curtains of a wonderful, historic doll’s house. Beautifully furnished and skilfully made by members of the Russell family at the beginning of the 20th century.

It is a replica in miniature of Oakley House which is situated just outside Bedford and was owned by the 4th Duke of Bedford.

Find out more about the Doll's House

Events & Exhibitions

Image for Carriage Tours with Afternoon Tea

Carriage Tours with Afternoon Tea

Step back in time at Woburn Abbey with a horse drawn carriage tour along the tracks used by the Dukes of Bedford since the 17th century. This unique, unforgettable experience begins with welcome refreshments and a fascinating talk about Woburn's bygone era.
Image for Off Road Deer Park Tours

Off Road Deer Park Tours

Tours dates for 2020 will be posted when we have further instructions from the Government regarding Covid-19.