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. 

Events & Exhibitions

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Humphry Repton: Art & Nature for the Duke of Bedford

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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.
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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’
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Carriage Tours

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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.
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Humphry Repton Study Day

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

and
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.
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Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2019

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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

Carriage Tours

and
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

Carriage Tours

and
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

Carriage Tours

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