Woburn Abbey, within the Woburn Estate, is a superb stately home, surrounded by beautiful gardens and the world famous deer park and Safari park.
Woburn Abbey, set in the beautiful Woburn Estate, is one of many stately homes that is now open to the public. As well as the majestic Abbey itself, the grounds include stunning enclosed gardens that are being continually improved and reinvigorated, and numerous routes for walking or cycling, enabling visitors to get from the Estate to Woburn itself.
Woburn Abbey, an Example of British Heritage
Woburn Abbey dates back to around 1145, when it was originally built as a religious house for a group of Cistercian monks. The Abbey was confiscated in 1538 after the Abbot Robert Hobbes was found guilty of treason. The Woburn Estate is a magnificent example of an English stately home and British heritage. More recently, Woburn Abbey had links to the code-breaking work which was so important during World War II at nearby Bletchley Park.
Now home to 15th Duke of Bedford, Woburn Abbey was first fully opened to the public in 1953. The entire Woburn estate includes the Abbey, the deer park and the world famous Safari Park. The Championship Golf courses at Woburn Golf and Country Club were also developed on land previously falling into the Woburn Estate, hence the names of the courses; The Dukes Course, The Duchess Course and the recently added third course, The Marquess.
As with Woburn Abbey itself, the gardens also have unique features that have been added over the centuries, illustrating fashions and tastes of the period. The gardens are accessible without the purchase of a ticket to the main Abbey (though a smaller charge is still payable), which makes them perfect for impromptu visits, such as a family picnic on those rare sunny afternoons in England.
There are two stunning examples in the Woburn Estate of additions made by the then owners, where fashions of the day, or ideas created from travelling the globe, influenced the development. The first example is the Chinese Dairies, built in 1787 by Henry Holland. At the time, the Duke had a collection of oriental porcelain and wanted a suitable area to display and store them. Today, the dairies look superb, with a large ornamental pond adding to the tranquil feel of the gardens.
The Grotto is the second example of a fashionable ‘accessory’, this time in the Woburn Abbey Gardens themselves. The Grotto dates back to the early 16th century and was built for the 6th Duke of Bedford. At the time, romantic ruins were popular on larger estates. The example at Woburn has recently been refurbished and replanted with new archways on the approaches to the feature.
Woburn Hotels, Shops and Pubs
The market town of Woburn is only a few kilometres from Woburn Abbey. Hotels in the town range in style and price range but higher end hotels do tend to get booked up quickly. The walk from the town to the Abbey is extremely picturesque and includes the famous deer park making it well worth the effort.
Both the town and the Abbey have antique shops exhibiting all manor of special items, from furniture to paintings. Woburn Abbey has a building, split over two floors, dedicated to the display of antiques from numerous suppliers and this can be visited without a ticket to the main Abbey. The town also boasts tea rooms, fine restaurants and traditional pubs.
Woburn Abbey has something for everyone and this is one of the reasons people visit again and again. From an aviary to priceless antiques, there is always something interesting to see. The spectacular grounds, usually frequented by herds of deer, also encourage visitors to work up an appetite with a pleasant walk before sampling the offerings in the tea rooms.