Woburn Abbey, comprising Woburn Park and its buildings, was originally founded as a Cistercian abbey in 1145.
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Taken from its monastic residents by Henry VIII and given to John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford in 1547, it became the seat of the Russell family and the Dukes of Bedford. The Abbey was largely rebuilt starting in 1744 by the architects Henry Flitcroft and Henry Holland for the 4th Duke. Anna Maria, the wife of the 7th Duke, originated the afternoon tea ritual in 19th-century England
Woburn Abbey comprising Woburn Park and its buildings was originally founded as Cistercian Abbey in 1145 taken from its monastic residence by Henry the eighth and given to John Russell 1st Earl of Bedford in 1547 it became the seat of the Russell family and the dukes of Bedford the Abbey was largely rebuilt starting in 1744 following World War two dry rot was discovered and half the Abbey was subsequently demolished when the 12th Duke died in 1953 his son the 13th Duke was exposed to heavy death duties and the Abbey was a half demolished half derelict house instead of handing the family estate over to the National Trust he kept ownership and opened the abbey to the public for the first time in 1955 it soon gained in popularity as other amusements were added including woburn safari park on the grounds of the Abbey in 1970 the South stable block houses a world-renowned antique centre it is the largest antique centre outside London it was opened in 1967 it's set up to remind of city streets in bygone days the shop fronts are genuine and were rescued before they were demolished today there are 40 shop areas the quality of goods is outstanding with the prices reflecting this as exquisite as the antiques are they don't come close to the opulent contents of the house Woburn Abbey houses one of the most impressive privately owned collections of art on view to the public anywhere the 4th Duke of Bedford visited Venice while on the grand tour in 1731 the paintings of his visit was subsequently commissioned from Canaletto one of the family's favorites is the entrance to the Arsenal Annamarie wife of the 7th Duke started the ritual of afternoon tea here this very English tradition is said to have originated around 1840 when Duchess Anna Marie while entertaining her friends in the blue drawing-room said she had found the time between luncheon and dinner far too long the real passion of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford is horse racing within the estate is the Bloomsbury stood where they've bred and raced three Darby winners when the sixth Duke inherited Woburn he commissioned Humphry Repton the famous landscape gardener to produce designs for improving the gardens and park today the tranquil Abbey Gardens are open for everyone to enjoy the brilliance of Repton you can make your way through approximately 30 acres of serene formal and natural garden environments what if the prettiest areas of the Abbey is the Chinese dairy and ornamental Lake it was built by Henry Holland in 1787 the current uke has peppered the landscape with contemporary and abstract sculptures the Woburn Abbey Deer Park is 3,000 acres in size and is one of the largest private conservation parks in Europe surrounded by a seven mile long wall you can take in the scenery as you drive through when your way to Woburn Abbey and the Abbey Gardens the Deer Park is home to nine species of deer