Audley End House, Essex – Landscape: Investigation Report

Author(s): Magnus Alexander

This report describes the results of landscape investigations undertaken in and around Audley End, Essex, between 2009 and 2014 in order to support the development and presentation of the site. They included aerial photography and lidar mapping of 16km2 around the house, analytical earthwork survey within the grounds, architectural assessment of the estate buildings, and sediment sampling. For the sake of completeness the results of the previously published geophysical surveys are also summarised here, with an architectural commentary on the identified remains. The results were incorporated in a GIS together with a range of historic maps. The aerial survey showed the value in re-visiting areas previously subjected to such mapping, adding significant new information ranging from prehistoric sites to temporary Second World War structures, and the lidar data allowed the identification of earthworks within woodland. Geophysical survey provided extensive evidence for the Jacobean house to the west of the existing house. It also recorded remains of the earlier monastery and post-Dissolution house as well as other remains in the wider grounds associated with all periods. The architectural commentary on the geophysics identified Thorpe as the architect of the outer court and confirmed the accuracy of the Winstanley views and plans of the 1670s. Analytical earthwork survey recorded archaeologically significant features across the whole survey area from a wide range of periods, perhaps from the pre-medieval to very recent, though earthworks associated with the 1780s Elysian Garden were particularly numerous. The architectural assessment has provided considerable detail on the buildings of the estate and corrected several attributions. It has also provided a picture of the varying interests of the holders of the estate during the 19th century. The results of the initial sediment sampling were disappointing and no further work was undertaken. The GIS proved invaluable, allowing the comparison of the results of the various project elements to historic maps, and relating the results to each another. Overall, it is difficult to suggest that any areas of the grounds might have more or less archaeological potential than any others, apart perhaps from the area to the east of the house that never formed a part of the monastic enclosure or formal grounds of the later houses.

Report Number:
Research Department Reports
Landscape Park


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