We recently decided to set out to explore England`s castles…perhaps watching regular historical movies or reading historical novels by Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory, may have something to do with it! 🙂
This is why, a few weeks ago we decided to set out on a Sunday outing to Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire.
The history of this great palace starts in 1145, when Hugh de Bolebec founded a religious house for a group of Cistercian monks and this remained a monastic building until King Henry VIII took over the building after executing Abbot Robert Hobbes for treason.
In 1547 Woburn Abbey was given to Sir John Russell, by Henry VIII`s son Edward VI for services rendered to his late father, Henry VIII and Sir John then became the first Earl of Bedford. The earldom became a dukedom from 1700.
The family tree can be traced to the present day to the Fifteenth Duke of Bedford, Andrew. Although the family`s accomplishments are many, one cannot help but mention the Flying Duchess who was the wife of the 11th Duke of Bedford, Herbrand. He was an aide-de-camp for the Viceroy of India and there he met and married Ms Mary Tribe (who became Duchess Mary), returning to Woburn soon after, due to the death of his father the 10th Duke, Sackville. When the 1st World War broke out in 1914, the Duke and Duchess converted the Cottage Hospital in Woburn Village and the riding school and tennis court in the Abbey grounds into military hospitals.
Duchess Mary became a qualified surgical nurse and a radiographer and dedicated here entire life to the patients who came to Woburn to be treated. She was a phenomenal woman who also had a passion for ornithology and for flying planes, thereby gaining the nickname: The Flying Duchess and it was through this passion that she unfortunately lost her life.
When you visit Woburn Abbey you cannot help being awed by the vast meadows and land surrounding the palatial building…and as you drive in, you will spot several deer species, originally imported by the 11th Duke.
The building itself is exquisitely well-maintained and as you walk around the estate, you will undoubtedly pass through the Book Room, the Fourth Duke`s Bedroom, corridors such as Paternoster Row full of paintings, one of them a painting of Malta`s grand harbour, and the Grand Staircase. Rooms exuding particular charm include Queen Victoria`s Bedroom and Dressing rooms, the State Saloon and the Dining Room, the latter adorned with typical sights of Venice, by Canaletto and finally the gold and silver vaults which will not fail to enthrall!
- Woburn Abbey Guide. Woburn Abbey and Heritage House Media. 2009
- Woburn Make the discovery. http://www.woburn.co.uk/abbey/history/ (Accessed 15/09/2013)