10/8/14

Audley End: The Victorian Kitchen Garden

Still writing about my brief life in England this summer.

One Friday we took a quick trip to Audley End. This was one of my favorite outings, even if it was not quite as eventful as some of the others. Audley End is one of the great manor houses of East Anglia; think Downton Abbey, but much older, smaller, and filled with tourists. It's only a twenty minute trip from Cambridge, and has stunning grounds and gardens.
The day we arrived also happened to be absolutely beautiful. First we had some (more) tea and scones (all day, everyday). I had mine with clotted cream and jam. Clotted cream is a very dense spread, somewhere between whipped cream and butter. It's great with jam, and because I was on vacation, it had zero calories!
After tea we toured the house and explored the grounds. Audley End sells potted plants from its gardens. This is a quirky trait of English culture; tourist collect different plants from various houses all over the country as souvenirs. Gardening is really popular, almost like grilling for Americans.  
The house sported many beautiful, impressive rooms, but I think my favorite was the enormous Victorian kitchen. I could get used to that copper collection: 
And of course they had more things to try on....

The gardens at Audley End were very unique. In their hay-day, most of the great houses were completely self sufficient. Since their transformation into public monuments, many of the farms and gardens of the houses have been scaled back. Although the Audley End stables still had horses, the garden had been meticulously preserved. The huge kitchen garden featured every vegetable, fruit, and herb under the sun. In the manor's green house, which dated back to the nineteenth century, the manor's supply of grapes and other exotic fruits grew. The room growing peaches had the most beautiful fragrance!
After spending the day wandering around, in and out of the house, we were back to Cambridge in no time. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

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