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“Will appeal to some, but frustrate others”

Woburn Abbey and Gardens
Ranked #2 of 6 things to do in Woburn
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Woburn Abbey has been the home of the Earls and Dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years and is now home to the 15th Duke and his family. Alongside the world class collection of art, the house contains the fascinating stories of the people who have shaped the history of both the Abbey and the nation; including the ‘creation ‘ of Afternoon Tea. The Gardens, with a twenty year restoration programme, are of equal splendour with 28 acres of Repton designs to be explored and discovered.Throughout the year Woburn also hosts a series of events including: classic cars rallies, The Woburn Abbey Garden Show, summer theatre, the country fair, vintage airplane rally and autumn deer walks.
Rugby, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
355 reviews
197 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 287 helpful votes
“Will appeal to some, but frustrate others”
Reviewed June 26, 2012

A visit to Woburn Abbey will appeal to admirers of Canaletto, or Gold / Silver / Porcelain artefacts. It might frustrate those who go there looking for notable architecture, fine vistas or well-landscaped gardens.

When the Abbey was one of the first ancestral homes opened to the public it clearly would have had a “wow” factor, but more travellers these days will have seen far finer examples of much of what is on offer here.

Getting a good view of the Abbey itself is the first challenge – on entry to the grounds you are on a two mile one-way single-track loop road through the deer park which passes the house after half-a-mile or so – but unless it is a quiet day with little traffic you will find it a challenge to stop and admire this – and you cannot revisit the view from this point on foot. Similarly any chance of stopping to view the deer is also limited by the road condition. Once you are in the grounds the best potential view of the house is frustratingly out of reach as what looks an innocuous viewing point is labelled as “private”.

The gardens are unremarkable – the only neat symmetrical patterns were in the private area that can only be seen once you are inside the Abbey – and there is strictly no photography allowed there. What would have been nice views of small lakes and a bridge spanning a channel in one of them have been spoilt by dense lily pads and huge leaved vegetation surrounding them. The sculptures in the gardens are a good addition – although the remote ones are in the unkempt area of the garden with narrow strips cut in grass 2 feet high.

The house itself was never finished to plan, so lacks an impressive angle – and although inside there are a couple of impressive corridors and a reasonably impressive staircase, the general feeling is that of a museum, as artworks are used to fill up all available space on the walls. Even the collection of Canalettos sees over 20 of them crammed into one room.

The claustrophobic feeling is enhanced by each room being watched over, as well as the receptionist feeling the need to re-stress the “no photos, mobile phones off” rule just after you’ve walked past signs to that effect.

Those visiting the Abbey might also like to note that the Abbey website directions focus on the Safari Park – but there are plenty of “brown signs” in the area – essentially leading to Woburn village where you reach a crossroads and turn off the main road.

Visited June 2012
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4 Thank WhiteAnt2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
London
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Great gardens.”
Reviewed June 24, 2012

The gardens are landscape gardens with nice vistas and quite a lot to see, especially the sculptures that are actually up for sale. The manor is very impressive, too but a little overdone on the "security" side - you have an attendant in every room who stares at you the whole time you're in the room, which makes me quite uncomfortable.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank maltig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ilfracombe, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
35 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Amazing, Well worth the visit to anyone!”
Reviewed June 22, 2012

This was amazing and completely blew my expectations, every room has its own story, and the things in there are just brilliant, i can't really say how good. This is definitely worth the visit to anyone, who ever you are!

Visited March 2012
Helpful?
Thank NoahMilton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“£4.50 for the gardens & £13.50 for the house & gardens”
Reviewed June 20, 2012

A great day out, you start off with a 2 mile drive through a deer park, then arrive at the gardens, these are also lovely and well maintained, we arrived around 2pm on a Monday afternoon and three coach loads were just about to leave, so aim for 2pm onwards.

The sun defiantly helped, so plan to go on a bright day (if that's ever possible).

We only did the gardens but this also grants you access to go several galleries, exhibitions & buildings.

After our visit we decided to see if we could drive around again, but the exit takes you to the main road, so we drove down the road to the entrance and asked the lady if we could drive around again. She let us but did give us a strange look ;) Well worth the ask if you've travelled far, but don't push your luck, we were the last car in and got followed all the way out by the 'gamer keeper'.

Highly recommended.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank lostjackal42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boscastle, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“A real treat”
Reviewed June 18, 2012

Have been a couple of times, what a wonderful day out.

Helpful?
Thank Kayelef
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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