AG-21 – LORD BRAYBROOKE’s GROUND, ESSEX, ENGLAND
Photo : Audley End cricket ground.
Audley End House, Essex, the beautiful mansion that stands serenely in the hearts of the grounds, now belongs to English Heritage. Over the centuries , it has reflected many of the twists and turns of English history. Originally dating back to the Norman era, in the 16th century it was a Benedictine Abbey.
In the 17th century it was rebuilt on a scale so palatial that Charles II bought it for 50,000 pounds as a base for attending Newmarket races. Subsequent owners cut it down to the scale it is today.
Towards the middle of the 18th century it passed to the Braybrooke family, who owned it until 1948. The local cricket club is enjoying the use of one of the most lovely settings in English cricket designed big, among others, the renowned landscape architect Capability Brown, thanks to them.
Cricket has a long history at Audley End. The MCC visited regularly in the 19th Century. In 1848 one of the Audley team was none other than John Wisden ( founder of WISDEN magazine). He took 5 wickets in the second innings in a game which the Audley End team mainly made up from Estate workers, won by 61 runs.
In 1948 when the Lord Braybrooke of his day decided to hand over his property to English Heritage, he made it a condition that the club should continue to use the ground rent-free.
Today Audley End plays in Division 1 of the Cambridge League on a wicket described as slow, visiting teams are very keen to sample the Ultra-English atmosphere and the home team finds itself playing a good number of friendlies. A visiting side from Australia once insisted on playing for the “Ashes” and current chair Bill only found a suitable facsimile at the very last minute. The house has many interesting period features and exhibits and its amicable relations with the club side extend to challenging it to a game of cricket. The catch was that the game has to be played with curved Georgian bats and old style wickets with only 2 stumps and in Georgian clothing.
Henry Mellor Braybrooke, MBE, was an Amateur English cricketer who played first class cricket in England for Cambridge University and an unofficial England XI between 1891 & 1899.
The house and grounds have been used in popular television and radio shows, including Flog it! Antiques Roadshow.
The exteriors and gardens were also used for the 1964 feature film Woman of Straw starring Sean Connery.
Scenes were shot at The Audley End for movies like TRUST, The Crown and in a Popular series of videos on English Heritage’s YouTube channel.