Audley End was one of the greatest houses of early 17th-century England. In about 1605?14 Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, took an earlier house created by his grandfather Lord Audley on the site of Walden Abbey, and rebuilt it on the scale of a royal palace. Robert Adam transformed this house for Sir John Griffin Griffin in the 1760s, while Lancelot ?Capability? Brown remodelled the grounds, to create one of England's finest landscape gardens.
The large manor of Walden was held after the Norman Conquest of 1066 by the de Mandeville family, the Earls of Essex. On it they established the castle and later town of Walden (now Saffron Walden). In 1139 Geoffrey de Mandeville founded a Benedictine priory (elevated to the status of an abbey in 1190) at Brookwalden, adjacent to the river Cam and the London?Cambridge road.
The De Bohun family, subsequent Earls of Essex and of Hereford, were important patrons of the abbey from the 13th to the 15th centuries, and many family members were buried there.