Houghton House is a Grade I listed ruined house, and English Heritage property, located near Houghton Conquest in Bedfordshire.
The house was built in approximately 1615 for the writer, translator, and literary patron Mary Sidney Herbert, Dowager Countess of Pembroke (born 27 October 1561), but she died of smallpox on 25 September 1621, not long after its completion.
After the Countess' death, the house passed to Thomas Bruce, 1st Earl of Elgin, in 1624. The Bruce family owned the house until the 2nd Earl of Ailesbury, retired to exile overseas in 1696 on account of his loyalty to King James II of England.
Thomas Bruce, 2nd Earl of Ailesbury, never returned to Houghton and so sold the house to John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford, in 1738. The 4th Duke was predeceased by his sons (the 4th Duke's son and heir, Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock, died when he fell from a horse whilst hunting) and therefore the house and the dukedom passed to his grandson, Francis Russell.
In 1794, Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, stripped Houghton House of its furnishings and removed the roof. The Duke never married nor had he produced a legitimate heir. He died in 1802 by which time the house, now open to the elements, was already in decay.
Conservation work was undertaken in 2006 to help maintain safety and improve the understanding of the site. New visitor information boards were installed as a result. In 2007, a number of these have been vandalised, leaving empty boards behind.
This house is just stunning and has such a wonderful feel to it. Hayley and I talked about what it must have looked like in all it's glory and why on earth someone would want to strip it and just leave it to decay.
The views of Bedford are amazing, something I never really got to see when we lived nearby before moving back to Suffolk.
Unfortunately we were all quite hungry and hadn't taken a picnic (we so should have done!) and also it had started raining (so probably a good job we didn't rely on a picnic actually) so we left to head into Ampthill for lunch and a little walk around the shops.
(Harry was here this day but spent most of his time under a blanket in his pushchair as he wasn't feeling great).