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Woburn Abbey

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Woburn Abbey, near Woburn in Bedfordshire, is the seat of the Duke of Bedford, head of the Russell Family. The Abbey was a sad half-demolished, half-derelict house in 1953 when the 12th Duke died, exposing the family estates to heavy death duties for the second time in thirteen years. The Abbey, originally given to the family by Henry VIII, had been largely rebuilt by the 4th Duke in the 18th century. The architects Henry Flitcroft and Henry Holland had been employed on the project. Following World War II, dry rot had been discovered and half the Abbey was subsequently demolished.Following his father’s death, John, 13th Duke of Bedford opened it to the public for the first time in 1955. It soon gained in popularity as other amusements were added, including the safari park. The 13th Duke died in November 2002 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.. Asked about the unfavourable comments by other aristocrats when he turned the family home into a theme park he once said, "I do not relish the scorn of the peerage, but it is better to be looked down on than overlooked."The park does however contain the Woburn Safari Park.

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