A sound artist, field recordist and researcher with a love for heritage sites, ruins and buildings at risk.
Anna Celeste Edmonds

Houghton House, Ampthill

Above: a quiet, evening view of Houghton House.


Houghton House is a Grade I listed ruined building with an interesting history. Building work was commenced around 1615 by the Dowager Countess of Pembroke, passing on to Thomas Bruce, and then sold to the Russell family (the 4th Duke of Bedford), who passed it onto his son at death. Instead of falling to ruin as many neglected buildings have, this house was actively dismantled; all furnishings stripped from the walls and the roof ripped off and sold for building materials. The 5th Duke never married, so with no legitimate heir at death, the house had already fallen into complete decay with no chance of revival. Luckily, the previously removed staircase still lives on at The Swan Hotel in Bedford.

It is now an English Heritage site, the ruin sitting peacefully on a hill with beautiful views of Bedfordshire countryside, accessible to the public during daylight hours. I have visited this building on several occasions, but only focused on recording the space during one particular early evening when the site was empty and quiet.


Here is a background recording of the site: