Cliveden


Cliveden

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Name: Cliveden
Address: Taplow, Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire, SL6 0JA
Telephone: 01628 605 069

Cliveden is a country estate that is set upon 375 acres of grounds that reach to the edge of the River Thames, the centrepiece is a huge mansion in the English Palladian style and the Roman Cinquecento style. The Victorian mansion sits on a 400 foot long brick terrace that dates from the mid 17th century and the house was built in 1850-1 on behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland by architect Sir Charles Barry who was famous for designing the Houses of Parliament.

Cliveden has had a varied past with several incarnations of the house on the estate and a number of high profile owners and occupants. It was home to Nancy Astor and the Cliveden set (a band of political intellectuals) used to meet regularly there during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Later in the 1960’s it was the setting for the Profumo Affair. The 1970’s saw Cliveden used as an overseas college campus for Stanford University students and today the house is leased from the National Trust by von Essen Hotels who run it as an exclusive 5 star hotel.

The 375 acre gardens and woodlands are all open to the public as well as areas of the house on particular days. Two previous houses sat on the grounds, the first built in 1666 but each of them was lost to fires. The second incarnation of the house burnt down in 1849. The smoke from the fire could be seen from as far away as Windsor and it was in fact Queen Victoria that alerted fire engines to the fire from the castle but it was unfortunately too late and the house was gutted.

Over the years Cliveden has had an illustrious past. It has been home to an Earl, two Dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor. Notably these being; George Villiers the 2nd Duke of Buckingham who lived in the first 1666 house designed by William Winde; George Hamilton the 1st Earl of Orkney who purchased the estate in 1696; Frederick the Prince of Wales who leased the estate between the years 1737 and 1751 and it is believed that during his tenure the aria Rule, Britannia! was performed for the first time in public in the cliff side amphitheatre at Cliveden on 1 August 1740; Sir George Warrender, 4th Baronet bought the estate in 1824 and rebuilt Cliveden; George, 2nd Duke of Sutherland bought Cliveden in 1849 and within months it burnt to the ground; 1st Duke of Westminster and finally the Astor family.

The Astor family contributed to the legend of the house significantly after William Waldorf Astor bought the estate in 1893. He gave Cliveden to his son Waldorf in 1906 and so began a famous reputation for lavish parties and the entertaining of guests at Cliveden. Regular weekend house parties were held at the residence and a wide range of famous politicians, film stars, artists and writers attended. Among them were, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Joseph Kennedy, George Bernard Shaw, Mahatma Gandhi, Amy Johnson, F.D. Roosevelt, H.H. Asquith, T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), A.J. Balfour and the writers Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, and Edith Wharton.

In 1942 Cliveden was donated by the Astor family to the National Trust with the proviso that should the family wish to continue living in the residence they would be allowed to do so as long as they wished. They continued to live at Cliveden until 1968 which was shortly after the Profumo affair and the death of Bill Astor.

Today Cliveden is run as an exclusive hotel that features an indoor swimming pool and spa treatment room within the walled garden which also complements the existing outdoor pool. There are 37 rooms and Cliveden is licensed to perform civil ceremonies.

The grounds at Cliveden are among some of the most spectacular of any country house and formal parterre is one of the largest in Europe totalling 4 acres of clipped yew pyramids, wedge-shaped beds edged with box hedging and filled with catnip. There is an area called the Long Garden, Water Garden and Rose Garden. There is also a maze that was commissioned in 1894 by Lord Astor which contains 1,100 six-foot-tall yew trees and re-opened to the public in April 2011.

What’s There?

  • An imposing country retreat which now doubles as an exclusive hotel.
  • A range of exquisite gardens.
  • The famous parterre with colourful bedding.
  • Large maze re-opened in 2011.
  • Enjoy food at The Orangery.
  • Coffee shop and a kiosk at the car park for snacks.
  • Picnic areas available.
  • Gift shop.
  • Free parking for National Trust members.
  • Baby change facilities.
  • Family garden explorer packs.
  • All-terrain buggies for hire.
  • Children’s theatre.

Trivia

  • Cliveden hotel boasts the world’s most expensive sandwich at £100 per sandwich!
  • Cliveden has been featured in numerous films, TV productions and literature.
  • Films which have featured Cliveden are Mrs. Henderson Presents in 2005, Yaadein in 2001, Help! in 1965, Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head, Chaplin in 1992, Carrington in 1995, The Yellow Rolls Royce, Scandal in 1989, Death on the Nile in 1978, Sherlock Holmes in 2009.
  • TV productions which feature Cliveden are an advert for the National Lottery, The Apprentice and the Antiques Roadshow.
  • Notable authors such as Jerome K. Jerome, Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Gore Vidal have made mention of Cliveden in literature.

Prices

Gardens and woodlands (February to October): adult £9.90, child £4.95, family £24.75.
Gardens and woodlands (November and December): adult £6.50, child £3.25, family £16.25.
Woodlands (Jan – mid Feb): adult £4.50, child £2.25, family £11.25.
House (Standard Admission): adult £1.50, child 75p.

Free admission for National Trust members.

See more information on National Trust Membership.

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