One of the great country houses of Buckinghamshire, and indeed, of all England, Cliveden stands on a high cliff above the River Thames, and the gardens provide wonderful views down the river.
The house was originally built in 1670 for the 2nd Duke of Buckingham by William Winde. It was badly damaged by fire in 1795, and was left to molder for 30 years. It was eventually rebuilt, but another fire in 1849 destroyed much of the original structure. Sir Charles Barry designed a new Italianate building in 1850 for the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland.
Barry's three story central block curves outward to join 18th century wings designed by Thomas Archer. The interior was altered in the 1870s from Barry's design, and the clock tower and stable block added.
In 1893 the estate was purchased by William Waldorf Astor, and the interior was remodeled yet again, to set off Astor's fine furniture and tapestries. Between the two world wars Cliveden was at the centre of political and social activity, and the 2nd Viscount Astor and Lady Astor made Cliveden a popular gathering place for influential people who became known as "the Cliveden set". In 1942 Viscount Astor gave Cliveden to the National Trust.
The house is surrounded by 375 acres of superb landscape gardens, including a Rose Garden designed by noted English garden expert Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe. The gardens also feature the Canadian War Memorial Garden, the Ilex Grove, Amphitheatre, River Walk and the Yew Tree Walk.
The grounds are also notable for their delightful statuary, with the most prominent feature being the sculpted "Fountain of Love", which stands at the end of a broad entry avenue at the main approach to the house. Parts of the gardens date back to the 16th century, though most are of more recent vintage, and much of the statuary was added by the Astors.
The house itself is now run as a hotel, and only three rooms are open to the public, but the gardens are maintained by the National Trust.
Access: Car park 200m from house, but alternative arrangements for disabled drivers. Disabled visitors may be driven to and collected from restaurant. House (part): accessible, but some steps. Terrace: ramped access. Garden & grounds: largely accessible.
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