Cliveden stands in the middle of the estate and is surrounded by formal gardens and woodland walks.
From the Terrace, enjoy the view over the magnificent parterre to the River Thames beyond.
Explore the Woodland Gardens with garden buildings, amphitheatre and numerous statues and fountains.
Discover the Cliveden Maze, the Walled Garden and the Rose Garden with 900 repeat flowering roses in shades of red, orange and yellow.
Don’t miss the Japanese Garden, Maze and Chinese Pagoda – this area of the garden was laid out by William Waldorf Astor.
If you have time, hire a boat along the River Thames and enter the world of Ratty and Mole – Kenneth Graham, author of Wind in the Willows was a frequent visitor at Cliveden.
National Trust members visit for free.
According to William Waldorf Astor’s The Historical Descent of Cliveden, in 1237, the land was owned by Geoffrey de Clivvden.
In 1666, Cliveden was bought by George Villiers, later Duke of Buckingham. Villiers commissioned William Winde to pull down the 16th house and replace it with a new building – only the arcaded terrace remains today. Buckingham allegedly bought Cliveden for his mistress Countess of Shrewsbury. In 1668, the Countess’s husband challenged Buckingham to a duel on Barnes Common. Lord Shrewsbury died from his wounds.
In 1696, the 1st Earl of Orkney bought Cliveden and employed Thomas Archer to add two wings to the house. Orkney asked Charles Bridgeman to layout the woodland walks and build the amphitheatre overlooking The Thames. Orkney left the estate to his daughter Anne, 2nd Countess of Orkney who married Earl of Inchiquin. She leased the property to Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1737. On his daughter’s third birthday, the Prince arranged for a Masque to be performed in the Amphitheatre and it was here that ‘Rule Britannia’ by Thomas Arne was played for the first time.
After the Prince’s death in 1751, Anne and her family moved back to Cliveden. In 1795, a fire destroyed the house and in 1824, the 4th Countess sold the estate to Sir George Warrender. A new house was built designed by William Burn. On Warrender’s death in 1849, the property was bought by 2nd Duke of Sutherland.
After only a few months of ownership, Cliveden was again devastated by fire. This time Charles Barry was employed to design an ‘Italianate Villa’ which was completed by 1852. Barry also designed the magnificent Parterre in front of the house.
In 1893 the estate was bought by William Waldorf Astor, who on the early death of his wife, lived at Cliveden as a recluse. Astor created the Japanese Garden and Maze, buying the Chinese Pagoda at the sale of the Marquess of Hertford’s villa near in Paris in 1900.
On the marriage of his son Waldorf to Nancy Langhorn in 1906, Astor gave the estate to them as a wedding present and moved to Hever Castle. In 1920s, Nancy Astor commissioned Norah Lindsay to layout the Long Garden.
In 1942, Cliveden was given to National Trust along with an endowment, on the condition that Astors could live at Cliveden for as
long as they wished. In 1950s, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe was commissioned to design the circular Rose Garden.
In 1961, Lord Astor gave a party at Cliveden that would change the course of British history. Astor had asked two guests: a nineteen year–old mistress of a suspected Russian spy, Christine Keeler, and John Profumo, Secretary of State for War. Profumo and Keeler began an affair which led to Profumo’s forced resignation and irrevocable damage to Macmillan’s Conservative Government. Seven years later, the Astors gave the whole estate to the National Trust.
In 1984, the National Trust leased the house to Blakeney Hotels and in 2012, Cliveden was let to the current owners, London and Regional Properties. Meghan Markle stayed here the night before her wedding to Prince Harry.