Last week we had a trip out to Cliveden, a National Trust house which has been turned into a hotel, but has some stunning features for anyone to enjoy in the gardens.

From the Windsor Govt., site

Relax in the informal spendour of Cliveden’s stunning gardens and enjoy exploring the peaceful woodlands and Thames riverbank. Discover a garden that delights through the seasons with colourful planting schemes, miles of walks and breathtaking views as well as a giant maze that will entertain all ages. Complete your day out with delicious home-cooked lunches and teas and a visit to the gift shop.

Little known facts:
1. The Cliveden Maze has almost 500 metres of paths and 1,100 yew trees were planted to make the hedges.
2. Cliveden’s famous parterre is planted up with up to 25,000 bedding plants and bulbs every spring and summer.

As we mark our 350th anniversary, an historic chamber located below the South Terrace is opening for the first time in 30 years, inviting you to help us solve the mystery of its past.


Here is a brief timeline which outlines the history , from the Cliveden House Site,

350 years of history


  1. 1605

    Estate acquired by Manfield Family.

  2. 1666

    Estate acquired by George Villiers 2nd Duke of Buckingham. He built the original House on the terrace. Built as a hunting lodge to entertain mistress and friends.

  3. 1668

    Dual fought between Duke of Buckingham and Earl of Shrewsbury on account of Countess of Shrewsbury, at Barn Elms near Putney Bridge. Earl of Shrewsbury was wounded and later died.

  4. 1696

    1st Earl of Orkney acquired Cliveden estate and lived here with his wife Elizabeth Villiers who was a first cousin of Duke of Buckingham. Earl of Orkney was a fine soldier and fought often for his country

  5. 1737

    Frederick Prince of Wales leased the house from Anne Countess of Orkney and her husband the 4th Earl of Inchiquin who moved to live at Taplow Court which was part of the estate.

  6. 1751

    Three Countesses of Orkney. Following the death of Frederick Prince of Wales his wife Augusta gave up the lease on Cliveden and Anne her husband 4th Earl of Inchiquin moved back.

  7. 1795

    Devastating fire which destroyed all of the main mansion and only the wings remained.

  8. 1849

    Duke and Duchess of Sutherland moved in to Cliveden. During this year the House suffered another devastating fire which again destroyed the main house. The queen saw the smoke from Windsor Castle and despatched fire engines from Windsor to help to fight the fire.

  9. 1861

    Water tower completed by Henry Clutton. The sculpture on the top of the tower is a version of the Spirit of Liberty as in the Place de la Bastille in Paris. In 1868 the Duchess died and the house was sold.

  10. 1868

    Duke of Westminster arrived at Cliveden. During this time many alterations were made to the interior of the House.

  11. 1893

    The Astors, William Waldorf Astor was immensely rich and purchased Cliveden for $1.25 million. In 1894 Mamie, Lady Astor died at the age of 36. William was devastated and became almost a recluse at Cliveden spending all of his time and effort on changes to the House and his home in London.

  12. 1897

    Lord Astor purchased the wall panels seen today in the French Dining Room from Chateaux d’Asnieres near Paris. The panels date from the mid 18th century.

  13. 1897

    Fountain of Love carved by Thomas Waldo Story in marble and volcanic rock in Rome.

  14. 1905

    Waldorf Astor met and fell in love with Nancy Langhorne.

  15. 1906

    Waldorf was given Cliveden by his father William Astor, at the same time he gave Nancy a magnificent tiara containing the famous Sancy diamond which, is 55 carats and is now kept in the Louvre in Paris.

  16. 1914

    Waldorf volunteered for the army but failed the medical. The house was offered as a hospital but it was decided that it would be too difficult to adapt. Undaunted, he offered it to the Canadians who created a hospital in the covered tennis court and the bowling alley. Several other buildings on the estate were used as accommodation for staff.

  17. 1915

    The Duchess of Connaught Red Cross Hospital could take 110 patients and ended up being able to house 600. In this year Winston Churchill visited and later the same year the King and Queen paid an official visit.

  18. 1932

    President Roosevelt visited Cliveden. Many famous people visited Cliveden in the post war years including Charlie Chaplin and George-Bernard Shaw.

  19. 1961

    Bill Astor installed the outdoor swimming pool where Christine Keeler and John Profumo met thus igniting the biggest political scandal in British political history.

  20. 1965

    Cliveden has often been used for entertaining and for film making. In 1965 the Beatles filmed part of ‘Help’ the movie at the house and famously held races on the Parterre between themselves and the film crew in-between scenes.

  21. 1969

    Stanford University leased the House for use as a place of learning until 1983.

  22. 1985

    Cliveden House becomes a luxury hotel and the story continues.

  23. 2012

    A new chapter begins… Cliveden House becomes the sister hotel of Chewton Glen in Hampshire. Another famously iconic English Country House Hotel.


This is the Rose Garden at Cliveden – from the National Trust Site

The Rose Garden’s planting design is based on Lord Astor’s original aspirations to create a garden that absorbs its visitors, through the introduction of tall roses in the outer beds and shorter roses on the inside. The repeat flowering roses gently phase from pale yellows in the east through vibrant oranges to deep velvety reds in the west.

A many-layered garden

The Rose Garden was once a formal grassed area known as a ‘cabinet’. It was created for Lord Orkney in the 1720s as part of a ‘wilderness’ garden design, which was popular in the eighteenth century. It was often used for lawn games such as bowling and tennis until a symmetrical rose garden was planted sometime around the post-war period.

Design changes

In 1959 the third Viscount Lord Astor wanted to change the design of the garden and commissioned Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe to do just that. He created a dynamic yet secretive rose garden that provided the Astor family with a place to retreat away from their busy public lives. Unfortunately, the garden suffered from ‘rose disease’ and the flower beds were replaced with herbaceous planting in 2002. This was known as the Secret Garden until 2013.

Re-instating the Rose Garden

Our project focused on reinstating the abstract design and atmosphere of the 1950s rose garden whilst also including features of the original 18th-century wilderness landscape. We lovingly restored the Jellicoe arches and introduced a steel edge to the flower beds to help them hold their abstract shapes. We also reduced the width of the outer shrub border, to let more light into the space, and planted a circular yew hedge which runs around the perimeter of the garden.

Planning your visit

The Rose Garden will be in bloom from mid-June until late September. If you’re inspired to add some rose to your own garden, we have a selection of the David Austin varieties planted here for sale in our shop during the summer months.









A gargoyle which faces out on to the Parterre


The large garden know as the Parterre, from the National Trust Site

Innovative design

When the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland purchased Cliveden in 1849 they worked with Head Gardener John Fleming to transform what was then a simple, large lawn into the innovative design you see today. Fleming was a pioneer of ribbon and carpet bedding and under his guidance Cliveden’s garden displays became horticulturally famous and set a precedent for gardens the world over.

Planting plan for the Parterre, Cliveden
John Fleming's planting plan for the Parterre at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

An inspiring view

Comprising over six acres and including 16 triangular beds with box hedging, a sweeping semi-circle bed and yew topiary, the Parterre is one of the garden’s most dramatic features. It is such an impressive and enjoyable spot that the Astors would pitch a tent with open sides on the terrace during the summer, so that regular guests could enjoy the view, sketch, or – in the case of George Bernard Shaw – type.


The outdoor Theatre


One side of Cliveden House, now a hotel, note the inscriptions near the soffit boards


Another view of the theatre


Mausoleum at Cliveden


Views of Cliveden House and the clock tower















Admission at the time we went there was £10 per adult, well worth every penny!  We were lucky to be there on a sunny day with a cooling wind blowing


Author: wirelesswaffle

A radio enthusiast from the UK - but also includes humour and comments on a wide variety of subjects including music and photos. A hobby site

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