Set in 375 acres of National Trust grounds everyone can get up close to see the house where Meghan Markle spent the night before her wedding to Prince Harry.
If you would like to visit the actual house you don’t need to book in for the night (though we highly recommend their luxury breaks with newly renovated spa!). Cliveden are famous for their afternoon teas so you can sit back relax and feel like royalty and enjoy a quintessentially British tea overlooking the stunning parterre.
However, if posh tea is not for you and the family fancy a day trip then Cliveden has plenty for all the family (and recently dogs too in certain areas). The biggest draw for all ages is the impressive Cliveden Maze – a re-creation of a maze designed and built for Lord Astor, the former owner of Cliveden, in 1894. The gardens surrounding the maze are also stunning – from the Water Garden to the Long Garden to the breath-taking parterre there is plenty for all ages to enjoy.
Set on the banks of the River Thames you can also enjoy a boat trips enjoying the house as the perfect backdrop whilst listening to a guide who will regale you with all the historic and often scandalous tales about the house. Cliveden Reach is renowned as one of the prettiest spots on the Thames. There’s a selection of boating options that are the perfect way to spend a few hours down by the river from an Edwardian launch to a power boat and self-hire rowing boats.
If you are interested in the history of the house then here is a brief overview:
Enjoying a commanding position on a chalk cliff, the name Cliff-dene was given to the estate in the 1660s when the first house was built by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham.
It’s thought the Duke built Cliveden for his mistress, the Countess of Shrewsbury. In 1668, on hearing of the affair, her husband challenged Buckingham to a duel and was fatally injured.
An Italianate palace
Successive owners sculpted the gardens and landscape, sparing no expense to create a magnificent summer retreat.
The current house owes its elegant architecture to Sir Charles Barry, famous for designing the Palace of Westminster. His decadent masterpiece, created for the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland in the 1850s, is the third house here, the other two having burned down.
The Astors’ parties
Cliveden has always been at the centre of political and social life. However, it was while Nancy and Waldorf Astor lived here during the first half of the twentieth century that Cliveden became famous for its lavish hospitality and glamorous guests.
The Astors entertained a diverse mix of people from Lloyd George and Winston Churchill to George Bernard Shaw, Ghandi and Henry Ford.
Cliveden hit the headlines in 1963 when it became known that John Profumo, Secretary of State for War, had met call girl – Christine Keeler – by the swimming pool. Profumo’s affair caused concern for national security as Keeler was also involved with a Soviet naval attaché. It was the end of Profumo’s career and nearly brought down the government.
*Photo credit to Kym Proudnikov