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National Trust Cliveden

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Grade I listed garden, extensive woodlands and Italianate mansion

Cliveden (pronounced CLIVV-d’n) is a mansion in Buckinghamshire, England overlooking the River Thames. It has an intriguing history.

The present house, which is now a hotel owned by the National Trust, was built in 1851 by the architect Charles Barry. However this house towers upon the site of a much older construction, which was built in 1666 as the home of George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham. His architect was William Winde. The house was let to Frederick, Prince of Wales from 1739 to 1751. It was during this tenure, in the rustic theatre in the garden, that the song “Rule Britannia” was first performed in 1740. In 1795 the house was seriously damaged by fire. For the next thirty years it remained a shell; following a second rebuilding it was again destroyed by fire in 1849.

The three-floored house seen today, in the classic Italian style, was built in 1851 on the broad terraces of its predecessor, for the Duke of Sutherland, who required a country retreat near London. This new mansion was considerably grander and more luxurious than the previous house, when a few years later it was for sale it was a highly desirable property. The exterior remains much as designed by Barry, however, the interiors were much altered in the 1870s, when the house was owned by the Duke of Westminster, and again in the 1890s when J L Pearson remodelled the entrance hall and sweeping staircase.

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