Buckinghamshire is a true treasure chest filled with fascinating historic sites. This English county played a crucial role in bringing an end to the Second World War, with Alan turning, together with other agents decoding enemy messages in one of the many Buckinghamshire estate buildings.
Besides stories from the War, the county offers visitors idillic surroundings with an impressive open air museum, a mausoleum on top of an old Iron Age fort, gorgeous estate gardens and much more.
Here are 10 of the best historic sites in Buckinghamshire.
1. Hughenden Manor
Home to one of Queen Victoria‘s favourite Prime Ministers – Benjamin Disraeli, Hughenden Manor is an extraordinary estate. Originally built at the end of the 18th century, one can find the splendid mansion in High Wycombe. During World War Two the basement of the main building was used as a a secret intelligence base code-named ‘Hillside’. Since 1947 Hughenden Manor has been under the care of National Trust.
Visitors have the chance to explore the interiors of the mansion, while enjoying some tea and cake in the estate cafe. One should also take the time to stroll through the beautifully laid gardens.
2. Chiltern Open Air Museum
The charming Chiltern Open Air Museum showcases over 30 reconstructed historic buildings, ranging from an Iron Age roundhouse to 20th century structures. Many of the buildings are accompanied with gardens that match their time periods. The open air museum has been used as a filming location for many well known TV programs (Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Horrible Histories and many more).
From April to September, the Chiltern Open Air Museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. During March and October the grounds are open to visitors only on the weekends. The rest of the year the open air museum is closed to the general public.
The Victorian manor house took its current form in 1883, following extensive expansion projects. Following the outbreak of the Second World War the British government cryptological establishment was housed in the country home. Bletchley Park was the site where Alan Turning, together with other agents decoded enemy’s secret messages.
The estate is open to visitors daily. The exhibitions display a mixture of military intelligence history and World War Two stories.
4. Brill Windmill
Brill Windmill has its origins in the 17th century, being built near a hill-top village on the Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire border. The mill has become an iconic landmark of the region, with visitors able to explore it Sunday afternoons Easter to September.
Waddesdon Manor was built by Ferdinand de Rothschild as a place where to entertain his friends and family. Construction started in 1877, with the house and gardens being finished six years later. Queen Victoria paid a visit to Waddesdon Manor in 1890. In the 20th and 21st centuries the estate has been features in a wide range of movies (‘James Bond: Never Say Never Again’, ‘The Queen’, ‘The Infiltrator’ and many more).
Fortunately the house and gardens are open to visitors, who can bask in their grandeur. The estate is open from Wednesdays to Sundays.
6. 10 of the Best Historic Sites in Buckinghamshire
The stone and flint structure was built in 1765 on the site of an Iron Age Hill Fort on West Wycombe Hill. The site was commissioned by Francis Dashwood, 11th Baron le Despencer, co-founder of the Hellfire Club (a gentlemen’s club for ‘persons of quality’ most of which were involved in politics). The mausoleum was intended to house the memorials of Dashwood’s friends and family.
The site remains a popular tourist destination and is open to the public.
7. Stowe Gardens
The magnificent Stowe estate grounds are by some considered to be the greatest Georgian landscape garden and park. One of the earliest significant alterations to the original grounds were made in the very early 18th century by famed garden designer Charles Bridgeman.
The grounds are housing a cafe, a gift shop and a book shop for visitors to enjoy.
8. All Saints Church
All Saints Church is the most recognisable landmark of the English town of Marlow. The current building stems from the Victorian era, though there has been a church on the site since at least 1070. The old building was demolished after the spire collapsed in 1831.
The church is still an active site of worship but it is open to visitors who are interested in the history and architecture of All Saints Church.
9. Chenies Manor House and Gardens
Chenies Manor has been described by the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘beautifully mellow under the trees by the church, and archaeologically a fascinating puzzle’. The intriguing building has a long history, stretching back to 1460, when it was built as the seat of the Dukes of Bedford.
The Tudor manor can be explored with guided tours, showing for 45 minutes the rich history and architecture of the building. One should also not forget the grounds, which are dotted with beautiful flowerbeds, trees and carefully sculpted bushes.
Not far from the town of Slough, on the banks of the river Thames, one can find the glorious Cliveden House, styled as an Italian villa. The currently visible building was constructed in 1851 after the old one burned down. The terrace is the only feature to survive from earlier periods. Cliveden House was the site of the infamous Profumo affair that rocked British politics in the 1960s.
The estate building is these days a five star hotel, though non staying guests can enjoy the complex through short guided tours from March to December.