Cliveden House - History and Facts | History Hit

Cliveden House

Taplow, England, United Kingdom

A beautiful 19th country house with vast parkland and gardens, Cliveden has often hosted the country’s political elite and was a key location in the infamous Profumo Affair.

Lily Johnson

07 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Daderot / CC

About Cliveden House

Cliveden House in Berkshire, UK is a 19th century historic home which operated at the heart of the cultural and political elite of the country. Today the house operates as a luxury hotel while the beautiful gardens and grounds are operated by the National Trust.

Cliveden House history

The first construction to be built on the site of Cliveden House was a hunting lodge built by the Duke of Buckingham in 1666. This incarnation survived for over 100 years before being destroyed in a fire in 1795. Rebuilt in 1824, the second building unfortunately saw the same fate, being destroyed in 1849.

Two years later a new house was commissioned and this is, for the most part, the Cliveden we see today. In the latter decades of the 18th century further significant changes and modifications were made to Cliveden by both the Duke of Westminster and later by American billionaire Lord Astor.

At the outbreak of World War One Cliveden hosted a military hospital operated by the Canadian Red Cross and a small Canadian World War One Cemetery can be found near the edge of the estate. Throughout its existence, Cliveden stood as a favourite destination for the political and cultural elite of the time. Popular with royalty, other notable visitors included President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw and Mahatma Gandhi.

This association with high-society meant Cliveden saw its fair share of notoriety over the years. However, perhaps one of the most famous events to take place at Cliveden was a key part of the infamous Profumo Affair – which saw British Secretary of State for War John Profumo forced to resign due to his affair with model Christine Keeler, who was also intimately linked with a senior naval attaché at the Soviet Embassy. The two met at a Cliveden party in 1961, and the ensuing scandal helped to bring down the British Government of the time.

Cliveden House today

Today Cliveden operates as both a luxury hotel and a National Trust-operated park and gardens. The house itself can be accessed by pre-booked tours and features a collection of fascinating art, from 18th century Brussels tapestries to portraiture of its past inhabitants.

The vast parkland also includes a host of beautiful gardens, scenery and even an impressive maze, offering a variety of curiosities from season to season. With its striking Italianate exterior, Cliveden House remains popular with tourists and locals alike, and is particularly family-friendly with a number of activities for children.

Getting to Cliveden House

Cliveden House is located in the village of Taplow, near Maidenhead in Buckinghamshire. If travelling from the M4 take exit 7 onto the A4 towards Maidenhead, and if travelling from the M40 take exit 4 onto A404 to Marlow and exit at junction 2. Follow the brown signs to the site, where parking is available.

The closest train station is 2 miles away at Bourne End, from which a picturesque walk through the countryside may be taken to the site, or alternatively a taxi may be taken from Taplow station, 2.5 miles away.

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