cliveden house

Photos courtesy of Cliveden House








Cliveden’s reputation as a pleasure palace began in 1666 when the nefarious second duke of Buckingham built a hunting lodge along the banks of the River Thames. This once-trusted minister to King Charles II needed a love nest where he could carry on an affair with his mistress, the countess of Shrewsbury. This liaison led the duke and the countess’s husband to engage in one of Britain’s most famous duels. It is said that the countess held the reins of Buckingham’s horse while he gave the fatal blow to her husband.

The estate passed into the hands of the earl of Orkney in 1696. His improvements shaped the palace and grounds we see today.

The estate passed to the duke of Sutherland in the 19th century. He was responsible for the present house, which replaced the old palace destroyed by fire. The architect, Charles Barry, also designed the Houses of Parliament. By 1850 gala parties were back in full swing. Prime Minister Gladstone and Queen Victoria were frequent visitors.

However, it is the Astor family with whom we associate Cliveden. The American-born William Waldorf Astor bought the property in 1893 and added the exquisite pieces of art found throughout the house and gardens. He gave Cliveden as a wedding present to his son, Waldorf, and his new bride, Nancy. Lady Astor spared nothing to provide the most lavish house parties in England. Edward, Prince of Wales, T.E. Lawrence, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, Sarah Bernhardt, and Winston Churchill stayed here regularly. In 1919 Nancy Astor became the first woman elected to Parliament.

Pamela’s Perspective

Keep in mind that the National Trust oversees Cliveden’s grounds, so during the day sightseers are allowed.


Cliveden House

A 17th-century palace


Cliveden, Taplow
Berkshire, SL6 0JF
Tel: ++44 (0)1628 668561
Fax: ++44 (0)1628 661837
Hotel website
Reserve with

Fast facts

39 rooms, including 15 suites, and 1 cottage

Double rooms: from £445
Suites: from £865
Rates include VAT. £11.50/per person National Trust charge extra.
Special offers available

Open: all year

Getting there

Taplow is 10 miles northwest of Windsor. From the M4 take Exit 7 at Slough West. Continue west on A4 towards Maidenhead, and then north on B476 towards Burnham. Trains depart for Taplow from London’s Paddington Station.

What to do

On site: indoor and outdoor swimming pools; tennis; squash; jogging routes; horse-back riding
Nearby: boating; 2 golf courses; Windsor Castle


Yes. Ceremonies in Mountbatten Suite or Lady Astor Suite. Exclusive use possible.


The ultimate in pure indulgence, Cliveden provides glorious surroundings, sumptuous rooms, and brilliantly prepared cuisine. It leaves you feeling like you’ve walked into the middle of a Masterpiece Theater series.

As you drive through 375 acres of peaceful grounds, you find worldly cares slipping away. No one rushes here. No one speaks in a loud voice. Life is civilized, sedate, and elegant.

Endless public rooms are highlighted with fine paintings, exquisite molded or wood-coffered ceilings, wooden columns flanked by medieval suits of armor, and fantastic Orkney tapestries.

Named after Cliveden’s former illustrious residents, most suites have sitting rooms, dressing rooms, and fireplaces. CD players permit the addition of atmospheric classical music. Books line the entrance hall to the Inchiquin Suite, with its lovely paintings and four-poster bed. The romantic Lady Astor’s suite features the original Elizabethan mantelpiece over the fireplace, a private sitting area and terrace, and sweeping views. Four staff members attend to each guest room.

Cliveden’s restaurants are considered among the finest in England. Six large windows overlook the gardens from The Terrace dining room. the more intimate Waldo’s features gourmet cuisine. At lunch, you can arrange for a specially packed Edwardian picnic hamper to take along on an excursion.

Something special

curlicueThe only hotel in England that belongs to the National Trust

curlicueVintage boats are available to cruise the Thames for riverbank picnics, afternoon teas, or champagne cruises.