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Monday, July 25, 2011

Cliveden - a National Trust Estate in Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire.

This weekend we visited the Cliveden National Trust Estate in Berkshire. Set in 376 acres, the estate has now been converted into a luxury hotel. The property (gardens, woodlands, the orangery, chapel) is open to members of National Trust and some parts of the house are open to members on Sundays.


Cliveden is set on the banks of the river Thames and has been home to royalty for many many years. It proudly boasts of having been residence to an Earl, a couple of Dukes, one of the Princes of Wales and Astor family.



Currently the house is leased to the Blakeney Hotels (Cliveden Hotels) and they have added an indoor swimming pool and spa treatment facilities. The house has a total of 37 bedrooms, two dining rooms and four private dining rooms. The bedrooms are named after previous guests and owners.

The estate is spread over 376 acres out of which gardens make up 180 acres. The parterre at the rear of the house is itself 4 acres long. It is made of stunning yew pyramids and wedge shaped beds which are filled with seasonal flowers.









Another prominent garden is the Long Garden - which has a topiary with spiral shaped trees, peacocks and box hedges. In June 2011 the Hyacinth were removed from the garden and replaced with 10,000 Verbena rigida. It has grown beautifully producing a carpet of lilac blue flowers. They also planted 80 quarter standard yellow Lantana as dot plants to provide height and a contrast of color.






The four stone figures in the middle of the Long garden represent commedia dell'arte characters including Harlequin and Columbine. The statues at the eastern end of the garden are Nautica, symbolising navigation and a Venetian nobleman dressed as Marco Polo.



The Earl of Orkney owned Cliveden for 40 years in the first half of the 18th century and to this day his influence can be seen in the layout of the house and the gardens. A prefessional soldier, his finest hour was at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 when he was second-in-command to the Duke of Marlborough. Lord Orkney went on to become England's first Field Marshal.


He commisisioned the Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni to build the pavilion in 1727. Leoni expressed his patrons career and interests appropriately by filling the pediment with military trophies.

The Shell Fountain or Fountain of Love was commissioned in 1897 by the 1st Viscount Astor from his fellow American Thomas Wlado Story. The massive Sienna marble shell is one piece surrounded by female figures who are supposed to have discovered the fountain of love and to be experiencing the effects of its wonderful elixir.




The Secret Garden has been a bowling green, a tennis court and until recently a rose garden. The present design of beds, curves, paths and arches was laid out in 1959 by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe as a glade garden.




The tortoise fountain - a flight of steps from the formal gardens at Cliveden take you to the Tortoise Fountain so named after the tortoises that hang over the top basin. There are awesome views down to the Thames and across the countryside.







Some more pictures of the gardens - the herbaceous garden and the wooded one.












The estate also has the following:

1. Water Garden
2. A maze
3. The Captains Field
4. Grand Avenue
5. Amphitheatre
6. Ilex Grove
7. Stable Bank
8. The Duke's Garden
9. The Chapel
10. War Memorial garden
11. Yew Tree Walk - 172 steps
12. Boathouse
13. The Duke's Seat
14. Grotto
15. A Fitness Trail

For more info on the opening times and prices for non-members, get in touch with the National Trust

Cliveden
Taplow, Maidenhead,
Buckinghamshire SL6 0JA
Telephone: 01494 755562 (Infoline)

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