History of Cliveden House

Relais & Chateaux - Cliveden is a new member in 2013

History of Cliveden House

A House dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure, power and politics for over 300 years....Cliveden's story is unique...


1605 - Estate acquired by Manfield Family

1666 - Estate acquired by George Villiers 2nd Duke of Buckingham. He built the original House on the terrace. Built as a hunting lodge to entertain mistress and friends.

1668 - Dual fought between Duke of Buckingham and Earl of Shrewsbury on account of Countess of Shrewsbury, at Barn Elms near Putney Bridge. Earl of Shrewsbury was wounded and later died.

1696 - 1st Earl of Orkney acquired Cliveden estate and lived here with his wife Elizabeth Villiers who was a first cousin of Duke of Buckingham. Earl of Orkney was a fine soldier and fought often for his country Blenheim, Ramillies and Malplaquet.


1737 - Frederick Prince of Wales leased the house from Anne Countess of Orkney and her husband the 4th Earl of Inchiquin who moved to live at Taplow Court which was part of the estate.

1751 - Three Countesses of Orkney. Following the death of Frederick Prince of Wales his wife Augusta gave up the lease on Cliveden and Anne her husband 4th Earl of Inchiquin moved back.

1795 - Devastating fire which destroyed all of the main mansion and only the wings remained.


1824 - Sir George Warrender commissioned William Burn to rebuild the main mansion. All the lost splendour of the earlier years was regained and the lavish entertainment returned. George Canning who was a Prime Minister visited the House often as a good friend of George Warrender and spent time under an oak tree above the Thames contemplating. The tree was subsequently named Canning's Oak after him.

1830 - Sir George Warrender commissioned Comte Alfred d'Orsay to build the Parterre

1849 - Duke and Duchess of Sutherland moved in to Cliveden. During this year the House suffered another devastating fire which again destroyed the main house. The queen saw the smoke from Windsor Castle and despatched fire engines from Windsor to help to fight the fire.

Charles Barry was commissioned to rebuild the mansion following the fire when he had found that the fire had been caused by bad workmanship from the previous rebuild.

1861 - Water tower completed by Henry Clutton. The sculpture on the top of the tower is a version of the Spirit of Libery as in the Place de la Bastille in Paris. In 1868 the Duchess died and the house was sold.

1868 - Duke of Westminster arrived at Cliveden. During this time many alterations were made to the interior of the House.

1893 - The Astors, William Waldorf Astor was immensely rich and purchased Cliveden for $1.25 million. In 1894 Mamie, Lady Astor died at the age of 36. William was devastated and became almost a recluse at Cliveden spending all of his time and effort on changes to the House and his home in London.

1897 - Lord Astor purchased the wall panels seen today in the French Dining Room from Chateaux d'Asnieres near Paris. The panels date from the mid 18th century.

1897 - Fountain of Love carved by Thomas Waldo Story in marble and volcanic rock in Rome.


1905 - Waldorf Astor met and fell in love with Nancy Langhorne.

1906 - Waldorf was given Cliveden by his father William Astor, at the same time he gave Nancy a magnificent tiara containing the famous Sancy diamond which, is 55 carats and is now kept in the Louvre in Paris.

1914 - Waldorf volunteered for the army but failed the medical. The house was offered as a hospital but it was decided that it would be too difficult to adapt. Undaunted, he offered it to the Canadians who created a hospital in the covered tennis court and the bowling alley. Several other buildings on the estate were used as accommodation for staff.

1915 - The Duchess of Connaught Red Cross Hospital could take 110 patients and ended up being able to house 600. In this year Winston Churchill visited and later the same year the King and Queen paid an official visit.

1932 - President Roosevelt visited Cliveden. Many famous people visited Cliveden in the post war years including Charlie Chaplin and George-Bernard Shaw.

1961 - Bill Astor installed the outdoor swimming pool where Christine Keeler and John Profumo met thus igniting the biggest political scandal in British political history.

1965 - Cliveden has often been used for entertaining and for film making. In 1965 the Beatles filmed part of 'Help' the movie at the house and famously held races on the Parterre between themselves and the film crew in-between scenes.

1969 - Stanford University leased the House for use as a place of learning until 1983.

1985 - Cliveden House becomes a luxury hotel and the story continues.

2012 - A new chapter begins...Cliveden House becomes the sister hotel of Chewton Glen in Hampshire. Another famously iconic English Country House Hotel.


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