Cliveden was built in 1850 - 1851 for the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland. The three-storey Italianate mansion was designed by Sir Charles Barry and was built on the wide terraces which had been constructed for an earlier house.
This Restoration house was built in around 1670 by William Winde for the 2nd Duke of Buckingham.
It was seriously damaged by fire in 1795 and stood derelict for 30 years. Although the house was rebuilt, it was again destroyed by fire in 1849. Sir Charles Barry preserved much of the character of the original house.
The main block is joined by curved corridors to two 18th century wings by Thomas Archer. The Clock Tower and Stable Block designed by Henry Clutton were built at a slightly later date. The interior is not as Barry designed it being altered in the 1870s. In 1893 the estate was purchased by William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor. He commissioned J.L.Pearson to remodel the interior of the house in the classical style. In the hall Pearson's oak panelling and Corinthian columns frame Lord Astor's 17th century Brussels tapestries and 16th century stone fireplace.
After the 1914-1948 War, Lord Astor's son, the 2nd Viscount Astor and his wife Nancy, made Cliveden a centre of literary and political society. They entertained many influential people at the house including Henry James, Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling.
This group of people became known as 'the Cliveden Set'. In 1942 the 2nd Viscount gave the property to the National Trust. Today Cliveden is let as a hotel and only three of the mansion's principal rooms are on show to the public.
Cliveden has 152 hectares of grounds and is one of the largest and most varied gardens belonging to the National Trust.
The gardens command sweeping views of the Thames valley and are flanked by magnificent woodlands. Various owners have added buildings and statuary to the gardens.
The octagonal temple, which now used as a chapel, was designed by Giacomo Leoni for Lord Orkney in 1735.
From the south Cliveden rises over Winde's long arcaded terrace which has 28 arches and extends beyond the house on both sides. A double staircase descends to the Borghese balustrade brought here from the Villa Borghese in Rome by Lord Astor in 1896. Beyond this is a closely mown grass terrace with a formal parterre.
Lord Astor also added the Roman sarcophagi and the Italian sculpture which are a feature of the gardens. He laid out the Italianate garden with statuary set along grassy walks lined with box hedges and topiary. He is also responsible for the informal water garden which has stepping stones leading to a brightly painted pagoda.