Today we took a trip out to Dorneywood Estate and Clivedon Estates which are fairly close to where we are staying. We’re really trying to use our membership as much as possible and so far we have calculated that we would’ve spent £450 visiting National Trust properties. Having a National Trust card has been an enormous saving for us.
Dorneywood is the former home of Lord Courtauld Thomson. It was gifted to the National Heritage back in 1947, as a country house for a senior member of government, Secretary of State or member of the crown. The Prime Minister allots who occupies the house. As such the site is maintained by Dorneywood trust and only open by appointment four weekends per year. We were extremely lucky to book an appointment to visit the ground floor state rooms and gardens.
The mansion is an interesting Victorian style building, with a number of old red brick cottages and farm buildings which are quite quaint. There’s also some quaint kitchen and cottage gardens. Inside the house are many items which were used by the former owner including a score book for a game which carries the names of both Winston Churchill and King George. The lower floor with its old worldly feel is used for state receptions and dinners.
As it was still early we decided to take a run down to Cliveden, another National Trust property.
Cliveden is a massive 375 acre estate with lots of woodlands, grasslands and a whopping 180 acres of gardens. There’s been a house on the site since 1666 with the current one (the third as such) from 1841 replacing the previous one which had burnt down. The estate runs down to the Thames and being situated between hills it has wonderful views. The current house is a mixture of English Palladian and Roman Cinquecento styles. A Latin inscription just below the roofline on all sides of the building, penned by the then prime minister Gladstone tells the story of the house, and the architect. At the back of the house the terrace overlooks the largest formal parterre in Europe (4 acres of gardens)
Near the front of the house is a beautiful clock tower, added in 1851 featuring four gilded framed clock faces. On top is a winged statue gilded in 23 carat gold leaf. It’s a reproduction of Augustin Dumont’s 19th century “Spirit of Liberty” with the torch of civilisation in his right hand and the broken chains of slavery in the other.
The mansion has been home to an Earl, three Countesses, two Dukes, a Prince of Wales, Viscounts and was one of the settings in the Profumo Affair. These days it operates as a luxury Hotel who pay about £400 a night. It must be strange for the guests staying at the hotel to have all the National Trust visitors poking around during the day.
The long gravel driveway from the hotel leads down to the fountain of Love. A massive structure which wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of Rome. Around the estate there are awesome kids playgrounds and water gardens so lots of places worth exploring for all ages.