On our last night before we left for Sissinghurst, we went to Cliveden for dinner. An Italianate mansion set among 375 acres, it’s most famous for being the home of Nancy Astor and her cronies (do women have cronies?) during the roaring 1920s and more subdued 1930s.
This house, built in the mid 1850s is the third on the estate, the previous two having been destroyed by fire. The central piece, a Victorian three-story block, is flanked by two curved wings, all of which are encased in Roman cement, with gracious detailing.
It was a lovely day, but as we had come for dinner, my heels precluded more than a stroll around the grounds. We determined to come back at another time and explore them more thoroughly.
We then settled into the library and enjoyed their signature cocktails, including the Cliveden ’66. Note the gold leaf in the stem of the champagne glass. I felt incredibly decadent!
The Astors altered the interior of the house extensively, knocking three of the central rooms into one to form the current great hall. The house is now owned by the National Trust and is under lease to Relais & Chateau as one of their hotels. When we visited in 2013 it was about to undergo extensive renovations, which have now been completed. Their website includes a wonderful video showing the time-lapsed transformation of the great hall. We revisited Cliveden this past year and the renovations are marvellous. They’re sympathetic with the period of the house, but have brought a fresh feel to the place. Definitely worth a visit!