Claydon House was begun in the 1750s by Sir Ralph Verney but due to his plans being beyond his income he was in desperate straits 30 years later. Eventually a third of the house had to be demolished as it was never completed. It has been in the same family ever since. They own 5000 acres of surrounding countryside and villages.
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Viewing the interior gives a clue to where Verney’s money went. The décor is over the top with 25 foot high ceilings, elaborate wood carving on walls (especially in the Chinese room), doors, ceilings and more, and a grand cantilevered staircase complete with inset wood designs on the underside.
The house, regularly visited by Florence Nightingale (her sister was married to Sir Harry Verney), sits in 52 acres of parkland. Her bedroom and sitting room are two of the rooms on view. In the house is a museum.
Next to the house is the 13th and 14th century All Saints church, still in use as a parish church. Originally it was founded in the 12th century but has had numerous renovations since. Inside are a number of elaborate tombs and monuments of the Verney family. Also in the church is a 16th century brass to Roger Gifford, who had some restoration work done on the church. An outer wall of the church has a priest’s door.
The landscape was laid out by the second Earl Verney in the late 1700s. The garden design was by John Sanderson--a pupil of Capability Brown--who worked on it 1763 to 1776. The gardens, on the south-east of the house, are found by walking through an arch. The Queen’s Walk has a memorial plaque to Queen Victoria in the wall. There is also a historic glass house in the garden.
The house is in care of the National Trust; the courtyard, restaurant, gardens, and tea-shop are not owned by the National Trust but by the family. Therefore there is an additional charge for the gardens. There is a two acre kitchen garden, a pool garden (home to a 19th century greenhouse), a walled garden, a rose garden, and borders. There are a number of walks including lakeside ones on the estate.
Middle Claydon, 13 miles north-west of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
Tel. 0 1296 730 349; 0 1494 755 561 (infoline)
Open: mid March-end Oct, Sat-Wed, grounds and gardens, 11am-5pm; tea-room and church, 10am-5.30pm; house days and times vary greatly. For details go to Opening times
Parking; picnic area; special events
Website of privately owned estate: Claydon Estate
Photos © by Barbara Ballard except National Trust press photos as follows:
Florence Nightingale bedroom, Chinese room, Gothic room, west front window, saloon.