Saving the South Terrace at Cliveden

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Latest update 19.08.2015 13:54

After 350 years of use, time has taken its toll on the South Terrace and we're undertaking a five million pound conservation project to restore it to its former glory. 

Time catches up with the Terrace

At almost 350 years old, the South Terrace is the oldest structure on the entire estate – and is showing its age. Over the years parts of the historic architecture have been damaged or have simply been worn to breaking point. Some of this damage you can see as you walk on the Terrace, for example parts of the stone balustrade are missing or held together, but there is also considerable work to be done underneath to support the structure itself. The Terrace has also suffered from significant water damage caused by a faulty drainage system. Water has been soaking into the masonry, accelerating the decay of time.

Conservation in action

We're part way through our major conservation project. At the moment, the specialist team that carefully dismantled the double flight of stairs that descends to the Parterre are in the process of putting it back together again. The old bricks and stonework are checked, and as a last resort replaced, before being mortared back into position in order to rebuild the staircase. The final step is to apply new render. We’re also working inside the Ferneries at either end of the Terrace where William Waldorf Astor grew and displayed ferns in the dark conditions.  Here we're carrying out brick repairs and repointing as well as repairing some of the rusting iron supports. Meanwhile we've sent the ornate gates and grilles from the terrace openings to a specialist workshop where they will undergo 57 weeks of careful conservation.

Then and now

In the 1670s the Duke of Buckingham embarked on a major project to build the first house at Cliveden. However, before he could start on the house, he had to level the hill top creating the Parterre and build the Terrace that rises above. Since then the Terrace has provided the foundations for three mansions and is the perfect spot from which to admire the views that Buckingham fell in love with.

By looking at scenes painted over the years we can see how the South Terrace, the houses built on it and the landscape setting have changed over time. We've selected five paintings from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries and placed the image as close as possible to the spot in the grounds where we think it was painted from. Keep an eye out for these gold-framed pictures in the landscape as you explore the garden and woodland paths to take a look back in time. Hint: you'll find the first painting on an easel on top of the Terrace. 

The South Terrace project is scheduled to run until 2017.