History

'A real paradise' for the rich and powerful

For more than 300 years, Claremont has been a place to enjoy simple pleasures with family and friends. Today anyone can visit, but in times gone by it was a playground for the wealthy and influential.

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Who lived here?

How does your garden grow?

1709

Sir John Vanbrugh © National Portrait Gallery

Vanbrugh's country retreat

In 1709, the renowned architect, playwright, courtier and spy Sir John Vanbrugh bought the area then known as Chargate Farm and Wood. He built himself an elegant retreat and began to develop the garden.

1714

Portrait of the Duke of Newcastle with the Belvedere Tower shown in the bac © National Portrait Gallery

The birth of Claremont

Vanbrugh sold the estate to Thomas Pelham-Holles, the Duke of Newcastle in 1714. He helped the new owner develop 'Claremont', working on designing the gardens and extending the mansion.

1720s

Portrait of the Duke of Newcastle with the Belvedere Tower shown in the bac © NTPL

A formal garden

In the early years, designer Charles Bridgeman crafted a formal garden for the Duke. His most notable addition was the three-acre turf amphitheatre, painstakingly carved into 'Bridgeman's Hill'.

1730s

Portrait of the Duke of Newcastle with the Belvedere Tower shown in the bac © NTPL

A more natural design

As the formal garden went out of style, Newcastle employed William Kent to bring it up to date. He replanted large areas and expanded the 'round basin' at the base of the amphitheatre into a serpentine lake.

1769-86

Portrait of the Duke of Newcastle with the Belvedere Tower shown in the bac © NTPL

Clive of India

In 1769, Clive of India bought Claremont. He commissioned 'Capability' Brown to build a replacement mansion and move Portsmouth Road further away. Sadly, Lord Clive died in 1774 before work was finished.

1816-1922

Portrait of the Duke of Newcastle with the Belvedere Tower shown in the bac © National Trust

Royal Claremont

Claremont became a much loved home to British and foreign royalty. Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold added features like the Camellia greenhouse, but later owners made only minor alterations.

1922-1930

Portrait of the Duke of Newcastle with the Belvedere Tower shown in the bac © NTPL/National Trust

Breakup of the estate

In 1922 much of the Claremont estate was sold for housing development, leaving just the house and surrounding 210 acres of garden. Most buildings were demolished, but the house became a school in 1930.

1949

Portrait of the Duke of Newcastle with the Belvedere Tower shown in the bac © NTPL/National Trust

The National Trust

Given to the treasury in lieu of tax, in 1949 the surving 49 acres of the garden were passed to the National Trust. In the 1970s, a grant from the Slater Foundation allowed the Trust to restore the grounds.

Memories

 © National Trust

For nearly all the Duke of Newcastle's life, Claremont held a special place in his heart. It was somewhere he could relax away from his official duties as Secretary of State and Prime Minister.

Memories

 © National Trust

Clive of India had big ambitions for Claremont but, despite his love for the estate, he was never able to live here. His new house wasn't completed until 1779, five years after his death.

Memories

 © National Trust

Princess Charlotte wrote regularly of her great affection for her marital home. During their tragically brief time here, she and Prince Leopold spent many happy days together in the garden.

Memories

null © National Trust

As a child, the future Queen Victoria lived a secluded and suffocating life at Kensington Palace. Staying with her Uncle Leopold at Claremont was a rare opportunity to enjoy some freedom.

Stories of Claremont

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