Georgian Cliveden sees dramatic changes

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Lord George Hamilton bought Cliveden in 1696, shortly after he was created Earl of Orkney. The recently married Earl needed a country home - close to London and Windsor - that befitted his situation.

Anxiety and indecision
Lord Orkney’s letters reveal his deliberations over the house design. Plans were made but indecision and cost concerns meant Cliveden saw few alterations for 10 years.

Lord Orkney felt Buckingham’s house was too tall. In 1706, he removed the top storey - reducing the building's height by nearly 20ft. He instructed his architect, Thomas Archer, to design two service wings connected to the main house via open colonnades.

The ‘Quaker’ parterre
Lord Orkney spent time and effort on the gardens. The plan as it exists today owes much to his vision. He started with the great platform below the terrace, seeking multiple designs. He chose a simple solution and in the winter of 1723-4, a grass lawn was laid with raised walks on either side. Orkney called it his 'Quaker parter'.

The Upper Gardens
Working with designer Charles Bridgman, Orkney laid paths running through a 'formal wilderness' that stretched across the cliff tops. He also built an amphitheatre at the northern end.

Orkney commissioned garden buildings from the Venetian designer Giocomo Leoni, including the Blenheim Pavilion (around 1727) to commemorate the great battle and the Octagon Temple (in 1735).

Fire at Cliveden

Lord Orkney died in 1737. His estates passed to his daughter, who became the Countess of Orkney in her own right. Cliveden passed through three generations via the female line and for much of this time was leased; including to Frederick, Prince of Wales from 1737 to 1751.

In 1795, while the 4th Countess of Orkney was in residence, Cliveden caught fire and the central block burnt to the ground. The Countess continued to live in the wings. It was not until Cliveden was purchased in 1824 by George Warrender that serious plans for rebuilding were made.