Explore Claydon House

Florence Nightingale and Sir Harry Verney in 1880 in the grounds of Claydon, Buckinghamshire

Home to the Verney family for 400 years, Claydon has many tales to tell. Visit in 2020 as we celebrate two special anniversaries.

400 years of the Verney family at Claydon

The downstairs rooms of the house will introduce the Verney family who've made Claydon their home for 400 years. The Verneys moved to Claydon in 1620, rising to a position of power from royal favour, the family are torn apart with the arrival of the Civil war. Broken and plunged into debt, the family slowly rebuilt their lives through trade and marriage to become one of the most significant players in the county, only to be squandered by poor judgement and political ambition in a single generation.

The process of rebuilding their lives started again and with Victorian intervention, the house became a home once more – even becoming a regular destination for Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale bicentenary

The upstairs of the house will focus on Florence Nightingale as we celebrate 200 years since she was born. An exhibition be highlight her well-known role in the Crimean War, explore her local work here in Buckinghamshire and her relationship with her family. She regularly visited her sister Parthenope, Lady Verney at Claydon and had her very own suite of rooms in the house.

Highlights include:

Turkish fanoos

Florence Nightingale is known as the Lady with the lamp, but many popular images show the incorrect style of lamp as they were generally drawn by artists who had never been to Scutari. Florence would have used a traditional fanoos made of waxed linen when doing her rounds in the dark wards of the military hospital. She didn’t want men to die alone in the night and would often keep them company.

Notes on Nursing

Florence published many works, her most famous being Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not, published in 1860. The book was intended strictly for nurses but for every woman as “every woman is a nurse”.

In it, she recognises the need for fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet and a good diet. The book includes sections on food and making a house suitable for recovery through warmth, clean air, light and sanitation, quiet and personal cleanliness.