Cliveden Talks Service

The Cliveden Talk Service talks offer an introduction to the estate, it's history and the infamous guests who frequented it.

Our talks

Over the centuries Cliveden has been home to dukes, duchesses, earls, viscounts and for a while a prince. Our trained volunteer speakers bring the story of this glittering hub of society to you as they share how the various owners, their parties, politics and scandals left their mark on this country estate. We are able to offer a choice of three talks which explore different aspects of the estate’s history:
Cliveden: Passion, Pleasure and Politics – 1 hour
This introductory talk will take you on a journey through Cliveden’s 350 year history.  Starting with the Duke of Buckingham who built the first house here in 1666 you’ll meet all the key owners who helped shape the house and its gardens including the Orkney, Sutherland and Astor families.  The talk will be accompanied by an illustrated presentation to bring to life these individuals and showing how their influence at Cliveden continues to this day. 
Cliveden and the Astors – 1 hour
This illustrated talk takes a closer look at one of Cliveden’s most famous families, the Astors.  You’ll discover what motivated William Waldorf Astor, America’s richest man, to purchase Cliveden in 1893 and how the estate became the centre of high society in the 1920s and 30s thanks to his son Waldorf and daughter-in-law Nancy Astor.  The Astor’s time at Cliveden came to an end in the 1960s after the estate became infamously associated with Profumo Affair but the house and garden continue to reflect their innovations and passions.

Cliveden and the War Years- 1 hour

When War broke out in 1914, Cliveden was a grand country estate well known for its exclusive parties and famous guests, yet within months it was offering a lifeline to Allied troops injured during the fighting. This talk tells the story of what happened at Cliveden between 1914 and 1945.  The development of the Canadian Red Cross Hospital, The Astor family called to war, the appeasement set and the legacy today.

" interesting, informative and very well presented talk. We learned so many new and fascinating facts not only about Cliveden but also the Astors. We are now looking at organising a group visit there next year. "
- Susan Spearman, Vice President of Little Marlow and Well End WI on our speaker Jennifer James presenting 'The Astors'

Good to know

Time: Our talks last an hour, split into a 45 minute presentation and 15 minutes at the end for questions.
Locations: Our speakers are typically able to travel up to 20 miles from Cliveden. In the event that your venue is outside of this radius please contact us and we will see if we can help or recommend an alternative National Trust property.  Please note that our speakers can only attend events held in public buildings; they will not be able to provide talks in private homes.
Speaker requirements: Our speakers will require car parking close to the venue in order unload their equipment.  They will need access to the venue at least 30 minutes before the talk is due to start in order to set up their presentations.
Equipment: Our speakers use a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate their talk using their own laptop. If you are able to provide a projector and screen this would be very helpful, but if necessary our speakers can bring these with them.  Please let us know what equipment you can supply on your enquiry form.
Costs: We ask for a donation of £50 per talk towards our current conservation project

How to book

Please complete our Talk Service booking form which will help us to get an understanding of your group’s needs and enable us to check the availability of our speakers.

Please email the completed form to

Cliveden Talk Service booking form (PDF / 0.095703125MB) download