Nancy Astor: Vigour, Vitality and Cheek at Cliveden

Nancy Astor: vigour, vitality & cheek

From 25 April, the 'Nancy Astor; vigour, vitality and cheek' programme launches at Cliveden, 100 years since Nancy Astor made history by becoming the first woman to take her seat in The Houses of Parliament. Through a series of exhibits and events, we'll explore Nancy’s legacy as a politician, a champion of women’s rights, as a wife and mother, and as an entertainer of celebrities and controversial characters.  At the same time we'll look at the influence she had on the development of the house and gardens, and how she made Cliveden her own.

Notorious for her sharp wit, glittering parties and diverse social connections, Nancy Astor was a complex character, surrounded by controversy for much of her life. But who was this complicated pioneer? How did she use Cliveden to entertain the great and good, make connections and further her own political aims? Throughout 2019, we’re unmasking the

The Parterre at Cliveden
Visitors on the terrace overlooking the Parterre at Cliveden
The Parterre at Cliveden

woman behind the black tricorn hat. How did she balance her personal and professional life? What hostility did she face whilst breaking boundaries and what legacy did she leave on her family and her home?

" My vigour, vitality, and cheek repel me. I am the kind of woman I would run from."
Long Garden at Cliveden with two statues spring 2022

Gardens for all seasons 

We have a selection of formal gardens for you to enjoy across the estate. Each has their own charms across the seasons, from the six-acre Parterre overlooked by the South Terrace reaching down to the River Thames, to the fruit-filled Round Garden and our elegant Water Garden.

A programme of exhibitions and events

From 25 April 

'Letters to Nancy'

A display in the Blenheim Pavilion of some of the many hundreds of letters Nancy received in 1919, at the time of her election. From positive words of reassurance to  "...Dear lady don't be consistently feminist or you will ruin our cause!", we reveal what impact a woman taking a seat in parliament had on the people of Britain. 

To Lady Astor, the successful candidate for Plymouth.
Letters to Nancy
To Lady Astor, the successful candidate for Plymouth.

From 25 April 

'Politics in Art'

A statue trail offering a chance to explore hidden areas of Cliveden's formal gardens and
discover the sculptures therein, reminiscent of the politics of the time and their creators. Collect the trail brochure free of charge from the Information Centre.

'Tours of Cliveden House'

Between 11am and 1pm, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays see inside the infamous house where Nancy entertained the glitterati of modern day politics. Head to the Information Centre to book your place on a guided tour. Separate charge for non-NT members.


From the start of June

'Historical Interpreters' 

Our volunteer group will perform scenarios inspired by Nancy's life, on Wednesdays and Saturdays in June and September.


From the middle of June

'Astor Voices'

Hear memories of Nancy as told by her own grandchildren whilst walking the Estate. You'll be sure to discover a side of Nancy that only those close to her had the chance to experience before.


'Nancy Astor: vigour, vitality and cheek' is affiliated with a nation-wide celebration of Nancy’s election; the Astor 100 project, coordinated by Dr Jacqui Turner of University of Reading.