The Gilded Gardens of Cliveden

Daffodils Cliveden

Returning for spring 2020, we present ‘The Gilded Gardens of Cliveden’; a programme inspired by the 24 carat gilded golden gates on the Sounding chamber and the hundreds of thousands of daffodils across the estate. The Gilded Gardens will go through many phases of flowering, depending on the spring weather, meaning you can visit throughout March and April for a different experience each time.

A herald of spring

Golden daffodils carpet the grounds of the gardens and woodlands we look after. Cliveden boasts 20 different identified daffodil varieties. As part of The Gilded Gardens celebration, 36 new choice varieties will be exhibited behind the gilded grilles in the South Terrace Ferneries. As well as the new introductions, favourites from last year’s display will also be on show, making up a total of 68 varieties.  We’re committed to preserving this very special British herald of spring.

Naturalised areas

This year we’ve increased the estate's Narcissus pseudonarcissus population by 5,000, the same variety of daffodil that already grows naturally in the grounds. This is a wild, native variety which can be seen scattered round the formal gardens.

Walk towards the Blenheim Pavilion (pictured below) and you’ll see the petite and delicate Narcissus minor, a burst of bright yellow standing at just 15cm tall.

Daffodils on the Blenheim Pavilion lawn
Daffodils on the Blenheim Pavilion lawn

Head over to the oriental Water Garden where the milky-white Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’ grows to a regal 45cm.

A sight not to be missed is the carpet of golden daffodils reflecting the gilded gates of the Sounding Chamber as they cascade down the Eastern bank of the Parterre (main picture). A spectacle so beautiful it inspired 'The Gilded Gardens' itself.

New varieties

As well as the extended areas of already naturalised native daffodils, this year we’re showcasing 36 new daffodil varieties, ranging vastly in scent, style and size. The new introductions, including some choice varieties, will be displayed in the South Terrace Ferneries for you to see displayed in a new way. Eight of the varieties on display in the Ferneries will be available to purchase from the Cliveden plant centre for you to take home and enjoy year after year.

An immersive experience whilst respecting the daffodils

Every year we delight at seeing and smelling the irresistible daffodils we come across. However, every time we let ourselves get carried away and walk amongst them, we end up doing more harm than good. That’s why we’ve created a self-guided walking leaflet for you to enjoy the daffodils from hard standing paths. You can pick these up free of charge from the information centre.

We have an array of varieties that will flower at different times, from February until the end of April, meaning you can visit multiple times throughout the season and enjoy different flowers each time.

Pick up a free self-guided walking leaflet from the information centre to enjoy the daffodils from hard standing paths and without damaging the delicate plants.

The conquest for gold

Gold has long been associated with wealth, status, power and achievement. Archaeological evidence of the metal being used in sacred objects, such as ritual cups, weaponry and jewellery has underlined its importance to ancient civilizations throughout history.

But why, more so than any other precious metal, has gold gripped man for millennia? Theories suggest its shining resemblance and radiance to the most powerful force in nature, the Sun, has the power to dazzle all who come into contact with it. Lord William Waldorf Astor being no exception.

A close up look at the intricate 23¾ carat gold leaf design on the Sounding Chamber gates
Cliveden sounding chamber gilded gates
A close up look at the intricate 23¾ carat gold leaf design on the Sounding Chamber gates

Cliveden’s gilded gates and grilles

In 1895 William Waldorf Astor commissioned Singers of Frome to produce lavish gold gates and grilles to adorn his show-piece South Terrace. Originally made from ironwork and then covered in 23¾ carat gold leaf, the gates and grilles were sadly not kept up to their intended splendour. In the many years following their installation they were simply painted over using gold imitation paint.  Specialist blacksmiths discovered years of rust and corrosion had seriously damaged the design of the pieces and extensive repairs were needed. They repaired and reforged missing elements to match the original design and restored them to their original colour by re-applying 23¾ carat gold leaf. The gates and grilles can now be seen for miles around as they sit glimmering right at the heart of the house. 

Sounding Chamber Gates and Grilles

Re-opening the Sounding Chamber

In 2012, we began a five year, £6 million restoration project on the Grade 1 Listed South Terrace and below Sounding Chamber. With the conservation project on the Sounding Chamber having been completed, we're inviting you back to celebrate its re-opening with a music installation by composer Errollyn Wallen.