The Pagoda Bells

Cliveden Pagoda Bells

As you wander through Cliveden's Water Garden, you may spot a few additions to the Chinese Pagoda. Since being brought to Cliveden by William Waldorf Astor in 1900, the Pagoda has gone through several significant changes and this year is no exception.


The Pagoda's rich history

The Oriental Pagoda was originally built to form part of a temporary structure built for Paris’ Exposition Universelle of 1867. Emperor Napoleon III’s exhibition celebrated the achievements of the Second Empire France, world culture and industrial manufacturing. Among displays from around the world, the Pagoda was part of the Chinese exhibition, which also included a Chinese garden. The Pagoda was later purchased by the Marquess of Hertford and set up in the garden of his Paris residence, Bagatelle, in the Bois de Boulogne.

An unheard sound for over 100 years

Reminiscent of the architecture of the Orient, the Pagoda’s bells aren’t just an attractive addition to the outdoor display. The sounds produced by each bell create a unique and special chime. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the replication process involved some extremely detailed designs and painstakingly structured drawings. Assisted by National Bells Advisor Chris Pickford, the replacement project began with some extensive research into the original bells. The bells were made with iron, oil gilded and applied with 24 carat English gold and painted inside with a traditional bronze patina.

An exciting conservation project

Cliveden conservators have been busy replicating and replacing the Pagoda’s prominent bells. Thanks to the generosity of the National Trust Centres and Associations, we’ve replicated an original feature on Cliveden's Chinese Pagoda. In its heyday, the Pagoda boasted 24 golden bells adorned around the circumference of the structure. The fundraising has paid for the replication of 8 bells in total, a major milestone towards restoring the Pagoda to its intended splendour. 

A third of the way there...

In time, when more fundraising has been secured, the rest of the collection of bells will be added to the Padoga; recreating the unique echo travelling through the Water Garden, just as William Waldorf would have known it.

If you’d like to help fundraise for the project, please e-mail, call 01628 605069 or pop into the Information Centre.