Hughenden Manor: a Victorian home with a secret

A house with two tales, Hughenden Manor has a rich history. On the one hand it was the country home to Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria's favourite Prime Minister. On the other, it was the base for a secret map-making operation during the Second World War. Explore both stories in the atmospheric house and grounds.

Queen Victoria's favourite Prime Minister

Disraeli purchased Hughenden in 1848, shortly after becoming leader of the Tories. Securing the manor was vital to the realisation of his political ambitions and his personal aspirations; it elevated him to the status of landed country gentleman.

Hughenden was cherished by Disraeli and his wife Mary Anne and it provided the perfect setting for political drama, royal visits and their enduring love story for over 30 years. Over the three floors of the Manor you will discover insights into the personal and political life of this most unlikely of prime ministers.

On the ground floor is Disraeli's collection in the rooms he loved, including his library, along with ‘Cartoons and Campaigns’, an exhibition looking at the lasting impact of his policies.

The first floor features his study, bedroom and Mary Anne’s boudoir and you can see the black silk robe worn by Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer (and that he notoriously refused to give up). On the top floor is a timeline of Disraeli's history and our special exhibiition, The Royal Gifts of Hughenden based on Disraeli's close friendship with Queen Victoria.

Special exhibitions in 2019

Secret map-making base

Hughenden was also home to a secret map-making operation in the Second World War, so secret it only came to light 60 years later after a chance encounter one of our house volunteers had with a visitor. She overheard a man telling his grandson he’d been stationed here during the Second World War. This led to a decade-long unravelling of the story.

Codenamed ‘Hillside’, Hughenden played such a critical role supporting the pilots of nearby Bomber Command that it was on Hitler’s list of top targets.

Visit the new display, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, on the ground floor in rooms used by the mapmakers which are opened to the public for the first time. Find out how the map-making work helped turn around the war, and see the recreated dark room in the ice house.

Our 1940s weekend event in September recreates the wartime atmosphere with re-enactments, fly-pasts and themed stalls and activities, a fun weekend for all the family.

New display at Hughenden picturing the recreated Second World War mapmakers' desks

Hughenden's Second World War story

Discover more about Hughenden's secret wartime past in our new permanent display supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. In ground floor rooms opened to the public for the first time, find out why this manor house was high on Hitler's target list.

Talks & Tours

Find out more about Hughenden’s fascinating history by joining one of the free talks that take place every day. From Hughenden’s most famous resident, Benjamin Disraeli, to the Manor’s use as a secret mapping facility during the Second World War, there’s a lot to discover. Check the board by the Stableyard for details of what’s on during your visit, entry free with your house token.

There's also a free 40 minute guided tour of the Manor, daily at 10.40am which gives you an introduction to Hughenden, led by our volunteer guides. No booking required, just pick up a ticket at the visitor welcome kiosk when you arrive.

Every month from Jan to Oct there is a special Behind the Scenes Tour where you can find out more about the history of the Manor, see where the special collections are stored and meet the house stewards to discover how we care for the house and its contents. £8 per person, to book call 0344 249 1895. Please note, the route takes in the upper floors with several flights of steps, and is not accessible to wheelchairs.