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.
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 the rooms are re-created as Disraeli would have know them, with the dining room set for a royal visit and the library full of his beloved books. On the first floor is his study, bedroom and Mary Anne’s boudoir along with 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 exhibition, The Royal Gifts of Hughenden based on Disraeli's close friendship with Queen Victoria.
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’, Hughendenplayed such a critical role supporting the pilots of nearby Bomber Command that it was on Hitler’s list of top targets.
The new display, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is on the ground floor in rooms used by the mapmakers. The map-making work helped turn around the war, and there's a 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.
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.
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. £6 per person, to book call 0344 249 1895. Please note, the route takes in many floors with several flights of steps, and is not accessible to wheelchairs.