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Things to see in Cliveden's house and chapel

A view of the front of Cliven House.
The North Front Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. | © ©National Trust / Andrew Butler

Step inside Cliveden house, a place of intrigue and glamour for the elite since it was built in 1666 by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham as a gift to his mistress. Enriched with antique furniture and period features, it has stayed true to its roots while providing a luxurious setting to rest, meet and play.

Visiting Cliveden House

Cliveden House is currently leased as a luxury country hotel and generally not open to National Trust Visitors. However, from 4 March to 31 October 2024, on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, National Trust visitors can enjoy a 30-minute guided visit, every 10 minutes from 11am-12:30pm. Please ensure you have collected a ticket from the Information Centre on arrival, as these are first come, first served.

The visit

Our volunteer guides will take you on a journey along the ground floor bringing to life the glittering history of the house. They will share with you the glamorous stories of the famous Astor dynasty and you will see where guests such as Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Amy Johnson and other famous figures were entertained.

Nancy Astor portrait

Whilst you're in the entrance hall, notice the cooler, fresher colours on the portrait of Nancy Astor by renowned artist John Singer Sargent. The painting recently returned from the Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio at Knole after conservation. The conservators removed the discoloured layers of varnish, stabilised flaking paint and retouched paint losses. The frame was also supported and restored to its original water-gilded finish.

same portrait of a young woman in a white dress with yellowed appearance and also with fresher, cooler colours after conservation
Cliveden's Nancy Astor portrait by John Singer Sargent before and after conservation in the entrance hall at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire | © National Trust/Laurence Pordes / Matthew Hollow

The Minton Medusa

New for this year, a replica of the Minton Medusa is on display in the house. The impressive, 14 inch centrepiece of Cliveden's 19th century tiled floor features a winged Medusa in spectacular colour with green snakes entwined in her hair.

After Nancy and Waldorf Astor received Cliveden a wedding gift in 1906, Nancy set about redecorating and replaced the Minton encaustic tiled floor with flagstones. The tiles languished in storage until a team of volunteers cleaned and catalogued them in 2008. In 2015 three 'jigsaw puzzle' volunteers reassembled the floor design, but the Medusa was missing.

Art collector John Scott had bought the piece. He donated his collection to a museum, but commissioned an authentic replica to donate to Cliveden. It took several years to make the challenging piece, but it is now on display in the house.

Image of a circular encaustic tile with an image of a woman with green snakes in her hair and wings behind her
The Minton Medusa. Centrepiece of Minton tiled floor from Cliveden in Buckinghamshire | © National Trust/Clare Bates

House visits tickets

  • Tickets available Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4 March to 31 October 2024.
  • Entry to the house is by ticket only which are obtained on the day, only from the National Trust Information Centre in the main centre car parking area. We recommend you collect your ticket as soon as you arrive to ensure a place on a guided house visit.
  • Visits run every 10 minutes from 11 am to 12:30 pm, dependent on guide availability.
  • Tickets for the House visits are included within the admission price. You're welcome to make a donation at the Information Centre.
  • Please do not take photos or videos inside the house.

House visit meeting point

  • Please make your way to the house, heading to the lawn on the left-hand side of the house where our guides will be waiting to welcome you.
  • All tours will leave promptly at the time listed on your ticket, so please aim to check in at the house five minutes in advance.


  • The house is a working hotel and therefore the nature of a visit is more suited to an adult audience.

  • Unfortunately, Cliveden house is not accessible for wheelchairs or pushchairs. You are welcome to leave these at the entrance, and visitors with walking frames or other mobility aids are welcome to join the tours at their own discretion. However, please note that we cannot guarantee that any seating will be available along the tour route.

  • Only assistance dogs are permitted on house visits.

The Chapel in Spring at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire
The Chapel in Spring at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire | © Andrew Butler
View of the interior of Octagon Chapel at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire
View of the interior of Octagon Chapel at Cliveden | © National Trust Images/John Bethell

The chapel

Head to the western side of the Parterre for a surprise; the unassuming domed building overlooking the river houses a wonderfully ornate chapel, also known as the Octagon Temple. The Chapel is open in the afternoons from 1 April to 26 October on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1:30pm to 3:30pm, subject to volunteer availabilty and weather conditions.

From tea-room to chapel

Dating from 1735, the building was conceived for Lord Orkney by architect Giacomo Leoni. Guests would enjoy wandering along the cliff top paths before taking tea and enjoying the view from the ‘Prospect Room’.

In 1897 William Waldorf Astor proposed the idea of converting the tea-room into a splendid private chapel. The work involved major structural alterations to change the former two-storey building into a double height space. It boasts an inlaid polished stone floor, stained-glass windows and vibrant glass mosaics covering the walls.

Download the chapel guidebook

Take a peek inside

The chapel is free of charge to National Trust visitors. Unlike the house visits, there's no need to pick up a timed ticket, simply pop in and our friendly, knowledgeable volunteer stewards will be on hand to chat and share the history of the building. There may be times when the Chapel has to remain closed due to conservation weather conditions or unavailability of volunteer stewards. Please check if the chapel is open by calling in to the National Trust Visitors Information Centre on your arrival.

Aerial view of Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

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