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The estate at Hughenden

View of the square-towered church nestled in autumn trees viewed from across the parkland at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire
View of the church across the parkland at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Explore the parkland with its carefully designed views, rare chalk stream and medieval church. In the 18th century, limes, horse chestnuts, walnuts and sycamore were carefully planted to enhance the setting of the manor and create a landscape which reflects the setting of the estate in the Chiltern Hills. Wander further and take in 680 acres of countryside on a waymarked walk.

Autumn in the estate

Stroll through the Disraelis’ pleasure grounds and parkland to see the changing colours of the ancient specimen trees or venture further on a waymarked walk to experience the full effect of the native beech woods as the foliage turns. As the colours change from the bright hues of summer to the burnt oranges and soft yellows of autumn, celebrate the season's sights, sounds and sensations in Hughenden’s gardens and the rolling countryside.

Head out to Disraeli’s Monument for the best views of the red bricked Victorian manor. When you reach the top of the hill and look back across the valley to Hughenden it is nestled on the side of a hill, surrounded in rich autumn colours of the native trees turning, predominantly reds and oranges from the historic beech woodlands.

Hughenden's tree-lined parkland

First created in the early 1700s, today’s formal parkland was originally set out in the 1820s and featured limes, horse chestnuts, walnuts and sycamore. Disraeli added significant trees from around the world, with styles and silhouettes carefully chosen to contribute to the landscape and views of the beautiful sweeping hills across the valley.

A champion tree

One of the veteran trees on the Hughenden estate has been named the largest horse chestnut tree in the country and given the accolade of Champion Tree by the National Tree Register. It has a girth measurement of 7.33 metres (just over 24 feet) and it’s this enormous trunk that clinched its championship status.

While it's impossible to date precisely, the horse chestnut is likely to be over 300 years old, pre-dating many of the other trees at Hughenden which were planted by Benjamin Disraeli in the 19th century. It produces an abundance of conkers every year.

Cow conservation

From April to September the parkland is home to a herd of Aberdeen Angus crossbreed cattle and thanks to their grazing the grassland is an ideal natural habitat where wildflowers and insects flourish.

The open pasture they create means butterflies and beetles thrive, and the cow pats they leave bring flies which in turn attract swallows and spotted flycatchers swooping across the park on summer evenings.

St Michael and All Angels church at Hughenden in Buckinghamshire
St Michael and All Angels church at Hughenden in Buckinghamshire | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Medieval church

Early records show that a church has existed on this site since the early 12th century. Today it has a Victorian Gothic appearance following restoration and extension works in 1874-5 by Disraeli. Unusually for a Prime Minister he is buried here as he left instructions that he wanted to be buried quietly at Hughenden alongside his wife Mary Anne.

Inside the church, behind the pulpit, is the monument erected by Queen Victoria to Disraeli. It is the only known example of a memorial by a reigning English monarch to a subject. Royal protocol did not permit the monarch to attend the private funeral, but Victoria visited the tomb a few days later to pay her respects to her favourite prime minister.

St Michael and All Angels is still used today as the parish church for the village of Hughenden Valley.

Rare chalk stream

The Hughenden estate stream rises from springs in Hughenden Valley and flows through the parkland before it joins the River Wye in the centre of High Wycombe.

Chalk streams are very rare habitats, with only 3% of streams in the UK on chalk. They are unique because they flow on top of an aquifer, so the water table needs to be above ground level for water to be present in the stream. This is known as a ‘winterborne’ as the rainfall during winter dictates whether the stream flows in the summer.

There is still evidence of modifications made by Disraeli, including weirs to provide pools for trout fishing, and a small lake to accommodate his two swans named Hero and Leander, after the Greek tragedy.

Chalk stream on the estate at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire
Chalk stream on the estate at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Countryside walks

Four colour-coded waymarked walks can help you discover more of the estate, from a gentle one-mile stroll to a four-mile hike, beginning from the visitor welcome kiosk.

They are a great way to start exploring and our café in the stableyard makes a good start or finish point. Hughenden’s codename during the war was Hillside for good reason: most walks will include a slope or two but the reward for climbing higher is a spectacular view.

View of the house from the parkland at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire

Discover more at Hughenden

Find out when Hughenden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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