Now a National Trust property, Cliveden, former home of Lady Astor, stands on a constructed terrace of mature gardens high above the Thames. The estate's original mansion and sweeping lawns were created by William Winde in 1666 for the second duke of Buckingham. Later, the father of King George III reared his sons here. After a fire in 1795, Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament, converted the house into its present gracefully symmetrical form. A soaring clock tower was added to one side as a later Victorian folly. When the house was sold by the duke of Southerland to the Astors in 1893, Queen Victoria lamented the passage. The house remained part of the Astor legacy, a repository of a notable collection of paintings and antiques, until 1966.
The surrounding gardens have a distinguished variety of plantings, ranging from Renaissance-style topiary to meandering forest paths with vistas of statuary and flowering shrubs. Garden features are a glade garden, a magnificent parterre, and an amphitheater where "Rule Britannia" was played for the first time. There are 150 hectares (375 acres) of gardens and woodland to explore.