There’s no doubt about it, Claydon House is opulent. The Buckinghamshire manor, owned by the Verney family for over 550 years, takes grandeur to another level and the interiors are some of the most lavish to have come out of the 18th-century.
Open to the public for most of the year, the house is also the backdrop to the latest film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. Starring Carey Mulligan as Bathesheba Everdene, the film showcases Claydon House as William Boldwood’s luxurious mansion.
Now a National Trust site, Claydon was an ordinary manor house when it was bought by Sir Ralph Verney in 1463. The H-plan brick mansion had high ceilings and large rooms throughout but as the family’s stature increased, so did their plans for the house.
It wasn’t until 1740 that Sir Ralph’s great, great grandson (also named Ralph), the 2nd Earl Verney, took on the task of creating a home of extravagance in order impress his wealthy neighbours and outdo his political rivals.
The builder that the Earl chose for the job was the supremely talented London-based woodcarver Luke Lightfoot. Lightfoot transformed the house into the spectacle it is today but Ralph Verney certainly paid the price for it and the renovations left him in financial ruin.
Claydon’s interiors have somewhat diminished over the years though the impressive work of Luke Lightfoot remains. Carved pine disguised as rococo plasterwork, mahogany, ebony and ivory stairways and deep coffered plasterwork ceilings are just some of the features that have stood the test of time in this sublime structure.
Visiting Claydon House
Address: Claydon House, Middle Claydon, near Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, MK18 2EY
Visiting times: Please phone 01296 730349 or see nationaltrust.org.uk/claydon
Entry prices: Adults £7.50 (National Trust members free)
Photography: Christopher Drake