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Maze at Cliveden

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Cliveden maze amazes again

14 April 2011

A complex maze, sketched out on a notepad in 1894 by William Waldorf, newspaper proprietor and 1st Viscount Astor, has returned to Cliveden in Buckinghamshire in one of the most ambitious restoration projects ever undertaken by the National Trust.

The maze covered a third of an acre (1.2 hectacres), but became overgrown and had largely disappeared by the mid-20th century. However Lord Astor's sketch was rediscovered in 2005 in the Trust's archives kept at nearby Hughenden Manor, and now after two years of work to clear the last remnants of the original maze and level the site, the layout has been recreated to match the original location and plans as closely as possible.

'Finding enough fully grown yew trees to complete the maze was the most challenging part, but once we found a supplier we managed to plant all 1,100 12-year-old trees in 20 days,' said head gardener Andrew Mudge.

The maze, with its unusual design resembling a sinuous semicircle, now rivals the one at Hampton Court for size and complexity. It is the centrepiece of a wider restoration of Cliveden, reinstating planting schemes and opening up vistas to return it to the days when it was renowned as among the most sophisticated gardens of its time.

In their heyday Cliveden's gardens were the setting for glittering high-society parties held by Lady Nancy Astor, wife of Lord Astor's son Waldorf. They became notorious as the place where John Profumo first met model Christine Keeler in 1961, triggering the Profumo Affair credited with bringing down Harold Macmillan's government three years later.

The maze at Cliveden is open daily.


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