Claydon House was built by the 2nd Earl Verney in the middle of the 18th-century, on land which had belonged to his family since the 15th-century. He built first a stable block, then altered the original manor-house, finally he began an ambitious plan for a massive 250 foot extension which was to contain a ballroom, hall and observatory. Unfortunately, due to a lack of money his grand plans were thwarted, and when his niece inherited, she had the unfinished building pulled down.
All that remains of Claydon today is the west end of the original house. The rich interior belies the starkness of the exterior, and shows magnificent Rococo woodcarvings by Luke Lightfoot, including a unique Chinese Room, parquetry, and a superb wrought- iron staircase. Lightfoot is renowned for his artistry and Claydon possesses woodcarvings of amazing delicacy and detail, ranking amongst the finest of any of England's great country mansions.
The Chinese Room leaves you overwhelmed with its sheer beauty. Joseph Rose, the famed stuccoist is responsible for the amazing plasterwork in the Saloon, Library and stairwell. The staircase shows decorative work in mahogany, ebony and ivory parquetry. The iron-work balustrade is superbly ornate with a garland of delicate ears of corn.
Florence Nightingale was a frequent visitor to Claydon House, her sister married Sir Henry Verney in 1868, and there is a commemorative museum to her on the upper floor.
Claydon House is a lavishly appointed property, with fine furniture, beds, paintings, tapestries, porcelain and other precious artefacts.
Interestingly, the house is said to be haunted by the ghost of Sir Edmund Verney who lost his life at the Battle of Edgehill, in 1642. Another ghost thought to haunt Claydon is that of Florence Nightingale. There have been claims to sightings of a lady dressed in grey who is seen gazing out from the windows of the Rose Room, overlooking the gardens.
The Verney family lived at Claydon House until 1956 when it was given over to the National Trust. It is open to the public from April until the end of October.
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