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Landmarks of Wycombe – Hughenden Manor

| June 13, 2014

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Leafy Buckinghamshire with its green fields and rolling hills is the prefect location to build a large country house.

Indeed there are many country retreats located in the Wycombe area of which Hughenden Manor is a fine example with associated grounds and woodland totalling around 1,500 acres.

The manor of Hughenden was first recorded in 1086 when it was held by William, son of Oger the Bishop of Bayeux.

However the house we see today was built towards the end of the 18th Century and remodelled in 1862 by the architect Edward Buckton Lamb.

Hughenden Manor’s most notable resident was Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, who was the British Prime Minister in 1868 and from 1874–1880. Disraeli originally purchased Hughenden Manor for £25,000 (£1.5m in today’s money).

The west wing was built in 1910, long after Disraeli’s death, when the house was in the ownership of his nephew Coningsby Disraeli.

In 1947 Hughenden Manor was made over to the National Trust who care for the property to this very day.

Turning off the Hughenden Road and passing the gate house, a long drive way runs up the hill and through the park. Eventually one comes to the entrance gate to the house itself which is located close to the kitchen garden. Passing through the main gate to the house visitors are met with a large lawn surrounded by trees and short gravel drive to the front door.

Once inside the property the dining room is located to the right down a narrow corridor, the library is to the left while drawing and reception rooms with large plate glass windows look out onto the south-facing terrace with a grassy parterre containing flower borders with views over the Hughenden Valley.

The house is spread over three floors. There is also a basement area.

While the ground floor was concerned with daily living the first floor contains numerous bedchamber’s and the top floor was once devoted to servants quarters.

Currently the ground and first floor are laid out as they would have been when Disraeli was in residence however the top floor is in plain modern décor having recently being converted from offices which housed National Trust staff.

Below the ground floor the basement is home to an exhibition showing what life was like at the Manor house during the Second World War when it was requisitioned by Air Ministry staff as part of ‘Operation Hillside’.

In WWII Hughenden Manor was involved in the analysis of aerial photographs and the making of maps widely used by the RAF to guide air crews to targets in occupied Europe. The maps made at Hughenden were even used to guide air crew from the famous 617 Squadron on the Dambusters Raid.

Of course when used by the RAF the furniture and possessions of Disraeli were removed and put into storage so military work could be done. Once the war was over the stored items were returned to the Manor.

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The walled kitchen gardens still survive, they are located just outside the entrance to the driveway of the main house.

Disraeli himself is buried in St Michael and All Angels church which is located half was along the approach road to the main house. For anyone visiting Hughenden Manor it is well worth paying a visit to the church first to see Disraeil’s grave before proceeding on to the main Manor house.

Hughenden Manor is open to the public most days and well worth a visit.

What do you think?

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