Claydon House, Buckinghamshire

Number Two daughter and I paid a visit to Claydon House, near Aylesbury, this afternoon. It’s one of those places that makes a good afternoon trip. I’m not sure you’d want to spend all day there though, unless you decided to walk around the fields – very lovely, especially at this time of the year when the lambs are about.

So why visit Claydon? Well, it was once the home of Florence Nightingale’s sister Parthenope, so there’s a lot of Florence Nightingale memorabilia in the house, including the room she used when visiting the house. It was also the home to the Verney family, (I understand that part of the house is still occupied by the family), one of whom was King Charles I’s standard-bearer at the Battle of Edgehill – where he was ‘slayed’ as his tomb in the adjacent churchwill tell you.

The house contains some excellent portraits. These are the kind of portraits that I love – pictures of people where their character seems to shine through – there’s all sorts, from the haughty to the coquettish – with pretty much everything in between.

The house also has some remarkably decorated rooms, which The National Trust has done a good job of making more accessible. Don’t miss the Chinese Room, where well to do visitors would be given tea. It’s so over the top, you’ll want one in your house too.

This afternoon there was a lady showing examples of items from everyday life from years back – it was fascinating – I recognised some of the pieces, but was intrigued to see others. Daughter loved it too. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that give you the most pleasure.

Claydon was meant to be a much bigger edifice than it now stands, and it’s a strangely unbalanced house, probably because of that, but it’s quirkiness is one of its attractions.

There is a second-hand bookshop in the courtyard, where I managed to get a copy of the biography of Richard III, by Michael Hicks. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to the Wars of The Roses and the people involved, so I was pleased to get my hands on this book.

The tea-room was welcome. We really needed a cup of coffee and a slice of coffee and walnut cake – yum. There’s also a little restaurant if your tastes run to that – or you’re making more of an occasion of it.

There are other attractions too, including a gallery, but that’s not really our thing, so I can’t tell you what that was like.

What could Claydon do to improve the visitor experience? Well I have to say, they’ve improved a lot since we first went years ago. Today it felt very friendly. The room guides were chatty and pleasant and definitely child-friendly. There’s lots to do and you can actually SIT DOWN in most rooms.

My only gripe is the signage to the newly sited ticket office – it’s in the wrong place. I got the impression from the ladies there, that this had been noticed, so hopefully, by the time you go, they’ll have added a couple or repositioned one or two. But that’s a tiny gripe – really being horribly picky.

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