For Fathers Day we took a trip to Hughenden Manor, the former home of Benjamin Disraeli.
The house was like many of the National Trust places, ornate ceilings and paintings with eyes that follow you around the room and depressed looking faces. There was a painting of Queen Victoria on the wall in the dining room which was a little different. They also had some tiles on the wall that had some all the way from Venice.
Downstairs in the basement was a history of the houses involvement during WW2. High Wycombe, being surrounded by hills was a hive of activity during the war as the German’s found it hard to bomb.
The house was used to create ordnance maps to give to the pilots and bombers on their missions. They were created in a way that would allow them to see the gradients of the land in the dark and I must say the artists had impeccable eyesight to make them. I was struggling with my glasses on and my eyesight isn’t that bad!
There were a series of cartoons on the wall that the artists had drawn to keep their spirits up and it showed the level of talent the men had.
There was an outhouse building called the Ice House which was taken over as a darkroom, that formally was used to make ice cream by the owners of the house.
There was a room which housed the robes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the story goes that when Disraeli was succeeded by William Gladstone he refused to return the robes due to their bitter rivalry and they have remained at Hughenden Manor ever since.
Disraeli was an author of many works and his monetary advance for the book Sybil is still considered to be large.
In one room we were invited to vote on the part of Disraeli’s life that most interested us to help the Trustees scope the displays of the future. I voted for Author as we should all stick together!
I always love the libraries in these big old houses, they have some fantastic looking books. Even if I manage to own a big house with a library, swimming pool and dance hall as I’ve always dreamed the library filled with books of today just won’t be as appealing as the leather-bound books from the past.
The grounds were mostly woodland, although there was a sculpted garden that was immaculate. There was a man tending to the flower beds while we were there.
On the grounds there is a monument to Benjamin Disraeli’s father and as the sign said it was only a mile away we decided to have a nice walk. I suspect it might have been a mile there and a mile back! We only managed half way as we wound through tight woodland, up and down steep hills and onto a busy main road which we had to cross.
It was at this point looking across to the monument at the top of a steep hill in a field housed by bulls we decided to turn back and head for the comfort of the cafe and something sweet.
Disraeli planted many of the trees in the surrounding woods himself as he wasn’t pleased with the outline of the hills and the shadows they cast. There were some places that afforded beautiful views between the trees of the valleys surrounding the house and the fields of cattle.
The house is not as big as some National Trust properties and you can walk round it relatively quickly but on a warm summer’s day it is a nice place for a walk and a picnic. I would recommend getting there early or towards late afternoon as the car park is not very big and we have been turned away before when it was full.