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This site has not been designed with the idea of prying too much into the past history of Cliveden itself (being the stately home) and those responsible for shaping its legend. A multitude of published works (and indeed a few websites) already exist on the subject.

Nevertheless, there is a certain small part of Cliveden that is specifically relevant to this project - the War Memorial Garden.

Aerial View of Cliveden (source unknown)


"Following the lower path from the Octagon Temple northwards, an opening on the right leads into a sunken secret garden, oval in shape, cut out of the steep slope and shaded by tall trees. This was excavated and lined with tufa rocks by the 1st Viscount Astor in 1902 and originally concieved as an Italian garden, with fragments of Roman sculpture, including a marble screen with trellis pattern panels divided by herms, and a number of columns and capitals of the first and second centuries AD. However, during the 1914-18 War the garden was adapted as a cemetery for those who died in the Canadian Red Cross Hospital which was built on the Cliveden estate and was under the patronage of the Duchess of Connaught. The mosaic paving in the centre was replaced by turf in which were set inscribed stones marking the graves. At the same time the bronze statue by the Australian sculptor, Sir Bertram McKinnel, was set up on the middle of the east side, opposite the marble screen. The very beautiful marble decorative panel below it, carved with erotes holdinga garland, was probably part of a Roman funeral monument of the first century AD."

The text above is taken from The National Trust Cliveden guidebook (1990 edition) - first published in 1978, and eloquently explains the purpose and appearance of the garden. The 2 photos below, taken in 1992 by Damon Torsten, both depict McKinnel's magnificent statue. Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

  "Cliveden War Memorial Gardens" - McKinnel's statue close-up and looking up..

  "Cliveden War Memorial Gardens" - McKinnel's statue distant shot. The text on the plinth is quite legible here. The elaborate marble panel is, incidently, just out of shot at the bottom. So there.

For those of you more interested in the garden's role as an actual cemetery rather than fundamentally as a work of art (as I hasten to speculate that the author of the National Trust Guidebook appears to feel), you may find the following description more appropriatel. It is taken from the book Courage Remembered by Kingsley Ward and Major Edwin Gibson.

Cliveden War Cemetery, Taplow, Bucks

"The cemetery is in an excavation in the high, steep hillside which forms the wooded left bank of the River Thames along the Cliveden House Estate formerly owned by the Astor Family. During the 1914-1918 War, Lady Astor opened this estate for the recuperation of wounded and the presence of a war cemetery in these surroundings is most unusual.

It contains 42 burials of the 1914-1918 War, of which 28 were Canadian (two were nursing sisters), and two American; 19 Americans were repatriated after the Armistice. The other burials are British, Australian and New Zealand.

The cemetery is laid out as a sunken Roman garden, with symbolic broken pillars, a large font, and an allegoric statue. The markers are the original, rather small plain stones still recumbent on the graves.

The cemetery was used by the hospital at Taplow which, from December 1914 to September 1917, was known as the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital and then, until September 1919, became No 15 Canadian General Hospital. There are also one Canadian and one British burial of the 1939-1945 War.

This cemetery and Cannock Chase War Cemetery are the only two in Britain to have 'War Cemetery' in their title."


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