Ambitious and lavish interiors show the cost of showing off

17th Century gold silk doublet on exhibition at Claydon House.'120411M-A034
17th Century gold silk doublet on exhibition at Claydon House.'120411M-A034

NATIONAL Trust property Claydon House, in Middle Claydon has reopened for the season with an exciting new exhibition and series of talks.

The stately home, which has been occupied by the Verney family for more than 550 years, is a testament to the family’s fluctuating fortunes.

In the 1750s, at his family seat in Bucks, Sir Ralph Verney set out to create a country house of extraordinary grandeur that would dazzle his wealthy neighbours and outdo his political rivals. Thirty years on, he was facing financial ruin. Today the interiors that remain are among the most ambitious and lavish ever created in the 18th century.

The new season is based around the theme The Cost Of Showing Off. A costume exhibition follows the theme with an extremely rare gold silk doublet made for the standard bearer, Sir Edmund Verney, taking centre stage.

Made in 1633, not only does the garment survive, but so too does the tailor’s bill for £7 3s, showing that the cost of this one item was about the same as a farm labourer would have earned in a year.

An exhibition. which will be running all year, takes fresh material from the Claydon archives to look at the cost of living and entertaining at the house across three centuries.

From wine bills to servant’s wages (£3 per year in the 1690s) it is a fascinating insight into the workings of high society.

A series of talks on the theme of Close Up At Claydon reveal the house and its inhabitants in greater detail. Other highlights include new and improved family trails and ‘I spy’ challenges for younger visitors.