Hughenden Manor, the former Buckinghamshire home of Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, has changed very little since he entertained Queen Victoria there in 1877. His wife Mary-Anne had renovated their home to reflect the latest Victorian decor tastes, but Queen Victoria didn’t seem to notice she’d done it on a budget.
Victorian Decor Fit to Entertain an Empress
Skilled at making politics comprehensible, Benjamin became the Queen’s favorite Prime Minister; they wrote to each other daily, and the Queen condescended to dine with the Disraelis at Hughenden Manor in 1877.
The Disraelis entertained Queen Victoria in their dining room. Aware that the Queen was a small lady at just 5 feet tall, Benjamin had the legs on one of his chairs sawn down by a couple of inches, to ensure her feet would touch the ground.
Throughout their friendship, Queen Victoria graced her friend and his wife with many gifts, including the portrait of Queen Victoria and of Benjamin in the dining room. Duplicates of both paintings hang in Buckingham Palace.
The main bedroom at Hughenden Manor contains other gifts from the Queen, such as the two signed portraits of the Queen and Prince Albert seen above the fireplace, and the ornate jug by the fireplace. The jug sits amidst bowls, towels and other bathing paraphernalia that the Victorians used to wash themselves in tin bathtubs in front of an open fire.
The Queen’s Christmas 1876 gift to Benjamin—an ornately bound copy of Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe—sits in his library downstairs. The statuettes she gave him, including one of her favourite Scottish piper, are on the library’s mantle piece.
Today, Hughenden Manor opens its doors to visitors seven days a week from March to December, offering up its treasure trove of history and Victorian artefacts to curious eyes.
For more Victorian decor inspiration from Hughenden Manor, check out our next posts.
Written and photographed by Susie Kearley