Victorian Decor Inspiration: Hughenden Manor, Part 1

There’s nothing like a trip to Buckinghamshire, UK, to get a flavour of Victorian England. Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and his wife Mary-Anne moved into their Buckinghamshire home, Hughenden Manor, in 1848. Unlike the owners of most of Britain’s stately homes, the Disraelis weren’t rich. Benjamin was from a modest Jewish background and spent his whole life in debt, trying to succeed in business whilst endeavouring to climb the slippery pole of British politics. So when the Disraelis decided to renovate their historic home to reflect the latest trends in Victorian decor, they had to do so on a relatively small budget.

victorian garden

Edward Buckton Lamb (1805-1869), a Scottish architect dismissed by some of his contemporaries as a “rogue Gothic Revivalist,” is now praised for his innovative floorplans, rooflines, gutters and choice of materials. With Lamb’s added Gothic decorative battlements, Hughenden Manor’s roof recalls the extravagant splendor of James Wyatt’s Fonthill Abbey and Ashridge Park. To complete the façade, Lamb removed the Georgian stucco to reveal the original mid-18th century red brick. –by Elaine K. Phillips (Photo: Susie Kearley)

Beautiful Victorian Decor on a Low Budget

In 1862, the Disraelis commissioned the notorious architect Edward Buckton Lamb to remodel the classical Georgian building, transforming it into the fantastic Victorian country house they would use to impress their peers and elevate Benjamin’s status in politics.

drawing room

The Disraelis relaxed in this drawing room after dinner. It is rumored that Disraeli’s spirit haunts this room and his spirit has been sensed near the fireplace and the chaise longue in the drawing room. (Photo: Susie Kearley)

On the home’s exterior, Lamb replaced the Georgian features with dramatic gothic architectural elements, such as ornamental battlements on the roof. Critics described the large window heads on the upper floors as “indescribable” and “excruciating”—but Benjamin loved them.


The fireplace in Benjamin’s study appears to be marble, but is actually made from wood and coated with paint. (Photo: Susie Kearley)

Inside, Mary-Anne’s tight budget prompted her to find creative ways to give her home the high-class features she desired. She had the dining room’s ornate “carved wood” ceiling made of papier-mâché, and the 12th century-style, wood-effect archways and vaulted ceilings of plasterwork. Similarly, the study’s “marble” fire surround in the study is made from painted wood.

dining room ceiling

The dining room ceiling is made from papier-mache rather than carved wood. (Photo: Susie Kearley)

In spite of her limited funds, Mary-Anne managed to clothe her home with the stunning furnishings and styles of her day: marble busts, golden picture frames, rich colours, ornate mirrors, statues and flock wallpaper.


For more Victorian decor inspiration from Hughenden Manor, reading our blogs here.

Written and photographed by Susie Kearley

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