The Claydons is a cluster of four small villages, six miles south of Buckingham, which grew up around Claydon House and the Estate, to house the workers and traditional craftsmen needed to support a farming community. The villages are, Middle Claydon, Steeple Claydon, East Claydon and Botolph Claydon. Claydon House dates from the 1750s, but much of it was demolished late in the century, leaving the Verney family facing financial ruin. Only the west wing remains. Florence Nightingale was a frequent visitor, spending her summers there. Her sister, Lady Parthenope Verney, was the second wife of Sir Henry Verney. The house contains a museum devoted to the “Lady with the lamp”. The Verney family owned the house and gave it, together with its lavish interior, to the National Trust in 1956. Sir Edmund Verney was standard bearer to Charles I and died at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642.
Middle Claydon is a small village, standing on the northern edge of the parkland surrounding Claydon House. All Saints Church stands in the park and dates from the 13th century. It contains several memorials to the Verney family.
Steeple Claydon is the largest of the villages, deriving its name from the steeple of St. Michael’s Parish Church. The main road through the village is lined with thatched and timbered cottages of chequered brickwork.
East Claydon and Botolph Claydon are so close together that they almost form one village. Both have timber-framed thatched cottages. There is a clock tower, built in 1913, that separates the settlements. It has one face for each community. To the north side of the tower is East Claydon Village School. On the south side of the tower is the Village Hall, built by the Verney family, which also contains a Public Library, with books provided by the family.
Claydon House is a popular film location, notably for its 18th century interior. The ballroom scene in the 1996 film of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, was filmed here. Again, Claydon House became the venue for the Christmas party in the 2015 feature film version of Thomas Hardy’s, Far from the Madding Crowd, starring Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene and Michael Sheen as William Boldwood.