Described by Queen Victoria as a "bijou of taste," Cliveden (pronounced Cliv-dn) is a magnificent country mansion that for more than 300 years has lived up to its Georgian heritage as a bastion of aesthetic delights. The house, set in 376 acres of gardens and parkland above the River Thames, was rebuilt in 1851; but it was the rich and powerful Astor family, who purchased it in 1893, that made Cliveden famous. In the 1920s and 1930s this was the meeting place for the influential salon known as the "Cliveden Set"—a group of strongly conservative thinkers who many accused of being Nazi sympathizers. Its doyenne was Nancy Astor, an American by birth, who became the first woman to sit in the British Parliament. The ground-floor rooms of the house are open, as well as the Octagon Chapel, with its beautiful gilt-painted ceiling and wall panels. You can wander the beautiful grounds, which include a water garden, miles of woodland and riverbank paths, a kids' play area, and a yew-tree maze. Book your timed ticket for the house beforehand or early on the day. Boat hire and trips are available daily in July and August.