is a moderately large Queen Anne style
house built in 1920, near Burnham
. It was given to the National Trust
by Lord Courtauld-Thomson
in 1947 as a country home for a senior member of the Government
, usually a Secretary of State
or Minister of the Crown
Occupancy of the house
The Prime Minister
alone decides which Minister or Secretary of State is to occupy the house. In previous administrations it has been the residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer
and, prior to May 31 2006
, was occupied by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
. Prescott was forced to relinquish occupancy of Dorneywood, following a series of scandals over an affair with civil servant Tracey Temple
and a snatched paparazzi photograph of him playing croquet on the lawn of the property whilst the Prime Minister Tony Blair
was out of the country on a visit to Washington.
Various former Prime Ministers (before achieving the premiership) have occupied the house, among them Anthony Eden; he and his wife had disliked the house. However, on becoming Prime Minister, Alec Douglas-Home was reluctant to forsake the more comfortable and modern Dorneywood for the antique splendours of Chequers. Another, James Callaghan as Foreign Secretary, also had the use of Dorneywood (later Chevening was to become the official country home for the holder of that office). The last person to have lived at the house before becoming Prime Minister was John Major.
The interior of the house contains some decorations by Rex Whistler
, as well as paintings and furniture belonging to the Government Art Collection
. There is also furniture belonging to the National Trust.
The house is not open to the public.
The National Trust markets the property under the name "Dorneywood Garden". The estate consists of the house and approximately 200 acres (0.8 km²) of parkland, woodland and farmland. The 1930s-style gardens are open to the public by written appointment only on four days a year. The grounds are noted for their cottage
and kitchen garden
, as well as their herbaceous borders
The upkeep of the estate is in part supported by the Dorneywood Thomson Endowment Trust Fund.