A mysterious chamber in a 350-year-old building will be open to the public for the first time in 30 years, adding to a history of scandal and intrigue.

The Cliveden Estate was home to the notorious 2nd Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers, who was exiled after the English Civil War, returning in 1657 before building the house for his mistress and fatally wounding her husband.

The estate also played host to the notorious Profumo affair in the 1960s in which the married Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, had a three-month affair with a 19-year-old would-be model. A scandal so severe that it ended his career and brought down the Macmillan Conservative government.

The fascination and intrigue of the property prevails given the fact National Trust experts are unable to determine the chamber’s purpose.

The Trust’s five year, £6 million restoration project on the Grade I listed South Terrace, below which is the chamber, revealed that the room has been altered on several occasions in its history and before the chamber is re-rendered once again, visitors will be given a unique opportunity to see it in its rawest state and explore their own theories about its use.

The impressive acoustics of the domed space and funnels, which may carry sound, have led many to believe that it was used for musical performances and so contemporary sound artist Robin Rimbaud, alias Scanner, has been commissioned to create a musical installation.

Robin’s life in music adds another interesting tale to the chamber’s opening. He tells me: “I grew up in Southfields, South London, on a quiet street opposite a bakery where my grandfather, whom I lived with, worked at night. I vividly remember the smells and especially the sound of the men’s voices at night as they chatted to each other.

“Music always played a role in my life and I still treasure copies of the earliest vinyl records I listened to, including Winnie the Pooh, Rupert the Bear and Beethoven’s 1812 Overture. My family were always listening to music, whether it was the radio on from breakfast time, or the grand old wooden radiogram that played records and cassettes.

“From the earliest point I remember making no distinction between music and simply sound in itself, so I began using tape recorders when I was aged around ten to record sounds.

"My earliest public work utilised a radio scanner, a sophisticated radio receiver that scanned the airwaves, picking up the indiscriminate signals that float around us all the time in the ether, and as part of this I picked up unsuspecting people chatting away on their mobile phones and used them as a key component of my work.”

So where did he begin when commissioned to create sounds for the enigmatic chamber?

“From the very beginning I was focused on the idea of travelling through time with the sounds, offering up a sonic picture of the location for people to help paint a picture of what once was, often only suggesting things, momentary glimpses of conversation, footsteps, and so on. The final work is very close to my original ideas in my head too.

“Music itself clearly played a key part in the sonic makeup of the building so I created a hypnotic background loop based on a piece of music by Vivaldi that holds the composition together, while elsewhere you hear elements of opera, Music Hall and even the audience awaiting a concert, chatting away, as the orchestra tunes up. I want the public to feel as if any moment a performance is about to start but is never quite revealed. I want them to see with their ears.

“If you listen very carefully you can hear footsteps moving across the terrace, dogs barking in the distance, the bell tower tolling, rain falling, insects flying about the chamber, voices whispering to you, snippets of conversation, and even the sound of the building burning down around you.”

Mark Bradshaw, Cliveden’s general manager, adds: “We hope our visitors will enjoy listening to Scanner’s atmospheric recording in such an intriguing historic space. The 2nd Duke of Buckingham built Cliveden at a time when lavish masques and balls were held. It would be tempting to imagine therefore that this room was always intended to be used for musical recitals, although we can’t say for certain.

“The two funnels located in one half of the chamber are most intriguing. They were clearly built with a distinct purpose in mind, but whether this was to direct music up into another room of the house or to let light in is unknown. There’s much more research for us to do to find out about the chamber’s history, but in the meantime we welcome any ideas from our visitors who will draw their own conclusions.”

Cliveden Estate, Cliveden Road, Taplow, Maidenhead, SL1 8NS. Details: 01628 605069