I’ve realized today that I’ve been to Waddesdon Manor at the end of June and only now I’m sharing these pictures. I’ve blogged about Michael Eden’s special exhibition at Waddesdon Manor though, make sure you have a look, his work is gorgeous. Check their website if you want to see more details.
The Rothschilds trace their origins in Frankfurt’s Jewish ghetto, to become the most powerful banking family of the 19th century. Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand. He was born in Paris and raised in Frankfurt and Vienna. He moved to UK in 1860 and married Evelina, his cousin. Both her and their child died in childbirth one year later.
Ferdinand traveled and collected artwork for his home in London and for Waddesdon Manor too. He liked history, especially French history. He wanted an estate he would use in the summer for entertaining. So he built his magnificent manor.
After he got his inheritance, in 1874, he bought an agricultural estate. After three years the foundation stone was laid. In only six years the Waddesdon Manor was built and the land was transformed into a wonderful landscape. Mature trees had to be planted.
Ferdinand wanted the exterior of the house to be in the style of the French Renaissance châteaux of the Loire valley. He entrusted a French architect, Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur with this task. Despite the size, Ferdinand added a new wing while the house was building.
Completed in 1883, the house was celebrated with the first of many house parties. The house had running water and central heating from the start, a few years later, in 1889, electricity was introduced too. Ferdinand even installed a small lift for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1890, but she declined to ride in it, not trusting in the magic of electricity.
In the Second World War, the rooms were emptied to accommodate 100 children evacuated from London. It was the first and only time that children lived in the house. , the owners of Waddesdon Manor at that time, moved into the Bachelor’s Wing and left the main house for the children. All children were under five. After the war was over, James and Dorothy continue to live in the Bachelor’s Wing.
Like his predecessors, he died without having children. He left Waddesdon to the National Trust, along with its collections of national importance and 165 acres of garden and park. He also made the largest endowment the National Trust has ever received. Dorothy oversaw the opening of the ground floor to the public in 1959. More was opened to the public in the next 30 years.
Dorothy was involved in 1984 in the centenary restoration, repairs being carried out at that time. The present Lord Rothschild took over the management of Waddesdon after her death. He continued the work by expanding the restoration program.
The wonderful mechanical elephant, now too fragile, is only played only for special monthly tours. It is truly stunning, as I’ve seen a short clip on their website. It reminded me of the Swan at the Bowes Museum.
These figures are moving, when the mechanical elephant is in action.
The Vale of Aylesbury was known as ‘Rothschildshire’ for the number of the houses owned by the family in the area.
This beautiful vase was a gift from the Emperor Alexander II of Russia in 1873 to the Baron Lionel.
This candlestick was made in late 17th century in Germany. Red glass was difficult to make, hence highly prized.
This is a Spanish brooch, from the 1600s with some 19th century additions. Is made from gold, enamel, diamond, emerald, and sapphire.
A gorgeous notebook, c. 1760, made from gold, moss agate, ivory, and precious stones. The case contains four ivory tablets for writing on, two gold-tipped pencils, and a mirror. The ferns on it are a natural phenomena, created due to the presence of manganese and iron oxide in the stone.
There are many more amazing looking artefacts in the manor.
Something I haven’t seen before is this unusual leather ceiling.
The leather, this is a detail on a wall, was etched with intricate and gorgeous designs, like this rose.
In 2003 the aviary underwent a 2 year restoration project. It was redecorated in these beautiful blue and gold colours. As a reference to the French and German 18th-century garden pavilions like those at Versailles and Potsdam that likely inspired its design.
The Aviary was made by Baron Ferdinand. He had an interest in the natural world, as his well known nephew Walter Rotshchild. Ferdinand had parrots, flamingos, cranes, ibises, and pheasants. He also had sheep, deer, and llamas. During WWII the Aviary could not be maintained. It was restored in the 70s. At Waddesdon there are planned breeding programmers, that helps with education and research, also conservation. A third of the species at Waddesdon Manor are at risk of extinction.
Walter Rotshchild was a renowned naturalist, known for driving his carriage with four zebras on the streets of London. He lived at Tring and made a museum there, that was donated to Natural History Museum. I would love to visit that museum, especially after reading a book about him, written by his niece.
This little guy is a barbet from Africa. It lives in the forests of South Somalia and Mozambique. Eats figs, berries, and insects.
The roses in the rose garden are stunning.
To see the house you need to take timed tickets from the visitor centre. There is free entry for members of National Trust, Art Fund, and RHS. If you are not a member, the price for adults is £10.80 for the grounds and £19.80 for the grounds and manor. For children is cheaper.
Waddesdon Manor is in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP18 0JH.