UK Trip Part III: Waddesdon Manor
Our next adventure, sets off, in a Louis XIV style French Renaissance Chateau called Waddesdon Manor. This manor was owned by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. It was built in 1874, in a little suburb; called Buckinghamshire, Milton Keyens. Milton Keyens is situated only 72 kilometers away from London! Also known as the home of the code breakers , Bletchly Park and it’s technology. Anyway, I could easily write an entire essay on Milton Keynes so let’s not get side tracked. 😀 Shall we continue…?
It was an Aunt and Niece special day. We both enjoyed a beautiful day out in the calm and placid English Countryside. It was such a pleasant summer’s day, firstly the drive to Waddesdon was… absolutely….Ummmm, I don’t even know how to begin describing it for you… I guess the way you envision England?
As we drive along extremely narrow roads you can’t help, but to fall in love with the quaint old English cottages, bursting with soft pink rambling roses, gentle purple hues, from wisterias and lavenders. I love how the streets are all hidden under luscious green canopies of trees and bushes. I could not soak it all fast enough! All I wanted was for the time to freeze so I can take it in, and never letting this holiday come to an end.
Upon entering Waddesdon Manor, you realise in an instant that you are now entering into a whole different world. One that is meant to show the world that you are of noble importance, A person who is extremely wealthy not only in the ching ching, but also in knowledge and influence.
The grand staggering size of this property 120 Acres! In that very moment you see the first glimpse of this manor, it feels like you have stepped back into a different time. One where you also no longer feel you are in England. More like a portal has opened and transported you right back into a life of a French Aristocracy, living in countryside of Loire, France!
History, Secrets and Collections of Waddesdon Manor
As you make your way closer to the Manor, you can’t help but to notice two very tall sculptures that resemble a candelabrum. Having a closer inspection, you notice that it is made from hundreds of empty magnum wine bottles.
The sculpture is designed by Joana Vasconcelos who created this as a representation of the Rothchild’s connection to the wine world, along with bygone days of when Baron Ferdinand’s hosted his famous house parties and the generous hospitality shown at Waddesdon Manor.
You see boozy friends, the Baron wanted to have a build himself a lavish estate where he could escape the stuffy old London during the summer months. A place where the Baron can sit back, relax and entertain his family and friends. As mentioned earlier, the exterior of the house, is a French Renaissance châteaux inspiration from the Loire valley. French architect, Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleu , was commission to design this magnificent manor!
Once the manor was completed, many important guest, came to stay at the manor, including Queen Victoria, the future King Edward VII and many other politicians and influential people at the time. When the Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild passed away in 1898, his sister Alice de Rothschild inherited the manor.
Alice de Rothschild, saw Waddesdon as a memorial for her brother and was devoted in preserving it. She also added a number of significant and finest items to his collection, such as furniture, carpets, textiles, ceramics, porcelain and armor.
My mind still can’t get over the grand scale of luxury you will find in Waddesdon Manor. There is something, just waiting to be discovered on every nook, corner and cranny. The attention to detail is incredible, I mean just look at the wall paper, the doors and even the curtains…!!
When Alice passed on in 1922, her great nephew James de Rothschild, inherited the manor. He also added many priceless collections, which he inherited from his father. Waddesdon Manor played an important role during WWII. Children from under the age of 5 years were evacuated from Croyed and sent to live a Waddesdon manor. They also provided asylum for a group of Jewish boys from Frankfurt. This was the only time there had been children living in this manor.
After the war, James de Rothschild, began to consider the fate Waddesdon should he die. Again, another member not having any children, and an era of grand country house entertaining was coming to an end, it was then decided that they leave the Manor, with all its collections of national importance and the landscaped gardens and park to the National Trust. Moving on…
What do you think of this ceiling? It is a mythological triumph theme, which by the way is a typical trade mark of Jacob de Wit, who was a leading Dutch decorative painter of the 18th century. Here he painted a chariot that is being pulled by two horses carrying Hercules driven by Mercury.
Above: Just a few of the artworks that is found at Waddesdon Manor. This manor has about 45 rooms if my memory serves me correctly. As mentioned earlier, there had been a ton of influential people who all stayed at Waddesdon Manor. One of them includes, Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. He had no choice, but to stay in the the Portico Room. This room with its roofed porch was the only place he could smoke his cigars. He was banned from smoking anywhere else in the house by Alice herself.
Haahaa… It doesn’t matter what your status is, if the lady of the house speaks you have to follow hererules!!
The marvelous, but very fragile mechanical elephant, with moving parts captivated so many people today and back then. This includes Shah of Persia who stayed over, and apparently asked for it to be wound and played over and over!! Can you believe that this ornament even has it’s own Twitter Account? If you keen to see how it plays – you can watch this video.
Room with historical significance!
But it doesn’t end… taking some more stairs, you discover the artillery room. Most of them from the 16th- and 17th-century European swords, daggers, firearms and powder-flasks all with much detailed decorations. Some weapons housed here at Waddesdon Manor are of historic significance.
I promise you we are now almost done with the tour of the house (there is so much to see – I only chose to show you the highlights) but there is one more thing that I want to share with you.
As you may have read or picked on, I love art and architecture, and this was one of my wow moments. I remember seeing this chandelier somewhere on the internet many years ago and was mesmerized by it. Now I get to admire it in person!
Chandelier made of broken porcelain and pieces of cutlery titled: Porca Miseria
This chandelier is made of broken porcelain and cutlery and was commissioned for the Blue Dining Room in 2003. Its appearance is the result of both accidental and design. Maurer and his manufacturing team dropped the ceramics on the floor or smashed them with a hammer, further broke or smoothed some pieces, and then arranged and mounted them, with cutlery, onto the metal armature and light source.
Now we are off to take a stroll in the gardens!!! So come on, let go outside and enjoy some fresh air!
The Waddesdon Gardens and Woods
I have no words! In that moment I wished my mom was here with me to enjoy this beautiful landscaped garden. She would have completely lost her mind. Everything, about the Rothchilds is on a grand and elaborate scale and this includes the garden.
I love admiring gardens. If you are a garden enthusiast, this is a dream come true. Just think… your typical French/Victorian styled garden.
Taking a stroll on the massive grounds it is so easy to get lost not only physically but also mentally. The silence… of only hearing birds singing their hearts out, the sound of an occasional bumble bee buzzing past you, or the gentle rustling of leaves and the happy sound of children merrily playing in the far distance.
I can’t get over on how soft and feminine the English landscape is compared to SA. You see gentle rolling hills of fields and of different shades of green and golden straw colour, with a few tinges of purple here and there.
Standing on top of a small hill, closing my eyes, with the breeze gently caressing my hair and face, I take in a deep breath, and immediately get a wonderful and fresh smell mowed lawn, a hint of straw and the sweet scents of lavender and wild flowers. It is just utterly different to what we South African’s are used to.
This was my ultimate dream, sitting in an English field with wild flowers, butterflies fluttering past, the buzzing of bees and the warm English summer sun touching your skin. When my aunt took this picture of me, hubby was immediately concerned and voiced his opinion on the family group saying he was now seriously worried I was not coming home!
These gardens sole purpose was designed for the enjoyment for Baron Ferdinand guests to be kept entertained during the day. His garden, kept weekend visitors busy all morning. The Parterre is definitely was just one of the items on the itinerary.
It is a magnificent display of variety of a number of plants and colours. Not only a feast for the eyes, but a feast for almost all your senses. Here you eyes can’t help noticing the the beautiful contrasting colours of the flowers and the gorgeous sweet and herbaceous scents from the plants. Here two again you hear the buzzing of bumble bees who by the way are the cutest little creature, they are like a chubby furry teddy bear with wings who suffer from ADD! (You will see what I mean in my next post)
Did you know there are over a 100,000 plants to make up the Parterre and it gets replaced twice a year. You also notice a number statues all around the garden. In winter they get covered to protect them from the cold.
The Rothchilds followed the 1600’s custom of noblemen and rulers of owning an aviary. You see friends, an aviary back then represented power, wealth and knowledge. Ferdinand was also a huge lover of birds and was often seen feeding them. The aviary at Waddesson was erected in 1889 and is very similar to the design of the tresslis-work you will find in the garden in Versailles.
Here you will find a number of perching birds like pigeons, doves, pheasants, barbets and turacos all hiding in the trees and shrubs waiting for you to spot them.
The aviary today
The aviary today is involved in a number of national, European and global captive breeding programs and many birds bred here have been returned to their native countries to take part in reintroduction projects. Conservation funds, sustained by public donations currently has been supporting a two year project in Indonesia, called the Silent Forest. Here the team has been creating awareness of the Indonesian songbird trade which is threatening to silence forest forever!
Sjoe all this walking around is exhausting and very thirsty work, besides me thinks it is definately time for a cuppa. After all we are in England, so lets have some tea and scones with clotted cream. My ultimate favourite – I can have tea and scones with clotted cream everyday!!
I mean really…. how can you not resist these scrummy scones, light, fluffy and warm, with homemade jam?? Hmmmmmmm delicious!
Ok now I am in the mood for a cuppa tea and my story is now finished for today. Stay tuned in for our next UK adventure when I went to Standford Upon Avon!! I can’t wait to share my experience with you. Until then take care and always remember to drink responsibly! Chow chow for now! xxx
Disclaimer: All photo’s in this article is property belonging to My Boozy Kitchen!