One of the most impressive country houses in Buckinghamshire, Waddesdon Manor is a very popular visitor attraction. It can be found near Aylesbury Vale, close to the town of Aylesbury. This is a Grade I listed house, which means that it is protected from unnecessary alterations and development so people can see exactly what the house looked like at the time it was built and lived in and experience for themselves how the family there used to live.
The house was built in the style of a French chateau in the latter part of the 19th century. The owner was the Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild and it was used as a weekend residence. However, the house was left to the care of the National Trust by James de Rothschild in 1957. A member of the Rothschild family chairs the foundation that manages the property on behalf of the National Trust. Almost half a million people visit the property each year and it has won awards as a popular visitor attraction.
Unlike many other stately homes, there was no house on this site prior to Waddesdon Manor being built. Most stately homes were actually built as replacements for other buildings. The architect was Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur. He had worked on many chateaux in France.
During a period of restoration on the manor house, the wine cellars were created and they were actually opened in 1994. The inspiration for the design came from the wine cellars at Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The cellars hold around 15,000 bottles of wine and some of these are more than 100 years old. Many come from the Rothschild wine labels.
Visitors to the house can enjoy viewing some of the great works of art. There are plenty of works by artists such as Reynolds and Gainsborough but other fascinating items in the collection include books, ceramics and tapestries.
One of the most ornate features of the property is the gardens. These were designed for the Baron to entertain guests in and the landscaping work was extensive. The work of the landscape architect, Elie Laine, when the gardens were originally opened, they even tried to transplant trees that were full size. Unsurprisingly, this did not work but they still managed to do this with some large trees, avoiding waiting years for saplings to grow. There were also very elaborate displays of flowers and the architect also put in artificial rock formations. If you are walking around the gardens do not forget to take in the Aviary, a cast-iron structure that took inspiration from similar structures in France at the Palace of Versailles.
Over the years the house has also featured in a number of films and TV series including one of the Carry On films and Downton Abbey.