A Great Day Out at Waddesdon Manor

Last Sunday, knowing the weather was going to be great, we wanted to have a day out as a family so I took the opportunity to suggest Waddesden Manor in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for ages as I’d heard fantastic things, but just hadn’t got round to going!

It looks absolutely, stunningly beautiful doesn’t it?

waddesdon manor

I’m fascinated by these old Country Mansions and the fact that they was once someone’s home blows my mind! Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1883 to display his collection of arts and to entertain his family friends and the fashionable world.

Opened to the public in 1959, Waddesdon Manor is still managed by the Rothschild Foundation, a family charitable trust, on behalf of the National Trust, who took over ownership in 1957. It’s home to the Rothschild Collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts.

I hadn’t showed any photo’s of Waddesdon Manor to the children, so on the journey there they were trying to guess which house it was! I couldn’t wait to see their faces when they actually caught glimpse of it for real….. although, even when we turned into the driveway there was still no sign of the house!

Obviously to maintain the beauty of the enormous parkland surrounding Waddesdon Manor, the car park is situated a good 15 minute walk from the house. It can’t be seen. You can walk if you like but there’s also a very frequent FREE shuttle bus service that takes you all the way. We took the bus!

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Catching glimpse of the house for the very first time truly catches your breath. It’s the most stunning house I have ever seen, and I’ve been to lots of mansion houses before. It’s probably even more beautiful than any palace owned by the Royal family…. I haven’t seen them all so hazarding a guess there, but I think you get the picture!

After stepping off the bus at the house, we hovered around for a while, taking in the house and all it’s glory from the bottom of the path. My children liked the fountain, which they threw coins into to make a wish!

waddesdon manor

There’s lots to see and do at Waddeson Manor so my advice would be to plan your day. Their website is great and gives tips on what to do as a family or if you prefer some of the other attractions, like the special exhibitions!

You can walk around the grounds of Waddesdon Manor for free, but there is an entrance fee for the beautiful gardens, which also gives you access to most of the other attractions such as the Aviary, the Woodland play area, the Wine Cellars and the Restaurants and the Shops!

If you want to go inside the house itself, you will have to add on another ticket. I would wholeheartedly suggest doing this as it IS worth it. The house is vast, you could easily spend half your day slowly walking around. It holds so many of the Rothchilds’ extensive art and antique collection and every room is exquisite. Again, if you are thinking of visiting, you need to book a time slot, check the website to ensure the house is open on the day you want to go too. Sometimes it’s closed and only the gardens are accessible. Some people just prefer to look around the gardens anyway.

Seeing inside the house and all it’s treasures was top of my list, so after a slow walk up the long path and admiring the splendour of the French Renaissance châteaux style architecture, we ventured inside!

waddesdon manor house

waddesdon manor architecture

The below photo shows the outside of the beautiful spiral staircase that runs up inside the house. You can walk up this staircase, complete with rich red carpet, during the tour!

waddesdon manor architecture

You are free to wander around the house in your own time. There are certain routes you should take if you want to ensure you see all the rooms and don’t miss any. Guides are on hand to help you along and talk to you about the rooms and answer any questions, if you need them. You can also hire headsets for the audio guide, or you can download this from itunes before you visit.

The first room we entered literally took my breath away! A Dining Room fit for a princess! Honestly, mind blown at the beauty of this extravagant but ever so pretty room. Take a look for yourself on this little video….

I could’ve stood in this room for hours, just taking in it’s beauty and imaging myself sitting down for dinner at that gorgeous table!

The children were given a little view finder on the way in, a kind of game to spot things in the rooms. This is a great idea to keep them occupied, just in case they get a little bored! My children enjoyed this immensely and it really made the tour fun for them!

waddesdon manor

Walking around the rooms, each one as interesting and beautiful as the last, I found myself completely captivated. Trying to guess what each room was used for as there seemed to be endless drawing rooms! Luckily there are clever, informative cards that tells you exactly what the room’s purpose was and indeed what treasures it beholds!

Waddesdon is famous for its collection of French 18th-century decorative arts and 17th- and 18th-century paintings. This is still being updated to this day by the Rothchilds’. Includes world-class objects carefully chosen for their beauty, craftsmanship and historical interest.

waddesdon manor paintings

waddesdon manor art collections

There are interactive areas on the house tour too… my children loved tapping on the screens to find out more information and look at other interesting features of the rooms!

waddesdon manor

waddesdon manor

Loved the bedrooms! The height of the rooms to accommodate such extravagant furnishings!

waddesdon manor bedroom

There were also some contemporary furnishings. I fell in love with this chandelier…. if you look closely you will see it’s made up of broken crockery.. cups, plates, knives and forks! Fabulous isn’t it?

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At the moment there’s a couple of exhibitions going on inside the house too including the Power & Portraiture Queen Elizabeth 1 display of paintings. This is only on until the end of October though. But there are always so many different events and exhibitions showing at Waddesdon that there’s usually going to be something new for you to see. Keep checking the website to see what’s coming up!

This week it’s all about Horrible Halloween at Waddesdon, with lots of different activities for kiddies to enjoy from pumpkin carving, a creatures of the night trail, spooky afternoon tea and a fancy dress competition!

halloween at waddesdon manor

halloween waddesdon manor

halloween afternoon tea at waddesdon manor

On the Halloween weekend, Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October it’s the Fete Worse then Death event whereby a two day Halloween party will take place filled with petrifying party games, live performances, frightening face painting, spooky stalls and much more. From 10am-4pm, is a fang-tastic finale to half-term. The Creatures of the Night trail will continue over this weekend.

After our tour of the house we headed out to the Woodland Play Area. It’s fantastic and kids can really let their hair down here. There’s the adventure playground on different levels, areas to climb trees and build dens, the kids were happy exploring the different levels and could’ve spent hours here!

waddesdon manor woodland play area

We headed to the Stables Courtyard afterwards which is just by the Woodland Play Area… so a perfect place to sit down and relax either outdoors, or inside in the Stables Cafe, the ice cream parlour and coffee shop! We headed inside to grab a snack and to get warm! Well, for me to get warm, the kids were all hot a sweaty from running around outside for so long!

There’s a good menu in here if you want something substantial to eat and the kids menu is great! We just opted for snacks and I ordered a cream tea… lovely!

stables cafe at waddesdon manor

cream tea at waddesdon manor

We stayed right until it was closing time and caught the last shuttle bus back to the car park! We had a great day out at Waddesdon Manor although we certainly didn’t get to see and do all that it has to offer! But then that gives us an excuse to go back very soon and finish where we left off! I want to see the beautiful gardens at the back of the house and visit the wine cellar and Aviary.

There will be lots of Christmassy events soon and I’ve heard it’s absolutely wonderful at Christmas. There will be markets and lights… can’t wait.

If you’re thinking if visiting, I must make you aware that the house is ‘put to bed’ for the Winter months from the beginning of November. This is to preserve and deep clean. So if it’s the house in particular you want to see from the inside, this won’t be possible until Spring. But there are so many more things to do at Waddesdon, you could still enjoy a whole day out here. Even if it’s just to appreciate the absolute charm and exquisiteness of this fascinating house.

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Comments

  1. Looks a wonderful place to visit. Would love to go with my family and not too far from me too

  2. I’ve been meaning to go to Waddesdon for years, it looks stunning.

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