Waddesdon Manor - Buckinghamshire, UK
Posted by: Dragontree
N 51° 50.546 W 000° 56.266
30U E 642062 N 5745524
Quick Description: Waddesdon Manor is a superb Grade I Listed, Victorian mansion hidden in its estate grounds in Buckinghamshire.
Location: South East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 11/7/2010 8:03:10 AM
Waymark Code: WMA2PN
In 1874 Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild purchased the land here at Waddesdon. Groundworks including levelling and tree planting began before the actual building of the house. The elaborate design hits you instantly with its distinct, French influences from Chambord and Blois. It was built by Hippolyte Alexandre Gabriel Walter Destailleur who lived between 1822 and 1893. His distinct style is reflected in his other projects including one for Albert de Rothschild in Vienna.
1877 to 1883 saw the majority of the house erected with the west wing addition in 1889. The service and Bachelor's Wing was modified by Alexandre's son W. Andre Destailleur in 1880 in the style of Louis XI. Constructed from Bath stone the French chateaux style is differentiated from the 'real thing' by having no high basement.
The entrance porch has a porte-cochere and elaborate columns. The dormer windows are from Azay-le-Rideau and Chenonceaux influence. Domed towers are the most appealing designs in this front aspect containing spiral staircases, with unique views both inside and out - see the gallery pictures.
At the rear from the marvellous parterre is the garden facade. This is a plainer aspect than the front but still impressive in itself. The centrepiece is signed 'Destailleur Architecte Paris 1875; Doussamy Sculpteur Paris 1879'.
The collections held inside the house are of worldwide significance and are the result of one man's dedicated will to preserve and maintain; he was a 35 year old widower who spent the last 24 years of his life creating what we see today for the benefit of his friends and entertainment. The Rothschilds throughout the world, have collection pieces scattered in museums, but it is here at Waddesdon where a complete mansion houses a unique heritage.
After Ferdinand de Rothschild created Waddesdon it passed to his youngest sister Alice on his death in 1898. It is thanks to Alice that the collection pieces are so well preserved as she was prestigious in her will to keep things well; even refusing to open the blinds when the Prince of Wales and King Edward VII visited.
In 1922 Alice died and Waddesdon was left to James de Rothschild, (he was the son of Adelheid who was Ferdinand and Alice's favourite niece). James enlivened the house, once again hosting parties and receiving George V and Queen Mary in 1926. James was the Liberal MP for the Isle of Ely so also hosted political gatherings.
During World War II Waddesdon was home to 100 children aged under five who were evacuated from London. This was the first and last time there were children here. With no descendants James wanted to preserve Waddesdon in the future after his death, so he negotiated with the National Trust to keep the house intact in its unique style.
Today the house belongs to The National Trust and they care for it meticulously using a large endowment James left to them, on his death in 1957, for the maintenance of Waddesdon. On the transfer to The National Trust Dorothy de Rothschild oversaw the proceedings. In 1959 the house was first opened to the public and on her death in 1988 Nathaniel Charles Jacob, Lord Rothschild inherited the management of Waddesdon. A major refurbishment was implemented between 1990 to 1994 with all of the collections being removed so a new heating system could be installed with new wiring. It is the special light fittings and heating which preserves the collection today.
Outside the gardens date from 1874 to 1881 and were landscaped mainly by Elie Laine with the influence of Alice de Rothschild's passion for horticulture noticeable throughout. There are many statues in the 18th century Italian style. Also there is the Rococo Aviary from 1889; it used to contain Ferdinand's collection of exotic birds but in the war fell into disrepair. In 1977 birds were re-introduced again and today they are part of an important and successful breeding programme promoting the conservation of endangered species. The Stables date to 1884 and along the drive the impressive Dairy can be seen but this is a private property.
The information was compiled thanks to Pevsner and the Waddesdon Manor guidebook which is a highly detailed book worth reading.
Waddesdon is open to the public and is free to National Trust members. Please see the official website for details.
Tours Available?: Yes
Year Built: 1874
Web Address: http://www.waddesdon.org.uk/
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