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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Waddesdon Manor - A touch of Europe in an English countryside

Waddesdon Manor, where to start?
It had been suggested by National Trust that maybe I would like Waddesdon Manor which is why I went there in the first place. I had popped down the M40 on my own one weekend in august to check it out. It's a little further than I like to drive on my escapes to be honest and the motorways I try to avoid where possible.

There are two reasons I hate motorways, one is because of the other drivers, there are some mad drivers in this World and I always feel a little stressed on the motorway, far too much traffic for me coming from far too many directions and to be honest, when the children were younger and played up in the car and I don't mean just like your average child playing up, but a full scale melt down, it wasn't easy to just stop and pull over on the motorways, side roads you can do that and you can just wait until everything has calmed down. I am sure anyone with children with autism will know exactly what I mean and wear the badge 'been there, done that!'' as I am sure other parents have too! As they have grown older, this happened less and less so driving now has became more enjoyable instead of just a means to get somewhere with a child or two that refused to walk.

The second reason I normally avoid motorways is because you miss so much on your travels. I much more prefer to travel on the old roads and see the beautiful sights, the rolling yellow fields, the corn growing, old stone buildings in some very beautiful villages, hills, valleys, woods, all missed on motorways. OK so you might get stuck behind the odd tractor or two but that's country life, I have learnt patience with the children over the years and as I always allow for extra time, it's never a problem.
On my trip to Waddesdon Manor I did choose to use the M40 and it was the first time I had driven on that motorway. I didn't have much time that day and the alternative would have added 45 minutes to my journey giving me less time at the Manor.I arrived later in the day than most people so was parked quite a way down the hill. I was given two options, one to walk up the long drive for about a mile or a quicker more direct route, up and over the hill which is the one I chose. (Since my daughter has been ill, I just don't get out much these days so have put on a little more weight than I am happy with and also with my lack of walking become unfit!)  This hill I chose to climb, I am sure did not look that steep from the bottom! After getting to the top of it and getting my breath back, all I could say was WOW and WOW again. What a beautiful site to see! I had come up the back way and there before me was the beautiful garden with all it's lovely colours with this amazing house in the background!

I did not expect that view when I was climbing the hill as you can't see the house from the bottom. It was well worth the journey so much so that a week later I returned with all my family to celebrate my birthday. It was our first trip out as a complete family since my daughter had become ill with CFS/ME so I was split a little between worrying how she would cope and excitement of showing them where I had been. We brought a wheelchair with us and were kindly allowed to park at the top of the hill where the ground was flatter and access was better for disabled. I must say the lady who chats on twitter and the parking attendants couldn't have been more helpful than they were and for that I thank you all very much.

Waddesdon Manor is yes another National Trust property and with our membership, which to be honest has normally paid for itself before Spring even starts, it only ever costs us petrol to get anywhere. Of course you have the option of eating out at most national trust properties or bringing your own picnic which is what we do as we have too many allergies to work around, it just makes life a little easier. Saying that the menu did look very good at Waddesdon Manor, it is on our list of places to try should we mange to escape sometime without the children.

I must admit my favourite view of this glorious house it the front of it, it brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw it. The house was built in the Neo Renaissance style of a French Castle (Château) in the 2nd half of the 1800's for Baron Ferdinand de Rothchild . The Rothschild's family have a few houses built in a very similar style to this house. The Baron wanted this house to be in the style of other Château's built in the Loire Valley so employed a French architect, Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailler to build his dream.

The reason the view of the front of the house brings tears to my eyes is because it reminds me of a place I miss so very much and a place very close to my heart. The roof and spires of Waddesdon Manor are something that is seen not just in France, but through many countries in Europe and when I first walked down that drive, it felt a like a little bit of home here in England. The place I am talking about is Prague and I feel very proud to have been born there. It is also known as the city of 1000 spires and this house reminded me of it which made it all the more special for me on to be here on my birthday. The closest I could get to the real thing. Now you know a little more about me :)

Waddesdon Manor is an amazing house, it has beautiful grounds to walk around and so much to see, We are planning another visit to see what we didn't have time to before. I guess you could see it all in one day but I don't like to rush my visits to places, I like to walk slowly and take it all in and also leave something to explore for another visit.  The grounds are as beautiful as the house and you can walk as little or as much as you wish, some areas are a little up and down but there are plenty of flat areas if you can't manage the hills.
They also have one of the biggest aviaries I have seen at a Historical house such as this.

 We were also lucky to happen to visit on the same day as the Chilli Festival so came home with some nice goodies :)

Inside Waddesdon Manor

As for the inside of the house, this did not disappoint either, there is lots to see inside so be warned if you can't walk far as they have many rooms open for people to view (which I think is great). They do have a lift in the house and wheelchairs to lend out so do ask for help if you need it, they will happily help you.

The next three photos show one of the two beautiful spiral staircases from outside and in. I loved how the curve of the stone banister followed beautifully from outside the house to the other side of the stairwell inside, it was perfectly built.



There is so much to tell you about this house and estate but maybe I can leave that for you to explore on a visit and just show you a few things you will see instead.

This house has some amazing chandeliers , if I remember correctly, this one weights 3/4 of a tonne! I am pleased I don't have to clean this!

 These photos don't show you the true size of beauty of this chandelier.

My favourite room in the house has to be the downstairs main dining room, it is truly beautiful, the work that has gone into this room is really something but it is also how the room has been dressed to add the finishing touches. I think it's one of the room people take spend the most time in.

When walking around the house, remember to look up too, this house has quite a collection of different types of lights

This next one is great, do you think someone had a Greek night before making this ? :)

This was the table the broken crockery lampshade was above for more private dinning.

I have added a few more photos from around the house for you to get a better idea of what you would see if you went there.

As You can see there is so much to look at from the floors to the ceilings and all very beautiful.

This part of the house is the men's club and not open to the public at the weekends but worth seeing.

So many old weapons 

Of course there has to be one of these in this wing of the house!

 I took far too many photos as usual here so will end it here but give you a link to the rest if you wish to see them.

 Waddesdon Manor have been posting photos of what it's like at Christmas, very nice :) I would love to see it in the snow one day too but of course it is getting there and back in such weather. But we will see. Here is the link if your interested .

We loved Waddesdon Manor and will be back a few times of that I am sure. I hope you enjoyed my new blog.


  1. I love Waddesdon Manor, I used to live nearer to it than I do now but we still go every couple of years. My husband drives, as I don't "do" motorways! I stopped driving long distances when I had CFS - I know what your daughter is going through, although I was 37 when I had it. I am ok now but have very little stamina, can't do too much or I "knock myself out" and take several days to recover.
    What camera do you have, and what lenses do you use? Are the indoor ones taken with a wide angle lens, you seem to have got a lot in! I struggle with indoor photography, what f stop, shutter speed and ISO did you use?

  2. Hi Bobbie, I would love to live closer to Waddesdon Manor,I am sure I would be there more often. I don't normally do motorways either but that's through choice more than anything else.
    I understand the stamina thing by watching my daughter, this visit on my birthday took her 3 weeks in bed 24/7 to recover from. I say 'recover' she's always ill, just gets worse after doing anything. I felt so bad taking her out but she insisted and said it was worth it. I think she has come to realise she will pay for anything she does but sometimes you just have to do it anyway.
    I actually used 2 camera's on this day, both were Canon's,one was a 60D and one a 350D old now but still a good camera, saved me changing lenses, My hubbie and myself just kept swapping camera depending on what we wanted to take :) Yes the inside photos were taken on a wide angle lens as were some of the ones outside, it's a sgma 10-20mm, I love the lens, you can get so much more in the picture especially inside.

  3. Thanks Jana, I will have to put a wide angle lens on my list! I have a Nikon D3100, the kit lens is 18 - 55mm and I have a 50mm prime, and a 55 - 200mm telephoto. I also use a little Panasonic TZ4 which is about 5 years old when I don't want to lug all the kit around.
    This weekend we were in Wiltshire, visited Lacock Abbey and village, Avebury and Stonehenge - all free to NT members. The weather on Saturday was perfect and it was really lovely.

  4. Lovely, I haven't been down that way for awhile, I should really as my in-laws live not far from Stonehenge. I am off to My Mothers in Norfolk soon so will probably visit a couple of places there. I lived there for awhile so know the area well. Blickling Hall, Sheringham Park and Felbrigg are my favourites over that way. I have had National Trust membership ever since the children were very young, It have come in very handy for days out.

    I have a little pocket camera I use too, a canon ixus, sometimes you just don't want to carry a big camera around do you? We have had it for years and it still takes lovely photos, Ideal to just pop in your pocket or bag.
    I haven't had the wide angle lens for long but I love it! If I take my big camera it comes with me :)