Tickets (House & Gardens) – Adult (with Gift Aid) £22
As much as I love my children the summer holidays can prove wearing, so when a friend suggested we get away for a weekend I jumped at the chance. We chose to spend a couple of leisurely days in Buckinghamshire.
Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild as a house for entertaining and as a setting for his art collection. Today, it is a National Trust property.
Finding the Manor is easy as it is well signposted on the roads approaching the site. There is a large car park with good accessibility for disabled and elderly visitors. The house itself is quite a walk away from the car park, however, free shuttle buses are provided and readily available. There is a very short wait between buses and these all had ramps available if required.
One of the main reasons we selected this location for our weekend away was the house but this was probably the most disappointing part of my visit.
In order to limit the number of people in the house at any time, tickets are timed. To protect the interior and contents of the house you are not permitted to wear high heels, handbags have to be small and carried to the front, food and water is not allowed inside. There is a drop-off point for your possessions. I knew this before my visit and understood the need for it.
Inside the house, there are wonderful pieces of art and furniture, and the rooms have been laid out beautifully, but there is a lack of information. There is an audio tour and some laminated information sheets which are, being honest, a bit tatty. The experience would benefit from some modern interactive displays or QR signage. I suppose I have been spoilt by places like Dover Castle where the visitor is encouraged to engage with the location through modern touches like displays. Ropes are used to create walkways through the rooms and these can get really tight in places. If I went with the children I wouldn’t pay for them to see the house and having seen it once, I wouldn’t be interested in seeing it again, which is a shame.
The grounds are amazing, there is so much to see and something for every visitor. The North Avenue and Fountain are magnificent. The formal garden to the rear of the house is beautiful. This summer the planting is vibrant and colourful.
I loved the floral displays at the Aviary and the topiary birds leading up to it. My kids would have loved spotting the different species. As the children weren’t with me I had the pleasure of relaxing on the benches in the Rose Garden for a couple of hours.
The Woodland playground is delightful and there is something for every age range. Small children can play safely here.
Miss Alice’s Drive is a woodland walk and great if you want to get away from the crowds for a bit. Bird boxes and feeding stations bring in a variety of birds. There are insect houses and habitats, so bug hunting would be great here. As I was without the kids I just enjoyed the quiet walk.
There are sculptures of all descriptions spread out across the grounds. I particularly liked the fountains, the modern candlesticks at the front of the manor and the birds at the aviary. The stags were a pleasant surprise on Miss Alice’s Drive.
When I visited there was an exhibition by Michael Eden in the Coach House which is well worth a look.
The Café at the stables is lovely, light and clean. The table service worked well in the space and the servers were polite and friendly. When I visited a chicken club sandwich cost £8.50 and was nicely presented and tasty.
The Gift Shop & Wine Shop
The Gift Shop had a nice range of things and these were a bit different from your standard pens, pencils, and other tat. I particularly liked the ceramics and textiles and thought that these were reasonably priced for the quality.
The Wine Shop is well stocked, and, the staff friendly and knowledgeable. Prices are around the same as any other retailer so you aren’t going to pay over the odds for buying here.
Overall, my visit to Waddesdon Manor was fantastic and something a bit different for a weekend away with a friend. I came home feeling totally relaxed and with a couple of decent bottles of wine to enjoy in my own garden. Although busy, Waddesdon Manor is not crowded and there is plenty to do for everyone. I wouldn’t take my children around the house but know that they would have a fantastic day in the grounds.