Jess, aged 13, writes: Yesterday, our family had a great time visiting Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Waddesdon is only about an hour and a half drive away from London, and we drove through picturesque countryside on the way. The Manor is a French Renaissance-style chateau built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1874, and is utterly magnificent. It really is unlike any house you would generally find in England, and the inside looks just as good (if not even better) as the outside. Normally, the entire house is open to visitors, but it has been specially done up for the holiday season.
Robert, who is 10, says: As it is December (the month of many festivals), all the rooms and exhibitions in the parts of the Manor open to the public were on the topic of light and legends. We learnt about the Greek and Roman gods of the sun and moon, about all the celebrations going on around that time like Diwali or Chanukah and beautiful things like the Northern Lights. All the rooms were beautifully decorated. They connected to the topic of the room and contained amazing artefacts such as detailed crockery, jewels and swords. There were also some amazing paintings.
I especially loved the section on Peter Pan as it had a model of London in a bathtub with the children and Peter flying above. I also really liked the exit staircase which showed how light was important to Buddhism. The whole thing was really well made; there wasn’t too much writing about each room so everyone could understand everything, and there was a perfect contrast between the objects on light and things from the actual house. I loved it.
Jess: Although mum and I would have liked more information about the actual house (we may have to go back another time), there were lots of volunteers available to answer any of our questions. Everyone was kind and friendly, which made our experience really pleasant and interesting.
After looking around the house, it was time for another highly anticipated part of the day – lunch! There are a few places to eat in Waddesdon Manor, and we went to the restaurant. It was very posh food, so I was really excited to try it. I ordered a fizzy rose drink, apple and parsnip soup, salmon with potatoes, sauce, and vegetables, Christmas pudding, and sorbet. It was a very indulgent lunch, and it was absolutely delicious! There was a lot of choice, and the chefs were able to change their recipes to ensure that Robert (who has lots of allergies) could still eat them. This was lovely. There are also other places to eat, where you can buy burgers or sandwiches.
Next, we took a walk around the site, which is over 2,000 acres, and went down a lovely path to the Stables, where there were lots of Christmas activities (such as bauble decorating) taking place. We took time to admire the Manor and the countryside, and I know it must have looked magnificent in sunnier weather. If we had stayed longer, we could have seen winter lights illuminating the Manor, which would have been really nice, as there is a light show, Transformation, projected on the front of the House.
Robert: The two shops in Waddesdon Manor, one in the house the other in the stables, were both packed with brilliant souvenirs. As well as postcards and notepads were Christmas decorations, books, toys and sweets. At the end I came away with a squishy dog toy while Jess brought some pear drops. On top of that there was an adventure playground (for years nine and under) plus a power house. This was where all the electricity used to be generated and now shows videos of different art and light experiments at Waddesdon Manor over the years.
Jess: In conclusion, we had a fantastic day visiting Waddesdon Manor. It was great to get away from the city and into the countryside, and I loved looking around the house and seeing the brilliant pieces of art inside. The food was delicious, the house was really well done, everyone was friendly, and there was a lot to see and do. What a brilliant way to round off 2015!
An adult ticket to Waddesdon Manor is £16.20, and a child ticket is £8.10. A family ticket is £40.50, and for full details on prices, please click here. We were given free tickets and a complimentary lunch to write about the Manor, but all views and opinions are our own. A two course Christmas lunch costs £21.50.
Sarah says: If you’re looking for someone lovely to go over the Christmas holidays, or the next few weeks, Waddesdon is open every Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 20th November to 3rd January (not Christmas Day and Boxing day), with the decorated rooms in the House and the Gardens, shops and wine cellars open later until 7pm. Waddesdon is therefore open on Sunday 27th, Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th December and we’d definitely recommend a trip!
Looking slightly further ahead, the gardens, woodland playground, shop and Stables Café are open at weekends only from 9 January – 20 March inclusive and throughout half term 13-21 February. Both House and gardens reopen for the new season from Wed 23 March 2016.
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