The wintry magic of Waddesdon manor

Sheila Kronfeld

Sometimes, over the festive period, a walk round an immacualte estate is on the cards. Here's one of our favourite whimsical spots

We’re spoilt for choice in the UK for the most breathtakingly beautiful National Trust properties that are open to the public to enjoy—and many of these do their best to bring the magic of Christmas alive by decorating the architectural beauties, by means of Christmas light displays and exquisite decorations and displays adorning the interiors.

One such property, is the stunning Waddesdon Manor in the village of Waddesdon in Buckinghamshire. A spectacular Grade I listed house, which was built in the Neo-Renaissance style of a French chateaux for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (which, by the way, was only built as a weekend retreat when he felt like entertaining... lucky old Ferdy!).

Waddesdon Manor stayed in the Rothschild family until the 1950’s, when they handed it over to the National Trust, with all of its contents, but is still managed by the 4th Baron Rothschild.

As one of the most visited of the National Trust properties in the country it is essential to book ahead, especially when it is hosting a seasonal event, such as the current ‘Christmas’, which began on 16th November 2019 and runs until 5th January 2020.

As soon as you get to the entrance of the Waddesdon Manor grounds, you are welcomed by the most enormous Christmas Trees, covered in fairy lights to immediately transport you back to that childlike feeling of excitement about all things Christmas.

You are guided down a winding road, through the grand grounds and may worry that you’re going further away from the House and panic about the hike you’re going to have. But never fear... you reach a very well organised car park and ticket office which has non-stop shuttle busses running, or of course there is a path through the substantial grounds if you’re feeling energetic, which on a nice day is blissful.

The bus drops you at the edge of the main path to this spectacular building, which for ‘Christmas’ is flanked either side with little cabins, housing every sort of Christmas vendor you can imagine, from high-end gifts to yummy treats and traditional Christmas beverages. The perfect stop for those relatives’ gifts that you may have been stressing over, as the stalls ooze luxury, with beautiful, handmade throws, items of clothing, candy, cheese, alcohol and others quirky items that your grandchildren, Great Aunt Mavis, or Uncle Hubert, didn’t know they needed, but will absolutely adore.

The smell of mulled wine wafts through the air and is far too tempting to resist, it is Christmas after all... So, indulge in this perfect little festive warmer to accompany you whilst browsing the stalls, until you get up to the warmth of the house.

When darkness hits, the grounds become even more alive with a trail of stunning lights, also lighting up the house to make it look truly festive and enhance its beauty further.

On entry to the house, you will be dumbfounded by the displays that greet you. The entrance door is surrounded by holly and greenery, with twinkly lights before you step in to find the most jaw-dropping Christmas trees, so beautifully decorated that you’ll want to ping a quick snap to Melania Trump, to show her who it’s meant to be done.

Each room has a musical theme, beginning with ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ and as you walk through, passing all the magnificent antiques, artworks and artefacts, you’re drawn along, passing an imposing gold camel.  The next room exhibiting a totally different Christmas feel, with another incredible and beautifully decorated tree, surrounded by the cutest, fluffiest sheep and the grandest chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

Every inch of the interior is decorated with a theme of the festive music that it’s encapsulating. There is a White Christmas room, where the romantic scene is surely where Elsa (of Frozen fame) would live, should she ever actually come alive in the real world.

There is a corridor of the most twinkly lights, which will make the very young, to the very old ‘ooh and ahh’, and a stairwell decorated with hanging vinyl records and belting out classics from Wham and Shakin’ Stevens, with their album covers on display too.

The Nutcracker display, with a table full of ethereal treasures surrounding a display of ballet slippers, is possibly one of the most exquisite displays you’ll ever encounter.

So, have yourselves a merry little Christmas and if you do get the chance to go on a festive family trip, or indeed are on your own and would like to explore somewhere beautifully festive, then make sure Waddesdon Manor is at the top of your festive list.


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