About ten years ago, a very special place was described to me. At the time, I was taking a class at Christie's in Paris, and one of our instructors described in detail a home of exquisite beauty. Since I am such a francophile, his description of an exquisite estate with French furnishings in the countryside of England planted a seed, and ever since that time, I have dreamed of going there. Recently, I was granted that privilege. As we walked up the pathway to Waddesdon Manor, it was as if a French chateau had been plucked from the countryside of France and dropped onto the English hillside of Buckinghamshire.
Waddesdon Manor was built between 1874-89 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild as a place to entertain his friends and display his wealth of art treasures. It became his life project and a labor of love. The home is full of antique furniture, china, textiles, carpets, decorative accessories and fine art from some of the greatest painters of all times.
As you approach the front of the house, you first notice the Renaissance style so typical of chateaux in the Loire Valley of France
and as seen from the back framed by the gardens, you know you're in for a special treat as you enter through the front doors.
No pictures were allowed inside, so these photos are found in the book Waddesdon Manor, The Heritage of a Rothschild House. Above is the formal dining room, where as many as 42 could dine in high style while admiring the Beauvais tapestries on the walls.
There are 45 rooms on display, such as the Red Drawing Room where the gentleman might have "withdrawn" for conversation after dinner.
The Morning Room is known for its collection of famous Dutch paintings.
The Tower Drawing Room is seen here.
The home is filled with the best of the best French antiques.
Winston Churchill slept in this Louis XVI bed in the guest room known as the Portico Bedroom, one of 16 guest rooms. There would have been room for all of us to stay the night if we had come for a visit.
And after a good night's sleep, we could have strolled the gardens, one of the finest Victorian gardens in all of England,
enjoyed the beautiful statuary,
pondered the view,
listened to the music of the fountains,
and enjoyed the flowers which were planted seasonally, before bidding our host adieu.
Perched in the gardens is The Great Bird, a re-creation of a late Victorian application of carpet bedding,
as seen on his friend, also. The technique originated with the gardeners of the Rothschild estates.
No visit would be complete without passing by the aviary which is currently stocked with species that were in the Baron's collection at the time.
I waited 10 years to see Waddesdon Manor, but I know it won't be that long again. I'll be back--maybe you'd like to go with me this time?