Notes for editors
Background information for writers and editors.
Waddesdon Manor was built at the end of the 19th Century (1877-91) by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the style of a French early 16th-century château. Baron Ferdinand was an inspired collector and the house was designed to accommodate his fine collection of French 18th-century furniture, Sèvres porcelain, English portraits and other exceptional examples of the decorative arts. When Ferdinand died in 1898 he left Waddesdon to his sister, Miss Alice. Upon her death the house passed to James de Rothschild, a cousin from the French arm of the family. James inherited a substantial part of his father Baron Edmond’s great collection. In 1957, in order to ensure its future in perpetuity, Waddesdon was bequeathed to the National Trust by James de Rothschild, although his widow, Dolly, continued to manage the house until her death in 1988.
The Rothschild family maintains an active interest in the running of Waddesdon through a family charitable trust (The Rothschild Foundation) under the chairmanship of Lord Rothschild. Since taking over responsibility for the Manor, he has masterminded an extensive programme of building and restoration work. To strengthen the collection further a number of works of art have been put on loan by the family.
The restoration programme also extended into the grounds, with the aim of restoring the garden and park to reflect their original design. Most significantly this has included the restoration of the Parterre on the south terrace, which has returned to its traditional Victorian form using raised ribbon bedding schemes. The Parterre is replanted twice a year in the spring and summer with over 50,000 plants. Each summer one of the flower beds is planted with low growing ‘carpet’ bedding featuring a design inspired by one of the annual exhibitions in the house.
The garden also contains a rare example of a working Aviary housed in an historical structure. As it was in Baron Ferdinand’s day, this rococo style building, complete with an impressive collection of exotic birds, is a principal feature of the Waddesdon garden.
The Rothschilds’ long association with some of the world’s greatest wines inspired the restoration of the wine cellars. These contain a comprehensive private collection of wines from Château Lafite and Château Mouton-Rothschild. Tutored wine tastings are held throughout the year.
Waddesdon’s shop has won a reputation as one of the best of its type. The gift shop, created in former services areas at the east end of the Manor, sells many products exclusively designed for Waddesdon, inspired by the history and contents of the house. To complement the cellars, the Wine Shop stocks a wide range of Rothschild wines from around the world and sells them by the case. Waddesdon’s distinctive products and an extensive range of Rothschild wines are now available online.