Secrets of Waddesdon
With the second series of Channel 5's Secrets of the National Trust we wanted to delve into our history and stories from the archives and reveal some of Waddesdon's own secrets.
Saturday to Monday parties
Ferdinand de Rothchild, who built Waddesdon in the 1880s to house his collections of furniture, paintings and decorative arts, would host Saturday to Monday parties that ranged between 14 and 20 people (not including staff) although on occasions there could be even more!
Ferdinand a shy person in many ways, but this photograph of him, dressed as a Renaissance prince for a fancy dress ball thrown by the Prince of Wales, shows a more extrovert side of him. And it was an appropriate costume for someone so passionate about 16th century works of art.
Mind your manners
Did you know that the hedge of roses and carnations down the centre of the table in the Dining Room was to encourage conversation with people on either side of you rather than across the table? This was a late 19th century dining convention.
A Royal visit
When Queen Victoria came to stay at Waddesdon, as is tradition with special guests, she planted a tree in the gardens as captured in the Illustrated London News from 14 May 1890.
Step in and explore the Red Drawing Room as if one of Ferdinand’s high society guests with our 360 virtual tour. Zoom in on the wonderful portraits by Gainsborough and Reynolds.
Miss Alice’s rules
Miss Alice, Ferdinand’s sister, was a collector in her own right and her housekeeping regime, known as ‘Miss Alice’s Rules’ have become the basis of National Trust conservation practises.
When Winston Churchll came to stay, he would request to stay in the Portico Bedroom as he could step onto the porch roof to smoke a cigar. He was otherwise banned by Alice smoking anywhere else!
From Mound to Manor
The Red Book is one of the key sources we have relating to Waddesdon during Baron Ferdinand’s time. It is an album of photographs along with a short essay by Ferdinand on the process of creating Waddesdon.