Posted 24 November 2022


Winter Woodland: Schools Christmas Projects at Waddesdon

This year, the Learning team at Waddesdon have delivered their biggest Christmas project yet: ‘Winter Woodland’.

The project was supported by Oxford University Press, who gave us permission to use the book ‘The Tree That’s Meant to Be’ by Yuval Zommer.  Throughout September, the Learning team ran Zoom sessions for schools, exploring the book, and asking children what made them unique. Submissions were then written on specially made aluminium trees for display. The metals trees have then been displayed on a wooden arbour, visitors can enjoy a walk underneath a canopy of jingling, shining trees.

The Christmas project has also included elements familiar from other years. For our annual lightbox display, we asked schools to submit a photograph with the theme ‘Winter Woodland’. Each school chose either one image to submit, or entered a shortlist of photos for consideration. Local professional photographer Adam Hollier chose the final selection for display, with 18 schools taking part. As in previous years, visitors can choose their favourite by voting with coins; the winning school will receive all the monies raised.

Five giant willow lanterns (on display until 2 Jan) were created by local secondary schools, in collaboration with the artist Michelle Dufaur. Each of the willow lanterns portrays a mammal, bird or insect that is dependent on the oak tree.

Michelle and the Waddesdon Manor Learning team visited schools during the summer term and students were then asked to explore one of the 2,300 species supported by the oak, 229 of which are rarely found on other trees. Using specialist lantern paper, students drew examples of these species using black ink. Each student’s illustration was then used to embellish Michelle’s willow structures.

Michelle is a contemporary artist working predominately in steel, willow, paper and light. Her unique style particularly celebrates the line of suggestion, and her current body of work is inspired by the richness of local wildlife.

With special thanks to the pupils of:

  • Abingdon Prep School
  • Aylesbury High School
  • Aylesbury Vale Academy
  • Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School
  • Waddesdon Church of England School

To find out more about Michelle’s work, visit

In addition, specially-made flower lanterns have been decorated by local schools and youth groups, and on each lantern are images of species that are dependent on the oak tree.

With special thanks to:

  • Akeley Wood Junior School
  • Brooklands School
  • Buckingham Park Church of England Primary School
  • Furze Down School
  • Green Ridge Academy
  • Haddenham Community Junior School
  • Quainton Church of England School
  • St Paul’s Church of England Combined School
  • 1st Aylesbury Beavers

Following on from the success of the last year’s yarn bombing, Waddesdon volunteers have created knitted and crocheted snowflakes, garlands, pom-poms and wind spinners for display. They have been helped in their endeavour by Aylesbury and Bicester Yarn Bomber groups.

‘Winter Woodland’ in numbers:

  • 9,962 local school children have taken part
  • Across 84 schools
  • 6000 handwritten metal trees
  • 2,300 different species dependent on the oak tree
  • 3,000 volunteer hours
  • 61 Zoom calls
  • 6 Beaver meetings