What's On

Exhibitions, Gardens

Flights of Fancy: Birds at Waddesdon

22 May – 27 Oct

House & Grounds
Free with house and grounds admission
Book now
Share:

Flock to Waddesdon this summer for a celebration of birds. Throughout the Manor, Aviary and Gardens discover a range of bird-themed exhibitions, events and activities for all the family.

Flights of Fancy is a rare chance for bird enthusiasts and art lovers alike to explore this beautiful subject through our birds and remarkable displays of porcelain, paintings, drawings and prints.

In the Manor

The exhibition features the life and work of the recently rediscovered Louis-Denis Armand (1723-1796), a painter at the world-famous Sèvres porcelain manufactory. Widely acknowledged as the most talented bird painter at Sèvres, his birds were initially ‘flights of fancy’, drawn from his wild imagination but as time went on, they gained ornithological accuracy. He also drew exotic birds from life, picking and choosing elements to combine and exaggerate.

Waddesdon Dining Room 2024 (1)

Waddesdon’s own impressive collection of Sèvres painted by Armand includes ten vases from the 1750s-60s and important pieces from the Razumovsky dessert service. These are displayed alongside nearly 50 loans from private collections and from the Musée national de céramique at Sèvres.

 

Highlights

Madame Pompadour

Porcelain

Madame de Pompadour’s pot-pourri vase is reunited with her snuffbox, for the first time since the 18th century.

Armand Drawing (web)

Drawings

See over 30 drawings by Armand from private collections that enabled the rediscovery of his identity and that have never been publicly displayed before now.

Hieronymous by Andy Singleton (web)

Paper Sculptures

As if the birds have broken free, there are a series of interventions throughout the Manor by paper artist Andy Singleton, responding to the collections, the Aviary and Armand’s art.

 

 

At the Aviary

aviary-bedding-visitors-3000-1875 View gallery rothschild-mynah-3000-1875 aviary-birds-close-up-3000-1875-chris-lacey

The magnificent rococo Aviary at Waddesdon forms part of the exhibition too. Built in 1889 for Baron Ferdinand, the Aviary is home to rare and colourful exotic birds and plays a key role in the conservation programme for several endangered species.

Read more about The Aviary

Highlights

Commonhill Myna

The Mynah Birds

Don’t miss overhearing the Mynahs in the Aviary, who mimic the sounds they hear. The Common Hill Mynahs at Waddesdon can often be heard saying “hello”, beeping like a truck and laughing heartily.

aviary

Tell It To The Birds

Tell it to the Birds by Jenny Kendler is a contemporary multisensory art installation, located at the Aviary, which invites you to tell a secret to the birds and hear your words translated into birdsong!

In the Gardens

gardens-carpet-bedding-bird-aviary-1000-625-hugh-mothersole View gallery Parterre-from-White-Drawing-Room-at-Waddesdon-Chris-Lacey-2100-1313 3D-bedding-pheasant-Waddesdon-National-Trust-Hugh-Mothersole-2100-1313

This summer our carpet bedding brings to life Armand’s artistry. Inspired by Flights of Fancy, our gardens team have designed the carpet bedding at the Parterre and the Aviary to translate a drawing of two orioles into a bed of succulents. Perched nearby are the impressive 3D birds, who are showing off their wonderful fancy plumage.

Read more about the Gardens

 

Bird-themed Events and Activities

Birds of Prey

Escape From The Aviary

Sat 25 – Mon 27 May

Join us for the May Bank Holiday as we Escape from the Aviary with birds of prey, craft workshops, face painting and even giant interactive birds. It’s a fun-filled day out for all.

chaffinch-bird-rspb-big-garden-birdwatch-ntimages-Chris-Lacey-3000-1875

Bird Spotting Trail

Coming soon is a Waddesdon Bird Spotting Guide to be available from our new Conservation Hub which opens in June. See what birds you can spot on your walk around the grounds.