The Heritage of a Rothschild House
- Lavish tribute to one of the most visited houses in England which boasts one of the most breathtaking and extravagant collections in the world
Waddesdon Manor is one of the most extraordinary houses in England. Over 125 years ago, Baron Ferdinand Rothschild transformed a barren hill in the countryside outside London into the setting for this breathtaking estate, where he entertained family and friends, politicians and artists, royalty and writers. Over the years, he assembled an outstanding collection of French decorative art, to which his heir (his younger sister Alice) and in turn her heirs (their French cousin James and his English wife Dorothy) added many complementary furnishings, paintings and drawings. Today, Waddesdon Manor is admired not only for its architecture and luxurious and colourful French interior decor but also for its collections of superb English portraits and Dutch Old Masters, as well as its books, manuscripts and exquisite textiles. The extensive gardens are renowned for their seasonal flower displays, and the Parterre, in particular, has been restored using traditional techniques. There are stands of magnificent trees, winding paths, grottoes and views over three counties. The Baron’s picturesque Aviary still houses the species he enjoyed showing to his friends in the 1880s and the wine cellars, modelled on the private cellars at Château Lafite-Rothschild in France, contain thousands of bottles of Rothschild wine, some of which date back to the 19th century. In 1957, James de Rothschild bequeathed Waddesdon to Britain’s National Trust. A family charitable trust, under the chairmanship of the present Lord Rothschild, now manages Waddesdon Manor on the National Trust’s behalf.
Michael Hall, a noted architectural historian, is Editor of Apollo magazine and was previously Deputy Editor of Country Life.