Sunday, 16 August 2015

A Trip to Waddesdon Manor

As days out go, it was a good one. For a start, the sun shone. It didn't rain. Nobody was sick. We went round a stately home and didn't break anything.

And Waddesdon Manor is some stately home! Built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1874 to house his art collection (as you do) it's a cross between a Disney-castle and a French chateau. It's more impressive (imho) from the outside. And the grounds are fabulous. 

But the interior is just about the most outrageously vulgar display of opulence I've ever seen. It's built of bling - big bling, too - it's so bad it's actually good. It's as if Baron Ferdinand and his family set out to be as obviously ostentatious as they could be. And then - and here's the really crafty bit - they got the National Trust to pay for the upkeep of it. 

I'd rather been under the impression that the Trust took on the crumbling ancestral piles of those poverty-stricken scions of the upper classes who, for one reason or another, found themselves, well - on their uppers. That's hardly the case with the Rothschilds, however. Chateau Lafite is certainly doing well enough for them and the National Trust appears to be acting as wine merchant at Waddesdon. 

Well, I may have got it wrong. Perhaps the dear old Rothschilds really aren't rolling in it. But they certainly were, judging by this stately pile of theirs. They even have their own - not the National Trust's, note - monogram on the seats of the shuttle buses that take you from the car park up the drive and to the house itself. Which is, however, well worth a visit. 335,000 visitors a year (it's one of the Trust's most-visited properties) can't be wrong, can they?

Waddesdon Manor is open every day except Monday and Tuesday. A family ticket costs £45 for the whole site or &20 (gardens only).

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