If you’ve been following my travels recently, you will know Mr Word Loft and I have holidayed in the Cotswolds. Leading up to our departure and eager to make use of our membership, we perused the National Trust guidebook. Waddesdon Manor, home of the Rothschilds, was only half an hour’s drive from our get-away retreat, so we pre-booked a slot.
We parked the car and were excited to see a red kite, coppery feathers flashing and forked tail distinguishing the bird of prey as it soared above. There is a fifteen-minute walk to the manor. A shuttle bus service is available but we preferred to take in the scenery, passing statues on the way up a woodland mulch pathway. The landscape was created in the late 19th century from farmland by Jewish banker Baron Ferdinand Rothschild.
The house crests the hill. Snowdrops and trees frame the majestic outlook, and I was astounded by its grandeur with every pace taken towards it.
It is temporarily closed, but wealth oozes from every brick, window, door. One tower has an espalier training an ornamental shrub into diamond shapes around its masonry – very eye-catching.
A parterre is at the front, which pops with varied shades of spring flowers where a sumptuous fountain plays in the middle of symmetrical flowerbeds, lawns and shingle pathways.
The gardeners worked laboriously around the grounds throughout our visit, their hard work portrayed everywhere with the parkland’s abundance of colour and creativity. There is even a trio of sculptured life-sized elephants gracing the terrain, made from dried stalks covered over metal frames.
Other routes lead to the powerhouse, stables and Alice’s Trail, named after one of the family who inherited the estate. The rose garden bushes were pruned back, but I imagine will be a delight later in the year.
There is another fountain to the north and the aviary is superb. Its baroque-style structure painted teal and gold is the most ornate I have ever seen. I feel sad about wild creatures being caged but later read that the aviary is registered as a small conservation zoo and felt privileged to admire the rare and protected species.
Although owned by the National Trust, the property is managed by the Rothschild Foundation. This explains why many products are different from what is usually on sale in their shops, such as a vast selection of wines and related products. That evening, the potted boar pâté and fig chutney purchased for supper ended our day delectably – the perfect accompaniment with red wine.
Until next time.