A trip to Waddesdon


In my office, we have rather a hectic summer involving lots of admin, generating reports and invoices, and fielding a lot of calls and emails. And that’s when we don’t have an election for what is effectively our board of trustees – which this year, we did.

So it’s always nice that, around this time, we have an away day. A staff training day, if you will. It’s a pleasant excursion, usually to a stately home, or similar. This year we decided to visit Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire. I was particularly excited by this, as a Bucks lad born and bred – especially as I’ve never been.

The sun shone on our visit, as you can see above, and I think we all had a really great day. A lovely lunch, an enjoyable catch-up on the train there and back (sorry to the colleagues I bored with my tales of an Amersham childhood).

The architecture of the house is just baffling. Obviously mostly inspired by French chateaux, it’s nestled on a hill, and ringed by woodland, so that the details of the roofline poke out a little as you get closer, before it finally reveals itself in all its affected glory once you break through the cedars.

And what glory: it doesn’t so much lie back inviting adoration as it sits up and practically begs for it, wagging its tail eagerly. This is definitely a house to wow and be seen. And for all its excessive jumble of architectural styles, it still looks remarkable and sharp and impressive, especially in bright sunshine.

Inside, it’s no less stunning – for better or worse. The collection of art, furniture, fittings and stuff is quite overwhelming. And, mostly, it’s interesting to see the kind of place this is, built as it was in the late 19th century. So it has a variety of architectural features spanning centuries, and it has some pretty significant mod cons, including the electric lighting that famously impressed Queen Victoria so much.

I didn’t get enough of a chance to explore the grounds as I’d have liked – I wanted to see some of their vegetable operation, for one – but I’m more than happy for an excuse to go back. I’ve not held a National Trust membership for a few years, but perhaps it’s nearly time to get one again.

Here’s a few snapshots.