A Winter Stroll at Waddesdon Manor
Last Christmas John and I received our first ever National Trust joint membership as one of our gifts. We’ve previously visited National Trust places and had already been umming and ahing about whether to buy membership ourselves. So it was a lovely surprise when we opened our membership cards on Christmas Day! We enjoy walking at the weekends, especially in the winter as I’m a big believer in getting out and braving the (often) miserable weather and darker days to get through the first few months of the year.
We live in a great part of the country for National Trust properties as we’re close to Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and the Cotswolds. So last weekend, we decided to head out for a Sunday stroll to start making the most of our membership at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire.
An 1870s weekend retreat
As with many National Trust properties, the focal point of Waddesdon Manor is the impressive manor house itself, built by Baron de Rothschild in the late 1800s to entertain guests at the weekend (can you imagine having a house that size just for weekend parties?!). It was built in the Renaissance style of the French châteaux and was known for being very luxurious. It’s also home to the famous Rothschild collection; a collection of art pieces formed by four members of the Rothschild family throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Wandering through the gardens
We visited during the end of the Christmas period at Waddesdon, which meant our ticket only got us free entry to the grounds and not the house. So we opted to spend all our time there making the most of the extensive gardens. We started our visit off by walking from the car park up to the main house. There is a free shuttle bus option as it’s about a 15-20 minute walk with a steep climb up to the house, but we were there to get our steps in!
Once we arrived at the main house, we headed around to the front and could see where they did have their Christmas market (it was closed when we were there). It did make us think that it would definitely be worth another visit in December to make the most of the festivities though. As it was around lunchtime at this point, we checked the map and decided to make our way to the Stables Cafe to grab a bite to eat. The route through the Waddesdon Manor grounds took us through a lovely woodland area before we arrived and sat down for lunch.
Grab a bite to eat at the Stables Cafe
It was pretty busy in the cafe but the service was good and lunch was delicious. There were a couple of other food stops on the way through the grounds, such as a teepee with real fires inside but the Stables seemed to have a better choice of food (and was a bit warmer!). For lunch, we both went for the turkey club sandwich and a side of fries. Quite carby but perfect on a brisk winter’s day when you’re out and about! After lunch we headed back out to the woodland path behind the Stables and climbed back up to the lantern trail.
The lantern trail was a really lovely walk through the trees, which were decorated with Christmas lanterns made by children at local schools. It certainly brightened up a dreary day! We then crossed the main path up to the manor to the Winter Light exhibition. This wasn’t quite as effective in the day as it would be at night but it was still nice to see. As well as the lights, there were speakers dotted around playing different types of music to go with the lights. Again, we didn’t exactly choose the ideal time to visit as it was the last day of the winter exhibition, but that’s not the main reason we went.
Waddesdon Manor: a great destination for all ages
We spent around two hours altogether at Waddesdon Manor and it was a great way to kick off the New Year and stick to my January resolution of getting outside for a walk every weekend. It also looks like they have some great events coming up and we’re already planning another visit to Waddesdon for the Summer Fest in July. It’s certainly a great destination for all ages!
The grounds closed just after our visit and reopened on 1st February. The house is still closed until 28th March.
Entry for non-National Trust members to the grounds is £11 for an adult, £5.50 for a child or £27.50 for a family ticket (up to 2 adults and 3 children).
Entry for non-National Trust members to the house and grounds is £21 for an adult, £11.50 for a child or £53.50 for a family ticket (up to 2 adults and 3 children).