13. Buckinghamshire – Thursday 2 July

Waddesdon Manor Tour 13

Waddesdon Manor Tour 13

Eythrope, Waddesdon
The Lord Rothschild

While the widowed Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild was building Waddesdon, his sister, Miss Alice, decided, in 1875, to build a house on the estate for her own use, where she could escape the grandeur of Waddesdon. By 1890 a park and garden of 60 acres had been laid out. This all but vanished after her death in 1922. In 1991 Mary Keen was asked to design a new garden and Sue Dickinson was appointed Head Gardener to oversee and manage the garden. Today the four-acre walled garden at Eythrope is not only a productive garden, supplying vegetables, fruit and flowers for the Rothschild family and Waddesdon’s restaurants, but also, in true 19th century style, an ornamental garden with herbaceous borders, rose borders and an Auricula theatre. A working walled garden on this scale is now almost unheard of and Eythrope has long been a byword for the excellence of its gardening, its remarkable array of glasshouses and a haven for traditional techniques.

Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury
The Rothschild Foundation and the National Trust

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild acquired the Waddesdon Estate in 1874 and commissioned the French architect, Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, to build a house in the French Renaissance style to house his collections and where he could entertain his friends. The top of the hill was levelled and the formal gardens and the drives were designed by Elie Lainé, who was responsible for the slightly later restoration of the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte. The garden, immaculately maintained, is still, inside the curtain of trees, many planted as mature specimens by Baron Ferdinand, intensely formal. Baron Ferdinand planted 41,000 bedding plants, with four changes a year, and Waddesdon is one of the rare places where this practice continues, perhaps on a slightly reduced scale.

Kingsbridge Farm, Steeple Claydon
Mr and Mrs Thomas Aldous

The house at Kingsbridge Farm sits low and mellow, old red brick under a warm tile roof and the largely informal garden, created by Serena Aldous, mirrors the house. The lawn is enclosed by softly curving borders and winding paths, interestingly planted everywhere, lead into a woodland garden on either side of a small stream, crossed by a bridges, including a plank which is not for acrophobics. But the structure of the garden is very sound, the hedges are beautifully clipped with sloping tops. The formal elements, particularly the central vista leading the eye across the main lawn, past egg-shaped yews, a semi-circle of pleached hornbeam and out across the ha-ha into the countryside beyond are done to perfection.