Wednesday, 7 June 2017

WADDESDON MANOR (Part I): THE ROOMS


It's not my habit to drop in on my neighbour's to snoop, but my neighbour's house is too exceptionally grand to be missed I popped in uninvited. I behaved though and didn't steal any of the cutlery.


Waddesdon Manor is roughly a 15-minute drive from where I live. I could have taken the train which was just a stop from mine, but I find taxi rides in the country rather luxurious, with fresh air blowing against my face and through my hair. I think taxi companies, especially in the countryside, should have a fleet of convertibles for sunny days. I'm happy to pay a little bit more. I took a few days off work at the beginning of the month, and like a dutiful newcomer, I decided to get to know the county I moved into.


Built for Saturday-to-Monday parties by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1874, Waddesdon Manor sits on a 6,000-acre (an acre is equivalent to 16 tennis courts) estate that includes 3,200 acres of arable land and 800 acres of parkland. It's home to an impressive collection of art works, some of which are loaned to museums, and interior decoration which was its main attraction to me. It has been bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957.


Some of the Manor's very important guests in the past were Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later on Edward VII); UK Prime Ministers William Gladstone, Arthur Balfour, and Winston Churchill; and Queen Victoria, who, according to Selma Schwatrz, curator at Waddesdon since 1992, was so delighted with the electricity installed in the Manor in 1889, that she requested for the lights to be repeatedly turned on and off.


I will not bore you further as you can check the Waddesdon Manor's official website HERE for more detailed info. 



Come with me now to take a tour of some of the rooms in the Manor.








The painted ceiling of the Red Drawing Room designed to welcome Baron Ferdinand's friends and give them a glimpse of the extent, beauty, and rarity of his art collection. The elaborate dining room next door was inspired by Louis XIV's gilded state apartments at Versailles.














All the fruits, vegetables, and flowers for the house were grown in the Manor's gardens and glass houses. The roses and malmaison carnations arranged like a hedge on the centre of the table are styled the way it was during Baron Ferdinand's time. In the late 19th-century, the custom was for guests not to talk to another across the table, hence the flower arrangement. 















The Grey Drawing Room was the area where guests would relax, play cards, or listen to music after a meal. It's cordoned off, so I couldn't get near the pieces of Sèvres porcelain on display.









The Tower Drawing Room, above and below, is in a farther corner of the house. In 17th and 18th-century fashion, the innermost room was only for select guests and usually housed the most precious pieces. In my home, it means the cupboard that holds the objects of my slightly higher contents insurance premium. 

I did wonder how much more precious those pieces were when everything else in the house was valuable.








The lighting in most of the rooms are low level to avoid the risk of photodamage on textiles and wooden furniture. Some of the staff use light metres to measure the intensity of light in the rooms throughout the day.









Above is the State Bedroom which is referred to as such in keeping with the English tradition of reserving the most important bedroom for the monarch. Queen Victoria rested here for a day in 1890 after her journey from Windsor. 



I honestly don't remember if this was part of the Red Ante Room, but I loved the tapestry and lighting. 





There were two features that I thought were horribly odd in some British bathrooms when I moved here. First is the double tap: one for freezing water, and one for scalding water. My Asian resourcefulness  kicked in and I bought myself a dipper or tabo so I can have a lukewarm mix for washing my face. The second one, and this made me cringe the first time, was a carpeted bathroom. To me, carpets and humidity don't go well together. How wrong I was.


When we purchased our home, it came with a carpeted bathroom. We agreed that it will be stripped off as soon as we move in. It's still there, and I couldn't be any more pleased to have a warm floor at 3am in winter. It hasn't annoyed me so far now that the weather's warmer. It's easy to clean, and dries up quickly. 


Some find it weird that I can't stand wet bathrooms when they are meant to be wet. I like my bathroom to have the feel of a bedroom as I spend ages there. I tell the Mr that a comfortably warm and snuggly bathroom is great for my soul. That said, the fitted carpet stays.


Above is the adjoining bathroom to Alice de Rothschild's Pink Room. Because of its splendid views of the South Fountain, the Parterre, and the surrounding parkland, it has been dubbed as The Fountain Bathroom. It says a lot about the size of one's house when bathrooms are named other than the upstairs one or en suite. Notice the double tap and the carpet. 





The Billiard Room is possibly one of the most awe-inspiring rooms in the house. Located in the Bachelor's Wing which was the first part of the house completed in 1880, the impressive 19th-century billiard table, scoreboard, and cue stand by Burroughs and Watts are on display. The billiard table was covered by a mid 19th-century red wool floor spread from Rasht, Iran. An instruction not to touch it was placed on top, as it has been recently restored. 












Yet another bathroom, this time at the Bachelor's Wing. Quite feminine I must say, but I doubt if the men ever noticed that. Or even cared about it.



The house tour doesn't end here. I spent a good three hours inside and outside when I thought an hour would be enough. A lot more next post. 




Waddesdon Manor
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
England
HP18 0JH



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