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Waddesdon Manor estate, Buckinghamshire

Waddesdon Manor is perhaps the most well-known of all the great Rothschild houses in England. In 1874 Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839-1898) bought a tract of land in the Vale of Aylesbury. Inspired by the châteaux of the Valois, Ferdinand employed Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur to build him his own French-style country house. The grounds were landscaped to create parkland and gardens with plenty trees and shrubs.

In a family of collectors of distinction, Ferdinand was pre-eminent, and Waddesdon Manor was a showcase for Ferdinand's collections of fabulous art and objects. The Waddesdon Bequest Room at the British Museum was established to accommodate the enormous collection he left the institution in his will.

After Ferdinand’s death in 1898, the estate passed to his sister Miss Alice de Rothschild (1847-1922). Miss Alice was closely involved with the designs of Waddesdon, and she is best remembered for her stringent housekeeping regime, known as 'Miss Alice's rules' and her almost fanatic love of the gardens. Miss Alice left the estate to her great-nephew, James de Rothschild (1878-1957), who bequeathed the house to the National Trust in 1957. James’ wife, Dorothy (1895-1988), made Jacob, 4th Lord Rothschild her heir in 1988.

Archive sources: records of the Waddesdon estate in the collections of The Rothschild Archive London

Some records concerning Rothschild estates were retained in the files of the London bank at New Court. Within the Accounts Current series, there are many accounts concerned with estate management, including in I/2 an Estate Building Account for Waddesdon. A copy of Ferdinand de Rothschild's 'Red Book', a privately printed album of photographs and an essay by Ferdinand recording the building, interiors, and collections assembled at Waddesdon can be found in The Exbury Collection, reference 000/880/21/1; another copy is held by The Waddesdon Archive, and a digitised copy of their volume can be viewed here » The Rothschild Archive London holds a small amount of Ferdinand's private correspondence to other members of the Rothschild family; see the list of papers of individual family members. A  reproduction photograph of Waddesdon, from the collections of the National Monuments Record will be found in 000/529, a collection of research papers of Miriam Rothschild concerning her book Rothschild Gardens. The Rothschild Archive London holds a few accessions of material concerning Waddesdon, primarily secondary sources. 

Archive sources: The Waddesdon Archive

Waddesdon Manor maintains its own archive relating to the estate. The Waddesdon Archive is located at Windmill Hill, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. It is under the care of Waddesdon Manor's Collection Department. The Waddesdon Archive brings together records and material relating to the history of Waddesdon Manor, the Waddesdon Estate and the members of the Rothschild family who have owned and managed Waddesdon from 1874 until the present day. The Waddesdon Archive is not part of The Rothschild Archive London. The Waddesdon Archive »

Estates: Waddesdon estate, artefacts, c.1900

000/1471, 1 item

Decorative china plate bearing a transfer print of Waddesdon Manor. Made in Austria.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, Ferdinand de Rothschild Masonic lodge, masonic jewel, 1913

00/618, 1 item

Masonic jewel belonging to F. Ritchings of the Ferdinand de Rothschild Lodge, (No. 2420), on the 21st anniversary of the Lodge, 1913. Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839-1898) was intended to be first Master of the Ferdinand de Rothschild Lodge, Waddesdon, which was consecrated on 30 May 1892 at the Five Arrows Hotel. In the event, he was in France at the time, where he was taken ill and was thus unable to be present. He was subsequently installed as the second Master in June 1893.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, copies of Census returns, 1881; 1891; 1901

000/1236, 1 file

Copies of original register and typed transcripts of Census returns: Waddesdon, 1881, 1891, 1901.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, photographs, c.1905

000/1831, 1 item

Group photograph c.1905 thought to be staff at Waddesdon; location and sitters unknown.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, photographs, 1948

000/2516, 2 items

Two black and white photographs of the Five Arrows Hotel, Waddesdon, 1948.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, Visitors' Book, 1881-1898 [1988]

000/276, 1 item

Typed transcript of a Visitors' Book, 1881-1898 in the collection of Waddesdon Manor. Ferdinand de Rothschild kept a Visitors' Book in which he asked all his guests to sign their names. Ferdinand first asked his friends to stay at Waddesdon in July, 1881, when only the Bachelors' Wing was ready for habitation. By the time Ferdinand died in 1898, many hundreds of people had signed his Visitors' Book. A leading journalist of the day, T.H.S. Escott, wrote: "Baron Ferdinand Rothschild's week's end parties to Waddesdon Manor were, in the nineteenth century, among the events of the London Season ..."  This copy was compiled by Ms Mary Brassey in 1988. It is not a true transcript; entries have been transcribed accurately but re-arranged into alphabetical order of the name of the guest, with additional biographical and other details added, and comments on some of Baron Ferdinand's guests taken from contemporary Memoirs and Diaries (some published, some private)).

Estates: Waddesdon estate, secondary sources, 1898

000/2319, 1 item

Article from Country Life Illustrated, Saturday, 20 August  1898, 'Waddesdon Manor, Buckingham, the seat of Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild'. 

Estates: Waddesdon estate, secondary sources, 1902

000/2319, 1 item

Article from Country Life Illustrated, 20 December 1902, 'Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, the seat of Miss Alice de Rothschild'.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, secondary sources, 1994

000/380, 1 item

Apollo Magazine, April 1994, special issue on Waddesdon.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, secondary sources, 1997

000/1392, 1 DVD

The art of wine, a DVD made by Waddesdon Manor in 2004.  Features Mouton and Lafite.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, secondary sources, 1994

000/391 , 1 item

Hello! Magazine, 14 May 1994 featuring an article on Waddesdon.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, secondary sources, 2000

000/2579, 1 item

Country Life, 9 March 2000, with feature article 'Floral Designs at Waddesdon Manor'.

Estates: Waddesdon estate, the Waddesdon Bequest, n.d.

000/1375, 30 items

Twosets of postcards from the British Museum: 15 black and white postcards, together with a three page description: Wood carvings (Waddesdon Collection); 15 black and white postcards, together with a two page description:  Silver plate (Foreign: Waddesdon Collection).

Estates: Waddesdon estate, Waddesdon Manor, marketing materials, 1994-2013

000/1225, 000/1386, 000/1476 and 000/1641, 000/1737, 000/1778 and 000/1821, 6 files

Waddesdon Manor: Press packs, marketing materials, wine lists from the Waddesdon Wine shop, events diairies, exhibition leaflets. Included in 000/1737 is a copy of the Waddesdon House Guide, 1994.

Eythrope House, Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire

Estates: Waddesdon estate, Eythrope House, Ordnance Survey Photo Mosaic Sheet, Eythrope, 1947

000/1228, 1 item

Black and white aerial photographs, reproduced from the Ordnance Survey Air Photo Mosaic Sheets (1944-1951) 1:10,560, held at the British Library: Eythrope. September 1947. (42/71 SE).