If there was ever a fairytale setting for a Christmas market, it has to be Waddesdon Manor.
Locations, find me a dream!
Coming right up, ma’am.
While we are frequent visitors to England, our visits usually revolve around the vintage racing schedule, (Mr Entertablement’s lifelong passion). I, for one, have always wanted to come and see some of the country houses decked out for Christmas. Well, this is the year!
We landed a few days ago, got recombobulated and made Windsor Castle our first destination. It’s not particularly Christmassy right now, but it is showing The Duchess of Sussex (Meaghan’s) dress and veil. I regret to inform my readers No Interior Pictures Allowed, so I am empty handed where it comes to snaps of the veil, which I will confess was the chief reason for the Windsor stop. The staterooms are as breathtaking as ever, and the china collection – be still oh my heart. A full service of Flora Danica, Louis XVI Sevres, The Essex Service, and an intriguing set of German porcelain whose details I was assured I would find on the palace website. Talk about internet rabbit holes. I could be down there for days and never come back. But I digress…
Back to Waddesdon. and Christmas Markets. We stayed at the Five Arrows, which is just adjacent to the property and part of the Waddesdon “family”, so to speak. It was a lovely day, so we walked up to the chateaux, which is situated high on a hill, a hill that was flattened by a large number of workmen in order to provide a suitable foundation for the chateau. Here is the view from the back.
Waddesdon Manor deserves its own post when it’s not in its Christmas finery. Originally owned by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, it was built between 1874 and 1889 in the manner of the grand chateaux of the Loire Valley. Not only does it have an intriguing history and sumptuous interiors It contains an outstanding collection of porcelain, as Baron Ferdinand was a collector of superb taste and access to a generous budget. Marie Antoinette’s Sevre Porcelain is there, so you get an idea.
The statuary has been smothered in protective clothing for the winter. Don’t they look like Halloween figures?
Coming around the side of the house you see the staircase that was styled after the one by Leonardo da Vinci at Chateau de Chambord in France. Waddesdon’s has glass, a significant improvement over the original.
The Christmas market (or Fair as they call it) was marvellous. The stalls lined both sides of the main walkway up to the house. They had really intriguing and unusual wares for sale. Here’s a list of the vendors.
Tiny little bronze figurines.
The boxing hares!
Luscious baked goods.
Beautiful ornaments – and reasonably priced!
A “blue and white” booth. I could have taken any of those jugs home!
And a reminder that the serenity one derives from gardening and books dates back at least as far as Cicero.
After a thorough review of all of the booths (well, perhaps not quite all; I wasn’t up for samples of gin so early in the day), we headed for a timed entry tour of the house, for which we had tickets to start at 1:20 pm. We were darned lucky to get them. I had not thought to book them in advance, reasoning that they would likely come with the accommodation. WRONG! I won’t divulge the details of how I managed to procure them but suffice to say that they took pity on us because we were “from away”. Tickets were completely sold out. Who’d have thought? Apparently, 47,000 visitors will traipse through the house this season, and it looked like we were not destined to be among them. That’s in addition to the people who will visit only the grounds and the market. Sheesh!
I’ll do a separate post on the house tour. It was stunning. Fifteen Christmas trees, all decorated in keeping with the theme of the rooms.
A sneak-peek at the dining room:
One more – the billiard room!
We enjoyed the house tour immensely. Just fabulous! Well worth the visit and the cajoling in which I engaged. Thank you to the very gracious gentleman at National Trust who shall remain nameless. You know who you are – thank you again!
After the house tour, we visited the wonderful gift shop. It was such a treat to see unabashed Christmas exuberance, in non run-of-the-mill items.
Some “interesting” barbecue items. Who has ever heard of Brussels Sprouts Dust or Blankets Dust? Or Bloody Mary Ketchup for that matter?
Loved the carnival mask in the peacock theme!
Beautiful candles and kitchen themed items.
I wanted to buy a dozen of the bottles marked “Perfectly Drinkable TAP water”.
Tasty comestibles in beautiful wrappings, including these gorgeous gilded tins.
We tried to snag a table at the Manor Restaurant, but it was “fully booked”. Hmmm.. Do you recognize a theme here?
The French Faience porcelain in the cupboard caught my eye. I was itching to go in and take a closer look, but Glenn was giving me the disapproving Stink Eye, so I refrained.
Loved the copper pot and cats display.
Well, off to the Stables for us for a cup of tea and a biscuit. I ended up having mushroom soup and Glenn had a ham and turkey pie. Both were absolutely delicious. Waddesdon and its restaurants are renowned for their excellent cuisine.
This is the original stable block, down the hill from the house. It now serves as a gift shop and a secondary restaurant. For the season, they were offering Christmas bauble painting and letter-writing to Father Christmas for the kids, as well as a light tunnel and large playground.
The attention to detail in Christmas decor alone is stunning.
It echoes the original attention to architectural detail.
Here the giftware was more home and pet oriented.
Isn’t the green and white lovely and fresh?
I wanted to buy a dozen of these, too.
Jolly holly mugs, jugs and egg cups.
I thought the cats would approve (if Dundee is still speaking to us when we get home. I’m sure I will get the cold paw for deserting him).
The dogs weren’t forgotten. An advent calendar for a dog. In dog time (only 12 days). All the pets, including Clementine, are in excellent hands with the pet sitter we’ve had for years, but we sure do miss them all.
Outside it was just beginning to grow dark.
A quick trip to the light tunnel – the kids were having a blast.
Back up the hill to partake in the Christmas Carnival – a light show against the front of the house, set to the theme of the Sugarplum Fairy. Even the old Power Station house was decorated.
The light at Blue Hour was magical.
And the light show began.
Imagine the lilting music as the lights surged and subsided in different colours.
Back to white.
And begin again…
The Christmas Fair blazed with lights; the trees behind participated in the changing colours.
We watched it right through a few times before reluctantly heading back. We’d been there for hours and were getting a bit chilled.
Back around the house to begin our trek back down the hill to the hotel and dinner.
Wouldn’t it be the perfect spooky setting for a horror film?
The ominous looking tree, with large warts…
I will leave you with my favourite shot of the day.
Update: Here’s a link to the second post, on the inside of the house.
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.