When we knew we would be in Aylesbury for New Year, the suggestion was made & eagerly accepted that we should book to see Waddesden Manor’s Christmas decorations. We had tried a couple of years ago, but timed tickets for the house sell out in advance, and it would have meant a 3+ hour wait in cold, windy gardens, so at the time it was felt to be too big a commitment.
So this year, we booked the house & restaurant and a stress- and wait-free time was had by all.
Lunch in the restaurant was most civilised with Joel having his first taste of shell on prawns, and several helpings of hot chocolate, some including a tot of Baileys. As I said: very civilised. Edited to add: Joel did not have Baileys. Only grown-ups drank Baileys.
We pitched up for the house tour two minutes before our appointed time and were somewhat concerned to find a group ahead of us being turned away because they were too early. However, it transpired that they were 12 minutes too early and we were allowed straight in.
While the outside of the property is styled like a French Château the inside is more like a classic country house… only on steroids. A deceptively modest entryway leads to a generously proportioned corridor in which there are a couple of pictures as big as my living room, and some equally generous Christmas trees. The children had a passport to collect stickers in, where they had to identify which country the Christmas “legend” the room was themed around related to. Some of the attendants were more generous than others in giving the children the answers, which frankly weren’t tricky, but the last lady around the trail was especially strict and insisted that they go to see the relevant boards before claiming their stickers.
I also especially liked the treatment of the stairs which could’ve been a complete non-area however decking it out for Chinese New Year made perfect sense and was done really really well.
As we are National trust members, there was no entry fee to pay. I think I would have baulked at paying the full price for the portion of the house that is open this time of year – just the gentleman’s wing – the rooms themselves are indeed splendiferous and were very nicely decked out for the season.
The light-trail outside would also probably have been significantly better in either the dusk or the night-time …but we were there during the day, so they were a little underwhelming, as one might expect.
All in all, if you’re a member then it’s a good trip out but do make sure to book your tickets in advance. If you’re not members then it could prove to be a little bit pricey and not feel like awesome value for money. I plan to go back to the house in the summer to see what I’m sure are some blow-you-away awesome interiors…