On a recent holiday I purchased a family National Trust membership and I'm now exploring what they have on offer close to home. I had the day off work to look after my eldest at the start of his summer holidays and we decided to explore Waddesdon Manor. It's only a train ride from London and a perfect day trip escape from the city.
I knew we were in for a treat as we arrived, just by the large imposing gates. We then swept up a driveway to the car park, with plenty of child friendly parking spaces. The manor house is a 15 minute walk from the car park but they have an efficient shuttle bus service to take you up. We almost walked but if you have young children I'd recommend taking the shuttle as it's uphill all the way.
The manor house stays hidden from view until almost the last moment and that's when my jaw dropped. Waddesdon Manor is breathtaking and my son's face lit up when he saw it too.
Purchased by the Rothschild family in the 50's, Waddeson Manor is a 19th Century French style chateaux. A long wide driveway leads to this impressive building with everything that childhood fairytales are made of. Towers, turrets and carved stonework not to mention the sheer size of the place.
There are timed entries in to the house itself, we picked up a ticket for a convenient slot at the kiosk near the entrance and then went off to explore the grounds.
The grounds are extensive so it's worth planning having a look at their map and planning where you want to focus. We decided to do a circular route. First off down to the stables which have been converted into a café, shop and a small museum. They were showing a beautiful mosaic floor on loan when we visited and it was both interesting and educational.
Next, we walked around the stables and on to the adventure playground. There's a path that winds through the woods with lots of different play areas all the way back to the house. I was impressed with the variety on offer which would suit all ages from a young child friendly area up to exhilarating tunnel slides, basket swings and the chance to build your own den.
The formal gardens at the house are simply stunning and I've since been back several times and never tired of them. Beautifully laid out, with fountains too, you find you can't stop taking photos. Beyond the formal gardens, there's acres of grounds to explore. A visit back in Autumn was a perfect chance to run through the woods and fallen leaves.
The house itself more than matches up to the amazing outdoor space with grand furniture in huge rooms. We climbed all the way to the top, up a winding staircase and to a small room that is set up as a huge pin hole camera.