The 9 Very Best Things to Do at National Trust Waddesdon

National Trust Waddesdon, home to Waddesdon Manor, a 19th century French Renaissance châteaux in the British countryside.

National Trust Waddesdon Manor, viewed from the rear, with tulips in the foreground with a bright blue sky.
National Trust Waddesdon Manor, viewed from the rear

-National Trust Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire-

Welcome to our post about National Trust Waddesdon. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know to help you plan your visit to this impressive National Trust site and the very best things to do while you’re there! Scroll down for prices, opening times, how to get to Waddesdon and FAQs.

The first time we visited Waddesdon Manor, we were on our way to the Cotswolds. It was so good we travelled an hour just to visit again. Undoubtedly, Waddesdon is one of the most impressive National Trust sites you will ever visit and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in France. There’s good reason for the French architecture – read on to find out why!

And if you have any other NT recommendations you think we’d like, please let us know in the comments at the bottom. We’ll be sure to add them to our list!

A Brief History of National Trust Waddesdon

Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885 to display his collection of French decorative arts, English portraits and Dutch Old Master paintings. He also used the manor to entertain the ‘fashionable’ world, whatever that is.

Waddesdon Manor was opened to the public in 1959 and is now managed by the Rothschild Foundation, under the leadership of Lord Rothchild, on behalf of the National Trust who took ownership of Waddesdon in 1957. And if you don’t know who the Rothchild family is, they are the most famous banking dynasty in European history, dating back to the 18th century, when they created a banking house. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries they had considerable economic influence in Europe because they operated in the financial capitals of the continent, hence why they had the funds to build such a place.

Things to Do at National Trust Waddesdon

To enable you to fully enjoy National Trust Waddesdon, you should allow 3 to 4 hours for your visit. That’s because there are a ton of things to do and you’ll get lost in the astonishment inside the manor and wonder where the time has gone. We’ve highlighted a few things below to help you plan a brilliant day at National Trust Waddesdon.

An ornate exterior door at Waddesdon Manor with a woman taking a peek through the door.
Stacey, taking a peek inside Waddesdon Manor

1 | Marvel at Waddesdon Manor

It’s suggested Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild spent somewhere in the region of £1.5 million to build Waddesdon between 1882 and 1897, including buying the estate, building the manor, stables and ancillary buildings, landscaping the gardens and building the roads. That’s an astronomical amount of money, even by today’s standards! No expense was spared during the design but you might expect to see it plonked in the middle of the French countryside, not the English countryside. That’s because Baron Ferdinand wanted the exterior of the house to be in the style of the French Renaissance châteaux of the Loire valley. He even employed a French architect, Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur to build it.

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Stacey, with National Trust Waddesdon in the background. Epic,

2 | Look Inside Waddesdon Manor

Once you’ve had eyes on the exterior of the manor, we recommend stepping in to take a look inside Waddesdon Manor before wandering the gardens. Inside Waddesdon Manor, you’ll find the Rothschild collections of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts spread throughout 24 rooms you can either access or view. As you enter, pick up a copy of the Waddesdon Room Guide. It contains everything you need to know about inside Waddesdon Manor, from the Oval Hall to the Smoking Room and highlights what you should look out for. Inside Waddesdon Manor, you’ll also find the wine cellar, which isn’t marked in the guide.

3 | Peruse the Waddesdon Manor Shop

Any good National Trust site comes complete with a shop, right? National Trust Waddesdon is no exception. Well, it is, because it’s really two shops; the usual National Trust gift shop (with some unique Waddesdon stuff!) and the Waddesdon Manor wine shop. Much like any National Trust shop, Waddesdon Manor’s shop is good but this one is a level up because it sells a ton of wine. Haha! It also sells other things, like gin, honey, and other local produce. There’s even a Waddesdon Manor online shop that will deliver straight to your door.

A woman stands viewing a rack filled with wine in the National Trust Waddesdon Manor shop.
Stacks of wine inside the National Trust Waddesdon shop

4 | Explore the Gardens

Although you can’t access it all, the Waddesdon estate covers a staggering 6,000 acres, which has grown from the original 2,700 acres purchased in 1874. You can access a small part of this wonderful landscape, with highlights being the Parterre garden, rose garden, Baron’s Walk and aviary.

The aviary sitting behind a well-kept flower bed with purple and white flowers.
The aviary sitting behind a well-kept flower bed.

5 | Search the Aviary

Yes, Waddesdon has its own aviary, complete with birds, would you believe?! Some are noisy and some are hard to spot and some will look like they are dying as they bask in the sun, like the one below (until you disturb them with your camera). Waddesdon’s aviary is filled with colourful and exotic birds, and now beautifully restored, plays an important role in conservation breeding projects of endangered species. You can even meet the aviary keeper at 2 pm, Wednesday to Friday.

A bird basks in the sunshine i the aviary at National Trust Waddesdon.
A bird basks in the sunshine i the aviary at National Trust Waddesdon.

6 | Enjoy a Picnic

National Trust Waddesdon is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic…unless it’s freezing cold or raining, of course! Thankfully, the weather was onside when we visited and we got to enjoy a picnic on the lawn in the front of the house. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea, and what a setting in which to enjoy your sandwiches! If you don’t fancy taking your own picnic along, Waddesdon will make one for you! They are available until mid-September. Click here to view the menu and to order. And don’t forget to take your rubbish with you! You’ll find bins by the Manor Takeaway to the left of the house.

Waddesdon Manor with one of the many lawns in the foreground.
One of the many lawns you can enjoy your picnic on!

7 | Indulge in Afternoon Tea

If you don’t fancy sitting outside, you can indulge in an afternoon tea in the Manor Restaurant. Click here for the menu and to book. Is it just us or is there always a ton of food served with an afternoon tea?

8 | Cycle Along the Waddesdon Greenway

You can cycle (or walk) to Waddesdon Manor, courtesy of the Waddesdon Greenway.

Alternatively, you can hire an e-bike from Waddesdon and cycle away from Waddesdon. The Waddesdon Greenway is a traffic-free route that’s part of a scheme designed to connect rural communities to their nearest rail station. In this case, connecting Waddesdon to Aylesbury Vale Parkway Station. The e-bikes are operated by B-Bikes and there’s a hire station right by the Welcome Pavilion at Waddesdon. The route to the station is 3 miles, travels through the countryside of Aylesbury Vale and will take you about 15 minutes.

9 | Visit a Special Event

We told you Waddesdon has tons of things to do and the list doesn’t end at the things above. All sorts of events are held at Waddesdon, including concerts, ballet, wine tasting, festivals, theatre performances, open-air cinemas, and of course, the Christmas Fair. For a full list of events at Waddesdon and to book, click here.

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National Trust Waddesdon Manor Prices

If you have a National Trust membership or belong to the Art Fund or RHS, then access to Waddesdon is free! Simply bring your membership card along to be scanned for free entry into Waddesdon. You can book in advance using the links below. We just turned up and got in with our National Trust passes without a problem. However, Waddesdon recommends you book your timed house entry in advance as there is limited capacity, especially at weekends and during holidays when it gets a little busier.

If you’re not a member of any of the above, then you’ll be paying a pretty penny to access Waddesdon Manor and gardens. We’ve been National Trust members for years now and make very good use of our membership. We’d recommend joining the National Trust if you enjoy places like this. You can sign up by clicking here.

Back to Waddesdon…the prices are;

House & gardens – £25.20 per adult, £12.50 per child.

Gardens only – £13.20 per adult, £6.60 per child

For everything National Trust Waddesdon has on offer to book, click here. To go straight to book the house, gardens, shuttle bus and parking, click here.

National Trust Waddesdon Opening Times

Below are the opening times for National Trust Waddesdon. Note, Waddesdon isn’t open on Monday or Tuesday!

Waddesdon grounds – Wed-Sun, 10 am-5 pm.

Waddesdon Manor – Wed-Sun, 11 am-4 pm. The last admission into the manor is 2.30 pm.

How to Get to National Trust Waddesdon

When you get to Waddesdon, you will visit the Welcome Pavilion where you can buy tickets and catch the shuttle bus. There are toilets and baby changing facilities, too.

By car: if you’re driving to Waddesdon, there’s a free huge,1000 space car park on-site. There are dedicated spaces for Blue Badge holders and family parking, should you require them. Alternatively, you can pay for premium parking, which is available at the top of the hill and costs £20 per car. £20 per car! Ouch. You can book premium parking when booking online.

Click the map below for Google Maps. It’ll take you straight to the free car park. When you arrive at the gates of Waddesdon, follow the signs to your chosen car park.

By train: the nearest train station to National Trust Waddesdon is Aylesbury Vale Parkway, which is 3 miles away. To get to Waddesdon from Aylesbury train station you can use a taxi or bus or you can head along the Waddesdon Greenway. The Waddesdon Greenway is a 3-mile traffic-free route you can walk or cycle along from Aylesbury Vale Parkway to Waddesdon. It’ll take you about an hour to walk or 15 minutes to cycle. If you don’t have your own bike, no problem! You can hire an e-bike from B-Bikes.

By bus: If you opt to arrive by bus you can catch the Red Rose Travel bus number 16. The bus runs from Aylesbury to Marsh Gibbon via Waddesdon. Click here for the timetable and note the service is infrequent and doesn’t operate on Sundays…don’t take the bus! Ha.

Once you’ve arrived at National Trust Waddesdon: there are two options to get up to Waddesdon Manor itself. You can walk or take the shuttle bus.

Walking: we chose to walk, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes (maybe 20 at a push!) and includes walking up a hill. As always, we would recommend walking, if you can. Not only is it better for you and the environment, but you can also enjoy the peaceful surroundings before you’ve even made it to the main attraction and you get an alternative, fantastic view of the back of Waddesdon Manor that you might not see if you take the bus. Note, the path up isn’t suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs because of the surface, which is woodchip.

Shuttle bus: alternatively, you can take the shuttle bus, which runs approximately every 15 minutes. The shuttle bus runs from the car park to the North Fountain, Stables and back to the car park. Due to limited spaces on the bus, tickets must be pre-booked for everyone. You will also have to pay for the privilege. The prices are £2 per adult and £1 per child. Blue badge holders and accompanying carers are free. The last shuttle bus to the car park is at 5 pm. Book your tickets online here.

Navigation information:

Address: Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP18 0JH.

Google Maps: National Trust Waddesdon Manor

What3Words: vanilla.swims.rules

A bust with large bottles of wine on a shelf in the Wine Cellar of Waddesdon Manor.
A bust on show in the Wine Cellar of Waddesdon Manor

FAQs

Do Rothschilds still own Waddesdon Manor?

No, they do not. The Rothchild Foundation was set up to manage the estate on behalf of the National Trust, which took ownership of the Waddesdon estate in 1957. James de Rothschild, who owned Waddesdon at the time, decided to leave Waddesdon Manor, estate and most of the important collections to the National Trust before his death in 1957.

Can you walk around Waddesdon Manor for free?

Technically, no, you can’t walk around Waddesdon Manor for free. If you are a National Trust, Art Fund or RHS member, then you can access Waddesdon and Waddesdon Manor for free, otherwise, you’ll have to pay to get in.

How long does it take to go around Waddesdon Manor?

To walk around Waddesdon Manor itself, you should allow up to an hour and a half. To visit the manor, have lunch and allow enough time to enjoy the gardens, you should allow 3-4 hours for your visit.

For more information on National Trust Waddesdon and Waddesdon Manor, you can visit the National Trust website or Waddesdon.org.

Swords, mounted to a red wall, viewed through a door frame.

-National Trust Waddesdon-

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