A remarkable French Renaissance chateau-style fairy-tale palace, Waddesdon Manor was completed in 1889 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, who wanted to showcase his collection of French decorative arts and throw glamorous parties. Amid its gold-stone magnificence, it’s easy to imagine the greats of Victorian society living it up in the palatial rooms. Admission to the house itself is by guided tours (book ahead), but visitors are free to wander the exquisite gardens.
Very little indoors space is left unadorned; only the Bachelors’ Wing is more restrained. Tours include the outstanding array of Dutch Old Masters paintings, English portraits (by the likes of Reynolds and Gainsborough), Sèvres porcelain and ornate furniture, as well as the extensive wine cellars.
The beautiful gardens boast a superb formal parterre, adorned with colour-bursting flowers and a Pluto and Proserpine fountain, plus contemporary sculptures, a rose garden and a rococo-revival aviary filled with exotic rare birds.
The manor operates a free daily shuttle bus to/from Aylesbury Vale Parkway station (check schedules online).