How Waddesdon Manor gets transformed into a Christmassy wonderland

Waddesdon Manor is gearing up for Christmas, with 3,000 baubles, 30,000 lights and more than a dozen Christmas trees to decorate the home over the festive period.

The Christmas decorations and events at the Rothschild’s Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire are legendary. Recently, to prepare, the dedicated stewards, housekeepers and specialists closed up for winter and started the arduous process of ‘putting the house to bed’.

In cleaning and packing away many of the artworks in preparation for annual conservation work, their practice stems from Miss Alice’s Rules, housekeeping standards introduced by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s sister, Alice, in the early 20th century.

A National Trust employee dusting the gilding in the state bedroom at Waddesdon Manor. Credit:  Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images for Waddesdon Manor.

‘Until 2003, Christmas wasn’t a big affair here,’ explains the busy head steward Jane Finch.

‘We used to close for five months, allowing a team of 15 housekeepers several weeks to pack the collection away for vital conservation and cleaning. Today, we welcome about 190,000 visitors during the festive period, which means processes have to be much more streamlined.’

The sort of thing visitors can expect of 2019's Christmas displays at Waddesdon Manor. Credit:Justin Paget/Country Life

The sort of thing visitors can expect of 2019’s Christmas displays at Waddesdon Manor. Credit:Justin Paget/Country Life

‘We now pack up the house in two days, then set about transforming the interiors with 13 Christmas trees, 3,000 baubles and 30,000 pea lights,’ adds Jane.

‘Christmas at Waddesdon’ runs from November 16 to January 5, 2020, and, this year, will include its longest-ever Winter Light trail in the grounds. Visit www.waddesdon.org.uk for further information.

Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, will shed its summer look as Christmas approaches. Credit: Will Pryce/Country Life Picture Library