Memories of Waddesdon

I was born in 1892 a few years after the completion Waddesdon of Waddesdon Manor by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. Many houses were built in Waddesdon village to house the estate workers. Some of the older villagers can still remember the special railway built to transport the stone up the hill for the building of the Manor, and the teams of imported French Percheron horses which pulled the trailers loaded with fully grown trees selected from mature estates elsewhere, to be replanted in Waddesdon grounds. Waddesdon Manor has always been referred to by local people as "The Mansion.'
The village flourished under the wing of the Rothschild family who did so much for everyone.
Once a year in the summer was the Baron's treat, when all were invited into the Manor grounds where a band played and tea was served in marquees. People would come from the surrounding district in their pony and traps.

Each year at school prize-giving, the best senior pupils would be presented with a gift. The boys had a box writing-desk, and the girls had work boxes. These articles are still treasured in many Waddesdon homes by the descendants of those lucky children.

It was always known when important visitors were to come to Waddesdon and the children would walk to the crossroads where the main entrance used to be, to see such personages as Queen Victoria, or Mr Gladstone arrive. When King George V and Queen Mary came, they made their exit through the village, and drove very slowly for the benefit of the local people.

The village feast, at which roundabouts and swings were popular, was held at Michaelmas on the village green, a site now occupied by the Fire Station. Another excitement was'the visit of the Wild Beast Show. There were cages of wild animals, and one year large crowds were attracted when it was advertised that Freddy West, the local barber, would enter the lions' cage, which he did with white face and trembly knees.

The first cars to come through Waddesdon came at walking pace preceded by a man with a red flag. Then came the first bus, called the Waddesdon Queen. Besides being used for journeys to Aylesbury the bus could be hired and was used to take a party to the Wembley Exhibition. Later Mr Cherry ran a bus called Cherry Blossom which was popular because it ran several times a day.

Daisy Adams, Daphne Campbell, Waddesdon

Extracted from 'A Pattern of Hundreds'(1975) with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes