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


Stone Age and Bronze Age tools discovered on or near Lodge Hill, are an indication that people in ancient times occupied the land now known as Waddesdon. Later when the countryside was divided into 'Hundreds' by the Anglo-Saxons, the Hundred of Waddesdon was one of the original portions of Buckinghamshire. The name itself is thought to be derived from the Saxon words Wode (wood) and Don (hill).

The Anglo-Saxon village of Waddesdon stood on the Roman Road, Akeman Street, about five miles from Aylesbury and 11 miles from Bicester.
In 1086 it is recorded in the Domesday Survey that Waddesdon was the largest property held by Miles Crispin, so it is possible that he lived in the village.

However, the Lords of the Manor have not normally resided at Waddesdon, and without a big house and newsworthy residents the village earns few mentions in history. The community suffered the effects of the plague and traumas of the Civil War in common with neighbouring villages, but came off worse than most as a result of the Enclosures, when all of the large common fields were lost and very little employment was available. About this time the name 'Black Waddeson' was earned as a result of the hostile reception meted out to travellers.

The turning point in Waddesdon's fortunes arrived when Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild purchased the large manorial estate, and proceeded to construct his country mansion on Lodge Hill in 1874. During the next 25 years many changes were wrought in Waddesdon, the village itself was practically rebuilt, half of it removed a few hundred yards nearer to Aylesbury. Employment prospects improved as dozens of jobs became available in the house, and on the gardens and farms of the estate. Social life in every form of physical recreation and enlightenment was encouraged and assisted. Instead of being the place to avoid, Waddesdon became acceptable at all levels. The Baron entertained politicians, artists and royalty; the Prince of Wales was a regular visitor, even Queen Victoria came to see what the Baron had achieved - and made much of the novelty of electric lights!

Some of the older villagers can recall Waddesdon before the First World War when the village was pre-eminent in the area for every aspect of life. The Parish Church and three Non-Conformist Chapels thrived, two brass bands and a Philharmonic Society were admired by all, and the football and cricket teams reigned supreme. More than 60 part or full-time businesses ensured the self-sufficiency of the community. Services available included several bakers and provisioned, a photographer, a rat-catcher, a gas works, builders and numerous 'front room' shops selling a wide range of small items; cottons, threads, sweets, etc. Few villagers had need to stray farther than the parish boundaries.

This seemingly idyllic and rather unusual village still found an enthusiasm for some of the old traditions including the annual Feast Day in October, and the seven yearly perambulation of the parish boundary. Sadly the Feast Day has faded away, but Beating the Bounds of the combined parishes of Waddesdon, Westcott and Wrodham is very enthusiastically carried out. Taking two days to cover the course, the 'Bounders' still follow the tradition at Rogationtide of marking the boundary and spanking young boys over the marks 'to impress the place upon them'.

After the Second World War several council housing estates were built, but unlike most neighbouring villages Waddesdon has not experienced large private housing developments. The majority of the land still belongs to the manor and the church as it has since the enclosures. The population has remained around 2000 as in 1900, and the broad structure of the village has not altered significantly. However it is the role of the village which has changed, along with the lifestyles of the inhabitants.

In 1957 Waddesdon Manor, its art treasures and the wooded slopes of Lodge Hill, was bequeathed to the National Trust by James de Rothschild. The property is visited by many thousands each year, some of whom take the opportunity to stop for a while in Waddesdon's fine High Street. There they may savour a litre of what makes the village somewhat special for the people of Waddesdon.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission


Description of Waddesdon Parish, J. J. Sheahan, 1861

This parish, including several hamlets, extends over an area of 6,010 acres. Populations 1,743; rateable value of Waddesdon township, £7,313. The soil is a stiff clay, with various loams, and strata of limestone. There are about 100 acres of woodland.

The village is large and seated on rising ground, about 6 miles W.N.W. from Aylesbury, on one of the principal roads through the county, viz. that from London, through Aylesbury to Bicester etc. The old Roman military road, the Akeman Street passed through the place, and in modern days, part of its course has been made the turnpike road from London.

In the ancient division of the county, this parish was of greater extent than oany other in the hundred of Ashendon, and gave its name to that portion of the latter, which before the reign of King Edward II., was denominated Votesdon Hundred. It was then, and still is a rural Deanery. Petty Sessions for the Quainton Division of the Three Hundreds of Ashendon, are held here (at the Marlborough Arms Inn) and at Quainton once a month alternately.

A branch of the Silk manufactory at Aylesbury and Tring, was established at Waddesdon in 1843. The building stands about the centre of the village, and about forty females are employed in it at hand-loom weaving. Many of the other female inhabitants find employment in pillow lace making.

The Benefice is a Rectory divided into three portions, each valued in the King's books at £15, and all in the patronage of the Duke of Marlborough: the portionists are supposed to officiate alternately. The nett annual value of the first portion of the Rectory is £178; of the second portion, £202; of the third portion £152. The incumbent of the first and second portions is the Rev. E.W.F. Latimer (non-resident); and the Rector of the third portion is the Rev. Richard Bennet Burges, who is the Curate of the first and second portions. The tithes were commuted for land and money payment in 1765 and 1774, under the provisions of certain enclosure acts.

The Rectory house, in which the Rev. R.B. Burges resides, is situated on the east side of the church, and is the residence attached to the first portion of the Rectory. A part of it is ancient and interesting in appearance, the remainder is more modern. The ancient part is in the occupation of a farmer. There are houses also attached to the second and third portions of the Rectory.

There is a Wesleyan Chapel in the village of Waddesdon; and about two miles distant on a hill, is a Baptist Chapel, which was erected at the cost of Mr Francis Cox, late of Cranwell, who died in 1803, aged 68, and was buried in the chapel.

The National School, situated in the centre of the village, is a neat building of white brick with red facings; and is attended by about 120 children.

The British School was erected in 1846, and is a good brick building, in the end of which is inserted a tablet bearing this inscription: "This stone is erected in the memory of Mr John Gibbs, of Aylesbury, a strong advocate of Education, and one of the principal founders of the school, who died March 10th, 1860." About 80 children attend the school. Atteched to the school is a residence for the teachers. Through the munificence of the Duke of Buckingham, a School was opened at Westcote in the spring 1860, and a house provided for the teacher. About 40 children attend. Divine Service is performed in the school room every Sunday evening.


Waddesdon Parish (Pop. 1,454)

One Daily School, containing 18 males, supported by a small endowment and an annual allowance of £3 by the Rector.

Three Sunday Schools, one (commenced 1822), of 27 males and 23 females, who attend the Established Church; another consists of 72 males and 48 females, attached to Wesleyan Methodists; die other, of 42 males and 60 females, of the Baptist denomination (commenced 1829); all supported by voluntary contributions.