One of the most beautiful homes of the Rothschild family, Waddesdon Manor will shortly open the doors of its kitchens, in a new exhibition running from February 3 to March 7, 2021. The perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of this mecca of 19th-century British gastronomy.
Located in Buckinghamshire, Waddesdon Manor was the scene of many lavish parties organized by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. The Shah of Persia, Henry James, Guy de Maupassant and Lady Randolph Churchill were among the many personalities who stayed at Waddesdon, where one could regale oneself with refined dishes served on Sèvres porcelain.
The hospitality of Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild was so legendary that even Queen Victoria decided to visit Waddesdon Manor in 1890. This memorable visit is covered in the exhibition " History of the Manor Kitchen ," which tells the story behind the kitchens of the castle. Although about twenty servants worked at the manor every day, this number doubled when the baron was entertaining guests. For these occasions, a French chef and an Italian pastry chef even made the trip from London.
These two prepared the lunch that Queen Victoria enjoyed during her visit to Waddesdon, for instance. On the menu: asparagus, trout, chicken, quail, duck, beef fillet à la Chartreuse, ortolans drowned in Armagnac, and doughnuts à la Viennoise. This meal made such an impression on the queen that she later sent her own cooks to train at the manor.
“We know that she sent people from Windsor to learn secrets from the Waddesdon kitchen. The standard of cuisine was very, very high,” Pippa Shirley, Waddesdon's collections and gardens manager, told The Guardian.
The menu for this famous lunch is part of the archival material on display alongside kitchen utensils for "History of the Manor Kitchen." There is also a black-and-white photograph of the brigade that worked at the castle at the beginning of the 20th century.
The manor kitchen has been restored to its original state for the first time since 1957 as part of the exhibition. On that date, Waddesdon was bequeathed to the National Trust, and the manor kitchen was converted into a tea room.