Despite 2020 being the year museums and heritage sites closed their doors, Waddesdon, the Rothschild House & Gardens in Buckinghamshire, received unprecedented levels of support from virtual visitors.
20,000 people took a virtual tour of the French-inspired interiors, an increase of 676% from 2019, while a further 13,800 people explored the gardens online. What’s more, 15% of Waddesdon’s virtual visitors were international, revealing the unique opportunity that digital content offers to reach new audiences. In fact, Waddesdon’s virtual tours were enjoyed by more visitors from the US than the UK in 2020, and thousands of visitors from Canada, Australia and France explored the beautiful artworks, intricate furniture and paintings from Waddesdon’s outstanding collection.
Local residents and those from countries such as Portugal and Brazil were also able to ‘wander’ around Waddesdon’s gardens virtually, taking in the 5,000 acres of rolling parkland, formal gardens, the Parterre and the ornate Rococo-style Aviary masterminded by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the late 1800s.
Simon Wales, Chief Operating Officer at Waddesdon, said, ‘We’re so grateful for the continued support from our visitors, and will continue to find new and exciting ways to welcome people to Waddesdon online during this difficult time. To everyone who has supported us in some way during the past year, from buying from our online shop to reading our latest blog posts, thank you – you’ve helped protect our legacy for future generations.’
There have also been many causes for celebration at Waddesdon over the past year, and here are just some of the good news stories from 2020…
Over 15,000 people watched Waddesdon’s lockdown diaries
While the site was closed to the public during national lockdowns, Waddesdon’s Collections and gardens staff gave visitors a peek behind the scenes through a series of YouTube videos, watched by over 15,000 people. Curators revealed never-before-seen storage rooms hidden away in the attics, and even ventured out onto the roof to undertake some essential maintenance work. Find the series here.
13,800 visitors explored the gardens online
From online sculpture and tree trails, to short films and blog posts, many of you discovered the stories behind Waddesdon’s beautiful gardens from the comfort of your home. Explore the gardens online here.
Six threatened Fischer’s turaco chicks were born
Thanks to ongoing visitor support in the form of donations collected from the grotto fountain, the Aviary team were able to continue vital conservation work, caring for the birds onsite. As a result, the aviculturists successfully bred six Fischer’s turaco chicks during the 2020 season, helping protect this threatened species.
7,332 meals were delivered to the local community
In March 2020, the Rothschild Foundation, the Buckinghamshire-based charity that supports arts and heritage, the environment and social welfare as well as Waddesdon Manor, funded a scheme instigated by Waddesdon’s chefs, to provide meals for school children and local residents who were shielding. The Rothschild Foundation is pleased to announce that from January 2021 the scheme is recommencing.
A range of food was donated to foodbanks and hospitals
When Waddesdon closed last spring the events team found themselves with chocolate eggs to spare. 900 Easter eggs were delivered to Aylesbury Food Bank, and ten boxes to John Radcliffe and Stoke Mandeville hospitals.
Again, with the Tier 4 announcements in December affecting Waddesdon’s Christmas opening, sandwich fillings and frozen foods were donated to Aylesbury Vineyard foodbank. Among the donated foods were 20 litres of egg mayonnaise, six kilograms of sliced turkey and 60 litres of tomato soup.
Under the current lockdown, Waddesdon very much remains open for everyone worldwide with digital experiences you can enjoy anywhere 24/7. Online now is a fascinating new digital exhibition, History of the Manor Kitchen. Explore the history and secrets of Waddesdon Manor’s kitchen and the people who worked in this fascinating new digital exhibition that helps to tell the stories of life in a Rothschild kitchen, from examples of table linen to keys and other domestic equipment. For coffee fanatics, there is even an early 1920’s espresso machine.
Waddesdon is also looking forward to launching a series on interactive virtual tours with gardeners and curators. More information will be available at www.waddesdon.org.uk.