June 29 – A day trip to Waddesdon Manor

Several Church micro challenges

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Last night I spent the evening researching several challenges that would be on today’s route. All three of them were church micro challenges and after doing 800 church micros the chances are we would qualify for them all. The “Fleet Marton” challenge required us to spell Fleet Martin with church micro names. The parking for this cache was very difficult as it was on a busy road but we found a layby to pull off into and then spent ages trying to cross the road only to find the cache in a really boring place. It is frustrating when geocaches spend time and energy on devising interesting challenges and puzzles and then place the cache somewhere without any thought put into the placement.

Later in the day, we found “A Month of Church Micros” Challenge which required us to find a church micro on dates from 1 – 31 in any month of any year, not necessarily consecutive days. A great challenge but again not a nice placement and Mike got stung or bitten by something on his back. The last challenge was “A Week of Church Micros” which required us to have found a church micros on seven days of the week, not necessarily in order but they all had to be placed by different people. A great challenge!

The church micro at Quainton was a puzzle which I had worked out the night before we visited there before our visit to Waddesdon Manor. Mike found the cache quickly near the church. It was a lovely frog container.

The church at Quainton is the church of Holy Cross and St Mary. It is a 14th-century building in the decorated gothic style which was restored in the Victorian period. The church contains many memorial brasses and sculpture, including the 1689 tomb of Sir Richard Winwood carved by Thomas Stayner. The stone effigies depict the deceased lying in full armour, while his widow, Ann, who paid for the tomb, rests beside him, half sitting regarding her husband. In the chancel are a reredos and sedilia by William White from 1877. The church also contains Victorian stained glass windows. glass. Richard Brett, a former rector of Quainton and one of the translators of the King James Version of the Bible, is buried in the chancel.

Waddesdon Manor is a National Trust property. It is a Grade I listed house was built in the Neo-Renaissance style of a French château between 1874 and 1889 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839–1898). It was built as a weekend residence for grand entertaining and as a setting for his collection. There are some bedrooms for overnight visitors but was never actually lived in as a house. James de Rothschild (1878–1957) bequeathed the house and its contents to the National Trust. It is now managed by the Rothschild Foundation chaired by Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild. It is one of the National Trust’s most visited properties, with over 467,000 visitors annually. Baron Rothchild visits the manor several times a week and the house is still used for evening entertainments as well. 

The manor is quite wonderful with beautiful walls, ceilings, carpets, furniture with the great use of gold. There are bookshelves full of wonderful books everywhere. We arrived in one salon just as a talk of French books and bookbinding began by one of the Manor’s curators. This was fascinating and we learned about the use of hand tools and the application of gold to the covers which were often leather. Also the use of natural dyes and hand-marbled papers and hardbound book with half leather binding (spine and corners) and marbled boards. Designs can be lettering, symbols, or floral designs, depending on the nature of any particular project. Many of the books we were shown were of French origin.

We spent most of the day touring through the manor. It is all set out so that you go in a certain order. In each room, there were volunteers to speak to if you had any questions. The furniture and curtaining fabrics were wonderful and there was even fabric wallpaper in brilliant designs. It was all so glorious and awe-inspiring.

We also wandered around the gardens and brought some lunch from the cafe. There was a lovely garden which has been planted out in succulents to depict Waddesdon Manor. Many of the succulents were different colours and many were flowering. It was brilliant and very clever. I would definitely like to have a go at something like that when we get home. I thought of Barb and thought she would be inspired by it too since she likes gardening so much.

The head gardener has visited our exhibition and suggested that Waddesdon Maor would be a good place to exhibit the mosaic. When we visited we realised that there was nowhere in the house to show it. We walked down to the stables and found another cafe and a huge new exhibition area. It had moveable walls to allow the room to alter to accommodate any exhibition. It would certainly be long enough for our exhibition. The exhibition that was on was 3D printing urns and vases inspired by urns and vases from the manor house. These were all in brightly coloured materials and intricately designed. There was also a 3D printer working and we talked to two ladies who were guides for this exhibition. It was another really inspiring place and opened up a whole new world of artistry.

The car park for Waddesdon Manor is a long way through the grounds from the house and buses run regularly ferrying people backwards and forwards. We took the bus back to the car and headed off to find a few more nearby church micros.

St Mary the Virgin at Westcott was closed but we soon found the numbers required for the multi and found the cache near a stile. Then we went to St Michael’s and All Angels church at Waddesdon and what a find that was! It had two C.E. Kempe stained glass windows in the two chapels. There were also 13 misericords which are quite unusual for a church as they are mostly in cathedrals. They were fantastic and one showed Noahs Ark. The pulpit was wonderful in coloured mosaic tiles and marble. Also, there was a nice variety of brasses on the ground.

Our next stop was at Waddesdon Hill Baptist Chapel which is out in the country and we had to drive up onto a grassy bank to park off the busy main road. The chapel was locked and did not look like is used anymore. We collected the numbers and walked carefully down the road to see if we could find the cache but we had overshot the coordinates. On our way back we saw an entrance to a woods on the other side of the road and realised that was where we should be looking and the cache was soon found.

St Mary Magdelene at Upper Winchendon was closed as we expected as it was later in the day by now but we collected the numbers and found the cache. We then moved on to St Nicholas church at Nether Winchendon which was a lovely church with a three-tiered pulpit with tester. It also had some Flemish looking roundels and some medieval stained glass. There was also a lovely small tomb with a  brass on top. Mike soon found the cache a little way from where the GPS was pointing. Down at the bottom of the road was an island in the road so that cars could drive all the way around it. In the centre of the island was a column containing a Victorian Post Box.

By the time we got home, we had gained five more hidden creatures geocaching souvenirs – Bigfoot, Fairy, Unicorn, Kraken and Hippocamp.