Despite all the Limpic shenanigans I have of course still been reading through the summer, though a bit haphazardly, but I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Hannah Rothschild at Port Eliot this year, and with it came some sincere and genuine encouragement from Cathy St Germans to seek out Hannah's new book The Baroness, The search for Nica, the rebellious Rothschild. Yes it is the banking family, and yes, it is a very good read so more on that to come.
I was immediately interested when Cathy mentioned the book because buried deep in family folklore is the notion that my Great Grandfather (or possibly a Great Great) had been an ostler at the Rothschild family seat of Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The house is now in the care of the National Trust
The Orchard-Chester family seat, in contrast, had been a two-up-two-down with outside privy in the nearby village of Nether Winchendon and may not be in the care of the National Trust, but we have always understood that this picture of my five greats Grandmother, known to all and sundry as Granny Orchard, was taken outside her cottage there.
In order to walk and feel this heritage and just say I had been there, Bookhound and I diverted to Nether Winchendon when we had been up near Aylesbury a couple of years ago. It is a beautiful little village and we found much evidence of Orchards past in the churchyard and inside the church too. They certainly dominated the bell-ringing notice board, in fact it would seem that on Christmas Eve 1944 no other campanologist got a look in. The Orchards baggsed all the bells...
We wandered around the village and decided that this cottage would do as a designated residence for Five Greats Granny Orchard, though unlikely...
It was only a mile or so to Waddesdon Manor so I pressed my case for at least laying eyes on the stables and imagining where Grandad might have ostled. Bookhound was more in the mood to head home so a bit of a reluctant visitor, especially as, even though I had a streaming cold and was feeling a bit death's door, and we had been up since dawn and to an investiture in Aylesbury already, he knew full well I would actually be insisting on seeing far more than the stables. That is paying the entrance fee, spending hours looking round, would want a cup of tea and cake in the National Trust tea room and then most definitely have to do postcards in the shop and would probably sneak the guide book into the basket.
Here is some video footage of our visit, you will need your sound on for the full effect...
Do you have visits like this??
The same thing happened when we pitched up at Fontainebleau near Paris on a Tuesday many years ago, long before the internet had been invented and we might just have checked first. Don't go to Fontainebleau on a Tuesday, it's closed.
But did you detect that barely concealed note of triumph in Bookhound's voice??
And the sort of veiled relief in mine, because you suggest these things and push them through to fruition when really, on reflection, you'd rather be heading for home several hundred miles away, the bath and the Lemsip.
So I still haven't been to Waddesdon Manor and now of course I want to go even more. Meanwhile, my thoughts on The Baroness any day soon.