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Claydon has been the home of the Verney family for nearly four centuries. The current house was built by the second Earl Verney between 1757 and 1771 and was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957.
The interior is notable for the ornate Rococo plasterwork and the grand staircase. The Chinese Room is particularly special. Unfortunately photography is not permitted inside so I cannot post of picture of the interiors.
A new innovation in some of the rooms are 'talking portraits' - framed video screens wth actors in costume talking about the lives of the former inhabitants of the house. I didn't care for these much, as I found them gimmicky and difficult to hear when there are numbers of visitors about.
The upstairs rooms also include a small exhibition about Florence Nightingale, who was the sister-in-law of Sir Harry Verney, and a collection of Javanese musical instruments.
In the courtyard can be found a second hand book shop, art gallery, chocolatier, tea room and restaurant. The gardens were still owned by the Verney family and include a two acre kitchen garden (produce is for sale).
Open Saturday to Wednesday 1.00 -5.00 p.m.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Middle Claydon, Buckinghamsbire
Phone: 01296 730349
The Buckinghamshire County Museum is based in some old buildings (part dating from 15th century) in the old part of Aylesbury town. There are permanent displays about the history and culture of Buckinghamshire (including furniture-making and the famous Aylesbury ducks) as well as temporary exhibitions.
There is also the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery (not to be confused with the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in nearby Great Missenden) - this is a general children's museum gallery with a Roald Dahl theme, rather than a gallery about Roald Dahl. There is a Great Glass Elevator and a Giant Peach etc.
Admission to the main museum is free. Admission to the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery is £4.00 for children and £4.50 for adults.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Church Street, Aylesbury
Phone: 01296 331441
There are lots of good walks in the Chilterns. One option is to walk along the scarp of the Chilterns, with great views over Aylesbury vale. You can take a train from Aylesbury to Wendover (2 stops), then walk up Bacombe Hill, Coombe Hill (the highest point of the Chilterns) and Cymbeline's mount, crossing the Chequers estate (the country estate of the Prime Minister). Part of this route follows the Ridgeway path. Walking maps are available from the Chiltern Society.
This walk takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes if you stop to enjoy the view. There are several pubs, restaurants and tea-shops in Wendover for well-earned refreshment when you get back.
Updated Aug 22, 2009
Address: From Wendover
Waddesdon Manor looks like a 16th century French chateau. This is no accident, as it was built by Ferdinand de Rothschild (in the late 19th century) to provide a fitting setting for his collection of French furniture, porcelain and carpets. There are also paintings by Gainsborough and Reynolds and Dutch and Flemish masters. The house is simply full of treasures (my favourite is the mechanical elephant clock).
There are also landscaped grounds, and (more attractive for children than priceless ceramics) an aviary with exotic birds.
Adults may also be interested in the wine cellars which contain thousands of bottles of Rothschild wines dating back to 1868 - there are free tours on Wednesday afternoons at 3.00 p.m.
Waddesdon Manor is owned by the National Trust. The grounds are open 10.00 a.m to 5.00 p.m. and the house itself (admission by timed ticket only) is open 12.00 to 4.00 Wednesdays to Sundays 1 April -1 November. See the website for admission prices as it varies according to the time of year and day of the week.
The one problem with Waddesdon is that it is so popular that the catering cannot always cope on busy weekends. I have (on different visits) been served a semi-frozen sandwich and had to queue for half an hour for an ice-cream. There are however some pubs in Waddesdon village.
Updated Jun 15, 2009
Address: Waddesdon, near Aylesbury HP18 0JH
Phone: 01296 653211
The former Quainton Road railway station is now a fascinating railway museum. There are lots of special events - you can take a ride on a steam train, or even meet Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends.
Another station building has been relocated from Oxford to make a visitor centre with a couple of indoor displays (VIP carriages etc.), a 'cinema coach', cafe and gift shop. There is also a secondhand bookshop on the site.
Admission (Summer 2008) is £7 for adults on a steam day (every Sunday and Wednesdays during summer) and £9 for special events. It is open on other days for static viewing (£5).
Updated Aug 21, 2008
Address: Quainton, nr Aylesbury
St Tiggywinkles is a wildlife hospital, specialising in hedgehogs, though they look after all sorts of wildlife. If you come on your own you may not see any of their hedgehog residents, but you can learn how to make a hedgehog-friendly garden, see baby birds being fed, and visit the hedgehog museum, a shrine to all things hedgehog.
I organised a group trip, which meant that we had a talk by one of the staff and did see some of their prickly patients.
Updated Mar 25, 2007
Address: Haddenham, Near Aylesbury
Phone: 01844 292292
Just about 5miles north of Aylesbury, this National Trust property (built 1874-89) is a magnificent French Renaissance-style chateau housing the Rothschild collection of art treasures including Sevres porcelain and works by Gainsborough and Reynolds. It has one of the finest Victorian gardens, a Parterre, rose and children's garden and a fully-stocked Rococo-style aviary. There are gift and wine shops and licensed restaurants. It is beautiful inside and out. We try to visit this wonderful place every time we are anywhere near.
Updated Jan 29, 2006
Phone: +44 (0) 1296 653212
You won't leave this restaurant hungry... The food is gorgeous and the family atmosphere very festive (esp. on a Saturday night).
Favorite Dish: The "Marchant de vin" sauce is.... aahaaaa! The beef strogonoff.... The zaleh's salad dressing... The béarnaise... The sticky Toffee Pudding... Oh well, There you are:
Chargrilled Entrecôte of Scotch Beef 'Au Poivre' or Béarnaise 12.95
Beef Stroganoff Pan Fried Scotch Beef with Cream & Cognac served with Straw Chips 10.95
Steak, Mushroom & Ale Pie A rich sauce with Irish Ale & tender pieces of Beef topped with a Shortcrust Pastry 8.95
Fillet of Lamb with Béarnaise Sauce 13.95
Brochette of Marinated Lamb served with a timbale of Saffron Rice & Salad 13.95
Breast of Barbary Duck with crushed Peppercorns, Honey & Parsnip Mash 13.95
Marinated breast of Chicken in a Herb, Garlic Crust with a Tomato & Basil Sauce & fresh Tagliatelle 9.95
Brochette of Chicken brushed with Saffron Butter & Lemon served with Saffron Rice & Salad 9.95
Chicken Stroganoff Strips of Chicken Pan Fried in Cream and Cognac served with Rice 9.95
Crispy Roast Cod with Salsa Dressing 10.95
Griddled Red Mullet with a warm Gazpacho sauce 10.95
Salmon Supreme with Hollandaise Sauce & Julienne of Saffron Vegetables 10.95
Tagliatelle with roasted peppers & tomatoes with rocket, parmesan finished with basil oil 8.95
Mille-feuille of forest mushrooms with brandy and & chive cream sauce 9.95
Updated Mar 18, 2004
Address: Pond Street, Wendover
Phone: Telephone: (01296) 622 092
Chiltern railways runs a good service to Aylesbury (2 trains per hour via Amersham plus additonal trains via High Wycombe) from London Marylebone.
However, there is sometimes engineering work during the weekends, when trains are replaced by buses.
Written Aug 2, 2006
Obsidian Art is an interesting little gallery which is based at the Bucks Goat Centre (yes, really). You don't have to visit the Goat Centre to get into the gallery though, if you don't want to.
They run a range of special exhibitions through the year - there is usually one about the local Chiltern landscape at some point, and usually one on horses in art in around September, though prints of art from previous exhibitions and sundries such as greetings cards and jewellery are always available. All work is for sale.
What to buy: Original art and photographs; prints, ceramics and glass, jewellery. Even the occasional piece of handmade furniture; greetings cards. It's well worth a visit to look round even if you aren't looking to buy anything, but it's also a good place to go for a special gift.
If you can't afford originals, prints are available showing the work of many of the artists they exhibit and there is a framing service.
What to pay: £50 and upwards for a framed print; original art can cost from hundreds to three or four thousand pounds depending on the artist. c.£20 and up for handmade jewellery.
Updated Feb 13, 2009
Address: Old Risborough Road, Stoke Mandeville HP22 5XJ
Phone: 01296 612150