From November 16 to January 5, Waddesdon Manor will welcome over 180,000 visitors - but before the busy period begins all the contents of the house must be packed away to ensure essential conservation work can take place.

Waddesdon’s unique festive preparations begin in October, when rooms throughout the house are meticulously cleaned and packed away, ready for essential conservation work to take place. As part of this annual process 54 shutters are closed, 349 plates, knives and forks are packed away, and 140 light switches are turned off.

Waddesdon’s two-day conservation process comes from ‘Miss Alice’s Rules’ - housekeeping standards that were introduced by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s sister, Alice, from the early 20th century, and these standards mean that the house and all items within it have been kept in pristine conditions.

However, the process used to take much longer.

Jane Finch, Head Steward at Waddesdon, said: “Until 2003 Christmas wasn’t a big affair here at Waddesdon.

“We closed for five months each winter, allowing a team of 15 housekeepers several weeks to pack the collection away for vital conservation and cleaning.”

Following this, the house is filled with 13 Christmas trees, 3,000 baubles and 30,000 fairy lights to celebrate the festive season.

This year the Manor's many rooms will be based around a different traditional or popular Christmas song as the grounds will be lit up with fairy lights and Waddesdon’s longest ever Winter Light Trail.

From November 16 to December 22, 11am until 6pm, Waddesdon will be bringing back their annual Christmas fair with over 80 wooden chalets filling the grounds.

Pippa Shirley, Head of Collections and Gardens, said: “Christmas is a magical time at Waddesdon, as the house, its collections and beautiful grounds come to life in an entirely different way.

“We love seeing families and children enjoying its unique atmosphere, sparkle, glamour and fun.

“The Manor looks like a fairy-tale castle at the best of times, so at Christmas it is truly enchanting.”

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