Waddesdon was purchased in 1874. Since this time members of the Rothschild family have taken it in turns to enhance and nurture the aesthetics and conservational value of the estate.
The Manor is surrounded by the privately-owned Estate, purchased in 1874. Successive generations of the Rothschild family have made their mark on the landscape, from Baron Ferdinand and Miss Alice's extensive planting and landscaping, to James de Rothschild's golf course and Stud, which still thrives today. More recently, Lord Rothschild and his daughter Beth have recreated major features, such as the Millenium Avenue linking the Manor with Upper Winchendon, and the planting of the Diamond Jubilee Wood.
By purchasing the adjoining land, the Estate has grown from the original 2,700 acres in 1874 to 6,000 acres in 2011. It is managed by a team of foresters, gamekeepers and farmers. Whilst the majority of the land is farmed 'in-hand' by the Estate, five tenant farmers play an important role in its tenure.
The in-hand operation covers 3,200 acres of arable land and 800 acres of parkland. Our approach to working the land combines commerical farming with a strong environmental respect.
Entrance to the Higher Level Management scheme in 2010 gave a 10-year commitment to reaching the highest levels of stewardship, resulting in floristically enhanced grass margins, new hedgerows and restoration of historic ponds. This long-standing approach resulted in the Estate being shortlisted for the national Silver Lapwing Award in 2010, and winning the Berks, Bucks & Oxfordshire Environment and Conservation in Farming Award in 2009.
We are also working with various research establishments - and also host replicated environmental management experiments into the stewardship of aspects of our natural environment. These include a multitude of ecosystems for flora and fauna, such as enhancing the habitat for pollinating insects and earthworms.
Modern farming techniques and equipment has allowed us to improve our operational efficiency and application accuracy for fertilisers, fungicides and herbicides. This in turn reduced the impact on the environment and helps us minimise our 'carbon footprint'.
The woodlands play an important role in defining the landscape and are managed under a 10 year Forestry Commission plan. We make great efforts to improve the landscape as an amenity, and a visual and habitat resource. The latest project, in 2012 is the creation of a 60-acre woodland to mark HM the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. This will include ponds, diverse habitats for flora and fauna, and a wood for generations to come.
We are keen to make use of as much timber as possible on the Estate, and to sell timber locally produced from silviculture thinnings. Installing wood burners in a number of Estate properties has helped increase demand for seasoned logs and reduced our carbon footprint.
Estate Game Keepers
The Estate employs two gamekeepers who implement a predator control programme, within the terms of the law, to give ground nesting birds, such as English Partridge and Skylark, a significantly increased chance of survival.
Combined with habitat management, this is of vital importance in preserving and enhancing the diversity and numbers of wildlife. A recent survey by the RSPB has shown that the majority of farmland birds that appear on the endangered (red) list can be found on the Estate. We now need to work on improving these numbers.
Access to the countryside is supported on an informal basis through the network of Public Rights of Way across the Estate. We also host organised events, such as fundraising horse rides for charities, or farm walks for groups including inner city school children or specialist farmers.