29 May 2017
30 April 2017
In April 2017 8 hectares (20 acres) of previously private woodland were opened to the public at Bodnant Garden. The opening of Furnace Meadow and Furnace Hill was the culmination of a 10-year renovation project carried out to counter the effects of decline and disease in the area. The area is named after a blast furnace that operated there in the 18th century. With other previously private sections – Old Park Meadow, Yew Dell and The Far End – having been opened between 2013 and 2015, over 90% of the grounds are now accessible. A final area, Heather Hill, is scheduled to open in 2020.
27 October 2016
A member of the Austrian family of bankers, Ferdinand James Anselm Freiherr von Rothschild (1839-1898) was born in Paris and lived in Vienna before moving to Britain. He was a hereditary baron (freiherr) in the lower Austrian nobility and in Britain was known as Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. He served as Liberal MP for Aylesbury from 1885 until 1898.
In 1874 Ferdinand bought the Buckinghamshire estate near Waddesdon village. Designed by French architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur (1822-1893) in a style based on 16th-century French châteaux, the Manor at Waddesdon was built from 1874 to 1889 to house Ferdinand’s art collection and for entertaining.
Ferdinand left the property to his younger sister Alice Charlotte de Rothschild (1847-1922) and it was subsequently inherited by their great-nephew James Armand de Rothschild (1878-1957), who left it to the National Trust. Although owned by the National Trust, Waddesdon is run semi-independently by investment banker Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild (b 1936) through the Rothschild charity The Alice Trust.
As well as being the National Trust’s second most popular visitor attraction, Waddesdon Manor is also used as a wedding venue and is hired out for location filming. The manor has featured in a variety of films and series, from Carry on… Don’t Lose Your Head and Never Say Never Again to Downton Abbey and The Crown.
26 October 2016
The Goodwin Sands – a massive sand bank in the English Channel between South Foreland and Ramsgate – have been a hazard to shipping for centuries and there are records of lights on the White Cliffs to warn mariners of the dangers since the 14th century. In 1635 two open-fire braziers were erected at South Foreland and there have been two lighthouses there ever since. In 1793 the Upper Light was converted to use oil lamps and in 1795 the Lower Light was similarly converted. Both lighthouses were purchased by Trinity House in 1832 with alterations being carried out to the Upper Light in 1842 and the Lower Light being totally rebuilt in 1846.
By 1875 South Foreland was equipped with carbon-arc lamps making it the first lighthouse to use electric light. The lighthouse was also later used by Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) as a base for his experiments in radio transmission and it became the first ever site to receive a ship-to-shore radio message and in 1899 it also received the first international radio transmission (from Wimereux, between Calais and Boulogne in France).
By 1904 the Goodwin Sands had shifted by such an extent that the visual alignment of the two lights no longer provided an accurate indication of the location of the sand bank and so the Lower Light was decommissioned. The Upper Light was fully automated in 1969 and it remained in service until 1988 when it too was decommissioned, modern navigational aids having rendered it redundant. The National Trust took over the site in 1989 and opened it to the public in 1990.