Waddesdon Manor in Gingerbread
"I doubt we’ll want to eat it."
Using more than 30kg of butter and sugar, 240 eggs and 216 kg of icing, hand-iced biscuit company Biscuiteers have created a two metre long model of Waddesdon made entirely of gingerbread.
On display in the Coach House Gallery until 19th March, the spectacle boasts detailed replicas of Waddesdon’s famous rooms complete with paintings, furniture, porcelain and textiles.
We spoke to Pippa Shirley, Head of Collections at Waddesdon, to find out more…
How did Waddesdon Manor in Gingerbread come to be?
Every year at Christmas we do a varied programme that includes light art and various commercial activities. We decorate the inside of the Manor, put these extraordinary Christmas trees in, and have a series of themed displays in some of the rooms. We’re always on the lookout for other things that we can add to the programme to give it more breadth. Our retail department knew about the beautifully decorated biscuits Biscuiteers sell, and then we saw the gingerbread model of Leeds Castle they made. We just thought that was such a nice idea and wanted them to come and have a chat with us. So they came and spent time here. We showed them the house, talked to them a bit about the history, showed them the collections, and also spoke to them about whether they would be able to develop anything specifically inspired by Waddesdon, which they said they could do. And the gingerbread model of the Manor was the result.
How long did it take them?
500 hours. It wasn’t done here. We worked with them on which of the interiors they were going to recreate; we provided them with lots of photographs and they took photographs themselves, and they went back to their base in London and did all the work there. Then they brought the model here in sections and assembled it on site – that bit didn’t take all that long, a day’s work.
What do you think was the hardest thing to recreate?
I think possibly the most challenging object they made is in the East Gallery. It’s our elephant automaton, an 18th-century musical box in the shape of an elephant which springs into life when wound up – its ears flap, its eyes roll, and its trunk goes round and round. It’s really complex and they managed to recreate it in icing.
What’s going to happen to the model when the display ends?
I don’t think we could bear to throw it away. If it’s still looking good I think we’ll want to hang on to it – though I doubt very much we’ll want to eat it.
What else is on at Waddesdon this Christmas?
Biscuiteers have also worked with us on decorations for one of the rooms in the Manor. So there’s one tree which is completely covered in gingerbread baubles inspired by our collections which they’ve made. There’s also the Jolly Gingers Children's Christmas trail – the company have made a whole series of gingerbread figures which are hung on the trees in the house – children who come are given a sticker for every gingerbread figure that they find.
There’s so much else to see too. Bruce Munro’s exhibition, Field of Light, is really extraordinary and the Christmas Fair is on as well. Plus there are all sorts of activities for families at the Stables Courtyard, including visits from Midland Bernese Carters Dogs, bred in Switzerland. We’re well worth a visit during the Christmas period.
Biscuiteers: Waddesdon Manor in Gingerbread is in the Coach House Gallery until 19th March.
For more on Biscuiteers, visit biscuiteers.com.
For more on Waddesdon’s Christmas, visit waddesdon.org.uk.
Top Image - Waddesdon gingerbread model by Biscuiteers. Photo Mike Fear © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor
Below - State Bedroom, Waddesdon Manor. Photo Mike Fear © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor
Bottom Image - State Bedroom, Waddesdon Manor © Biscuiteers
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