Readers who are still wondering how to celebrate the re-opening of the country's old stately homes could do worse than to visit Waddesdon; a 'French chateau' built by Ferdinand de Rothschild to house his immense collection of Bourbon French goodies. Surely, Publius Ovidius Naso, with his love of the intricate joke, his frivolity, his sensuality, was the presiding numen of the arts and crafts of Bourbon France.
So what fun Waddesdon is; as good as the Wallace Collection or the Burrell (my favourite venue in my favourite Scottish city). Better than those, if you include the fountains, reconstructed after being bought from the duke of Parma [was it a Duke of Parma who congratulated Archbishop Lefebvre after the Econe Consecrations?]. What superb taste Baron Ferdinand had. The Spirit of Ovid lives; long live the Spirit of Ovid.
I feel so much more at home there than among the heavy splendours of nearby Blenheim, a monument to the career Johnny Churchill secured by his treachery to James II, and now cluttered up with memorabilia of some Brit politician who allied himself with Uncle Joe Stalin during some war we fought in the last century. If I have to choose between Jewish bankers and the traitorous clique that kept the Head of the House of Stuart off the throne, then give me the Jewish bankers any day of the week.
The only feature of a genuine French chateau of the seventeenth century which is missing at Waddesdon may be ... er ... a chapel ... Curiously, Baron Ferdinand did collect quite a bit of 'Christian' stuff, but he never provided it with a proper setting; so most of it is propped up on window sills in the Bachelors' Wing. Were Edwardian bachelors invariably Christians?
There is a 'chapel' at Blenheim, but it is never clear to me who or what is supposed to be worshipped there. Most of it is cluttered up with some great thing Rysbrack cobbled together in honour of ... Johnny Churchill. Sometimes they have exhibitions there which show scant respect for its nominal status as a Christian place of worship.
Typical of the Spirit of Blenheim.