IT HAS been a big week for Waddesdon Manor.

As British Summer Time got underway on Sunday, spare a thought for staff members at the manor, who had 65 clocks - excluding watches - to change.

The Rothschild house in Buckinghamshire has clocks in almost every room (plus numerous watches in the collection), and most are in working order.

Waddesdon’s impressive collection includes clocks by some of the most important horologists in history, including Julien Le Roy, clockmaker to King Louis XV, meaning the upmost care and attention must be taken when handling them.

Changing the clocks every year is therefore a delicate and time-consuming process, taking Matthew Waters, assistant head steward, up to two hours to complete.

He said: “I generally begin the job early in the morning, systematically winding each clock. It’s important that I complete this process early so as not to confuse any unsuspecting members of staff.

“The collection includes astronomical clocks that tell us about luxury, scientific knowledge and social status in the 16th and 17th centuries, and highly decorative musical clocks.

“My personal favourite is in the shape of a lyre – the mechanism and clock face act as its own pendulum, meaning it is tricky to start but is very impressive when in motion.”

Each needs to be wound once a week to ensure they remain accurate.

And following the changing of the clocks came April Fool’s Day.

With coronavirus wreaking havoc across the world, many organisations decided not to partake in the tradition of making up stories this year.

Instead, Waddesdon has decided to share 10 unbelievable facts about the estate that aren’t April fools.

The Rothschild House and Gardens were built at the end of the 19th century by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, to house his famous ‘Saturday to Monday’ parties attended by the great and the good of Victorian society.

Ferdinand was an inspired collector, and the house was designed to accommodate his fine collection of French 18th-century furniture, Sèvres porcelain, English portraits and other exceptional examples of fine and decorative arts.

Here are some interesting facts:

1. When Winston Churchill came to stay, he liked to stay in the Portico Bedroom so he could go out onto the roof to smoke a cigar. Miss Alice de Rothschild didn’t permit smoking anywhere other than in the Smoking Room.

2. King Edward VII was told not to touch the furniture during one of his visits, and Miss Alice refused to raise the blinds to allow him better light to see the paintings. It is, however, thanks to her protective attitude to the collections that they are so remarkably well-preserved today.

3. It’s often said that Ferdinand installed a passenger lift for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1890, but she declined to ride in it, not trusting in the magic of electricity. In fact, the lift was installed after her visit, perhaps prompted by the Prince of Wales falling down the stairs.

4. Baron Ferdinand’s nephew Walter was a naturalist famed for his eccentricity. He trained three zebras to pull a carriage.

5. Ferdinand’s guests were taken on a tour of the ornamental working Dairy, where they could taste the milk, cream and butter. It is now restored as a venue for weddings and events.

6. Ferdinand de Rothschild is reported to have dined on cold toast and water, while his guests were served the most sumptuous food.

7. Following Ferdinand’s death, Miss Alice added a small golf course to the Waddesdon grounds. This was extended by James and Dorothy de Rothschild after World War II (although it no longer exists today).

8. To aid the construction of Waddesdon, a single-track tramway was laid especially from Westcott up the hill, so building materials could be brought to the site by steam train.

9. Gardening and horticulture were one of Miss Alice’s main passions, so much so that she had a phone socket set into one of the trees!

10. Like other members of his family, Baron Ferdinand instructed that all of his personal papers were destroyed on his death, so there’s less information than you might imagine about his time at Waddesdon.