architecture, Art, Banqueting House, Buckinghamshire, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape garden, Temple

The Wedding Cake, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

The Folly Flâneuse celebrated her birthday this week, and what better way to mark the occasion than with an enormous cake? Although sadly, this one is not edible. As many of the buildings featured in these pages are gone, it was a real birthday treat to see this new folly, recently constructed to ornament the Waddesdon landscape.

The cake is the work of Joana Vasconcelos, a Portuguese-born sculptor, and was commissioned by Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild for the Waddesdon Manor estate in Buckinghamshire. The pair had collaborated in 2012 when Vasconcelos showed her Pavillon de Thé at Waddesdon – a massive wrought iron teapot.

‘Pavilion du Thé’, now returned to Waddesdon after being shown elsewhere (you might have seen it at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park).

A few years later Vasconcelos created a work featuring a drink more commonly associated with the Rothschild family – two candlestick sculptures made from bottles of the famous Chateau Lafite.

‘Lafite’ standing in front of The Dairies at Waddesdon.

This latest Vasconcelos commission is on an entirely different scale, and has been five years in the making. The Wedding Cake celebrates love and marriage, and also continues the Rothschild tradition of offering hospitality in exuberant spaces. 12 metres high, it is built around a steel frame, and clad with 25,000 Portuguese ceramic tiles which echo the colours of the famous Sèvres porcelain in the collection at Waddesdon Manor.

The finishing touch, or perhaps the icing on the cake, is when two people climb the final steps to emerge on the top tier, and the cleverly-composed scale of the building is revealed as they become the happy couple who top many a traditional wedding cake.

Detail of the tiled exterior

The Wedding Cake has been described as ‘first and foremost a temple to love’, but when asked if it was a folly Vasconcelos said “yes”, and writing in the Times Adam Davy called it ‘the latest architectural absurdity in the great British tradition of the garden folly’. Top marks for describing the structure go to the editor at the Financial Times who came up with the headline ‘The Gateau at the Chateau’.

You can see this conjugal confection for yourselves as the Wedding Cake is open to the public on Thursdays and selected Sundays

Visitors to Jupiter Artland, the sculpture park close to Edinburgh, may have seen the vibrant Vasconcelos swimming pool there, or indeed have taken the plunge as there are public sessions over the summer

The swimming pool at Bennington House/Jupiter Artland in September 2019.

Thanks for reading. To share any thoughts please scroll down to the comments box at the bottom of the page (note that only your name will appear and your email address remains private).

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10 thoughts on “The Wedding Cake, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire”

  1. Gand says:

    It looks like it did all end in tiers. A tea pot and a cake. The place for afternoon tea .

    1. Editor says:

      No time for afternoon tea in the Flâneuse’s hectic schedule but did enjoy a jolly nice ice-cream!

  2. Gwyn Headley says:

    I have to say it looks absolutely fabulous. And if they want to do another Lafite bottle sculpture shouldn’t we offer our services in emptying the bottles?

    1. Editor says:

      A noble gesture Gwyn. They are magnums so might need a couple of friends to help. It is absolutely entrancing.

  3. Jonathan says:

    It looks fabulous – I am going with a few Folly Fellows on 27th August. I think The Wedding Cake will more than compensate for the lack of a folly cake at any FF garden party this year.

    1. Editor says:

      Hello Jonathan. You won’t be disappointed. It’s like nothing else you have seen. Enjoy your visit.

  4. Lord Andrew Clinterty says:

    I think that is Bonnington House not Bennington House/

    1. Editor says:

      It is indeed. Thanks for spotting the typo and I have corrected it.

  5. Julia Abel Smith says:

    Delightfully reminiscent of Grayson Perry!

    1. Editor says:

      Hello Julia. Somehow your message got diverted to spam so apologies for the slow response. Yes, I can imagine a couple of Grayson Perry characters atop the cake!

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