'At Waddesdon they're free to play and just be children'
Sebastian and Isaac, Waddesdon Manor
Five-year-old Isaac and his three-year-old brother Sebastian have grown up at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire. Their parents have been bringing them to explore the gardens and wild corners of the estate since they were born, and it’s proved to be the perfect place for them to carve out precious family time together.
Growing up with Waddesdon
Sebastian and Isaac have been visiting Waddesdon with their parents, Darren and Mary, since they were born. The sprawling parkland and gardens have played a key role in the lives of the whole family ever since. ‘They’re two small, curious boys and it’s an opportunity for them to investigate things and get their hands dirty,’ says Darren.
Becoming young naturalists
The family’s visits have inspired a deep love of the outdoors in the boys, with a thirst to learn all about the natural world around them and experience it in all its muddy, leafy glory. ‘They remember the names of things they’ve learned at Waddesdon,' recounts Darren. 'You’ll be out somewhere and they’ll point out a beech leaf, or they’ll pick up a conker shell and they’ll tell you what type of tree it came from. We come home with pockets full of leaves and seeds and sticks every time we go.’
" Wiggly worm... Wow it looks gigantic!"
Freedom to roam
Far from just being a typical day out, Waddesdon feels more like a home from home where Darren and Mary feel comfortable letting the boys run around and explore. ‘I think they’re happiest when they’re outside burning off energy,’ says Mary. ‘And when we go to Waddesdon, we take their lead: “where do you want to go, what do you want to do?” They get the freedom to play and just be children.’
" 'What have you found Sebastian?'
‘It’s an oak tree – acorns grow on oak trees’ "
Taking time together
Their visits also provide the family with a welcome break from the usual busy routine of school and work, so they can spend quality time together making memories. ‘Time is precious: you want to do something with it that’s worthwhile, that the children will remember when they’re older.’
As well as spending time with their parents, the adventures that Sebastian and Isaac have embarked on together at Waddesdon have helped to build a close relationship between the brothers. ‘When they do one of the trails together Isaac will read the clues to Sebastian, and explain things to him or point them out on the map. It’s just lovely to see them sharing things and learning together.'
Caring for Waddesdon
Waddesdon Manor has been such a significant cornerstone of Sebastian and Isaac’s lives that it’s no surprise Darren and Mary are keen to help care for it, and preserve the memories they’ve created here. ‘We hope that getting the boys out and about while they’re young will encourage a love of nature. If they’ve got a love for it, a sense of ownership of it, then they’ll want to help protect places like this when they’re older.’